PART B (The City)—2

There was once an army of ideas.

Of course people couldn’t see it as it was.

So lives and careers got built around fighting to scribble ideaesque shapes on flags.

The first generation of competing scribblers had their sights set on authority.

Each worked to make their particular shapes the only ones trusted and adhered to.

All flags chosen came to be held aloft by a proud and special, select few called collectors.

In the beginning, the collectors arranged themselves and their flags naturally into squads, platoons, companies, and battalions that more or less matched the ideas’ formations.

The intricacy and beautiful order of this ever-expanding, fabric-and-squiggly-line enterprise made it all the more enticing to command.

One day, both the unseen idea army and its profiteering counterpart came unaware upon a great and consuming fog that filled the City.

As both armies marched headlong into the fog, nothing at all changed for the collectors.

As always, their eyes stayed glued above to only where their flags were meant to fly amongst those nearby.

In fact, the collectors soon became extremely successful in the City.

The prestige of their flags protruding high up over the fog drew many from far and near to come be made collectors themselves, even at great expense.

To the collectors now, and all who saw them, the flags and symbols were and had always been the ideas.

Lost, the forgotten ideas fell blind in the fog, unable to see or even remember one another.

Each was hopelessly isolated.

Most wondered if they were real.

Every lone idea might as well have called itself aloud with all its worth, yet found no one to hear or understand.

Maybe in the City, the lost ideas could have stayed stuck forever in blank and grey for no good reason at all.

. . .

A grandson of one who came from the land of Genesee and Adrian cautiously enters a place in the City where rights to hold flags are bought and sold.

He is rough, with hard eyes, and scars that range like craggy rocks across his neck and face.

His clothing and movements match those of foreigners known never to pull plants, clean floors, or otherwise serve the City’s natives.

Alone, he is painfully aware of being the first of his kind to show any interest in the power and beauty of the flag shapes.

He reaches a daunting inner gate.

A tall figure with a black cap and heavy stick steps forward to block the way.

A tiny metal shield pinned to the tall man’s chest shows all in the City he is in charge of keeping something safe.

Neither man speaks.

Anger wells up like a hidden eruption from beneath the scarred man’s skin . . . a hot seething he has always known, yet one he would never hope to carry.

As teeth and muscles clench unseen, the scarred man feels the coarsest patches of his face begin to steam.

He knows he will not pass this point.

He has reached what will now have forever been his limit.

Thus far, and no farther.

Not him.

Too different and too old to be so out of place.

Too early, and too late.

In a nearby den, points of view considered newest in the City are blurted with utmost seriousness, one-by-one, to then be leaped upon by any who might wish to try to tear them down for fun.

Most in the den would say to the scarred man stuck at that possibly redundant gate something along the lines of: “Why would you want to look like trouble? What could a security guard really do to a grown-ass man if you’d just say something like, ‘Yeah, I’m thinking of going here. I wanted to check it out first.’? What’s your motivation for putting out this vibe that can only tie you to the worst troublemakers in our society? What good reason could you have ever had to join a gang in the first place?”

Many cries for help are heard like beacons in that busy den.

Yet everyone ignores one man’s.

The ignored man concludes his day’s renditions with: “I hope you people don’t feel like I’m blaming you for all the horrible stuff in my life!”

A woman somewhere listens as an older man attempts to speak.

She quivers, fondly imagining hurting him as his voice quarbles and rasps along so slowly, breaking unpredictably into disgusting slurps and squeaks.

She is incensed at his failure to keep up with his own thoughts . . . infuriated by all signs of his coming apart.

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