Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Entry #24

"The Twin Lights of Life and Liberty"
by Lyndon Perry

Today, Life and Liberty stand guard at the door – two lights that bear witness to that fateful Friday when one dimmed and the other fought to uphold their hard won victory. This is a scene from their ongoing story.

Familiar with the actor who walked their hall, two lights cast a friendly spotlight on the man who entered the State Box earlier that day. They wondered about his examination, but knowing they would welcome an important guest that evening the lights simply glowed in silence.

When the patrons arrived for Our American Cousin, Life and Liberty shone brightly in anticipation. In high spirits, the President's party and police escort entered Ford's Theatre at 8:30. In the hallway, two lamps seemed to join in the applause of the audience.

The bodyguard eventually left his post abandoning the two lights to stand watch by themselves. Then, at 10:15, the actor returned.

Slowly, he opened the door and, hidden in flickering shadows, strode to Lincoln's chair. Laughter masked his entry and nearly drowned the derringer's report. The lights blazed in alarm as they witnessed John Wilkes Booth kill the President of the United States.

With a shout it was over. The actor leapt to the stage and made his escape. Life faded quickly that night while Liberty took up the struggle against tyranny once more. The outcome was not guaranteed, but in the end Liberty would own the actor's boast: "Sic Semper Tyrannis."

Thus Life and Liberty still shine...for now.


Bernita said...

Frankly, makes me uneasy.

Lyn said...

What about the story makes you uneasy? Is that a good thing? Does your unease stem from the knowledge that the outcome of Life and Liberty are still in the balance? With renewed terrorism, the victory is never assured, it seems.

Bernita said...

Um, no.
The apparent ambivalence of the message.

Lyn said...

Good word. Ambivalence is what I'm after - not approval of the assasination attempt - but the struggle and the uncertain outcome. So Jason, can you add two words to the end of the story?

Thus Life and Liberty still shine
. . . for now.

Thanks for the feedback. My first attempt at such as short short story! :-) lgp

jason evans said...

Lyndon, yes, you have the word count to make the addition. No problem!

This dialog has been fine, but given the focus of this piece, please let me ask folks to avoid political comments one way or another. Please focus on matters of construction, expression, and writing. Thanks!

Lyn said...

Good reminder, Jason. I hadn't actually considered the political message so much as the tension between liberty and tyranny. Would be interested in comments as to whether I've expressed it in a compelling way. Thanks. lgp

Bernita said...

One might consider this an essay rather than fiction.

Scott said...

I didn't understand the message of the piece. I was left with the feeling that the author considered the assassination as a good thing, which also gave me the feeling of unease. It was well written and all, and I'm not passing judgement, that's how I felt.

Lyn said...

Wow, I'll need to rewrite a bit then because I'm trying to side with Liberty (as traditionally understood in America) but maintain the tension that tyranny is always at the door ready to gain an advantage. Since both you and B had the same impression, it must be the writing then! lol

Could the phrase "friendly spotlight" put Booth in a favorable light? (pun intended :-) I think as an actor he was "respected" and so did not pose an evident threat to Life and Liberty - simply a man with which they were familiar. Am I being too opaque in this piece? Trying to do too much by blurring the lines of fiction and essay? (which, btw, most good fiction is good essay or commentary on the times - science fiction especially can have this effect a la Ender's Game)

Thanks for the feedback. lgp

Terri said...

Perhaps it's because I'm not American, but I didn't read any political message here.
What I saw was, for lack of better phrasing, 'A day in the life of two lamps called Life and Liberty'. And 'twas an interesting and scary day for them indeed.
I saw it as more a historical tribute than anything else and I quite enjoyed this.
Or maybe I'm just dense.

Jim said...

Ditto what Terri said. That was exactly the way I read it, too, and I am American. I rather enjoyed the story and picked up on Lyn's point/message immediately, so I thought the writing was perfect. Interesting the differences in perspective and interpretation here.

Robin said...

I read it the same way Terri did and very much enjoyed the personification, I hope that's the correct term, of the two lights. Good job.

Jeff said...

Well written. :)

Lyn said...

Thanks for the comments. I think Terri captures it: 'A day in the life of two lamps called Life and Liberty'. And 'twas an interesting and scary day for them indeed. Appreciate the kind words. lgp

Bhaswati said...

I like your unusual take on the two lights. Well done :)

jason evans said...

Lyndon, I appreciate the genre-bending quality of this piece. The snippets of action carry it.

I loved the image of "hidden in flicking shadows."