REPUBLIC IS WRONG

***UPDATE – a slightly more polished and beautifully typeset version is part of the MORE LOVE book.

(made available to read online for free once-in-a-while or generally with a donation based password.)


[ a short story ]

 

I – PROGRESSION

MADEMOISELLE

 

Mademoiselle Republic had it all worked out for her. She’d become a ‘public’ woman, yet still remained a girl at heart. Free of most people’s sentimental restraints, she could immerse herself fully into the ‘people’s cause’, or in other words, causes of other people. To be sure – she belonged only to herself, that was without a doubt. And yet, everyone around her, each and every person she spent time with, could claim her to be their private possession, like a public property available for all – well, at least in their minds that was the case.

Be that as it may, she did encourage it. Everything that she had – time, spirit, knowledge, wisdom, talent, sometimes even her beauty – she gave freely to the ones she liked. Consequently, as were the workings of altruistic power, there weren’t many, to be sure, who did not like her on the other hand. Not that it mattered, though. Being liked definitely wasn’t required to keep her going. It was nice, of course. But she wasn’t prone to sentiments. Her head worked sharp and sober. A razor-blade sword in the right hands. Hers alone.The only thing maybe a bit sad was that a love life really wasn’t on the map. Who could possibly have ‘possessed’ her for real? Subdued and conquered and all that. No one. Well, maybe there was somebody out there, somewhere in the big, great world. But she certainly hadn’t met him. All the guys flocking around her were either just awfully sweet or outright crazy, and there were obviously also some who were dead bent on being gay. Oh well, poor souls. Just let them be. ‘Tolerance’ was her middle name, as some of her more opinionated friends would sometimes say. But anyway. Getting married wasn’t really an issue, actually. She was well too busy and there probably wasn’t any match for her. Republic didn’t feel competitive, though. While she found it natural to continuously improve herself, of getting better, she certainly always appreciated and admired anybody who already was better. It didn’t happen often, though, that was all. Most people attempting to converse with her on the same level of knowledge and talent would usually only bore the shit out of her. For any level below, she didn’t have time. Level above would’ve been nice but hadn’t happened.
For all those reasons, the Group around her regarded Mademoiselle as their natural leader. Like a queen a bit, may her name have been Republic or not. There had never been any discussion or issue about it. After all, they all shared the same goal – self-improvement and improvement of society, if not the world – and it was Republic who embodied all their ideas and longings to the fullest degree, and it was Republic who could also voice them most convincingly.
On a day-to-day level, the members of the Group attended to various courses and workshops, each to their own tastes and liking. A vigorous climate of progress permeated their space of amply funded raw brick-walls in the Edwardian former cheese-factory. Anyone traversing the corridors felt invariably ennobled. Whenever they bumped into each other between lessons, or if they got a chance during some group project, they’d use it as a welcome opportunity to open up and share their ideas and this way got to know each other quite well.

