Final Writing: A Walk In a False City

Rifki Hafian Rasyid/180410150065

It was a small shack, but by no mean does the shack look cheap, decrepit nor dirty. Inside the shack are a lot of trinket, portrait and of course, the sage is here. The legend said that there is a sage that can tell the wisest of the wisdom.

He sat behind a rusty iron table, in an ornate chair. Alongside his gray beard and black attire, he evoke a mystifying aura. His wrinkle on his face tell the story of a man who have witness many years.

It’s honestly surprised me that the legends are true, but I shouldn’t let that distract me. Slowly I approach him. Lowering my voice, I start to speak.

“O wise sage, I came here to humbly asks your wisdom”

“You have come to the right place, young man. Wait are you actually a young man?”

“22 sir” I spoke truthfully, usually I lied about my age.

“Ah. You have come to the right place, mister. However my wisdom doesn’t come cheap. For I cannot live on just with farming. I need donation”

I already expected it, but I don’t know if it’s enough for him…

“A golden necklace? That’s pretty nice. It’ll do”

“Thank you. So what is your wisdom, o wise-”

“Can you get out for a while? I need some inspiration first”

“Wh-what?”

“I said get out. Shoo!”

That was something. The sage doesn’t seems to be as amazing as the legends said. From what I heard, he lives solemnly in this shack for about 50 years. Though the legend didn’t tell how the shack were decorated with painting, ornament, and trinket. I can’t imagined I living in this kind of shack.

“Come in” he shout from inside.

When I come in, the empty table before has been filled with dishes and empty glass. Looks like his way of finding inspiration is not so difference compare to mine: Eating.

“What is your name?”

“Donny. Donald Shortstack”

“Hahahahahaha”

Great, even a legendary sage like him would laugh at my name. That’s okay, it’s reasonable.

“Hahah. Now Donald, why do you came here?”

“I seeks advice O wise sage. It’s been four year since I finished college, and yet I still can’t find any permanent job. I want to have a permanent job but I lack… something!”

“Ah another one. Well you see, here’s what you should do first”

***

It’s not actually a big city. Quite small actually. I don’t know why the sage called this place a city. From afar I can see that the building is comfortable to lived in, well compared to the shack from before.

The path to the city is made from dirt and sand. It’s hard to described it, it’s like made like those in jogging track. It’s a bit unusual for a “city”. As I approached the city, I soon realized the reasoning behind this pathway. A horseman approached

“I can help but noticed that you came from the direction where the wise sage lives. So tell me young man, why do you came to this city” A man asks me from above a horse. He sits on a gaudy saddle.

“Well you see, I asks him for his wisdom-”

“Did you asks him how to get a job?”

“Yes. How do you know that?” The horseman seems unamused, even more than the sage.

“So I was told to visit a place called Cornsoup city in the west and then a man called John will aid me”

“Which John again?” The horseman asks

“The one that are known for being the greatest mayor in this region”

“That would be… Me”

“Well Mr. Filbert-”

“Do call me Mr. Mayor”

Oh boy. This will be good.

“Mr. Mayor, will you aid me?”

He smiled somewhat creepily and answers

“Sure. Let’s get breakfast lunch first. I’ll pay the bill”

***

“Say wanderer, what’s your name again?”

“It’s Donny, Donny Shortstack”

“Ha. No really. What is your name?”

“Donny. Shortstack”

I handed him my business card. And he won’t stop laughing

“Well you can’t blame me laughing at you! I mean why would someone pass such an absurd family name!”

“Well I could always change my surname. But my family are renowned. Abandoning that surname is like abandoning your fortune”

“Ah I see what you mean. I am after all inheriting my father’s fortune and position” he said with a face full of joy

“Wait, they didn’t do an election?”

“Nah, they respect my father’s will”

***

It was a nice looking restaurant, decorated with gold lining and copper lamp. All of the chair and table were made from the finest wood they could find. At least that’s what the banner outside said. Yes. The gold lining is there, but some have rusted and some were stolen. The chair and table were made from the finest wood, but only two of them. The rest of them are made from bamboo, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Seen from the inside, the door have a sign that says “CUSTOMER IS KING” made from silver, or maybe aluminum. Surprisingly it’s shine brighter compared to the gold lining or copper lamp.

