The man was sleeping peacefully in his rocking chair, comfortably erected in the middle of his colourful living room as the most important piece of furniture of the whole house, surely it was the most love by his owner. The front door opened violently without previously being knocked upon. Two men dressed pompously in official livery made their entrance. They yelled the man’s name inquisitively at him and expected a prompt and clear answer.
“Yes… hi-yes. That’s me.” Said the man half asleep.
“Sir, we are from the tax office, we…”
“The tax office?” Interrupted the man. “My son wants to work for the tax office. In fact! He’s supposed to pass the exam this very morning.” Said the man excitedly. “I was just waiting for his return whilst taking a short nap.”
“Father!” Yelled a younger man as he barged inside the house behind the two officials. “I passed the test.” Said he triumphantly.
“Oh! That’s wonderful! Wonderful, my boy!” Cried the man as he jumped from his rocking chair to congratulate his son.
“I have great news for you, dad.” Said the son as he embraced his father. “Not only I am now an official tax officer,” He said proudly. “But you will do me the honour of being my very first audit!” He said with great delight.
“Pardon?” Asked the father perplexed.
“That’s right! Isn’t this wonderful? You will be my very first audit.”
“What the…” Stumbled the man.
“Think of it, it makes perfect sense! I know all of your petty financial fraud, which will make my job easy, and for a young officer to seize a big fraud on his first day on the job is the perfect way to start. But imagine if this fraudster being audited is the officer own relative? How wonderful! How wonderfully machiavelic! Not only will I make a splash but I will surely make a name for myself as a probe and impartial officer. What a way to kick-start a brilliant career!”
“I don’t…” Mumbled the man. “You can’t be serious now!”
“Of course I am! Father,” Said the son as he patted the man’s shoulders. “You should be proud of me.” Said the son with the utmost delight. “Start by the office!” He shouted authoritatively to the two men. “Upstairs, first door on the right. I’ll take the bedroom and dig out what’s hidden in the mattress.”
And so doing, the son and the two tax agents proceeded to financially audit his own father on his first day on the job. The man remained silent, stunned and defenceless. He could not make sense of what was happening to him. It pained him. It pained him even more every time his son came to him to ask questions such as “How did you pay for that boat you purchased six years ago?” or “How much did you give uncle for the trim work in did in the garden last autumn?” or even “How many bottles of Mouton Cadet was it that you bought without labels on?”.
The son knew everything, he would run his father dry. When he left, accompanied by the two taxmen, the man sat back on his rocking chair, bemused, irascible, hurt.
The evening came and with the cold air came the man’s daughter.
“Father! This is wonderful!” She said as she barged in much like her sibling earlier that day. “Father? Do you hear me?” The man was resting lifeless in his rocking chair, his eyes open, staring blankly at the wall.
“What, my darling?” He asked feebly.
“Oh, father! I am getting married! It finally asked me to marry it! Isn’t it wonderful?”
“It? Who do you mean?”
“My boyfriend, it asked me to marry it.”
“Why do you say it? And I didn’t know you had a boyfriend.” Objected the man.
“Oh, dad. I just came to give you the great news. I must go, I will be back to present my fiancé to you another day.”
“No dad, I’ve got no time.” She said as she exited the house. “Oh! By the way,” She shouted from the street through the front door left opened. “Our little brother is back in town! I saw him at the pub as I came in to see you. I’m sure he’ll come over to spend the night. He asked for money but I had not enough on me to give him anything. Make sure you give him some!” And she disappeared past the little cobbled bridge, beyond which was the open market, beyond which was the palace of a thousand mirrors, beyond which was the aquatic gardens, beyond which was the grand place, beyond which was the town hall, beyond which the tax office, and before that Maeterlinck’s free house where the man’s youngest son was forging the last pennies of his rent into heavy pints of mead. Beyond the man’s house, there was wealth, laughter and fantasy. In its midst, sitting on his rocking chair the man was brooding over a cold broth of passive delusion. It tasted bitter and had on the man’s weak limbs the effect of poison, a poison draining life, hope and love out of a father. A tulip, an orchid and a rose. Life, hope and love. A bouquet that the man’s wife had planted into the rich and moist soil of Eastern cemetery before their daughter could even speak. She had left the man to bring up their three children alone. And now their daughter was engaged to a it, their elder son was a cruel and heartless taxman, and the second son will soon be back to forage more money out of the father’s pocket that it contained.
