Friday, July 30, 2010

week sixteen: the god chair

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”

The lights ascend at stage left:

“You look into my eyes and you see a man. You see a man with bags under his eyes because he can't sleep anymore. You see a man who doesn't shave unless he feels like it. You see a man covered in tattoos and scars from god-knows-where. You see a man locked away and dressed in orange. You see a prisoner trapped in a damp and lonely cell and you feel no sympathy for him. He must not have a soul because of what he did and he deserves what he's getting.

“That's what you see when you look into my eyes. You see my tears and you assume things about them. You assume they're tears of fear for my fate yet to come.

“But you are so wrong.

“I look into my eyes and I don't see a man. I see a boy. This boy misses the days when he could be outside to play free and do what he wants. He never got the chance to really grow up. A long time ago, he made a mistake, a terrible mistake and now he has to pay for it with his life. He's there right now, looking in the mirror into his own eyes. He sees something that may be worth saving. But why don't they see it? Why can't they see that I'm a human being? I'm sorry for what I did! I'm not a monster, just a man who screwed up.”

The fourth wall is broken.

Straightening his glasses, Father Heller drew in a deep breath and spoke softly, “You aren't a monster, Arthur, you made mistakes. It is only human to err. God understands this and He's offered His hand in forgiveness! Take His hand, repent, and you can have eternal life at His side!”

“There is no god, father. There can't be.”

“Why can't there be, Arthur?”

“There just isn't. Not in this life.”

“Look around you! Look around at His wonders. He made you and he made me.”

“He made me? I really don't think any pure god like the one you keep babbling about would make a crazy person- a murderer like me.”

“Child, God knows you made mistakes. He created a perfect solution for imperfect beings; Arthur, it is only for you to accept it. Even I have made mistakes in-”

“What, so it's you and the altar boys then?”

The priest rolled his eyes, “No, not like that! I think you know what I mean.”

“I do, but father, I'm a lost cause. I ain't sayin' any prayers and I ain't doin' confessions or whatsits. I don't believe in heaven, I don't believe in hell, and I don't believe in god. I'm not giving up what I believe in just cuz I'm gonna die.”

There was still so much time, Father Heller notes. Why not use it? “Well, if that is the case, then shall we talk about something else?”

“Like what, how bad the food is or how much I miss bending over in the shower?”

“Well, we could discuss the weather, if you would rather.”

“Pfft, is that you all 'holy fathers' think about? God and the weather?”

“Actually, we sometimes like to talk about sports.”


“I am curious about something, Arthur.”

“Yeah, what?”

“How is it that despite your death on the horizon, you don't act as if you are frightened?”

“Why should I be? I've been scared all my life. That's why I think I did it, because I was afraid. Just scared of being, I guess. Then I did it and that's when my life ended. It isn't ending now, it's already over. Why should I fear for something that's already gone?”

“But Arthur, I think you are afraid; you're just too afraid to admit it.”

“Look, in a place like this, it takes a lot more than some chair to scare me.”

“But it's so much more than just some chair, Arth-”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it, it's eternal damnation, demons, hellfire, and-”

“That isn't what I meant,” Father Heller chuckled. “I meant that there will be witnesses, people who undoubtedly will be judging you, and I will be there. I will be there and I will be praying for you.”

“Save your breath.”

“Arthur, you believe that it is not right to pray and I respect that. I believe that prayer is of the utmost importance and I ask only that you respect my own belief.”

“Yeah, whatever. Pray or don't. I don't care.”

“You're a difficult one.”

“I guess you think you know me then, don't you? So, spit it out, what else do you think you know about me?”

“Well, I know you're very intelligent and you're very stubborn. I see that you are repentant for what you have done, but you are far too stubborn to admit before the Lord. With that said, it is clear to me that you need guidance.”

“And I guess you think you can give it to me?”

“I know you're afraid.”

“Ugh, you keep going back to this whole 'afraid' bit. For the last time, and don't forget, I ain't afraid of dying.”

“Arthur, if you aren't afraid, then why is it that you tremble?”

“Don't you think you would be if you were headin' for the electric chair?”

“If it is not fear, then what is it?”

“God, I don't know! I don't know anything at all, do I?”

Father Heller stands to his feet and straightens his tunic. He places his hand on the damned and softly asks, “If you will not seek comfort from God, might I then offer you my own comfort?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever.”

