One of the most dangerous gifts a man can be given is protection under the law, as it exists on paper. Embedded in that action is the assumption of safety that such men as pen laws have always enjoyed in its embrace. Having mouthed the magic word: “Justice,” they are free to continue as before—contented, now, in their righteousness; proud of their liberal minds. But the lips of the law and the fists of the law are distinct organs, each with its own agenda, each notorious for laying blame with the other.

Such is the circus.

Writers write, judges judge, jailers jail; children lay dying in the streets, crushed by a mountain of words from on high.


GQ France, September 2014

The wind in the fens never failed to unsettle Jan Collier.
In the cities, a man became accustomed the gentle buffeting of the manicured breeze. It rocked him in the same, practically imperceptible rhythm from birth, ushering him forward without inserting itself too jarringly into his existence. Beyond the Barrier, it was a different matter.
There, the wind blew according to its own design, with great bursts that flapped at a man’s jacket and picked at his balance. It died down without ceremony, leaving in its absence an eerie quiet that lingered in his ears; abandoning the mind to its own blank cacophony. In the Wild, the sky itself was a personality to be wrestled with. Jan hated the way it stole his concentration. He huddled down in the waving grasses along the cold-gripped shoreline and waited.
The group kept quiet, sulking at Jan for the remainder of the extraction and a good measure of the hike from the coast in to the dunes. They took their lunch in the damp grasses by the water, pressed close to the ground to avoid detection by the Company Guard, which made its round as expected, at about a quarter past noon. Collier and the others watched in silence as the soldiers rode by on their stately, dark-coated stallions, such an odd human specter on the vast, barren wastes. The last of the Guard disappeared over the hills by about one thirty, and once again the revolutionaries made ready to travel. The railroad target where they would lay their explosives was located on a modest plateau overlooking the bay, another several mile journey from the incendiary cache. By early afternoon, the fog had all but dissipated on the fens, and the higher they climbed, the further the party could see across the water toward the wild islands on the other side. For all its desolation, it was a beautiful sight. The fen grasses cowered close to the salty marsh, filling in the low places and tracing the gullies meandering gently inland. Further from the water, the land itself was bleached a breathtaking white. Pearl-colored dunes rolled and rose and broke across each other like waves, stacking closer and closer upon themselves until they blended seamlessly with the horizon: a thin, white band against the palest blue of the sky. Only here and there did the dark splotch of a cloud interrupt the infinite emptiness.
It was slow going, moving noiselessly through the tall grass, ice cold sludge creeping in through the inevitable gaps in the stitching of one’s boots. Often enough to be aggravating, a false positive would register on the radar. The ground outside the Barrier was practically swimming with debris, most of it too incomplete or otherwise degraded to be of any interest. That flotsam lingered in the dirt, mixed and pulverized by the relentless turbidity of shifting empires—each of them destined, sooner or later, to be little more than the next layer on the heap.


The night was still flushed with pressure from the summer heat when Jordan stepped in off the balcony.  As she slid the door closed behind her, she hardly noticed Ferdinand in the dark corner of the library, illuminated only by a pale finger of man-made moonlight across his lap.  She startled to find she was not alone, only to laugh when she recognized the figure in the shadows.

“Oh,” she said, “It’s you.”

Ferdinand set down the drink he was holding.

“Yes,” he said, “It’s me.”

Jordan groped in the darkness for a second chair.  Framed from behind by the festival lights, she seemed like a gauzy insect, frail and transparent, circling a flame.  She sat down beside him.  The music on the balcony filtered in as if up from the bottom of the ocean.

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Ferdinand smoothed the edges of his collar.  The music from the ballroom on the floor below shook the mirror ever so slightly.  Or maybe it was only his hands.  The Vice Chairman closed his eyes and felt for the envelope in his jacket pocket.  He would have liked to open it, but there wasn’t the time.

He took a cigar from the case on the dressing table, then thought the better of it.  Out the window, he could see the lights of the automobiles on the street below.  They blurred together through the thick glass, which occurred to him, for the first time in a long time, was bullet proof.  Maybe the cigar would be a good idea after all.  Maybe it would keep his hands from shaking.

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Mementos of the Fall - #Ferdinand

This has turned into a shockingly accurate character sketch.


Jordan sat across from him at the table.  The room was dark, except for the few rays of late evening light streaming in between the cracks of the curtains.  Almost imperceptibly, the ground shook.  The crystal and china and books on the shelf responded with a musical hum, their voices blending together in a moment of haunting harmony before fading into silence.

Jordan looked up across the flowers that stood between them on the table set for tea.  Her eyes were wide and clear but tired.  Or perhaps he was tired, and she awake.  She smiled at him piteously.

“Who are we,” she asked, “You and I?”

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The sound of the fan tumbled, white and green, down the canyons it cut through his malleable brain. The thunder held him back, drawn inward, away from the conversation that the two of them kept beside him. Jordan sat between them, her hands pale, leaping like birds: diving in and out along her words. Konrad frowned and looked on through the gestures—past the words, to the divider and its gleam of darkened glass.

Everything was dark. It was getting on past midnight. Even there, under the free northern sky, the void had opened wide, revealing the indigo of god’s eye.

Ferdinand let go to the sound of the fan, into the dark of the looming hills. They beckoned them onward, to the embrace of the farm.