Frazer sat in the cafeteria staring stone-faced into his instant cappuccino. His mellowness and forlornness made Republic often feel a little motherly, a feeling actually quite uncanny to her. Therefore being around him was always a bit strange and crazy. She sat down, parking a dazzling-yellow neon flask that was filled to the brim with Scottish spring-water, before her.
“Hi”, Frazer looked up to her. He had tired squashed dog-eyes buried underneath mouse-grey bushy eyebrows. She hi’ed back, smiling in her ‘trademark’ – a tad coquette but from her heart and generous. Afterwards, nothing much else was happening. Frazer fidgeted his wooden pecker inside the plastic teacup and Republic looked around to some of the other tables. Martha sat over there and they exchanged nodded greetings. She’d probably join her in a moment. Here, no more words were exchanged. Well, then let the vibe do the talking. Well, it did feel good to be admired or even loved and all that, but sometime it could really get too much and then became outright embarrassing. Such were the hidden forbidden messages of Frazer’s craving undercurrents. Up on the table, he briefly seemed about to say something, wetting his lips before words were supposed to pour out from between them. But when he saw that Republic wasn’t looking at him, he lost all courage and stared down his cup again. The stirring picked up momentum.
Republic walked over to Martha. The more mature woman had just finished her weekly knitting and was now passing her time before Yoga. Her noble distinction made her probably most prone to relate to Republic’s upright airs and penetrating mental powers. At the table, Martha was elaborating on some insider knowledge of research funding in front of some of the less familiar female faces around the Centre. She gave Republic a warm and sisterly smile.
“All respectable universities have now intrinsically linked their subsidized funds and research grants to the major global corporations, which means that nothing new that might in fact be good for the general public has any chance anymore to make it past drawing tables or sheer flights of fancy”, Martha said.
The two young newbies were intently listening. Their fresh, rosy faces gleamed with eager strive to pick up some of this wise woman’s knowledge. Like on the table before, Republic didn’t feel like talking. There wasn’t much to contribute anyway that Martha wouldn’t have already covered. So she allowed herself, while casually pretending to listen, to study one of the keen girls – a blond, spectacularly flawless-skinned Scandinavian-style bust – determined to draw her from memory later on in the art course.
Out of the blue, Bart tapped her shoulder, guffawing-giggling as usual. “Haa – hey Bart, how’re you doing?”, Republic whizzed around in her chair.
“Haha, just coming back from having had my new comic photocopied and stapled”, Bart said. “Wanna have a look? You’d be the first one to see.”
“Sure”, Republic said. They walked over to the little library wall where some desk space was free. Bart spread out for her the couple of pages and Republic tried hard to focus on the senseless outpourings of supposedly ironic insanities. His drawing skills hadn’t improved in the slightest for the last couple of months. Undeterred, Bart was nearly lifted off the ground from his latest fabrications of artistic genius.
Like most of the guys in the centre, he also had a volcano of suppressed interest for Republic, so much she knew. But luckily, his sedated madness and recreational drug consumption prevented him from harbouring any real hope of reciprocity. Granted, Bart was one of the sweetest guys around. Things like ill-will, malice or envy were totally unknown to him. To someone as clearheaded and pragmatic as Republic, it appeared almost mysterious how this could be. His heart appeared to be so good and generous that many other people’s so-called ‘goodness’ paled into petty strive and self-interest next to him. From what she knew, there wasn’t a single person who wouldn’t have ‘liked’ Bart. And yet, despite all that, he was an utter fool and quite possibly really mad – at least from what Republic’s sense of reality was concerned.
As usual, she refrained from revealing her honest opinion and just laughed, acting it, while passing the work back. One or two generic comments about some of the figures or scenes were enough to keep Bart floating, anyway. Dope would then do the rest.
Looking around, Republic noticed that Albert was staring at her from the entrance to the big auditorium. Albert was a German guy who considered himself to be the poet laureate of the Group. While his work was cringingly stilted, he certainly had a stare. Unlike most of the other ‘members’, he wasn’t someone beating around the bush about secret intentions. She nodded back, ignoring the stare, and then shifted all her intentions away from both Bart and him. It was time to go to printmaking.
On the corridor, she bumped into Annabelle, a well-mannered, graceful beauty from Palestine. Nobody knew her real name. She had the same destination as Republic. They walked downstairs where Poco was lingering, immersed in heated presentations of his new world-changing blog-project called “Xchange for Real”. Some of the listeners were laughing at him, others truly listened.
Republic said hello, Annabelle ignored him. He bounced about like a monkey in bleached suede moccasins. A South-Amrican temper caused him to gesticulate theatrical and rather un-cool.
“You do the printmaking course as well?”, Republic asked him while passing.
“Nah, there’s creative writing in a bit”, Poco said while non-stop expounding his hilarious ideas to the onlookers.
Republic and Annabelle finally went through the door of the large rustic art room, the whole pride of the Centre, and – if only metaphorically – shut it behind them. This was their favourite world. Dazzling sunlight bounced off acrylic-paint-stained furniture and floorboards. They went over to the group of so-called ‘learners’ who unbeknownst to them only feigned ‘making progress’, while busying themselves with the design of pointless screen-printed t-shirts.

 

 

