Film Noir- The Man Who Declared Himself Emperor

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Clement left the Bagel Fortress Bakery with a pit in his stomach. Instead of answers, he was left with more questions.

Out the corner of his eye he noticed a guy leaning against the wall. He looked like a caricature from a film noir.

The two made eye contact. The man tipped his fedora and slunk over.

“You buy Donnie breakfast?” asked the mysterious stranger.

“Who wants to know?” asked Clement.

“A friend.”

“So you say,” said Clement. He was beginning to feel like he was in a 1930‘s detective flick.

“You’re in over your head in this one, Mack,” warned the mysterious stranger.

“My name’s not Mack. And if you got somethin’ to say, then spill it. If not, then scram.”

The mysterious stranger measure Clement with a critical eye. “Alright, I think I can trust ya.”

“Let’s start with your name.”

“George. George Twill.”

“What’s your business with Emperor Don?” asked Clement.

George cringed. “Don’t tell me he got to you, too.”

“What d’ya mean?”

“Donnie’s no emperor. He’s my brother.”

Clement thought there should’ve been dramatic organ music. “So he has a family. Does he have a home, too?”

“Of course he’s got a home, when he wants to stay there. But he’s crazy. We try to keep tabs on him so he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else,” explained George.

“He seems harmless enough,” said Clement.

George looked around to see who was listening. “Harmless, eh?” he whispered. “People believe him. Worse yet, people believe in him. There’s nothing more dangerous than misplaced faith.”

Clement adjusted his coat. “Thanks for the advice.”

“You seem like a smart guy. Don’t get sucked in. He’s a confused old fool. That’s all.”

Clement nodded and walked away. George slipped around the corner and hid.

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A Bagel Shmeared With Answers- The Man Who Declared Himself Emperor

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With bagel crumbs on his lower lip, Emperor Don finally spoke. “I’m ready for my audience with you.”

“Great,” said Clement. “I asked you earlier if you’re really an emperor.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Emperor of what?” asked Clement.

“My official title is King Regent of New Fort Garry. I’m called Emperor as a matter of simplicity.”

Clement scowled. “How did you get that? We’re a democracy, so is there an election or something?”

Emperor Don shook his head. “My good man. You don’t vote for a King.”

“Then how did you become one?”

Emperor Don laughed. When he did his whole face filled with joy. “I suppose you expect me to weave a tale about how some watery tart in a lake hurled a sword at me.”

Clement blushed. “Kinda, yeah.”

“Sadly, the truth is far less dramatic.”

Clement took a sip of coffee. “I’ve got time to hear it, and you promised if I bought you a bagel.”

“So I did,” said Emperor Don, thoughtfully.

There was a long pause. Clement realized he was literally sitting on the edge of his seat.

“Unfortunately, when it comes to that authority, it’s complicated,” said Emperor Don.

“That doesn’t make sense.”

Emperor Don sat back contemplatively. “Most of the time authority is established at the point of a sword, but it’s temporary. Genuine, lasting authority is far more enigmatic.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means,” said Emperor Don with a sly smile, “You’ve asked a question I’m not qualified to answer.”

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First Contact- The Man Who Declared Himself Emperor

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The next time Clement saw Emperor Don, he froze. Earlier, Clement determined to confront this mystery head on and meet the man who piqued his curiosity. Now, with Emperor Don strolling regally through Regent Park, Clement felt his face flush. This is the man that caused a knockdown, drag out fight with Becky.

As it happened, the confusion on Clement’s face caught the notice of Emperor Don. He approached Clement and said, “You looked vexed, my good man.”

“You’re Emperor Don,” stammered Clement. He cringed at the tone of his own voice. It reminded him of teenaged girl meeting her favorite boy band.

Emperor Don laughed. “Indeed I am.”

Clement swallowed hard. It was now or never. “Are you really an emperor?”

Emperor Don examined him carefully. “You’re new to the city,” he concluded.

“Uh huh,” said Clement.

“So you’ve heard the stories and want to see if they’re true.”

“I guess so, yeah,” said Clement.

“I’ll tell you what. I’ll let you buy me a bagel and I’ll answer your questions,” said Emperor Don.

“Is that because you’re homeless?” asked Clement, before he could stop himself.

Emperor Don started walking. “Bagel first, answers second.”

The two entered Bagel Fortress Bakery at the far end of the park. The barista smiled at Emperor Don and offered him the usual.

Emperor Don bowed to the barista. “Not today, my dear lady,” he beamed. “This gentleman agreed to purchase this morning’s sustenance.”

The barista looked over to Clement. “You’re new to the city, eh?”

Clement looked confused. “Why do people keep asking that?”

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Becky’s Reaction- The Man Who Declared Himself Emperor

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“You’ve lost your freakin’ mind,” roared Becky. “You’re not seriously considering this.”

Clement shrugged. “I don’t get why this bothers you.”

“We did not move to the city just to slum with homeless freaks.”