“I wish it wasn't the case, but your death is near. It will be quick and it will be over soon. If you're right about your beliefs, then misery will be over soon for you.”

The prison guards unlock the cell and pick up the inmate by the arms. “Come on, it's time,” they tell him.

“Oh, god, oh, god! Oh, god, no, no! No, no, no! Oh, god, no, I don't want it! It can't be time, not yet! I'm not ready!

Father Heller follows them closely, “Arthur! There is still time for you to give your soul to the Lord! Salvation on high awaits! God loves you, don't turn Him away in your hour of need!”

“If god loved me, he would save me now!”

“And He will! Just say the word and He will grant you eternal life!”

“That's a lie! No god would ever give a murderer eternal life! I deserve the hell that awaits me!”

“Yes, you do, but God offers repentance and forgiveness! His Kingdom awaits!”

“His kingdom is as much a lie as this life! It's an illusion; it must be!”

“If this life is a lie, then why do fear for it so?”
“I don't know, oh god, I don't know! No!” They close the door to the chamber of death. The inmate is strapped to the chair as Father Heller stands in the corner to preside. The inmate cries and trembles. So much fear. “NO!

Father Heller closes his eyes and recites the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is My shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Amen.”

The warden, who stands beside the damned, asks of him, “Does the accused have any last words?”

The inmate shakes his head as he trembles and sweats. With the greatest hesitation, he finally blurts out, “Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name! Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done! I have been led into temptation, now deliver me from evil!” The executioner pulls the switch as the warden nods. The inmate screams deathly terror of rue and of pain. And it all stops. The condemned's lifeless body moves not as the physician confirms the death. It is over. His soul is gone.

Father Heller feels remorse for the man who received the ultimate punishment, but also a glimmer of hope. He knows, in his heart, that Arthur went to be with the Lord. His repentance would not be in vain. The warden says to the silent priest, “Looks like you really got to that one, eh Father?”

“Yes, so it would seem.”

The warden smirks, “Just another day of playing God for us, huh?”

“Just another day,” the Holy Father acknowledges the full truth of those words. “Just another day.”

The lights fade.

The stage is dark and the stage is silent.

“And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

Author's Note: This story is a rewrite of "God and the Noose"

Friday, July 23, 2010

week fifteen: lyle mccullough

Caution: This one contains mature content.

Put in the tape, you'll be shocked at what you see; what you hear. It's the only known footage of Lyle McCullough, the best, most ruthless contract killer in the world. He came into a regular NYPD office and confessed. Immediately, they put him into an interrogation room and the two senior detectives did their work.

Of course, the tape starts with a bit of static, but soon it cuts in and we see Lyle staring into the camera. He's wearing a business suit and his hands are most likely cuffed to the chair. Since the tape is black and white, it's difficult to make out that his left eye is white; he's blind in that eye. Lyle's gray hair is a suave mess and it's worn just over his lowly-placed eyebrows. He must be in fifties or even sixties; he hasn't moved at all since being put in the interrogation room.

At his flank is an unnamed detective. He's young for a senior detective, but acts very professional. It's difficult not to notice the GLOCK 23 .40 S&W handgun resting at his side. The first audio that comes out of the tape is the detective sighing. Lyle does nothing. “Well, Lyle, I guess we should start with the basics,” the detective sits down on the table. “How many people have you killed?”

In a deep, morose, and dark British accent, the killer replies, “Sixty-three. I've killed exactly sixty-three people.”

“Sixty-three people,” the detective stands up again.

His partner enters the frame and glibly states, “I can't even imagine what your sentence will be then. I've heard of serial killers getting it before, but I've never heard of anyone killing sixty-three people.”

“Well, you did come to us, I guess that'll help you out,” the detective said.

Lyle rolls his eyes, “What is this, good cop, bad cop? Think of something a bit less amateur and stupid, got it?”

“Or what?”

“Or I'm out of here.”

“You're out of-”

“How do you think you'll pull that off?””

Lyle again rolls his eyes, “I just told you I've killed sixty-three people. I'm good at what I do.”

“So, you think you can break out of your cuffs, take us down, then just waltz out of a building full of armed cops.”

Lyle smirks, “Yeah.”

The partner sighs, “I don't even want to know how.”

“Look, asshole, I'm in here and I've come to talk, so are you gonna let me say my piece or are you gonna keep up this goddamn charade?”
They exchange glances yet again before the detective says, “Alright, fine, say what you want to say and we'll go from there.”

