UNITED STATES—The Leader raised from the dead with each step stood taller. Out he strode to the shores of the sea of wheat that fluttered in the wind in the sun. And he threw off the robe and the bulbous figure stood on spindly legs, the old and decadent farmer, raised to the level of supreme ruler, stood naked and flabby in the sun, back to the farmhouse.

One arm reached down and picked out a pill-pod from the base of his spine, and cringed. A hot-red one. He stood and stared at it in the blazing noon day sun that stagnated. A blue one he plucked, and a lime-green. And with each additional his body cringed.

With a final reflex of fire, the eyes clear and wide as it pushed by tiny fingers within the skull. With each pill-pod plucked out an aperture opened a blaze of light band filed the bloated belly that stewed in remorse and epiphany.

Who could say what The Leader was thinking? With each pill-pod plucked he was feeling lacerated and purified, thinking of the sheer folly in binary thinking, as these protective chemical overrides of the pill-pods provided any kind of real retreat. It left raw and naked the conviction if you started in one supposition or inclination, go in the opposite direction, keep going opposite and you’ll come up with something beautiful like the monkey menagerie that manages to type out Hamlet, given the limitless scope of time.

But that wasn’t the way of life at all, not at all, thought The Leader, who countered the emoluments of power with a pride in the tooth rot, an emblem of what was to come. In the end, was the beginning and the beginning of the end that would eventually rot the teeth and take over the whole body

The Leader thought of the gruesome way he had maimed himself, the one shining act of bravery, in the days of the rube who became the voice–not really the voice, more ventriloquist of a way of seeing things that came from all the people chirping about this and that: and having nothing inside to channel but all that chirping. It led to the annexation of “up there” while the elites fled to the Underground Cities.

The Leader finally plucked the last pill-pod and collapsed on his face at the edge of the sea of wheat.

Detective Zorba saw from afar and his security, verging on smugness, fled as the girl with the close-shorn yellow hair ran to the side of her father and the shadow of the dusty horseman fell over the Leader.

To be continued…

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)