Ayes (Chapter 33)
Today is the fucking day.
After spending the morning cursing in my home office, much to the determent of James, I am here in the senate chamber of city hall.
Sun beams through the large window behind the speaker’s platform, basking the room in a cheery glow and illuminating the proceedings as if the goddess herself is smiling down on us.
And it’s fucking irritating.
The Majority Leader is finishing up his speech. It’s the same useless talk that we have all offered, yet I see a couple of journalists near the back of the room eating the shit up like its fucking revolutionary. I wonder if he even bothers to rewrite his speech every year or if it is always the same bullshit. I should ask Kin.
The fucking High Priest is of course here as well. He is smiling, but it is an evil smile that looks like he got away with murder rather than an annual increase in temple funding. I was shocked when they pulled that one. A guaranteed increase of five percent a year is outrageous.
The High Priest is speaking to Senator Jarish, one of the newest members of the Senate. He is an obnoxiously entitled asshole who thinks his way is the only way and that the rules and decorum of the Senate shouldn’t apply to him. Even now he stands beside the High Priest talking through the Majority Leader’s speech, no doubt congratulating the old bastard, when his should be sitting his ass in his assigned chair.
His constant smoodging is sickening to watch.
Like more senior members of the Senate, I am sitting quietly in my spot reading some reports. A few are writing letters or other important documents. Perhaps a citizen unfamiliar with the Senate would be taken aback by our perceived disrespect to the leader of my party that few pay attention to his ramblings, but he expects it and frankly his speech isn’t for our benefit.
After some minutes of droning, I finally hear the Majority Leader say the words: “I now hand over the floor to the Parliamentarian”
The brief noise of men shuffling to put down papers, books, and pens fill the room as everyone readies to
The Parliamentarian, who also acts as the speaker of the senate, then takes the place of the Majority Leader and raises his voice, “Now for the moment we have all be waiting for. All those in favor of Senate Bill S794-3 for increased spending for the Temples of the god and goddess say ‘aye’”
A loud resounding of ‘aye’ fills the room as the Senators make known their preferences pretending they are much more passionate about the topic than they really are. I, for my part, also say ‘aye’ but somewhat less enthusiastically. It feels like my soul is being ripped out just saying it, but you can’t be a senator for too long without taking a few distasteful votes.
After some moments the Parliamentarian continues, “And those of the contrary opinion please say ‘nay’”
All that is heard is the wheezing of one of the senior senators who has a lung problem in the front row as everyone is careful not to be the soul who dares to mess up the vote.
The Parliamentarian waits a moment before confirming what we all already knew before beginning this fucking process, “The ayes have it! Bill S794-3 passes. The senate will now break for committee meetings.”
I stand up and grab the report I was reading. I see a few senators congregating about the High Priest, patting him on the back for his great success at convincing the senate to increase his funding even further. A few more senators congregate around the reporters giving statements about their elation at the bill passing. I should do the same; James will be on my case later if I don’t. But I don’t have the stomach for it.
I stride out of the senate chamber and head towards my committee room. I will be far earlier than everyone else, but fuck it. I’d rather wait there than spend more time in the senate chamber.
It takes almost no time to make it to the small room that will function as the Statutory Compliance and Community Welfare Committee room this afternoon. Refreshments of water, bulbberry juice, and teas already grace a table on one wall. Regrettably liquor was banned from most meetings two years ago due to a series of unfortunate incidents.
Unlike the hallways, senate chamber, and various other rooms of city hall where the public might wander into, the committee rooms such as this one are plain. A small painting of the Mayor is positioned to the right of the wooden door, a large window which overlooks the market square is in the far corner, and a large wooden table sits in the middle of the room surrounded by plain wooden chairs. The rest of the room consists of dull uninspiring white walls with a few chips in random places and scratches in the places of high traffic on light wooden floor.
I throw the report on the table and place my drink next to it before pulling out the chair. It squeaks as it adds to the scratches on the floor, but what do I care. I plop down and putting my elbows on the table and my hand over my face. The vote put me in such a bad mood, but it’s over now. I need to get over it and focus on my committee work.
I hear the door open and I lift my head up to greet the first member of the committee. But instead of a fellow committee member it’s Senator Apothen, the annoying fucking who has somehow given me hope that we can take down the High Priest.
“Have you given any thought to my proposal?” He asks quietly as he slides the door closed.
Of course I have, it’s all I can think about, that and whatever my fucking cousin was doing with Ivy in the hallway last night. But Apothen’s plan is risky, far too risky for something unlikely to succeed. If the High Priest is willing and able to drum up outrage among my constituents over a vote that was going to succeed anyways, I can’t imagine what he would do when he feels threatened. I think briefly of the Captain and Ivy, I’m not sure what they would do if something happened to me.
Yet I am drawn to the idea, there are few people who are worse than the High Priest. The way he runs the temples disgusts me. Yet it’s not clear to me that anyone would do a better job.
“Of course” I reply shortly. He really could have found a better time to talk to me, not just before the rest of the committee comes in.
“And?” He asks somewhat impatiently.
“I’m still thinking about it Senator, there is much to think about” I reply shortly. Fuck me. I need some space just to think.
Apothen just stares at me with his crazy brown eyes under his large prominent white eyebrows. I don’t know if he doesn’t believe me that I don’t have an answer or if he feels that he can pressure me into accepting with his unsettling gaze. It’s a shame he didn’t have any children, if only because his stare would be the perfect way to keep children in line.
“What are your reservations, Hertilz? I know you aren’t fond of the bastard”
That a selfish half-baked plan to promote your nephew is going to not only ruin my political career, but hurt my friends and family. I shouldn’t even be considering this madness; I should simply turn him down and concentrate on the things I can influence: a new drainage canal in my district or badger the police on their enforcement of the water use laws.
“I want to meet your nephew before I even consider it” I don’t know why I said that, giving him hope that I might say yes to his ridiculous scheme.
“Agreed. I’ll set up the meeting”