THE REFUGEE by Philson Ong

I sit at a bench in the park. The sun is setting, staining the sky with beautiful red and gold. It is autumn and the leaves fall to the ground at the slightest wind. They are as colorful as the sky. I sit there admiring the view. Then I notice him. An aged man walks in my direction. He wears a black silk-lined coat and has black hair. He carries an ebony case, but his most distinguished feature is his eyes. They are the blackest I have ever seen, yet as dark as they are, they seem to have a glow about them. I think he is a European refugee, very wealthy, having to escape his country from conflict. The refugee sits next to me and views the sunset.


The silence is broken by him. In a deep, slightly accented voice he says, “I like music.”
Slightly startled by this question, I regain my composure and respond, “What kind?”
“This.” He waves his hands and cane indicating the scenery.
Finally I ask him, “You’re not from the US are you?”
“No, I am a displaced person.”
“I am sorry. Would you like to tell me about it?”
“I would be wasting your time.”
“Not at all, I have nowhere to be.”


With a sigh he begins to tell his story. “These days it is a familiar story. A leader so blinded by his own glory that he can no longer see his blunders. He developed delusions of greatness and posed as the final judge over everything from birth to death and therefore created seeds of his own destruction. It was inevitable under the circumstances.” Rage boils inside me. No man should have that much power. I see his views so vividly; I would have gladly fought this man, were I in his country. “The revolt didn’t succeed?” “No, it proved too weak, too early. It was crushed. Then came the purge. Nearly all of us died. I organized that opposition. I still think it was justified but I dare not go back.”


I try to comfort him. “You are in a free country now. You can call the president anything you want and nothing will happen.” He continues, “I am not welcome here either. No man can truly be free unless he is beyond his enemy’s reach. When one’s foe gains control of every channel of propaganda, uses them exclusively to present his case and suppress the mind and damns the truth as if it were lies, there is no hope for me.”


The sun has set and the moon is full. It shines in such a way as if it were focusing on him. He stands up and he seems enormous, almost as towering as the trees from my sitting position. He seems not of the world as the moon lights his face. He walks away, his coat in the night breeze resembling billowing wings. As he walks away, I ask his name.


He turns back and looks deep in my eyes, “my name,” he says softly, “is Lucifer.” He disappears into the darkness.