“To be fair, I’m not sure he’s actually homeless,” whispered Clement.

That did it. Becky shrieked. “That’s stupid! I don’t care how curious you are. He’s a crazy old man. He may even be dangerous. You don’t know.”

Clement dug in. “I still want to find out,” he said.

The couple glared at each other across the kitchen table. Becky’s eyes grew narrow. Clement considered her with curiosity.

“You’re overreacting. Is it because you’re afraid for my safety, or something else?” he asked.

Becky sighed. “If we want a better life, we have to be with better people. Act like we belong. You know, fake it ‘til you make it.” She paused for a second. “And I want you safe, too. I can’t do this on my own.”

Clement dropped his eyes. “I get it.”

Becky’s initial anger subsided. “Look, if you want to look into this guy, then do it. Get it out of your system.” She chuckled to herself. “Maybe he really does have connections.”

“I don’t know.”

Becky reached out and grabbed her husband’s hands. “We made a promise to each other, remember? We want to build something special. I still want that. Do you?

“Of course.”

“Then don’t go off and do something that’ll ruin. Go and meet this guy. Talk to him a bit. Satisfy your curiosity. But don’t lose sight of the big picture. Please,” urged Becky.

Clement smiled. “I’ll be careful.”

Becky’s smiled slipped away. “Don’t just be careful. Be wise.”

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The Man Who Declared Himself Emperor

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It was a few days after he moved to the city of New Fort Garry that Clement first noticed Donald. He was an elderly man who loitered the downtown. He always wore a uniform coat with epaulets and brocade, his chest festooned with medals. On his head was a tricorne with ostrich plumes bursting from its crown. He strode through the downtown, shaking hands with everyone he met and tipping his cap to all the ladies.

Clement watched the uniform man from afar for several weeks. In the lunchroom at work Clement sat with several coworkers. “Does anyone know anything about the street guy who wears the crazy uniform? I see him all the time,” he asked.

“That’s Emperor Don,” said Julia as she dug into her kale salad. “He’s harmless.”

“What’s his story?” asked Clement.

“I heard he was a rich guy who lost his fortune and then his mind,” said Ashur.

“No, his wife left him,” said Julia.

“I thought they died in an accident or something,” said Amy.

“Anyway, he’s been around forever. I remember seeing him since I was a kid,” said Ashur.

At that moment Ivan from sales entered. “What’re we talking about?”

“Emperor Don,” explained Ashur.

Ivan made a face. “That guy’s unreal. I wish I had half the charisma he has. People love him. I heard the mayor even uses him as an advisor.”

“I heard it was the Prime Minister,” said Amy.

Julia rolled her eyes and spoke with a mouth full of kale. “Come on. He’s just some crazy homeless guy. He uses the uniform to sucker people out of loose change.”

Ivan shook his head. “It’s more than that. I’ve seen him on the stage at civic functions.”

“When?” scoffed Julia.

“Remember the opening of the museum? He sat next to the mayor. It was on the news.”

Julia looked at Clement, frowned and shook her head.

Clement looked around the lunchroom as the debate swirled.

“I heard he was an exiled emperor from where ever he’s from.”

“He’s not homeless. My friend who knows his cousin says he’s rich.”

“He could be one of those eccentric millionaires. Like Howard Hughes.”

“No, he’s sick. Schizophrenic or something.”

“Do you think he hears voices?”

“I still don’t think he’s dangerous.”

Whoever he was, Clement decided he wanted to found out the truth.

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Radio Interview with Hope Stream Radio

It’s a shameless plug, but check it out.

The Pastor Who Hated Church- interview

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Time’s Up

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At 3:05 Thursday afternoon Clint looked into Pam’s cubicle. “I saw your email from earlier. Do you have time to answer a question?”

Pam huffed as she looked over her mountain of work. “I don’t have time right now.”

“My dad always said it wasn’t whether we had the time, it’s whether we made the time,” said Clint, pleasantly.

Pam glared at him over her glasses. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It’s funny, we always seem to have time to do the things we want, but rarely enough to do the things we must.”

Pam flipped her pen in the air. “What’re you, some kind of philosopher? I can’t help you right now, so go away.”

Clint stared at her with puppy dog eyes, then slowly backed away.

His pathetic look infuriated Pam. “And another thing. We don’t make time. We all have the same amount every day. We can prioritize it, manage it, weigh it, try to save it, use it to our advantage, live in it, embrace it, cherish it, balance it, even waste it. But we can’t make any more of it. Ever. So stop patronizing me with what your father said and mind your own business.”

Clint leaned against the cubicle wall. “You know, in the time it took you to rant you could’ve answered my question. All I wanted to know was if that email was meant for me. I’m not even in your department.”

Pam’s face went blank. “Oh. Then, no. It must’ve been a typo.”

“I just wanted to make sure,” said Clint.

Pam focused back on her work. “Great, ‘cause time’s up.”

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