The man fell asleep, in silence, on his rocking chair. He was awakened, in the middle of the night, by a loud turmoil that seem to come from the bedroom. Unafraid, the man grabbed a lantern, switch its light on and made his way upstairs to the bedroom. Inside he found his second son in wild agitation, pearls of sweat protruding from his forehead, a bottle of mead in one hand and long knife in the other.
“Father!” He yelled half relieved, half enraged. “Where are they?”
“Where is what?” Asked the father as he remarked his mattress ripped open in the middle of the room.
“Your gold coins! You used to keep a batch in there for emergencies, where are they?!” Screamed the son possessed by alcohol and greed.
“I… they’re gone. I think.”
“Gone? Gone where? How dare you use them!”
“I didn’t. Your… brother came, earlier today, with two taxmen. They seize all the wealth I could not justify.” Said the man unabashed.
“What?! How could you let that happen! You stupid, stupid man!” The son rushed to man’s face and hammered his chest with bloody fists, repeatedly, forcibly. “Do you only know how much I was counting on that gold! Heh! Do you?!” He yelled to the mad evils. “You selfish petty man. You should be ashamed to call yourself my father. I would beat you up and leave you for dead if I didn’t know where to sleep.”
And so the second son was back in his father’s home. The man went back to sleep in his rocking chair and the son in his former bedroom. The next morning, a couple of pawnbrokers troubled the man at breakfast. The son had decided to sell a few items belonging to the father, a watch, some porcelain, a couple of furniture left abandoned in those rooms the father barely used any more, not since his three children had officially left the nest. The man didn’t mind helping out his son, because, after all, it was his son ; but he was saddened to hear the son only negotiating twenty silver coins for the lot whilst it was worth at least ten gold coins. Maybe it was his fault that his son had such poor negotiating skills and judging capacities, because, after all, it was his son, andson, and he was the father. It was his duty to help him financially until he settled and got his life in order.
As soon as the son pocketed his meagre reward, he left the house without closing the house or saying goodbye to his father. For a fortnight the man heard from none of his progeny. But one night, two strong men barged into his house once more. The man had been imprudent enough to lock the front door before falling asleep in his living room, and he was ultimately more annoyed that the two brutes had broken the lock to get inside his home than the fact that they completely vandalized his kitchen. Whatever they could take to trade or use, they snatched, whatever was no use for them, they broke and left in pieces in the middle of the room. The father just hoped his son was okay. He wished he got a good deal for these takings, but inside him, he knew he would not. That was one truth that the man, awaken in the middle of the night by another act of violence, could not find the strength to face.
Alone in the middle of his living room, the man felt a tear dripping along his left cheek. Where did it come from and who was it for?
The next day, the man received the long awaited visit from his daughter and her fiancé. She came in through the broken door but it did not. It remained outside, at the end of the road. It was a pig with long hair and dark boots.
“It’s him, father darling. Isn’t he wonderful?” Asked the daughter eager for praise and approval.
“What? That’s just some kind of animal.” Simply stated the father.
“Animal? Dad! How can you be so insensible? Hush!” Tempered the daughter. Suddenly, excitement turned into furore. She came close to her father’s face and pointed her finger right in the middle of it. “That is just so typical. You are judging him without even trying to understand it, simply because it is different. Well, dad, tough news for you, I am different too! And I will marry it!” And so affirming her intentions she slapped her father hard in the face with the hand she used to point at him. Then she ran back to her fiancé and made her way out of the neighbourhood. Away, in the growing distance, the man seemed to notice some tumult between the odd couple. His daughter seemed to be crying, the pig kept making loud and uncomfortable noises. Then it jumped on his daughter’s leg and seemingly took a bite out of it. His daughter fell to floor. She was bleeding heavily, the pig walked away and the daughter screamed words of forgiveness, loud and expressively enough to come piercing the man’s heart like ungrateful and soiled arrows. His daughter was about to marry a pig. She had enamoured herself with a stinky repulsive pig and his own intolerable insensitivity had done nothing but repulse and alienate his own loving daughter. What a poor and selfish father he was.
