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Last Thing I heard
I chose to go this way.
I chose to be guided through my black darkness by the unforgiving hand of death himself. I chose and I understand that this, my last walk while living, is not one that I can make alone. No. I chose to become dependent on my killer’s strong arm as I trip through invisible stones and unseen puddles. Everything I see, or rather, everything I don’t see, is shrouded with a white strip of cloth, covering my eyes from my last visions of earth. I can only picture what might have been:
A green field beyond the grey and stormy gate, a lone tree resting on top of a hill, the beautiful, colorful sunrise beginning to crest, a fawn and its mother resting in the dewy morning grass.
But at this point, as I march, I wouldn’t even mind seeing the faces of the men that are brave enough to stand before a man and freely take his life. At this point, I wouldn’t mind seeing the never ending puddles or the grey storm clouds that spit down upon me as if I were the scum of the earth.
I laugh at them. I mock them for their foolishness. I know why the rain really falls and why the sun really refuses to shine. It is not because they are spiting me, oh no, they are spiting Them. My world, what I cannot see, is gray around me: the morning mist leaves beads of dampness on my brow as I cut through it. And in my mind, the world mourns the loss of a genius. The sun refuses to come out, the birds refuse to sing, and the world dares not breathe while I take my own last few breaths.
The entire world stops.
The entire world watches.
Suddenly, and without warning, the marching halts, and I trip, stumbling into the broad back of whomever led me through this nightmare. The shackles that announce my imprisonment still bind my feet and arms and I must swallow down my pride as I walk, listening to the metal links chink together in a deathly tune. A muffled grunt leaves my mouth, falling swiftly and flatly to the ground. I can picture the letters landing broken on cracked pavement, drowning in puddles of yesterday’s rain, dying on the wind as it blows them away, torn and scattered.
The image is wrenched from my mind as my shoulder is pushed roughly, and I am finally reminded of my position and my reason for being here. I am a prisoner.
Rain falls harder, the gentle sound of the earth’s tears taking over the quiet musical voices of the birds on my imaginary hill, nesting in the imaginary lone tree. A place I wish I could be buried. A place I wish even more that I could see. But my last sight will be like that of the dark side of the moon; the dark side of this white cloth. I will see nothing. I will only hear.
Voices carry across the distance to me, murmured words that mean nothing to my own ears. I wait, I stand still, stand as if I had been told. I do not shake. I do not cry. I do not truly know what will come next.
I wish I didn’t fear. I wish I didn’t shake with an almighty terror of understanding what was to come, but at the same time not knowing, not realizing. I fear. Oh, I do.
Rain still douses me with its cold embrace, yet I stood silently and tall as finally words that came from their garbled speech made sense.
It echoes in my ears that this is it, that I will be able to go no further, and yet, I lift my chin in what I hope looks like pride, my shaky voice carrying across the expanse of space to reach them.
“What about my damn cigarette? I thought a man got one of those during this sort of event?”
I can hear the mild laughter, and I smirk, my lips pulling up around my face, the skin on my cheekbones scraping the bottom half of the plain, white scarf over my eyes. The next thing I can understand is the flicking of a lighter and a cancer stick being placed between my lips. It hangs there, smoldering away, before I reach up, the links still tinkling and I let out a deep breath, feeling the smoke scrape my lungs and dry my mouth. C****t, I should have asked for the world’s finest bourbon, maybe that way I won’t feel what was coming next. Maybe that way it won’t hurt.
Blowing out another cloud of smoke, I stare straight ahead, eyes still open. When they don’t ask for any more last words, I say them without being prompted, for I can hear the guns clicking into place, and chills shiver down my spine.
“Well boys. I’m glad I could go out with a bang.”
And the last thing that would ever touch my ears was the sound of gunfire popping in the early morning light of that dull October day.