Friday Night Story


He had been chained in the fetal position, on the floor. It was light outside the last time someone had opened the door, and it was light again, which meant a day had passed. He almost felt grateful they had left him no food, or he might have done more than piss himself.

The interrogator switched off the stereo. Without a chorus of women and children screaming, the room was eerily silent. A guard dragged a metal chair across the floor, fingernails across a cement chalkboard. The guard turned off the flood lights, the only warmth in the frosty room, as the interrogator sat down. He tried to count the seconds they were there with Mississippis, but his mind was cracked and brittle from lack of sleep.

When he could bear their silence no longer, he spoke with a broken voice. “Why the hell am I here? Answer me, you smug son of a bitch.” The interrogator turned his head to the side until his neck popped. “You just don’t get it. String him up.” The guard unlinked his restraints, pulled him to his feet, and attached his restraints to chains hanging from the ceiling. The interrogator smiled and nodded, and the guard kicked him twice in each leg, at the peroneal nerve, and his legs became sacks of dead meat.

The numbness in his legs reminds him that it’s still freezing in the room, and he shivers. “You can’t be cold; your lips aren’t even blue.” The interrogator paced around him. “We know everything you’ve done; we know about the danger you’ve placed all of us in, each and every honest American. We’re just trying to undo the damage you’ve caused. Do you know what disgusts me the most about you? Your total lack of regret.”

The guard switches on the flood lamps, and he’s blinded; they hurt even with his eyes closed. It’s only then that he realizes it’s getting warmer in the room. The guard and the interrogator leave, and it’s dark outside. It’s still dark when they return, but they’re wearing less clothes than before. He’s hallucinating now, from the heat and lack of water. His mouth hangs open, and his breaths are long and drawn.

The interrogator takes an interest in his mouth, and seizes his lower right canine tooth, and it comes out almost without effort. His throat is already copper, and he doesn’t even register the blood trickling down. “You haven’t been getting enough Vitamin C.” He tries to put weight on his leg, so he can force enough air into himself to speak, but the guard kicks him in the peroneal, and the leg numbs again. He gasps raggedly, and forces out, “Water.”

The interrogator smiles. “Get him down.” The bones in his shoulder stab like daggers the moment his own weight isn’t on them, and he falls on his face. The interrogator helps him turn over, and he lays a stone behind his neck that opens his throat, and he can breathe easier. Then the guard returns.

The guard sits on his chest, and pins his arms to the floor with his knees. “This can go on longer, or it can end.” The guard holds his head back, and pours water on his face. He tries to keep his throat closed, even as his lungs burn, but the water keeps coming. His body rebels, trying to suck in a gasp, and takes in several swallows of water before he shuts his throat. Still the water comes, and his throat opens again, and he swallows until he can’t hold any more. The guard turns him on his side as his body spasms, squeezing the water out of him. The guard lets him take three deep breaths before he shoves him back down, and starts pouring the water again.

After the third time he vomits, the interrogator stops the guard. “Look, we obviously know everything we need to. We captured you without firing a shot. But we’re cautious. We want to corroborate the information we already have. This doesn’t have to be painful at all.”

“You’re violating my rights. You can’t do this. I’m a citizen of the United States.” The interrogator shook his head. “You’ve been declared an enemy combatant. You don’t have any rights I don’t decide to give you.” He rose as far as he could, still pinned by the guard on his chest. “I’m not an enemy combatant, goddamn you, I’m the President.” The guard slammed him back down against the concrete.

“Mr. President.” He feels warmth on his shoulder, and the gentle pressure of a hand. “Mr. President, are you all right?” He opened his eyes slowly. Agent Lincolns looked down on him with concern. “Yeah. I’ll be fine.” Lincolns nodded, and closed the door silently behind himself. The President sighed, and his body relaxed between his silk sheets.

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