Optimism is no mild and unreasoning satisfaction. A poet once said, "Be cold, but live in a beautiful dream. It is a mistake to ignore the evil." By making people neglectful it lets in the ignorance and indifference. How many good men, prosperous and contented, saw naught but a meddlesome fanatic when he was working with might and main to free the slaves?
Her paw pounced at the clacking of the dead key, ready to jump in a ghost before the next letter. Èvérỳthìňg was coming up with those damned diacritics. All he saw was a spattering of funky characters where his angry snark and ripostes were supposed to be. The pulsing vein across his left temple needed more space to concentrate on the diatribe.
He picked her up off the keyboard and placed her on the bookshelf. Many ways up, only one way down. She was still growing, so the noise, the meowing, was nothing more than a rhapsody against the humming of the computer tower. And of the overhead lines outside. Real estate is cheap when you give it up for visions of transmission towers.
Back to the keys and they now spoke as he expected them to. Nothing foreign in them any more. That's the way it was supposed to be. The right way to speak. Plain and to the point, void of any accent or dialect beyond nahth or sarth. Not even that today. Dead eyes on the paper, on the screen. No inflection, no lilt, no poetry.
The specks of skin and hair trapped underneath flew up as he hammered out the latest manifesto. The energy and vigour was coursing through his fingers, downloading the thoughts, triumphs and wrongs of society and government. He was in the zone. He channelled the prosody, the ticks and the intonation with ease.
Seven hours later he slumped back in his chair. Wiping off his brow with the lower half of his T-shirt, he hit the big PRINT button, the one he installed a few months ago, and waited for the sound. As the tune of the dot matrix printer down the hall started whirring back and forth, teething into the roll of paper, he dozed off. She was still up on the bookshelf, but had found a nice spot right up against the air vent and had been purring in her quiet nap for the last two hours.
He woke up choking back the drool and kicking against the cords under the desk. The lights of the computer blinked out. It was all silent save for the purring kitty. Creaking off his chair, he put on some gloves and went out into the hall. He came back with a stack of pages, still slightly warm and reeking of the printer ribbon.
Dumping the pages into a box, he used up the last of the tape to seal down the edges. After double checking the address, he used his left hand to scrawl it across the top. Satisfied, he put the parcel to one side of the room with the others and went to the toilet.
The pay was good, but the market for ghost writing manifestos was soon coming to an end.
Written on Sunday, 23 February 2014