Saturday, May 7, 2011

Prime Minister’s Burden

            “Why does she have to speak with that damned formal tone in my office?”
            Jones Oden shook his head slowly, sadly, taking another sip from his glass.  Alone in the Prime Minister’s plush office, he sat in the chair behind his desk, not another soul in the room.  As had become more and more his custom, the hour was late, and Jones slipped between silent thoughts and voiced complaints.  No one ever answered him, of course.  If they did, he thought with a smile, it would be time to forfeit the office.
            Anat Meron could not seem to drop her act for even a moment, even in the privacy of the Prime Minister’s office.  Of course, it never truly seemed to be an act with her.  Jones had spoken that way, with the formal diction and well-hemmed tone.  It had been years, and felt like centuries, since the stuffy phrasing and style had seemed necessary in the day to day.  Of course, the formalized character was still resurrected when addressing the people of the Olympus Union, he recalled with a smile.
            “Have to give the people what they want.  The vision of the unifier, the orator, the strong commander leading his people forward.  To use it when speaking with friends and colleagues away from the microphones, though?”
            Ah, but there was the interesting rub.  Was she, in fact, a friend?  Anat had served him well, for so very long.  She walked by his side when he had first searched to deliver them from madness.  Without fail, Meron had supported him, delivered his orders, and maintained the righteousness of his cause.  Before he held the fate of the solar system in his hands.  Before he had established his seat of power here in San Francisco.  Back when his accent still prevailed, and he bore a name other than Jones Oden.  But, had she ever been a friend?  Likely no.
            “And look what I’ve done to her now, pulling her away from being equal with the other Ministers.”  Standing, glass in hand, Jones sipped at the amber liquid and began to pace his office.  “Now she’s my hound, set loose on the criminals of the universe, set apart from her peers.”
            It was necessary, he had explained to others, and he knew it himself.  He needed her sharpened like a sword, not nodding like a fool.  Those others might agree with him often enough, but none were so easily swept up into his idealism as that his oldest companion would become.  He knew it, and often toyed with her intentionally, just to see her re-focused on whatever he wished.  She always thought he could resist, but Jones knew the one weakness behind his precious Minister of Peace.
            “Ahhhh,” he shook his head sadly, “Minister of Peace indeed.”
            Jones drained the last of the liquor and headed to his small bar for a refill.  Pulling the top from the crystal decanter, he poured another three fingers into the glass.  Replacing the stopper, he began pacing again.  Already the plush carpet had begun to show wear as of late.  Perhaps he should take that long-necessary trip to Hermes and request a replacement while he was gone.
            “Damn.  Again with the drifting.”
            The drink always seemed to help him drift off his original line of thought.  The Minister of Peace.  He had named the office himself, and still thought it apt, despite the complaints of others.  He heard the whispers.
            “She keeps the peace of the Olympus Union, though.  They don’t understand.  The violence and action was absolutely necessary!  When the citizens revolt, form their militias, or even speak and plot against us, they must me dealt with harshly.  Why can’t that be understood?  We must preserve the peace!”
            His voice had rise to a shout, fist clenching the glass until it might burst.  Just as the passion had filled him, however, it blew out like as if exhaled.  The Prime Minister slugged his way back to the chair, dropping slowly and tiredly.  Gently placing the glass on the desk, he rubbed his closed eyes with the thumb and index finger of his left hand.  As so many times before, the waves of emotion crashed over and through him as much as he rode them.
            “We must preserve the peace.  That is why the Olympus Union is here.  Righteous men have to die to pave the way for the greater good.  If only they could understand, that is all that I’ve ever wanted.  We are fighting for the greater good.”
            Sadly, he rose, crossed the room once again, and left his office for the night.  Making his way into the hall, he lifted his head, set his shoulders back, and forced his trademark grin onto weathered lips.  There was an image to present, after all.