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The Day the Children Stormed Parliament
      - Jeffrey Ross

“There are children storming parliament, sir.”


“Yes. Little boys and girls.”

“I see.”

“What shall we do?”

”Well, we don’t have positions for them all, do we?”

“Tabernac. No. Certainly not.”

“What is it they want?”

“We do not know, as of yet. We are investigating the rumors of…”

“Are they under adult supervision?”

“They are not.”

“I see. Do they have any pets with them?”

“Pets, sir?”

“Cats, dogs, hamsters, these kinds of things.”

“I cannot say. No one has told me. I am suddenly completely out of the loop regarding this situati…”

“Discover, for me, if they have any pets with them. Then I can make an educated decision.” The one man leaves. Leaves a trail of dust and dirt, of cuticle slivers and dried skin. He darts from the room. The other man, who, incidentally, is the Prime Minister, rubs at his chin and cocks an ear to a slightly opened window. He can hear them, the children.

“Sir! Not pets. Not pets at all. They have no pets. Instead, flanking them, coming up the rear, even, in some situations, in front of them, are beavers. Thousands of beavers.”

“And who seems to be in control, hum? The children or the beavers?”

“Why, who can say. When there are so many of both. Well, it could go either way. Beavers or children. Children or beavers. Possibly they are in this together.”

”In cahoots? Are the children and the beavers in cahoots?”

“One might well imagine that this is a possibility. That these children and these animals, that they are in cahoots, as you say.” The two men stare at one another. Neither knows what to do. Not in all their years of service to the government have they been faced with such a problem. Beavers, children. These are invisible things in the world of politics. They speak of them, certainly. But they speak of them as such, -the youth of today- they might say or -the wildlife areas within which our great national treasure the beaver inhabits- but to have them here, upon the front lawn, storming parliament. It is beyond their abilities. Their feeble MBA’s and MA’s and PHD’s, falter like a violinist with caffeine jitters.

“What is it they want?” the Prime Minister asks exasperated.

“I do not know. I did not expect you to ask that again.”

“You didn’t believe I would want to know what thousands of children and beavers storming parliament could possibly want?”

“I have never been in this situation before.”

“Who has?”

“I don’t know.”

”I want you to find that out. Call people. Fax people. Use the internet. Find someone who has been in this situation before and discover what they did in this situation. If it was something that worked let me know. If it was not something that worked figure out something that will work.” Outside a banging slowly grows. A chattering of healthy teeth against the ancient bricks of the mighty parliament hall. A mass of sound that grows and tosses itself at the windows like a drunken step-mother.

“And if we cannot figure something out? If there is no precedence set. If this is the first time ever… What do we do?”

“We give them money. We give them jobs. We wipe their snotty noses and make sure they vote. This is a time of great decisiveness in our history. What happens here will ring down through the ages. We are at a cross-roads. I need some form of analogy. Something good. Something that has to do with combining, bringing together, not separating. I need a word for it.”

“I will find you a word.”

“Find me a solution first. A word is no good without a solution.”

”I will find you a solution and a word.”

“You are a good man.” But a word was never found. A solution was never found. A bottle was found and consumed and a bloated secretary to the Prime Minister lay incoherent in the basement of the mighty building of parliament as the children, and the beavers, took over the government. And what kind of world will this be?

Jeffrey Ross is a professor of English at Algonquin College. His publications have been in Pindeldyboz, B&A New Fiction, Algonquin Roundtable Review, Necessary Fiction as well as a number of newspapers and on-line stuff. He is the editor of and the host and organizer of the Subterran Reading Series.
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