The Life of the Common Man
Jay Gotschall
The once proud leader, omnipotent in power, sat alone in his dacha. He looked around, his eyes scarcely able to make out the dishevelment that surrounded him. This once beautiful home furnished with the finest woods and gold fixtures had been the pride of the country's elite.
He pulled at the tattered blanket that cloaked his wizened body, a shiver running down his spine. His eyes squinted as he gazed down the passageway that lay in front of him. He could discern the form of the fireplace, the central feature of the room in which so many parties had been given. He remembered the endless conversations and food that would flow until the early morning hours, until vodka and arguments would finally win out.
His brow furrowed as he thought back, remembering the ministers with their effusive and ribald talk. Fueled by vodka, they uttered grandiose ideas that the leader found, for the most part, to be quite lacking in significance.
There were times when the conversations would reach a fever pitch, racing through a gamut of subjects. Although the leader was a man of great revolutionary zeal, occasionally his effeminacy was whispered about. The drunken minister who dared say these words would then be escorted to the rear garden and summarily shot.
The leader would return in a fit of fury that would quell all conversations pertaining to his delicate nature. While this would silence the ministers, the leader feared for his position. He knew wolves were about, and one day he was liable to feel their teeth.
The evening finally came when he knew he could not win. While dutifully making his presence known and feigning interest in the drunken conversations he overheard, he listened for the word that would bring an end to his power. When a drunken minister let slip the word putsch, the leader marched this man into the garden and pulled the trigger as he had so many times before.
His rage was not enough this time to silence the room. Speaking in increasingly louder tones, their defiance was obvious and he knew it was his turn to be taken to the rear garden. It did not happen that night, or any night thereafter.
His dacha, once the finest in the country, was now in a state of ruin. He was living the life of the common man. The feeling of dread had gone on for too long.
He squinted at the shiny object he held in his tiny hands. Its heaviness was a comfort to him. Its glint in the evening sunlight brought a wan smile to his face. He raised it up and held it against the underside of his jaw. Desperately searching for a reason to live, he could find none. He then plumbed the depths of his soul to find the courage to pull the trigger one last time. But alas, it was not there.
Jay Gotschall is an architectural designer residing in Austin, Texas. Living with Jay are his significant other Jeanette, guard dog Taffy, and attack cats Lei Lei and Snuffkins. He is currently a fledgling author taking advantage of the midnight hour to put pen to paper.