CHE

Che entered completely unawares. Outside, it all looked very professional and sincere, and inside the smiles of staff members or the conceptual design of the entire Project seemed rather sound and solid. He’d joined into the so-called ‘membership’ out of sheer necessity. It wasn’t usually Che’s thing at all to belong to some kind of group or congregation of shared interests. And sure enough, what struck him first as being a bit odd was a certain shallow pretense, emanating from formality-adhering fellow members – or ‘comrades’, at that – which, Che found, oftentimes surrounded a doggish, empty execution of mere rituals. Any true content, the essence of things, was almost everywhere in the Centre painfully lacking.
Of course, in the beginning, everyone was really quite nice. But an air of defensive stiltedness was already noticeable on some. One of the first acquaintances he made was Bart, a mad self-proclaimed all-round artist. He shared with him a few pages of bitterly insane graphic novel proceedings, never to stop giggling and laughing over the fact how well pleased he was with his outpourings. He was an extremely sweet guy and they’d gotten on straight away. Most of the other members in the Project he met soon afterwards. Slowly, slowly, Che got in deeper.
Sometimes during art course, the kind of course where he could brush up his painting skills, this crazy looking, crazy sounding oriental girl entered the scene.
“Oh wow, where did you find that blue?”, she asked him soon after he’d first spotted her. She was looking at his work from behind his back. Her question was spot-on and referring to one of the abandoned treasures he’d unearthed a few days ago in one of the communal cupboards, rotting away behind piles of rubbish.
“It’s Cerulean Blue”, Che told her, “have some”. He held the little squashed tube up to her. “I’ve found it the other day and hid it safe next to some of the still living brushes.”
“Haha”, the girl said and took the tube from Che’s hand. Her large silly glasses made the lurking erotic intensity underneath all the more alluring. A little while later Che glimpsed two or three Bizarre magazine covers, high-heels and latex, strewn across the floor near where she was sitting. The girl worked away obviously knowing exactly what she was doing, while she integrated the high-frequency brilliant-blue into her existing bold, confident palette without any effort whatsoever.
Later, they bumped into each other at the sink renewing dirty paint water. “So what’s your name?”, Che asked.
“I’m Republic”, the girl said, indicating with an outward flip of her wrists that her name meant the same thing that meant this entire community, the people around her.
Che let the information settle with a smile.
Then somewhat baffled, the girl said, “haha, you’re not gonna tell me your name?” In her scolding cheek were tinged doses of blatant flirtation.
He told her his name.
Then they parted and carried on what they’d been doing.

 

COMMUNITY

Spirits were running high. There was just so much room for all sorts of improvements. Every new course opened up unexplored worlds and tapped into hopes that might’ve been forever fading away. It felt almost a bit like salvation. And everywhere everyone was so happy and nice. What more would one want from life? No wonder, being homeless, or at least in a shelter, without job and money, could become quite a fashionable lifestyle, after all. Even staff was always upbeat and encouraging. Nearly everyone among the members was great, quite truly. Whatever was missing anywhere or at any time was usually eagerly supplemented for. Progression, not just the lip service of it, was an overarching theme of the venture. Nobody could say that they weren’t wholeheartedly committed to this wonderful project. It really was a dazzling skylight, reaching out far and beyond.
The only thing that was perhaps left wanting for many of the members, was to eventually ‘meet somebody’, someone ‘special’. They were all alone, at least most of them, and in many cases the breakdown of a past relationship was the reason for coming here. Engaged in courses and self-improvement would’ve been a good opportunity to get to know each other, but at the same time, almost ironically, it only fostered a climate of how to be successfully Single. Having a family was definitely a scarcity, and the lack of it one of the main reasons for tumbling into the Project in the first place. As a sterile substitute, the cheering Spirit of the Community took them all under its comforting cloak of a happy nest-shelter.
For most of the girls, guys around the Project were kind of sweet but considered to be a failure. A failure because they hadn’t managed to create their own ‘world’, make their mark, be ‘successful’, etcetera etcetera. That was one. The other thing was that after what most women had gone through, rape, perhaps, abuse, etcetera, they really didn’t have much faith in the whole marriage thing anymore. Dating alone seemed utterly absurd and pointless. Otherwise flings or affairs were out of question with all their financial and psychological burdens. In other words, any illusions about love and all that had long been shattered.
All that was left was being a part of the Group and spending all time on self-improvement. The fun bit that might come as a part of the package in a married life – if it was indeed part of it – they could enjoy among the group always and anyway. While being part of such an exciting community, there was always something to laugh about, something exciting happening somewhere. And the bitterest of all fruits, the fruit of loneliness, seemed so far removed as to resemble only a faint memory.

When Che came along, it felt natural and easy for the Group to simply ignore him. So much were they immersed in their bubble of shared insanity that it didn’t even cross their minds to inquire what it actually was that so much upset and irritated them. Without actually doing anything, Che challenged them to the extreme. Sure, jealousy was an issue. How could they carry on believing in their cause, let alone improving, if someone who was already more accomplished than even their most accomplished teachers, was still being ‘stuck’ amongst them? And that maybe something was wrong with the whole premise of the framework that they so firmly and readily believed in – that, even less had crossed their minds. It was simply too seductive to finally feel loved and belonging.
True, some of the girls were indeed touched by Che’s sincere beauty and gifted intensity. And true, some of them did think twice about their shared principles, or their general stance, on male project members. But of course, the majority of the female members was too firmly entrenched in the group and therefore not only unwilling to change their views, but even ‘repelled’ by such ‘revolutionary’ ideas. After all, they were collectively considering themselves to be the poor victims of a sick society, and they together shared the ‘fate’ of being ‘patients’ in need for help and support. The prospect of having a truly good husband and truly prosperous family, to them seemed like a bloody provocation. Maybe out in the real world, things could be different and maybe even within a ‘sick’ society could be considered ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’. That was possible. But in here, projects needed attendance, not naughty kids or selfish husbands. In here, everyone was – and had to be – treated the same. Within their perfect little society that they themselves had created, they were all on the same boat. They were peers, yet without the pressure.
So after the first few weeks of ripples that Che’s appearance on the surface of the project had caused, the ‘common sense’ of ‘coming to terms’ was this: Who did he think he was, turning up like that without fitting in? They were convinced, and 100% positively at that, that Reality would eventually catch up with him and even him out, and when that happened, everything would go back to running mellow and smoothly again. Therefore, in the end most of the women eventually did what the majority of the guys had done from the very beginning: “just ignore him until he either goes away or quite frankly dies”.

