Lovely Lucio would at last face the firing squad.
It was dawn, orange glows seeping in through the steel bars on the cell they had prepared for him. The glow, which he watched illuminate his own ghoulishly gaunt face in the tarnished mirror hanging over his straw covered bed, did little for his complexion or fear. There was once a time when he had been love--now he looked like a cow come too late to a slaughter, killed after all semblance of purpose had fled from his bones.
When he was love, he was a fire. Always, he waited to find new kindling for his blaze. Lovers disappeared into his dark eyes like dry brush struck by lightning, there and then gone; these same eyes were now elevated upon dark pouches and sallow cheekbones. Art, as well, was always something within the heats of his passions.
Art quickly turned into awareness, which erupted into purpose. In purpose, Lucio had been a volcano, spitting ash upon the heads of those who ran the government. Immortal and untroubled by threats, he reigned as an omnipresent rumbling voice, bellowing smoke at the foul deeds of police officers or government officials.
Like any volcano would be, Lucio considered with what could only now be a grin, he was quite surprised when they found a mountain sized prison and a pacifier to stop up the howling heat within him. And now they would stop it up for good. His hubris had overwhelmed his logical efforts to hide himself, and he had quickly been caught by the same police he protested against, forced into this prison to await a very certain outcome.
"It's time," the stoic guard rattled, opening the iron door to his cell. Lucio, wearing nothing that could pass for a grin any longer, gave the guard his wrists to be cuffed. "No need," the guard replied, following Lucio as he climbed the stairs towards his death.
Time to face the music.
Arising into the courtyard, Lucio finds himself immediately shot with terror followed by delighted surprise as riflemen uncork twenty bottles of champagne in his direction. As the froth falls upon the yellow sand, a team of mariachi players emerges from the ramparts high above his head, filling the air with the sound of trumpets and guitar and percussion. Jarabe Tapatío dancers whirl between the ranks of the champagne men, frills of dresses flashing brightly in the dawn's sun, while kicking dust excitedly with leather boots in stomping motions. Banners unfurl from the ramparts hailing Lucio's government pardon while the commandant personally shakes Lucio's hand, giving him a large, warming hug.
Lucio, with tears streaming down his face, sits down to at a freshly prepared table covered in a white cloth. He can feel the strength returning to his body as he begins to eat the suckling pig that they bring to him.
He can feel the fire again.
Thorton would soon confront his manager, a fact which played out in his twitching fingers tapping against his plastic desk.
"Could you stop that, please?" Martha begged. Her cubicle was right next to his. He wanted to stand up and scream his problems into her ear, but adults don't do that. She could surely hear his paranoia, his deeply sighing breaths, the rapid motions of his eyes as he thought of some way to save this. Anything would be a start at this point.
Thorton was guilty of many sins: making too many photocopies of things he needed, making too many photocopies of things he didn't need, making too many photocopies that had printed wrong, making too many photocopies of pages with blank backsides, clocking out for lunch too late, clocking back in from lunch too early, clocking out for the day too late, clocking in for the day too early, clocking too many hours, clocking too many days, not being a team player who actively contributes at meetings, being too much of a team player who actively contributes at meetings, drawing too many pictures at meetings, drawing a blank at meetings…
The list could honestly go on forever. Between Thorton's mother, who was on hospice care, and Thorton's wife who probably worked harder than him at a job that paid considerably less, Thorton had no excuse for not doing everything in his power to stay employed. He knew that the end was near. He could smell the brimstone and ash of his career smoldering in the next room as the clock clicked down to 4 PM. Every moment, the odor of sulfur seeped under the crack of the manager's glass door.
Then, the door opened and out stepped the secretary.
"Mr. Marshall?" she asked. Deep down in his subconscious, Thorton Marshall was glad that they at least allowed him one more day, even if that day was spent with him shivering in fear of the predicted career apocalypse that was e-mailed to him several hours ago.
He walked over to her, arms held out for the clipboard she clutched. It took him a long moment to realize she had no intention of giving it to him (she really looked like she was holding it like she wanted to give it to him), he shook his head, muttered "Sorry" in a language that could never be English, and trudged into the manager's office.
Time to face the music.
Someone blows a whistle that shoots paper out away from his or her mouth. The idea is immediately foreign to Thorton, who had been expecting no less than to sign his name on a line before riding the bus home. The crowd, no less than twenty people from around his office begins to clap their hands and make shrill noises while wearing conical hats with ribbons strung about them while the manager, bearing an unusually bemused face sings along. It's the "Happy Birthday" song, Thorton realizes as he sees the same words written on the giant "Happy Birthday You Hard Worker" vanilla iced cake in front of him. Someone claps him on the back and offers him a cigar while another person tucks a flower into his front shirt pocket while another person hands him a knife and forces his trembling hand to cut the cake. Thorton is weeping so hard that he cannot see the cake, and he is getting worried that he'll cry into the slices he's serving, but it's OK because he is only serving himself right now. His mother is with him, sitting beside him and enjoying her own piece of cake while tenderly rubbing his shoulder, and his wife is amusing herself at the punch bowl.
Thorton thinks things aren't so bad after all.
We have expectations. One of these expectations that we share, as a society, is that misdeeds come with a consequence. Errors are met with terrors beyond the feeble understanding that we now allow many children to have.
I have met students that slide into advanced classes on little more than their desire to try them, in spite of a history filled with failing grades. I've met children who find themselves in summer school simply because they had a disagreement with an adult. I've met college students who still labor under the assumption that life is free and only stops when the cakes and beers are fully depleted, which will never happen in their minds. I've met adults who still believe that a wink and a smile will wither any consequences that could possibly perturb them.
Worst of all, I've met adults who have explored the deep recesses of personal failure, only to emerge from the immensity of their spelunking with nothing at all that they are willing and/or able to share. It is not unlike asking a world renowned food taster to describe the best dish they ever tasted only to hear them state that it was "pretty good."
Life is, unfortunately, filled with grim realities. We, as a society, should decide if that's the way we want it, training our children and young adults towards that inevitable, biting future if that is what we choose to have. We could live in a kinder, gentler world and utilize real consequences only for the most awful atrocities, but can we convince ourselves that such a thing can exist?
Will it be the axe, the firing squad, or the notice of termination?
Or will it be cakes and punch and love and happiness and forgiveness everlasting?
Choose and take action to speak plainly about it to children. Speak the truth about the way adults live. If we cannot be honest and decisive in how we share our society with our younger generations, then we too shall face the music when they come of age.