Parade Day

All along the sun-drenched Avenue of the Affluent, the cheering throngs are gathered. Right at the very front, there are the few hundred or so very important industrialists. Occasionally, they turn to entertain and enlighten the crowd with their talking-head hand puppets, calling out the news of the day. There are the hangers-on, the brightly painted entertainment strumpets and gigolos in their expensive parade-day silks. There is the crack militia, handing out sugar cookies and ensuring everyone’s safety and enjoyment with an endless supply of tear gas and rubber bullets.

Bikini models stand up in the passenger seats of expensive automobiles and toss handfuls of hundred dollar bills at those who don’t look as though they need them. Low flying aircraft napalm the filthier parts of the city to stop any possible contagion from spreading to the tourists.

Caught up in the carnival atmosphere, some of the assembled crowd is passing the time by bashing in the skulls of a few social deviants and burning a witch or two. The smells of candy floss, grease paint and gasoline hang on the sunny afternoon air.

Finally, the emperor himself arrives in a shiny black limousine one full city block long. The grill is decorated with skulls and bristling with knives. The headlights are burning bright with some greasy fuel. The road the limousine rolls along is paved with flesh and bone. Someone is stuck under the chassis and being dragged behind, but no one can hear above the oohing and aahing.

The emperor, you see, as anyone who can afford to buy a program has been informed, is wearing the most magnificent of clothes. His suit, it is rumoured, has been stitched from the skins of rare creatures and coloured with delicate shellfish dyes. In his crisp top hat is the feather of a captured angel.

At the very back of the crowd is one rail-thin boy, begrimed and coughing, standing on a tower of garbage cans. The boy’s jaw is hanging open in amazement as he watches the stark naked fatso in the mile long car. He watches the grotesque old man’s belly wobbling up and down, his ancient moon-white ass shining in the light of the fashion photographers’ cameras.

The boy starts yelling something about, “No clothes! No clothes!” but his voice is drowned out by the gawping, cheering throng. Already the secret police are closing in on him, as he high-tails it down the alley, hoping to live and be heard another day.

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