Today’s vignette is inspired by a scene which so perfectly embodies an intellectually and morally bankrupt “philosophy” that it becomes viscerally repulsive. I figured that this scenario would be a better served if the cast of characters were enlarged and some substitutions made. We begin with Dagny telling the guard to let her, Hank and Francisco pass. Again, the italicized lead-in is a quotation from the original.
“Do you know that my name is Dagny Taggart and that you’ve seen my pictures in the papers with Mr. Thompson and all the top leaders of the country?”
“Then decide whether you wish to disobey their orders.”
“With all due respect, ma’am, that’s not my decision to make.”
Dagny’s lip curled at the typical subhuman’s display of cowardice. “I’m telling you to make it, now.”
“Frankly, ma’am, without new orders from Mr. Thompson himself, way I see it, I don’t have to do a damn thing, except keep you and your friends outside of this door.” He crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall.
Dagny fumed at the obstacle, at his very picture of insolent insouciance.
“No,” Dagny said.
Her hand was on the grip of her gun, and then her gun was pointed at the guard.
“I hate to disappoint you,” the guard said, “but this isn’t the first time I’ve had a gun in my face.”
At that moment, before Dagny or Francisco or Hank could toss in a rejoinder, there came from the toilet down the hall the noise of a great cascade.
“Whoo-wee!” exclaimed the man emerging from the toilet. His brown hair was long and greasy. “I’d stay out of there for a few, Jules—”
The new arrival stopped short. Then he reached into his rumpled black suit jacket, and Dagny saw the gleam of metal. She swung her gun in his direction.
“I wouldn’t do that,” the guard said. Dagny looked back at him and saw that he had drawn a pistol.
“Mind telling me what’s going on, Jules?” the man from the bathroom said, conversationally. Dagny vacillated between the two, not sure which one to keep her weapon aimed at.
“Vincent, this is Dagny Taggart. Dagny Taggart, this is my partner, Vincent Vega. Miz Taggart and her two friends here were trying to wander in where they didn’t belong.”
“Well, hate to say it,” Vincent drawled, “but it’s kind of our job description to take exception to that.”
“Now see here,” Hank began.
Jules talked over him. “I don’t recall asking for your input.”
With two guns now pointed at her, Dagny was not quite sure how to proceed.
“Taggart,” Jules said. “You’re not a gun person, are you? You’re more at home in the executive boardroom, I can tell. I think you and your friends and everyone here would be a lot more relaxed if you dropped your gun on the floor, kicked it over to me and sat down.”
Francisco spoke up. “Who are you to—”
Jules raised the index finger of his free hand.
Francisco fell silent.
“Unless I miss my guess, you three are here to see John Galt. Friends of his? Well, that’s just grand. Where would a man be without friends? Now. If you’re his friends, you must be Men of the Mind. Well, and a Woman of the Mind. Here to get your friend and take him out into the great big world that the Men of the Mind have made for themselves. And doesn’t that sound all grand and noble? And who knows, if today were a different day, and if your names weren’t on a certain special list, maybe you’d be doing just that. Me, I’m just happy to be in such exclusive company. Three of the Great Movers and Shakers of the world, hanging out with me and my pal Vincent Vega. Mm-mmm! When I woke up today, I did not expect to be chillaxin’ with three bona-fide celebrities. What am I even supposed to say in a situation like that? Me and my down-home, folksy ways. You, Mr. Rearden!”
Hank Rearden quivered. “Yes?”
“You read the Bible?”
“No,” he said.
“What about you, Mr. d’Anconia?”
Francisco shook his head without speaking.
“Or you, Miz Dagny Taggart?”
“Not regularly,” she said. Her fingers were slippery with sweat.
“Well, there’s this passage I got memorized. I like to bring it out for special occasions. Ezekiel 25:17? Anybody? ‘The path of the righteous man—'”