Between Heaven and Hell
Last summer. A farm. Sixty-three missing women. Prostitutes, drug addicts, and runaways. Students lined up along a makeshift conveyor belt, the RCMP watching over. Big bits of earth jiggling into smaller bits of earth as it trundled down, body parts plucked out as the earth fell away. For me it was like sorting through a bottomless box of lost and found, all the hands and teeth becoming gloves and earrings. It wasn’t like that for Sarah.
“What do you think about?” she asked, across from me. She must’ve smiled. I could tell by the way her mask inched upwards.
“I try not to think. I make it all grey, pretend this belt is like a highway.” In the few feet between us, a chewed-up hand surfaced. Sarah started to reach for it, but stopped.
I grabbed it. Put it into the bin beside me. “See, nothing but a car.”
“I can’t. Not think, I mean.”
“Give it time.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
Lunch. Thirty minutes hunched over picnic tables. Sandwiches of cold meat in a field of carrion, while the RCMP manned the barricades that kept the vultures with cameras at bay. I saw no point in washing my fruit.
Sarah sat off by herself, cross-legged on an upside down pail. She looked like she had been in the rain all day instead of the sun.
She had no food. “Not hungry?” I asked.
She said nothing.
In the distance the Rockies seemed to lower the sky. A reporter broke through the barricades, sprinted toward us, all his gear slowing him down. We watched the RCMP descend and devour him. He stared at his shattered camera as they dragged him away. His uncoiled film twitched in the wind. Died under the sun.
“Do you think he knew what he was doing?” she asked.
“That guy?” I nodded toward the scrum.
She shook her head.
“You mean, was he insane?”
“No. Something beyond insanity. Deeper. Like, is it worse to do evil, or to know that you do evil?”
The reporter struggled, shouted, buying us a few more seconds without the conveyor belt between us.
“I read somewhere once that if we were meant to be good, we’d all be good. Evil, we’d all be evil.” I offered her my apple. “We’ve had a lot of time, it would’ve worked itself out one way or another by now.”
“Maybe we have to make it work out.” She wiped the apple on her shirt, rubbed it on her pant leg. Frowned.
I wanted to babble into that frown. Support it with all the meaningless things that would otherwise be so important, lead somewhere. Do you like university? How many semesters left? Where are you from? Who’s your favourite author? Do you like movies? Me?
“We have to get back,” was all I said.
She bit into the apple. Her face scrunched into lines. “I know.”
“Maybe we could meet sometime? Somewhere else. Talk about other things?”
“You haven’t even told me your name,” she said.
“Adam. I like that.”
By Steve Gajadhar
*This story was previously published in Skive Magazine
Image: John Martin, Sodom and Gomarrha