Monday, November 13, 2006

Short and weird. Kind of like me :)

Now that I am completely confident that no one is reading this unless specifically asked to... I present my creative writing:

The Prisoner

My job was simple: guard the prisoner. He was not a

tall or particularly imposing man, perhaps six feet. He sat

against the wall of his cell facing up at the tiny window

nearly ten feet above him. Not nearly enough light to

brighten the dour interior of the prison. He sat

uncomfortably on the drenched cement, his arms resting on

his legs, simply staring out at what was once his world.

I noticed his eyes, not particularly captivating eyes,

but very sincere. His concentration, wherever his stare

happened to be fixed seemed unbreakable. As with most of

the prisoners he was unshaven and dishevelled, the odd

bruise darkening his sickly pale skin. While most had cuts

and deep wounds, there was something striking about his. I

noticed a white imbedded strike carved from the tip of his

right eye brow to the center of his forehead. It was an old

scar. It didn’t especially deform his face, but it was


He wore his issued clothes, it seemed a size too large

for him and became aware that his pants were beginning to

soak from the cold ground. I saw his hand check for a dryer

spot to sit and his eyes turn towards me. I tossed him

another set of pants. He spoke for the first time since he

had arrived.

“Thank you”. He said with slight surprise in his

voice. It was a deep voice for a meagre man. I turned to

give him his privacy. With my back to him I find a moment,

that for whatever reason seems appropriate and ask, “Where

did you get that scar?”

“Sorry?” he replied.

“On your head I mean. On your forehead.”

“Oh. Long time ago,” he said with a little disease. I

heard him sit back down and turned to see him now sitting

against the back wall of the cell facing out towards me.

“I was in a bar fight,” he said with a bit of a

chuckle. “I guess not much of a fight. I pretty much got my

ass kicked.”

I sat as he said this. I cannot say I was surprised.

Not just because he was not a large daunting man, but from

the few words he had spoken, he did not seem to be a

hardened aggressor.

“How did you end up in a fight?” I asked attempting to

seem casual.

“Heh, the usual way, I suppose. A girl,” he said

grinning. A look of remembrance enters his sincere eyes.

“But not any usual girl, no doubt?” I suspected that

my attempts to sound formal, but still feed my curiosity

were a little transparent.

He smiled at me. “Blonde and petite, a beautiful body

and an innocent smile. I didn’t fall in love with her at

first sight, no. I feel in love with her the first time she

said my name. There was something in the way she looked me

square in the eye and held her lips together before she

began, and softened her voice… I had never been happier to

be me.”

I replied without thinking. “The speaking of a

person’s name an have a powerful affect on that person. It

is how they identify themselves, and how they hope that

they are identified by others. I still to this day miss my

mother calling me by my full name. It used to make me feel

so safe.” I stopped myself.

He looked inquisitively at me for a moment and then

continued. “She was at the bar with a real jackass. She

must have been an angel to have put up with his shit for

all that time. Anyways, they were there and she came over

to talk to me for a few moments. She asked me how work was,

we talked about old times, how my sister was doing, if she

had a new cat, how life was, the usual crap. Of course

coming from her it was like she was touching a deep inner

part of my soul.” He laughed again.

“She left and turned back to her boyfriend, and as she

approached him he gave me a menacing look. He turned back

to her and began yelling some gibberish about ‘who the hell

is he?’ and ‘don’t fucking flirt with other men’, and when

she started apologizing and trying to explain that I was

just a friend he hit her square across the face. Without a

thought, including a thought about how much larger and

stronger he was than I, I practically leaped across the bar

and punched him in the throat. Now granted his throat was

about the size of my thigh, so this did not do the damage I

intended it to. He broke a beer bottle and came after me

with it. He got in about one good slash before a few guys

could hold him back. I just ran for my life.” He again

found enough humour in this to chuckle a little.

“What happened to the girl?”

He suddenly became very sullen. “She got pregnant and

married him. I think they are still married. I don’t really


He stood up and turned towards the window. I decided

not to ask any more questions. I began to return to my seat

when he stopped me with a few short words.

“You know, I’ve never told anyone about that before.”

A day went by and we did not have any more talks. I

didn’t ask the prisoner anything else, and he didn’t

volunteer anything. But I became obsessed with his story.

Not an unusual story, but a noble one. I had never heard of

a prisoner doing something courageous before. As a matter

of fact, it didn’t occur to me that they would.

The more I thought about it and the more I looked at

him sitting in his cell, the more I obsessed about it. I

began to bring him extra linens from the closet. I found a

mop for him to dry the floor.

A peculiar sense of morality overcame me. Not only did

I sympathize with this man, I sympathized with everyman I

had ever held prisoner. What right have I to hold anyone in

a cell and tell them to stay there. If he were not here in

this cell he may be off rescuing this girl, or some other

girl from peril. Or perhaps inspiring others with his

courage to stand up to a stronger brawnier man. He seemed

quite bright, and thoughtful. He could be a professor, a

doctor, a police officer, a politician, and here he was

confined in this cell, staring at the wall, his potential

as stale as the small portions of food he was occasionally


This is when I forgot why I was holding this man

prisoner in the first place. I decided that I could not in

good conscience keep him there, confined in his cell.

