The following is a short story by Kim Evans
THE RUDE SECRET
We had been having the same argument with Daisy every time when we went for our music classes. She was doing music as an amateur while I was doing it professionally already in the midst of completing my first album. The class was not only to help us fine-tune our music talents but also catch with the latest developments in the music business. Daisy was also pursuing her diploma in business administration in a nearby college. I had recently dropped out from a computer coding course to pursue my music. Sometimes, in retrospect, it doesn’t sound like such a good idea.
The crux of our frequent arguments was far from music. It had been about our planet’s protectionism that had inspired the much debated mass nuclear-weapons manufacturing policy. From our arguments, anybody could tell that I was an anti-protectionist and she was a protectionist. Like its citizens, the World Confederation was divided over which was best policy to use to solve conflicts with other planets and alien races. Protectionists argued that aliens could not be trusted and that Earth should get ready for any war with any race or planet at any time. To do that, it needed to have as many powerful weapons as possible among them nuclear. Anti-protectionists on the other hand argued that there was no need for any weapons but instead the planet should consider using the readily available astro-diplomants to solve conflicts with other races instead of aggression. The anti-protectionists had always won in the argument because their approach was not only economical but it also positioned Earth as a beacon of peace and self-security among other planets, something that Earth citizens were in love with. But lately there had been reports of wars and tensions among distant planets and the resulting concern tilted the balance towards the protectionists.
Our last argument with Daisy had ended up badly. It made me consider never bringing the argument up ever again.
“I don’t like this nuclear stuff,” I said after music class. “It’s starting to make earth look like a paranoid planet. Something that we aren’t.”
“If getting ready to protect its citizenry makes Earth paranoid,” she restorted, “then I guess paranoia in this case is more a virtue than a vice.”
“But do you know what makes Earth different? Peace. Peace is our trademark. We should never lose it at any cost. It’s what makes us different.”
“I wonder what you mean by any cost. What if that cost is our lives?”
“Daisy,” I tried to convince, “here is what many people don’t understand. The inter-plenary relationships are like the ones in a classroom. Imagine this very peaceful class with everybody happy and laughing together each day. Then one day, one guy comes with a gun. What happens the next day? More people will come with gun because the first guy gave an impression that everything was not okay. At the end, a single guy’s insecurity ends up making the classroom more insecure with the mass gun possession. That’s what happens with weapons in the inter-plenary scale.”
“I understand you and I wish you could understand me too. We don’t have to always agree. And maybe we should realize that this nuclear politics is beyond us. We can do nothing about it. Maybe we should leave it.”
“But maybe it’s not entirely beyond us. Your father is the CEO of Best Feat Corp which will get the weapon manufacturing deal if protectionists win in this.”
“Don’t get personal, Peter. Can we leave parents out of this, please?”
“But to be sincere, isn’t your father agitating for this too much. I heard he is bribing and funding the World Confederation leaders and politicians to get them pass the bill authorizing the manufacturing.”
“Do you have to go to that extent to hurt me because of some nuclear damn crap? Don’t get me started on families, Peter.”
“Relax, Daisy. They aren’t your real parents.”
“Shut the damn crap up. I know my parents are dead and you don’t have to remind me that. And they were war heroes. They weren’t like yours. Your father is jobless and your mother is a drug addict. I also got adopted by even better parents. You too is crazy about becoming some inter-plenary music sensation after quitting college, a Utopia you will never achieve. What about that?”
I couldn’t speak. I went away.
After thinking about it, I couldn’t get why the argument had blown out of proportion so easily. But I knew I was the one responsible. I was the most hurt too. Daisy had hit all my sore places. My fading music superstardom dream. My jobless father and my ever-drunk mother. But I couldn’t understand why. Daisy has always been supportive of me and she was always kind and sorry about my family. She also knew when something was meant to be a joke. We had joked about anything before from my parents to her dead ones. I could not understand what had gone wrong.
But whatever it was, it started sometime ago. We had been lovers before but after some time, that had changed though none between us said it orally. Then we became just friends. Now she was drifting out of that too. The last argument had been the breaking point.
In the next class I tried to reach out to her with my eyes but she always avoided eye contact. That was unusual like so many things about her that day. She looked so sad which she never allowed herself to be. Since the death of her parents, she had sworn never to allow anything to come between her and happiness and the will to live. She wasn’t going to let fate take away from her anything else after her parents. Therefore whatever she had allowed to worry her must have been enormous. She had been with me through many of my struggles and I couldn’t leave her at that point. I had to pay her back.
A tense silence ensued when I greeted her. It took me sometimes to look at her eyes and see the tears.
“Daisy…,” my voice was tremulous. “I’m sorry about the last time we met. I shouldn’t have said what I said.”
“What are you talking about, Peter?” she said her voice a bare whisper. “I should apologize to you instead. I acted childish. I know you never meant to hurt me and my outbusts was uncalled for. But something was disturbing me. A fear.”
“You know my story, don’t you? My parents being war heroes, me being adopted and everything, right?”
“Yes I know about that. What about it?”
“It’s all lies.”
“What do you mean lies?”
“Maybe I should tell you from the start. Back in college, there is this astro-diplomancy professor who always wanted to see me. I knew he wanted to discuss something with me. He is a strong anti-protectionist and because of my otherwise convictions I kept ignoring him. But due to his irritating bothering, I decided to give him some time. Then he told me my story. My real story. My mother was no war hero. She was a secret anti-protectionist and my father was a leading protectionist. He killed her because of that. My father killed my mother because of the damn nuclear politics.”
“And who is your father?”
“My current father. My mother was his mistress. But she was investigating his monstrous activities in business and she had gathered enough evidence to blackmail him to stop orchestrating for nuclear manufacturing just for profits. She was to give the evidence to the media to show how everything about the protectionism was all about profit making. My father killed her before she could do it. But she had given some evidence to the professor. My father went ahead to adopt me.”
“And how do you know that the professor isn’t lying?”
“I hoped he was lying but I knew he wasn’t. That was why I shouted at you last time. I was telling myself those words. But anyway he finally gave me recorded confession of my father to his buddies after killing my mother. It is beyond doubt.”
“What does the professor want?”
“That I co-operate with the protectionists as they go to the media to take my father down. I am a vital asset to them and they fear he could kill me. They want to protect me.”
“I hope you will co-operate.”
“No. I won’t.”
“What will you do? Forgive your father?”
“I will go to the media myself. Like you said, it isn’t entirely beyond us. We are taking protectionists down. Me and you.”
“Sorry to ask. But how?”
“You know some TV guys, don’t you?”
“Just some music show presenters who I hope will help my debut album get airplay. Not the kind to handle this kind of a thing.”
“But they can lead you to some investigative journalists, can’t they?”
“I guess they can.”
“Then let’s do this for sake of your album. If we let protectionists create inter-plenary wars so that they can sell us their weapons then your album will get just plenary instead of inter-plenary airplay. You got a classic and I can tell it.”
It was a deal.
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