Sunday, May 11, 2014

TWO PRISONERS


Blue and swollen like a blowfish, when he woke up with a gigantic migraine, he was still swinging down from the ceiling face down. He could only see through one eye. But that didn’t matter with the door and window shut. All that he saw in the dusty glow of the tube of sun that came in through the tiny skylight in the roof lighting the back of his head, was the trail of blood that dripped from his naked bulk all night, dried up in an abstract burst on the floor below. His whole body ached. The gag had hardened with the swellings in his mouth. The cuts and bruises were wide open, and the ceaseless buzz of flies feeding on it made him dizzy. His tormentor was not around. She must be taking a break. He couldn’t remember as to when exactly it ended because he had passed out somewhere in the middle of all the torture. His hands and legs were tied. When he tried to move even a little bit, the cuts tore up even more, and the pain was ineffable. Tears burned down his nose and trickled off the tip. He hung there for a long time, perhaps for a whole day.
Then somewhere in between his unsteady wakefulness his ears caught a gnawing from the sidewall. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a few rats around the place, but it was from the other side of the wall and it slowly got louder like somebody was clawing on it. Suddenly there was a clatter and a snap, and then a thin slit of light cracked open in the wall. A window swung ajar, and holding on the grill stood a silhouette of a little girl who must have been about nine or ten years old. There was only a skylight in that room as well, and it was behind her, which is why her face was still incomprehensible in the shadow of her lush dark hair. She stood there getting used to the darkness staring at him for some time. Then as if detecting a movement hesitantly said in Spanish, “Hey, are you awake? When did you wake up?” She spoke with a strong eastern Andalusian accent.
He couldn’t reply with the ball of rag in his mouth, but managed to grunt in response.
“You were asleep for long,” she said, ”I tried a lot, but you wouldn’t wake up. You were crying in your sleep, you know. I was here much before you. I’ve been locked in for over a year!”
He felt a bolt of shock moving through his inside. If she was trying to cheer him up, she was doing a lousy job at it.
“Where are your clothes?” she said staring intensely. Stifling a giggle, she then produced an unpleasant noise.
“I’m not going to give my clothes away,” she continued rather haughtily, “So that puta won’t let me go! El payo ese no se puede portar como si fuera el jefe de todo el mundo. He’s just a few years older than me, you know. At first he kissed me. He said he was going to show a trick with the birthmark on my cheek. Can you see it? Aquí está. It’s the shape of a banana, and it’s big. I’m not sure if I want it there. I didn’t tell anybody about what he did. This time when I get out I’m going to tell everybody. This is the longest he’s locked me in. His sister must be looking for me all over the place. She is the only friend I have in this whole world. She will come rescue me. She gave me this, you know.”
She raised a large wax doll with glass eyes and a shock of tangled mane, worn from overuse.
“What did you do?” she said, “Why did he lock you in?”
He? It’s not ‘he’ it’s ‘she’- a grown woman, not some twelve-year-old boy. He said rather loudly, but it all came out in incoherent retches with the gag blocking the wind. Suddenly there was a ruffle from the outside. The girl watchfully froze. A distant sound of footsteps slowly got closer. Even in the faint light he saw her eyes bulging in fret in the split second she took to gather the shutters and slam it shut. Darkness returned. The light shaft from the skylight was slowly dying out. Frightening silence and solitude consumed him once again. And once again it went on for long with no sound from outside, or the other side. Was she still there? Did the ‘monster’ get her already? Or was it her friend who found her first? And if she did, well, he started to dream of his release. The girl would certainly bring in help! Then he fell asleep.

