Brother Milan and his followers are planning for a revolutionary event, the bombing of the New Orleans Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, when one of his followers, Maximilla, is arrested and taken to Mississippi to answer charges that she is mentally ill and in need of hospitalization. Meanwhile, the revolutionary plan continues, and is successful in the destruction of the Court of Appeals. Maximilla is committed to the State Hospital, but escapes, and begins a journey back to discover the harrowing truth of her movement. What she finds is the disturbing and tormenting realization of the extent that Judge Reinhold and Brother Milan are connected, symbolically suggesting the "absolute truth" of modern rationality.
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ABSOLUTE TRUTH... A Fable
By Irenaeus Lyon
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Irenaeus Lyon
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE ENDING
On a hot, sweltering, oppressive summer night, no more than fifty yards west of the Jayne County Law Enforcement Complex, which housed the police department, the sheriff's department, and the county jail, an unspeakable crime was committed. The convergence of opaque, dense air, stifling as dogmas, oozed through the thick pines of the countryside, swelled and heaved across the open pastures, emerged in town, blanketing the untainted homes and streets, and materialized at the Jayne County Courthouse, smothering the useless, gurgling screams of terror with its thickness. The junction as inevitable as it was grotesque.
The people of Jayne County, about thirty thousand all together, would wake in the morning, resume their daily lives, and quickly learn of the horrific event through the normal, slightly pleasurable, processes. As the news sifted through the community, people could be overheard at the checkout counter of the bakery, in break rooms of schools, and copy rooms of offices, asking the questions, "Did you hear what happened?" and "Who could have done such a thing?" Always asked in a somber, respectful tone, yet always with the slightest inner feeling of excitement, or even enjoyment. This, of course, is not an indictment of the people of Jayne County. Rather, it is a general observation of human nature, and the capacity, if not the tendency, to experience opposite emotions and thoughts when confronted with an experience.
The Jayne County Law Enforcement Complex, located in Jayne's Haven, Mississippi, is a square, brick structure, solidly built at the foot of a rolling hill. In the nineteenth century, when the town was formed, this hill was on the edge of town, and the "law enforcement complex" consisted of a small, wooden office and jail. Of course, over the last two hundred or so years, the town has increased, the times have changed, and the need for increased space and security has brimmed over every now and then, until what has surfaced, on roughly the same ground, is a colossal structure. Surrounded by mammoth metal fences, topped with spirals of razor wire, the complex is ominous, but secure; brash, yet pleasing. Normally one would not suppose a small community to need such a jail, but with overpopulating prisons everywhere, excess prisoners from all over the state are shipped in and housed in Jayne County. For the most part a good arrangement. Jayne County gets paid extra for each prisoner, and overpopulated jails get relief. However, the comparatively massive prison, the introduction of outside influences, and decreasing property values in the area make for genuine effects on the town. Not to mention, if and when there is an escape, Jayne County is subjected to criminals from other towns. It could make for a populist uprising. Elected officials, being extremely conscious of two things, money and votes, accepted the prisoners, and built a more secure jail.
The county court house, an architectural gem sitting on top of the hill, rises three stories above the modern penal facility. The court house itself is a beautiful example of Greek Revival architecture, dating back to the late eighteen hundreds. Massive white Corinthian columns, pleasing symmetry, and flawless granite inscriptions adorn the portico in the front. Nonetheless, jutting out of the back, and down the hill, it had been connected to the garish, right angled, brick monstrosity that housed Jayne County's law enforcers and law breakers. Descending from the back doors of the court house was a plain cement stair well, covered with a cheap tin roof like you might see covering a broken down car in back of a country house. This was, in their wisdom, what the city and county officials deemed prudent when enlarging the court house to be a government complex. All governmental functions were now located on this same block. But this is to digress. It was July 5, 2006, and Judge John Reinhold was working late. From his office on the second floor of the court house he looked out the window. His view was of the top of the Law Enforcement Complex, with its seemingly random antennas reaching into the night sky, forming gaunt, stark silhouettes. Taking a deep breath and leaning back in his chair, the Judge reached for a stack of papers on his desk. His arms moved listlessly. He was visibly tired, and looked rather weak and helpless. He froze in the reclined position, eyes glazed over, as his mind and body were overcome with exhaustion. This morning he had presided over arraignments and preliminary hearings in criminal court, and sat through a civil trial all afternoon. A fairly typical day, and then the administrative work began. Over the last two months he had worked many eighteen hour days trying to clean up his docket for a new term.