Lyle takes a deep breath, “I didn't come here to confess and I didn't come here because I feel guilty for what I did. I came here because after killing sixty-three people, none of you yellow tossers have any idea who I am. I came here because I had the realization that my line of work is dangerous and I'm starting to get old. I won't be around forever and I don't want to die with no one knowing who I am. So that's why I'm here.”

The officers paused, before the detective asked, “You do know you're going to jail, right?”

His partner added, “Or worse.”

“You aren't ever curious about the people I've killed? You don't know what to know why I do it? You know, is it for money or whatever?”

The policemen paused for a second and whispered to one another. The camera doesn't pick up what they say. Finally, the detective asks, “Alright, why do you do it then?”

“Because killing is all I know how to do. I read somewhere that a man has to make a living and he should do that doing what he knows. I know how to kill and it's given me a good living.”

“I always heard you should do that what you love.”

“That too.”

“Where did you learn to kill?”

“I spent three years in the Special Air Service where I was among the most elite killers the world has ever seen. We killed a whole manner of people from different backgrounds, different nations; the whole charade. My squad did it all. At first it was grim, then it was numb. And then we started to like it.”

“So, why did you stop?”

“We were in Albania and some lucky son of a bitch got me in the leg. Splintered my femur and then I couldn't walk straight again. I was taken out of the SAS and honorably discharged. Worst day of my life.”

“So, then you moved to the United States to be an assassin?”

“No, then I tried to move on and have a normal life. I got myself an honest job and started working. It was hell because it was so goddamn boring.”

“And then you became a killer?”

“Someone found out who I used to be and decided that they could use me to take care of a little dirty business. It was a shakedown at first. Someone was holding out on some money for the boss and he needed to pay up. I was told there was a fat check in it for me if I gave the guy a message. You know what I did then? I went down to his house and beat the shit out of him in front of his family.”

“Did he pay?”

“Of course he did, nobody likes having two broken arms, now do they?”

“I don't think anyone likes having even one broken arm,” the partner smirked.

“Of course he didn't, but that's how he knew he didn't want another.”

“Indeed,” the detective sighed. “So, who was your first?”

“My first what?”

“Your first kill.”

“Right,” Lyle twitches. “It was easy. It was a lawyer who was skimming the boss for petty cash and he was sick of it. The guy was so paranoid about something like me happening that he kept a Kimber forty-five handgun in his night-side table. When he wasn't looking, I broke in, took the gun and shot his wife. Daft bastard does the stupidest thing and runs in. Instead of shooting him immediately, I grabbed him and put the bullet in the side of his temple at point-blank. There was a bit of a struggle, but I managed. The police assumed that it was a murder-suicide. It was one of the easiest jobs I've had.”

“So, those were the first two?”

“Hell no, I don't count the wife. When I say I've killed sixty-three, I only mean the ones I'm paid to kill and not the ones while in the SAS.”

The detective rubs his eyes and then asks, “Is that how you did all of them?”

“What do you mean? Did I always kill the wife?”

“Well, no, did you always make it look like an accident?”

“Sometimes I'd make it look like a simple burglary gone wrong. I'd break in, shoot the target, and steal some random shit lying around. Then I'd put it all in someone's backyard or put it in a pawnshop. I tried not to do the same thing twice. I'm not like other contract killers; I don't have a subtle calling card or anything. I get the job done; easy as that. There's no need to fluff it up. It isn't about pride, it's about money.”

“You never got any pleasure from it?”

“I'm not mad if that's what you're implying.”

“I never said that.”

“No, you didn't, but you need to learn that when you say something, you're not just saying one thing. Everything has implications; intricacies.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Then you aren't ignorant, just stupid?”

Go to hell.”

Lyle laughs, “You know, I imagine I will. But I'll see you there.”

“But you said you love to kill.”

“No, I love the setup. I love breaking in. I love getting away with it. There's a difference.”

The partner interrupts, “So, what would you call an ideal kill?”

“Ideal?” Lyle thinks it over. “The best and easiest jobs are for guys nobody likes. You know, people who have lots of grudges on them. That way I can pin the job on whoever I want and still walk. I'll go in, get the job done, and leave.”

“Are there any jobs that stand out?”

