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Our Greatness

By October 25, 2017January 25th, 2019Writing
“I don’t have time for this, Rick”
            “Of course you do. You, of all people, have time. You just don’t know how to use it.” Ricky said, pulling out a chair from the small table and sitting down to stare at Braddock.
            “I’ve already spent more time here than I wanted to, I need to go.” Braddock turned to leave half-heartedly before Rick chimed in.
            “You can fill you whole life with things to do. But if they aren’t the best things, if they aren’t important, then why do them? And if you don’t know why you do something, there’s no point in doing anything at all, and you’ll end up lost when you’re finished.”
            Braddock paused. Then said, half to himself, half to Rick, without turning,
            “I know what I’m doing, Rick, and I know why I’m doing it”
            Rick pushed the chair back slowly and stood up to look out the window, placing a hand softly on the windowsill.
            “Ah, but do you? You might know what actions you will take, but do you know what will happen as a result of your actions? What I mean to say is: what are you really doing to the symphony that is the universe?” He turned again to look at Braddock more seriously. “I know what notes you are meant to play, but what happens when you tear the sheet music of the musicians next to you? What are you doing then, really? Can you predict how the rest of the piece will play out?”
            “Obviously I’ll be making the galaxy a better place. Ridding it of the filth and evil that I’m called to destroy.”
            “How so?”
            Braddock lifted his arms and pressed against the frame of the door, the muscles in his neck and shoulders bulging with frustration.
            “It doesn’t matter, as long as they’re gone nobody will care how.”
            At this, Rick’s voice rose in intensity, something that Braddock rarely saw. It was obvious this discussion meant almost as much to Rick as Rick thought it should to Marcos.
            “You’re right, in part, Marcus. Few will know how you did it, and even fewer will care. But many will weep or rejoice based solely on the decisions you make.”
            “You can’t be serious. There are millions, if not billions, of people: citizens, populi, criminals, and more uncounted beyond our borders who live the most vile, depraved, dishonorable, disgusting lives. You cannot say that the unholy, unnatural things those people do have no effect…”
            “No.” Rick’s interruption was soft-spoken, but firm. “No I don’t. Every choice made on and in-between every planet in the great expanse of the universe holds sway on its direction and its beauty. But small men lead small lives, and small lives are like a raindrop in the ocean. Nobody sees it, nobody cares, and their effect is negligible. Others, Marcus, live great lives; they were chosen to do great things. Others make themselves great from the dust of nothingness. Great men, Marcus, make decisions that have unfathomable consequences. Great men, Marcus, make great decisions. You chose to live a life of greatness, you cannot choose the size of the consequences.” Rick pointed at Braddock’s chest. “You know in your heart you are destined for greatness, the only question that remains is: will your greatness be a reason to rejoice, or a cause of mourning and suffering?”
            Braddock paused, staring at the finger pointed at him. Clearly thinking about those last words. “I don’t…” He stopped. He took a long breath as he started to realize the meaning of what was being said. “I mean, it doesn’t really matter…”
            “Because it’s your job?” Ricky interrupted. “You’re a soldier, so you’re not paid to think or feel? Only make decisions based on fact and instinct, right?”
            Suddenly, emotions erupted from somewhere deep in Braddock, something from a past forgotten by everybody but him. “Thousands of brave men and women have died because their commander was too worried about what might be instead of what is!” Braddock’s face grew more serious and his eyes glistened. “That ship out there might be a merchant trader, but the fact is that it’s on an intercept course and not responding to transmissions. It might have damaged communications systems and want repairs, but it will destroy our ship if it’s anything else and isn’t stopped.”
            His voice was heavy with emotion, it was obvious this story was not hypothetical.
            “Tucker, Swinehouse, Big Jim, they might be helping people, they might be good people cast in a bad light, they mighthave the best intentions. But the fact isthat they are criminals, the fact isthat I have sworn to uphold the law until my last dying breath, and the fact is that I am the only one capable and willing to bring them to justice!”
            He took a breath. “And so I must do so.”
            Silence filled the room for what must have been several seconds, but it felt like hours. Each man chewing over his next words.
            Rick was the first to break the silence. “So the ends justify the means?”
            “That’s not what I said.”
            “It’s what you meant, though.”
            Braddock let out a sigh. “What would you suggest I do then, Rick? Ignore my conscience?”
            “No, Marcus.” Rick said, sounding exhausted. “I feel that you’ve heard nothing of what I’m trying to tell you.” He paused. “Perhaps I started in the wrong place, let me start again. Please Marcus, Follow me.” Rick turned around, walked to the opposite side of where Marcus stood and opened the big wooden door. Bright sunlight poured into the room accompanied by the hot, dry air of Delphine. Without looking at Marcus, Rick walked out and stood in the sun. Marcus knew he had no choice but to follow.
Aaron J. Webber

Author Aaron J. Webber

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