Thaw, river, and unleash spring;
yank deadwood from the banks.
Spill forth and
resurrect all sleeping trees.
Roil your muddy stomach;
replenish the rekindled silt.
Revive the slumbering boulders which
adorn your path,
and enduring no caution,
feed the funnel mouth
of salt sea depth which makes all continents
islands of remote topography;
and shape the same intimacy between humans
as river run to ocean deep.
“The Parable of Faith”
Once upon a time, there was a crazy, homeless man with a dirty beard and a cardboard sign which read, "The End Is Near Here." His name was Marty.
Marty considered himself a bit of a political pundit, but no one paid much attention to him.
However, during the election year with its talk of civil cacophony, the Democrats and the Republicans began insisting in public proclamations that freedom was, in fact, a reality, and they sent television reporters to find the stories of real Americans.
One of them found Marty.
"We're trying to tell the stories of real freedom in America," the reporter said. "Won't you tell us yours?"
"Sure," Marty answered.
He coughed to clear his throat. He looked into the camera. Then, quietly, and without undue exaggeration, he told the parable of faith.
They hung the men naked like sausages from poles with ropes tied to their arms and legs, their heads all pointing down toward the dusty soil, and their backs curled against the tension of the ropes. They always killed three at a time under the little tent-bungalow set up in the park so everyone could watch.
At first, the executions were barbarous. Colonel Veritilious, the Colonel, used a machete to hack open a kidney or to cut off a head. Sometimes a body pulled apart at the sudden release of stress, and as body parts fell toward the ground, blood splattered on the observers.
On one occasion in the sweltering evening of a sun-soaked July, he missed the kidney and he cut into the spine of the victim, and the victim claimed to feel nothing. This discovery eventually gave the Colonel the ability to allow men to die without pain. Soon, families of those condemned began to bring the Colonel bribes so that he would utilize his secrets and kill their loved one with the painless death.
Originally, these killings were intended merely to subdue the citizens, to assure their obedience, and, after a time, they became ritual, regarded with a certain amount of sacred mystery. The Colonel even added a well dressed young man as an assistant who carried the machete like a relic in a hardwood sheath wrapped with braided twine made from the string of salt water palm leaves.
The machete was kept so sharp that its slightest touch drew blood.
The Colonel walked behind those hanging from the poles. He would pull the long knife from its sheath. He would slice open the back at the position of the kidney. And then he would administer a slice at the spine, one location, near the number four Lumbar, for a painless, numb, death, another location, near the number three Cervical, for an excruciating, prolonged one.
The painfulness of this second cut was said to be greater than broken bones, burned skin, and the sting of swarming ants combined. Therefore, the Colonel became wealthy from the bribes of families wishing to protect their loved ones from anguish and torment.
Eventually, the Colonel became so skillful that he could remove the machete from its wooden sheath soundlessly, and the knife grew so sharp it could open a human body with no more sound than that of a moth drying its wings.
For this reason silence was imposed during the executions.
Finally, the Colonel became so adept at killing that he could perform this task without even the need for the machete. At his mere gesture, kidneys burst open and spines split. If ever a victim displeased the Colonel, or if the family could not afford his rather expensive fee, he simply touched the wretched victim at the base of the neck which brought on the death of agony.
For a long time the executions were accomplished without incident until it was the turn of a simple-minded shoe cobbler to die. This one claimed that the Colonel found him distasteful because of his poverty, and he claimed that in spite of the fact that his family had paid half the fee for a painless death, all they could afford, the Colonel was nevertheless about to administer the death of agony.
His cries grew louder and louder, breaking the sacred law of silence, and the Colonel, in retribution, did touch the base of his neck, but slightly off-center, so that the cobbler screamed in agony for days. His moans and anguish echoed off the hills and reverberated within the hollows of trees so that even animals trembled in torment.
Finally, on the third day, he died.
This brought a new phenomenon – death by proclamation.
So agonizing was the dying of the young man, so horrible his cries of affliction, so precisely were his screams encoded into the minds of the villagers that now, when the Colonel sends his soldiers to escort the victims to the ropes, the loved ones merely pay the fee to the agents, and the victim voluntarily dies at home within the hour.
When Marty finished the parable, both the interviewer and the photographer, shocked by the tale, stood speechless, while the cameraman, somewhat mesmerized, continued to hold the record button.
Marty shrugged, picked up his sign, and smiled into the still running camera.
Eventually, the reporter rushed the unedited copy to leaders of both the Democratic and the Republican parties. In a rare gesture of authentic bi-partisanship, they ordered Marty jailed.
The reporter led the agents to Marty's homeless home, and they took him to a prison where they tortured him without mercy. They stretched him out on the pain-inducing table allowing the machine to inflict its precise afflictions.
As Marty twisted in agony, he cried out in anguish and in torment.
Yet, those outside who heard the cries could not remember the meaning of the sounds.
Copyright©2016 by Thom Brucie – All Rights Reserved