Weeks passed and more pawnbrokers and other debt collector came to empty and ravage the house. The man was left with nearly nothing but his living room interior with its beloved rocking chair as a centrepiece. It had got to the point where his son was now selling his father’s bricks from the walls of rooms unused by the father. The roof and its tiles were long gone. His youngest son never came to the house, nor did his eldest, the tax officer whom the father thought about visiting. After all, aside from the tax audit which had drained the entirety of his bank account and left him with debts that would surely survive him, his eldest son hadn’t been such a bad son. He had simply sworn fidelity to the law and decided to abide to it by the most outstanding manner. The man thought that very few sons would go as far as auditing their own parent. It proved he had courage and integrity. And, as they say, if you want to clean up the world, start by sweeping on your own doorstep.
The father hadn’t heard from his son since the audit, although he did receive regular missives informing him on the progress of his audit and the extent of his debt. They were very formal and typewritten. They were bland and so devoid of all emotions that they could have easily been written by any other man that his own son. But the father knew each and every one of them came from his son because of one of them he found a little annotation handwritten with a marker at the bottom of a page. It read: “You’re lucky you’re not going to jail, dad.” The man thought his son must have run out of space to write the “I love you” or “Take care” that surely had formed into his son’s mind as he wrote this words and would have perfectly concluded this kind message.
The man felt a longing to see his son, and if the son would not come to him, then he shall go to him. He went to his garage to take his car out, but he remembered soon enough that his second son had already sold it. Nevertheless, he could still cross the town to his eldest son’s apartment by bicycle. He opened the garage gate and was surprised to see the river flowing where his tools, his bike and his car once were. It seemed that his son had not only sold everything that contained his garage but the garage walls and floor themselves. All that was left was the revolving garage door and its…
“Not even that, sir. We’re from the tax office, we’re coming to seize that door. It seems that you have failed to pay your tax on doorbell and handles for the last six years. In those circumstances, as you should have been alerted by our latest letter, we have no choice but to remove all doors, bells and handles in your possession.” Said a man dressed as a tax agent.
“It’s all in the letter, sir.” Said the agent expeditiously as he signalled towards a car from which another five tax officials instantly came out and proceeded to dismantle the garage door.
“When you’ll be done with that one, you’ll move on to the house.”
“My house…” Said timidly the man, for himself. Then he thought that if he had to walk or take the public transport to visit his son, he better get going. He crossed the bridge to the open market and exited it without his shoes. He had met, in its midst, two pawn brokers who were on their way to his house to seize all footwear apparels. This was unfortunate. The street cobbles were strewn with tiny little rocks which were making great hurt and damage to the palms of his feet. It made for walking barefoot on those streets a most uncomfortable adventure. So the man had the idea of swimming to his son’s apartment. He tiptoed his way to the nearest balustrade overlooking the river and got himself ready to dive in. But as he stood on his wooden ramp, he felt a strong authoritative hand holding his ankle firmly.
“What do you think you’re doing, sir?” The man turned back to find himself face to face with a guardian of the law, a fat and tall one. “You don’t strike me as a man who has paid its water tax any recently.”
“That’s right, that’s what I thought.” Said the guard without hiding the satisfaction of his successful intuition.
“What can I do then? I have no shoes.”
“I see that. Where are you planning to go?”
“To the Eastern quarters below the hanging gardens, my son lives there.”
“Oh! He does, does he?” Asked the guard dubitative.
“Yes. At least that’s where he lived in his student days. You see, I haven’t heard from…”
“OK, OK. Spare me the details. If you want to go there without walking, you’ll have to wait for the yellow tram.”
