Mary and the infant were gone, for how long I couldn’t say, but I imagined it had been a while. I tried to listen for any bit of life outside. I could hear nothing but the deep slow sound of snoring. I took a deep breath of air and was horrified to find my mouth fill up with a rancid taste. It was unforgettable. Yellow pools of urine appeared on the white sterile floor no longer a model for cleanliness. A little boy with red tuberous eyes opened his mouth and wailed like a dying dolphin in the deep. With each noise he became weaker as he continued to sit stewing in his excrement. I could feel my bowels slowing filling up as the child withered like a flower tasting winter for its first time. He would never see spring.
They made it clear to me that my government were to blame for the atrocity that was carried out in the forest beyond the town where the occupants carried on with their daily routine even after they were buried deep in the ground. Someone had forgotten to tell them they were dead and that there was no point trying to rebuild a life they didn’t have. No one wanted to near the corpses so a small memorial was erected and yellow seeds were planted on top of them. The bodies encouraged the soil to grow the bones that contained the calcium and marrow was important for the survival of another generation.
No one learnt from the incident. Incident is too formal a word, it was nothing but an incident, it was a savage act of brutality. Killing mothers with babies inside their womb, sprouting hands and legs as the executioner raised the gun to the mother’s frightened head. The bullet flew through her head as the baby swam for the last time inside her protective layer.
Whose fault was it? I had always been confused with the detail. Falling down the slope and hearing a familiar voice, the voice of my officer who should have been protecting the town from the invading army. And then I signed the paper, everyone started blaming each other for carrying out such an inhumane act. High file rank were demoted and held responsible for such a tragedy and I was stuck somewhere in the middle like the boy surrounded by the swan-haters as they eagerly lined up to strike a blow.
I opened my eyes. The screaming child had vanished and so had the smell. I felt my chest that was shaking violently and that is when I looked up and saw Helen.
She was staring back at me with those insane eyes of hers that said if you move I’ll kill you.” I spied her hand that was grey and pale without the dreaded cigarette.
“I hate you!” I wanted to roar. I imagined the smoke filling her mouth and then come bursting out of her enlarged nostrils.
Her hair was still the blonde burning yellow but she wasn’t the tough strong woman that she had introduced me to. She was slumped over with a blanket draped for warmth over her shoulders. I saw her naked arm with the bones nearly sticking out of her skin.
“Hi,” She said, shaking at the thought of what I would do to her now that she was in the room.
I sent back no reply. I could still feel the ash and the biting sting of the cigarette melting my skin. I turned my head away from her and left her alone.
It’s funny the imagining that you do. You imagine the countries you’ve never travelled to and make up the culture, the people and the landscape. Africa is a jungle full of green leathery leaves and monkeys that scream across the sky as they throw themselves off the trees like a suicidal teenager not thinking of the consequences only carrying out the now and forgetting about the past and the future.
Lions hunt wild gazelles as tall thin dark hunters watch with spears in hand ready to bring down both creatures while the white headed vulture waits its next meal, whether it be victim or prey.
Paris is lovely at this time of year, I’ve never been there but I have been told, so I am sure. The tall metal Eiffel tower reaches upwards as women rush around behind their designer fur coats attracted to any label that will say: “Look at me I am unique I am a separate entity from others. Another crocodile handbag never satisfies as the cocaine is sniffed up the nose. I don’t know this; it was only what I was told.
She was still staring at me with those eyes of hers that never left me. I only opened my mouth because I wanted to get rid of her frightening stares.
“What do you want?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Nothing…! What do you want?”
It took me a while to put such a simple sentence together, “What do I want?”
“Yes,” she replied, the hoarse frightening voice had disappeared.
“I want you to go, leave, get lost.” I could have thought of numerous profanities but I kept quiet.
“I understand,” She lowered her head right where the puddle of sun yellow urine had been. “You’re upset. I’m sorry.”
The words leapt out of her mouth and then it fragmented into my eyes as I saw every cruel thing she had done to me. I could smell the burning and feel the torture travel up my spine. Even the tigers in the zoo were treated with more respect then I was.
I waited as my mouth filled up with thick sticky saliva and then I spat my missile of spit towards her. It missed and landed on a head that was sleeping on the floor.
Why should I forgive? What did the word forgive mean? I shook my head it meant nothing, nothing to me anyway. But it I had forgiven before. That was different, totally different.
And then it dawned on me suddenly like a pulse had gone off somewhere inside of me. I had to get out. I put my arms out in front of me and steadied my feet ready for the giant push to stand.
One, two, three... I threw all the energy I had into my thrust. The balls of my feet stood routed to the floor, my arms did nothing to aid me.
What the hell!
I slumped back into my chair and resigned myself to the inevitable; if help didn’t come I would be left to die, the blood slowly dripping out my nose and the brain haemorrhaging inside.
I closed my eyes. I would ignore Helen or whatever her name was. God was silent.
The white coat was standing in front of me again with the same silver clipboard. Only this time the white was mixed with what I could only assume was blood. It was my turn again. I could see it in his eyes as he stood over me.
“Mr Slav,” he said slowly as if I had just learnt the language the previous day.
“Yes?” I replied, my voice lifting in optimism.
“You can come this way.”
He reached his hand out towards my arm. Helen was eying me with her puffy eyes. She was nearly touching the floor now. A few drops of blood were positioned under her nose. I watched her like an artist, studying the movement of the model, the tone, the contrast and ripple in her contour. The red liquid that she had lived in for so long dripped out of her nose. This time I watched it slip out of her nostril, it dripped, splattering on the floor like rain bouncing off a pool of water. Her hair was tangling up in the mess.