Hours later when he woke up, the door to the room was wide open and blocking the dim light from what seemed to be a dingy hallway was the menacingly familiar outline of his merciless persecutor who was already advancing towards him in unhurried pace! He hadn’t seen a shapelier figure his whole life, but still his heart sank at the sight. The door was already closed and bolted up. She walked across the room and opened the window letting in the cool evening breeze and stood there adapting to the gloom for some time before approaching him and lowering him to the floor. She took her clothes off. Then the torture began- the whipping and the pounding, and finally the callous sex all over again. It wouldn’t have occurred to him in his wildest dreams that a woman’s body could cause so much pain.
Subsequent to the harrowing cruelty, she discarded him once again to further starvation and decay, back up in the air. She left the windows open, or was it by mistake? Anyway, the breeze was not strong enough to shoo away the flies that at leisure consumed, defecated and laid eggs on his sores. The whole night passed without interrupting the ceaseless pain. And sleep showed no mercy. The girl with the banana shaped birthmark did not emerge the entire time. The soul-numbing pain had eternally suppressed his hunger and thirst. He hallucinated all this time. He started seeing people, some familiar, some not, and yet some others hard to place in memory. He tried interacting, but in vain with the gag still in place. But they came and went as and when they pleased. He regained his senses only at daybreak when he heard a loud commotion in the next room. There was a shrill cry. He felt a plunge in the stomach. The little girl! He trembled in fear and helplessness. Loud noise of a frenzied tug could be heard from the other side. He quaked violently. Rattled flies burst out and circled around him in thousands. They continued to do so till he naturally slowed down. By then the din had also died out in the next room. The brightness of dawn had illuminated the inside of the room. Now stripped of darkness he suddenly felt exposed, and a crushing wrench of shame gripped him. From the view of the trees through the open window, he could say he was on the second or third floor of the building. What was this place? Some kind of torture chamber? Or was he dead, and waiting for judgment day already?
When the window on the sidewall opened this time, it broke his heart. The girl stood there with her beheaded doll, all beaten and bruised. From the generous light in his room, the blood on her face and her tattered clothes were clearly visible. With eyes swollen shut, she stared at the floor all this time. He was only grateful about that part, as he did not want to be seen in full light. But soon she looked up, and he cringed. She did too. A moment of terror passed in silence. “Oh my god, it’s you! You’ve grown old now!” she shrieked, “You are the monster! It was you all this time!”
It made no sense at all. But before he got time enough to process, she banged the window shut, and the last he heard her say out loud with that swift classified rage was, “Puta!”
Right then the door to the room flung open and the bully walked in, her olive colored face in full light for the first time. He instantly identified her piercing green eyes.  His newly hired housekeeper! She was just a month old in the mansion- an exceptionally pretty woman, except of course her birthmark, which he was only seeing then. Spread on her left cheek was the large brown moon-shaped blemish that stretched from the side of her mouth to almost below the temple in a jagged contour. Or was it the shape of banana like the little girl had said?
He froze that second.
Was it all beginning to make sense finally?
The housekeeper. The girl. The incarceration. The torture. The hallucinations.
Mirela!
Or Mahala, was it?
No, Mirela sounds more like it.
Eve though he was confused with her name, the face of the little girl came to his mind in full view. Well, almost!
It was at least twenty-five years ago. He must have been barely fifteen at the time. The little gypsy girl left behind by the tinker gang from Montefrio after the old servant ran away with the postman. The feisty one who followed his sister around all the time, and was given her clothes and toys. The one he fooled around with. The one he picked on and regularly threatened for kicks. And the one he locked away in the deserted top floor of the mansion whenever she defied him. That one time, he only wanted to teach her a lesson. Nobody knew as usual. But with her resistance, it went on for some time… but did it last a whole year like she said earlier? He couldn’t remember that well. All that came back was, she did run away eventually. Perhaps it must have hurt her! All those crazy things he did! They were almost the same age. So how did it really count! But it was too late for reasoning anyway. And the pain was killing.
He knew it, but just to establish that he was not delusional anymore, he shot a passing glance at the sidewall. There was no window there. It had disappeared. And Mirela was gone, only to return as this fiendishly attractive lunatic years later, to take his case. He was already on the floor and she, on top of her, and the ponding had begun. He was only half conscious. In the middle of splitting agony he remembered there was something very mysterious about her from the beginning. She barely talked with anybody. And that scarf around her face like Arabian women- it was probably to hide her scar, or whatever that was. Smart bitch! It took only a month to drug him and get him out of the family. Or from the look of it, it could still be one of the rooms in the top floor of his own mansion, where once long ago he had locked in the little gypsy girl from Montefrio.
When she was finished, she put her clothes back on and hoisted him back up. She did not speak a word. But unlike before, she turned around one final time and spat on his face before closing the window and taking leave. She locked the door and walked away. Even before her footsteps became inaudible he passed out, and the fleet of flies that lived in his wounds returned to check on the eggs.
.Many thanks to my good friend Anton Goenechea Caballos who helped me do this... 

2 comments:

  1. Initially I made my mind to read a thrilling escape from the prison but it was a complete change over.. Nice story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dark....I skip a beat a couple of times! Very well written!

    ReplyDelete

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