I. The Assembly Line
The King's lives as a family had been just the same as anyone else's. No difference in what they ate at dinner every night. None in what they listened to on the radio while driving to church on Sundays. They watched the same movies, wore the same clothes. They were the same exact people as everyone else.
Mr. King had been born to a poor family. He did not love his family. He did not feel anything for his family. Instead, he had spent his life staring blankly at everyone, incapable of any sort of emotion, especially the ones demanded from him by the people in his immediate surrounding – compassion and respect.
His father, Greggory, had felt the same exact way until the day he died. That day was the same as the one that Mr. King had been married on. May 5th. Mr. King, or George, as he was called throughout his infancy up to his adolescence, served not a single tear on May 5th for any reason. He stared into the sky, as if it was just the same as every other day. As if he had no reason to feel any emotion whatsoever. His father had been the exact same when he was married, on May 5th nonetheless, which was the same day that his father, George King's grandfather, had died.
King said of the topic, on that day, "My father is a great man."
"No, he isn't. He is dead," said his Mother, whom had delivered the news after the ceremony.
"You fail to understand, Mother, that death is not the end. My father is still a great man, even if he is not among us. Just because he is no longer here in body does not mean that he is no longer here in soul. My father is still a great man. The same great man as he was before he had died. He just has to be a great man through me from now on. I suspect that this is as he had wished." George King gripped his wife's hand fairly tight that night. It was the only source of emotion he had ever shown anyone. Except, possibly, for Michael R. Andrews.
The next day, as King awoke next to Mrs. King, he thought very long of his upbringing, and of what his father had given to him in way of small bits of wisdom throughout a long and painful childhood.
King's education had been simple, but not short, nor sweet. When he had turned the ripe age of 6 in 1961 (on May 5th), he was given a bag filled with books over the three most important aspects of his education - Math, Science, and English – and a school uniform, a black sailor outfit, short sleeved shirt and shorts that balanced just above the knee, accented with brown dress shoes and a sky blue neckerchief, which he wore to his assigned facility: Western Local Elementary. This was the worst facility in all of San Diego.
His father had said:
"We do not have the money to put you in a more profitable facility with a larger reputation. I am sorry for this. But this is the same facility I went to, and the same as my father went to and so on. You will go to this facility, and two others after it, and you will follow all the rules. When you graduate you will find an occupation, just as I did. This is what you were meant to do."
Western Locals walls were painted a simple gray, "10% shade", and were lined with a plain white, "Bone", which did not inspire within the students hope. Cracks detailed every corner, rainbows of chewed, old gum colored every crevice, both internal and external. There was always at least one janitor outside, always a different one, re-painting the walls to cover newly sprayed graffiti; the last one had always been fired when there was the same mark in the same location the next day.
One day amongst his education, King had asked what one of the janitors thought of his job.
"I'll probably get fired." The janitor said, plainly.
"But, why?" King had dared to ask.
"It's what I was meant to do, kid. And if I do get fired then it's on to the next school to mop floors and paint walls."
"And if you get fired at that school?"
"You ask too many questions." That was all the janitor had said. The next day he was fired.
The tile pattern that branded the halls of Western Local were very important. Every two feet of white tile there was a block, spanning the entirety of the halls width, and stretching 6 feet at length. One half was colored sky blue and the other, maroon. This was important because if you were a female student you were to walk on the maroon tiles only. If you were a male student, the sky blue. This was not taught to any student. It was instinct.
If, upon entering Western Local a student did not walk on the appropriately colored trail of tile, then that student was not allowed to attend Western Local. If a student was not allowed to attend Western Local, then that student had no facility to attend; facilities were not to educate any student who had been granted expulsion, and especially not of the worst facility in the immediate region. If a student was not to be educated, then that student was no longer a student, but instead a virus.
"This is how the country operates. This is how the world operates. This is how life is operated." That is what counselor's would tell you when referring to expulsion of Western Local, amongst many other subjects. These counselor's, often named something along the lines of "Mr. Putty" or "Mrs. Shandeler", would tell you this while sipping on the tip of a Styrofoam mug, steam rising out the brim, with an invested face. These counselor's were not invested in their clients. They had been born with faces that looked invested.
There were many rules that were to be followed while attending Western Local, as well as all other Elementary facilities. None were necessary, and so were the thoughts of many an expelled student.
