Page 13 Cartoons

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Part 2

September 6, 2007

Continued from our August 30 Issue

The two adults woke up the next morning to the radio announcer reporting the color of the day. “Reminder: today is a yellow day, yellow day means yellow morning. Work hours start in 75 minutes. Lunch time today will be … ”

Coffee was made by the time he went downstairs to meet his wife in her bathrobe. His lips quivered when he saw how good she looked in so few clothes. Blood added color to his cheeks and his muscles twitched. He said goodbye to his family, put his mind to his day of work and drove off.

Phillomen was an accountant, but not just any. He was head accountant for the OPA’s business department, a job respected and reviled and done with necessary secrecy. He was under immense scrutiny professionally and personally but his self-control was unparalleled. Despite avoiding encouraging glances from co-workers that he dared not return, his workday was usual.

Phillomen had a speech planned for that night about hard work and above all “dedication to the code for the betterment of society.” He rehearsed to get his tone professional enough for public presentation.

Today passed and Phillomen left work early (with permission) to arrange for the banquet. The transport arrived at the J family residence at 5.15 sharp and they started on their way.

Sliding in between traffic, the transport was a dancer in the un-choreographed daily opus of the city. Inside the transport the air was motionless.

“It should prove to be an enjoyable affair Phillomen,” exhaled Phyllis.

Phillomen’s ears twitched in anticipation. He glanced to see if the driver was looking at him and looked back at his wife. Slowly his cheeks began to move. His concave fish cheeks began to expand. As a fly covered carcass goes from death-infused stillness to a slow eruption of movement when disturbed, so did parts of Phillomen’s face gain life slowly before his wife’s eyes. He made something of a smile, but before his wife could be sure, the flies had settled again and his cheeks were puckered back in. Phillomen was proud of himself and in the privacy of the darkened transport he decided to show it for once.

At the banquet hall the couple stepped out of their transport to a crowd of milling sophisticates and automatons. Even a troupe of Boy Scouts was in the crowd tonight to see what a good citizen can grow up to be.

The couple squeezed passed them, the wife with her face stoic and tense in anticipation. They took their seats in preparation for the award ceremony.

The head of the OPA, a man known as C.. Harman, took the podium and introduced our man. The crowd settled in a second and they focused politely on the speaker.

“As everyone knows it isn’t our custom to pick one person over the other. But in the case of tonight we feel that this award will foster the community and feelings of pride; Accountant Phillomen Foster Jung has led by tremendous example for a great portion of his life. By pointing out this individual, others can see what is possible when the rules are followed. We give the first OPA Achievement in Niceties Award to Phillomen Jung as a representative of all who are like him. Please come forward.”

The crowd was silent.

“You may applaud politely,” added the speaker. As Phillomen walked up to the podium a fettering of sound followed him.

“Thank you sir. And thank you everyone in the audience tonight,” intoned our man in a monotone worthy of the president.

“I would also like to extend my thanks to my friends, my co-workers and my family for their part in making me who I am.”

After saying this, Phillomen glanced up from his note cards to see all the major government members and his various bosses at the OPA he’d only heard about through name and seen stills of in the papers. He had never been in such a situation before and suddenly his elfish ears began to twitch, his eyelids began to shake and his eyelashes fluttered. He regained control over his muscles and restarted his speech.

He looked down at this note cards to speak the next line but nothing came out. He tried but his voice squeaked and cracked and rendered his words unintelligible.

A rush of whispers went through the crowd as the blood traveled from Phillomen’s throat to his cheeks.

“Was he making fun of the pre-pubescent Boy Scouts with that cracking?”

“Was he mocking Mr. Harman? Was he mocking the government? Was he mocking us?”

“Does he not care? Doesn’t this young man know how the consequences of this?”

C. Harman stood up from his table, looked first to the OPA guards and then to Phillomen who was shaking on stage, able to express himself only in squeaks and chirps that infuriated the crowd more.

His face was molten putty, changing facial expressions two per second. His brow furrowed, the left corner of his mouth shot into his cheek and his mandible trilled and chattered as his anxiety sunk deeper into his hitherto uninhabited mask of a face. He was not only squeaking and squawking now, but also with arms flailing he was pointing and hysterically motioning, but for what the audience could not tell; his body language was a foreign tongue.

He was being somebody and wasn’t being all too pleasing about it, they thought. He couldn’t be such a thing for much longer.

C. Harman continued to point at Phillomen J. as the guards approached him and with a final squawk of protest and futile explanation they grabbed his arms; Phillomen had no more to say. The crowd began to file out in a huff and the only people who remained were his former family who tried not to look so upset.

But such was the way it went because today was simply today and today subversives like Phillomen J. were not to be tolerated. The damage he did that night would take weeks for the OPA to explain in press release after press release separating themselves from his actions. They had to explain why and how a renegade like Phillomen J. had managed to weasel his way into the system and gain the trust of so many only to plant a time bomb under them all. Further restrictions would be necessary in the future and close watch must be kept on those that are most trusted.

And just like that, with a little paperwork and some greasing of the machine, Phillomen J. wasn’t and he wouldn’t hurt anyone else anymore.

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