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"The world-weary traveler just wants to go back home again."

Tourist can become a difficult role to fulfill. It might appear from the outside looking at, that the tourist lives the Life of Riley: chauffeured in an air conditioned bus, put up at tour rates in first class hotels, sumptuously fed on local specialties at every stop, but the non-stop services can leave the traveller feeling done for. When does he get to decide anything? That tour guide with the gaudy pink umbrella she insists upon waving around like she's rallying troops around the flag seems to take a tad too much sense of authority from her role. The bus drivers maintain their steely-eyed gazes. Rumor has it that they're all retired Special Forces with ice water running through their veins. The fellow travelers, too, can wear on a man's patience, capable of moving no faster than a reluctant donkey, a man only rarely manages to hit his stride so he shuffles along with increasing ennui.

After a few days surveying the legacies of several century's worth of royalty, another set of crown jewels resembles nothing more than a sale display counter at Macy's.
The castles, once you've seen one, you've pretty much seen them all, cold, drafty places with hardly a royal amenity between them. Those kings were brutes with hyperactive PR machines always ordering up another statue with himself mounted atop some gallant steed. No doubt that the steed was considerably more galant than his passenger, who gained most of his notoriety doing paperwork rather than leading valiant calvary charges. He commissioned the glowing histories. His minions, which numbered in legions greater than his greatest armies, took care of the details and gained not an ounce of personal notoriety among them. They have been forgotten by history. This fact wears on any NuthinSpecial tourist seeking some solace and confirmation from his travels. A growing sense of genuine insignificance overtakes him.

Then that voice in his head starts picking apart pretty much everything he experiences. While his friends back home hold him in some considerable envy for taking this tour, he's scathingly tearing down the very bases of Christendom. The whole history of the Western World comes to resemble some grand bait and switch, where normal people were abused and often destroyed on the whim of some looney old inbred who fancied himself best buds with God Almighty. His psychological deficiencies come to seem most prominent. His "people" come into sharper focus, loyal to considerable fault, conscientious to the point of personal failing, hardworking to their own ultimate detriment, they seemed to have held what passed for society together while their "lord" frittered away his time hosting lavish dinner parties and seducing innocent ladies in waiting. Royal images on the local coinage seem to burn his hand as he passes them.

Would it kill the tour guide to look the other way just once and let a beleaguered traveler slip away for a cold one at a discrete little neighborhood watering hole, where the local working people pass their time, born certain that they'd never be remembered after they're gone? They live in cities surrounded by trumped up history and carry on as if notoriety doesn't ultimately matter. Pensioners sit in the shady parks and seethe at the injustices or finally come to peace with a largely indifferent world while tour bus after tour bus, driven by ex-Special Forces with ice water in their veins, carry fresh recruits into the never-ending war to sanctify some mythical past. The deception seems deliberate. Pshaw on patriotism, Catholicism, and every other damned -ism in this world. The world-weary traveler just wants to go back home again.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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