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The Prisoner


Harry Buschman

“Miguel Allende? Yes he is in the cell at the end of that block, all the politicals are in there.” The jailer smiled sadly. “But you can’t tell one from the other.”

‘The cell’s door is open, aren’t you afraid they’ll walk out?”

“There’s no way out here, sir. This is not an exit. If they want to walk out they have to come in through here ...” the jailer smiled and rubbed his hands together ... “they know that. I am the cat that stand between the mouse and its hole.”

“I must speak to him.”

“Go ahead.”

“I don’t want to go in there alone with him. You must come with me.”

“Bullshit, sir. You are in Colombia now, they would do to me what I would do to them. Besides, you won’t be alone with him. There are fourteen others in there just like him.”

“In the same cell?”

“They are the politicals. The last President threw them all in jail -- out was in and in was out in those days. These are the outs, and now I suppose they are the ins again.”

The man stepped into the courtyard and shouted. “ALLENDE,” MIGUEL ... MIGUEL ALLENDE!” There was no response. The man turned to the jailer. “Why doesn’t he come out when I call?”

“He has been in there fifteen years, it is a strange thing in this place. You forget who you are, your name, your family. In time you are nothing but an animal in a cage. You have only one thought -- to keep alive. When you hear a voice you shrink from it. If it was the voice of your wife you would not remember.” The jailer opened a drawer in his desk and withdrew a small cloth bag. “Here are his belongings, sir. Perhaps there is something in there that will jog his memory. I have been here too long myself, I think - I have forgotten many things.”

The man opened the bag and withdrew a small photograph of a woman and a child. “Yes, this was his wife and his daughter. They are dead now. It would be cruel to him to know - perhaps it would be better to leave him where he is.”

“I think it is wise, here at least he can be an animal.”

the end

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