Gregory Bomdey, the renowned director of the Voting Agency, subset of the Department of Loyalty, had seen better days, mainly because his eyesight was going to hell. His round, black-rimmed glasses had the thickness of the bottom of milk bottles and slipped down his nose bridge whenever he moved about. At the moldy age of fifty-nine, Director Bomdey felt he sometimes lacked the energy to keep it adequately propped up, and thus adopted a strained, squinty look of someone who kept a loose lid on his life.
Director Bomdey had one job and two hobbies. His job as the director of the Voting Agency meant he coordinated the elections of the State, held every five years, and fulfilled the democratic guidelines set by the dictatorial government. One was to ensure at least a 99.97% voter turnout; the other was to ensure every candidate ran unopposed and received unanimous support from the voters. The man was particularly busy these past six months because the next election was scheduled to take place in two weeks.
The whirlwind of preparations cut into the time available for the director to enjoy his favorite hobby: drawing nude male models. Gregory Bomdey spent his weekend mornings getting up at six, preparing a cappuccino, and ordering a male prisoner to strip and pose for him. Bomdey drew the man for the next three to four hours, sketching him out with a weathered, wooden pencil, and signed each drawing with an insult towards those he viewed as loathsome.
Before Bomdey walked into the Dear Leader’s room, he had been in his study drawing a model, the first time he had found time to do so in the past seven weeks. That morning’s sketch exceeded his expectations; the prisoner was a young, recently imprisoned man, whose thighs and calves were those of an athlete’s, and the result was a taut, vibrant drawing of the man, his backside facing the viewer and both arms extended in front him with his hands on the wall. Even the guard who watched over the proceeding noted the liveliness of the prisoner to the director, who nodded in approval that the prisoner was not the typical, lifeless kind that were dragged into the room. The director signed the picture with, “A man showing his backside, much like that traitorous coward that is Lieutenant Greenwald – G. Bomdey.” Afterwards, he ordered the guard to take the prisoner away and have him shot.
The director’s other hobby was worrying over his failed marriage and all the men his ex-wife now slept with. Thankfully, his schedule accommodated this hobby much more suitably than drawing naked male models, for he could fester over his ex-wife during any brief pause in his day. The former Mrs. Bomdey, Florence Kewston, walked out on her husband after a quarrel erupted over blueberry pancakes on a Monday morning four years ago. Naturally, the quarrel wasn’t about the blueberry pancakes at all, and began thus:
“Mrs. Bomdey,” Mr. Bomdey said out to his wife, who had just set the pancakes down in front of him and sat down across from him at the dining table, “I’m afraid these pancakes are a tad burnt.” The husband flipped over one of the pancakes with two fingers and showed the blackened side to his wife without looking at her, his attention focused on the other pancakes.
“Oh? Shame,” she snapped.
“I believe ‘inedible’ is a better modifier in this situation, Mrs. Bomdey,” he murmured.
“Excuse me?” The director ignored her and pretended to focus on the other burned marks he found on the remaining pancakes. He felt her stare on him and a tense silence ensued. She reached over to his plate and snatched a pancake with her hand and shoved the entire piece in her mouth.
“Af leaft thif panfafe ib more fatifying ben that dick of yourf in bed.” Bits of pancake flew out of her mouth as she said this, but her comment elicited no response from her husband. She grabbed another charred pancake and stuffed it into her mouth. “Eat shff an’ die, abfhole.”
“Mrs. Bomdey,” the director quipped after his wife began eating her fourth pancake, “I refuse to acknowledge the vulgarities you spew from your mouth.” To add emphasis, he looked at Florence for the first time. His eyes met hers, at which point she let all the masticated mush fall out of her mouth and onto the plate in front of her.
“Mrs. Bomdey!” cried the director.
“’Mrs. Bomdey!’” Florence repeated in a falsetto, “I take it you don’t like these pancakes, ‘Mr. Bomdey’.”
“I do not, Mrs. Bomdey! In fact, I am rather of the opinion that—“
Florence put up her hand and cut him off.
“First of all, shut up. I’ve been tired of your horseshit for a while now, especially since you tried to sleep with that bimbo hooker you call an actress. Please. If she’s an actress, I’m goddamn Meryl-fuckin-Streep. Second of all, I’m tried of being treated with zero respect: no simple thank-yous, no making time for us, no affection, no sign of interest in my life. The biggest mistake I ever made was getting drunk enough to talk to you at the bar twelve years ago. Hell, I guess that’s what happens when you’re twenty-three. I don’t even know why I fell in love with you.” At this, she paused, eyed her husband’s shocked face, laughed, and continued.
“I’m kidding, sweetie. That’s a joke. I never did. The best thing I never did was bring a child into this world that was tainted with your septic genes. Third of all, I’m outta here.”
The director got up out of his chair, knocking over his glass of orange juice. He demanded to know what she meant by that.
