Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Falling Fruit

The captain sat next to a fountain, eating an orange. The sun shone hot over the courtyard. Flies buzzed angrily, flitting from body to body. Blood had dried in the sun, staining the white tiles.
"Sir, we have their leader."
The captain glanced up at the lieutenant.
"Have some of the men move these bodies and rinse away the mess. It stinks."

The lieutenant saluted and turned on his heel before walking away. The captain rose from his chair, wincing as his back popped. He tossed his orange rind onto a soldier's corpse. The body had started to bloat. No one seemed to mind except the flies.
He walked out through the open doors. In the dirt road that ran in front of the house, a line of soldiers stood. Between two of them hung the rebel. His clothes were dirty and ripped. His curly black hair was clotted with dirt and twigs. He looked, the captain thought, exactly like a man who had been hiding in the woods for nearly a week. The captain made a curt gesture. The men dropped the prisoner's arms and backed away to the far side of the road.

"You are the leader from the village," the Captain said. The man made no reply, staring at the ground in front of the captain's shiny black boots.

"You and your men fought bravely, but there were too many of us and you had no real supplies."
The man looked up sharply at that, as if searching the Captain's eyes for sarcasm. Seeing none, he nodded. The captain stood and looked out over the field to the village for a while. The church bell began to ring. The man picked a twig out of his hair and sat twirling it between his fingers.
The captain reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out an orange. He offered it to the man. The rebel took it. He studied it, turning it in his hands. He peeled it quickly with his dirty nails, and ate it in three big bites, seeds and all.

"Sweet," said the man.
"Are you ready?" asked the Captain.
The man nodded absently, rubbing his sticky fingers in the dirt. The captain removed his pistol from its holster and shot the man in the head. He turned and walked back toward the house. He thought he might have another orange. The trees were heavy with them, and soon the fruit would fall and splatter over the tiles.