Flash Fiction: Tarik

This is the Rope;

30 feet long, the length of five good-sized men, 3/4″- 1″ diameter, thick, heavy manila hemp rope, boiled and stretched, taut, no give, waxed, soaped or greased

In the morning

His unheated cell

A hole in the floor

Years in prison

The beady eyes watch as the guards place him in the glass enclosure. That’s when he sees his children.

 

This is the noose;

A slipknot, coiled 13 times, thick, placed under the left ear to slide up easy against the flesh

The former prime minister

vanquished

How they’ve grown, he marvels, seeing them, his feet cuffed, his fight gone, the great mystery upon him. He wants to reach out to them.

 

This is the human neck;

Jugular veins, arteries, a portion of esophagus, vocal cords or larynx, cervical spine, muscles interlaced with seven cervical vertebrae and eight pairs of nerves

As he steadies himself, sharp pains run through his scrotum where for months they zap him day in and day out. When he shifts his weight, left to right, heat zings through his legs up and through the left side of his neck and, like a lasso, around to his right shoulder.

 

This is the Long Drop;

The prisoner’s body weight multiplied by the length of fall and the force of gravity (approximately 1,100 ft lbs), coupled with the slip knot against the left ear, jerks the head backwards and sideways violently with a cracking sound and fractures/dislocates the upper neck vertebrae, between C2 & C3, crushes and severs the spinal cord.

“Daddy,” Marseilles calls to him.

“My little M,” Tarik answers with lightness that surprises him. “My little M, you’re so handsome.”

 

In

khaki shorts

a belt

a freshly ironed

white shirt

 

His older sister, Bennie they call her, towers over him. She’s flowered, too.

 

Her

black hair long

to her

waist

her skin

bright

shining

her silky blouse

white

She studies her father. Anxiety lines her face.

The Drop

The compounded force severs the carotid arteries and the jugular veins and the neck constricts by as much as five inches. In the extreme, decapitation rips the head from the body which flops to the floor, twitching like a freshly caught fish.

The guards, his people, not the invaders who come everyday, who jeer and zap, step back, recede professionally. He gets to know them and they are all right. They have a job and he respects and understands their responsibilities.

“Daddy, when will you come home?” Marseilles says.

Bennie turns away, grabbing Marseilles, whispers something in his ear.

 

Resist or

assimilate

Tarik whispers

to himself

 

My boy who

Resisted

 

Marseilles

My girl who

Fled not

The bombs

 

Bennie

 

My girl who

Would not assimilate

 

Unlike the guards

who

live

 

Option# 1

Hood – when witnesses prefer not to see the faces and the eyes of those about to die and after hanging, their bodies suspended, the same eyes enlarged, popped out of the skull or in their heads separated from the body

The oppressed assimilate. Those who refuse, die.

We can’t

understand

who

we become

until

the end

 

Option #2

Pinioning – strapping or handcuffing hands and feet prevents the condemned from latching onto protuberances and/or straddling trap doors

“Can I touch them?” he asks the guards and reaches into emptiness, his wrists bound.

Marseilles hesitates, looks at his sister, who shakes her head. Tarik realizes the awkwardness.

One

of the guards

turns his head

Tarik rolls his shoulders.

“Sometimes,” he says to Marseilles, “I have to take one step and move my arm like this and then I feel better,” forcing a smile through the lightning pain.

Bennie bites her lip, presses her hand against her neck and the lower part of her jaw, traces a line under her left ear.

“I think we have to go,” she announces, tapping Marseilles on the shoulder. “We should go. We will wait for you.”

“Thank you for coming,” Tarik says to them as one of the guards steps forward.

Option # 3

Clothing – prison jumpsuit or white shirt

As they begin to dissolve, as Tarik loses sight of them, as the mystery approaches, the other guard comes alongside him.

“Your shirt, he says. “I will button to the top for you.”

Tarik listens.

“It is a white shirt” he asks, “isn’t it?

Marseilles and

Bennie

fade

become

wisps

as they slip

the black hood

over his face

as they button

the white shirt

against his neck

under the

slip knot

as he drops

as his body

flops hard

twitching onto

the concrete

The beady eyes gloat. As Tarik appears, Marseilles and Bennie shimmer with excitement.

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