A White Feather, Pt. 1

Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: A White Feather, Pt. 1

Constable Bobby Hickinbotham had no patience for moral philosophy. For as long as he could remember, the path of virtue had never been obscured by the overgrown brush of nuance nor weathered and worn by doubt. It was as simple and clear as the painted road. In his estimation, it was not hard or complicated to do right and anyone who thought otherwise was being either willfully obtuse or too clever by half. As a young man, when it became clear that he would reach the requisite height, it was obvious that he should join the constabulary. It was the very personification of the honorable way. As a constable, he could guide those who could not see the world with the unwavering clarity that he did.

The path of righteousness became much rockier after he’d earned his badge though.

His first day on the job, he was assigned to shadow Constable Wright on the Salamanca Bridge.

“It’s a right easy post, seein’s how the bridge is usually ‘broken’ anyway,” Wright told him with a wink and a nudge.

“Well, that’s not right,” Hickinbotham said. “We shouldn’t lie about it. If they are ready to come back to the Village, we should let them.”

“Look, mate, our job is to keep everyone happy and peaceable-like,” Wright said, putting a conspiratorial arm around his shoulders. “And that includes the people on this side of the bridge.” He gestured at the grassy expanse on the other side of the glass window. “Now they ain’t gonna take their Joy. They can’t take their Joy. And all this bridge does is tease them that they could. When it’s open, all that happens is the Joy Lounge fills up with wastrels screaming about eyes everywhere. It’s a mercy we do for them, keeping the bridge “broken” so they don’t get their hopes up.”

“What is the point of this bridge then?” Hickinbotham asked. “We should just wall them off entirely if they don’t actually have any chance of coming back.”

“It keeps ’em docile. What d’you think would happen if we just threw these poor sods out here and told ’em to go fuck themselves? They’d be like to riot, wouldn’t they?” Wright said. “With the bridge here, there’s a process to it. And as long as there’s a process they can follow, they can only blame themselves when they can’t get back in. Keeps everyone nice and orderly.”

Hickinbotham had to admit that there was some reason to Wright’s point. Perhaps, in a roundabout way, Wright was acting in the best interests of everyone involved, in the only way he had the authority to do.

Nonetheless, lying itself was inherently wrong so he reported Constable Wright’s activities (though he generously included Wright’s rationale too) to Central when he got home that evening.

He was reassigned to the night shift on St. George the next day. He never heard anything more about the Salamanca Bridge and so assumed it must have been either “repaired” or decommissioned.

1 thought on “Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: A White Feather, Pt. 1”

  1. Reading Comprehension Questions:

    1. What do you think would happen if Constable Wright’s prediction about the wastrels came to pass? Use information not already present in the text.

    2. Why doesn’t Constable Hickinbotham hear about the Salamanca Bridge again? Do you think he’s right in his assumptions? Why or why not?

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