Detainee 717


Chapter 16

K13 has reattached Salah’s wrist restraints. He notices that the detainee is sinking gradually into unresponsiveness, the morphine of fatigue pulling him down toward the promise of escape, oblivion, open-eyed sleep. He is beginning to slump forward in the chair, his eyes drift slowly from side to side in exhausted perplexity. This is familiar to K13. The limitations of body and mind link all detainees together in a long chain of predictable physiological and psychological responses, and he has seen what Salah is displaying in others, in one form or other. Adjustments are made to allow for an endless roulette of variations: some are overwhelmed with nausea to the point of vomiting; some weep and wail while others implore or curse; some stitch their lips together in stunned silence, until pain severs the stitches. The phrase gnashing of teeth zephyrs through K13’s mind, though he has never seen gnashing of teeth and wonders what, exactly, such an act would consist of. He will look the word up to confirm its meaning. He believes it refers to grinding of teeth, perhaps.

K13 is stooping, his face close to Salah’s face. The pupils that had mushroomed moments before are now contracted to pinpoints. “Do you know how to gnash teeth?”

Salah closes his eyes and drops his head, shaking it slowly from side to side. “No.”

K13 claps his hands and the small sharp explosion of palms makes the detainee jerk upright.

“No sleeping. Don’t make me dunk you in ice water. Or worse.”

“Gnashing of teeth,” Salah whispers.

“Here. I’ll help you stay focused,” K13 says, walking across the room toward the cadaver propped in a sitting position in the corner. He bends to the body: A violet bruise hangs itself on the dead man’s right cheek like a huge grape on a vine. He can smell the gel on the corpse’s hair as he drags it across the floor. He lets the body drop near Salah’s feet, the back of the skull thudding dully against the floor.

Salah tries to twist his body back, away, and sounds that have been evicted from their home deep in his throat by a landlord of fear pass through his lips, a moan made of nonsense syllables.

Ignoring Salah, K13 removes the dead youth’s shirt, then the sandals and blue jeans, leaving on the white Fruit of the Loom underwear. “Tightee whitees,” K13 observes, pointing to the underwear. “I would have taken him for a boxer man.”

Salah writhes in the chair in a kind of slow exhausted agony.

K13 leaves the room and returns with the yellow sledgehammer he had used to Rorschac the walls with and Salah, as though mesmerized, stops twisting in the chair and watches him approach. The sledgehammer has been hefted over the shoulder. Without a word K13 bends his knees for ballast and heaves, shrugging, swinging the primitive weight down onto the dead man’s forehead. The skull shatters like a raindrop striking a glass pane, the face craters around the collapse of bones, the brain’s gray matter shrapnels Salah’s pants, shirt, eyes. The detainee gasps as though freezing water has flown into his face.

K13 waits for Salah to stop screaming, drops the sledgehammer to the floor and leaves the room.

Salah sits with his head hanging.

Moments later Lamborghini enters the room wearing a long tangerine-colored lightweight cloth wrapped around the waist, the other end draped over her shoulder in the style of a sari. Music can be heard from somewhere in the house, strains that might be Persian, Arabic or Turkish. The music is louder than faint, but fails to overtake the foreground.

Salah slowly lifts his head. Lamborghini moves toward him in a gliding gait, propelled by a rhythm that falls short of coalescing into dance, her movements merging mockery with sensuality. By the time she has stepped indifferently over the youth’s desecrated body and stands next to Salah, the lightweight cloth has been removed and is floating to the floor, a bright deflated whisper, behind her. Beneath it she wears a black string bikini.

“Like what you see, sailor?” She circles behind the chair, trailing her fingertips along Salah’s clenched jawline, reappearing in front of him, shimmying low to the ground and caressing his ankle restraints, her hands moving up his legs to the knees as she rises and leans forward and flicks her tongue close to his right earlobe.

“Please, I don’t know what’s happening … please, stop.”

She steps back and watches Salah but continues to move her arms, snaking above her head, and her hips, circling in sensuous orbit. “Stop? Oh, I forgot, you don’t look at women. I bet when you do it with your wife, it’s always at night with the lights out.”

When she removes her bikini top to expose her breasts, Lamborghini laughs with rich amusement as Salah flushes deeply, closing his eyes, turning his head away.

Next Chapter

Chapter 17

Article By: dglenn

Arts | Fiction | Novels

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