Absolutes

The table is cold. In this hotbox of a room he notices that the steel table is actually cold. Breaking the silence he asks, “What would you kill for?”
Looking up he answers, “What? What kind of question is that?”
“What would you kill for? Or who? Who would you kill for?”
“I don’t sit around thinking of reasons to commit murder.”
“I do. I do all the time. I think of reasons to kill.”
“You might need a hobby. Too much time on your hands.”
“Uh huh,” he nods. “Still I think about it.”
Sigh. “What? What do you think?”
“I think about what I would do like if someone attacked me or somebody in my family.”
The question is weighted, “What? What would you do?”
“Anything I have to. I’d do anything I have to to keep them safe. I’d stab somebody or rip their throat out-”
He interrupts, “Do you have any idea how much pressure it would take to actually rip someone’s throat?”
Scratching his chin, he contemplates his answer, “No. But I know people do it.”
Laughter is in his tone, “People? What people do you know who rip throats?”
“Hmmm…”
“I thought so.”
“Still I’d do it.”
“Do what?
“Kill,” he stares him in the eye. “I’d kill to keep them safe to keep me safe.”
This is not a game. He returns the glower. “What if to keep them safe meant your life?”
“Huh?”
“What if the only thing that’d keep them safe meant you had to die?”
This is not the direction he thought this conversation would go. Baffled, he cant find a response, “Huh?”
Leaning in their faces are only inches apart. “You thinking about what you’d kill for…well if that’s on your mind you might as well consider what you’d die for…so would you?”
“What? Would I what?”
“Die to keep you or your family safe?”
“I…I don’t know,” he stammers.
“Hmm…” he leans back in his seat.
“Well I think so. I think I would.”
Nodding he considers the response, “Lot of people think about killing. Lots of people. Specially when they get angry. Getting angry it can cause all kinds of trouble.”
“Yeah?”
“Yeah.”
“So what would you die for?”
Lost in his thoughts he doesn’t hear the question. “Huh?”
“What would you die for?”
“You.”
“Me?”
“Without hesitation.”
“Time’s up.” The guard walks up and places his hand in the air.
Bracing himself to stand, he maintains eye contact, “Know what else?”
“What?”
Rising to his full 6’7″, he says, “I’d live for you too.”
“Yeah?”
“Ab-so-fucking-,” he chuckles. “lutely.”
“Bye daddy.”
Waving from the door, he takes one last look, “Bye son.”

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Karin Wiberg says:

    I heard just a snippet of this story on NPR today: Interrupter on Chicago Streets. http://thestory.org/archive/The_Story_8112.mp3/view

    Your story made me think of it–the reasons people kill. What is really worth it? And what is not?

  2. I think most people answer questions like this with absolutes or with no understanding of what they’d really do in the situation–and I don’t say that meanly. How could we possibly know?

    1. wanda says:

      Exactly. Thanks for reading.

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