It was on October 22nd, 1964, that George King was walking to his next class, where his assigned facilitator had planned a long lecture about Biology, that he was witness to what one could describe as a grand injustice. The time was 12:32 pm.
A student, King's junior by one year, named Michael R. Andrews, walked on a maroon tile to speak to an older female student, Julie Romero. He was immediately halted by a facilitator, Mr. Benson. When Andrews resisted arrest, he was held down, and force fed a small pill. He struggled, while the medication took act, and screamed. First, he screamed of nothing. Only to let him go, and that he had done nothing wrong.
It was when Mr. Benson had said to Andrews, "You broke the rules," that Andrews said something worth the incident, something that quieted the halls of Western Local. Upon obstructing his justice, Andrews had said, "I never agreed to any rules." He screamed it, and yet it was not a scream of distress. It was one of power. Calm, respectful. It was hard to tell at that moment whether or not Andrews had known that he had broken, or maybe had just cracked, the base of a skyscraper, and that it was now ready to tumble down, directly on top of Western Locals back.
George King's belly shook, and he became sick. Andrews fell to unconsciousness, which was well, as if he hadn't he would have instead struggled free of Mr. Benson's grip, which had loosened at his words. The hall remained silent for a few moments. The meaning of silence in this instance, however, had been redefined. It was a rule of Western Local that you were not to talk in halls. Thus halls were always silent, in a sense. There was still a rummaging of feet, book bags, and of lockers, though. At this moment, these few moments past Andrews words, the hall was in silence. No feet clicked on tile, and no one spoke, and no book bags were shuffled, and no lockers were knocked or opened. Everyone simply stared at the motionless pile that was Andrews. A stare unlike the empty stare that most students bore their whole lives until that point. This stare was opened to the world. It was open, and yet all the students had tunnel vision. At the end of the tunnel: the words Andrews had spoke.
"I never agreed to any rules." This echoed in George King's mind. It bumped the walls of his brain, shoved through his nasal passage, forced it's way down his throat in a hulking gulp, and it bounced around in his stomach. The words were too large a supplement for George King's mind, and had hit his urethra on their way down his throat, and, by the time they had met his stomach, were shot back up his intestine, and out both his mouth and nose. George King had puked in the halls of Western Local because his mind could not handle what Michael R. Andrews had said.
Immediately, Mr. Benson and two other facilitators that King had not seen enter had him restrained. He put up no fight. Had he been granted the power, he would not have known whether to fight or not. He was medicated just as Andrews had been. The hall resumed activity when Mr. Benson rose, King in his arms.
King sat in a desk merely five feet away from Andrews, to his immediate left. The two stay silent, while they await a scolding from Western Locals Principal, Mrs. Wendry. The time was 2:37 pm. King did not know where the last few hours of his life had gone. Andrews did.
The two remain in their seats for another 25 minutes. They did not speak. King did, however, look at Andrews. He did not look anywhere else for any of those 25 drawn out minutes. While the rest of the world around them moved, vibrated, constantly. Whether it be the secretary, shifting papers, making calls, or writing notes to a faculty member pertaining to strictly business, or it be one of the four vice-principals, who attentively walked in and out of the foyer. All of this happened, but King ignored it, and instead paid his full attention to Andrews, and did so with a blank face, if not an unamused one.
Andrews spent his time studying the foyer, however, and it's inhabitants. He noticed first that there were no maroon or sky blue patterned tiles in the foyer, nor did he suspect there were any leading to it's door. This was because students were not to be in this room, or so he figured. There was also a door that lead out of the school.
He, Andrews, also found that not one faculty member had been doing their job correctly. He saw some scramble around the foyer in panic or dismay, as they had no color coded tiles to follow. Thus no order. He observed the secretary enjoying a candy bar on the clock, a direct violation of one of the rules, which plainly stated: "Do not eat food unless you are in the cafeteria at your appointed lunch hour."
He saw King, still watching him, with a bead of sweat across his forehead, looking as if he was about to explode.
"Why are you here?" Andrews asked, or possibly commanded, without turning to King.
King's eyes opened wide as he heard Andrews voice, and he tried best not to puke a second time. He was able to quietly mutter, "I...did something. I don't know what to call it."
"Describe it." Andrews response was automatic.
King took a few seconds to gather himself, before sitting up straight and trying to find the words for his malfunction. "I..my...a mixture of smells erupted from my mouth. It was colorful."
