Manumission

The room is unusually empty. There’s usually a number of people there, but today, Roland is the only one. He takes a seat and picks up the phone, waiting for the person on the other end of the line to pick up.

“Roland. How ya doing?”

“I’ve been better.”

“I hear ya. They’re saying some pretty bad things about ya.”

“Don’t believe a word.”

“I don’t.”

“They’re all liars.”

“I know.”

“How much longer before this blows over? Before I’m clear?”

“I honestly don’t know. They keep saying, ‘These things take time.’”

“They’re taking too much time…I’m tired of this.”

“You’re not the only one. The family’s tired of it all. You’ve got em worried.”

“Worried? They’re not buying all of this are they?”

“Your brothers aren’t…”

“Then mother?”

“She’s pretty shaky about the whole situation.”

“Woman’s too fragile.”

“Yeah…always has been. Don’t hold it against her.”

“I’ll think about it.”


There’s an awkwardly long silence between the two. Each waiting for the other to
hopefully break it.

“You been up to anything recently?”

“Nothing to be up to. Not yet.”

“Well what do you plan on being up to?”

“After this?”

“After this.”

“Who knows? What was I ever up to?”

“No one knows but you. None of us.”

“Yeah. It’s probably better that way.”

“What does that mean?”

“I never did anything for the family. I was never gonna.”

“Don’t be an idiot.”

“Way too late for that. Look at me now.”

“Where you are now doesn’t matter. It’s not your fault. You’ve said so yourself.”

“I’m probably just trying to fool everyone. Fool myself.”

“What the hell does that mean? Where’s this coming from?”

“I guess…from the truth. No?”

They stare at each other down for a moment in silence. The man that let Roland into the room opens the door and turns to him.

“Time to go.”

Roland turns to him, nods, then turns back, seeing himself in a way. In two. One
through a faint reflection in the thick glass separating the two of them, and also through
the face of the man he’s been talking to, and their resemblance.

“I belong here. They’re not liars. Time to go pops.”

He puts the phone back and walks out of the room as others in the same clothing
enter.





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