The Man stands in front of the window looking down at the street far below. He’s been there for some time – a half hour, maybe an hour. Time is of no consequence to him……he is waiting for the hour of decision.
He watches the tiny figures moving, barely visible to the naked eye, indistinguishable from one another. Color and shape from this height are indiscernible. Again – these things are of no importance. Proximity would not soften his attitude towards those down below, but rather intensify it. Thirty stories up, or thirty inches away, they are all the same to him.
He is a psychopath, but he doesn’t know he is. He is also a maniacal manipulator of the human mind and heart, and though he accepts and celebrates his manipulative capabilities, that he is maniacal also escapes him. He observes those thousands below through his window like a child observes an anthill – comfortable and unquestioning in his ascendancy, thoughtlessly watching their comings and goings, setting up random barriers, watching how they momentarily panic, then change course, and then settle into the new direction he has randomly selected. He could watch them live and he could watch them die – no questions, no sentiments, no sorrow or remorse, and no matter. There are always enough of them to serve his purposes.
He is delusional as well, extraordinarily so, and of this he is also frighteningly unaware. In his eyes, he stands high above those miniscule creatures below, higher on the scale of human development – greater in mental capacity, with a higher degree of ingenuity and analytical adroitness. That is why he stands here, looking down. He embodies the phrases “impeccable taste”, “finesse and delicacy”, “transcendent sophistication”, or so he assesses himself. And no one, no one, contradicts him.
The sensors are activated by movement and the doors breathe a soft whizzing sound to open. A distinguished man-servant walks in silently, pushing a gold-rimmed cart with an elegant sterling silver tea and coffee service (the Meissen is never used), a carafe of whiskey, a fine honey-colored liquid that sparkles in the rays of sun, and slices of Iberian ham on a silver platter with Yubari melons and 3 Lobster Frittatas.
The Man does not turn around but acknowledges the distinguished man-servant with a comment and a question, keeping his gaze on the street below: “When I walk down there, everyone I pass has an odor of sweat and cheap spices and perfumes……”. “Yes, sir” is the man-servant’s automatic, non-committal answer. “Why don’t you smell like that?”, the Man asks. He turns to look at the man-servant. The distinguished man-servant, who has been preparing the dining table, stops for a second to answer. “I take a bath - twice a day.” He maintains his tone. The reason for this nonsensical, degrading exchange is clear to them both, though the Man, so contained is he in his delusional state, has no realization that the distinguished man-servant can read him so accurately.
The exchange is meant to establish supremacy – not of a racial classification, that would be too primitive; and not of religion, that is the game of childish minds; not of educational accomplishments, that is too….fortuitous; and certainly not in the category of desirability – he, himself, establishes the hierarchy of aesthetics in the world, manipulating opinions of beauty, creating the pictures out of the images in his mind.
No, not those irrelevant categories…..but rather a kind of superiority of species….a breed, if you will. He is of a higher order of human evolvement. He smiles at this “truth”. His self-deception is at once impressive and ludicrous in its omnitude.
The distinguished man-servant looks at the Man in questioning silence. “No, nothing else”, says the Man. He has missed the momentary shadow that passes between them, as he always does. Once again, his delusions shade his judgement and cloud his eyes.
The door breathes again as the distinguished man-servant leaves the room. The Man watches him go with a combination of disinterest and query. ‘The man-servant never seems to rush but is timely in everything he does. Some of them have valuable, useful qualities’.
The three men sit in silence, distracted and introspective. Only the scraping of forks gathering the last vestiges of the frittatas, spoons clicking the bottoms of tea cups and the distant strains of Aaron Copland, now Quiet City, discreetly piped in, can be heard - a cacophony of sounds, usually subconsciously dismissed, but now acoustically amplified as they echo through the tense air of the room. As if by magic, or by telepathic communication, the distinguished man-servant enters the room to remove the now-empty service, leaving only the whiskey. The men do not acknowledge his presence or his service, and they miss the shadow that returns, passes between them and disappears.
The door breathes open and closed, and, once alone, they begin to converse.
“A Mule….Asimov’s Foundation….an unexpected element.” “Unexpected and undesirable.” “The times are volatile.” “That serves us….if we control it. Envy, mistrust, fear, anger are high. They can’t live any other way.” “They are beginning to know.” “Know? They are sheep, no coherent direction without us. They will follow.” “The times are volatile. We need a distraction!” “War….is distracting and profitable.” “No, already over-engaged. The young ones must grow up”
Silence. They show signs of discomfort.
“Awareness is growing. This “mule” creature focuses on us.” “Who is it?” “Unknown, for now.” “We have all resources at our disposal” “Operating…..but so far without result” “We must know…soon.” “And then, our course of action? Elimination?” “May be Unwise….risk of martyrdom…..encourages solidarity” “Scandals?......usually has effective results.” “And if he or she is clean?” “None of them are clean!”
A burst of low-key, grotesque hyena-like laughter and then silence.
The distinguished man-servant has heard these conversations many times. So secure are they in their ability to make puppets of the citizenry, that they are blind to the human ability to assert its humanity. He knows, it is the money that blinds them. If “fear is the mind-killer…”*, then excessive wealth is the soul-killer. He’s seen it too much and for too long. He thinks of his granddaughter. This is for her - for her laughter, for her wit, for her curiosity, for her imagination, and for her grace. He picks up his bag holding everything that is his and turns to the door, to the hall, to the elevator, and steps in. The time has come and a decision has been made. He watches the numbers of the floors as he descends. The elevator lands on the ground floor, and serenely the distinguished man-servant steps out and leaves the building for the last time.
To be continued……….
*Dune by Frank Herbert, 1965