Snakes and Pills

218 - style

The children fidgeted in their waiting room seats. Their mother hovered over them, preening their formal attire. They were uncomfortable dressed like this, and as such their outfits had a tendency to become ruffled.

Their father sat more stoically, but the way he held his hat betrayed his nerves. He rotated his headwear slowly with his fingers, awaiting their turn. He was thankful that his wife attended to the kids, which allowed him to make an attempt at keeping his mind clear. He knew that fussing with the children's appearance was her own way of rotating a hat in her fingers.

Inevitably, the secretary called their name. Father, mother, and three children stood up. The youngest child jumped in celebration, but his mother quickly chastised him, reminding him to be calm and good. The family shuffled through the door and into the meeting room.

The room was not drab or dark, yet it still managed to be anything but welcoming. Functional and utilitarian, a dingy window let just enough sunlight in. The desk was well-worn, as was the man seated behind it. He gestured for the family to take a seat, exchanging basic greetings as the kids settled into chairs once again.

"Let's see, McNamara," the man behind the desk said while opening up their file. Mister McNamara wondered if this same bureaucrat had handled any of their other requests. He looked familiar, but all of the bureaucrats blended into a plain vanilla appearance in his mind.

"Okay, this is a request for family leisure, right?" the bureaucrat asked. Mister McNamara nodded. "Time off from production, and passage for the family for a one-week trip to Amusement Complex Three?" the bureaucrat continued reading.

"Yes sir," Mister McNamara replied. He was glad that none of his children had embarrassed him by reacting with excitement upon hearing the words "Amusement Complex."

The man behind the desk thumbed through a few more papers in their family file. "I see, I see. The Amusement Complexes can be quite hard to get into. What's your reason for applying for this destination as your family leisure?" he asked.

"Well, sir, we haven't taken family leisure for three years now. My wife has been working quite diligently at the textiles plant, in addition to raising these three children as model citizens of the State," Mister McNamara explained. Right on cue, the three children and their mother flashed convincing, happy smiles.

"I've been working hard too, at the munitions plant. So, we thought everyone could use a nice trip, to help us reflect on all the good we've been able to accomplish for the State, and for all the good the State has given us. If you check his records, sir, you'll find little Joseph here achieved the top ranking in this semester's Youth Corp. A small celebration seemed to be in order."

The bureaucrat nodded, flipping over a few more pages. He looked up, directing his attention to Joseph, the eldest of the three children. "So, do you want to go to Amusement Complex Three to celebrate your achievements?" he asked the boy.

"Not to celebrate my achievements, sir. But to celebrate the accomplishments of our great country, and the happiness that it is able to provide all of its citizens. Visiting Amusement Complex Three would allow my whole family to see first hand what's possible when we all work together for the State."

His father welled up with pride, and the bureaucrat smiled at the boy's words. "Well, why not? I'm in a good mood today, and I'm glad to see such passion in the youth," the man behind the desk said, grabbing at a stamp that said "Approved." He stamped it in several places on their paperwork.

"Thank you, sir," Mister McNamara said, calmly. He had already informed his family not to celebrate if they were approved until they were well-away from the office.

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