"It's called vomit. You puked. Barfed."
The room lay silent between the two once more.
"Have you never experienced that before?" Andrews voice sounded more sympathetic, but his face still showed no signs of hindrance.
"Jeez. That's disgusting. How old are you?"
"I'm in my 4th year."
"A 10-year old? That's more disgusting."
King felt shameful. He asked, "Who are you?"
Andrews did not speak for a few moments. Instead he decided on whether or not it was a good idea for King to know his name, his identity. He finalized that it wasn't.
"Have you noticed yet, that none of these adults are following the facility's rules?"
King looked around, and saw only disorder, and practical anarchy. He did not have the words to describe what he saw, because he did not know that such a thing had existed. He had lived his whole life free of such a degree of chaos. His first thought was why he had not noticed this before Andrews had pointed it out, and when he turned back to Andrews, he gave a reply.
"They're adults. They don't have to follow their own rules."
Andrews retorted, quickly, aggressively, "Why not? They made the rules. If there is something wrong with a student not maintaining order, then why is it alright for their to be no order between the student's disciplinarians? It's hypocrisy."
"I..." King was without words.
"This is a place that belongs beyond our eyes.," Andrews stated strangely, with a smile. The smile was wicked, twisted. It was as if he had just become king of the world. It was an evil smile. Andrews jumped out of his trance, "What's your name?" Andrews turned, finally, to face King.
"I'm..." King thought of what could happen to him if he associated with Andrews. He thought of the consequences, before proceeding. "I'm George King."
Without hesitation, Andrews shifted out his hand, "I'm Michael R. Andrews. I'm a 3rd year."
The two shook, just as Andrews was called into the office of Mrs. Wendry. He walked off standing tall, standing firm and brave. It was as if he was his own source of energy. King was taken aback by the power that Andrews seemed to possess.
"Please sit down, Mr. Andrews." Mrs. Wendry presented the seat in front of her.
"No." He stated it simply.
Mrs. Wendry blinked. "What?"
"I said no, I believe. When you asked me to sit down. I'd rather stand."
"Mr. Andrews, sit down. This is not an offer, a negotiation, nor a question. It is a demand."
"Well then, Mr. Andrews, I heard of your small outbreak this afternoon, and I am absolutely appalled. I'm afraid the only thing I may do is expel you from Western Local."
"Afraid not, Nancy."
"You can't expel me." Andrews stated this. It was not disrespectful, or condescending. It was as if he was stating a fact.
"What do you mean I can't expel you? By all means, it's the only thing I can do given the situation. Please, sit down, Mr. Andrews." Mrs. Wendry became nervous.
"No thanks." He said, "And it's not the only thing you can do. In fact, you aren't going to expel me."
A sweat struck Mrs. Wendry. "And what am I going to do?"
"Give me a position of power like no other, Nancy."
"Stop calling me Nancy, it's Mrs. Wendry."
Mrs. Wendry was without words.
A short pause was made between the two of them. Andrews stood like a soldier, as he had since he entered the room.
"What do you mean by position of power?" Mrs. Wendry asked, resting her forehead in her clammy palm, in attempt to rid herself of some of her perspiration.
A sick smile grew on Andrews face, one Mrs. Wendry had never seem the likes of before, "You will make me the first student-president of Western Local, Nancy, dearest."
Mrs. Wendry scoffed, "Why would I do that?"
Andrews response was immediate, "Because, if you don't, then I will gather an army that will tear this school down brick by concrete brick."
"Why would any student follow you? And to take down their educational facility no less?"
He retorted immediately, once more, "Because of what I said in that hall. And because of what I've seen in that foyer. The door, the chaos, the tiles. Do you think that even the zombies you've created out in those halls will stand for such a large amount of hypocrisy?
"If I tell them even that there are no colored tiles in the faculty foyer then they will gather, even without my leadership, and they will make you regret every single second of labor you forced upon them.
"If I tell them of the door, then that is where they will invade from. That door, the one out in that foyer," Andrews pointed out the door, and when Mrs. Wendry looked she saw that there were bodies of the faculty collecting, watching, "I can see a future wherein both members of the faculty and the student body will use that door.
"So, will you force me from this place, and let them collect without me, or would you rather I collect them, and keep the peace for you? You could even consider me a mediator of sorts. If you wish. No matter what, though, there is a choice to be made."
Mrs. Wendry coughed.
