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.


Mk said...

Bravo! I commend your ability to create such a vivid scene with so few words.

Travis King said...

As Mk said, the scene is vivid. Well done. The juxtaposition of life as symbolized by the succulent oranges and the death littering the captain's surroundings is particularly striking, as is the captain's capacity for sharing the sweetness of life in the moment before he so brutally kills the villager.

Although I'm not a fan of short, declarative sentences (but that's just me; many people appreciate that style), I think their use here enhances the story; they lend it a military cadence and they heighten the dramatic tension that culminates in the brief staccato gunshot that ends the villagers life.

The ending caps it all off. When the captain contemplates another orange, it makes him seem cold-hearted, as if the havoc he has wreaked upon the villagers is nothing to him--and yet it's a reminder of the simple fact of existence that life and death balance each other out.

You've created a story that makes the reader both think and feel. Well done.

Eric J. Krause said...

Good story. Good descriptions, and good use of the orange throughout.

Jim Bronyaur said...

Another great debut! Glad to see you writing for #ff. The story was well told in such a short scene. The captain is presented as an asshole without saying it... which makes the story work.

Hope to see more of your work.

http://tinyurl.com/2a69jux <--- My #fridayflash in case your interested!

Cathy Olliffe said...

This is a debut? This is awesome! I love the way you write. Welcome to flash! I hope to see more of your style here next week.

J. M. Strother said...

Really good work here: short, sharp, and stark. Portrays the brutal realities of war quite well - no sugar coating here.

Welcome to #fridayflash.

Rebecca Emin said...

I really enjoyed this story. As others have said, the scene was vivid. Welcome to #Fridayflash

J. A. Platt said...

I love a nuanced villain.

Complimenting the rebel's efforts and the orange make the captain more than just a brutal soldier but I can still hate him.