Previously, Maine lawmakers make reading recommendations.
“Forget the story! What was your dream!?” said the more impatient lawmaker.
Under a frowning dark brow the other glanced up from his cup. “I dreamed I was in some kind of workhouse like they used to have in rural Maine. You know the kind, the town farm, where all the old indigents went to earn their keep, on some dead-end country road. After the town sold their property. And had to do something with them.”
“Or they also used to auction them out to the lowest bidder — maybe to a farm or household in need of money and labor?”
“Yeah, no matter how they worked during their lives, that kind of thing. But here’s the bad part.”
They all watched him, still looking up at them from under frowning eyebrows.
“Those in charge were constantly telling me what to do or not do; and how to do each chore whether I was able to do it well or not. Chores, chores, chores. As though I had not been a good steward here during my time as legislator. As though the next stop, was something worse.”
“No physical abuse.”
“That’s right. But some of the oversight was pretty harsh.”
“Nothing physical? Not like it might have been in real life.”
“That’s right. Did you have this dream?”
“Sounds pretty similar.”
Another lawmaker was thinking that there had been bodily abuse in his dream.
Others around the table nodded, murmuring.
“Well, that’s about it. Except it seemed interminable. It went on and on. Wouldn’t stop till I woke up.
There was silence.
A woman lawmaker said, “I wonder how the law for that was worded — words they used to put “a man on the town.”
“Now that would be interesting to look up, if they have that in town histories.” This was said by the lawmaker who was actually a lawyer. “You can bet it would’ve been extremely simple language. Something you’d need to update.”
They looked at him, one or two smiling.
“The dreams, similar dreams?”
“That Tolkien wrote satire.”
“What kind of satire is this?” asked an unliterary representative. “I mean, the dream makes me see it as satire about neighbors and small towns, I guess.”
“Yes. Look at the shutter-making part in the Tolkien story — about that member of the town council having his eye on Niggle’s property all along.”
“I’ve seen that in his work before. The satire,” said the man who recommended reading. “The Shire, Hobbiton, Farmer Giles of Ham. He likes the stuff, rural villages.”
“But this is more!”
“Yes. This is about the human condition. What it means. What it’s going to mean. I’d forgotten somehow. Thought it was about a painting….
“… Until the dream? Your dream?”
“… And yours?”
“Well yeah.” He looked at his watch. “Time to go read and recommend.”
“Let’s get this done.”
They stood. Some drained their cups. They gathered their stuff, purses, briefcases, devices, and trailed off towards the door.
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