Wednesday, 26 February 2014

My version of events... The Belch

I've mentioned that Dad used to tell us stories of his time in Palestine.  Some of them seem to have become important to him only after the event as he has not recorded any details of them.  This is my interpretation of one of those stories.  I would place it fairly early in Dad's time in Palestine; maybe in Jenin. 


Ron –
Dad –
In the Palestine Police,
1947 and 1948 –
Two years
National Service.
 
Here he is at 19, holding his rifle,
Smiling at the adventure of it.
A bold, brave boy
Leaning in the midday sun.

Today...
tonight...
He has guard duty –
The prison, in the police station.

He must guard a notorious Arab agitator –
Deemed deadly dangerous –
Seems he has a bloody past
And bloodier intentions –
So they’ve locked him up.

Ron must patrol past his cell
Every hour –
Why?
Why! to check he’s still in there, of course.
Yes, sergeant.

So Ron checks –
Every hour –
On the hour –
And every time –
He checks –
He’s still there –
Huddled, meditating,
In his dark corner...

Pietro Sarubbi
Barabbas in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ
He’s a burly man,
A Barabbas,
With bad teeth I imagine,
A hefty beard and black dissecting eyes –
Locked up in his passionate thirties
For fighting the injustice he feels.

Ron is here,
A lad,
Nineteen,
Poking his shiny face up against the barred door
Checking
Always checking…

11 o’clock
Ron’s tired.
It’s dark and cold
He puts his face up to the bars.
This time,
This time in the gloomy cell
He can see…
He can make out…
What?!
Where is he?
He leans his rifle against the wall
And cups his eyes with his hands
Trying to gather as much light through the bars
Digging his way through to the dark corners
Searching for the shape of the man
Some variation in the degree of darkness
To hint that he is still there.

Panic

No, no don’t panic.

He must be in here somewhere

He can’t just disappear
Ron would have heard if there had been a break out.
A tunnel?
Don’t be daft.

The heart is beating
The sweat breaks out across the forehead
When do I tell?
When do I admit I’ve lost him?

Oh God!
God, godgodgodgodgod!

The chill metal of the bars
Burns his cheeks,
Presses up against his face.

And then,
Suddenly,
A face right up against his own
Looking deep into his eyes
Penetrating his pupils
The hot breath on his skin
The beard brushing his nose

And in that second
A belch,
Black and fragrant,
Olives and garlic,
A palpable puff of gastric gases
Invades Ron’s nostrils.

Ron recoils
And Barabbas
Smirks –

Pardon me, British – he lies

As he shuffles

Back into the dark corner.

And Ron swallows hard.
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