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Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Building

The Building

Once upon a time there was a shy little boy who sat and sang in the bed of a battered old blue truck. His singing voice was wonderful enough that he could put to shame any singer in the entire world. The person in charge of discovering singers in the kingdom hated The Boy. No one knew why. One man who knew The Boy but did not know that The Singer Discoverer hated him decided to take The Boy to the Discoverer to have him listen to The Boy's most beautiful singing.

Even though The Singer Discoverer hated The Boy, he took him anyway to The Palace to sing for The Great One. The Boy sang. All who heard him were astounded except the Singing Discoverer and The Great One. Their faces turned red with anger as they listened to a few verses that The Boy sang, then The Great One interrupted and roared that The Boy be flung into The Building.

The Building was where enemies of The Palace were sent to be punished and die. The Palace clock’s pendulum was just then beginning to swing back onto to the Great One’s side, so currently there were only a few women in one small room of The Building. They were women imprisoned for the crime of saving babies. It was the dead of winter and The Building had no heat. The women were freezing but they gladly welcomed The Boy and vowed to keep him as warm as possible so that he might live.

Someone tossed a ball of fur into the open window so the women took the fur, unlaced it and put it on The Boy to warm him. Suddenly guards opened the door and a few men were tossed into the room. They were welcomed by the women and The Boy. One of the men suggested that the window should be closed, so they shut the window and soon the temperature rose a few degrees considering the crowd now gathered together. Then more people were thrown into the room - men, women and children. Then more and more people were cruelly cast in.

Someone suggested that since The Building was very large, why not open the door and occupy other rooms. As guards continued flinging people into The Building, and the mass of humanity inside grew, people began to enjoy each other’s company seeing as how they were all there for the same crime of being on the wrong side of The Palace Agenda. People began creating new ways to keep warm such as finding a metal slab and building a fire from broken chairs on top of it. They decided to close all windows. Soon The Building – every room and every hallway – was toasty warm. They found that the water spigots worked and the bathrooms in The Building still functioned.

Gradually the people in The Building began to develop creative ways of helping one another, exchanging cloth and other goods, and finding food other than what the guards slopped out to them. They found a squirrel, then another one, then several, then hundreds of them living in the attic, and although roasted squirrel was not a well-loved menu item by the people in The Building, they ate it to keep alive. Then they found birds nesting under the eaves and ate them. Then they ate frogs that would climb up the outside walls to live beneath the roof and which could be captured easily just by opening a window and grabbing them. The people were kept alive by squirrel, bird and frog food and they flourished.

They flourished to the point that it was too hot in The Building. When they found that they were too hot and had to open every window to keep from suffocating by letting freezing fresh air in, they realized that all their efforts at keeping warm and alive had succeeded far beyond anything the guards had thrown at them. They realized that they had done it - that together they had done what they had had to do to stay alive and had succeeded beyond anything they had dreamed of.

At that point they realized they were free. Free in that they had all lived while The Palace had wanted them to freeze, starve and die. A great multitude had been thrown into The Building and it was so overcrowded that they realized it was time to stage a revolt since by that time there were far more of them than there were people left in The Palace.

They had no weapons but decided in the same way they had creatively managed to keep alive and flourish they would likewise create weapons. They tore the windows out of the walls, broke the glass to fashion clubs from the frames and arm themselves with large portions of glass shards. Doors were removed and used as shields. However, their strength was not in weapons, but in the sheer number of people standing against the few people left in The Palace.

The people opened the doors of The Building and flooded out – great numbers of men, women, and children. Near the front of them marched The Singing Boy who was still shy and a bit afraid since he knew the Great One of The Palace hated him. The mass of humanity merely walked down The Building steps and into the Ruling Chamber where The Great One sat on his throne.

Not one of The Great One’s guards moved because of fear of the people. The Boy sang while The Great One, his face grimacing, sat motionless on his throne not daring to intervene. While The Boy sang, The Great One weighed his options.

He saw his guards declining to defend him. He knew that there were less than two dozen people left in The Palace who were on his side. When The Boy finished singing, The Great One held up his hand in surrender. He gave up. He knew he had lost, overplayed his hand and over achieved his goal by tossing too many people into The Building.

There was no fight, no great battle, no spilling of blood. The Great One merely surrendered to his former prisoners who all at once wondered what to do with him. The Singing Boy silently pointed to the stairs. The people then realized that they should put The Great One in the same freezing room in The Building where he had first imprisoned the women and The Boy.

As The Great One sat in the freezing room with the window exposed to the cold, the door was quickly opened as the people threw one of his guards in. Then a few more guards were flung in. Gradually the two dozen people left in The Palace who were on the side of The Great One were tossed into the room.

The Great One looked at the clock. The pendulum had swung almost as far as it would go up to the people’s side but he was a patient ruler. He knew that once the height of the pendulum’s full swing had been accomplished it had nowhere to go but slowly swing back to his side.

He sat there freezing. Suddenly a ball of fur was thrown through the open window and a guard unlaced it and put it over The Great One to keep him warm and alive. More and more people were found and tossed into the freezing room. Then someone suggested they close the window…

And The Boy silently hoped to live only while the pendulum was swinging back.

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