The boy sold his sheep and set out on his journey. He traveled over mountains and hills and through tunnels and ridges, until he came to a prominent peak. He could hear very constantly from inside the mountain the sound of reams of paper being shuffled.
He called by way of greeting, but there was no answer. The door opened and a withered arm reached out. She tossed some shredded pieces of paper at her feet. Then the door closed again and she heard footsteps walking away. The boy spent the morning putting together the pieces of shredded paper.
At noon, when the sun was burning hot on the boy, he stopped and wiped his forehead.
“What has brought you here?” a voice asked. She turned and looked. There was a man dressed in black robes, someone who could be an allegory for all sorts of things.
“I’m trying to fill my spot on the news cycle,” the boy said. “I dreamed that one day I would review some important documents.”
“You seek the Special Master,” the man in black said.
“Yes!” the boy cried. “Do you know about him? Can you tell me where he makes his home?
“The Special Master dwells within that mountain,” the man said. “But before you get admission, you have to prove yourself. What are you doing with those papers over there?
“I’m putting them together,” the boy said. “It’s my dream.”
The man studied him closely. “Can you speak to your heart?” he asked.
“I think… I think so,” the boy said. “I will try.”
“Then you can come work for me and earn your keep here,” the man said, “while you wait to meet the Special Master.”
The boy jumped in gratitude. “Thank you,” he exclaimed.
In the days that followed, the man in black gave the boy many tasks to complete. The boy went to get the man’s slippers. He vaporized all of his robes. He watched the man classify the documents and declare that they were covered by executive privilege.
One day, the man took him to a clogged toilet. “Look in the heart of this toilet,” said the man. “Do you see?”
“I see water,” said the boy.
“Look with your heart,” said the man.
“I… see documents,” the boy said. “They don’t belong there.”
The man led him to a wall where there was ketchup and shattered pottery. “Do you see?”
“Rage,” said the boy.
“With your heart?” the man said.
“Economics… economic anxiety,” the boy said.
It’s been a long time. The sun rose and set many times, which is a way of noting the passage of time. The man took the boy to the top of the peak and gave him a final task: “You must declassify a document using only your mind, without telling anyone.”
“That’s impossible!” said the boy. “Everyone knows that it can only be declassified using procedures.”
“It is impossible?” the man asked. “Or do you just think it’s impossible, oh my special apprentice?”
The boy gasped and his heart jumped inside him. “You! You are the Special Master!”
“Special Master is just a title,” said the man. “There are no requirements. Make yourself acceptable to a district judge and various legal teams and you too can become one.”
“You cunning old sorcerer!” the boy shouted. “You knew all along that I could have stayed home and never left the sheep, and been spared all these puzzles and indignities!”
“Ah,” said the man, “but then you would never have learned the language that is within all languages, and the song that the heart sings, and the dreams that angels dream for each of us in our lives, and how call the wind so that the wind responds”.
“Did I learn all those things?” the boy asked, astonished. “Are these the powers of the Special Master?”
“Well, no,” said the man. “Most of the time, the special teacher is a kind of assistant to the judge, and his job is to become familiar with the details of the case to a degree that a judge cannot.”
“Oh,” said the boy. “That’s a bit of an anticlimax.”
“Only if your heart says it is,” the Special Master said. And he vanished into the mountain, never to be seen again, like a dream or a document that had been misstored.