I visit my father on Thursdays and every Thursday when I leave his room I tell myself that this is the last time I'm going to visit him. My other siblings have not been sucked into his mind games to the same degree that I have and I envy them for it. They were smart and when the opportunity presented itself, they left home and made certain that they would never have to return. For example, I have a brother who fought to get an Imperial accountant's position on some pathetic little backwater world in the Outer Rim. He's making about ten percent of what he could have had he stayed on Coruscant, yet he was willing to sacrifice his financial for his mental health. However, as my lot in life must to be to suffer and I am youngest, it is my responsibility to go and visit the old man.
I hate the lift ride with a passion. It is so sterile and cold and invariably there is always some miserable person who is anxiously going to see some beloved relative in their last hours. Unfortunately, I am not that lucky—the old cheater will probably outlive me just for spite.
Stoicism is the hallmark of our species. Outside his door I plaster my dutiful-son expression on my face. It is a cheap imitation of the one I wore quite honestly for my mother all those years ago when she lay in a hospital bed dying and the old man was too busy to visit, as apparently someone more important needed a bribe pushed in the right direction or their backside kissed.
The suite is well appointed and made to look more like home than hospital. He's awake and I begin my routine queries about his aches and pains, the quality of service and whether or not he's been responding to his treatments. Seems all those years he sucked on nico-baac inhalers have given him a pretty nasty case of cancercardia that puts up a hell of a fight with the overpriced therapies his pension guarantees him. I think he tells them to let the bug win its share of the battles so that I have to keep coming. The master manipulator to the very end...
I prepare to discuss the weather and tell him about the opera I saw last night. I will not bring up my life partner, as they do not approve of one another. Addar tells me every Thursday morning that I should tell him I won't be coming back. Addar has it easy both his parents are dead. I am not so fortunate.
"Look what Nadrah brought me from home," he affects an especially pathetic rasp and shows me an image-holo the housekeeper has dropped off to amuse him. Poor Nadrah, she always thought the day my mother died she'd have him all to herself. She got the same bargain my mother did, except he never had the time to marry her. I imagine he's got her twisted around his rotten blue finger the same as the rest of us—or at least me as I'm closest and not as smart as my siblings. Why did I turn down that post on Alderaan? Granted I'd been blown to bits, but at least I would have my Thursdays free.
"That's fabulous, Da. What is it?" I settle in my seat, refresh the good-son smile and attempt to look interested while I think about whether or not I should refinance the loan on my apartment—the interest rates are really quite good these days.
"These are old," he coughs. "From the days of the Republic," he keys through the images of beings I don't know and don't particularly care about. He was something back then, but I was in college and my mother was dying. I paid as much attention to him as he to me.
Da only showed up for the good things. I got my law degrees and he was there. I got my seat on the bench for the Imperial Court of Criminal Appeals for Alien Species (don't laugh, occasionally we overturn a sentence) and he was there. I received an Imperial commendation for honor after I uncovered a rebel cell in the Office of the Judiciary (quite accidentally to be honest, I thought they were talking about the holo-cinema) and he was there for the awards dinner. He chose to be my father when it suited him.
Conversely, he avoided the unpleasant events. Mother died and he couldn't be bothered because he had to go to Naboo to offer official condolences to some dead senator's family. My sister's husband turns up murdered and Da sent her a credit transfer to cover her living expenses—not even a message. I didn't even bother to tell him when we had to put down our pet felinius two months ago.
"Those are great, Da," I try to feign interest. Forty two minutes longer and I can go home. Once again I will have served my sentence at the bedside of the blue devil. I must have been a real brute in a past life, because I'm sure as hell paying for it now. I wonder where we're going to eat tonight. Maybe I'll try to cook something. Or is this the night we're supposed to go across the hall for that pushy attorney's cocktail party? I hope not. I hate lawyers.
"I imagine you've never seen this one?" He points to a picture of the city skyline. I don't see the significance aside from the fact it's the only picture without any beings in it.
"No, Da, can't say I have." If this was supposed to be an artistic attempt at landscape imaging, he fell pretty damn short of his mark. It's a terrible grainy image.
"Look at it. What do you see?" I'm surprised he's so agitated about this one image. I look closer—maybe there's a naked female in it somewhere.
On closer inspection, where I thought I saw clouds, I was actually looking at smoke. "Is that a burning building?"
"Yes, that was the day after—that was the first Empire Day."
I'll be damned to Ryloth without shoes, he's right! I'm looking at a really bad image of the old Jedi Temple on fire. I've got A-7 security clearance, which is about as high as a nonhuman Justice can get and I've never seen one of these.
"Wow, Da. That's something you don't see everyday. Where'd you it take from?" I have to admit I'm a history buff and do find this interesting.
"From the Chancellor's office," he whispers with his raspy voice. I continue to study the picture. "I need to tell you something." He coughs again, which is really unnecessary as he's already got my attention—there's no need for melodrama.
"Sure." Secretly I'm hoping that he's going to finally give up the account numbers for the family fortune, if we have such a thing—that will show my older brothers.
"It was a lie."
I didn't understand him when he said it as my thoughts were still on the family fortune that does or doesn't exist.
"It was a lie." He grabs my arm and looks straight into my eyes.
"A lie? What was a lie?" This could take hours. Da was a politician. If he's about to start coming clean on telling lies, I'm going have to cancel my evening plans and send out for dinner. Addar will kill me.
He points at the picture. "The Jedi."
"Oh, of course, I know. They lied about the war and were traitors and the Emperor was forced to arrest them before they attacked the Senate and seized control of the Republic, blah, blah, blah. Crazy religious fanatics, everyone remembers the story, Da." I remember those HoloNet reports quite vividly because I was sitting in a waiting room in the other wing of this hospital with my brothers and sisters as our mother let go of her life. I even remember what I was wearing that day. Some things you don't forget.