"Were done here." Andrews opened the door behind him, and left, to his class.
The next day he, Michael R. Andrews was elected the first student-president of Western Local Elementary.
* * *
George King was given a stern spanking and telling to for vomiting while in school. Greggory King did not enjoy giving it. He had said:
"I do not enjoy punishment. For you to know to not do this again, however, I must punish you. This will never have to happen again as long as you follow the rules that your facility has laid down."
There was never another time in his life that King broke a rule while attending any of the three facilities (Western Local Elementary, Junior High, and High) that any disciplinarian knew about. Especially not his father.
King did garner a strong bond with Michael R. Andrews, however. It had began in that foyer on October 22nd, and it would serve the two of them throughout their educations.
King once asked Andrews:
"What did you mean when you had said that you never agreed to any rules? I still don't understand it, Michael."
Andrews reply had been short, "Rules are not just laid in place, George. Nor are they laid in place just because."
King still did not understand what Andrews had meant, and for a long while, he wouldn't.
Andrews collected a following by accident. A cult following, one might say. It had started with a long, viscous fight over just one rule. Andrews had campaigned for the elimination of one rule. Andrews campaigned against the segregation of male and female students in Western Local Elementary.
He won this campaign in his 4th year of education. King had questioned Andrews once more, while the two of them watched the tiles of the halls being relaid, this time all a plain, boorish white:
"Why disrupt the peace, Michael?"
"Because, George," Andrews replied, "it was only peace for the oblivious and the gullible. The rest of us were living in a personal hell."
King did not question Andrews often afterwards.
The following months of King's 5th year of education and Andrews' 4th year of education were joyful. Andrews demanded less rules amongst the school, and received it. He did not have to fight a long battle to strike rules from any record, but instead had a constant sway over the faculty, which now cowered at his power over the student body. Rules were stricken from Western Local constantly, seemingly day by day. Some were rewritten, and became more broad. Others were lost entirely.
The students eventually lost their sense of order and became chaotic, spreading themselves amongst the halls and walking, boy and girl not only side by side, but holding hands, and other, more obscene things even. Their were fights constantly – often in bus loops before and after school. The students had started it for fun. Eventually small gangs were formed, and they would steal money from students. Even after a while these gangs started spreading to the streets and demanding money of everyday people, threatening them with small knives. On a bad day some students were put in juvenile halls, others were shot.
The faculty became more aware, and attentive, and thus organized themselves, ending the anarchy in their foyer. They walked in straight lines, and did not converse, or eat on the clock. They did their work and they went home. And every single member of the staff, before entering Western Local for the day, gulped as much air as their lungs would carry – when their feet were off the steps of the foyer door, and their work was done for the day, they would heave huge sighs, exhaling all the air they had breathed in that morning. Not one member of the staff was not afraid of Michael R. Andrews and the power he held in his voice.
Andrews was pleased with the halls of Western Local – his facility.
And so it was until his presidency ended, a which point it was handed off to another student whom Andrews had never met – a young 2nd year named Sully T. Anthony, whom had been given his ideals by following Andrews time "in office". Anthony would later re-instate three of the rules his senior had gotten rid of, but Andrews did not care. At that point he was busy as the student-president of Western Local Junior High.
* * *
It was on a spring day walking home from Western Local High in 1972 that George King was beaten by three students that were all a year younger than him.
He had been strutting home on a popular road. The walk would not have taken twenty minutes. The three caught up to him five minutes after his departure from his facility.
"I heard you went on a date with Matilda Withers, Georgie, ol' boy."
"I've got no trouble with you, kids. Best be on your own way." King kept walking, refusing to stop for the students.
"You see, though, Georgie-"
"Don't call me Georgie. That's not my name. My name is George King. Call me that."
"You see, Georgie, I got a flavor for Matilda there, and I want you to leave her be." The student hissed.
"I am not going to do that. Now leave."
"Not gonna do that? How come, Georgie?"
"Because, I like Matilda, and appreciate her presence. I had a good date with her and I plan on another one," King stated matter-o-factly, and without hesitation, and thus fear.
"Then maybe I should beat the sense to not go near her into you, huh?"
"I would recommend not doing that."
"And why is that? Why do you think you have the option to recommend I not do somethin' at all?"
"Cause and effect. You've studied it plenty. Nothing happens without certain and equal repercussions. You have enough sense to know that, right?"
