Sally closed the front door and staggered onto the sofa, utterly distraught at what she had learned.
Normally, every Tuesday night, she went to literacy classes at a local church. But in the wake of Allan’s murderous and suicidal actions, and the ensuing trauma for Jim, she hadn’t been able to leave the house.
Earlier that evening, a prostitute had arrived at the house. Seeing the disappointment on Cassie’s face (for it was indeed Cassie), Sally explained what had happened. Cassie gasped, and then steadied herself. Something had died inside her, many times, in many senses of the world; so she was no longer able to sustain finer feelings for very long.
The Machine had finally crushed her spirit. A string of rampant drug binges, traumatic abortions, disease scares and sessions with violent, cruel and abusive clients, had killed the bright-eyed, busty warrior for journalistic truth. She no longer even had the hollow laugh she used to ring out in the final, harrowing weeks of her failing comedy routines.
It was comedy, but it wasn’t satire. Satire was no longer possible, because the one who satirises still has hope; however forlorn, distant and insanely, criminally audacious it might be. Satire means forbidden fruit; and it is no longer possible, when we have already been exiled from Eden, beyond all hope of redemption.
The only way she could forget Otis was by pumping herself full of drugs. Of course, this was not considered ‘good practice’ by her pimps, who now raped her every day, and beat her black and blue every night, and warned her that if Su Chun could conveniently disappear, there’s no reason why she couldn’t too. Although her body constantly ached, inside and out, her soul became increasingly numb. She was not exactly callous, like Marcus Charleston Bubble, or Ruby Chandra de Montevideo; just bowed and broken. Deep, deep in the black abyss where her heart used to be, in corners she was too afraid to poke about in, she knew that she was once a promising, even prodigious, young woman; and that now, she had been broken on the rack of the Empire.
Sally grieved to see her brokenness, and in an attempt to make things a little less awkward, she asked Cassie if she’s heard anything about the election, and stuff. In a low, dull monotone, the kind of voice you’d expect to hear from Orwell’s Julia (how far then, this charming, passionately beautiful soul had fallen!), she said:
“Adams was arrested for threatening people and resisting arrest.”
Sally murmured that this sounded very out of character. What’s going on?
“Spilled a water glass in the scuffle. Then he was on bail. But they tampered with his car. So they say.”
Sally’s heart sank, and she worried that the horrible, grim saga was only going to get worse and worse and Cassie continued.
Continue she did.
“Adams ended up running down four people at the Festival of Our Common Humanity: Ruby Chandra de Montevideo, Deborah Mona Willow’s fiancé, the mother of Marcus Bubble and Benny Pilder’s dog. Sheer carnage. They all died.”
Tears began to stream down Sally’s face. She worried if the terrible news would ever end.
“Did nobody… did nobody survive?” she whispered.
“Oh. Well. They ran down the other guy too. Not sure if he’ll recover.”
Sally’s intuitive side kicked in.
“No… No… It can’t be!”
Cassie shrugged. “Oh. You know. The Republican guy. The guy with the funny twitches and the squeaky voice. Anyway. Only a Republican.”
This is the conversation Sally had earlier, before slamming the door shut in Cassie’s face.
As she rocked, sobbing from side to side, she tried to reach her hand out to the Bible a kindly local pastor had given her. She couldn’t. Her hand felt limply by her side.
As a horrible gale rose, and the rain came pouring down, she seemed to hear the tormented shade of Allan cursing her, cursing her, cursing her ten thousand times ten thousands.
She no longer felt she could survive the ravages of poverty, bereavement and despair.
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