Took myself over to Bazaar of the Bizarre’s Sunburn edition. Let me tell you, for someone who rarely takes TTC, the Saturday crowd put me in the right frame of mind – that and Sinatra on the iPod & slogging though ‘The Fountainhead’ – who knew that Rand wrote soap operas.
There weren’t as many exhibitors as the last Bazaar, so shopping temptations were greatly diminished. I did get to actually talk with a few of people as I bought things. Picked up some of Laurel Dewan’s exquisite, hand-made greeting cards – all with various gems, buttons etc added to mask-like images. Of course I bought a tee-shirt (from Bohemian Daemon), look for it at my next feature (as opposed to open stage). Also a fun Dog-Ear print & few Xmas gifts. Had a great chat with ChiZine about buying ebooks at this retail level. There has to be a way to buy eBooks without a credit card.
Didn’t find what I was really in the market for – a carry case for my Kindle – sure I can get something from Amazon but get tired of sending them my hard earned dollars. When I buy something directly from the makers it’s almost like I did the work myself 🙂
I find that most of the fashion, accessories, jewelry etc are clearly targeted for women. Men just aren’t bazaar enough? What mens’ wear there was, other than tee’s, was bulky & sort of ugly. Where’s that line of nipple rings with fangs? Cock rings with claws? Or does male fan dollars go into cosplay at FanExpo?
The Compound part 2
I asked him why he needed stamps. Who did he have to write to. He replied that that wasn’t the point, he was just using that as an example of the things he and others were tired of. His eyes were hurting from the scans. Did anyone know what the long terms effects might be of that repeated scanning. Would we end up a nation of blind people waging a war that no one saw the reason for anyway.
His eyes were rimmed with red.
My only answer was to take him in arms. Kiss his eyes as gently as I could, rocking him till he fell asleep. I knew the war was necessary but didn’t know how to explain that to him. My thoughts couldn’t find the combination of words that might justify it to him. I didn’t feel it needed to be explained. Everyone knew we didn’t want this to go on, that we didn’t want hostages or the responsibility of living under such circumstances but if we didn’t we would become their hostages. That wasn’t an option I would consider. The thought of being confined in a dusty dirty compound made me cry. Tears fell from my eyes and onto my lover’s face.
This woke him.
He touched my face. We kissed long, hungry to comfort each other and plunge our bodies into a rapture of sweet forgetfulness. This was how I escaped the war, the glazed gaze of hostages, all that fell away for a brief time. We returned to the table and finished our dinner in contented peace.
There was no place in our make-shift barracks for the prisoner I had taken from the hostages. We didn’t have a medical unit as such or even a cell for solitary confinement. It was felt that if one of the hostages was that much of danger to the others they would have to deal with that themselves. Separating one of them was not in the plan.
My second-in-command was reluctant to make contact with this prisoner at all. It was the duty of the Leader to talk to the prisoners not us. She was fearful that even bending the regulations would result in losing status if it was found out. I had to take the full responsibility for this situation.
The hostage was placed in a small room once used to house school books from when this part of the compound was a girls’ collegiate institute run by the state.
I opened the door and he was sitting on the floor, back against the wall, facing the door. Eyes alert but body inert. Dirty rags clung to his thin body. He stank. I shut the door on him. I went to my barrack room and got clean clothes for him.
There had been some water delivered. Not enough for all the prisoners but enough for the garrison guard. I took one of the bottles, some soap and returned to the book room.
The hostage hadn’t moved. I helped him stand and removed his clothing. Then with a clean rag washed him as best I could. There were sores along his side, between his legs. He grimaced as I cleaned them. I allowed him to wash his private parts.
My old clothes hung on him loosely.
He spoke to me but I didn’t understand his language. Finally he said “Thank You.”
Had they been listening to us? Learning our language?. Had they known it all along? I peppered him with questions. His eyes glazed over and he fell asleep. Falling from the wall and into my arms. He smelled of my soap. In my clothes. Was I holding my future or my past?
Over the next few days I was able to have a few stumbling conversations with the hostage. He knew very few of our words. I could tell by his fear that he was not pretending to understand less than he did. Once he was sure I was not going to torture him in any way he relaxed a little. I allowed him to shave. His eyes were blue. High cheek bones that were as much a matter of lack of food as genetics that gave him a handsome face.
We would sit facing each other for several minutes before conversation could start. I would offer him a bottle of water once he had began to talk haltingly. “Thank you for … kindness … we fear …. greatly … ”
I told him I understood his fear, that I would be as fearful if the positions were reversed. I didn’t tell him I knew that this reversed I would be dead now. There was no way his country would allow any of us to live, it was in their sacred writings that those who didn’t follow the teachings of their prophets were to be put to death.
