Challenge #01610-D149: Long Live the Leader
A single powerful person who is convinced of their own Rightness with no thought of introspection or means of restraint is dangerous, moreso to others than to themselves. -- Anon Guest
Jack didn't just believe in the Leader. He had a firm and unwavering Belief in the leader. Jack was wont to Believe with all his heart and soul. Though he still prayed to the God of the holy works, the Leader was the next best thing to a foretold coming. The Leader was the greatest man to ever live. The Leader was going to make this nation great. The Leader was going to fix everything.
Jack was so convinced that he convinced his family and friends. Most caught the fever, but some still little-b believed. But that was not a concern because the Leader was now in charge. The Leader was in the best place to fix everything that had gone wrong.
And the Leader certainly got things done.
Handouts to the weak or the lazy were gone. No more welfare. No more free medical care. No more minimum wage. It was good. It was amazing. Business was booming, and that meant more jobs for everyone. Well. Everyone except for... certain types.
Those types were better off with the new plan. Away in camps where they could learn to be real people or, if that was impossible owing to the colour of their skin, then working for the greater good of this amazing nation. Jack could see it working. Everything was both abundant and cheap. Which was great, because his boss kept lowering the pay packet every week. It had been the payments, first. The retirement fund. The dental fund. The health insurance. Now it was the pay packet that Jack got. But it didn't matter at first. The cost of living was hitting rock bottom.
And then Jack got sick. The doctors weren't allowed to say that it was the stuff Jack was spraying around at his work. Companies had the right to continue their business as they saw fit, and no teary-eyed, granola-munching hippie was going to whine about the 'environment' anywhere out loud. Not any more. Not if they wanted to stay out of a re-education camp. The doctor had to call it an 'industrial malady', which was a pre-existing condition.
Jack could not afford to pay the bills. He sold his things, at much less than he'd paid for them. He sold everything but a few changes of clothes and the car he drove to work in. His wife and kids had to go work in the poorhouse, because women and children had no place in a man's workplace. They still needed food and something of an education, so Jack never got to see them again. Not until he pulled himself up by his bootstraps.
He finally sold his car, and got arrested for vagrancy on his first night of sleeping in the streets. Sent to a prison for redeemable types until he worked off his debts at two cents an hour. With meals at ten dollars a day. Jack told himself, every morning, that this was temporary. The Leader would fix it all. The Leader would make everything great.
He said it every day, until he saw his own son on the same assembly line. Young, just into legal adulthood, and in permanent resident prison fatigues. Just like his father. Working his fingers bloody because he got extra for doing it. Just like his father.
Jack found Johnny at lunch. A plain gruel with everything you needed in it. According to the National Corn Association. Jack asked his son, "How's your mom? Your sister?"
"They're whores now. I can't care."
Jack had heard that phrase from others. Not, "I don't care," but, "I can't care." It screamed that the speaker wanted to, sometimes with all their might, but were prevented. Whores deserved to birth until they died. That was what the Leader said. That was what Jack always Believed.
Women who could not pay their bills deserved to be whores, too. That's what they got for not being loyal to their man. That's what they got for failing to realise the whims of their man. Jack used to Believe that, too.
That was the day he realised that his Belief had come with an unspoken corollary: except for me and what's mine.
But it was too late for Jack and his family. Prisoners were not allowed to have the vote. And by now, the Leader was the Leader for the rest of his life.
[AN: I could have just written "Donald Trump" instead of a story, but that's low-hanging fruit]
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / rudall30]
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