But not everyone was like that. There were the occasional one or two girls who woke up, so to speak, after they’d met Che. They left the group to become ‘normal’ again. Maybe they got married, maybe they didn’t. The bottom line was that they’d been real enough not to be deceived anymore. There was also the occasional guy who truly saw and acknowledged Che. Most of them also soon after departed.
Republic certainly was one of those few girls profoundly intrigued by Che’s appearance. While Che, at least for the time being, wasn’t able – or willing – to penetrate deeply enough so that the Group would lose its intrinsic foothold on her, all her beliefs and values had been ‘wonderfully aroused’, as she put it. So there was ‘hope’.
Another girl was Annabelle. She felt that people were just simply people and the group was only a group. She would’ve never trusted any kind of ‘people consensus’, a public agreement or shared view on something. In fact, the naked manifestation of psychiatric terminology in the present case study before her, an irrational, evil group dynamic dead bent on extricating Che from their midst, almost frightened her into leaving. Yet, Annabelle was too level-headed and down-to-earth to ever act rashly. So she stayed on.

Che was sitting on his own, working away on whatever it was that he was attempting today. There was another girl, Savannah, who eyed him. Savannah was unusually silent for a black girl. She too had somehow crashed into the Project, despite her ample grace, talent and beauty. When she saw Annabelle approaching, she left. Another time.
“How’re you doing?”, Annabelle asked Che.
He looked up at her. She was certainly pretty and almost painfully sweet. “Thanks, I’m fine, like most of the time. Course sucks a bit, haha, also as usual.”
“Hahaha, yes, it does.”
“Not doing anything today?”, Che asked her.
“Nah, having a break. Don’t fancy.”
Phil, a somewhat obnoxious guy came over to annihilate their little bits of honest conversation. “Ho, Annabelle, I need your help. Got the same problems again with the housing association”, he hooked into the Buddhist girl’s benevolence and kindness. Thus, without much effort really, he successfully withdrew her from the heretic attempt to not segregate and outcast Che, who in turn he ignored with such obliterating alacrity, as if he wasn’t even a shadow or a ghost in this world. He seized Annabelle away to abuse her, while sticking their heads together poring over yet more sinister bullshit.
A little bit moved by such an unabashed display of aggressive suppression – but not too much –Che carried on what he’d been doing. Master the whites over the underpaint. Savannah sent over a smile which he reciprocally received. Poor girls, he thought. So beautiful and yet so terribly weak.

It wasn’t much later when two or three of the guys bonded together gaily, clamouring and giggling girlishly, until they finally hoodwinked the anyway spineless teacher to take part in their plot. They wanted to stage a jolly good group show of student’s works sometime soon. Sucking up on the topic of recently deceased pop-idol Dabbie Bowry, the event lured with likely sales incentives plus eminent press coverage to bolster the nationwide hype around a dead star bandwagon.
Naturally, Che was the only one not included in the artist lineup, which caused the cheerful preparations to be performed with even more gusto. They spent the next couple of weeks openly demonstrating how well pleased they were and did this in such a way that they kept pretending Che wasn’t at all present (although for the most part he was), while they boasted with works and exhibition related chitchat right in front of him.
Che was unimpressed. Such hardship, the hardship of enduring being at the mercy of strife and self-righteousness, meant really ‘nothing’ for him. After everything that he’d gone through, it caused him merely a laugh. What actually was quite disturbing, though, was that none of the other guys, the ones who took usually only a backseat, not only didn’t find any of this bullying strange or disturbing. Some even went out of their ways to join-in to demented bouts of laughter on many of the inane jokes made by the gay Party. But even this, in the end Che also endured. It wasn’t easy at all during those days, to carry on whatever he was doing. But after the Party had exhausted all its tricks, in the end Che still accomplished everything that he had set out to do. For all this time, Republic kept silent and invisible.

