FOREFATHERS by Rob Bliss
The forefathers sat at midnight, candles burning to illuminate their old white faces, each man in a powdered wig, wearing pressed jackets covered in sewn-on symbols of their ancient coven. These symbols were reflected on the walls of the circular house in the woods. Each man had been in Old Europe, but had done his part in the Great Rebellion to overthrow their overseers and became the leaders of the New Order. They sat at a round oak table that had been built with the beams of the ship that had brought their ancestors to new shores. All windows were boarded up, and a man in a uniform sewn with symbols stood guard with musket inside the door. He, too, was one of the New World Chosen and had the right to hear the forging of the future.
The fathers had papers spread across the table, wax dripping red and yellow on newly inked words. A constitution and amendments, some accepted, some rejected, words become laws to create a new world which would correct the chaos of the old.
But there was an amendment still being debated, this night set aside for just it. Sweat beaded faces in yellow candle glow, but the men were denied the right to remove their wigs until the debate was settled, and the amendment accepted or rejected.
“Can we change the wording?”
“It’s fine. It’s clear. Keep it simple. Let the future debate it.”
“But what if our armed citizens turn guns on each other? What if there are no more invaders?”
“Then it’ll be because an enemy sees our people as armed and dangerous. It will stop invasion before it occurs.”
“But women and children. My son is shorter than my musket, but he can still pull the trigger.”
“Then the parent is the criminal. This has been discussed. If we are strong, our people will multiply. They will kill each other or be made criminals. It’s mere population control.”
“But surely guns will develop, become bigger, fire more rounds, kill with speed and ease. What if such improvements are used to kill en masse?”
“The bigger the population, the mightier the gun to thin their numbers. The enemy is everywhere. The West has still to be opened. Many Indians to kill. If our people have someone to always kill, they’ll kill fewer of each other.”
“Then ours must be a nation perpetually at war?”
“So be it. God’s will. God gives life and takes it. We will be like God. A great nation pats the head of a child with one hand and kills the parent with the other.”
“So we write this knowing there will not always be a foreign enemy?”
“That will be the superficial justification which our government will tell people, and the people will repeat to each other. They’ll call it patriotism.”
“So it is meant to kill our own kind? We all admit that? And vow to keep it a secret?”
“Do we have to put it second? Right after the freedoms?”
“The freedom to kill is also a great freedom. It stays where it is.”
“This amendment—nay, law writ in stone—will be argued for eons to come. Let us congratulate ourselves on our first truly American paradox. The sphinx herself couldn’t do better. A nation without paradoxes cannot stand for long.”
“All who agree say ‘aye’.”
The ‘ayes’ were unanimous. Signatures were affixed, permanent as long as the nation existed. Powdered wigs were removed and the guard was told to open the door, let in the cool night forest air.
The guard did so. And at that moment, he had the guaranteed and protected right to kill everyone in the room. But he was Chosen, so he maintained the nation’s peace.