The Achievements

Sunday night, the fire is lit and Buckley is playing, laziness is the flavour of the evening. So I’m posting an old one. Someone said move over Aesop when they read it which means its corny and moralistic.

Vladimir Dzerzinsky preferred to be known as Father, and indeed there was a time when his people actually called him so. But now, as power corrupted his intentions and gave him the confidence to reveal his true nature, the people feared to speak his name at all lest they attract the sort of attention that resulted in the death of so many of their countrymen.

Dzerzinsky was now a tyrant, believing that the only way his will would prevail and the only way to increase his greatness was to make the people suffer and to destroy any who stood before him.

In the months leading up to his 50th birthday, Dzerzinsky wanted to add another monument to his glory. His advisers gathered to discuss the matter, rename the mountains they suggested, the rivers said another, towns yet another.

‘Bah’ said the tyrant. ‘I have all these already, mountains, rivers, how many towns can there be with my name, Dzeringrad, Dzerino, Dzerinsk. How many more you fools’!

Then he had an idea. ‘Summon Gretzky the writer’.

‘Gretzky I want to commission a book from you’, the tyrant told the old writer now before him. ‘The greatest book ever written. I want all who read it to weep and cry out, unable to control the emotion it summons. Most of all I want it to be a monument that will stand the test of time and tell all future generation of my greatest achievements, lest of which is this country we are blessed to live in’.

The old writer left with some dread in his heart. To create such a book would be more a testament to he than to any other, least of all Dzerinsky the tyrant, but to fail in this endeavour would certainly mean his death.

He started many times, wrote pages upon pages of notes, drafts, ideas, each time falling short. Each time asking himself is it the greatest book, the greatest story. No. Many nights were spent sleepless. Many months he remained holed up in his humble log cabin, writing, thinking worrying. Each month he was summoned before the tyrant to report on his progress and each time he promised great things and needed a little more time.

’Don’t let me down’ were the words he left with each meeting. He knew what it would mean to let the tyrant down.

It was a mere month from the 50th birthday when inspiration struck. An amazing concept if he could pull it off. He wrote for 30 days straight, barely sleeping, barely eating. Then the day before the tyrants birthday he sent word that he had achieved what he was requested to do. That he had written the greatest book ever told, and more. It would be a book that meant all things to all men and there would never be another book of its like in this world.

The tyrants advisers were already gathered in the meeting hall, all eager to see this amazing book, fully expecting the fool writer to fail. One by one they turned it pages and one by one they turned the last leaf in disbelief and amazement.

The old general seeing images of his old comrades lost wept, the young politicians laughed at the joy in its pages, at the images of this nirvana they lived in, were helping to create, were apart of. Another cried as he read of the love he shared with his departed wife, another sat stunned as he read of the possibilities of the future the book revealed.

All agreed, this book was truly all things to all men.

As the tyrant entered all fell silent and stepped back from the table as if paying reverence to the book it held.

The tyrant, confused by the silence and solemnity sat down to read, fully believing that if the book had affected his advisers this way then it must truly be great.

Slowly he turned the page, once or twice he looked up to see the others staring intently, he scratched his chin and turned another page.

Finally he rose, ‘is this some sort of joke’, his voice was low, menacing.

Immediately all stepped back, the writer was left standing by himself.

‘ comrade…is it not what you had hoped’?

The tyrant stared into the eyes of the writer, trying to unscramble the meaning of what was happening.

‘I want this fool shot immediately’.

The tyrant then stormed out and returned to his chambers.

What was this idiot trying to do, ridicule me? He could not understand what had happened, the advisers all seemed so certain of its brilliance. He opened his desk drawer to make an entry into his journal that he so meticulously kept, all his achievements, deeds, great acts were safely housed in these journals, these chronicles.

Today I received what was supposed to be the greatest book ever written, he wrote. I had commissioned it as a testament to the glory of our country, to the glory of all I have achieved here. So that all who read it would remember me.

The fool Gretzky will now be dead.

The fool Gretzky had presented me with a book full of empty pages.

The Achievements

Michael Douglass

Alexandria, Australia

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