by Bryan Russell
The General Who Spoke on the Radio
When the President flew out of the country the General said “Why does he ever have to come back?”
The President had friends, though, so something had to be done. The General and his soldiers went to see the friends and shot them dead. In their beds or their mistresses beds, in the streets or in the cafes. Bloody clothes left wet stains that dried in the heat. The General was not a particularly literate man, but his messages were easy to read.
The President decided an extended vacation was in order. Switzerland was nice, he’d heard.
The General took control of the newspaper and the radio station. He liked to hear himself talk, and even more he liked it when everyone else could hear him talk. There were many new rules, and he told the whole country about all of them.
The most important, everyone learned, was that they should not go against the General. He never mentioned this one, but it was clear enough. The General was a jolly man with a big laugh. He liked to visit people. He would go to their house, smile, slap them on the back, ask how things were going. He would laugh and shake hands. And as he left the executioners would slip in behind him.
After awhile he decided it was better to torture everyone first. What might they know? The friends of his enemies were his enemies too.
The torturers set up shop in basements, but it was very hot and there was no air conditioning. They opened the windows to make things nicer. People passing in the street could hear the moans, the screams, the final shots.
The General should have been happy, but he was not. In the Country Next Door there was a new Prime Minister. Everyone loved him. His people had parades. They danced and sang. The Prime Minister only rarely spoke on the radio and he never killed anyone.
The General could not stand this. He ordered his troops ready. He trained them himself, driving around in a jeep. He wore army fatigues. He exhorted them onward. Fight, he yelled, fight!
The General’s troops invaded the Country Next Door, but the Country Next Door responded and counter-attacked and the General’s soldiers all fled. They ran right through the General’s country and kept on going, scattering on the wind.
The Country Next Door had one fatality: a horse pulling a wagon was struck by a fleeing jeep. A doctor tried to help the animal, but there was nothing to be done.