river, and unleash spring;
deadwood from the banks.
all sleeping trees.
the rekindled silt.
the slumbering boulders which
salt sea depth which makes all continents
of remote topography;
shape the same intimacy between humans
river run to ocean deep.
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.
of them found Marty.
trying to tell the stories of real freedom in America," the reporter said.
"Won't you tell us yours?"
He coughed to clear his throat. He looked into the
camera. Then, quietly, and without undue exaggeration, he told the parable of
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
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
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.
by Thom Brucie – All Rights Reserved