His face was hard and cold like brick walls in the winter time. I could tell he wanted to cry, but his soul had his tears frozen in their ducts. A thick, luminous ray of moonlight shot through the window and highlighted the faint scar that ran from the bottom of his eye to the corner of his lips. It protruded just above his skin like a caterpillar crawling along a tree branch. My mind drifted away as it transfigured my younger face onto his body. He had too much of his life ahead of him.
We sat on the couch; our knees brushed against each other like a paintbrush on a canvas. His passionate gaze burned like a fiery meteor leaving a dragon tail across the night sky on its way to annihilate the earth. His jawbones gyrated inside of his mouth like factory gears, displaying traits of the machine I trained him to be. His fingers interlocked patiently, forming a semi-circle on his lap. “You know you can leave,” I said, piercing through the silence between us.
My suggestion seemed to inflame him even more. “I’m not going anywhere.” I made a trap door beneath the couch in the living room. It led through a burrowed tunnel, three miles east of my home amid tall, forest trees. It would spit him out on the edge of Lake Tiache’ where he could hop into a speedboat and get away undetected as if he was never with me. But he was stubborn. He was my best soldier, and he said that he would go to the grave with me if it were necessary. It was the type of loyalty that Jesus didn’t see in the hours before his arrest.
I exhaled. The wind left my lungs with a thick sense of anticipation just as tiny flickers of light blinked outside like a swarm of fireflies. Their black foot helicopter was silent, but I still knew it was just miles away. Leaves crunched as men scurried around the sides of my house. I had trained myself for times like this. I could hear the slightest shift in the movement outside if I sat in complete silence, and right now, I was clothed in it. They were trained better than that, I thought to myself. It had to be their nervousness. There wasn’t a man coming for me that I hadn’t taught how to kill. Flawlessly.
I fixed my eyes on the young man beside me; his nostrils flared like tiny umbrellas. His eyes widened like dinner plates as he tilted his brow forward as if it was weighted down. His interlocked hands slowly released and formed boulder-like fists at the end of his arms. His veins puffed up in his forearms as if he had just taken a shot of heroin. Adrenaline worked the same. “Everything is going to be fine,” I said as we waited in silence. “Just don’t breathe the air.”
He didn’t respond. Out of all my soldiers, he was the one who stayed glued to me like a disciple. It wasn’t long that I realized he had slid me into the place that his father had never touched. There was a bond between us, and although we never spoke the words, love flowed through us like rivers of forgiveness. “I will kill them all,” he said in a voice that would have shaken the smile from a stone-faced statue. His passion soaked words marched around the house like Goliaths in full armor.
I could’ve run. All of this could’ve been avoided, but I was tired of running just to escape, only to have to run again. I was tired of fighting, using my self-control to strike the men I trained, but not kill them. If I wanted to, I could have ended their lives. Every one of them that came for me. Specs of dust fluttered along the moon’s glow, leading to a picture of my wife. Her buoyant smile is what kept me afloat during the times I was too tired to pick myself up off the ground. I couldn’t wait to hold her again, but I knew there was too much work left undone for me to meet her.
My five-year-old son sat beside her. His snaggle-toothed smile was the most beautiful blemish I’d ever seen. Fifteen years had passed since the accident, and the surgical scar on my chest was the painful reminder of the day I found out they were both gone. The lone picture in the front room was all I had left of them. The memories locked inside of my mind kept me from needing tangible reminders of how much they meant to me.
The footsteps outside moved in closer. Shadows scurried past the windows like demons as the propellers sliced through the wind like a hot knife through butter. I heard it all. Every last thing. The sounds on the roof proved that these troops lacked discipline. Their anxiety got the best of them. The meekness of my heart allowed me to remove all the traps and triggers that would have ripped the first string of men into pieces.
“They don’t have to die,” I suggested.
“They do. They will die. Each and every last one of them will die for this treachery. I will make sure of it.”
His dark skin shone from his body like an oil-polluted African river full of blood diamonds. I wanted to temper his aggression, but there was no need. He knew that he could attack, but he could not kill. Not them. Not his brothers. “Are you ready?” I asked while the men outside took their positions. “They are coming in.”
“Remember what I said. Just don’t breathe the air and everything will be ok.”
If you enjoy Spoken-Word, check out the piece below entitled, “Pennies.”