“They all do. You never forget the people you kill. You always see their faces. I see them all the time. They're asking me why I did it and it's like they're begging for me to go back and fix it. I can't do that and they know it. Goddamn ghosts.”

The room is silent.

“I guess if I were to have a calling card, you could say it's that I show up at all their funerals. I stand in the background and just say I'm a friend of his father's. I've never missed a single goddamn funeral. I guess I just go to pay my respects. It's not anything personal after all; it's just money.”

The detective gets impatient, “Okay, so why exactly are you here?”

“I told you. I didn't want to die without anyone knowing exactly who I am. In my jacket pocket is a list of the people I've killed. Reach in and get it.”

The detective walks over to Lyle and bends over to reach into the jacket. The camera's frames aren't fast enough see Lyle's arm snap around the detective's neck. There's a flash and several bangs as the detective's GLOCK discharges into the partner. Lyle stands up as he cracks the detective's neck. He reaches into his jacket pocket and sets a piece of notebook paper down on the table.

Lyle looks directly into the camera again and says, “You won't catch me. Don't try. All I want to say is this: don't forget who I am and if you see me, just pray to whatever god you worship that I'm not after you.”

The tape suddenly becomes static.

May I kindly direct you to the comments on cursing, located here? If it doesn't bother you, then don't bother.

Anyway, I used language for an effect this time. I need you to hate Lyle McCullough. I do.

--WA Julian

Friday, July 16, 2010

week fourteen: kid's clubs (guest author)

I am very pleased to introduce Story a Week's very first guest author! His name is Andrew Bowman and he is six years old! I'm staying in Georgia right now with the Bowman family and I came to discover that Andrew loves to write stories! He wrote this all on his own (with a little help on grammar) and I think it turned out very well! Anyway, without any further rambling, here is Andrew's story "Kid's Clubs"!

One bright, sunny day, my best friends, Sydney and Conner came over to play. Conner is five and he usually plays with my little sister, Kaitlyn, who is also five. I like to play with Sydney, who is seven; I am six. We like to play lots of things, but we especially love making clubs. We even tried making a clubhouse out of carpet!

Sydney and I are the oldest, so we are sort of in charge. But we don't always agree. Sometimes she wants things one way, but I want them another. I remember one time me, Sydney, and Conner were playing a game. Sydney wanted to use a stop sign in our game, but I did not. So she threw us in jail (a pretend jail, silly!). But it seemed real because she put foam squares around us.

Sydney is sometimes kind of bossy and that frustrated me and Conner. She told us if we tried to escape, she would bonk us on the head with a hammer. But soon, it was time for Sydney and Conner to leave. I was sad when they had to leave. I always am when my friends have to go.

But I know it's okay because they will be back tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. Sometimes we fight, sometimes we argue, and sometimes we get mad at each other, but that happens to everyone. I love my friends. Sydney and Conner are my best friends and I hope we are best friends forever!

And maybe one day Sydney and I can get married....

The author of this post:

Friday, July 9, 2010

week thirteen: crash

The first thing Lillian noticed as she awoke was the difficulty breathing. Drawing air became a struggle. She opened her eyes and couldn't recognize her surroundings. Everything was blurry and made no sense. What did she need from the grocery store? Milk, eggs, cereal- Oh, God! She was in the seat of her minivan facing the sky. The windshield was nowhere and the dashboard was smashed. The steering wheel was flat out gone. Her breathing hurt, but it accelerated nonetheless. When she attained the necessary strength, she shouted. Was she saying words? She wouldn't know.

The air smelled of destruction, moisture, and burnt tires. When Lillian looked behind her, she saw the grass and debris. The car must have been sheared in half. But what happened? As she tried to remember, her head felt as if a spike had been run through it. The more she forced it, the more it hurt. But it came to her. It was a foggy day and it had been raining. The freeway was mostly empty, save for a few passing cars here and there. Then there was a bang and everything spun. Was she screaming? She Remembered floating and the noise of drowning out anything. Impact! The airbag blew and then there was nothing.

Lillian put her hand on her face and removed it quickly. She had touched the glass shards embedded in her face. Blood was everywhere and it mixed in well with her frightened tears. Pain and fear were all she knew. She tried to move, but a steel bar, maybe an axle, stuck through her thigh, pinning her to the seat. It must have missed the artery because it wasn't bleeding profusely. But it bled, oh, did it bleed. The blood was on her trembling hands, too. And her arms, and her chest, and almost anywhere she could immediately recall. Her first thought: I am going to die.

