Free

I’m reluctant, because I’ve heard so much analysis already, and walking time is precious, and music would be so much better for me, but the news reports beckon. What is the fascination – a breakthrough, a vaccine. Only in the daily reports is there hope of some sudden redemption. The Very Great Leader, though he understands little, understands that much. He dominates the airwaves. Today he is saying it is time to let things be normal again. Only a few, he says, are dying, and those are elderly or compromised in other ways. Perhaps they lack faith. With less birds every day, he crows, the hospitals and veterinary clinics are coping well now.

His drone destroys the peace of the near-empty streets. I pass another of his government’s public messaging billboards. His portrait is cockatoo-like, though he insists he is not infected. If I become ill, his billboard tells me, he will keep me safe, if I follow a few simple rules, until a cure is found.

In my headphones a reporter asks him what people can do, and what they should avoid.

The Very Great Leader replies, that, for instance, jumping off a garage roof flapping your arms will not make you fly so should be avoided. But business is business and it should be happening now, because business is what makes the country great. He is a very great idiot. I finally flip to Spotify.

R H

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