 

HEAVEN

Che was working alone in the large sunlit art room. This opportunity was called ‘open access’, a rare occasion without teachers, and Che was the only one who’d usually bother using it. Out of the blue, Republic suddenly descended right next to him. The erotic tension between them was unspeakable and divine. It had been quite a while since he last saw her. She’d been hiding herself during those ‘Pushing Out Che’ games that her group played on him lately, but Che wasn’t willing to wonder why.
Their conversation went around philosophies, about techniques of painting, about men and about women. Also a little bit about this place. There was nothing they couldn’t talk about. Anything they shared turned out to be something that they had in common.
On the surface, or seen and listened to by an outsider, it was only the talking that was happening between them. But for them, everything that was truly exchanged were the things between the lines and below the surface – the subliminal, invisible language of body and soul. Both of them knew that cameras would continuously watch them, and also eyes and ears of some peers were right now peeled, even though nobody was in the same room with them. All of this was perfectly clear to them. An uncanny presence of preying spectators. Yet, they couldn’t care less. There was nothing to hide, truth didn’t need to be embarrassed. And the actual place that they shared, right here and right now, was certainly not of this world. They floated on a bubble someplace else and there was nothing that could penetrate through the rainbow-tinged shimmering membrane of it. No-one and nothing at all would ever get through. There was absolutely no way.
But alone by themselves, things were still different.
Republic knew that she’d re-discovered something that she long ago had believed existed. That it manifested in this very manner, embodied through that casual looking guy sitting right next to her – sure, it slash-hammered her with surprise and she was kinkily positively excited about it. And even the fact that he was in a way ‘destroying’ her, or at least erased all that she believed in and stood for – well that was tough shit, obviously. But she was good at taking tough shit. She’d been beaten into excellence during childhood alright. So that was the good thing. Completely destroyed but totally happy about it. And all of that was probably the reason why she peculiarly felt that only this spot here, a wondrous bubble shared with only this particular guy, was all that made really sense for her – if there ever was anything about reality that could’ve made sense, after all.
Che, on his part, knew that Republic might be signifying something really quite enormous – not only for him but for the worlds behind him also, some all-important microcosmic realities of the universe. So for her, as well as for him, all of this definitely wasn’t child’s play. He could clearly sense her excitement, her longing and sense of homecoming. But there was also a great deal of trepidation and defensive shields mounted behind her.
Che also knew that she was, when on her own and not here with him, dreadfully deceived by the sinister Force behind the Group of the Party and for that reason, unfortunately for her ‘karmic blanket’ really, constantly lying – if only unknowingly. For that, considering the sheer enormity of malice driving forward that Force, she really couldn’t be blamed – although her debts on the ‘blanket’ were still hers.
What she could be blamed for, though, was that she had kept being attached to this whole lying act, despite the fact that through meeting him, Reality had already and terribly caught up with her. What’s been left to play games for? Why keep pretending? Why keep currying any favour with what made it its goal to destroy the one thing that was trying to truly save her? For that, she would probably have to pay dearly. All of which was making extracting her from this crap intrinsically more tricky.

While they kept swinging back and forth in their awesome bubble, checking each other out like two engrossed love-fighters, it became increasingly clear that this, the Mystery that they found, could be the turning point for Everything, meaning Reality at Large – not only for both of them, and maybe some of the things around them. So of course, how could it be easy? Scores had been set, their starting points and journeys had been and were still very much different. Turning this Miracle into tangible Truth was not something hinged onto Che. It was Republic upon which it depended. It was all entirely her call. Massive amounts of debts would have to be settled in order to achieve this. Her loss of face and status would be nothing in comparison. It certainly wasn’t easy. Would she be able to make it? All the question marks hung like a sword above their heads at the time that their shared bubble eventually descended. Yet feelings of bliss and belonging had meanwhile also gathered strength into a vital Solar Core emerging between them.
They parted with funny butterflies in their bellies. So much had been exchanged – Aeons, Eternities. To be forever young again wasn’t something new to them. They both remembered. It was nearly a total recall. Once upon a time.