“The one with the handcuffs?”
“That’s the one. It’s free to ride. There’s a couple by hour. In fact,” said the guard as glanced at his watch. “There should be one coming around here in a matter of minutes.”
“Where is the stop, officer?” The question was innocent, it made the guard laugh to tears.
“Where do you hail from? Are you sure you’re from around here? There is no stop. When the tram comes just raise your hand and pray that you get a good grip on one of those handcuffs.”
“And how would I get o…”
“Good day, now.” Said the guard as he walked off.
The man strolled along the pavement for a few minutes. That street was quite busy, there were high cabin cars driving past and merchants pulling their heavy load of goods on their backs or on a cart. The people passing along formed a most colourful assemble. There were sailors and high seas adventurers, postal workers and electricians, pupils from the technical school and students from the grammar institution, couriers delivering parcels and missives, housemaids running errands. All this little world seemed so very busy to the man. They all walked as if they had a particular purpose at this exact place and time. The housemaids were busy carrying either purses full of petty money or basket full of bread and long green vegetables. The couriers were running along with their open bags full of paper, one had a parcel in his hand, the other was slipping a couple of envelopes through a letterbox. Students from the grammar school were strolling quietly and orderly on one side of the pavement whilst the pupils of the technical schools were busy playing one kid up against another in the middle of the streets, stopping cars along the way as well as angry merchants who had to halt their cart full of hay to avoid hitting of those kids. The sailors were just about to embark on a yellow tram. They hopped on, grabbed a handcuff and tied it around their strongest wrist. The tram had slowed down along the street to allow for new passengers to embark, but, now, as it passed by the man, it started to gain speed again. The man nearly forgot his own purpose on the street and quickly found himself running after the speeding tram. Running along the yellow street car, he thought he had grabbed a handcuff but it soon slipped through his fingers. He ran faster and aimed for the handcuff nearest to his left ear. As soon as got a hold of it, he jumped on the tram and hurried himself to tie the handcuff around his left wrist. The sailors were laughing at the spectacle. Nobody had led out a hand to help him on. The yellow tram was as free to ride as it was from compassion.
The tram was speeding along the ever so busy street of this mesmerizing town, full of wonders and absurdity. First they crossed the German quarters, then the Winter Garden where the man thought about hopping off as the garden was only a ten-minute walk from his son’s house, but the lack of rubber underneath his feet forced him to reconsider. He decided to wait three more stops even if it meant a detour by the Turkish bath and the Persian market. Finally, the yellow tram took a turn onto his son’s street. The man recognized his son’s building and tried to hop off but there were no stops scheduled around here and the tram was still going full gas. He would have to try to jump out and land safely. He undid the handcuffs and got himself ready to jump behind a parked truck. As he did so, it was too late to notice the couple of pigs that were standing behind it, on his landing mark. The man went crashing right onto them. He hit a pig on its flank and the other one on his behind as he fell onto the muddy cobbles where the pigs were eating dead rats and rotten leaves of salad. One of the pigs grumbled sourly whilst the other one pushed the man’s leg, which had landed in the middle of his brunch, violently with the tip of his snout. The man mumbled a few excuses and promptly dragged himself out of this mess. His foot was covered in crap and his trousers were heavily soiled. Worst, he stank of pigs.
“How can anyone live with this smell.” Thought the man, but the idea inadvertently brought his own daughter to mind and his face turned sombre. The man now not only felt alone, persecuted, offended and dispossessed, he smelled and was dirty. So dirty that the doorman, who was guarding the apartment block inhabited by his son, not only stopped him from gaining access to the apartment but refused him access to the building.
“You don’t understand.” Objected the man. “My son lives here, he is a respectable tax officer, he would explain.”
“Preposterous.” Mocked the building attendant. “You’re alleging to be his father yet you would go as far as insulting him by presenting yourself in such shameful drags. Please, if you’re willing to make a fool of yourself, do not drag other people and especially not your own son in this farce. You may be a wreck of a man, but he most certainly is not. Do not come here and rub off some of your stick on this lawful man.”
