Pages drift down feather slow to the empty street from the open window high above.
Flakes of snow falling in a pristine, winter night.
Fluttering for a singular, immutable moment, they touch down whisper light upon the concrete and asphalt.
Ink bleeding through as the warm paper melts the dusting of snow beneath.
“Would you say your words could be construed as seditious Mr. Jones?”
The harsh voice posing the question causes him to start, waking him rudely from his distant reverie.
The light is large and bright, pointed directly in his face. Dark forms just beyond the lights’ reach inform him his questioner is not alone.
“Could you repeat the question? He asks in a hoarse whisper.
” I asked, could the words that you have written be construed as seditious?”
He stares at his clasped hands in his lap.
He struggles to think of something clever to say.
After a long moment, he simply says, “No.”
“Wrong answer Mr. Jones.”
The water saturated towel wrapped about his face and head is mostly used to haul him and his chair backwards, four other hands grip his arms and shoulders tightly.
He strains futilely against the bindings that secure his legs to the chair as more water is poured into his towel masked face.
Drowning on dry land.
If they let him live will they let him speak?
He hopes so.
He knows his answer will be different then.
Snow lands lightly to melt upon the man’s overcoat as he bends down to pick up each damp page from the street with surgical gloved fingers.
The window above is closed now, the lights have all been turned off in the now empty apartment.
He places each individual page into its own individual plastic bag labelled “STATES EVIDENCE”, slowly, deliberately.
No one watches as the silver sedan rolls to a stop beside him.
The trunk pops open with a muted click and he places the plastic bags in a plastic bin within the trunks’ recess, locking the plastic bin, the plastic cover securely in place.
He quietly closes the trunk, pads softly to the passenger side door, opens it and quickly gets in.
The sedan slowly rolls down the empty, snow spotted street, leaving partial tire tracks in the white patches that will melt away to dark puddles before the taillights disappear around a distant corner.
A warm breeze sweeps across the street as dawn arrives, lifting the solitary page from between the slats of a nearby abandoned pallet. It flutters in the wind, the writing upon its face unmarred and clearly legible.
It comes to rest upon an ever widening dry patch on the sunlit sidewalk where everyone can see.
© Erik Hansen