Around sunrise that next morning I took the keys from

the wall where they were hanging, went to the padlock, and

unlocked the cell. The entire time the prisoner remained in

the back upper left corner of the cell watching me as I

anxiously disobeyed the duties of my post.

I returned to my seat, waiting for him to take his

leave. He sat motionless, still groggy from another

restless night. I caught his eye and nodded.

To my surprise he nodded back and then, most

strangely, continued to sit staring at the now unlocked

cell door.

I thought to myself ‘He’s tired. Perhaps he’s

regaining his strength before he leaves’. I decide to give

him some time.

But then hours passed, and then nearly a day. I

thought ‘Perhaps he doesn’t realize that I’ve unlocked the

door’. So I got up and approached the cell, the prisoners

sincere eyes now fixed on my motion. I pulled the door open

wide and motioned for him to exit. He continued to sit.

I could not understand ,for all my life, why he would

want to remain in this dank, smelly, miserable cell.

Didn’t he want to leave?

I left the door way and tried turning my back on the

cell for a short time. Maybe he would try to escape while

my back was turned. I looked back to see that he was still

sitting, this time staring at me. I looked into his eyes

and saw that he had no intention of going.

I returned to my seat and began to puzzle over the

reason for his inaction. I’d had men sit in this cell and

beg me for their freedom, threaten me for it, cry for it,

scream for it, attempt to prostitute themselves for it, but

here was a man whose freedom I had granted and he was

refusing it? It was almost beyond comprehension.

Was he waiting for something? For night cover perhaps,

or for a different guard? Yes perhaps that was it. Perhaps

he didn’t want me to take the fall for his escape. No, that

was ridiculous. Once he was gone he would never hear from

or see me again, of what concern would it be to him?

Maybe he thought that this was a trick. Yes, he thinks

that I’m testing his obedience, and that this will result

in better treatment.

Though I could never match his sincerity I made my

best attempt. My eyes met his and I calmly spoke, lowering

my voice, “This is not a trick.”

“I know,” he said.

I froze for a moment and then looked away.

The mystery loomed. I sat and paced and ate and drank

and never stopped thinking. ‘Why is he still here? Doesn’t

he have anything to live for? And even if he doesn’t, isn’t

death better than the hell he faces here. The slow rotting

of the body and the mind?’.

After sometime it was dark, I couldn’t tell for how

long. I looked at him sitting there wide awake. I on the

other hand was exhausted, emaciated. I hadn’t eaten in

sometime now, I couldn’t tell how long, I’d lost track of

days. I said, with the first hint of desperation in my

voice “Don’t you know I’ve unlocked the cell?”

“Yes,” he said.

“You can leave” I pleaded further.

“I know,” he said calmly.

Somehow those words struck me. There was no more

denying it. He was choosing to stay in this cell for

reasons I could not understand. And all at once, I did not

want him to go. Not because I was afraid of my job, or my

life, or the rules. I wanted him there with me.

I controlled my urge to run and shut the door, and

simply remained seated, somewhat glad that he was still

there. The content lasted only a short while, as I began to

further contemplate his actions. Did he also want to be

there with me? Impossible. Yet he would not leave, and this

line of thinking began to develop. I wanted him to stay and

he seemingly also wanted to stay. Did he love me? I knew

that I loved him.

This is when I began to wonder how long I had been

there, or when I had started to become completely

delusional. I started checking for a watch I didn’t have on

and trying to count the days by the bodily deterioration of

the dead rat lying adjacent to the cell. I saw my

reflection in the puddle. I was a wreck, a hideous mess.

How could anyone love me?

It was then that I began to wonder which side of the

cell I was on. Was I in fact HIS prisoner? Where was I? How

had I gotten there? How long had I been there? I started

anxiously pacing around the hall looking for the telltale

signs of a prison cell. The bars were there, the small

uncomfortable bed, the puddles, the tiny window. That was

it! I was in a prison, he was my guard!

“Let me out!” I screamed. I began frantically running

and crying and screaming, “Let me out!”. Ran up to the bars

and started shaking and thrashing, “Let me out!”.

Falling to my knees I curled up on the floor shaking

uncontrollably. When I looked up the first thing I saw were

those sincere eyes looking down at me.

“Why don’t you leave?” I meekly coughed out.

“Because I don’t want to,” he replied calmly.

It was me that they took away. They pulled me from the

ground and brought me to another prison, but a different

kind, where I WAS the prisoner. What happened to my

prisoner I’ll never know. I assume they locked his door

again. Maybe someone else unlocked it. I wonder if he left.

On the off chance someone did actually read that: please be gentle. It's a VERY VERY first and early draft that needed a home.

1 comment:

Joe said...

I like it - keep at it!