National Review / Digital
Warner Bros.




The camera PANS across broken heaps of metal, smoking ruins of a once-proud civilization. Buildings in ruins, children in rags with dirty faces, the distant sounds of warlords exchanging gunfire. The camera moves along the twisted and smoking remains of cars, broken asphalt, until it catches up to A YOUNG BOY running . . .

Faster and faster he runs, through the rubble and the decayed city. Clutched against his chest is a small and adorable puppy.

The boy runs –



Gathered around a blazing fire, licking the edges of the trash barrel, is the boy’s family. His father tends the flame. His mother cooks some indistinguishable gruel on an improvised frying pan/trash lid. As the boy races up, he puffs and huffs.

BOY: Pa! Pa! Lookit! Lookit what I found!

(He shows the puppy off. The family oohs and ahhs over it.)

DAD: Well now. What an adorable little thing. Why I haven’t seen such a pup since, since –

MOTHER: Hush now, Ned. Don’t go filling the boy’s head with nonsense and ancient fairy tales.

BOY: Since when, Pa?

DAD: Since before . . . before the Dark Times, boy. Back when this was all . . . well, this town was something to see. We had restaurants that would serve everything on little plates, and people wore shoes with red soles, and everywhere there was wi-fi, and taxicabs would take you wherever you wanted to go. And out there, out on the water, you see that?

(The boy peers out over the murky water. In the moonlight, he sees a large object . . . )

BOY: You mean the old lady?

DAD: She used to be a young lady, boy. She used to be –

MOTHER: Ned! Ned! Hold your tongue! Don’t upset yourself. Or the boy. We have delicious rat porridge tonight, boy. You like that, don’t you? You see? Everything is going to be all right.

DAD: The boy has a right to know, Eleanor. Boy, once, long ago, this city was a paradise. And that lady out there in the harbor? Why, she gleamed like solid gold.

BOY: I’ve heard of such things, Pa.

MOTHER: Who’s telling you this? Boy! Tell me! 

March 25, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 5

Books, Arts & Manners
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .