Johnny America


Doc­u­men­tary History


Roland wheeled his wood­en cart along the aisles of the archives. Three box­es of doc­u­ments creaked and groaned from his cart as he moved deep­er in­to the twen­ty-acre fa­cil­i­ty. At aisle 23, (1934, Jan – 1934, Nov), he stopped to check the hu­mid­i­ty and tem­per­a­ture read­ings. He peered over the top of his glass­es at the gauge. Six­ty-five de­grees, 48 per­cent hu­mid­i­ty. He grabbed his clip­board and not­ed the time, 12:41 pm, and wrote “with­in ac­cept­able limits.”

The box­es, Roland thought, were not very sub­tle. Af­ter pro­cess­ing, they’d been stamped and sealed with mul­ti­ple rolls of pack­ing tape bear­ing the pres­i­den­tial seal. On the top and sides of each box were signs, bold­ly let­tered, say­ing “CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS! DO NOT OPEN BEFORE 2096 BY PENALTY OF LAW!”

“We’ll all be dead by then,” thought Roland, but then that was the point. He wheeled his cart around the cor­ner of aisle 156. In an­oth­er sev­en­ty years prob­a­bly no one would much care what was in the box­es. Roland con­sid­ered his po­si­tion of pow­er, there in the flu­o­res­cent-lit aisle. The doc­u­ments on his cart could be the un­mak­ing of a pres­i­dent, per­haps the en­tire gov­ern­ment. He drummed his fin­gers against the clip­board. Then, slow­ly, he heft­ed the box­es, one by one on­to the fourth shelf on the right. He wrote on his clip­board “stor­age, 156 – 42R.” Then he turned and wheeled the cart, emp­ty, back to the main pro­cess­ing area.

Filed under Fiction on September 29th, 2005

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