Yet I felt compassion for him. There was something in his face that spoke to me when he was silent. A recognition of something in my own life. Could he be a cousin. Asking for his name was unproductive. He didn’t comprehend enough of our language to rely expect to say,
“Thank you for … water .. others need … help them … ”
Once he began to cry I reached out to touch his tears and he flinched away from me, from my touch. There was shame and revulsion in his look. Was it because I was a man whose lover was a man that caused him to back away. But he didn’t know anything about me me beyond these moments. That couldn’t be the cause.
His face softened a moment as he saw my distress.
“I’m sorry. Please … do what … ” He unbuttoned his shirt, which was once mine. His pale flesh didn’t appeal to me.
In a flash I knew what it was I saw in his face. It was the face of my lover. I took out my cellphone and photographed him.
When I got home I showed the pictures to my lover. He didn’t see the resemblance. But it was there. Something in the eyes, the way they searched mine for information I couldn’t give, the way his clouded when I spoke to him of the compound and things he didn’t want to hear or understand.
The following week a peace accord was signed. The hostages didn’t believe the war was over. That our glorious leaders had sat down and come to an agreement where no one lost or won much but all were satisfied. We opened the gates of the compound so they could leave. Gave them cell phones to call their loved ones at any time.
The hostages backed away from us. Threw the cell phones in the dust. Their eyes more fearful and distrusting than when we had first confined them. They huddled in the farther corners of the compound. Hunched over and glancing at us when they thought we weren’t looking.
We brought fresh clothes and food for them and left it in their sleep quarters. We gave them information packages from their county. It told them of the convoy that would arrive to take them home.
Once again disbelief washed over their faces. Some tore the information to shreds, threw it in our faces in an act of defiance, almost challenging us to do our worst. There was no way to convince them that the worse was over.
My second-in-command thought we should force them from the compound. Even shoot one or two of them to convince them that they were free to go.
I suggested that perhaps they were free to stay if they choose. Maybe this was better than what they had to return to. That our hostage camp was an improvement on the ultra-commercialized world they had once lived it. Simplicity is a drug not to be taken lightly I joked with her.
But the faces of the hostages told us they weren’t slipping into the peace of simplicity. They still feared for their lives. They didn’t trust us even though we had done nothing to cause them to fear.
At home I tried to explain all this to my lover. He had no sympathy for anyone anymore. The war had drained him of hope. Even though we hadn’t conceded anything to our enemy he was sure the cost to the economy was more than it could bear. He didn’t believe that war was good for anyone even though we won. The streets still needed to be paved, the bomb craters had to be filled. Who was going to that he would shout. Your fucking hostages. Let’s fill our wreckage with their Goddamn bones. That would be victory.
His political anger aroused me. I couldn’t help myself . I forced him to the bed with my kisses as I tore his clothes off. He resisted but I didn’t care each resistance made me even more determined to demonstrate the power of love. The compulsion to dominate was out of my control. Once we had both been satiated I rolled away from him.
The war had been over for nearly three months. The hostages remained in the compound glaring expectantly at the cameras waiting for us to do more than we had already done. Their country had demanded their return and didn’t accept our informing them that we no longer held any hostages. Their nation was convinced we had killed them all in revenge for what their army had done to us the the past.
I couldn’t convince my prisoner to tell his fellows to leave, or to contact his embassy to let them know the situation. He feared he would be treated as a traitor. That there was no way for him to get back into their good graces or to stay in ours.
I didn’t trust him. I feared the hostages as well. I discussed with my second-in-command my fear that they were never actually hostages but spies we were allowed to take captive so they could keep an eye on us, so that once the war was over they could infiltrate the country to create havoc and ruin amongst the various levels of government and different classes of people.
My second-in-command agreed with me. We wrote up a report of this situation, sent the appropriate files, videos, and even a live web cam feed so the hostages could be observed by the Leader.
After a week of observation the order came from the Leader to kill all the hostages. They served no purpose. Their country men thought they were dead already. Elaborate funerals had been held for them. They weren’t expected back from the dead. We didn’t have the resources to maintain them. With the order came my first floret and a special medal of honor for my outstanding service during this war.
I gave them one last chance to take the offer of freedom. I explained that if they were willing to work on rebuilding our roads, schools, hospitals they could be come citizens of our great land.
The hostages started at us dumbly, uncomprehendingly. I didn’t know how to make it any clearer to them. Yet nothing could remove the distrust and fear they had become accustomed to, that they seemed to prefer to any offer of freedom.
So I had them brought to what was once the shower room of the girls’ institute. One every half hour. I shot each of them in the back of the head, turned on the shower to wash the blood away.
It took many days to free them all this way. The final one was my hostage. The one who looked so much like my lover that I didn’t know which of them I was now sleeping.
I shot him between the eyes.
My friend Peter Unwin’s new book is excellent: