Three monitors flickered before Daze as she sat in the office half asleep. One was a constant camera feed showing an empty prison cell while the other was hooked up to the internet. The last one was the subliminal flashes from some ballyhoo network which she had muted since listening to them gave her a migraine. Their sensational rhetoric was impervious to logic and prolonged exposure was harmful to your mental health.
She leaned back and hoped that the food would arrive soon. Since she was employed at the will of the town, they took turns giving her the necessities such as food and enough funding to keep the place running. Like her father, she did not ask for much as she believed: men must begrudge money: it is riches which hinder wisdom. Besides, no one way out here in Gila Bend had great wealth anyway. They had enough, but nothing much as far as excess; it was what made her job easy. Excessive wealth was a catalyst for crime.
Wealth out here was measured more in walnut preserves and stores of grain than in any sense of luxury. All that had been left behind during the Information Age as they once called it, now it was referred to as the Age of Isolation. The more instantly connected people became, the less they actually interacted with each other. They bombarded themselves with information to the point where they could no longer comprehend reality. If music is the silence between the beats, then understanding is the silence between words. Learning without thought is labor lost and thought without learning is perilous.
The bell over the door jingled as the Johnson boy came in with a paper sack. There was a large grease stain soaking the bottom of the bag that made Daze’s mouth water just looking at it. His bright orange hair was spiked out in every direction and his purple overalls were in a state of dishevel from him running from the farm to her office. God she loved the Johnson family. She looked forward to the time of year when it was there turn to cook for her. The woman Mary had a way with pots and pans. She didn’t even know what was in the bag, but just the anticipation made her salivate with expectation.
The boy plopped the bag down on her desk and looked up at the monitor with the Ballyhoo Network on it.
“I heard tell of some rustlers down in Wellton, You don’t reckon they are headed up this way do ya?”
Daze shifted her feet down off the desk and began to unwrap the bag of food. Steam escaped from the top as she opened it, revealing the deep aroma of caramelized onions and charred beef. She pulled out the monster sandwich as Fried potatoes scattered all around her desk. She lowered the burger momentarily to sweep all the fries into a big pile.
“Wellton believes in the old posse system of order. They can’t take the offensive and plan for these raids. They are at a disadvantage where we are not. I don’t think the Cherokee band will make its way up here.”
The Johnson boy shuffled around while Daze drove face first into the burger that measured half the size of her head.
“You got any connection to that tribe?”
He kicked at the floor nervously.
“I mean blood wise?”
Daze began quickly chewing the massive mouthful of meat as the condiments ran down her face.
“They call themselves Cherokee because of the jeeps they drive, not because they are Indians.”
She laughed at herself as particles of chewed meat flew from her mouth.
“Besides, I wouldn’t let anything come between me and your mamma’s cooking. I would face down the red devil himself before I let anyone hurt you guys.”
The boy looked from her to the screen, as if in answer, the image of a demonstration in Nogales where they were burning the Arizona flag and calling for revenge against the killing of several hundred people who were trying to cross the border out of Mexico.
“It looks like the storm of war is brewing again. I don’t understand why those people down there think they’re going to be any better off up here. I really hate all the war that goes on these days.”
Daze finished chewing and swallowed the massive bite. She set the burger down and washed some amplified water down after it. Amplified water was one of the region’s main exports to the country. They took water from the Gila River and added vitamins and caffeine to it to make it more effectual.
“Let me tell you. War ain’t such a bad thing really. War is the foundation of all of our arts; I mean that it is the foundation of all the high virtues and faculties of man. It was strange for me to discover this, but I saw it to be quite an undeniable fact. I leaned in brief, that all great nations learned their truth of word and strength of thought in war; that they were nourished in war and wasted in peace, taught by war and deceived by peace; trained by war and betrayed by peace; in a word, that they were born in war and expired in peace.”
Daze popped one of the fried potatoes into her mouth and savored the rich buttery taste and the differing textures of crisp crunchiness to the pillow like softness of the interior. The boy looked at her with wide eyed awe in his eyes.
“I guess mama was right about you. You really ain’t afraid of nothing are ya?”
“Courage is the knowledge of things that a man should fear and that he should not fear and to live only when it is right to live and to die only when it is right to die and once you’ve eaten your mamma’s cooking, what else can life really offer you?”
Daze smiled and the boy laughed.
“I hope when I grow up, I can be samurai like you. Sheriffs are the only thing keeping the world from falling apart the way I see it.”
Daze pushed the mountain of meat aside and looked at the boy seriously.
“If you want to be a sheriff, you need to understand the basic truth: Among the savage tribes which have no marriage, adultery is not a sin, and only the jealousy of a lover protects a woman from abuse: so in a time which has no criminal court, murder is not a crime, and only the vigilant vengeance of the victim’s people preserve the social order. You have to be ready to accept the responsibility of acting on your creed, but know this; it is not the creed that saves the man; but the man that justifies the creed. If you are the only law, then the responsibility on you is doubly so. My integrity and honor must be without question, every act I make, must be made in accordance with my honor.”
Daze could see the growing respect in the boy’s eyes as the thoughts turned around in his head. She popped another one of the potatoes in her mouth and motioned towards the door with her thumb.
“You should head back to your mamma. I know she needs you around the farm. Tell her I appreciate the food and I’ll check in with her later today on my rounds. You just mind your manners and start your training now. The world needs every samurai it can get.”
She watched as his face lit up at the thought of being a samurai. He turned towards the door and walked out, but she could hear the quick step as he took off running once he had left the room. Daze turned back towards the challenge before her. How was she ever going to finish this massive mountain of beef?