 

II – SUCCESS

COMMUNITY

Their continued open displays of hostility got finally duly rewarded. Nearly each and every time they expressed their contempt about the fact that it wasn’t OK with them for Che to be around, more incentives for ever more betterments seemed to be popping up, passed down from management with lots of pomp and gusto. It was nice, for a change, to have the powers on their side, really. Too much have they suffered at the hands of higher forces all their lives. Nearly everyone in the Group felt like that. Why not for once fully reap the rewards of being ‘liked’ and ‘wanted’? They bloody well deserved it, for Christ’s sake. Indulgence was definitely not a crime.
Obviously none of them had failed to notice Republic’s change of mood during all of this. Even her behaviour and demeanour towards them had totally shifted. While she used to greet and smile at everyone, any time, with no hesitation, she now acted remote and withdrawn, avoiding closer contacts or conversations by all means. Nobody would’ve ventured to say that this was a good thing. Quite the opposite. It smelled of disaster and they already knew who’d have to be held accountable for – Che, the motherfucker. Who did he think he was? Some kind of Jesus or something? Leave our poor Republic alone. She belonged to us and us alone. Fuck off, ya jerk. Drop dead. Get lost. Just leave. Please. Thank you.
The whole ‘celebration of success’ exhibition which eventually excelled at celebratingly bootlicking dead and buried Dabbie Bowry’s self-aggrandising pop-iconisation was covered and lauded by most of the mainstream media in the whole country. The Group couldn’t have been more pleased. They were sure to be on the right track. It really seemed that from that ill-fated moment when Che had turned up on the scene – the more they’d managed to cast him out, the more everything they’d ever wished for would finally come true. Just look at today. Pristine, shiny nuggets of fame were served all around and flashlights of highbrow newspapers made them all feel exalted beyond their wildest dreams. They just had it all. Expensive champagne was served and to-die-for top-brand nibbles.
In a corner crammed with self-indulgent large-scale oil smearings, a woman called Augusta gave the press an elaborate account of her thinking behind ‘abstract’ works on self-sewn rubbish-dumped raw canvasses. A so-called artist named Don was surrounded by nice-smelling media interns representing a well-known youth-channel TV station. Especially for this occasion, he’d finally gotten the funding to install a bluetooth speaker system that made the warped octagonal wood frames automatically shout at passers by with eerie robotic voices. For many years he’d been dreaming of such an opportunity. And now those peachy teenage girls kept giggling at the rumblings of a downtrodden fool, and collectively let him in on their budding cleavages. It was all happening. It was nearly unreal.

 

MADEMOISELLE

Republic stood over there quite a bit apart from the crowd. She appeared unusually grey tonight. Although she was happy for everyone that they got the recognition that in a way they all deserved – after all the rejection they had suffered throughout their lives – she really couldn’t enjoy this gathering. Che hadn’t been invited, for one. But more alarmingly, he’d been fundamentally denied any part in the group exhibition whatsoever – the group that he was surely a part of, and in terms of skills and accomplishments, by far the most important one at that. Nobody’s had the balls to tell her such an outrageously absurd policy. Of course, there was absolutely no way she could’ve turned a blind eye on the group’s collective slaughter of ‘her’ Che. Speaking up about it, though, openly and aboveboard, was a different matter. Too complicated, hidden and deep-rooted seemed the workings and dynamics of such maddening group onslaught that she might’ve well attacked an entire ocean liner.
Yet, if that wasn’t all, it increasingly dawned on Republic that something was fundamentally pear-shaped with the way how they got used, all of them, to represent some strange ‘condescending agenda’ within the feigned grandeur of the whole Project. This agenda was seemingly pressed down from a sinister top-level management. Republic for a long time struggled to believe this and it made her even more silent.
A one big question was: why exactly posed Che such a massive challenge? All he was, was that he was true. That’s what he was. While everyone else was keen, cool, downtrodden or nice – true they were not. Their apparent kindness only went so far as underlying self-interest bolstered a pseudo-warmth of group-bonding. Came someone like Che along, and it turned straight away nasty. It was a horrible sight, regardless of where you stood to watch it.
All of these were the reasons behind why Republic had decided to keep to herself lately. Better work it out before committing. While she still somehow continued to consider the group to be ‘her’ people, too much history had simply cemented ironclad bonds, so that turning her back on it, at this stage, seemed quite impossible. Yet, she couldn’t face to be an ‘active’ part of it anymore. Well, anyway, that’s how she dealt with the Group for now.
At the same time, while Che had indeed swept her off her feet, made her tumble and fall, she couldn’t commit to him, either. Too independent and rational was she – she couldn’t even commit only to her feelings towards him. Feelings were just feelings, after all. Basically speaking, poor Republic was torn to pieces. And the whole extent to which she was torn indicated to her that all of this wasn’t just about love or loyalty or beliefs or purposes. It ultimately involved something quite dramatically larger – just wait and see.

