Recalling a night
November 13, 2004
This memory is not mine, yet it is my birthright.
Different strangers have told me the same story over the years
upon meeting me. There
is no beginning, no course to climax only an instant immersion.
At long last, the enemy was at hand, the prize captured and with
the pop of a cork, the celebrations begin. It is a crowded room,
full of those would-be heroes, bearded by neglect, intellectual
bookish types, and honest-to-God mistakenly picked up strangers,
all in a row, perhaps somewhere bright, certainly somewhere uncomfortably
hot. Not all are innocent. You think my God, how tragic they
are, how foolishly delusional, how beautiful. You suppress the
of you that stands over with them too.
He is called to answer, to lose graciously, and humbly uphold
the absurdity of the moment. He does not. In that instant you catch
sight of him, the strength of his eyebrows and the rage in his
eyes and he meets your gaze.
Somehow, in that moment you are his brother, his sworn enemy,
all the contradictions of this stupid world standing across from
and free as God. You are society and wish the rules did not exist.
He does not hate you and you secretly admire him, and in the
time we have left before he is taken and you resume your place
world, he will come to love you and you will ask for his forgiveness.
Neither of you harbors hopeful illusions, but for a moment, humanity
transcends duty. When the ranking officials and cameras leave,
you put salve on his wrists, become brothers again and embrace,
discuss simpler times and pleasures, and share a secret you will
carry to your own grave. That night, you are ordered to the yard
and empty your rifle in his chest.
The people have rejoiced, you are told. Long live freedom. You
however, lived to see darker times. You lived long enough
to understand we were not prepared to see so much anger, so much
hatred, so much distance between in this world. We were not
ready for this.