Those Clear, Unblinking Eyes

Those Clear, Unblinking Eyes
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Photo by Harsh Patel
Photo by Harsh Patel

He came out of the cell calmly at eight in the morning with nothing to say. The captain had never seen anyone come out of a cell so calmly.

The other prisoners smashed tin mugs against bars, screaming: “Hussein, Hussein…”

Hussein walked slowly and upright with clear eyes. He had nothing to say. He walked slowly, looking straight ahead.

They slammed the doors facing the exercise yard shut and put him up against a wall. He had nothing to say. You could hear: “Hussein, Hussein…” You could hear tin mugs clattering against bars. And in the exercise yard you heard nothing.

Hussein stood upright against the wall. He looked straight ahead with clear eyes. He shook his head slowly when they went to put on the blindfold. They didn’t put on the blindfold. You could hear: “Hussein, Hussein…” You could hear mugs clattering against bars. And in the exercise yard you heard nothing.

Hussein looked into the firing squad’s faces. He looked them all in the face with his clear eyes that didn’t blink. The captain had never seen such unblinking eyes.

The firing squad wished that the captain had put on the blindfold. But the captain didn’t care. The captain cared about nothing. He had nothing to say. He didn’t care how prisoners died. He didn’t even care if they died. He didn’t care if they died on their knees. He didn’t care if they died screaming. He didn’t care if they died unable to control themselves. He didn’t even care if they got reprieves. And he didn’t care if his firing squad didn’t like it. He cared about nothing. He didn’t care when his firing squad looked down or away or sideways, unable to look into Hussein’s clear, unblinking eyes. Only the captain didn’t care about those clear, unblinking eyes because the captain cared about nothing. The captain could not have cared less.

“Aim,” the captain said. You could still hear tin mugs clattering against bars. You could hear: “Hussein, Hussein…”

Let them shout, the captain thought, saying: “Fire.”

Hussein’s head slumped forward. The shouting stopped. The guns slowly came down. The clattering tin mugs stopped clattering. The prisoners returned to their bunks. No one spoke.

There was even a moment when the silence was so pure that you could hear nothing.

Kim Farleigh

Kim has worked for aid agencies in three conflicts: Kosovo, Iraq and Palestine. He takes risks to get the experience required for writing. Several magazines have published his stories.

Kim has worked for aid agencies in three conflicts: Kosovo, Iraq and Palestine. He takes risks to get the experience required for writing. Several magazines have published his stories.

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