“But he is my son and I have to see him.”
“You do not deserve a son like this. Now, enough with it. I am expecting you to leave before anyone sees you.” And to join act to words, the intendant shove the man away. Behind him, a bunch of dirty pigs passed by. It seemed to the man that they were mocking him. How dared they? How could even pigs laugh at him and how could his daughter be mixed with one of them, let alone decide to marry it?
Those were horrifying thoughts running through the man’s veins. What had happened to the world those last thirty years? Things certainly were different since he had stopped working, a quarter of Century ago, to take care of his three children alone. And where were all those busy people going? Left and right the man looked astounded at the shoppers and passers-by running to their unknown destination with a focus and determination which stunned the man. Do they all have children to take care off? That could not be, there were kids in the streets who strolled along like they had more purpose than being a father. His own son was not yet a father, yet he was apparently too busy to call him and receive him. To receive him… The thought lingered into the man’s ear for a floating instant. How can one receive another if one does not know than another is waiting to be received? His son must be made aware of his presence. If he couldn’t pass through the building attendant, so be it! He would have to climb the fire escape staircase. The man got round the building, found the staircase corresponding to the place on the building where he remembered his son’s apartment was linked to, and he started climbing. It was on the fifth floor. The man passed a closed curtained window on the first floor, then a second floor with no windows at all. On the third floor he found an open window and took a peek inside despite himself. There were kids playing trains and automobiles in all innocence. It kindly reminded the man of the time when all his kids were that age, how things were simple then. On the fourth floor, there were loud noises extruding from the sealed glass. The man threw a willing glance inside and was disappointed to see that it was a pig’s apartment. There were disgusting little cochonnets running around a puddle mud which served as rug inside that living room. It was repulsive and it stunk even behind the closed window. The man ran on the upper floor before any of the pigs could see him and potentially took injure of his presence. The fifth floor window was indeed that of his son, but the man was surprised to find a rather old looking greyed hair man. He was naked and the dim light of the apartment painted his body in a most unsavoury fashion. He was sitting legs crossed on the meridienne that the man knew very well, for it had been his own, until he donated it to his son, as a moving in present. What was this ugly skinny slimy old man doing in his son’s apartment? And naked! This was a most strange affair. Instead of knocking on the window to introduce himself into the picture and find out, the man took to hide behind the side panel of the window. Then he realized that the naked intruder’s lips were moving erratically, which meant he surely was engaging in a conversation with someone else, his son perhaps, standing in another room. The man felt an urge to knock on the window and surprise the ominous naked man sitting on his son meridienne. The movement of his wrist was stopped by the uncanny apparition of his son into the room. He was… naked himself. Not only naked, but he had what looked like a dog’s collar around the neck. His body was red in parts, bleeding in others. Only now did the man take notice of the whip and other leather artefacts laid around arbitrary on the living room carpet. This was not his son, this was a sex fiend. He was not the son he had brought up, it was this estranged animal who was engaged into forbidden physical acts with a repulsive older man, an animal who was also greatly responsible for the man’s financial downfall. The world as the man’s knew it was crumbling under his feet, or maybe it was revealing its true self over a crumbling veil of illusion.
The man let his arm down and decided against interfering into his son’s private affairs. He climbed down the fire escape rail and walked haggard along the streets. What was happening to him? Why was the world so cruel with his own progeny that it forced them to act in such inhuman manners. The man’s weary bare feet took him to an intersection he had never been to. The traffic light had forced numerous cars to stop, some people in fine clothes were waiting impatiently to cross to the other side of the street, some kids were running to catch a flying bus. Everyone was so busy, seemed to be filled with so much purpose. The man turned around and entered the first shop’s door on his left without even looking at its banner to know what he was stepping into. What good could that do? The man had no purpose.
The place was dark and gloomy, it was a cafe or cabaret of some sort, underground, deep green walls and tumescent burgundy furniture at the centre of its aesthetics pretensions. It was nearly empty but the few people that it harboured were noisy enough to cast shadow on the pianist’s magnificent rendition of Liszt’s Standchen. It was a woman sitting at the piano. She wore an elegant dress which didn’t seem to fit her, as if she was stepping into somebody else’s shoes, some pair of shoes too vulgar and absurd to fully embrace. She was a gracious player, despite the apparent discomfort she expressed at having her cleavage repeatedly slipping and uncovering her young and attractive bosom. She played beautifully, so beautifully that it captured the man’s attention who drew in closer. When she finished the Standchen, she linked it with the first note of the Liebestraum. Whether that was the cause of her own downfall, the man knew only that he would never know. He could only stand there paralysed, mesmerized, petrified as a man sitting at a table took out his gun and decided to shoot three salvation in the general direction of the piano. All three bullets hit the female pianist who fell to her absurd death. This was no place for the father, or Liszt for that matter. He escaped and found himself, once more, purposeless, in the middle of a street he did not know.
As there were no yellow tram stops in sight, the man decided to walk home. The events of the day had been too much for him, emotionally and physically. He needed to disappear in the comfort of his own home until things as he knew it got settled. Hours later, as the sun was setting, the man, who had made his way back into familiar territory, bumped into a congregation of pigs crossing a square in inordinate lines. There was about twenty of them and the man realized he had rarely seen so many pigs in one place. He paused to take a deeper look at the stinky moving feast and was shocked to recognize his own daughter in their midst. She had grown larger since he had last seen her. She was walking on her paws as to imitate her fellow pigs and even squeaked as a pig when she hit a pig’s buttocks with her nose. This was another abominable spectacle. His daughter did not even wear clothes. It repulsed the man so much that he felt his breakfast climbing back along his larynx and was forced to painfully regurgitate the toast and eggs he had cooked up that morning. He too fell to his feet as he sickly vomited on the otherwise immaculate amber tiles of the square. Would this dreadful journey to hell ever end?
The man ran home as fast as he could, once more, without confronting his progeny or being noticed by her. But when he finally arrived to his home, breathless, heaving, his feet black and bloody, the man was denied a hard-earned rest. Taxmen and loan sharks were busy tearing his home to pieces. Not only almost the entirety of his furniture had been removed but the walls themselves of every room, save for his living room, had now been sold and removed from their foundations. All that was left amongst the ruins were the living room parquet and the thankfully untouched rocking chair.
“You know dad,” Said his son’s voice as he approached the man from behind. “I could get some serious money for that chair of yours. But I know exactly how much it means to you and, despite what all my friends are saying, I’ve got too much of a good heart to do that to you. Call me weak! I don’t care, I guess I’m just sentimental for my old pops.” Said the son as he gave an awkward embrace to his father.
“You sold everything?” Opposed the man feebly.
“Not everything. The most important to you is still there. Listen, even though it is your duty as father, I’ll never thank you enough for what you did to me. You really helped me out pops. It’s a shame that you messed up your accounts and got audited by our brother.”
“Yes, it is…”
“Well, it’s very annoying! Especially for you! If that didn’t happen I would have got enough dough from the furniture that has been seized and I wouldn’t have to sell your lease.”
“My lease? What do you mean sell it?”
“Listen, I knew you’d be a little bit mad about this, but let’s be reasonable one second. Ain’t you the one who taught me that once you start something, you owe it to yourself to finish it? Well, that last juice I got from selling the ground upon which your house was laid out was just what I needed to get out of the debt, for now.”
