One Page Stories: Door Knockers
When the first party member suggested anarchy, it was dismissed. The second time, it wasn’t. After hours of drinking, debating, feasting, and purging, the delegates arrived at consensus. It was time for radical change – violent, irreversible, devastating change. The leader of the party made a joke about dying in prison, reminded fellow delegates of their fealty, and raised a glass in their honor.
An invisible drone, floating twenty feet above, broadcasts the conversation to a small room where someone is always listening. Inside are the enforcers of the status quo. They have the power to change the system, but do everything in their power to prevent that very thing from happening.
A command is given to descend on the party’s location, but between the order and the attack, the party leader senses trouble. The delegates disband, disappearing into neighborhood parties, waiting cars, and darkened basements. They run and hide on home turf, cloaked in normalcy.
The men in the small room knew the delegates would scatter. A suburban neighborhood can appear to be a perfect camouflage, brimming with identical structures, circuitous roads, and similarly fashioned citizens. Each home is filled with average people and all are equally bad at keeping secrets.
Everyone lies and most pray to be good at it when it counts. But being effective without practice is luck, and few are lucky. And those that are, never stay that way. People who stash love letters in hope chests have no experience being interrogated. They vomit truth when kicked. But those who whisper secrets in shadows and shred or burn incriminating information require a truth seeker.
Enter, the Door Knockers.
Vested in red and white, they are the Navy Seals of door-to-door interrogators. They are Lady Justice without the scales or blindfold. Truth fuels the status quo and Door Knockers love to siphon gas.
At each residence, the Door Knockers ask similar questions: “Seen anything tonight?” “Heard the news lately?” “Is that your car?” A story, however benign, is stress-tested; inconsistencies probed, motivations deduced. Each interview lasts five minutes and ends with a rating:
1) Clean – 2) Reevaluate – 3) Dirty
The clean are ignored and the dirty are arrested. Those who warrant reevaluation can expect a peppermint parade.
Neighbors rarely lie and it doesn’t take long to find delegates’ doors. None want to answer, but most do. Questions poke at their frayed stories the way bullies poke chests. A confession ends the conversation and leads to another door. Within an hour, most would-be revolutionaries wouldn’t be. The party leader, still tasting the wine from his toast, refuses to answer the door. He listens instead to the incessant knocking, until, eventually