Tonight he could feel the knotted muscles in his neck and back loosening slightly as the stack of papers and files became ... a stack, rather than multiple piles littering his desk and floor. Several law digests rested on the right corner of the desk. One of them was open and there was a legal pad with notes scribbled on it. A half empty glass of water sat on a coaster by the computer monitor, sunk into its ring of refuse. There was an oval, wooden table to the right of the desk, in the corner of the room, with a withering fern sitting in its center. To the left of the desk was a row of built in book cases filled with the Mississippi Code, the Southern Reporter, and various other legal books. In the middle of the book cases was a space filled with diplomas. The largest was a University of Mississippi School of Law diploma, and there were others, smaller, but impressively framed. One, directly beneath the law school diploma, was a certificate of appreciation for service as a Circuit Court judge.
As he reclined in his chair, straightening his glasses, he heard the door knob across the room begin to turn gently. His weary body struggled to pull itself upright as he watched the door slowly open. There was a moment of time, before he could make out the figure coming toward him, when his chest tightened and his heart beat faster.
"Oh, it's you ... what are you doing here?" His voice was raspy and tense.
He watched as the faint image moved closer, emerging from the dark, through the shadows like a phantom.
"Good evening, Judge," came a soft, raspy voice.
"Good evening," responded the Judge, with a shallow sigh of recognition.
"I must apologize for what is about to happen," was the calm, friendly response. "I think you will understand my position."
The judge moved cautiously back from his desk, pondering these words, and said, "I haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about." There was a pause ... a flash of vacant acknowledgment, before he continued. "Why are you here?
"We have a lot to talk about, Judge."
"No, you need to leave. I don't want to talk."
Without acknowledging the request, the person began to speak. "What I meant to say is, you may not agree with me, but you at least should understand."
Taking a seat in one of the chairs at the front of the desk, looking intently into the judge's straining, red eyes, "You must understand. I have to do this."
"What do you want with me?" The question came forth from the judge with a hint of desperation. All he could think to add was, "You must go home ... go home and get some sleep." Outside, a bird landed on the window sill behind the judge's chair, tapping slightly on the window. The judge turned to see a black bird staring back at him, feathers twitching in the wind, head cocked to the side, as if he too was trying to understand the scene inside. The bird hopped, fluttered his wings, and flew away. Turning back, the Judge could see a hesitation in the face, mouth gaped, back arching, head extended in the moist air, eyes staring past him, locked on the spot where the bird had been. The judge focused on the mouth, the way eyes may inadvertently be drawn to a physical deformity or oddity. The mouth looked dry ... parched. The lips were wrinkled, with ridges formed like cracks in a dried up river bed, longing for the healing flow of water. The parted lips brought the image of a captured blue gill to mind, mouth open, expecting ... something, unsure of exactly what might be wrong. As the judge watched, the tongue protruded and raked over the ridges. Saliva now glistened in the corners of the mouth like remnants of cotton candy on a child's lips. Abruptly, the person stood, with force and determination, standing over the desk, and then began to pace, slowly, to the right, stopping, turning, and coming back to the center of the room. There was a slight pause as they looked at each other, both hesitating, both eyeing the other intently.
"Is a just social system worth fighting for?"
"Of course," the Judge answered, intuitively knowing that this question was leading him into a debate of some sort. People don't ask this type question without already having their answer and wanting to make their point.
"I have been thinking about a proposal."
"You've obviously had something on your mind. What's bothering you, what proposal are you talking about," asked Judge Reinhold?
"Let me start with a question. Judge, do you believe that our nation-state has a duty to be just?"
"Yes, of course I do."
"And do you think coercion is a necessary part of a nation-state?"
"Yes, I suppose so. I mean, there are different forms of coercion, but some form is absolutely necessary," the judge replied. "Well, my proposal is simple really. You see, our nation is made up of hundreds, maybe thousands, of societies in conflict with one another ... maybe some more than others, but conflict is inevitable because each society, each distinctive group of people, has its own traditions, its own values, its own way of seeing the world. Is that not what politics, and the political process as we know it is all about? Politics seeks to represent diverging interests in an attempt to create a balance, and hold this conflict in tension." There was a pause. "Maybe I'm not articulating this well ... politics, at least as we know it, is about achieving justice through the balance of power between distinct groups of warring ideologies. Once we see politics in this way, we see that politics is about ethics. Now, the social cohesion, the balance of power, that is necessary for a nation-state to exist is impossible without coercion."
"Do you see my dilemma?"
The judge, still seated, with his chin cupped in one hand, replied, "I really don't understand what you're getting at, and I don't know why you're coming to me."
