Conflicting Virtues

For Elayne; may she grow rich.

“Truth is what you profess in order to
avoid being shot by the Committees.”

I was working behind a desk in the front office of the Citizens’ Committee to Abolish Drug Abusers main building one day when Jake “Fat Man” Alderman walked in looking like he owned the place. Only later did I find out that he did. I was just an old teenager at the time, Christian for a Strong America, all that shit. This was just a summer’s volunteer stint inspired in part through the agency of public crocodile tears being shed by an upper class first lady who felt that her husband’s P.R. called for a little charitable destruction. We were administrative assistants and gofers, helping out in the A building with the distillers, offloading the Zyglon-B, firing up the ovens, herding the latest batches from the inner city two thousand miles away and six hundred miles in diameter. The liberals long ago having been either toasted or taught otherwise to keep their mouths shut, there really wasn’t anyone left to protest; but at the time I never suspected that the camps should be protested. I had helped out with the enforcement of the early gun control measures which greatly facilitated the liberals’ oxygenation, see, all you had to do was take arms away from the liberals’ enemies and then they could be rounded up. But the Fat Man’s presence was my first inkling that something was wrong.

“Can I help you?” I asked, fingering the cross around my neck.

“You are, son,” he said patronizingly, “You are.”

That set me off; I had seen his pictures in the papers. There seemed to be pretty strong evidence that linked him to the mysterious drug manufacturing centers, wherever they were. Of course he was also well connected with people in the House and Senate, and had been a good friend of the President’s prior to the election, I think. After all, it sometimes seems that the newspapers report different things…

Not long afterward I was assigned to the distilleries for a while. We weren’t the least bit wasteful at these installations, no sir. There was plenty of good material to be extracted from the bodies before they were burned, even though they were drug addicts.

While there I fell into conversation with one fellow, an oddball who I had Just lately resolved to report to the Citizen’s Committee for Normalcy should he continue to behave in deviant fashion. This, it turns out, was the fateful hour of my life, for it was there and then that I first found out what the extracts were and to what use they were put.

“Try some of this,” the oddball told me, holding out a syringe.

“What do you mean? What is it, a drug?”

“No, no,” the fellow told me, “it’s only one of the vitamin-mineral extracts. It’ll pep you up.”

I’m not sorry now, though I suppose that were I the same person as before I would be. I took the injection and was instantly treated to a body sensation not unlike orgasm which lasted for about ten hours.

“What is it again?” I asked.

“Sucker!” the guy shouted. “It’s drugs! It is the drug, the one we keep hauling them for, the beta endorphins we squeeze out of their brains!”

I left the place then and made my way to the inner city overcome with shame and curiosity. It was easy to find people who sold the drug, as a matter of fact they sought one out quite actively, considering that their markup was nothing to sneer at. They will go to any length to get one to try the drug just once, I know because I started dealing. I used to wonder where the money went until I met the Fat Man again on the other side of the fence. He gives a proportion to the anti-drug lobbyists so that they can propagandize in favor of harsher and ever harsher deterrence measures, and he pays off the Citizens’ Committee to Halt Drug Importation so that they will bust the lone entrepreneurs. This of course raises his income since the product has fixed manufacturing costs and a steady demand. Finally he probably has to pay the overhead on the incinerators so that the taxpayers don’t squawk. I’ll probably see the inside pretty soon, entering from the wrong door so to speak. We all have to pay for our pleasure.

I’m glad the liberals never had the guts to legalize drugs when they were in power way back when because then it never would have been profitable enough for the Fat Man to invest his money in the production and distribution networks. I swear it on a stack of needles.

Originally appeared in Inside Joke #8

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