Monthly Archives: March 2019

In the Beginning: Tohu-Bohu of the Most Civilized Kind

Tuesday, March 26th 2019: First Post here, Second Post overall. (Posts will flow weekly here on Tuesdays.)

Council for the middling City of Mariposa meets formally in the Council Chamber of course. It is a room that the mayor, Josie Smith, particularly hates on account, she says, of its mind-boggling pretentiousness and the elevated stage on which Council sits, looking down on any members of the public who can get past the City Clerk and onto the agenda. Mayor Josie is a levelling democratist of the most severe kind. When she has been in office long enough,  knows her way around, and has enough support, she will do something about that room. If she can get away with it she will elevate the public above the Council, where they belong. Josie intends to be mayor for a long, long time. She wants the whole hog. She won’t squander money and political good will on half measures. She has promised the voters a level, democratic process aimed at Social Justice, and that is what they are going to have, try her patience however it may.

She is devoted to her home city with every fibre of her being, equal to but not greater than her devotion to her husband and eleven children. She is a Smith of Mariposa by direct descent who kept her maiden name because her husband, Omur Ugabu, coming from a sternly matriarchal tradition, thought it more fitting. The children call themselves Smith, or Ugabu, or Smith-Ugabu, or Ugabu-Smith, according to whim and to the immense confusion of bureaucracies. Josie is short, slight, blonde, and pale, Omur the opposite. The children mix these extremes variously. They all get along very well.

It was inevitable that the first meeting of the Mariposa Official Symposium on Social Justice, or MOSOSJ, would start with an argument. Mayor Josie wanted it that way, and the citizenry were only too happy to oblige. She made sure there was plenty of booze on hand, because it was after all a symposium, and she cast the affair in simple-minded almost childish terms, as a Hunt. She allowed a half-hour for drink-and-chat before discussion began, and added further to the irritation by referring to the disposable paper drinking vessels as “stirrup cups”.

“Madam Mayor,” intoned Sheldon Uttermost when the gathering had once more filled their stirrup-cups and settled in a circle, “I do not understand why the City  is serving alcohol at this gathering, which I believe has a solemn purpose. And what’s all this nonsense about a hunt?”

“What’s that in your glass, Sheldon?” asked Josie.

“Water. I am here for Social Justice, not for incontinent dissipation or puerile jocosity.” Groans from the gathering.

“Indeed,” replied Josie, “let us have no incontinence. A little jocosity from time to time, perhaps, to lighten our labours.” In the pause while Sheldon groped for enough syllables to give him the upper hand she went on: “We are having alcohol because cannabis cannot be smoked in a public room and such food and drinks are not yet legal. The City is paying for drinks for the same reason that it pays for ice at the arena: so that the pursuits of the people will slide along with less friction. I call it a Hunt because it is one, and I believe that if we take that for inspiration rather than inhibition, we will have better success. Council wants this creature caught, and tamed. Since first spotted ages ago it has proved itself elusive and slippery. It lives in the jungled wilderness of human affairs. It will not be caught and tamed without cunning and resolve. The metaphor is exact.”

“Our Founder called it an Unsolved Riddle,” said Deanna Drone, who read a lot.

“And so it is,” said the mayor. The gathering buzzed its agreement.

Then Uncle Henry, as he was always called, who was seated off to one side, and who lived a contradictory kind of life as a sociable solitaire in the bush just beyond the city limits, rose to his feet and chanted: “I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle dove, and am still on their trail. Many the travellers I have spoken concerning them, describing their tracks and what calls they answered to. I have met one or two who had heard the hound, or the tramp of the horse, or even seen the dove disappear behind a cloud, and they seemed as anxious to recover them as if they had lost them themselves.

“Yes indeed, but even more elusive and slippery than that,” said Mayor Josie Smith. “Thank you Uncle Henry. And now, I think we had better fill our stirrup-cups once more, and get started.”

And there I will leave them until next Tuesday.

Posted by Paul Conway, Voyageur Storytelling