Then it hit her: Jen! Oh, God, Jenny! Her five-year-old daughter, Jenny was sitting in the back of the van. She had been playing with her favorite doll before it all happened. Lillian remembered she was being loud about it too and it annoyed her. Of course, she had told her daughter to shutup. She regretted scolding a child for being happy. But where was she? Was she alive?

“Hi mommy!” Jenny exclaimed. Lillian jumped, but felt relief as she turned to see her daughter standing next to the car. At first, Lillian couldn't figure out why she was sideways, but realized that it was in fact herself who was lopsided. Jenny's pink shirt was bloody, but the girl seemed mostly unharmed.

All the mother could say, “Jenny! Are you okay, sweetie? What happened? Are you alright?”

“Yes, mommy, I'm okay,” Jenny replied with a frolicking smile. “I can't find my dolly, mommy, can you help me find her?”

“Not right now, sweetie, we need to call an ambulance.”


“Because mommy's hurt,” Lillian struggled for air. “I need you to go the other side and look for my cell phone. It's in my purse.”

“Why can't you get it?”

“Mommy can't get up right now, baby, just do as I say.”

“Okay,” Jenny hop-scotched her way over to the other side of the van. Lillian shut her eyes for a second to try to clear her head. It wasn't happening and it was suddenly tempting to fall asleep. Tired. So tired. Lillian was a young mother. Since her husband was well-off, the decided to wait on college for a while. This was a mistake as very soon, they had little Jenny. “Mommy! I found it!”

Jenny was back and she held the phone in her hands. “Thank you, sweetie.” Her daughter grinned and then sat down. Lillian dialed 911.

“911 emergency.”

“This is Lillian Schuster, I need your help, we've been in a car wreck-”

“How bad is it, ma'am?”

“My car's in half, I'm bleeding all over, and-”

“Where are you?”

Lillian told the operator.

“Okay, I'm sending a rescue team and ambulance right now. What did you say your name was?”

“Schuster, Lillian Schuster.”

“Alright, Lillian listen to me, I need you to...

Lillian had trouble focusing. She glanced around because she needed to keep herself awake. That's when she noticed. Jenny's right foot was simply gone! All at once, panic flooded her mind. She asked, “Sweetie, oh, God, where's your foot?!”

“I'm tired, mommy.”

“Ma'am? Are you there?”

“Just a minute, please,” Lillian turned back to Jenny, “Sweetheart, listen to mommy, where is your foot?”

Jenny looked down at her absent foot and then answered, “I left it in my shoe, mommy.”

Lillian couldn't help but make a little smile at her daughter's innocence. She had no words in response, so she returned to the operator, “I'm sorry, I missed that, I'm just so tired. What were you saying?”

“The ambulance is on its way. Hold it together just a little bit longer.”

“I think- I think I'll just take a nap until you get here.”

“No, ma'am, you can't do that! No matter what you do-”

“I can't, I can't stay awake, I have to go.”

“Lillian! Dammit, Lillian, you can't do that! You have got to stay with me! Sing me a song or recite your favorite poem or something, just keep yourself awake.”

A song? But what song? Then she heard her daughter quietly singing and then she joined in,

“Jesus loves me this I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to Him belong

They are weak, but he is strong

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

For the Bible tells me so”

When the song was over, Lillian forgot all about the 911 operator. She dropped the phone. Was she talking to someone? She didn't know. The headache was gone and everything was hazy. And she was so tired. Her eyes practically closed themselves. She told her daughter, “Sweetie, mommy's gonna take a little nap now, okay?”

“Okay, mommy,” Jenny replied.

The little girl watched as her mother closed her eyes. She didn't know what had just happened. She would never know that her mother had just passed on into another world. Her childish mind had refused to let her understand the catastrophe that had just engulfed their lives. Jenny wanted to sleep like her mommy, but couldn't do it. Not without her dolly. She stood up and started to search the wreckage. It had to be here somewhere!

It wasn't long before she gave up and fell to the ground screaming and crying. She cried out for her dolly. Little did she know, she cried for all she had just lost. Her little body couldn't handle shouting anymore, especially since no one was there to listen. She curled up in the moist grass and put her thumb in her mouth. It was all she knew to do. Her feeble mind couldn't even know to ask what was really happening. She didn't know and deep down, she didn't want to.

