Pam Burnside: Down the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
“Forward, Upward, Onward Together!” proclaimed the Emperor who stood majestically once again above and upfront on his armoured tank in Rawson Square, resplendently adorned for the Independence celebrations in the appropriate flag-coloured turquoise and golden yellow jumpsuit accessorized with his shiny black boots, black helmet and billowing black cape which intermittently blocked the faces of those standing in a line below and several paces behind him.
First in diminishing order stood FM, dressed all in black to match the gleaming custom-made bazooka by his side, poised at the ready against the advised threat of the summer travellers’ onslaught. Moving it deliberately from side to side, he contemptuously watched the frowning rabble pressing against the barriers before him.
He could only think about how much time he was wasting with this foolishness in the hot sun when he could be jetting in first class comfort to and fro with his FFL entourage to far off lands, rubbing shoulders with the powerfully rich and famous! Furthermore, the world was his playground, not theirs – their time was of no value because they did not have important work to do like him!
Why can’t they get it? After all, it’s been the same story every summer for ages, so why aren’t they used to it yet after all these years of training? The nerve of them to think they should have seats, protection from the elements, and air conditioned comfort whilst they wait for hours, days, weeks and months! Ungrateful lot! He had explained it quite clearly in his news statement – it is everybody else’s fault, not his! Why should he apologize? Never! After all: “Love means you never have to say you’re sorry.” They are to love me unconditionally!
A few paces further back and several steps lower (since he was naturally taller) stood JF. He was dressed in a turquoise jumpsuit (he wanted to emulate his mighty emperor as much as possible as an expression of his undying loyalty) clearly representing his deep concern for the Bahamian environment, particularly its sky and its waters. He stood with his thumbs tucked inside the slick, thick, black belt around his waist that shone like oil with a sparkling ruby at the centre. He was becoming more accustomed to the slick talk required of his post, and he really enjoyed having a position on the Emperor’s tank.
He was proud of the fact that he had done what was right and just. Phooey on the blah, blah, blah report – his job was secure – after all that was the main reason for his existence. No matter how many times he said it, those D- people couldn’t understand. He did not know why the Emperor was wasting all those millions of dollars on them every year anyway. They did not need an education – that money could be better used to pay for all the foreign experts they could bring in from outside the country.
Finally, at the very back of the tank, barely seen, stood AG, the little woman in the group, relegated to her rightful place at the back of the line behind the great men of the country. Dressed resplendently all in yellow and bejeweled with gold accessories from the golden wig atop her head right down to her gleaming golden shoes, she smiled and shone as she gave her royal gloved wave to the masses.
Even though others of her sex had moved no further forward constitutionally, she, nevertheless, beamed in her subjugated role, proud of having had the opportunity to assure visiting foreign lenders recently of the amazing success of the country’s modernization initiative of online services for businesses. All of the red tape had been magically unraveled and stripped away by technology – the process was now ‘easy-peasy-press-a-button-lickety-split-super-fast’!
She loved taking part in such addresses to foreign lenders when she could get dressed up in her rose-coloured glasses and paint a magnificent rosy picture of success with words. She did not understand why the ungrateful masses were complaining about having to wait years to get business papers sorted out, or to get NIB payments on time, when all they had to do was simply press the magic buttons! What crazy talk! She totally agreed with FM that inefficiency, incompetence, uncomfortable long lines, and inordinate waits were all figments of the imagination. What dream world were those complainers living in?
Whilst the Emperor and his selected colleagues continued to pose for the press cameras on the ground (also positioned well away from the four-deep rows of His Emperor-ship’s heavily armed bodyguards surrounding the tank) the people’s voices behind the barriers lifted in unison with increasing volume as they chanted over and over again: “Wake up Alice, wake up!”