We were walking along the riverfront in Little Rock. He was in a favored shape, a striking resemblance to the late broadcast giant Edward R. Murrow. He was enjoying favorite pastimes, testing my patience and flipping lighted cigarette butts at bicyclists, a practice that began when one yelled at him one day to “Get out of the (expletive deleted) way.” He had just sent one cascading over an embankment and landing in a wetlands lake.
“It’s this whole accountability thing,” he said. “Why do you suppose your species has abandoned the concept?”
“What makes you think we have abandoned the concept of accountability?”
He didn’t answer. He took a long drag from a cigarette, inhaled deeply, and blew the smoke from his nose.
“Why,” I said, “just the other day our legislature tried to pass a law requiring a woman wanting to protect her body first to have a long plastic probe thrust up her …”
He interrupted. “I’m not talking about women or children,” he said. “I’m talking about male and corporate humans.” He finished his cigarette and another cyclist left the sidewalk.
“Would you stop that?” I said. “You’re going to get us arrested and, besides, you’ll ruin your health.”
“I have health insurance, don’t I? Besides, I can disappear in an instant.”
I thrust my hand into my pockets and kept walking.
“Let me give you an example,” he said.
“Pray do,” I said.
“Your so-called ‘for-profit’ universities.”
“What about them?”
“It’s pretty much agreed that they provide no useful result, right?”
“So I understand.”
“But public programs allow young people to borrow vast sums of money to enroll in them.”
I began to see where he was going. “Yes,” I said. “Vast sums.”
“Sums which can’t be paid back.”
“So are the alleged schools held accountable for non-payments?”
“No,” I said. “It’s the taxpayers eventually.”
“What about,” he said, “realtors and bankers who load young folks with mortgages they know can’t be paid. Then immediately sell those mortgages to avoid the consequences?”
“What about them?”
“Who pays the goods transported by truck, train, ship, or aircraft?”
“Society pays the freight,” I said, “and you need to get your Galactic Universal Translator adjusted. People aren’t going to understand you when you talk.”
“That’s their problem,” he said. “My GUT is fine. Now about this plastic probe …”
“It’s pretty much a punishment applied to a female for an indiscretion, right?”
I thought. “Yes, that’s right.”
“So, according to all the known laws of the Universe of which I am aware, it takes more than the female to create this indiscretion, right?”
“Correct,” I said.
“So is the plastic probe applied to the male half of the act as well?”
“Of course not.”
“So he has no restraints, from an accountability standpoint, to avoid the practice that causes the indiscretion?”
“No, no accountability whatsoever. So, you are correct, we have a problem with, with, … whatever.” To tell you the truth, I found myself distracted, for I was stuck with the image of that plastic probe. Then we walked by some youths playing a game, new to these parts, in which bags were tossed at holes in boxes with slanted fronts. I fought images, and we walked in silence for a while.
“So you do agree your species suffers from a negative cognitivity pod in this area of accountability?”
“I tore my thoughts away from the children’s game. “Well,
yes,” I said. “But it is our problem and shouldn’t concern the rest of the
|It seem to me that if you must have wars,|
veterans should be honored more than
once a year. Just my opinion. - C.W.
He started to flip a cigarette butt, saw that the cyclist was a police officer, thought better of it, and handed it to me. For some distance, he didn’t speak. Then he turned to look at me in deep thought.
“Tell me,” he said. “Whose children does your country send to war these days?”
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