The man did not have time to object, as they were speaking, a group of engineers were setting charges around the propriety. Within seconds, one man took a countdown to five, then another lit the charges. A deafening roar tore the quietude of the man, and behind fury of dust and bricks, the twelve meters square of the living room, presided by the man’s rocking chair, were separated from the ground and fell into the river. The man had no time to think, or let his anger and indignation explode, as already the river strong current was leading his house away. Quickly, he ran and jumped without even a thought to fall miserably on the edge of his parquet. His legs were dipping in water, his thorax was sour and the pain in his arms barely kept him from slipping into the river. It was by sheer determination and primal instinct that the man managed to hiss himself out of the waters and lay himself safely on his living room hard floor. He was panting and spitting blood. His ribs were as sore as any pain he had ever experience. He sent his right hand to investigate the matter only to lose its fingers into an open abyss of flesh and bile. It seemed that he had managed to impaled himself on one of the parquet board when he jumped from the street. It must have been a very serious injury as the man was not only feeling drowsy but also dizzy. His vision was a blur, but he could feel the foot of his beloved chair with his left hand. All that the man wanted now, was the comfort of his rocking chair. He pulled himself towards it and managed to sit his bleeding heart on its tainted cushions. When he looked up, he saw that the river had been busy taking him and the remnant of his house away from the shore and the ground were his house used to stand. Amongst the indifferent tax officers, engineers, lowlife agents and other pawn brokers was the man’s son. He was smiling and waving away at his dispossessed father. What a way to thank another man for the gift of life and education… thought the man. Just as his own house and belongings had been reduced to shreds, he felt his life had been greatly diminished by the ordeals of the day. Soon, the river would take a curve under a bridge and his former land would disappear from sight. A few seconds, his son was still waving and screaming inaudible words of affection. Then came the curve and the vital separation from the days past and the world as the man knew it.
Beyond the bridge was the grand avenue and the floral terrace. There were pigs eating the carefully and craftily flowers planted in between the river’s ramparts. One of the pigs was the man’s daughter. She saw him passing by with his twelve meters square remnant of a house. She squealed at him instead of hailing him with words. But the current was taking the headless house away and the man, resting on his throne did not see her. So she decided to scream his name. If it managed to capture the man’s attention, it also provoked the violent ire of another pig, possibly the daughter’s fiancé, who charged at her and pounded her to the floor under the father astonished eyes, who, only now, recognized his daughter as she was oppressed and savagely attacked by the culture of a vulgar animal race. The daughter would speak no more, even to respond to her beloved father distress hails. This was what was happening to his daughter, who chose to marry outside of her kind, in an archaic and primitive civilization which sought depreciation over cultural progress.
The river took another curve and the house was now floating in the middle of town, in the place where its bank was the largest, in front of the town hall and the Great General’s Place. In his rare moments of clear vision, the man could see numerous faces rushing to the river side to watch the estranged spectacle of a house floating away from the town, washed away from its civilization. There, amongst the masses, under the dying sun, the man recognized his first son, the tax officer. He was too far to see his facial expression with exactitude but it surely seemed to the man that the son appeared troubled and possibly upset. The man tried to stand from his chair but the pain and his bleeding ribs worked on him like an anchor of death. He tried to hail his son with his remaining strength until it hurt too much to do so. Fortunately, his son seemed to have heard him. He was moving in the distance. In his agitation, he could be seen calling up another man, getting a long piece of paper from him and writing upon it. Surely, the son was writing a last loving message for his father. By the time he was done, the house was dangerously floating West out of sight of the Grand Place and his son. The father could barely make sense of the moving shadows in the distance. He did not see his son being given a bow, attaching the letter to a long arrow and shooting in the direction of the floating house. What the man saw was what he felt. The arrow was shot straight at the rocking chair and, by good aim or pure misfortune, went piercing the man’s heart to lodge itself into the rocking chair, through the man’s thorax. Surely, death was upon the father. Was it because he had so little life left in him that the man did not seem to mind any longer? He seemed almost resigned to his fate, as if he had been long prepared and was now accepting an unalterable end to his fatherhood. He thought about the comfort of death but there was a letter indeed attached to the bow. The man could not go without reading the parting words of his grateful progeny. With great difficulty and gravity, shakes and hesitation, the man managed to undo the letter from the bow and open it. It was his son’s writing indeed, and the heartbreaker had written:
“In due lieu of your recent failure to justify a series of earnings, I hereby notify you that the remnants of your house are the property of the state. Any attempt to escape from the state’s officials will be prosecuted. I…”