The Cosa Nostra took my dog by the nape, shot her in the head, then vanished off-screen. I vowed to slaughter an animal in front of them in response. Here, my friend turned pallid, more so than I had ever seen him. He knew of these men, academically and firsthand. Though he said nothing, his terror was plain. I had dug up the sex tapes of each of my peers and made a playlist online. We all sat together now, in a hateful silence, (them seething, me a pariah in spirit) in a darkened film theatre with red velvet seats. And we sat inside the film itself (a ceaseless blockbuster). We were poorly cast stars playing out each role, odd choices. As we watched ourselves being watched by ourselves, my Second Self chased a mythic strand of proof, one that would clear my name of all crimes, overturn my charges (voyeur, pervert, pornographer) and render my promise to commit honour-suicide null and void. I surprised myself, even, when I found this dancing hair of evidence, though I’d have to wait until the end of the film to present it to the jury.
My friends and I are sat around a table. One friend comments on my new watch. I look down to see that it is upside down and on the wrong arm.
I am hanging from an elaborate wooden structure in a featureless tundra. My arms are bound behind my back. I am being used as a live counterweight for a noose. I am unsure of my relationship with the person who is to be hanged, but I sense we were once allies. Possibly even friends. I do not know the circumstances which led to my bondage but given that I am being spared the penalty of death, it may be the case that I was the one who betrayed them.
A small crowd has gathered. Men in dark blue uniforms bring a young man towards the giant weather vane from which I am suspended. The young man has dark hair and eyes, tanned skin. He is dressed in sandy-brown fatigues. From the severity of his punishment, I infer that he has rebelled against the dominant regime.
The man is raised to the noose, causing every finger of the abstract scaffold to sway and buck, triggering a counter-force from an opposing limb. Only my legs can move freely, and though I splay them in different directions in an attempt to steady myself in the air, I cannot stop my body from oscillating and rotating at random.
Before long, the man is being hanged. He speaks to the crowds in a way not befitting a man approaching death — he talks with ease. He jeers at them. He almost breaks into a laugh.
Meanwhile I, in a futile attempt at protest, stretch one leg out and try to stomp on the head of one of my captors, but he is positioned in such a way that I can only pester him with light taps and nudges. He looks up at me with murderous ire and I am reminded that they would readily kill me too for the slightest transgression.
The audience, silent and stoic, frown at the hanging man. A woman with long dark hair and sharp, aquiline features stands out in the crowd. She has a sympathetic air — could she be an ally or even a lover to the hanging man? Her expression morphs into a sneer. She begins yelling at the doomed man, taunting him, relishing his death. I am suddenly aware of a popular stigma against us, we captives. The crowd came here to shame us.