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Any Way the Wind Blows
“I’m just a poor boy,
I need no sympathy
Because I’m easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low
Any way the wind blows
Doesn’t really matter to me”
--Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
* * * * *
I felt like Jesus sitting in that prison cell. I watched as the guard unlocked my cell. He looked at me without any sign of remorse or pity and threw my Last Supper at me. He quickly locked my cell again and walked away. I was unsure as to how he expected me to eat the mush that I had forced myself to tolerate nearly six weeks in a row. No, I couldn’t muster the courage to eat it when I was on Death Row. Butterflies flew about my stomach freely, and though I begged them to stop, they fluttered on. My eyes burned with tears, yet I forced them away. I reassured myself that death could not be as terrible as life was.
* * * * *
When I was a young boy, my mama taught me many lessons. Always be polite. Never cuss in front of a lady. Don’t offer an opinion unless asked for one. Share. I remember when I learned the most important lesson, though.
I was about eight or nine years old. Me and Mama had just gotten in from the fields. Our faces were bright red from wind-burn. Her denim dress was covered in dirt. Her brown hair was a mess atop her head, yet she still looked as pretty as always. My red flannel shirt and overalls smelled like an overpowering musk, and I was quite certain there were wood shavings in my shaggy black hair. My silvery gray eyes burned from the wind constantly whipping the dirt around. I was dead tired from all the work, and collapsed onto the large blue couch.
“Tired, Marty?” Mama asked, sitting beside me.
“Oh, yeah, Mama. We work way too hard. We may as well just sell the land. It’d be loads easier!” I exclaimed, scooching over to make more room for her.
“Marty Reynolds! Land is the most important thing any of us could have. And, do you know why?”
“Why, Mama?” I asked, enthusiastically. Mama always knew what she was talking about.
“No land, no work. No work, no money. No money, no home. If we don’t have a home, the government barely recognizes us as citizens!”
“Well, how come?”
“I don’t know if I should—Oh, alright. See, lately the government’s gotten real, real strict. Ever since World War III, the government has been looking for ways to do things dirt cheap. They’re taking back people’s land, and then revoking their citizenship. It’s pretty cruel,” She sighed.
“If you don’t like it, why don’t you just say something?”
“Any way the wind blows… It doesn’t really matter to me,” she shrugged.
* * * * *
My family lived in a small village called Todesfall. The lush green village was filled with about one hundred families that made up one large family. The sky was usually a clear blue with large gusts of wind frequently filling the air. The people dressed very casually, and everyone tended to get along. There was one large town square where we would meet once in a blue moon for special occasions such as weddings. We were self-sufficient. We used no power sources, just worked off the land.
One horrible day, I received a knock at my door. I was a twenty seven-year old, wedded for nearly three years. My father had passed away a while back, and I had inherited the land. My wife was bathing our sixteen month old son and didn’t have a free hand.
“Coming!” I called from the kitchen. I sprinted to the front door.
Much to my surprise, it was an unfamiliar man whose knock had disrupted me. He was broad shouldered with a buzz cut. In his ear was an odd looking electronic device which he whispered into from time to time. He was in an official looking suit and wearing sunglasses to cover his eyes, though there was very little sun. He wore a bored expression.
“Um… Hello, there,” I said. “Care to come in?”
“No time,” he replied, raising his hand to look at his watch. “I’ve just come to deliver a message.”
“May I ask who from?” I was slightly confused. Who would be sending us a message from outside of Todesfall?
“The President of the United States would like you to know that the village of Todesfall will be torn down within two weeks. We advise that you and your family move from the area. Good day.” He proceeded to turn and walk away.
“What?! Why? Wait!” I called after him, my heart dropping to my stomach. He continued on, ignoring my beckoning.
Completely infuriated, I ran to the back of the house and wrapped my rugged hands around my father’s old ax. I was strong and could carry it, and, as I always did when I was especially mad, I began hacking at the wood.
How can they do this to us?! I thought. This is our land. We rightfully own this land. No one can just storm in and take it from us! This is ridiculous! I—
“Hey, Marty! Did you hear?!” my neighbor, Cody, called, interrupting my thoughts.
“Unfortunately…” I replied, taking another whack at the wood.
“Did they tell you that the President is coming to talk to us? And, he’s bringing his Secret Service and everything!”
“What,” I replied, snidely. “Do they think we’re going to kill him?”
“Just some precautions I guess,” he responded. “Did you hear why they’re making us leave?”
“No, why?” I asked, suddenly interested in what Cody was saying.
He opened his mouth to speak, but just as he did, a huge gust of wind blew. It made a whistling noise in my ears, and made it impossible for me to hear what he was saying.
