who they were. He wonders if perhaps their spirits are trying to communicate with him, but he quickly shelves that thought because, well, that
way madness lies.
On the video, the killers can be seen laughing and joking between
shots. A voice says, “Watch this!” Followed by gunfire and giggles. And
the boy goes down. And then the man. And, finally, the woman. The
boy and man lie still as stones. The woman twitches a little, her right
shoulder convulses, she shakes her head side to side, her hips thrust up,
then she is still.
So, what about the killers: What happened to them? No one seems to
know, or care.
When he showed the video to their superiors, he thought, he truly
believed, he was doing the right thing. What he’d seen shocked him—
because it was murder, and murder is meant to shock. This wasn’t a
video game. Yet the way the superiors reacted, it might as well have
been. He watched two of them watch the video. Their impassive faces as
they thanked him for bringing this to their attention distressed him, but
then, he reasoned, they must have seen a lot and worse in their years of
service. Still, what does it say about people that they can watch a man, a
woman, and a boy being shot by uniformed men who were swaggering
down the street when they crossed paths with the three civilians and for
no discernible reason shot them in cold blood: that they can watch this
and not react? Not even a raised eyebrow . . .
While he has never been religious himself, his parents were churchgoing people. They encouraged him to believe certain things. He believed they had believed them.
He is disappointed that, so far at least, he has seen no mice. As he was
being transported here, he had this strange feeling that a mouse would
intrude on his solitude and that he would befriend it. There’s a movie his
mother loved, The Birdman of Alcatraz, with Burt Lancaster, in which a
prisoner takes care of three injured little sparrows he finds on his hourlong release in the prison yard. Gradually the man becomes an expert
He imagines himself befriending a mouse, perhaps researching its
language. He has always believed animals can talk, that the problem is
there are no competent translators.
While he is aware that what has happened to him is unjust, beyond
words, really, he feels weirdly detached, as though whoever it is that is
being punished, it isn’t he—not exactly. His detachment is a source of