So here I am, sitting in a fancy restaurant, being treated by the “mayor” of this “city”. I sit in a chair like a normal person, while the mayor sits… on his horse.

Yes, the owner of this restaurant build a door big enough for the mayor to get inside without dropping off his horse.

“Excuse me, what would you like to order?”

Oh well, let’s see. A mixed omelet sounds nice

“Mixed omelet ma’am”

“A grape juice, ‘ma’am”

Oh look, he mocked me again.

“Is that all?”

“That is all”

He’s a weird person, if the sage didn’t recommend him, I would–

“I see that you still are confused about my seat, and how the citizen tolerated it”

He smirks while he said that

“Did the people love you that much or did you paid them”

“I wouldn’t called it love as much as it’s…. Uh. Well let’s just say that these people owe me a lot”

“Owe you what? Money?”

“No. It’s more than that”

“Okay, but that didn’t explain a lot. Like, why are you sitting on your horse in the first place?”

“I like looking at people from higher position than them. It’s… cathartic”

Cathartic? What, did he have grudge with human in general? Is he angry at his citizen? Is that why he demand people called him mayor?

“Oh would you look at that” he said while pointing to the kitchen”

I can heard it faintly

“I’m sorry sir”

“That doesn’t excuse these OVERCOOKED omelet! Where do you think YOU are?”

It’s like watching that tv show, Hell… something something

“Well you better COOK it again, or I’ll decided whether YOU can still WORK comfortably here”

The cook ran straight to the kitchen. He immediately pulled an egg from the fridge, I think.

Is it really THAT tense for these guys to cook my omelet? It’s not like they are cooking for the president or something. They certainly took the phrase “Customer is king” to the heart. At least he treated–

*CRACK*

“YOU’RE FIRED”

Nevermind

***

After that debacle, me and the mayor here enjoy our nice meal. Well he certainly enjoyed it. I eat a bit slower than usual.

My parents would scold me for eating voraciously, they said that’s “unbecoming” for a future gentleman such as me. It can’t be help, I just like these food. I wonder if those food I used to eat with my parents were made like foods here: Made with a lot of shouting and dish throwing. Not sure if I could eat like I used to anymore, knowing thing like this.

“I see that you still worried about what happened before, I can assured you that there is a perfect reasoning for that”

“Such as?”

“They are just making sure they adhered to their ‘customer is king’ philosophy. When you have underling who are just so inept, you have to fired them”.

“Yeah but that guy’s behavior seems to harsh”

“Not at all. This “harsh” way is the only plausible way for these people to improve themselves”

Unbelievable, he approve that guy’s behavior

“And in what way do they improve?”

“They become more tougher, more braver, and more importantly, more prideful of themselves”

Hmm, maybe the sage are teaching me how to be more… prideful? Is that why he send me here. I mean the mayor had a point. All this time I behave more easygoing than other. If I had someone who would treat me more… harshly?

“Now, let’s move on”

“…To where?”

“You didn’t come here to just eat an omelet”

***

It’s a scary place. Really make you felt demoralized. But that’s to be expect from a place like this. People should be afraid to commit crimes, lest they be put behind bar.

My uncle used to scared me with his story. He said that everyday, prisoner would be forced to eat human waste, drink polluted water, breath poisonous gas. The scariest story that he said were that prisoner should behave nicely, or else the guard would whipped them twenty time per hour. Of course, those weren’t actually true. It just that people said my uncle used to be a prison guard, so naturally I believed in his story.

“Is the warden free?”

The mayor here is trying to called the warden through his assistant.

“No, I mean does he have enough spare time. What? Look just patch me up to him. I’m the mayor of this town you-”

“Hey mayor!”

“Hey, how’s it going. Your assistant told me you were busy”

“Oh, I am. I just gave up after the prisoners can’t stop screaming HARD enough”.

Okay, maybe my uncle didn’t lie at all, just exaggerating.

***

We walk outside the prison. I mean I walk, but the mayor still rode his horse.

“You didn’t seems to look well?”

An understatement. How can I “look well” when I just witness the prison warden watch in glee as an ex-gang member punch another ex-gang member, which results in a mini prison riot?

