Confessions in character

aloque | 23 Aug 2004, 12:49pm

"Gomez, I think I am going to go home now. Make sure the first copies are out before sunrise". As I walked out, I could sense from every pore of my body, the awful stench of my loneliness. I needed to have a drink and I turned around and made my way to the tavern down the road. As the spirit took me over, I began to see clearly. Celia was an ungrateful bitch that didn't know the value of a good man. I could live without her incessant.....

"Wake up, Joseph. Wake up, you goddamn drunkard, and go home", the bartender shook me awake and I staggered to my feet. The sun wasn't up yet and the cold night air bit into my uncovered face almost spitefully, the pain shaking me back to some measure of sobriety. It would have been just another walk home that would have been lost in an amalgam of numerous drunken nights if it wasn't for the screams. I had never heard screams like that, but they were unmistakably of a woman. Of a woman being raped. I hid behind the garbage trolley and listened. She was not screaming in terror. There was no fear in her voice. Only anger. Only red hot anger. I could make out the outline of seven, maybe eight men, some laughing, some taunting, as one after another they entered her, even as her screams died out and restraining her didn't seem necessary. At first they were beating her to stop her from screaming, and now it seemed they were beating her to bring her back to her senses. I sat there afraid for my life, aroused as I too wanted to enter her mangled body. After the men left I crawled up to her naked body. Blood trailed down her limp legs, and her face was caked with it, her long hair had been torn out in clumps, but her eyes were open, her pupils wide. The sun came up, and in the dawn, her grey-green eyes seemed the only sign of life. I sat there for a long time, fascinated by the thin line between life and death that she seemed to be teetering on, and wished I was there. FinalIy, I got up to walk away, and her hand grabbed my trouser leg. I cannot remember why I carried her home, what it was that made me think that I could help her but as the events passed to be, that is the path they chose. I went home, ran a bath, put her into it and dropped off to sleep.

The next thing I remember was those eyes staring at me. They were pools of sadness, but in them, I could also see love. When did she fall in love with me? And why? I will never know. But what I know is that she was the only person that loved me. Including me. She could stay if she wished, I told her. She did, and I married her. Her presence was always blurred into the background of my life, inconspicuous like she didn't want to change anything in my routine. She was more than I deserved, and that I never doubted. She was respectful, dutiful, and considerate. Her love for me, she felt, wasn't worthy of being reciprocated. If Celia didn't love me, Marjorie didn't let me love her. Not that I could have. I was never capable of any true emotion except fear. I never loved her, only feared that the love in her eyes would fade away. But when it never did, I failed to understand. It stayed as true through all the nights I came home stinking of brandy and brothels. When I shook her by her hair, and forced her to her knees and slammed myself into her mouth, her eyes still looked sad, still in love, still martyred by that night. I was the one man who had shown her kindness when no one else had, and there was nothing I could do to take that back. When, in our bed, I waited for her to sleep before I forced myself onto her, hoping for the angry screams I heard that night, I heard nothing but a moan of resignation, I struck her with my fist and left the house. I went to the brothels, picked out the youngest girl they had, hardly thirteen, and brought her home. I had her in our bedroom, and made Marjorie serve us morning tea. She did, and she still looked at me with those eyes. Something in me snapped, and I beat her mercilessly with the steel tea tray. The girl crouched into a corner of the room and sobbed while Marjorie's bloodied face remained impassive. I dressed and left for work.

"Special Inspector Bellini, I have been sent to recruit you", the man said after he was shown into my office. He sat me down and showed me the plans Hitler had for all newspapermen. I had to publish propaganda written by his people or die. I chose life, printing lie after lie for weeks. The war broke out soon enough, and I was recruited to the frontlines. Every bullet that was fired seemed to have my name on it, as I fought unwillingly for a country that gave me nothing, for the fatherland I hated for the life I led there. One day we walked into an ambush and my fear for my life made me give myself up to the enemy, and I told them the location of our camp. Three hundred people died because of my information, and they left me tied and gagged in the courtyard of our camp, and told the general that I was the informant. No one likes a traitor, I discovered. The next morning, I squealed and begged for my life, sobbed apologies that I did not mean as twelve bullets made their mark in my chest, and as I was bleeding to death, each man of the company spat on my face. I hadn't even faced my death with honour.

As I tell you this, from Hell, I do not feel any remorse. I can see Marjorie's martyred eyes, in wait for me at the barracks, not knowing of my death. How I hate her. How much I wish I could tell her of my own passing, just to see if she would cry. Now the fear of losing my life has been taken away and I suppose I have a vague sense of deserving to be here. Here, I am amongst people that have been like me, done like me, and deserve to fry in Hell like me. Here for the first time, I have been able to see myself as I truly am. Finally, in Hell, I have found a home. For eternity.

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