If you saw Atlas … blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling … the greater his effort the heavier the world he bore on his shoulders – what would you tell him to do?
– Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged –
Jack and Eddy have been sitting in silence for some time, poles extended over the deepest pool in this stretch of the stream – or ‘crick’ as Eddy would say – sacrificial dew worms suspended in the violet darkness.
The election had passed weeks ago. Jack, true to his word, had made the trek up to Eddy’s stone house on the hill for their pilgrimage to the polls. Neither had praised nor condemned the outcome – or commented at all – at least not until now.
“My radio tells me he was only elected because he is a white, heterosexual man,” Eddy offers, ignoring the faint tug on his line.
“Perhaps he’s in league with others of his kind,” Jack offers, with an inward smile.
“Told you, he was guilty of something. Reminds me a bit of Henry Reardon.”
“Who?” Jack asks.
“The Ayn Rand character. An industrialist. Tall, blonde, blue-eyed but unlike our new premier, a clean-limbed figure. He believed in making things. In his case, steel. A new kind of steel that was wildly successful; stronger, lighter, cheaper to produce. “As the story goes, his detractors, other industrialists and their hangers-on, said he was upsetting society’s balance. But he was a man who just wanted to create – to make things – and to be left alone.”
Jack sat for a moment, eyes wide, mouth open, unaware of the sharp pull on his line. It wasn’t until this moment that he realized Eddy, the former tobacco boat driver, had a bent for education beyond the national broadcaster.
“Fish on!” Eddie shouts. “A little trout, from the looks of it. One more and we can feed the masses – but we’ll need some bread to go with them.”
Line back in the water, and a sense of calm restored, Jack ventures, “So what happened, to this Reardon fellow I mean?”
“Don’t know. It’s a long read.”
Morning is getting on. A trail of dust drifts their way, the remnants of a pickup’s recent hurried passing. Heat rises perceptibly from the field of wheat behind them but it’s cool here, beneath the willow, beside the water.
“Tell you this, though, there’s an opportunity, slim though it may be. The Premier’s party could well advance from its current status.”
“And what exactly is that?” Jack asks, trepidation in his voice.
“Pack-of-stray-dogs status,” Eddy says.
“At least they’re our stray dogs.”
“That’s right, Jack, or at least there’s a healthy contingent from the countryside. That’s a point my radio missed entirely. And, they asked the wrong question in the first place. “They wanted to know from Canadians how the new premier will affect politics here in our fine nation. Better to have asked Canadians of the challenges this party of stray dogs will face and how we got to this point. If Rex Murphy had been hosting he might have steered the dialogue to higher ground.”
Jack turns, a question in his eyes.
“I’ll start with how we got here, Jack. It was arrogance in action. Moving forward without asking for opinions or, more likely, asking for opinions with no intent to hear or comprehend the replies.”
“Could that change with our hefty new premier, Eddy?”
“That’s where our hope lies, Jack. That’s where our hope lies.” ◊