“What? What?!” I shouted. He attempted to repeat himself, but no matter how loud he screamed, I couldn’t hear him.
Just as the wind cleared up and Cody was about to tell me, my wife called for me to hurry inside.
“Sorry, Cody… Got to go…” I apologized and hurried back inside.
* * * * *
Cody was right about the President coming to town. An announcement was made in the town square the next day. President Louis O’Neill was coming to town to discuss his motives for destroying our peaceful village the next week. It was mandatory that all the men of the town come to listen to the speech. Apparently, this was supposed to make us understand how the president could be so terrible. I didn’t think that I would ever understand.
When I got home, I realized I could not stand for this. If I just stood idly while watching the government destroy hundreds of lives, then I would be no better than the government themselves. I made up a master plan in my head. It would change my life. It would change the lives of my family. It would change the lives of the people in my village. Most importantly, it would change the life of Louis O’Neill.
That night I went to the local gun store and bought a rifle.
“What business do you got with a rifle?” Old Man Callaghan, the owner of the gun store, asked me.
“Going hunting, sir,” I replied.
“Oh,” he smiled. “What’re you hunting for?”
“Deer hunting, sir.” I smiled back.
“Those things are good for nothing,” he said, handing me the gun. “But, be careful, Marty. There’s supposed to be a strong wind tonight. You wouldn’t want to kill a person!”
I took it happily, thanked him, and exited the store. Perhaps this would be easier than I thought.
* * * * *
The next week couldn’t come fast enough. Before I knew it, however, I was standing in a crowd of people, waiting for the long, black stretch limo to make its’ way into town square. The rifle was hidden beneath my trench coat, pressing against my chest. I stood, practically shaking. I had barely killed a fly before. Killing the President of the United States was a big deal. Suddenly, I could feel the adrenaline rushing.
The president pulled in at 11:47 AM. He and his Secret Service took their positions, and they began to talk. As anxious as a poor, hungry boy receiving bread, I ignored the President’s rant and glanced down at my watch.
At 11:56 AM, a large gust of wind rolled through, kicking dust and dirt up as it went. The Secret Service began to rub their eyes, losing focus. I whipped my rifle out and quickly aimed at O’Neill’s head. This was it! What I had been waiting for! My time to shine!
I pulled the trigger. The bullet soared through the crowd until it reached its final destination. I watched it pierce the president’s temple. The exasperated look on his face made me realize the severity of what I had just done. I, Marty Reynolds, had just killed the President of the United States.
There was a sudden confusion amongst the people in the crowd. Everybody attempted to make a run for it, but the Secret Service had surrounded us.
* * * * *
As one of the men went to assist the President, the rest of the Secret Service officials began screaming orders. Chaos rampaged through the crowd as people made desperate attempts to get away. No one wanted to be caught in this circumstance.
“Quiet!” the leader screeched. “Shut it!”
“Lance,” the man attending to the President whispered. The whole crowd was silent.
“What? What do you want?!” the commissioner snapped.
“He’s dead… Lance, he’s dead…”
Lance paused momentarily, before shouting, “Which one of you did this?!”
I stood uncomfortably. Why should I admit to doing the misdemeanor? Any idiot could’ve pulled a gun and shot the guy. It just so happened to be me, but who needed to know?
“If you don’t tell us,” Lance continued. “We’ll kill all of the citizens of this dumpy little town of yours. If you come clean, we’ll let you keep this stupid town.”
Either way I’m going to die… I thought. I can save these people and our village… or I can let them all die for me.
* * * * *
“Ready to go Reynolds?” the guard asked, swinging his keys.
“Ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.” I replied.
He opened my cell and let me out. I realized this was it. I was going to miss the way the sun would hit me and warm my body. I was going to miss the grip my rugged hands had on an ax when I would chop wood. I was going to miss my son growing up. Most of all, I was going to miss the cool wind—the one thing that made me feel at home.
The walk to the room where I was going to die was painful. I could barely move because I was shaking so badly. The guard had a tight grasp on my arm, so that there was no way for me to escape.
As I entered the brightly lit room, I saw a doctor with his hands grasped around a thick needle. Three other men were standing in the room as well, waiting for me. The guard sat me in a chair and walked away.
“Marty R., do you admit to killing the President of the United States?” the huskiest of the three men asked.
“Yes,” I gulped. “I do.”
As he scribbled something down, another man asked, “Any last words?”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” I choked. “But, any way the wind blows… It doesn’t really matter to me.”
* * * * *
Once upon a time, in a village called Todesfall, there lived one hundred families. These one hundred families had one hundred houses. Every night, one hundred family dinners took place. One hundred giggles slipped from different mouths. One hundred kisses and hugs were exchanged between parents and children.
Now, there are one hundred wind mills in their place.