await the flood

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The second illustration relates to the text below, title AWAIT THE FLOOD. In contravention to what was stated earlier, this illustration will probably reflect the given text, in that the bowl, or the bowl in context, is the most appropriate illustration. If you are interested in creating an illustration or wish to have questions answered, please email me (Mike) at fentontoldthetruth@gmail.com

 

 

AWAIT THE FLOOD

 

The bottom latch on the door opens; the bowl is pushed in. It spills some liquid as the latch closes, but that it can spill from its rim means it is a good bowl and has held its contents. It is hard to eat; my stomach is revolted by the chewy grain in fluid. My hands shake and I spill.

 

It is a beautiful bowl. Just sometimes that happens. As I slowly clear its contents, I see the patterns carved into it by a needle of wood before it was fired. This is the way some prisoners hold onto their pride, by making these bowls beautiful, by decorating with precise patterns the interiors, exteriors, or both. There is no need for them to do so. But always, such a bowl is a bowl without leaks.

 

I face the window as I eat. The bars are loose and crooked so that I could wrench them out like decayed teeth, but where would I go? Across the prison yard, the guards languidly observing me until somebody decided I shouldn't be out of my cell and returned me to it with a bleeding head? I await the sun and my light. As it comes shining, I bask for long minutes, unsteadily shivering, now holding the empty bowl.

 

I will ply my trade again today, writing letters for the other prisoners. My Spanish is university standard and I have acquired some legal knowledge of this hellish country. I am paid in liquer from the illicit stills of the prison. I am alcoholic and my customers don't bother to consider money or any of the common means of barter. I write ten, maybe fifteen, letters per day. I write for the guards too, but they don't recompense. If I need a favour, for example if I fall foul of one of the gangs in here, their influence will more than compensate for a few letters. But in truth, I am one of the very few inmates who have no real enemies.

 

My stomach settles enough for me to take my first swig. With the battered, plastic container at my lips I suck a testing mouthful. The liqueur sits in my mouth like a rotten oyster, and that is how I swallow it: disgusted, praying not to wretch, letting it open the back of my throat and swim against my instinct.

 

I slump back from the window and before the now blinding equatorial sun, wait for my hands to cease their shaking and the pure and acidic liquor to bite and numb. One day my hands won't steady and my letters will be too spidery, too illegible, and my customers will not come. I dread that day. I will never leave this burning place where men loose everything and die forgotten; where the only humanity shows itself in a bowl with a pattern no one was forced to etch.

 

My first client is outside. I hear his sandalled feet. The guard, bribed, opens my door. Papers in hand a dischevelled wretch bows to me with respect.