Inside The City Government Complex (CGC), The Accused languished in his vault. His Last Request: to see his beloved African Violet, Rose, tended by Plantman.
This request created a host of difficulties. Officials were bound to honor the request, but none would allow Plantman to enter the CGC without tending their plants too. Long day ahead. Plantman arrived early, before protesters gathered for and against the execution of the Accused. Rhetoric, megaphones, home-made signs.
Officials deep within the building. A lone Sentinel carrying a law book and rifle marched up and down the marble steps leading to the CGC. Member of Universal Security (US), the elite security force, a private company hired to protect High Officials, The Courts, The Senate, The Mayor, and other Important Persons (IPs) and Institutions of The City and The Nation.
Plantman brought the guard coffee and lit his cigarette.
The Sentinel sat on a stone step, leaned his automatic rifle on a pillar.
“I was a guard once. At school. The University,” Plantman said.
“University Security Service. I stood sentinel over a think tank. Watching the thinkers. No intruders really. Just watching the thinkers. Truly, what would they steal at a think tank, concepts?”
Plantman nodded toward The Sentinel’s book.
“I got a lot of homework done.”
The Sentinel worked through school guarding arbiters of death against unruly activists. The murder trial lent purpose to his pay. No real reading on the job as in days past, but this was better, wasn’t it? Life experience. Something to look back on and reflect. The activists were harmless enough. But he was told The CGC was under threat of terrorist attack.
He took target practice twice a week to hear his gun blast truth at paper saboteurs. Dauntingly reliable, our young Sentinel. Stalwart, obedient, faithful.
The Sentinel smoked and imbibed mild stimulants. He answered Plantman’s questions with professional courtesy.
“Security is the bedrock of Government,” said The Sentinel.
“Why have government if not to make people secure? It’s all written down in The City Charter and signed and double-signed by witnesses and lawyers. You can’t argue with that. Gotta accept it. I don’t think about the politics involved or the activists, who probably have families somewhere. I’ll shoot them down like ducks in a pond if I have to. It’s my job…”
“What’s good for the duck is good for the lawyer,” said Plantman.
Security on everyone’s mind. Gotta be secure. The “sec” in security was the hard syllable of “secret.” Secrets that transpire in the buildings of the CGC must be secure. True, We the People of The City and The Nation have our rights to the secrets, but we also have need of security and protection. The CGC must be protected. Therefore, We the People must be secured from the secrets that might break our hearts. We. The People. Break our Citizen hearts.
Prosecutors and other Government Officials were privy to the secrets. It is the duty of U.S. Sentinels, the best in the business, to protect secrets haunting the CGC, yet unless they rise to the level of Prosecutor or Government Official, The Sentinels must not, cannot, know the secrets they were hired to defend.
Don’t they get curious? A teensy bit nosy? Didn’t they occasionally — or maybe quite often — dream of tearing open Security Sealed envelopes, rifling files, cracking databases to actually learn something? Or was it better not to know? Not to discover what horrors are presumed the lot of every Citizen?
The Sentinel studied Law. He hoped to rise to the position of Prosecutor or Official. Then he would know what’s what. Yeah, he’s curious, but biding his time. The trial contains no information that he won’t eventually know in time. Whether he knew now, or years later, as an Official, scanning the Database, was of little concern to The Sentinel.
Details of the murderer, the murder, did not affect him, or anyone, but the (accused) murderer, the murdered and the attorneys hired by The City to represent them. If The City’s electric power shut down tomorrow, it would affect his work and studies. Whether The Accused was to be executed tomorrow, next week, or not at all, made no difference in the life of The Sentinel. He was a patient man.
He had been patient in The Army, waiting for school; now he is patient in school, waiting for the day when he’ll be privy to the secrets of The City.
Not an accident he chose to work in security, particularly for US Sentinels, the elite firm that provided security for The CGC. His military training was but one factor in his decision to become a Sentinel. Pious devotion to the secrets and a future as a Prosecutor were prime motivations. One day he would read the secrets; therefore, it was in his interest to make certain they were secure. How could he sleep without having a hand in this? Trust OTHERS to protect his secrets?
He couldn’t be a Sentinel forever. When he left The University he would have to serve a Firm, or one of The Officials themselves. Now that he still had time, he used it constructively to protect the secrets. One day it might behoove some other young man to protect the secrets while The Sentinel, no longer a Sentinel, but a Prosecutor, pondered them day and night in service to The City, The Nation, and his own curiosity.