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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 13 page 11

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"Listen," 75 told 22, "If you want to help them, you can, but I'm staying here."

Prisoner 22 grabbed 75's shoulders, shook him, and told him that this was their chance to fight back, their chance to get revenge against those who made them do this gruesome job that made them outcasts in the eyes of their fellow prisoners.

"I'm not going to stop you," 75 said, "But I can't go with you."

"You're a coward," the voice on the other side of the door said.

"Maybe so," said 75, "but I know my history."

"What history? What are you talking about?" asked the voice. "There has never been a revolt in this camp. Not once has anybody stood up and fought back. We have weapons. We have explosives. We are all willing to die."

"I'm sorry, my friend," 22 told 75, "I'm going with them."

"I wish you luck. I wish you all luck," said 75, loud enough for the man on the other side of the door to hear. Then he whispered in his colleague’s ear, "How do you know that the man at the door isn't a guard? Or an informer sent by the guards, trying to bait people into participating in a phony revolution? Did you entertain that possibility?"

Prisoner 22 stood up straight. His face went white.

"My God," he said. "If you're right, that means, Oh God, I already said I would go. I already said I would fight."

Prisoner 75 nodded yes.

Prisoner 22 turned toward the door, and shouted, "How do we know you're not a guard trying to trick us?"

"I'm not a guard," the voice said. "If I was, I would have arrested you and shot you by now. Don't let that coward convince you to be as gutless as him. We are ready to do what needs to be done. Are you with us or not?"

Prisoners 75 and 22 stared at each other, and after several moments of silence, both men nodded, each accepting the other’s decision.


—♦—


Standing over a heap of rubble, prisoner 75 sighed, took a deep breath, and looked up at the guard standing before him, machine gun in hand, a pair of smudged eye glasses resting on the bridge of his nose.

"So where am I going now?"

"Crematorium number five," the guard said.

"To toss more bodies into, or have my body tossed into?"

The guard flashed a blithe grin. "You'll find out when you get there."

<CONT...>