Watching the tos and fros, ambitions and pretenses, fake fame and show-off mentalities during the ‘celebration of success’ banquet, Republic pondered again her cause. Where she was now, the vantage point she’d gained, the Group really had lost her. Leader or member – it was all the same. She could never commit again nor trust or believe in it as she used to do. That was one. The other one was that she couldn’t allow Che to ‘have’ her. She just couldn’t see herself committing to such a final and unprecedented surrender. At least, where she was now, she just couldn’t. True it was due to him that she was facing such a beautiful dilemma, and it was due to him that she’d been given a chance to wake up and see things for what they are. So, all of that was his work, his doing, and he would certainly deserve to reap the harvest of it. Obtain her fruits. Yes, she was clear on that. If anyone, it was him who would deserve it.
And yes, there was a part deep inside of her, and maybe it was her truest self, who wanted to give herself to him more than anything.
But her present, concrete outer-shell reality was still different.
“Hi Republic”, Bart came over to chat, his erect flute sparkled golden champagne. “Why didn’t you submit any works? Would’ve been good, or not? Press’s been great. Everyone loves us.” He poked his glass into her face.
Republic shook her head. “I need to stay away from you guys for a bit. The way Che’s been treated isn’t OK with me”, she said.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. I don’t like it either. He’s such a cool guy”, Bart said and hunched his back forward to lessen the strain on his limp, rubbery spine.
It made him look more like himself, Republic thought oddly.
Then she changed her point-of-view into another corner.

 

CHE

It hadn’t obviously escaped Che, Republic’s whole change of tack, or at least her ‘dilemma’. All said and done, he only felt deeply sorry for her. But there was also a strange kind of ‘pain’, inexplicable, tearing and searing. It was rooted around the lower ribcage on the right-hand side of his body. Che struggled to make the connection. With all the other abuse and slander he got from the Group, there was absolutely nothing that he could do about it. Zero. Of course, he could bear the hardship, no problem. He could also deal with the isolation and solitude it all caused, no problem. But the inexplicable pain on her behalf? That was really a hard thing to do. Che kept wondering why. For sure, they had a presumably very ancient connection. Where did it originally come from? What was the connection exactly?
This mystery kept impressing itself on Che while he went about spending his days, lately. Nüwa. Creatrix beatific. Playmates divorced and Elysian days henceforth gone. Great Kingdoms toppled and petty populaces installed. Lies fostered and truths ridiculed. Ancients forgotten, present day clowns deified. Nobody can salvage the Party. The Group was clearly destined to go under.

Some time during these days of contemplations, Annabelle stepped in and for a while it seemed as if she was an option, a possible solution to the whole ‘problem’. Her sweetness was indeed refreshing and the ‘pain’ did indeed cease for a little while.
Before long, even Savannah showed up as a further back-up. Having two or three wives suddenly didn’t seem at all impossible. For a family it would be good, Che thought, for little empires taking the form of larger households, to most favourably flourish and prosper. Kids would have plenty of brothers and sisters to play with. And wives would’ve plenty of time for themselves. ‘Self-improvement’ certainly made sense then. Investments were sure to be returned to the rightful owners. For the first time, Che understood the economic ‘truth’ that laid the base of a healthy family.
Conversely – was the Group, although seemingly serving the interests of the individuals, ultimately not operating similar to a harem? Then if that was the case, if the achievements of the individuals, in fact only fed the head of it – who was the harem’s invisible pasha master? Che knew the answer. That pasha-master was certainly very strong.
Too weak in comparison therefore, both beauties eventually succumbed to the ‘group pressure’ and faded back into the grey mass from where they had briefly extracted themselves to meet Che. Perhaps future karmic ties had still been laid somewhere? Although their grace and talent were ample, will-power and core-being turned out to be too frail, too weak – too indebted, perhaps. At any rate, both girls were too engrossed. They were seized back on their ankle chains by their powerful master. Once again congealed into the flattening suction force of a blind, rampant Party, everything was run like a flawless puppetry show there. An intricate, merciless clockwork of wheels and dials was behind it all. Emotional buttons. Irrational strives. Desires and grievances. Purposes and bonds. Successes and failures. Che was perfectly clear on it now: The evil Party had been off-course from the get-go.