Little Jenny closed her eyes and the cruelest world left her behind.

Note: This story has a sequel, located here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

week twelve: children of the damned

From an unmarked tape discovered at a thrift store in Iowa.

First voice: Describe that night for me.

Second voice: I remember just how hot it was. It was sweltering even though it was in the middle of the night. And there they were, just walking. There must have been thousands of them. Of course, I wasn't counting, only watching. It was my turn to do a night-guard, which every one us naturally dreaded. This night was different though.

First voice: Different how?

Second voice: Well, it isn't every night that you see thousands of children walking in a line towards nowhere.

First voice: Tell me about these children.

Second voice: They were poor, all of them. Not one of them wore much and all of them seemed so tired. My guess is that they were refugees, since there weren't any adults. They weren't really close enough for me to see their faces, but I could sense their fear.

First voice: They were afraid because you were soldiers?

Second voice: They were afraid because they were walking past a military guard post. Whatever they were fleeing from was caused by us, since my government was performing an ethnic cleansing at the time.

First voice: Did you report this to your senior officer?

Second voice: Of course I did. If I did not, I am certain that evidence would have been found of the children and if I had lied, they would have assumed I had fallen asleep on my watch. The punishment for that is death.

First voice: What happened then?

Second voice: My officer saw the children and then woke the rest of us. He told us to grab our rifles and that there was a standing order to capture or kill as many of the children as possible. I did not want to do this, but orders are orders.

First voice: Why didn't you want to do this?

Second voice: Because these are only children! And what's worse, I cannot imagine what these children have been through. They are damned because of their race, which is little more than a few differences in their faces. That isn't something worth killing a man over, least of all a child.

First voice: What happened next?

Second voice: We chased them down and grabbed as many as we could. The children started to run and we could no longer give chase. So, the officer gave the order to take aim and fire.

First voice: Did you?

Second voice: There was apprehension in all of us. None of us really wanted to do it.

First voice: But did you pull your trigger?

Second voice: Yes.

(There is a long pause)

First voice: Please, continue.

Second voice: We captured maybe seven of them, all boys. We weren't sure what to do with them that night, but we knew what would happen to them eventually. They would all become child soldiers or maybe they would be put to work somewhere. Either way, it isn't good for them. I remember standing over them, they all stared at us with crying faces. Part of me just wanted to shoot them there and have it done with, but that was even worse than what was already happening.

First voice: So, what did you do with the boys?

Second voice: Since I was on the night-watch, I was left to guard them overnight while the others slept. I stood there and watched the boys and hoped that they would sleep, but they seemed intent on driving my guilt as far as it could go.

First voice: And how far did it go?

Second voice: I should have been killed that night.

First voice: For what?

Second voice: I had to help them somehow. I could not just stand there and let their lives be ruined. So I came up with a plan. I took one of the Makarov pistols and handed it to one of the boys; the oldest one. It was loaded and ready to shoot. He looked at me confused through his tears. I then told him to do what he least expected. I told him to shoot me.

First voice: Did he?

Second voice: Of course, I told him to shoot me somewhere where it would not kill me. He shot me though. He shot me right in the leg, which is why I am here with a prosthetic one today.

First voice: Keep going.

Second voice: Then they ran, taking the pistol with them. I shot the entire magazine from my AK-47 into the air to make it sound good. When the other soldiers and the officer came around, I explained that the boy must have had a pistol with him that we did not see. I do not think my officer bought the story, though.

First voice: So, were you punished?

Second voice: Yes, but only with extra hours of work. I suspect that my officer did not want to do this any more than I did. I believe that he knew what I had done and did not blame me for it. I don't know this for sure, but it is what I would like to believe.

(There is another long pause)

First voice: Is this what really happened that night?

Second voice: Of course it isn't, but it's what your American people would like to believe. They like to hear tales of heroism and sacrifice, but my country is not like yours. We decided that night that those boys were too much for us and that it was not our problem. We lined them up and killed them. I do wish that I had done what I told you I did, but you must understand that I had orders.

First voice: So, why do you have a prosthetic leg?

Second voice: When I moved to America, I got a job working construction. It was mangled beyond any repair on some equipment.

First voice: I guess that's some kind of justice then?

Second voice: I do not believe in justice. I certainly haven't seen any.

This is the end of the tape.