Gollum Leads the Way (2009)
"It's the only way. Go back, or go in."--Gollum
Image initially made with Sterling-ware 2. Post-processed until it became my precious.
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The House of CompromiseIn the House of Compromise, they did everything half-way, scrimping on costs and bargaining with one another until they cut the best deal. They took the lowest bid for cleaning out the gutters on the roof, only to find that the contractor was not obligated to haul the trash away, so they had to scoop up large clumps of leaves and twigs left in the muck and store the stinking refuse in bio-degradable plastic bags that squatted on the curb for special trash pick-up on alternate Thursdays. Although fresh tiles had been laboriously pounded into place, inspection and repair of the chimney turned out not part of the contract, so the first cold October when they lit the fireplace, smoke billowed into the living room.No matter how they cut deals and wheedled kickbacks, there were always cost overruns that threatened bankruptcy and foreclosure on the House of Compromise. Everything they owned was heavily mortgaged, and, despite juggling numbers on the books, they were secretly in colossal debt. They handled their health in the same manner. In flu season, they all began to sneeze, cough, and run a high fever, but nobody could afford a doctor, let alone medicine, on the minimum wage jobs they had created for one another. They handled education the same way, hiring and firing the least expensive teachers for home schooling, never letting anybody stay on long enough to qualify for medical care or retirement. Their children were given second-hand clothes, taught basic math and hygiene, and kicked out as soon as they were old enough to haul lumber.They believed in compromise. The house they built was a ramshackle fire hazard, leaking heat through poorly insulated doors and windows, consuming huge amounts of electricity and gas, burning coal in a furnace in the basement and spewing ash all over the block. Even when they were obligated by religious principles to help their neighbors, they always haggled over the price, trying to finagle something for themselves in what they pretended was generous assistance for others. The only thing they did not compromise on was the high-voltage electric fence that surrounded their land, wired with video cameras and policed by specially trained dogs, to keep out whoever threatened to steal what was rightfully theirs. When it came to munitions, they knew the danger of compromise, and gave freely whatever amount of money their security forces demanded.[Disposable Prose October 23, 2009]Dr. Mike
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