 

III – BREAKDOWN

EARTH

The world once again shifted and suddenly for the Centre, the problem it was purporting to solve became itself a problem as well. Rent could not be paid anymore. Some backers had pulled out. Other tax nuggets and sexy charitables became more fashionable and profitable. As ironically simple as that, this was it for the whole show. Gates had to be closed. It was time to face the truth.
Of course, for senior staff, somewhere else new and more exciting opportunities might’ve been waiting. But for many of the mid-range progression workers, all of this was surely the bleakest of news and the majority of them wished there were still a centre left somewhere that they could now themselves turn to.
But most importantly, the actors of the farce, the ‘members’ of the Group, were obviously now completely and totally fucked and finished. No individual homeless disaster could’ve destroyed them with more finality. Losing face, losing world views, losing all hopes and belongings. Losing those years of their lives that they’d spent in vain. There were no clownesque charades anymore. No lovely ‘we-love-each-other-so-much’ pretenses. No more ‘how-awful-the-society-out-there-was’ role play. No more so-called ‘self-improvement’ lifestyles for drained confidences to fall back on. No more pumped-up pseudo-solidarity and preposterous fake community spirits. It had all been a silly dream and now the asphaltic concrete struck back from under the cedar-wood floor-board. Puff. Payback time was unleashed. Everyone saw that Che was the only one still standing. A great deal of retribution was bound to commence. Everyone knew it.
And somewhere, a lovely Asian almond-eyed girl watched her soap bubbles glister in rainbow formations, before bursting into fractions of fizzy jinx.

MADEMOISELLE

It came both as a welcome relief and a final devastating blow to her worldview. Right leg, left leg. Which side to step on? Resurrection or Destruction? Che and Victory or the Group and Going Under? Che was good but probably too far away now. The Group was finished but wasn’t she – still – their leader? Had it not come to this under her ‘reign’ and persuasion?
Since she’d had so many years of entanglement, it was in a way like a marriage. She couldn’t see much other choice than to step on the side of destruction. Being in it together, going under together. Was that not how reality worked?
Or not? Still torn. Even the end of it couldn’t solve it. Her true self had already abandoned the Party, only her surface was still pretending to be a part of it. Leadership was actually no longer an issue. So in a way, the divorce had already happened. There really weren’t that many tentacles left to keep her connected. Republic no longer felt that what she now knew was still worthwhile with them to share. Sharing, as well as investment of skills, had become an incredibly serious issue, Like Che, Republic began to grasp the protective economic realities attached to the intimacy of a family. All the Group’s clamoured ‘open door policy’ and ‘liberal transparency’ had all along been deceptive lies. Silly, but extremely dangerous flights of fancy.
She equally could no longer reveal to them her true self. Nobody in the Group deserved to see it, after their ugliness towards Che, the one who helped her give birth to it. And neither could she tell them that they’d been wrong from the get-go. “100 Million people can’t be wrong”, Lenin said apparently. Well, they can be and that was the whole point. Thanks, Che. Thanks, merciful reality, for putting everything straight through destruction.

 

HEAVEN AND EARTH

Again they met in no-man’s land. The Centre was long gone. The Party Community perishing. Words were hardly exchanged. Conversation took place merely through glances. Yes, Che could see Republic now clearly. Bare naked she stood there before him. Che had the tools, the power and the demeanour. Republic looked sweet, soft and beautiful – like the Goddess that she truly was.
Che didn’t know what course she would take. All he knew was that future reality depended upon it. Should she decide to come with him, he could solve her wrongs and settle everything with benevolent solutions. Such was his state now, it had been elevated by Her. She could therefore still be on his side, despite her earlier rejection, her de-facto betrayal and the consequent loss of trust. All of this, he could still do. He looked at her not straight but from the side.
Republic only saw haze before her. Sure, some of it was caused by tears, although she didn’t normally shed them. But the main haze came from utter confusion and the pressure that the present maze caused. All future opportunities, indeed a Future as such, were laid out right before her. It couldn’t have been more clear that she belonged to Che. She probably not only was his now, in this realm, but had been his always, in all realms, since the beginning of time.
Yet her past, the past of the Group that was now going under, had still that handle on her that seemed nearly impossible to break. Republic knew that Che could help her break it. But was she still deserving? Despite her being ‘rescued’, she might still have to go down with the Party, together with all her wrong turns. Only because now that she saw ‘truth’, now that her self had been retrieved and her gravest flaws mended – was her future standard really up to par? Would Heaven not simply laugh at her? Blemished after all these years by the filthy public immersion in ignorance and denial – could she still offer Che truly her core treasure – the pure girl of Virginity?
Che was waiting. “Can she or can’t she?” Never had it been more up to Her. “Can one ever reverse a failure or does one have to be one, forever, once a wrong turn has been taken?”
Yes, Che was waiting. He cherished her treasures so as to give her more time.
But he certainly wouldn’t wait forever.

 

 

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