‘The Hollow Men’: A Fable (with profound apologies to T.S. Eliot)

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Once upon a time in the not-so-long ago, the land of Oo-La-La needed a champion.  The simple burgh harbored simple folk, earnest of spirit, keen of mind, jealous of their liberty. They wanted to be left alone to raise their crops and kith and kin in peace. And they would have, save for Dragon Blue.

Rapacious, Dragon Blue stalked the land, shredding unalienable, individual rights, growing fat and limitless as it gobbled sacred rights to Life, Liberty, and Property one after another. The people of Oo-La-La starved and quailed at the blast of its breath. Some searched hill and vale for a champion to fight Dragon Blue and cleave it in twain. Some were too timid. Others fled the field. Many threw up their hands in surrender.

But not Sir Dauntless.

Springing to his steed, the noble knight matched scale with steel and battled the beast blow for blow. While Dragon Blue bellowed and howled and blustered, Sir Dauntless refused to give ground. “Once more into the breach!” cried he, rallying his comrades for another charge.  And another. And another. Until Sir Dauntless became legend. Giant killer. Dragon slayer. Tireless crusader for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

Patriot.

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But alas, Sir Dauntless the Noble was not immortal. Seemingly immune to the ravages of the blood-sucking Dragon Blue, another Pestilence felled him. The knight was laid to rest amid the treble turrets of honor, gallantry and memory.

And lo, it came to pass that a proclamation was sent throughout the land, wherein the memory of Sir Dauntless would be recalled at the next court ball. The good people of Oo-La-La gathered to pay tribute to their fallen hero. And it was not to be.

Trifles were tossed as the court toasted one another, but the mighty deeds of Sir Dauntless remained unsung, his Red Badge of Courage claimed by hollow men.

And so when Dragon Blue next stalks the land, the good people of Oo-La-La will remember this hero, think well of his valor and ask, From whence cometh our next champion?  Searching for his equal, they will return bereft. And the court, unscarred and un-red, will wonder at its end – and never see it coming.

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

 

– T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

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