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Terms of the Armistice
Unorthodox--the methods of torture became. The world invited me into hallowed prisms of bruises. Places before, the eyes of hell, could not envelope; the humid, bloodied sky and carcasses of the young decorate in a carpet of organs. I had only seen this once, yet in a way, it had been enough to know that some lose themselves in the heavenly odors of the deceased. I had seen it many times before, but none compared to the beautiful reality of Saluel Gentry.
A bloodied, tarred face drooped from the shoulders of a broad, bow-legged youth. With each marched beat of his foot--the clang, clang, clanging--of his cuffed arms celebrated the death match with his dilapidated, rubber-sole shoes. From cuffed hands, the murder-men, executioners of all unanswered questions, prodded and forwarded the man to chains entangling his body in a twist of metal thorns. The Nazis slashed his face with iodine and jeered at his soured shrieks for amnesty.
He was a statuesque model of insanity, one casual nudge to the forearm would send him in a disillusioned state to claw to pieces any bystander. He was a harsh-faced, broken man who befriended death with a kiss to the brow. I connected a name to the wordless, shaking mentality, and he is remembered as Saluel Gentry. He often repulsed nations. Like a plagued mind, people removed themselves from his presence a if some lingering demon would strike dead those who came too near. With every unspoken word, the rumored stampeding of people from this satanic soul made me remain. I had not the strength of the newer prison-dwellers. The monotony of tracing night and day invited me to forbidden forgetfulness. I lost my life on day 327 when I beheld the execution of friends plotting escape. Saluel was assertively forced to bunk in place of a friend in my bloody, canvas tent. The guards provided a ragged, shred of a plaid blanket and shards of an under-fluffed pillow. His grayed eyes clearly gawked, “I know I am unwelcome.”
The constant trotting of Nazi platoons outside the camp left a continuous drum roll to prevent silences. When the stares became uncomfortable, and all recollections of thought vanquished from inside, the drum roll of marching, stamping feet provided the little noise needed to kill the silences. The Nazis delighted in their victories. Deep in the valleys of all thought mechanisms lied the only data uniting the men like gears inside a motor. Their solipsistic, twisted fueling for the purification of their breed. One delusions led to the next and once again they delighted in their repetitious malevolence and savagery of the untarnished beliefs. The soldiers and prisoners were merely puppets of grudging disposal. Their malignant obligation programmed them to brutalize the writhing, tingling, lacerating agony; to paralyze with cringing, cricking, cramping of the groping and kneading mortification. They were chipper tools in the hands of their master; delighting in the tasks bestowed unto them.
The ground probed rocks into my back and the air continued to bite like a yippy, troublesome little dog. The superficiality of the still and patrolled evening air was too familiar to me. War and stillness never before collaborated in the cooperative bargaining state until I arrived at this camp. It was an eerie, heartless still that entwined in the fear of the desolation of hostage soldiers. In that chilled air loitered the stagnant tendencies of insomniacs. Sleep lingered but never remained and starving days left a somnambulistic essence in the deprived, parting soldier. In the calmness of the night penetrated the soliciting of the shaken soldier, “I am not afraid to die.”
I heard he faint shudder in his cracked lips. As the night air grew thick without reply, he spoke again, “Death seems but an entrance into the field of acceptance. I do not loathe the lonely practicality of my life” His voice remained unsummoned as if he never meant me to hear him speak at all.
“They--the others--say you’ve killed a lot of men. They hear you keep secrets.” I shuddered in fear of the possible replies.
“I’ve never killed an unworthy man, but I know I deserve to die,” he followed.
“No one deserves to die,” I assured.
He replied with a smirking tone, “Yet everyone does.”
“Death is not a descent from the bondage of life. It is not a freedom, but merely and escape from the joys of living.”
“I’ve held secrets for lifetimes, it only makes sense that it would bring about my death. Death is my freedom of my secretive song,” he rebuked. “I don’t believe in heaven and hell. No man could truly be worthy to stand comparatively in the presence of God. I hold myself to a higher standard than to redeeming my life to dine in hell.”
I reserved myself for his mind was set. It seemed centuries until his voice again cracked the residues of silence.
“I don’t want to die. I just don’t want to live as a prisoner. If Death finds himself at my doormat, I feel obligated to invite the dear friend in to make himself comfortable. Die in vain or dignity? Life and death should never reap vainness,” he reassured himself.
Blood coursed through my veins with the nervous proximity to my own realization of Death. Tongues were held like all sources of hope; stored away until there is a dire need. Nothing more was addressed, he slept loudly and I pivoted through the night on a bed of stones.
I addressed the morning with carelessness, although every breath was cherishable, yet it could not last. Breathing became art. So many wounded and unbreathing, to see the mists of breath in the overcast skies was relief beyond contempt.
With eyes focused upon Saluel’s lack of misting breath, he seemed too cold inside to actually give instinct of chill. Harsh-faced and chained once more, I deflected the glances of guards and executioners, aggressively harassing him into the chambers.
As I glanced to avoid glances, I pressed my face to shards against the windowpane of the chamber. The guards proceeded to bolt Saluel to a wooden wicker-laced bench. His charcoal eyes drew blank lines on the walls of the chamber as if he drifted to a prior memory. He executed the present to spend a moment reflecting upon the past.
With leather-striped nails intruding into his back with repetitive whipping motion, Saluel shrieked and writhed with sick amusement of the disgruntled matter.
“You’ll never know what I do,” with a smirk he said only to take another brutal bruising to his pre-bloodied face.
The contempt in his face was his reassurance in death, as if he’d long since been waiting his departure. Although his blood-drenched nails left his hands to dwindle along his sides, the limbs beneath the bench tarried to a close. He had feet that marked no path, and his head bobbed ceaselessly to his final moments, slumping with the peaces of disaster. His lids shut down, obstructing his view of the world, and his once-gaping mouth grew umbrageous with bodily-fluids vanquished like the sun in aureole light. Death had healed the breech of his armistice at life. The face became submission into the siege of rapture.
He sat content. No words were uttered other than the ghastly allusioned screeches of torture. He sat motionless, only to the twitch of an eye, and half-moon of a grin did he begin to show signs of honesty.
As the masochistic wriggling began to cease, the body of a harsh-faced man smoothed, his eyes deepened to brown and his smile marred into my mind. With a final salute, his head merely bobbed, and his blood-mumbled speech declared--
“Alas, I’ve returned to the arms of the only believable angel,” with the fade of a smile, his eyes russet-gold, Death brought him to live.