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Dump Miner - Chapter Twenty Six
The new Reagan is introduced to Americo.


Maria enters the Cardinal’s receiving room just behind the balcony. She smells of light perfume and wears new clothing. A long, flowing veil with hues of gold, silver, and bronze wraps around her head and trails her footsteps. Underneath, she wears a dark tunic that seems to envelope her in shrouds of velvet. On her neck, she wears a necklace with a gleaming pendant, symbol of the Reagan. All the cardinals gather around her as she walks towards the balcony, each cardinal trying to convince Maria why it is so important to keep the politics of Americo and The Church way they are.

Cardinal Superbia:
It is our job as the lawmakers of Americo to make sure that all get the opportunity to be a positive member of society without disturbing the natural balance of selection.

Maria:
But how can that be achieved?

Cardinal Invidia:
We need to do this by control. No one should have more than another, unless he has earned it by inheritance or birthright. This is not an easy task to achieve. The best way to achieve this is to collect all that is valuable and distribute it fairly.

Maria:
What is considered fair?

Cardinal Ira:
By making sure no person has more than they have a right to by their standing in Americo.

Cardinal Invidia:
By making sure that every person knows his or her place.

Maria:
But this has proven not to work.

Cardinal Superbia:
That is not true! Our system works better than any other in history, and has worked well since its conception. I must say that this is mostly due to my efforts.

Cardinal Acedia:
Our efforts.

Cardinal Superbia (after a brief pause):
Our efforts.

Maria:
But I have seen what your efforts have done. You use people to better the lives of only a few while justifying it by living an extreme life. People die working to better their life, knowing that they will never achieve their dreams, hoping that someday things will get better.

Cardinal Gula:
Those who live those lives have chosen that life.

Cardinal Ira:
If you allow everyone to have the same then, those that have had it will want it again. If those individuals never have the opportunity to achieve sins of the flesh, then they will not want them in the future and remain pure.

Cardinal Invidia:
Wanting is the only true sin.

Cardinal Superbia:
If you remove the want, you remove the sin.

Cardinal Superbia:
Life without want is life without sin.

Maria (looking somewhat confused):
I do not know what to think.

Cardinal Gula:
So it is up to you to travel the path that god has in placed in front of your feet. If you follow your destiny, the citizens of Americo will follow.

Maria pauses and thinks to herself with a pained look. What the Cardinals are saying does not make any sense to her. She knows what life is like in the dumps and she now knows what life is like for the privileged.

Cardinal Acedia:
Do you want to take away all hope?

Maria:
Oh goodness, no.

Cardinal Superbia:
Then you must do what you know needs to be done.

Cardinal Luxuria:
Your responsibilities start today. You must address the citizens of Americo, denounce your old life and tell your people that you will carry the burden of social order.
Maria walks out to the balcony, as thousands of people cheer. Maria is not used to such attention; she looks at the Cardinals who stand by her side with their back to the crowd.

Cardinal Superbia:
You must address your public. They serve you and await you.

Maria looks down at the audience from the balcony, takes a deep breath, and tries to speak with confidence.

Maria:
I do not know why I have been chosen to hold this position, but I will do what I believe is best for all. Many have nothing to eat and starve while few indulge and get fat, and that is wrong.

Maria looks down at her feet; obviously shaken, and turns away from the balcony.

Cardinal Ira:
You must continue, but think before you speak. Think!

Maria:
I can’t.

She turns and runs back into the receiving room, Cardinal Ira trying to control his temper follows.

Cardinal Ira:
You must!

Maria:
But I can’t, there is no way that I can save them all.

Cardinal Superbia:
Maria, then you will need to save yourself and in doing so, you will save them.

Cardinal Superbia leaves Maria alone in the receiving room. Outside, she can hear the deafening cheers of the crowd, shouting her name in resonating bravado. Turning towards the balcony, she catches a glimpse of her reflection on a life-sized gilded mirror by the balcony door. How strange this seems to her now, whereas days ago she was unkempt and raggedly dressed in frays and tatters. Whereas days ago, all she heard was the sound of anger and despair around her.

Moments later Maria walks back to the balcony and looks at the crowd. A tear comes to her eye as she speaks.

Maria:
I will do my best to serve you. Life is not a choice, it is something we are forced into and must accept. I will do what I can to stop the corruption in the mines. I will do what I can. We must take every opportunity to make all our lives better.

Maria pauses and looks at the Cardinals. They all give her an approving nod.

Maria:
No one person should be able to put themselves as better than the next and no person should stand before another as his god. If we don’t work together to make things better, things will surely remain the same.

Maria starts to cry, turns and runs back through the balcony doors. She falls to the floor sobbing. The Cardinals rush over to help her up.

Cardinal Acedia:
You must not push yourself too hard.

Cardinal Gula:
Maybe something to eat will make you feel better, tonight we will have a feast in your honor.

Maria:
I would like that.

Cardinal Invidia:
Can I get you some wine to calm your nerves? It is very delicious.

Maria:
I cannot have wine. I am with child.

Cardinal Superbia:
Of course; then we will find something you can enjoy.

Cardinal Avaritia:
Is there anyone other than the right people you would like to share your food with?

Maria thinks to herself, the people she knew or cared for are now dead. She is carrying the child whose destiny is to rule Americo; this was a larger responsibility than she thought would ever happen. She would have to do what she knew was right.

Cardinal Invidia (asks Maria again):
My dear? Is there anyone other than us?

Maria pauses, then looks back towards the audience behind her. She then turns and surveys the pristine palace that she now calls home. Maria looks at the Cardinals, thinks and then answers.

Maria:
Yes, I will make a list.

Cardinal Superbia:
And we are on that list, of course?

Maria pauses and smiles as she is now totally awake and fully aware of her position in Americo.

Maria:
We will see.

The End

 

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