“But you do understand why I take you here right?”

“So that I can learn the ‘consequences of failure’ of real life? You already told me that while we were watching a prisoners gang war”

“Good, it’s nice to know that you understand how this city works”

“This city”, what a load of crap. It’s not even big enough to be called a city! It’s just a small–

“I guess it really is my fault”

Did he just admit his mistake?

“I shouldn’t have brought you to a prison. It was a demoralizing place”

Nevermind

“So how does a farm sounds like? Fun? Exciting?”

“Yeah sure”

“By the way, a prisoners who see us actually scream to me, calling me ‘High-horse filbert’. It’s nice to know that these people is still creative enough to complement people”.

I’m pretty sure that’s not a compliment.

***

“So he let those who he deemed a failure, to starved?”

“You made it sound like it’s slavery

Crack

“Oh yeah, that happened. Well–”

The farm owner whip the farmer he deemed to be slacking. Or so the mayor told me. I stopped hearing whatever he told me once I witness… this.

“The whip is unnecessary”

“Not at all. It’s the perfect way for the farm owner to maintain his superiority over these… peasants”

“Peasants? Why do you need to be demeaning to these people”

“Hey, it’s the correct term. These people are just being taught to be better”

Just as he was saying that, the farm owner kick one of the farmhand.

“He kick them? This is an abuse! It’s violation of civil rights at worst”

That’s it, I can’t stand this.

“Hey you! STOP”

The farm owner asks “Why would I?

“These people doesn’t deserved it! You can just kick and whip people for such inconsequential things”

“I mean that’s how they run it right”

“What? Who told you that”

“The mayor, obviously. He’s been the one who taught us all. How to farm, cook, heck even the prison warden were his ‘student’. It’s the way of Cornsoup”

As he said that, the mayor ran away.

“Why would you believe his words?”

“Well the sage told us to. He is after all the wisest sage. I have to followed his advice”.

That’s… what I have been doing to.

I noticed that the mayor disappear. I could find him and question him, but I felt I need to asks someone else entirely.

****

The sage doesn’t seems surprised. He already look angry before I said any word. I assume mister filbert already contact him somehow.

“I’m back old man, and I’m telling you something. You’re a fraud!”

As if trying to control his composure, he stroke his beard

“Really? Can you explain what do you mean by that”

“That mayor is nothing but a maniac! He and his citizen were a bunch of sadistic mob!”

The sage widen his eyes, as if he didn’t expect THAT explanation from me. To be fair, I exaggerated a bit.

“Cornsoup city will crumbled once he ran out of his father’s fortune, which is the only thing that maintain it”

“How dare you! iHe is a man with more wisdom than i. He is the most handsome man in this country. He is th-the smartest man in th-this region. He is mo-more than capable to run a ci-city! It was his own father who gave him the city”

He speaks more erratically. Have I touched a nerve?

“Oh yeah, what do you mean by ‘city’ exactly? It’s just a small complex of building. At worst it’s just a village”

“It is a city! It was what father always planned. Th-Those ‘legal’ people doesn’t have any right to stop me calling my city a city!”

Hahaha. Looks like the wise sage isn’t can’t stand people mocking his ‘city’

Wait. “‘Father’? ‘MY’ city?”

I pulled his beard. As I pulled his beard, so does his gray hair being pulled.

“YOU! It was you the whole time”

“YES IT WAS ME! What’s wrong with it? ALL I WANT WAS MORE PEOPLE! My father’s vision of making my village a city, WILL SOON BE TRUE”

“You pretend to be a sage, JUST so you can called your village a city?”

“AND THEY WILL LIVED IN IT! THOSE ‘LEGAL PEOPLE’ WOULD FINALLY ADMIT THAT I AM A MAYOR OF CORNSOUP CITY”

He ran straight to his horse, cackling.

“You will never catch me!”

He’s mad. I didn’t even tried to catch him. He left his valuable in this shacks. I just have to take it and left.

As I take my necklace back, I heard a horse scream followed by a man screaming. Looks like he trips on a branch.

I still can’t believe a man with a wig and make up fooled me.

Word Count : 2499

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