Evening in a Free State
NOTE: The opinions and commentary expressed in this essay are those of the author and are an exercise of free speech. They do not necessarily represent the views of Free State Project Inc., its Directors, its Officers, or its Participants.
Evening in a Free State
by Philip Denisch and Jan Maria Eiland
I look out the window and am reassured to know the earth still spins. It seems the doomsayers across the river were wrong freedom does not mean chaos.
The bright, blue sky of day is slowly draped with the evening's soft blanket of orange, purple, and red. Birds fly back to their nests; the diurnal animals head home. Bright lights blink on all across the Free State.
I put down the thick folder marked "The Future of the Free State" and smile: children's children ad infinitum. I start for the sidewalk below, pausing at the small plaque just inside the door. It is made of brass, about ten inches across. Engraved on its tarnished facade is "Beneficium accipere libertatem est vendere", "To accept a favor is to sell one's freedom." In the bottom corner is "H.R. Architect." A little severe, I think to myself, but then again, Ben Franklin pretty much said the same thing with "Neither lender nor borrower be."
As I stroll down the street, I hear nocturnal animals beginning their activities. Bats are folding and spinning their way across the sky, cleaning the air of bothersome insects. An opossum, rustling in the bushes, searches for food, and a hoot owl begins asking who I am. I smile; here on this side of the river, I do know who I am.
I continue on my way, only slightly embarrassed by what I'm sure is a smug, cat-that-ate-the-canary look on my face. But I can't help it. I see that here a lot people's faces beaming with pride, glowing with the realization that they are a sovereign people, beholden to no one but themselves. Self-responsible people now, who may not have been so a few years ago, sometimes find it hard to hold that pride in. The heart-felt "Hellos" from the folks here are worth a million of the stodgy, forced greetings "over there."
Turning the corner, I see Tim (the newest junior-sub-vice-partner at Amam, Garafena and Sesha, LLC.), leaving for the day. A genuine "Hello!" from him and a "How goes the law?" from me makes me feel good, knowing men like him are on the job. I feel a little guilty, though; there aren't anywhere near as many legal arguments here as on the other side of the river. But I don't feel too bad I hear his other venture (Condon's Condoms, over on Elm Street) does quite the brisk business.
Across the street, I see Heather (proud new owner of Heather's House of Straw-house Straws) close up shop and double-check the sprinkler system. This is in keeping with the requirements of her contract with her chosen fire protection company (Elizabeth's Plushy Porcs and Fire-Fighters, Inc.). A car full of young men whiz past, heading, no doubt, for "Phyllis' Phial of Phlesh." Cow flesh, that is: "Best Burger for a Buck." A few girls head the other way and wave as they pass, on their way, no doubt, to "Mary Lou's See-More" ("Always Looking For a Few Good-looking Men").
I also spot people heading to work. I see Matt (of Matt's Marvelous Mechanical Machines) going to check his "marvelous machines" that produce much of the electricity in this town. Last time we talked, the machines had been automated so they only needed to be checked four times a day that seems to leave plenty of time for his other mad-scientist projects. Do I hear a "Mu-ha-ha"?
As for me, I'm heading to Soren's Swillery, the best place for tight talk and loose women...or is it the other way around? I walk past Bastiat's House of Glass and look across the river. How dull, dirty, and dim the lights over there seem to be. Do those who remain know what they are missing? Do they voluntarily choose suffocating statism over responsible freedom? I sigh and think, "Can't live for 'em." I sure am glad to be on this side of the river. A few steps farther on I see the welcoming lights of Rickett's Rackets, everyone's favorite place for various numbers games. All the odds are published, all the games are honest, and, yes, someone does have to win. In a delightful act of irony, she actually uses the profits (not a dirty word here) for education (her kids', of course).
They say happiness comes from the achievement of goals, and I have now reached the meager goal of this walk. The next sign says, "The Mega-Galactical Institute for Truly Advanced Cognition J.S., Chief Poindexter." But the place that is my goal has swinging doors.
