in which witness is borne: birds, politics, fiction and critical art theory

Trumpet -- Part 5

Friday, December 23, 2005

  • The Prisoner who had turned off the television felt around the floor of his cell for his stone. His hand went directly to it and he felt its cold sharp hardness turning in his hand. Until now, the stone had been his key, his means to an end which was now only distantly real to him, an escape into the world of kids and wife and swimming pools, which he remembered but had forgotten to cherish. Until now. He turned the stone in his palm, warming it gradually and considering the elegant, violent plan he had set for himself to get free of this place. It was a thought he had built over the years as carefully as a house.

    The slicked-back-hair Prisoner talked continually from his cell on the opposite side of the wall, talked in an urgent, nasal voice of what they had seen, his voice ragged under the harsh lights which only dimmed a little after the final caging of Prisoners for the night. When he ran out of things to say about the Girl, he talked of the usual things, of money, and sex with Ana, and of revenge, but his voice kept coughing itself into little pieces and eventually it trailed off entirely.

    The Prisoner with the stone said nothing, but he knew that things were different. The stone remained in his hand, an insignificant thing, suddenly no longer worthy of his dreams of escape. He looked down at it as though he had only just found it. The stone was not large enough or sharp enough to act as either tool or weapon. No way. He had been asking too much of it for too long. The truth of this thought broke over him like a wave. There was no escape, only the life he had made for himself, wherever he went. He wiped his palm across his eyes and smiled a quiet smile of relief. He lay back on the hard mattress, laced his fingers behind his head, and chuckled.

    Toward morning it occurred to both the Prisoners that the visitation from the Girl had been a gift, a tiny fissure in the impassive blank wall of time which contained their lives. She was like the arc of sky they had over the exercise yard, which brought back to them an awareness of miracles, of the extreme improbability of every single phase of cloud and moment of breath and convergence of lives upon a single spot, and yet there they all were. Each Prisoner held in his mind the image of the girl's inquisitive, young, unfamiliar face and floated off into a sleep of gratitude unlike the sleep of any other Prisoner.

    9:48 AM :: ::
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