“IN A LITTLE ROOM WITHOUT WINDOWS” by JOE BONGIORNO

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You, patriot. Yes you with sweaty hands on a smooth trigger. Do you appreciate the privilege of your position? The Bureau sends its regards. Right choices are rewarded in this world, don’t you know? We trust your Guantanamo-blue eyes to do the right thing. Where would we be without loyalty? As a family man, you must certainly understand.

We’ve taken the liberty of blindfolding and binding Mohamed Doe to a chair. Rest assured he is guilty of something. We have statements from accomplices, witnesses, former maids and disgruntled lovers. They’ve testified directly to the Bureau. Give Mohammed Doe over here so much as a toothpick and he will do you in. No open casket funeral under the dignity of the flag. No gunfire salute and bagpipes in your honor. He would slow carve your face with a scimitar just like their prophet would’ve done to Christ if given the chance.

Hold it straight. The nerves will fade. We understand. We understand thoroughly, compassionately with warm hands on humble hearts, but let us tell you something. The order comes from above. The details of your pending action have already been typed, reported, stored on a hard drive and a hardcopy signed. The act you are about to commit is an act of love. Do you believe in love? Respect it? We are fathers and mothers and a swift, loving hand. The bureau is a syndicate of preservation.

Week thirty-three and he’s still got the wrong answers. He knows. Says he doesn’t, but he knows. All other options have been exhausted, but we must show our resolve. You’ll make him sing before the next bomb. Your contribution is invaluable. You will be a hero.

Enough talking; shoot his left kneecap. Let the smoking muzzle rest on his forehead as he suddenly recalls the names, dates and details with surgical accuracy. Then do the right knee just to see if he missed anything.

Yes, sweat is a natural sign. Now point it like you mean it. We don’t have all day. There are files to be displaced. There are names to be erased. Are there any vouchers for M. Doe? Didn’t think so. As far as we’re concerned, he doesn’t exist. His name’s a scribble on a seized passport. Doesn’t even speak a word of English. We had to get a translator. But Doe waived his right to an attorney, waived his right to a trial when he committed the crime. He knows what he did and what must come next. What’s the use of muscle if it’s not to be flexed?

Look at him all dirty and trembling, dreaming of being swept up in a mushroom cloud of divine radiation smoke. You should’ve seen him plead and twitch and flinch, with animal fear as the water poured over his face like he was drowning. He stripped and stood straight in the nude for fifteen hours and then twenty in lingerie before the leg muscles collapsed. Fell right to the ground so we chained his hands to his feet like a baby in the fetal position. You should’ve seen him scream when he got himself sodomized by broomsticks and rifle muzzles. You should have seen his eyes cave in and swell after seventy-two sleepless, starved hours. We injected him with IV fluid till he pissed and shat himself puddles like he was his own toilet. Bright lights shone the whites out of his eyes as the national anthem blasted in his ears. He let it happen. Let his beard be shaved and be made to bark like a dog and sing along until it was pitch perfect.

The grey walls of these halls are insulated thick; not a sound leaves this room. No windows. Every room along the corridor is just like this one. We don’t have to clean up because we can always lock the door.

Priorities. What are your priorities? Must we ask you where your sympathies lie? Shoot it for love. Shoot for your family. Shoot to preserve your daughter’s virginity, for Sunday morning mass and shoot for the wife that hasn’t fucked you in years. Shoot and she will fuck you. Shoot to keep away the nightmares and safeguard the dreams Doe would spoil.

Shoot!

Shoot!

Shoot!

 

 

 

 

Joe Bongiorno is a writer of fiction and non-fiction as well as a high school teacher in his native Montreal. His writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in publications including Geist, Broken Pencil, Carte Blanche, Existere, NōD, andThe Headlight Anthology. He is currently working on a novel.

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