The gates were open. What was left of them. But we walked over the crumbled, tumbled, bombed-to-fuck-all rubble of the walls anyway. Walking through the gates felt like parole. Walking over the walls felt like freedom.
It also would have made a flippin’ sweet photo had anyone been alive to take a picture.
Space bandaged Quietly as best he could, but even a one-seventy IQ can do only so much with a mostly-eaten arm and the bloody, charred, exploded shit that Armageddons leave behind. He really just wrapped it up for show, to make our savior-guard feel better about it all, and because after everything else that happened that day amputating his arm just seemed silly. It could probably wait a day or two, we agreed. And if it couldn’t wait and he died we’d probably find the strength to move on. If we noticed.
Most of the prisoners and staff were dead. The kind of dead that makes a body realize that “dead” is not an absolute adjective. There are degrees of dead, it turns out. Most of us were seriously fuck-off dead. Arms and legs in different states and different states-of-matter dead. Liquid feet and misty, gaseous spleens. We seeped into groundwater and floated on the wind. Those of us who lived were mostly the ones who stood behind Fraction which didn’t make us proud of ourselves so much as it made us alive. Which remains impressive in its own way.
The convicts we’ve known nearly all have a way of collecting fathers. Different fathers for different occasions. Most of us grew up without a dad or wishing we were without one, so we grab them where we can and put them on mantles too-high. Where the views and winds scare them off while they still have things to say.
Space teaches us about people with mostly Jewish names. Oppenheimer and Jacobi. Einstein and Ferme. Brinkmire tells us stories about bears and dear and makes us tea. A man named Brit used to explain the infield fly rule and the wheel play to us three times a day before a simple dental infection retired him, because, as Michael Chabon tells us, baseball is a game given from fathers to sons.
It was a man named Laurey that told us about men like Chabon. And Doyle and Dickens and Stephen Fry and Tim O’Brien. He could recite The Things They Carried and The Final Solution and The Final Problem from memory and the things he couldn’t remember he could make up.
Laurey’s thing was, nobody hurts a man like that.
On the outs they showed us what women want and inside they show us what rapists do not and the fact that we almost never listened wasn’t their fault. They tell us where we are and where we have been and even if they don’t know where we’re going, they make us want to get there. They protect us from men like us. And a thousand, thousand things.
We collect fathers not because we are lost men so much as because we are men.
We knew he was set for Cuba and somehow we knew we weren’t but at least for a little longer we wanted to stand in Fraction’s shadow. So we followed close.
MGD 64 was in the wetlands and almost ocean-front. Less than two miles from the water the surrounding land would be high-dollar property if it weren’t made almost entirely of swamp and alligators and mosquito’s.
Fraction walked atop the alligators like fucking Pitfall. He strode easy like he could walk on water. Not in a hurry but not taking his time and as silent as ever, silent as every one of the graves he had dug he walked. And we followed.
At the waters edge Danny Fraction took off his shirt and his pants, but not his shoes, and he walked into whatever was next. He gently smoothed bodies out of his way and he began to swim.
We watched from the shore. Probably none of us could have made a swim like that and even if we could. Cuba would have been another prison. And there are just so many things here that need killing.