Viagra For a Pariah
Randal Eldon Greene
Q: Mr. Hochar, now that you’re bleeding do you feel more willing to cooperate?
Hochar: Cooperate? Oh, yes, I am now — have been, have been being cooperative. Haven’t I?
Q: Have been being? Is that really the phrase you used?
Q: I’m the one who asks the questions, Mr. Hochar.
Hochar: I have been giving answers, haven’t I? AGH! What was that? AGH!
Q: Every time you ask a question, Mr. Hochar, I will administer pain.
Hochar: What — Well, uh, I don’t know how you’re doing that to me. It hurts everywhere. My eyeballs. My bones.
Hochar: So . . .
Hochar: So, here we are.
Q: So, here we are. I am here because you haven’t cooperated. You are here for no less than the same reason.
Hochar: How, er, what I mean is, I find it difficult to cooperate or not cooperate when a bunch of thugs are kicking me in a cell; kicking, yelling “Confess,” and “Admit to your crime already.”
Q: You think our men are thugs?
Hochar: I think those men are thugs, yes, men like that who get paid to beat the shit out of men like me, lying in a defensive fetal position on a dirty cell floor.
Q: Who are men like you?
Hochar: I am.
Q: You cannot be like yourself, Mr. Hochar. You can only be yourself. Do you think our men — our thugs — beat up men like you or only you?
Hochar: Men like me, of course.
Q: Who is it they beat up, kick the shit out of? What is the quality they share with you?
Hochar: Accused. We’re accused.
Q: Wrong. You are guilty of a crime.
Hochar: No. I am accused of a crime.
Q: Do you think we’d lay a hand on anyone merely accused?
Hochar: Innocents do go missing. AGH! I . . . I did not ask a question.
Q: Some words will hurt you more than others.
Hochar: Sticks and stones may break my bones —
Q: And so can hired muscle.
Hochar: How . . . er, I am trying to think how to phrase this so it is not a question. Ah, yes. I need to know what crime it is I am accused of.
Q: What you’re asking is “What crime is it I am accused of?”
Hochar: It’s what I am saying.
Q: It’s what you’re asking.
Hochar: AGH! You bastard. AGH! AGH! AGH!
Q: It’s not even the right question. The question isn’t “What crime am I accused of?” but “What crime am I guilty of?” Isn’t that right?
Hochar: No. Yes. I mean, it’s not a question. It’s a fact I need to know.
Q: Here’s the thing, Mr. Hochar, we know you’re guilty. Guilty of a crime. You also know you’re guilty. But because you don’t seem to know what crime it is you’re being asked to confess to, I can only assume you are guilty of more than one crime. Two perhaps. Or three or four. Maybe a dozen.
Hochar: I’ll list them for you — the favorites of the doomed who die without trial. Bribery, tax evasion, drug use, possession of illegal firearms, fomenting violence, high treason.
Q: Some leave with other crimes.
Hochar: Do they? AGH!
Q: Some leave here with the guilt of other social crimes. Transvestitism, pedophilia, goat-fucking, Satanism, HIV positive. Ha ha. Yes, by the look on your face I see you realize now how some of those you hate, people ostracized from your rebellious little groups, were here once. We can destroy the body, yes, but to destroy your reputation is far more satisfying. It makes you impotent. Like an old man. And, believe me, there’s no Viagra for a pariah.
Hochar: I suppose you think that I’m ready for the body. Knew the risks to life and limb. So you think I’m ready to sacrifice myself for some cause. But I’m not, damn it! I didn’t do anything. AGH!
Q: All of your statements are just veiled forms of questions. I’m sick of your questions. I want your answers.
Hochar: Then ask, you sick fuck. AGH!
Q: Sick fuck? Okay then, let’s see. Should I send you away from here as a serial rapist? Perhaps a man who preys on the street urchins with a taste for twelve-year-old boys?
Hochar: If you’re trying to intimidate me, it’s working, except I can’t confess to a crime I didn’t commit.
Q: Sure you can. It’s called false confession. Happens all the time. Of course it’s a crime to lie to an interrogator. So I wouldn’t recommend it. Lying, that is, which you’re already doing.
Hochar: Prove it.
Q: Tsk. Tsk. Always questions, never answers from you, Mr. Hochar.
Hochar: Maybe we should swap places.
Q: I am fortunate enough not to be a fool, unlike you.
Hochar: Is foolery a crime?
Q: When you steal a very important dossier it is . . . What? No reply?
Q: So you don’t deny it?
Hochar: I do . . . I do deny it. AGH! AGH! AGH! AGH! AGH!
