"The boulevards are a shadow of their former self, now. Their champions — those men we named captains of industry — have long since fled for new conquests, new cities to brand their engorged likeness upon. In our optimism, we sold our bodies to make a new world for them of iron and grand stone, our pride such that we saw the Léthé as a monument to our own success, not theirs. Then the Prussians broke us, and we saw the rich could leave as easily as they had come, take as easily as they could give. And the Léthé gave us nothing; as is the wont of stone and iron.", I write.
I put down my notebook to adjust my gloves, warm them against my coat. A glance at the winter sky to check for rain, then I continue my missive:
"For all its imagery of iron, industry is such a fragile thing; and its captains are made of lesser material still. But they have not fallen, they have simply taken their farce elsewhere, a new stage set for those same faces to perform their same droll soliloquies to capital."
Do I really believe what I write, or does the role I play guide my hand to end this last act in violence? Every stage has its place for one to play the traitor, but in our profession it takes a true talent to fool that harshest of spectators: ourselves. Our performance is a lie told in greatest sincerity, and those of us traitors who thrive in this vicious time have such unyielding faith in our own self-interest to put to shame the truest of believers.
"The Léthé has found a new life, a quieter life. Maybe it's better that way."
No. I strike that line out in anger; I need to make these words burn.