I hated her, the woman that beat me and I hated the smell of cigarettes that clung to her like a leech.
“I hate you!” I roared as the doctor reached out oblivious to my shouts.
She continued to lower herself into the blood and the floor that she was dying to die on.
God spoke suddenly, “You have to help!”
“Are you insane?” I flung my arms in the air, the doctor jumped back afraid of what I might do.
“Mr. Slav don’t panic I’m only here to help.”
“My God,” I said. “I see where you’re going, trying to get me all compassionate. What about me?”
“She needs your help, regardless of what she did to you.”
God has a funny way of working things out he tries to get you to feel sorry for others just to get you to perform his ultimate end. That’s what I thought.
I looked back; her face was swimming in her own blood.
I couldn’t give in to her. I would fight it out.
“Doctor, can you help me?”
He looked at me nervously not wanting another outburst.
Dogs grovel the way she was grovelling with her arms squashed against the floor and her legs pressed against her thighs. I heard the heaving and watched her twist in pain. I couldn’t bear the heavy breathing and the echoing moans that spilled out of her mouth onto the bloody floor and splatter against the walls.
I Imagined sitting on the wooden chair in the dark with the smell of cigarettes and the ash gently falling down on me.
It’s time she suffers.
But there she was in pain and agony and I knew what I had to do.
“D…d…d…doctor,” I stammered. “Take her.” I pointed at the woman lying flat on the ground spread eagled and looking every bit dead.
He glanced at me surprised, though he didn’t argue; all he did was grunt something low and deep. He walked up to her, cautiously lifting her. She was standing up leaning with her full weight on the doctor. Her face was bloody and peeling.
“Sorry,” she muttered, as she struggled for air. “It was our fault we staged the whole thing with the help of those who were sympathetic to our cause. I’m sorry!”
I could see it in her eyes her frail body that was no longer blanketed. Her clothes were stuck to her body as her red raw flesh peeked out of what was visible of her clothes.
When she left I tried to visualise the situation. It was a con, I was only used as a messenger to tell the world what really happened and I was roped into blindly. I would have hurdled my head into the wall but I was too weak for that, at least I could think about my body smashing into the hard flat white wall hitting hard on impact. I felt the pain again as it struggled to get out. Turkey man was gone, although the clucking continued on without him.
And then I felt stupid as I felt the blood draining out of me. I saw the little boy with his brown tweed cap over his head and his chewed up face smiling as the carriage jolted along the tracks. My heart and lungs screamed as my kidneys tried desperately to stay alive. I didn’t know how he could be so happy.
I was still waiting to be seen to. No one was there to talk to. I needed someone to help me survive to talk and say I could make it you can live just hang in there. My head started to fall the same way Helen’s head was magnetised to the floor. My bent back slid down the sliding chair and I knew that death was coming. It wasn’t frightening. God was silent; I would be left alone with my own thoughts cooking in my fragmented ideas. But then again I had invented God to entertain me, just as I had introduced Mary and her infant child, the clucking turkey and possibly Helen. I closed my eyes.
War had been invented long ago, the atomic bomb had been upgraded a thousand times as surface to air missiles were the rage then the red melting heat was dropped on the innocent, on the land of my forefathers, on my land. And that was when I felt my blood dropping and all hope flew out the window. No one knew yet who dropped it, although it wouldn’t have surprised me if it was my own government, nothing was beyond them anymore. To ensure the survival of the opportunist’s anything was possible. And so I sat with the bodies blanketed for warmth, the heater long gone and the cold coming underneath the cracks of the doors and through the plastered walls. I was desperate to find out what was going on in the outside world. Was there any explanation or even a hint as to what was going on outside? It didn’t matter. The little boy who was now a man would die. I got ready for the act, trying to make myself as comfortable as possible and closed my eyes.
The trees played music as I stood on the street and watched high on a porch a man with glasses and a balding head caressing the piano with his long slender fingers like he was a great composer whose music would be learnt for a thousand generations. The strays came to listen as the white and black keys were beautifully struck. One key was the sound of the rushing tide and when he pressed his gentle fingers against the smooth surface of the keys, the auburn sky sang as the sun sank into the horizon. I listened like I always listened, intent to replay each key in my head forever. God was in the moment as the birds sang with the angels that were welcoming me home.
I opened my eyes. I was still in the room. No one was around, it was only me. The stained wall was still covered in spots, the large stain sat in the corner that had been cleverly named God. The white coat was standing in front of me again. I looked up. He looked different.
“I don’t know if you are ignoring me or what, but it’s time.” I looked up at him asking him to help him with my eyes.
“Can’t you get up on your own?”
The cheek of him, what was he thinking?
I lifted my arms and then pushed my legs up.
I flew up, standing upright.
I felt my chest, I felt well.
I felt good.
I opened my mouth and let my laughter play amongst itself. It was a happy moment.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked as he motioned to me follow him.
“Home,” he smiled.
I looked at his name tag in big bold letterings, the name GOD was written.
I followed too puzzled to work it out, possibly tricked by my imagination but I wasn’t going to be staying around any longer, the wait was long enough.
Watch the swaying trees
Drink by the silver lake
Here swans swim
While a girl wearing
a white frilly dress plays her violin
as a crowd gathers to dance.
This is my idea of peace
The smiles and laughter
Fill the yellow fields
As I lift my arms to fly.
Heaven is my home.