"No!" He coughs and tries to sit up. His excitement worries me and I'm tempted to ring for the nurse. "We lied."
"You lied?" I don't know if I want to know what he's talking about.
"They didn't do anything. He just wanted them dead."
What is he telling me? Please let it be the medication…
"Da," I scoot the chair closer to the bed so he doesn't have to talk so loudly and I pat his shoulder trying to keep him calm. "You're confused, that's not what happened."
"I was there!" That's the kind of reaction I'm trying to avoid as that's the kind of thing that's going to bring a nurse who might call for a COMPNOR officer who might end my career and put me on the missing beings list.
"Settle down, Da, remember where you're at and lower your voice." I can't believe I've just shooshed my father. It doesn't feel right.
He grabs my hand and his cold fingers feel like my mother's. Never has he held my hand or even shook it. What if he's serious?
"What happened, Da?" I coax, modeling an acceptable 'inside' voice.
"He wanted them dead. That's all he ever wanted aside from the boy." He loosened his grip, yet continued to hold my hand. "He told me the day after he was elected that he planned to kill them all. It was so businesslike, just like he was telling me what color he wanted the walls painted. He was going to kill them all and it was my decision…" He coughs again and I'm beginning to find this respiratory issue to be annoying.
"What was your decision, Da?"
"I could continue in my place, serve in my capacity as Speaker, or he'd kill all of you." He's looking at me with a pair of eyes, I've never seen before. "And I knew he would."
"No," he raises a hand not wanting to hear whatever I have to offer to the conversation. I'm relieved because quite frankly I don't have anything to contribute that would make any difference. I've stopped thinking about my job and I don't care if the Emperor himself walks through the door.
It suddenly starts to make sense why he was never there.
"The war was a farce—we made it up. There was a list and beings knew. It was like a game and it was all pointless. Billions died because he wanted the Jedi destroyed and he wanted the boy as his own apprentice. Like arrogant fools, we made jokes about it all." He pauses and chews on his bottom lip. "No one acted like we were playing with lives. Although, I was selfish and made certain that Champala was spared and it was—a reward for my loyalty." He slaps his hand to his chest above his hearts. "I was loyal. He only had to threaten me once. If I was anything I was loyal. I was the perfect assistant."
"Da, you're going to tire yourself out." I try to calm him.
Honestly, I was the one who was getting weak. I really couldn't handle much more. I'd hated him for years only to find out that he was aloof because a crazy megalomaniac, whom I have now sworn an oath to serve, threatened to kill us all—kill his family? Then he tells me the Clone Wars were fabricated and the Jedi murdered as part of a conspiracy to get hold of some kid? Oh, he's not talking about Vader… Please, not Vader. I hate Vader. I can't handle any more. I need a stiff drink and I don't drink. I drink juice at cocktail parties hosted by pushy lawyers! I'm not the kind of person who needs to hear this.
"I need to tell you."
A knot forms in my stomach and my mouth is dry. "Da, these are dangerous things and you've told me so much already."
"I can't take these things with me. Stay a little longer, please."
Who is this man in front of me? Where has the monster gone?
I resign myself to the rest of his confessions and do my best to offer absolution at the end of the evening. What do you say? It's impossible to be eloquent when you've been hit in the gut with a lifetime's worth of truth. The secrets he freed were unbelievable. It would have been easier had he simply said that the past thirty four years has been an utter and complete lie.
Finally, he's quiet. He looks old and weak. When did he get so old? The fierce man that was my father has been replaced by an old man with sad eyes—when did it happen? I am heartbroken and I do something I would have found both revolting and comical only four hours before—I kiss my father.
I leave the hospital, skip the cab and walk home.
How am I going to go to work tomorrow morning? I can't just quit and walk away, people don't really do that. I can't escape, but now I have to go in knowing the truth. I'll have to walk through security and give my good mornings to all the others who have been lied to with a smile. I'll sit in my courtroom and listen to others lie to me and I'll lie back to them. On Monday morning I'll go, like I do every week, and meet with the other justices and make our lies into precedents built on lies. I live in a world of lies. I'll know the truth, but can't do a damn thing about it. I can't even tell Addar. This is a horrible burden.
What am I supposed to do with this knowledge? Should I hate him for telling me the truth? Am I that dependent on the lies that my world has been ruined by the truth?
I feel sick.
On Monday morning I missed my meeting—everyone did since the courts were closed. The old man didn't make it past Thursday night. No sooner than I'd crossed the threshold of our apartment, I was called back to the hospital. I can't remember what I was wearing this time or even how I got there. I just remember feeling empty afterwards.
In honor of his exemplary service to the Empire my father is given a state funeral. It is a big political affair. Palpatine addresses me by name, which as none of my other siblings were around I suppose it was obvious that I was his son. I nod my head stupidly as he tells me what a remarkable man my father was. He says that my father will forever be connected to his own rise to power. He says that my father played a key role in making a reality of his dream of the New Order. The Emperor talks about how history will remember my father as one of his most dutiful assistants and supporters. There will be a statue erected of him near the now empty Senate Rotunda and one capital ship of the Empire's fleet christened in his honor. He promises me that Mas Amedda will forever be connected to the triumph of the Empire. These are incredible honors, but I don't know if the old man really wanted all that.
Deep down, I knew he didn't and that's why he told me.
Thursday afternoon comes and only after I step into the lift full of the usual miserable people does it hit me that he's not on the ninety-third floor anymore. He's gone and my
Thursdays will never be the same.