Where We Do Not Go

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Across the river the Enya-Occupied Territories brood.

Their forests are deep and there are shadows in them. Their music lives deep in the earth and rises in great blue measures to the sky.

“It wasn’t always this way,” the earnest young man named Victor says.

His eyes are fascinating.

“It started when Elvis occupied Germany after the war,” he says. “It wasn’t something he’d planned. They just drafted him.”

“Mm, mm,” Desiree agrees.

“They didn’t need anyone else in Elvis-Occupied Germany. He kept the people tame. He held off the Soviets with his lustful hip gyrations. He proved that one man could bind a nation—if it was the right man.”

“Mm, mm.”

“So when the totalitarians took power they didn’t rule by the gun. They didn’t rule by the bomb. They ruled by the song.”

“Yeah, yeah,” agrees Desiree.

It’s his eyes.

She knows this is dangerous speech. She knows it’s dangerous to agree. But his eyes! They’re the eyes of someone who’s been to the wall of sound and back.

“And they may rule us through music and not fear,” says Victor. “And they may break us with rhythm and not tears. But, Desiree, it’s wrong.”

That’s shocking. She blinks at him. She starts to stammer something and move away.

Victor puts his finger to her lips.

“Shh,” he says. “Everybody thinks that they’re happy here. There’s verve in the air here in the ABBA-Occupied Territories. They pump it out of their pop factories.”

“Mm, mm,” Desiree agrees.

“But verve made in a factory isn’t like the real thing. It gets into your brain and makes it harder to feel real spirit and spark. It’s unhealthy to live under ABBA’s rule all the time.”

Desiree is hesitant to reply.

“And they may rule us through dance music and not fear—” Victor starts.

“Ah, ah, ah,” says a voice.

Victor freezes.

Uh oh, Victor! It’s Officer Francine of the ABBA-Occupied Territories police!

“I am a police officer,” says Francine. “I have a shiny badge and a blue uniform. I arrest criminals and traitors. If you’re not careful, I might just arrest you!”

Victor’s nostrils narrow. He is backing towards a suspicious lump of camouflage canvas along the river’s edge.

“I won’t go back to Swedish pop prison,” he says.

“When I was young,” says Francine, “I thought a police officer would be the best thing to be. I still wake up thinking, ‘Today I’ll save some lives. Today I’ll keep some peace. And if you get in my way, I won’t think twice; you’ll be under arrest.’ And you’re a dangerous man, Victor.”

“They did fiendish musical experiments on me there,” Victor says. “I still can’t get that song out of my head.”

“‘Even Traitors Love Obeying the State?'”

“No!” shouts Victor. He covers his ears. “Why won’t you leave me alone?”

“You’re preaching treason against ABBA and the RIAA,” says Francine. “And the young lady is listening. That’s why I have to arrest you.”

“Nuh-uh!” protests Desiree. “I was looking at his eyes.”

The cop’s gaze is withering.

“You don’t have to arrest me,” Victor says. “You could join my crusade against totalitarianism.”

“You squirm and you protest,” says Francine, advancing. “But I’ve still got to arrest you.”

“You know it’s wrong. You have to know it’s wrong.”

“You’ve stirred my heart with your beautiful eyes,” says Francine, “but I’ve still got to arrest you.”

“No!”

Victor’s shout is as much a strangled noise as a word. He throws aside the canvas, revealing a hidden motorboat. He tumbles back into the driver’s seat and guns the engine.

Francine draws her ABBA gun. “Victor! Don’t be a fool!”

Victor pulls away.

Francine fires bolt after bolt of classic ABBA hits after Victor, but he steers like a maniac and soon she has only songs from their less impressive periods left in her gun.

“Damn it,” Francine says.

“Mm, mm,” agrees Desiree. Then she frowns. “Am I under arrest?”

“You’re under arrest!” Francine asserts.

“This is the moment,” says Desiree. “This is the moment when I realize that he’s right. That you’re a really nice cop but this system is wrong.”

“Ah, ah, ah,” says Francine. It’s a warning.

“It’s no fair,” says Desiree. “Why do bystanders go to jail and real criminals go free?”

Francine blinks at her.

“What?” Desiree says.

“That’s not policy,” says Francine. “It’s just—”

“What?” Desiree demands.

“To Enya’s domain, we do not go.”

The boat has reached the far shore. Victor looks back for a moment.

“Oh,” says Desiree.

Victor’s eyes are as lost and distant and hopeless as the fading light.

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Categories: Hitherby, Legends