Q: Mr. Hochar, we have you on camera stealing the dossier. Your administrative offices are much better surveilled than even the administrators probably realize.
Hochar: If you have it on camera, then why do you need my confession? AGH!
Q: You see how kind I am, keeping to my promise? I’ll even indulge you with an answer now and again. Give your pain a bit of a point, make it something of at least a little value to you.
Hochar: Gee, thanks.
Q: We don’t need your confession, but it does make things easier from our perspective. It sort of streamlines things. Or, to put it another way, it places us on the same page. We know you’re guilty; you confess your guilt. There’s no ambiguity.
Hochar: So you saw me take a dossier.
Q: A very sensitive dossier. We saw you take it from an office you had no right to be in. You looked up, directly at the invisible camera, making sure there were no cameras.
Hochar: So I’m fucked.
Q: You are very fucked, Mr. Hochar. Very fucked.
Hochar: AGH! Son of a — AGH!
Q: We saw you take the dossier. What we didn’t see was where you took it. You headed North and then East. After that, well, no more Mr. Hochar on the street cameras. Perhaps he slipped down an unmarked alley. Perhaps he switched into a disguise. Which is it? The alley or the hat and coat stashed in some crevice?
Hochar: Finding a good way to say “Why the hell should I tell you?” without stating it as a question is something I don’t think I can do.
Q: Yes, that would be a hard question not to ask. The answer to your unasked question is, I’m afraid, a hard one to swallow. I’ll send you back, Mr. Hochar, unless you cooperate. Cooperate and it means the release of death. Don’t cooperate and it means your ruination; you’ll serve a few years is all. A short stint for being caught ass-fucking little homeless boys in exchange for a few coins. I’ll ruin you, Mr. Hochar. No one will visit you in prison. No one will write. When you get out, nobody will give you pity. You might get violent animosity or the feint of pretending you are unrecognized. And you might not be immediately recognizable. Prison changes you. Eats you up with rotten teeth and spits you out in the gutter. You’ll become a free man again, but with a scarred and broken body. A broken body, but alive. Your spirit on the other hand. . . .
Hochar: You’ll do what you do.
Q: Unless you tell me what you did with the dossier.
Hochar: If I do, I will go free.
Q: If you do, you will die.
Hochar: I have two options.
Hochar: That wasn’t a question.
Q: It still has an answer.
Hochar: All right. I’d rather die. I’d like to take you with me, but taking my dignity along will have to suffice. First an alley. They leave a marker for one they are sure is safe. It could be a globe, a single yellow galosh, a chalk mark. It was red chalk in an X this time. I didn’t know the alley, and they won’t use it again. In the end of the alley is a car. All of this I’m sure you know. You’re smart . . . as in you have intelligence — you watch, you kidnap, torture, interrogate. What you want are names. I get in the backseat of the car. I speak to my contact there. I don’t know if the contact is in the passenger or the driver’s seat. There’s a tinted window to keep us from knowing each other’s faces. No recognition in the street or at a chance meeting. But we have to know names. We have to be able to trust that much, keep that much for when the revolutionary vanguard calls us up to finally fight. I give him mine. Aziz Hochar. Our names are our passwords. He gives me his. Farez Omar Shahin. I leave the document in the backseat. I get out in a different alley and hail a taxi home.
Q: I . . . I don’t understand.
Hochar: Don’t understand what?
Q: How? That’s my name. How did you get my name?
Hochar: What? Oh no. Comrade, I’m sorry! I didn’t recognize your voice.
Q: You give me my own name. You’ll pay for this.
Hochar: Comrade Farez, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to betray —
Q: You’ll pay!
Guard: Farez, please come this way. They want to question you.
Q: You’ll pay! Do you hear me, Aziz Hochar? You’ll pay. Why can’t I hurt him? Let me hurt him!
Hochar: Forgive me.
Guard: Come Farez. Come with me.
Q: You’ll pay! AGH! You hit me. I order you to stand down, you peon!
Guard: I will hit you again, and I will hit you hard if you don’t come with me now.
Q: Fine, you mother fucker. Fine. You’ll pay. Hear me, you traitorous pig? You’ll pay!
Hochar: Pay? I already have been being paying.
Randal Eldon Greene is the author of Descriptions of Heaven, a novella about a linguist, a lake monster, and the looming shadow of death. His writing has most recently appeared in 3:AM Magazine, The Creative Cafe, Literally Literary, Lit Up, MonkeyBicycle, Spelk, StoryFinds, This Is Writing, and Unbroken Journal. Greene has previously read prose for South Dakota Review and Heart & Mind Zine. His typos are tweeted @AuthorGreene and his website is AuthorGreene.com.