I push them aside and swagger in. A slow glance around the joint tells me all I want to know; freedom is in residence. A nod of recognition from the heavily armed bouncer (from Mandy Max's Max Men, Ltd.) is all I need for entrance credentials. The Ever Busy Buss was at the piano banging out a lively tune and singing about liberty.
The Central Cwillery is a large room with a huge marble bar along one side; a large chandelier bathes the whole room in a shower of light. There are doorways to smaller rooms along the back and far side. Each smaller room has a sponsor, or theme. I look around more and I'm struck again with that very common Free State "malady:" choice. I just couldn't decide. Okay, so as far as maladies go, it's not bad.
I pull up a chair at an empty table and ponder my choices. Above one room I see a sign that says: "Ben's Anthropological Antics/Tonight Only: Big Sky for Big People." Sure. "Tonight only." It's said that ever since the sign went up. The room next to it, labeled "Mary's Metrical Musings," is usually quite busy. I start to wonder why it looks slow tonight until I see the "Guest Speaker This Evening" sign posted beside the entrance sometimes only the original will do. Next to that is "Orwell's Opiates," then there is "Rob's Rum Room" and finishing up the back wall was "Zany X-rated Comical Vaudeville." Along the side wall, I see "The Magical Maestro's Musical Manifestations." A bit farther down is "Solitary Solitaire (bring your own cards)" next-door to, of course, "Pokerface's Poker Potpourri." Talk about diversity...you've gotta love this place!
Scanning all these doors and more some promising chemical concoctions to make me feel happy, some promising an evening of craven carnal contentment, others with hours of stimulating debate I spot one that radiates inviting warmth and familiarity. The sign above says "oguk;aog'vykiyaktogybbtogukiaiogux'kogieyn (oh, darn this new keyboard). Anyway, paradise awaits!
A few hours later, I re-enter the main room, look at my watch, and notice the time. Wow! The hours sure fly by when you're having a great time. I wave to a few of the regulars, and then step out into the fresh, clean night air. Again, I detect the aroma of freedom. Okay...I can't really smell it, but I know it's there.
I walk past the few remaining taxis and cars still in the lot and head for home. Most of the lights in town are dim. A few voluntarily lit safety signs, a few advertisements, and of course, the bright sign blazing in the night: "Divorce Counseling Services." As the ad says, "Z. Bass is zee best." My steps seem lighter here walking home at night is a joy, something looked forward to, not, as on the other side of the river, a scary and weary trudge.
Near the edge of town is JME's Home for Wayward Pets, right next to Charlie Chan's Chinese Chewery (no connection, honest). Just around the hill and I'll be home, and here's the best part of the trip. Through the trees, high on a hill, I can see another light. Sorry I mean The Light. A shining beacon of freedom from someone who took that beacon-on-the-hill bit literally. There it is, beaming into the night sky, a focused stream of light, steady and true. The latest joke concerning The Light is that, to any visiting space aliens, it would make the earth look like a gigantic all-day sucker. But I, and most everyone else, liked it, that beacon calling out to those on the other side of the river, to those who yearn for freedom, those who are held captive by their own thoughts. It lets them know there is another way, and that we'll be here when they're ready. Most of the liberty-oriented people are here now. A few more arrive daily, giant grins crossing their faces as their bodies cross the bridge to the Free State.
I'm home now, trying to decide on whether or not to have a final smoke. Darn another choice. I decide not, change into my pajamas (you know, the ones with the cute, cuddly porcupines on them), and go back out to sit on the porch for a while. I lean back, feeling comfy and silent. The wind blows through my hair; I hear the distant sounds of nature's evening children and relish the realization that I'm actually here.
The sky is now a velvet blanket of diamonds embracing the Free State. My eyes, in wonder, are drawn to the firmament; I reflect on the truth in liberty, and my heart beats to the phrase Astrum ago quod niteo hic: "The stars live and flourish here."
Here. Hear, hear, in the Free State, indeed.