The three ganged up on George King and beat him, then and there. They interrupted his step very easily, regardless of it's sternness and braveness.
It was three hours later that a passer by stopped at the side of the road and got out of his car to help King. After asking his name and his address, the man brought him home. The man was David Andrews.
Andrews had rushed to see King at his home. Though badly bruised, King would recover just fine. There was only a small exchange between them.
"Who were they, George?"
"No one, Michael. Some punks. I wouldn't give them my money, who cares? I didn't even have any money on me."
"Tell me, George. I'll find out no matter what. Tell me and I promise they won't get hurt."
King remained in silence for a long while. Andrews stared at him. Andrews gave him the stare that he had given Andrews in the foyer the first time they had met. They sat there like that for a long while. King eventually mustered up enough courage to speak:
"It was Donald and Brennan Williams. Just those two-"
"I heard there were three delinquents, George."
"I know what you heard but it was just those two. There wasn't a third person. Just the two of them."
Andrews promptly left. That night, Donald and Brennan Williams house was burned to the ground. They remained homeless until the two of them separately bought their own homes after graduation. Fred Paxely, however, was beaten to the bare strings of his life. Two students from Eastern Private Junior High found him in a gutter on their way home the next day. He was brought to the hospital with two broken calves and an open skull. He left the hospital with permanent brain damage. An investigation was opened up on who had beaten Paxely, but their seemed to be no witnesses and the victim could no longer speak. The prime suspect had been George King for a long while. The case was eventually closed, two years later.
The day after King had heard of Paxely's beating, he asked Andrews, "How did you know, Michael?"
"I always know, George, my boy. I have eye's in all corners. I knew as soon as you had said the name, Williams. Those two never go anywhere without Freddy tugging on their leash."
When Andrews had turned to go, King said:
"I know what you meant all the way back then, now, Michael, when you had said that rules are not just laid in place or just because."
"Yea? Good, take that knowledge, use it." Andrews said so without turning around.
"But you were wrong, Michael."
Andrews turned around, "What do you mean?"
"We are to follow rules for safety's sake, that much is true, but even if a rule does not pertain to safety, then there is still reason to follow it."
"And what reason is that?" Andrews asked.
"To maintain order. Without it we are nothing but monkeys, Michael. Monkeys running about, senselessly. We must learn discipline and we must maintain order. Lest we turn more into primates and less into intellectuals."
"If that's what you believe, George, then I won't disrupt it. I'll just say this: look at Freddy Paxely. He didn't follow the rules and look at him now. All beaten to shit and in the hospital. They're saying he might never utter a single sound again."
"And what point are you trying to serve? By not following rules he has been severely injured. So shouldn't we have more rules to prevent such a case?"
Andrews smirked. "You're missing the point, George. Not beating someone, anyone, up – that's already a rule, no matter where you go. That's a law. He still broke it. Remember those tiles that were meant to maintain order when you were a 4th year? I still crossed it."
King stayed silent.
"Make a thousand rules, George. Make a million. People will still break those rules. So why not let them run free and all become brain dead animals fed by machines like Fred is now? Why not let them cleanse the Earth of themselves?" Andrews chuckled, before turning again.
After the door shut, Andrews on the opposite side of King, he, King, thought for a moment of what Andrews had said. This was the first moment that King had realized he was afraid of his very best friend.
The two did not often speak afterwards.
* * *
"I was merely a boy," hollered Michael R. Andrews atop a pedestal that stood in front of an audience of people on a popular street in Los Angeles, all eyes locked up on him in the summer of 1985. "A child, very small. Seven, maybe eight. I walked into my school one day, and saw, instead of my education, and thus my future, a long tunnel. There was no light at the end of this tunnel. Instead there was darkness. Pure, pitch black. And that was how I felt. It was how I had felt every day I had lived in this order. They, the 'facilitators', so they were called, laid these laws down, and expected them to be followed. So they were. However, the people who accepted and demonstrated these laws – well, less laws and more like rules – they were empty. Just hollow. They had become shells of their former selves, had there ever been an individual inside them at all.
"It angered me, every single day. I couldn't stand that none of these people were real. That none of these kids had never and possibly would never get a chance at individuality. That I was surrounded by phonies. There was, though, a point of climax. A point that broke the barrier for me. It came in two pieces, on the same day.
