The Times, They Are A-Changing

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Saturday. The afternoon’s stifling heat is rising in waves. Rogie crosses the road and pushes the gate of the compound of Dr Rieu’s residence. Rogie notices some village chiefs treating themselves with soft drinks. After the usual welcome by their candidate for town mayor Dr Rieu, Rogie as campaign manager takes over. He confirms the social weather forecast that the opposing candidate is going to win by a landslide. This prediction arises from the support to the opposing candidate coming from the capitalist compradors, professionals, and lenders. All week, as the campaign wound to a close, Dr Rieu’s opponent has gone house-to-house, giving away fat envelopes. In the morning, the opponent’s camp flew a helicopter over a vacant playground, strewing money bills to the dispersed folk below.

    “I’m not surprised,” the doctor says. “Even one wise man has described the people as ungrateful, greedy, fickle, and they easily forget. But perhaps the people can reason out that they received the money because they needed it.”

    “Don’t you think I must withdraw?” Dr Rieu adds.

    “I don’t think it would be necessary,” Rogie says, but at the back of his mind, he knows that the doctor’s withdrawal would put to naught Rogie’s business prospects. “Besides, it will also show the true sentiments of the people.” He assures the doctor, though, that he will do all he can for Dr Rieu to win. Rogie’s zeal in the doctor’s candidacy is to repay the debt for having once saved his life.

    It is true, Rogie recalls, that people have encouraged the doctor to run and have pledged to him their support. Ten years the doctor has served the town’s populace pro bono, and this will be a big factor in his candidacy, besides being popular.

    Rogie goes around and sees a crowd milling about in the streets, and in front of the residence of the opposing candidate as well as the stores and warehouses owned by the capitalist compradors. Early on, the eateries along the coastal road opened and served their wares, and soon smoke as well as human voices of merriment issued from these eateries.

    Midnight. A gloom descends upon the town. A fresh breeze is blowing inland from the bay. A small fire rises from Rogie’s house along the coastal road and spreads, following the line of houses towards the town’s main square. The breeze borne by the wind continues to the other end of the road where the millionaire’s row is located and businesses of the capitalist compradors. The wind turns and crosses the junction, razing the COMELEC office, and Dr Rieu’s clinic which are adjacent, and the row of primary school rooms intended to be used as voting precincts. Rogie’s form can be seen flying about the doctor’s property to the rescue.

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    The fire sweeps the stores and warehouses. Able-bodied women and men are having a fortune from looting, their shrieks punctuating the cracklings of the fire – like kingfishers picking up their meal from a frenzied school of fish.

    The doctor receives a call from his surgeon daughter married to a scion of an oil magnate in Texas: “We are saddened by the news that our place there burned and on the eve of election at that. We are flying there to take a look.”

    At two o’clock, the wind has spent itself, and the fire dies down. A huge disc of a moon floated, splaying its golden rays in the skies. Rogie tells Dr Rieu: “The election will be called off to pave the way for a special election.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicias J. Alameda
Nicias J. Alameda
Nicias J Alameda was born in Estancia, Iloilo. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and finished his law degree. He worked for several years in a government bank as a manager and as a lawyer before retiring. He spends his spare time writing sermons, short stories, and doing other scholarly work.

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