"Don't you see, once we have made the connection between politics and ethics, and accepted that social cohesion is possible only through coercion, how can we make a distinction between non-violent and violent types of coercion. For that matter, how can we make a distinction between the coercion used by governments or that which is used by revolutionaries. The real question becomes, what is the chance of establishing justice through the use of violence?" "I don't know what to say," the beleaguered response came from the judge, rubbing his hands over his face. He leaned back in his chair, dropping his arms by his side. Anger began to rise in his voice. "What in the hell are you telling me this for? It's late and I don't have time to debate philosophical and political issues of justice. Damn it, what's the problem? It's time for you to go."
"You don't know yet, but you have a role to play."
"That's really enough," the judge said, with a disapproving frown. "I don't have time for this. Let me finish my work."
"Judge, I know this must seem strange. I'm sorry for bothering you tonight, but as I said, I have a proposal, and this must be done."
"You've said that already. What must be done ... what is this proposal about," asked the judge?
Turning away from the judge, and walking to the dark side of the room, "my proposal ..." The voice faded, as if the cold shadows, not reached by the light of the desk lamp, sucked the words into its void. Standing, facing the dark corner of the room, not moving, the person was startled by a sudden burst of activity outside, below the window. Now muted voices could be heard ... maybe sheriff's deputies going out on patrol. They heard laughter, doors slamming shut, and the whine of engines blaring and then fading into the distance.
Now turning back to face the judge, with a renewed conviction, "my proposal, Judge, is that revolution is needed. This country is being overrun by the decay of secularism and materialism, while decent, hard working, Christian families struggle to survive."
Perspiration was beginning to form in the creases of the judge's hands and fingers now. His eyes became more focused, searching, as he reached a hand up to his head, rubbing his temple with an index finger.
"I think you should go home and get some rest." "No, I really feel better than I have in a long time. In fact, I can't think of a time when I felt better. You know what it feels like to read a book, a good mystery, and you're trying to solve it, but you don't quite have all the information. Then there is a point when it all comes together, when you finally understand."
"Yes, I think I know what you mean."
"Well, it's not exactly the same, but I think I've come to that point in my life, when everything seems to fit and make sense."
"So tell me, what great epiphany have you had?"
"I ... have found a purpose."
* * *
He looks so helpless there, arms limply at his side, encircled by layer upon layer of barbed wire, just loose enough so as not to puncture his arms and torso. The judge's eyelids begin to move slightly. The barbed wire is sinking into the leather of the chair, but has not yet begun to dig into the unknowing flesh. Barbed wire is also wrapped around his legs and the wooden base of the chair, again, not tight enough to cause immediate injury, but certainly enough to belie any further movement. Now his eyelids flutter and open.
"You've been sleeping. I'm sorry I had to knock you out Judge. You'll probably have a bit of a headache for a little while, until the chloroform wears off."
I can see in his eyes the slow comprehension of the situation. His head is slumped, hanging there with his chin resting on his chest. He slowly rolls his head from side to side, eyes focusing on the barbed wire wrapped around his body.
"Judge Reinhold, I wanted you to be conscious for this." The judge, moving with slow, jerky movements, looked a bit like one of those toy monkeys-the kind that clangs the little cymbals-heaving his arms into the barbed wire. Each move of his arms tearing open his coat. Oozing red rips appear in the mangled cloth that clings to his body. The screams were delayed, but after several lunges, his head reaches up as if he were trying to reach the ceiling, crying out with short, rapid wails. His eyes, obviously caught by the reflection of light beaming off of the brilliant steel barrel, became wide with fear, as the barrel was placed against his forehead. The judge's mouth, frozen open as if there were a large ball lodged inside, finally forming a plea, rasping and choking in a cadence, "What is this ...? No ...! No ...!" The blast came with no hesitation, sending the Judge's head flying back, and then over to the side, twisting as its weight left it flaccid, sagging, like a chicken with a wrung neck.
Chapter TwoTHE BEGINNING BROTHER MILAN
Coming up from Esplanade Avenue, the building on the corner almost appears in its former grandeur. As I approach, the sun flashes off of the pale marble corner stones, showing the importance the building once held. Six large, stone columns rise in the front of the building, peaking four stories up, with the inscription "U.S Mint" etched in the façade above. It is an impressive building, but not pretty. The red stone exterior is bold, yet simplistic. I think it's a Greco-Roman design. The stone walls stretch for a full block in a symmetrical, square-ish, lunge. As the inscription denotes, this place once housed an important function of the U.S. Government. In the nineteenth century New Orleans was the center of trade for the South, and even the whole country, as cotton was the country's greatest commodity. Through shifting economic priorities and a changing cultural landscape, New Orleans' importance was siphoned, slowly draining the force and vigor from the location, leaving an empty structure, which, of course, was filled with a museum.
Excerpted from ABSOLUTE TRUTH by Irenaeus Lyon Copyright © 2012 by Irenaeus Lyon. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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