The Talking Game

Posted: November 8, 2013 by writingsprint in Is That You?
Tags: , , , , ,

The next day Whitaker heard footsteps outside his cell. A truncheon knocked on his cell door. Whitaker sprang up. He put his hands against the wall and spread his feet even before he was told, “Prisoner. Assume the position.”

The door opened. Whitaker didn’t look. It would be three guards. One in the hallway, two inside. He could hear them moving behind him.

“Prisoner. Turn around.”

He did. Two stone-faced guards addressed him. You almost never saw their faces. The one on the left had a thick, trimmed beard with no mustache. The one on the right was shorter, stocky, built like a pile of bricks. The guards were never nice, but Whitaker had never been beaten, either. The truncheons were out and ready.

“Hands behind you,” the guard on the left said.

Whitaker did so. No doubt Gruber was playing a game today. The guard on the left walked behind him. The guard tapped the floor behind him. He tapped it like a metronome as the guard on the right hooked his truncheon to his belt and took out a roll of black tape. He ripped off two pieces and taped Whitaker’s mouth shut. The first guard kept tapping in time.

Whitaker heard guards up and down the cell block tapping in time as they led the even-numbered prisoners out to the exercise yard. He wanted to tap his feet. He saw a prisoner start to do it and get his foot smashed by a truncheon. Damn it damn it damn it all.

The odd-numbered prisoners were brought out. Marina stood across from him. Their mouths were taped as well. So Gruber didn’t have anything against them talking, did he?

He had forgotten how pretty her hair looked. It was the color of brushed leather, a rich brown, where weathering had only given it character. She had told him horror stories about her home. He could see it in the waves of her hair. Her eyes were hazel. Cat’s eyes.

He ached to say something to her. He would have killed to hug her. Literally. He thought she trembled. Her hands formed fists.

The guards walked behind them, within arm’s reach, tapping the ground.

Whitaker had to say something. He had to let her know it was good to see her.

He winked.

Behind the tape, her mouth curved up instantly.

A tear fell out of his eye.

Oh, crap. Oh, no. He heard a whistling sound and a truncheon struck the backs of his legs. Whitaker hit the ground screaming through the tape.

Marina’s knees buckled. She cried out. She started towards him but the guard stepped over Whitaker’s body and blocked her way. Another guard stood ready to hit Whitaker again. The rest of them kept walking and tapping their eerie music.

The muscles around Marina’s eyes bunched. She started daggers at the guard. She stepped back. She looked at Whitaker’s face. This might be the last time they would see each other for months, or it might be the last time they would see each other, period. Whitaker put his hand on his chest as if he couldn’t breathe. Then he looked into her eyes, rubbed over his heart, and nodded.

Her body language softened. She made soft fists, rolling her fingers. When she released her hands, they opened towards him, just for a moment.

A whistle blew. The guards heaved Whitaker to his feet. He tried to steal one last look at her and thought he saw her give him a wink. The guards walked the prisoners out of the yard, even numbers first.

Part three of the story about the prisoners — read parts one and two here.

duct taped mouth


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