I was pretty young when I watched Diana Moon Glampers gun down Harry and Anna live on TV. Six months young to be exact, but I watched transfixed as DMG fitted the long gun’s butt expertly to her shoulder, squinted her eye and fired two rounds thirty feet into the air, the twin barrels of the twelve gauge hitting first Harry and then quick as a trigger pull Anna.
Emperor Harry’s and Empress Anna’s guts were first accelerated to the ceiling before they dripped slowly to the stage floor, the irregular but steady drip, drip, drip of blood and intestinal fortitude succumbing to the pull of gravity long after the 400 combined pounds of the couple’s once supple muscular forms crashing to the ground had caused the television cameras to quake; the emperor and empress now the exact equal of hamburger. I was young, but I remember.
Diana didn’t go to prison of course, she was just doing her job as Handicapper General and preventing a revolution from taking hold. I was young, but I learned my lesson. One must never show one’s strengths, one must always act average.
I was precocious, obviously. I mean, how many six-month-old children would be capable of understanding, remembering and learning from the gruesome life lesson provided by our Handicapper General? At least one, at least me.
I thought I was doing an A+ job of faking normal, of faking average, but somewhere along the line I must have slipped because fifty-seven years to the day of MS Glampers’ historical exhibition of the power of the Handicapper General the song The World Turned Upside Down echoed through my brain as surely as it had when the British surrendered to that young upstart Hamilton at York Town. On October nineteenth I became convinced that my employer was handicapping me.
In the near century of their existence the HG gang, the Handicapper General, had become more subtle in their handicapping. With advances in drugs that affect mental power, sexual drive, physical strength and stamina the handicaps one now bore to ensure universal equality were not bags of bird shot nor radio transmitters that screeched in one’s ear as they had been in my father’s and grandmother’s days, but rather were pills, subcutaneous slow acting medications and pharmaceutical implants that ensured that none strayed beyond a five percent plus or minus of Bell Curve dead center. We were equal and the Handicappers could adjust the baseline as they saw fit.
Without an invasive exam or the use of potential-robbing drugs, HG in combination with HQ had handicapped me to “normal,” to “average,” to inadequate. I was certain that the HG squad was on to me when my employer began to demand more of me while simultaneously providing me with less. Less time to complete a task, more clients with ever greater needs, clients that I had to service without any additional coworkers. HQ preached a love for and insisted on high quality while denying me resources to make it so.
They even made it difficult for me to sleep at night by giving me projects with due dates but no time during my workday to accomplish my long-term goals because of the myriad short term needs that required immediate attention. Stress added to my inefficiencies, making me even less able but more normal. My mind, a tool upon which I had relied with great success for the better part of three-score-years, was unable to perform easily and with quality the work assigned me. What choice did I have than to believe my employer was in league with the Handicappers? Why else would a business declare the importance of quality while ensuring that this elusive goal was ever out of reach?
Every stress filled day made me think back to Harrison, to Anna, to the shotgun blast and I began to wonder: Was it possible that Harry knew exactly what was coming? Had he made the conscious decision to commit suicide by cop rather than live in a world where normal was horrid and nothing was good? I contemplated that thought as I lay awake in my bed, cradling my Ruger LCP, unable to sleep, unable to dream and unable to fly. That question flitted through my mind as my finger flicked the gun’s safety on then off over and over.