Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Powder Burn Flash # 36 - William J. Brazill

The Act

From the seventh-floor window of the hotel you watch the limousines on the street below. Important-looking men, powerful, indispensable, some gold-braided in uniform, others rigid in formal attire, stand ready to enter them. Aides and bodyguards cluster around them, a testament to their importance. You are ready to perform the Act.

Waiting for the moment focuses your mind as never before. Clarity. Yes, that is what you feel. You now know with certainty. After years of doubt, self-contempt, you know. You are surprised how calm you feel. You sense that the wheel is turning and that you are no longer who you have been.

This present moment imperceptibly transforms itself into a focus that filters all past memory into the now. A memory of humiliation and despair. You feel that past intensely, the need to overcome it. It is a past in which you were taught to despise yourself, to feel contemptible, to believe that you belong to an inferior people. The authorities relentlessly sought to erase the history of your people and tried to eradicate your language. They demanded that you learn their language and speak it exclusively. That separated the generations, parents divided from children. It was all done to convince you that you had no future.

You had to carry special identity papers that the police could demand at any time, in any place, and without any evident reason. With these papers the authorities defined you as one of the dispossessed. You remember the humiliation of your sisters being searched at checkpoints, their bodies probed by the groping hands of leering, lewd-mouthed guards who smelled of oiled leather and sweat-stained khaki, the stench of power.

Their aim was to deny you hope. You and your people. Their messages beamed at you relentlessly from television screens and from newspapers and from motion pictures were meant to make you disbelieve in your own worth. The omnipresence of military patrols was meant as a constant reminder that you were controlled, that they had all the power and they always would. That you were powerless.

They flaunted their control as permanent, eternal. The natural order of things. You were taught that change was not possible. You were not to think that your lives could be different. You were to accept, to be passive, even though their system assured that you would be fixed in poverty and despair. You know that to be deprived of hope is to be deprived of your humanity.

But you came to find community in dispossession. In defiance of all logic you began to feel solidarity with others of your own kind, nodding imperceptibly as you passed by on the streets, then speaking in subdued whispers at furtive encounters, finally meeting clandestinely. Educating yourselves to believe that this situation need not be permanent, that change is possible. And understanding that only action can redeem paralysis, fill emptiness, and give you the identity you are being denied. You talked about the Act, that sacred moment capable of transforming despair into hope. You came to long for it, all of you, as a way to find redemption, to become human beings. The Act would free you of all that stood in the way of your freedom, all that degraded you, for to destroy is to create. You came to know that one day you would commit the Act, and you devoted your entire being to preparing for it. You finally realized a terrible truth: Death is the affirmation of your life.

The hood of the first slow-moving limousine passes the rear bumper of the explosives-laden parked car. You hold the remote control detonating device tightly in your hand,watching, waiting, totally calm. It seems to pulse in your hand as if alive. Its switchyields effortlessly to the slight pressure of your finger. You do not even see the flash of light. You do not hear the explosion. You sense only the total calm at the center of your being.

The Act comes without sensation. There is the absolute stillness of the moment. As if all feeling were negated at the core. You sense the wheel turn faster and faster, but the hub is motionless, totally still. You are that hub. A vacuum, void of emotion. A center of being now totally fulfilled. You hear your voice, as if that of a stranger, say, "I am!"


BIO: William Brazill lives in Virginia on the banks of the Potomac River where he writes fiction and watches the water flow by. His most recent stories have appeared in Amsterdam Scriptum, Long Story Short, LitBits, Hack Writers, and Electric Acorn.


joan said...

He felt the years slip away from him. Time ceased. A weightlessness. A haze of memories, unconnected thoughts of being and not being. He felt this sensation from the tip of his toes to his fingers, I am afloat. I have conquered the unknown indulging in the Final Act. He was content.

joan said...

Once you read William Brazill's The Act, it keeps you in suspense, hungering for more. I am addicted to his work and will have fun figuring out different scenarios to this short story. Well written, looking forward to his next creative act.