"First, I walked in the door, and I stared down the tunnel of darkness, just as I had every day before that one since I had been enrolled. Except this time I saw something different. My mind had made another step, and I had found a light at the end of the tunnel. At first there was hope. I rushed to the end of that tunnel, and as soon as I reached the end – as soon as I had reached for that light, that string of hope, that life-raft that was hope in an ocean of void – if such a contradiction makes sense – it was taken from me. It was taken from me with my sight. Because what I saw was a conveyor belt. On the belt were limbs. Pieces of the human body. Legs, arms, chests, waists. It was the heads that struck me hardest, and first. They were all alone, these heads, and they were blank. Not a face on any one of them.
"Then there was a machine, a little ways off the belt. Before the machine there were limbs. After the machine there were assembled bodies. It was then that I discovered this conveyor belt was an assembly line. An assembly line made to assemble people as if they were machines. I scrambled to see what was further down the belt of the assembly line. I saw a helmet carried by a long wire, which hooked up to the ceiling. This helmet would latch onto any of these bodies heads, and it seemed to impact a certain jolt of electricity into them. When it, that helmet, was done, they somehow had faces. Those faces, however, were blank. They were zombies of the modern era. I was sickened, but gathered my strength to walk further down the line.
"There was a drop, as if the line was atop a plateau. The line ended at the drop, and the bodies fell off the cliff, and into a larger machine that had the same sort of look as the first one, at the very start of the line. I walked down a staircase, and to the bottom of this machine, and what dropped at the bottom of the assembly line gave me a great revelation.
"You see, fellows, there was a small exit at the bottom of this machine and I expected something to pop out of this exit. I had though that after all of that – after making this body, after assembling it, and after brainwashing it until it was dead – I thought that after all that there would be some sort of prize or award for the person who had made this belt, and these machines. What my great revelation was, though, was that there was nothing coming out of the small exit. Not a thing. The bodies had contributed to absolutely nothing.
"So what? So I left. I left the tunnel, and entered my 'facility'. I saw around me, nothing but the same blank faces, the same zombies, and that very same pitfall into a machine that contributed absolutely nothing. I saw it all around me. Wat could I do about it?
"Finally, though – this is what caused my final break. In my class, I had an exciting conversation with a young female student whose name I have totally forgotten at this point. We talked of things we were both interested in, and we got along. When the class ended we went our separate ways.
"It was that line. That trail of color coded tile that I was ordered to follow. I walked right next to this girl – we had the same next class, it appeared – and I couldn't talk to her. I could only follow this baby blue trail of tiles. And while I was walking all I could think of was that assembly line, and how I was just another one of those faces. It kept repeating in my head – 'Just another face, another blank, empty face' – and it drove me nuts. So I crossed the line. It took practically nothing of me. I thought it would have been the hardest thing for me to do, to jump off that assembly line. But it had been nothing. The very second I did it, I felt weightless. That was the start. And it led me straight to where I am right now. On this pedestal. Talking to all of you."
* * *
George King turned his television off, and tried to fall asleep. He thought of the things that Michael R. Andrews had hollered to the Los Angeles streets, which had later been echoed on his television set, and likely thousands of other Americans. He thought of how Andrews had drove himself insane since the very day he had spoken of. He thought of how this was okay. He slept like a baby.
When he woke up the next morning, Mr. King took a small sigh before pushing himself out of bed, a sigh he had promised he would give every day after his father's demise. He gulped the air, and let the moment sink in, just like he had every other day since last May 5th, and then he got ready for his day. He took a shower for 10 minutes, and brushed his teeth for 5. After taking a half minute to decide that he would not need to shave for the day, he let mouthwash sink into his teeth for 2 minutes, took 4 minutes to get dressed, and spent 3 on picking which tie to wear for the day.
After selecting a pink and dark purple striped, with accented red, he said to himself, "Picking a tie to stick with for a whole day is the most important ritual a man can have."
Mr. King grabbed his coat, shoved it on and straightened himself out. He checked himself in the mirror before deciding he looked "spiffy" and heading for the door.
Once downstairs, it took only moments until Mrs. King, otherwise Matilda King, turned around and said to him, "Looking pretty spiffy, honey," before turning back to cooking a healthy breakfast over the stove, and it was King who heard himself say to her without a moments thought or hesitation, "Very spiffy, dear."
