"Take Me To Your Leader", by Nelson Eshleman.
When the last parade of aides and attachés have finally trooped away and secret service has safely locked the doors and bid goodnight, those precious solitary moments that remain are both a blessing and a curse. Every man has self doubt, even the leader of a great nation, all the more so for a fellow raised in the lap of luxury with a negligible record of military service who only got the job because his father had it before him.
No one ever said that life at the top would be easy. The new world order was complicated. Expect the unexpected. But Jesus Christ.
Those bastards didn't play nicely. They'd forced his hand and he gamely fought back, leading with a trump, the only card he actually held. What the hell were they thinking. That his proud people would sheepishly fold in the face of that grim challenge?
"Not on my watch," he promised.
There was no point in second-guessing. Any self-respecting patriot would have done the same thing. Even so, he'd lost a large margin of support from his fellow countrymen. Not everyone understood the bigger picture.
And then that "god damn flooding" had complicated matters on the domestic front. It was easy to be critical, but natural disasters weren't exactly within his control. What could one man do, it was a team effort. Not like he didn't care. In the end, he had to admit, he was just the poorly-trained driver of a very large machine that was awkward to steer.
To believe otherwise was a vanity. He had plenty of ego, to be sure. You had to, to get this far. But he'd also done all the leg work. Understood the power of propaganda. Motivated and manipulated his way to the top. Just like any of his predecessors. People didn't always give him credit for his smarts.
Instead, they called him names. Questioned his sanity. Demonized him. Even his allies raised their eyebrows at some of his well-intended decisions.
It was enough to make a man want to run away and hide. Take a rifle, jump on a horse and ride out into the hills. Who needed this bullshit. What did it matter.
His kids mattered. The thought made him smile. Mischievous little hedonists. At times they were a definite political liability. Who else could turn a trip to Disneyland into a fiasco. Not to blame them. They were exactly like he was at that age.
He flossed his teeth. Washed his hands. Leaned onto the marble countertop, peered into the mirror at his own tired eyes and scrunched up his lips. Sometimes his face looked funny even to himself. At least he still had a sense of humour.
Such were his sentiments on this propitious eve. The final few moments of each night offered a tiny window of opportunity to reflect upon the things that really counted. A little positive visualization never hurt.
Be a good father. Use whatever small influence you have to lead your people toward a brighter future. And maybe, just maybe, keep one eye on the greater good of humanity.
With that thought, Kim Jong Il pulled the covers up to his chin, reached around and turned off the lamp.
Perhaps tomorrow would be a better day.
Nelson L. Eshleman believes we may not be so different after all.
He's a hobby writer living in Calgary, Alberta.
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