A Last Song for SupperJuly 26, 2014
You might think twice about this little tale. If you know me and especially Mr. Binger, you will read exactly as you expect… but it’s the melody that keeps a true reader reading, not so the story. Of course, I say that and I’m accused of tricking readers into putting things they don’t want in their heads. There I repeat myself, if you know me and especially Mr. Binger, you will read exactly as you expect! I’m not saying I’m sorry.
A Last Song for Supper
The howls are loud and so constant they change into colored rays split from a prism sat in forgotten sunlight. Truly, all sensations turn into visible hues. The pain in this dungeon and radiant ripples caused by the torture here, torment burned into flesh, they are bright and they overwhelm an all-around bloody glow of hot coals. And after intense days, living prisoners pray for the relief of dark silence. Todd, the King’s warden, the scourge of the Lord, he is driven by another need.
“I’m hungry,” Todd shouts above sobs and wails. “It’s feeding time for this lot, too.”
The large warden talks to his three naked slaves and he is sure he is overheard by everyone who still has ears. “Now, what are we going to do?”
Gazing about the underground prison, Todd lifts a leather apron off and over his head. He wears this medieval garment when he smelts human limbs and skulls into bubbling globs of calcium and fat. Dead prisoners and those who will yet die have witnessed this terrible atrocity.
“Who will sing for our suppers?” chuckles the merry warden. He encourages his slaves to snicker with slaps and fierce pinches to their buttocks and balls.
After no prisoner replies, Todd shouts, “Come now, no one will hurt you when you’re singing. Everyone will relax and listen to your song. Come now. We will all finally eat in peace.”
Nobody laughs now. Todd stands grinning while his bruised slaves let their faces slip back into grimaces. Since the torture has stopped and the anguish has diminished to invisible whimpers and mewls, a famished prisoner wonders aloud, “You will feed us?”
The young man’s Eastern accent makes him sound to have said only “Feet” and “Ut.”
Todd happily rubs his own hirsute belly. He’s worn nothing beneath the apron all week except a soiled loin clothe and tall leather boots. Rubbed then itched, his digestive tract also seems to handle translations. “Yes.”
“Just sing?” asks a young woman very clearly on the floor and in shackles like everyone else.
Todd opens his mouth and smiles. The man has all his teeth and his canines are especially pointed. “Yes.”
“And you’ll feed us?” the starving youth verifies once more.
The warden makes an innocent request. “One pretty song.”
Todd then bats his eyes.
The young woman volunteers. “I’ll sing you a song. If you will feed us and let us go.”
“Go where?” Todd asks astonished. “Back to the Ottoman Empire?”
Nobody is given a chance to express an idea. Todd reminds the prisoners, “No, you are captives of our King Birger Magnusson. Truly, you are infidels.”
“We had no choice,” begs an old man. His Aramaic tongue smothers any comprehension of his words.
Todd starts telling his prisoner, “Shut up,” then stops himself. He believes they do not speak the same language. So instead, the warden knocks his knuckles against the bound man’s forehead. The hard clunk drowns everything else, even the weeping.
Only a sudden memory pulls Todd away from doing anything more grievous to the old fool. No one speaks to Todd unbidden. There is no appeal to the scourge of the Lord. Judgment has been passed and these weak traitors are made examples. This is where life ends and these sorrowful souls discover what language they need to use and please the one, true God.
“I know your name,” Todd tells the woman. “Penelope. You’re the atheist from Crete. You said you will sing us a song, a song for supper.”
“I did,” the girl affirms. She is smart and knows no one here may ask for more than what mercy Todd offers. “I’ll sing a pretty song if you give us a little peace.”
The young woman sings. Her voice cracks, she mumbles and forgets words most everyone else remember only once heard copied from the Book of Psalms. Todd feels offended. His tongue rolls into the back of mouth as he grabs an ax then lops off Penelope’s head.
Stepping away from a pulsing geyser, the warden addresses his surprised audience.“What did you think would happen?”
“It’s the same old song,” he tells this day’s surviving prisoners. “You’re all hear just to listen to the music.”
Todd amuses himself while he hacks off the hands and feet of the decapitated woman. He says aloud, “If King Birger is our Lord, down here I’m Lucifer. I’m never full.”
He lifts the corpse and allows metal cuffs to slip off the stumps at its wrists and ankles. The amputated limbs are left on the floor in heaps of limp chains and wet manacles. “I knew Penelope,” Todd says then proceeds with butchering the bleeding carcass.
“I remember she said she was a vegetarian. She didn’t eat meat. Now, she joins us for supper this eve.”
The devil chuckles more. “I hope for all your sakes, the woman tastes better than she sang.”
The barebacked warden cannot stop orating and end his drama. “There is why you are all hungrier than me. It’s why you are all so thin. You need to store some fat.”
The young man with his mangling accent truly replies for his last time, “I think you still would make us eat her first.”