George King took a moment in the hall. He thought to himself of how he had, in fact, without a moments hesitation, replied to his wife about how he looked for the day. He thought of the days past him, in which he had done the same thing. It bothered him, but he took no more than a few seconds thinking of it, and passing it off as wasted time and wasted thoughts.
After quickly devouring 2 slices of bacon and 2 egg's, both sunny side up, King kissed his wife on the cheek, patted both his son and his daughter on their heads, and rushed out the door to his job.
King worked as the assistant manager of an assembly line shop, which packaged and produced and shipped a wide variety of products made by the same company. He did not find this hilariously ironic until he had walked in the door that morning and remembered the speech that Michael R. Andrews had given the day prior.
He spent his days on the job sitting at a desk and playing with a pencil. Sometimes there were small disputes, and sometimes there were numbers to crunch. He was painfully aware of the fact that he was paid way to much for what he did to make a living.
After work, King headed home. He usually walked in the door at the same time as his wife, who would be just returning from getting groceries, and his two children, fresh off the school bus. Every time he saw that bus, he would take a moment, and try and remember the word facility on the side in large black print, instead of school. It was always at that moment that George King was grateful of Micheal R. Andrews and what he had done for his children.
It was on this particular day that George King felt something was wrong upon entering his house. He couldn't figure what it was, but there was indeed something that he could not pin, precisely. Something in his house was where it was not supposed to be.
* * *
He wore snake skin boots. It was black snake skin. Not fake snake skin. The real deal. Spurs on either side. He refused to wear leather chaps, but instead leather pants. Black leather gloves, black 10 gallon hat. He didn't wear a shirt, but a red neckerchief, properly around his neck. He walked, slowly, step by step, down the sidewalk of a small suburb. He had been walking for two days straight, but he had made it without a single drop of sweat. He had been walking to be at this exact house. 1955 Lona Lane. The exact place he had been made to be at.
As he watched George King help his wife carry in two bags of groceries, he pulled out of his pockets to cherry colored sticks, each with a small string coming out their bottoms.
As he walked up their driveway he did not think. Thoughts were a waste. He had not needed them and thus did not have them. He had only a destination. A destination not seconds away – not as he made the first step into the King's doorway, which had been left wide open.
George King turned around to see two blue eyes staring deep into him. A stare he hadn't seen since there were sky blue tiles under him. It was not a something that had been misplaced in George King's house. King knew this as he scanned over the man in his doorway and found a roman candle in each of his hand. King knew this as he sniffed the air and was reminded of the 30 gallons he had put into his car that very morning.
A small chuckle came from the man in George King's doorway, before he ran forward and struck the two roman candles on the wall of the King residence, and struck flame amongst a house filled with gas. King screamed. For the first time in his life – almost 30 years in the making – King showed real emotion. He showed emotion because he did not understand why. He did not understand why had lived 29 years of life without a moment of enjoyment. Why had he gone through the same routine over and over? It was not apparent to George King, especially not in his last moments of life. What was he meant to do? What had he done, what had he accomplished? With his family blown up with him, George King had to wonder – what one thing had he contributed to society? He screamed, hollered at the top of his lungs, and though it lasted only for a second, if even, and though it was a hoarse scream that came from a man whom was quiet all his life, the scream that George King emit in his last seconds of life was much louder than the explosion that followed it. The day that George King had perished was not May 5th.
* * *
Michael R. Andrews attended George King's funeral. It was put on by his mother, Sandra, whom Andrews had not seen for a decade. Andrews met her with ease, and stopped her sobbing. He greeted her as if he had not missed her for even a day.
"You've grown old Mrs. King."
"And you've grown up, Michael."
This was all the two said to each other.
George King was buried with the rest of his family. His employee's and his employer attended. As did Matilda King's family and immediate friends. Aside from Michael S. Andrews and Mrs. King, there were no family and friends attending on George King's behalf.
Michael R. Andrews prepared a few words for George King, and spoke before he was buried. He said:
"I knew George King in our infancy. He was my greatest friend, and later on, possibly my only enemy. He posed a great challenge on me without even noticing, without even trying, and had it not been for him I would have never found a proper rival, if only for a few moments. I loved George King very dearly, and stood to protect him, and those alike to him – even in our adolescence. He was the perfect man – a man of self sacrifice, whom never was given a moment for himself. However, out of all the short 29 years that George King lived, and out of all the people he met, all those who he touched, those here with us today, some being buried next to him even, I have to ask; Did George King ever make a difference?"