“Out, Greg. Tchüss.” She stomped into their bedroom, and after five minutes she emerged with a suitcase, a jacket over her shoulders, and sneakers on her feet. Gregory Bomdey looked at her, and her countenance could only be described by his whisper of “oh, no.”
She walked past him, towards the entrance of their home, and he remained rooted at the dining table. He smelled a distinct aroma of lilies. Florence opened the door, looked over her shoulder, and told him to go fuck himself for the last time. Soon after, he began to hear about her— she began sleeping with wealthy and influential men and engaged in such wild sex that he was bound to hear about the stories of her adventures. These stories cropped up in his dreams in which he was a helpless spectator forced to see every flab of skin slapping together and hear the sound of sweaty epidermis clapping. Thus, the past four years had taken a great toll on the director’s mind and body, and the man that stood in front of Dear Leader James Gold that Saturday morning had all but bid farewell to any hair on his head.
As Gregory faced the dictator, sweat poured down the director’s head. Bomdey, in a gray suit with a coffee stain he hadn’t noticed on his right sleeve, had received his morning mail in his office after the drawing session. Among the pile of envelopes – he wondered why people even sent paper mail nowadays – was a dark red one that caught his eye. He picked it up, opened the envelope, which had no return address, and pulled out a piece of paper.
“We have Dear Leader James Gold’s son. This is knot a joke. In exchange for the boy’s safety, we demand the dictator step down immediately.”
Gregory read the note three times and then put it back down on his desk, away from the unopened envelopes. He glanced again at the line, “This is knot a joke,” and scrunched his face, baffled. He began sifting through the rest of the mail with his bony, hairy fingers, but his mind remained on the first mail. He muttered to himself that it wouldn’t hurt just to make a call to the Gold residence and make sure nothing was amiss. Fifteen seconds later, a deep voice answered Gregory’s call.
“Gold residence,” the voice grunted.
“Hello, this is Gregory Bomdey, Director of the Voting Agency, calling. I would like—“
“ID number required for clearance, sir,” interrupted the voice. Gregory obliged.
“As I was saying, I would like to—“
“Further verification required for clearance, sir. I am going to need your color ID.” This took the director by surprise.
“I’ve never heard of such thing!”
“It’s a recently implanted security measure, sir. Government officials have been sent color IDs via mail.” Phone in hand, Gregory went through the stack of envelopes again and found one he hadn’t opened sealed with the government insignia, a red star outlined in white and gold. He tore the envelope open, and skimmed through the letter to find his color ID.
“Yellow-purple-purple-green…” he trailed off and stared at the bottom of the piece of paper where five colored circles were printed. The first four circles were easy enough to distinguish. The last circle looked like a dark shade of blue, but it could very well have been black. He held up it up in the light to see if that would help. It didn’t.
“Sir, I need the fifth color.” Gregory cursed the voice and the color ID in his head and declared that the last color was black.
“Now, again, as I was trying to say, I would like to know if you could locate the Dear Leader’s son for me.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t do that for you.” Gregory heard the click, and a monotone noise rang in his ear from the receiver. Furious, Gregory redialed the number.
“Gold residence,” the familiar voice grunted.
“One-one-five-three-nine. Yellow-purple-purple-green-black. I need to know where the Dear Leader’s son is!”
“Look here, you… you!” Gregory stumbled to find the proper insult, but he was on his feet, shouting into the phone. Flushed cheeks and redness replaced the regular pale complexion of his face. “I am Gregory Bomdey, the head director of the Voting Agency, and I demand to know the location of the Dear Leader’s son! I’ve received a letter claiming that someone has kidnapped him, and it is merely to disperse such a ridiculous claim that I am putting up with a lowly scum like you. Now, I’ll say it one more–darn–time before I come with the military police to have you arrested for conspiracy and high treason and find out myself where the boy is!”
The deep voice snarled that he would be back with him shortly and put Gregory on hold.
As the music from the phone played, Gregory sat back down and took a deep breath. He felt the knots in his back and the stiffness in his neck. The voice returned after twenty minutes
“Sir,” the voice, still deep yet now distinctly anxious, “we were not able to locate—“
Gregory didn’t let him finish. He jumped up and ran outside to where his black car was parked. The madman drove six blocks, ignoring traffic and traffic lights, honks and screeches, shouts, screams and curses, a blur of red, green, yellow, black, grey, white, blue, all coming together into a ball of sensations. He flew out of his car, barked and waved various requirements for security clearances, basically throwing his government ID at one of the women working as security, hurdled up staircases, three steps at a time, and reached the Dear Leader’s office, where he wiped his face clean with his jacket sleeve, tried rubbing the sweat accumulating and flowing down his bald head, coughed to clear his throat, and knocked on the door timidly, not because he felt he had time to spare, but because he realized that he had no idea how he would inform the recent turn of events to the Dear Leader. He reached up with trembling hands to adjust his glasses. Few seconds later, he stood across from the purple face of the dictator and began to explain the reason for being there.