A Good Day
Today it was a good day, after several months of not been able to feed his family, Jean Pierre is going to receive a payment of 30 silver coins, he could feel the heavy of them in his hand while he waited for the soldiers who were coming to take him to the guillotine; his new job.
Jean Pierre has an important, skillful and simple task; the more professional he is, better will be for the future of France and his family. He has gone through the steps in his mind over and over: to immobilize the condemned using the strings in the table, to pull the lever, the blade will fall, to remove the body and the severed head, to clean the blade. He was reviewing the process in his head one more time when his cat came to cradle in his legs, he smiled and pet him a little when the boots of a soldier distracted him. “It’s time” the soldier’s voice sounded like a drum in his head.
When they arrived at the execution square, the sky was already covered of clouds darker than the bottom of a pit and little drops of rain fell a while ago. The mud was starting to gather then, Jean Claude had a concern on something: “maybe is better if I try the blade first”; the soldiers agreeded so they bring a sack of sawdust, he tied it to the wooden table, placed it under the blade and pulled the lever, the blade fall in all its weight cutting the sack half immediately. The soldiers clapped and laughed while they saw the small explosion of sawdust. For this moment many villagers are gathering already, everybody wants to see the show, ¿who will dismissed? The Duke and his cursed family finally are going to pay for the humiliations, the blood, the injustice they spreaded free of consequences, today things are going to be settle.
The soldiers bring the Duke first, when the man was forced to walk in the middle of the people his legs lost a little of their strength and he almost fall to the ground but to soldiers grab him. Then, the first rain began to fall, and people started to scream insults and throw things in his face: a mixture of rainwater, mud, saliva, even feces started to fall while he walked the small stairs and finish his journey right in front of the guillotine, his hands were shacking but not because of the cold, teardrops falled of his eyes and left a mark in his cheeks, he was trembling so heavily that his wig fall to the ground and he almost fainted due the lack of air; despite the fact he was standing outside.
The duke looked around trying to find a friendly face among the crowd but nobody was there to offered him a smile or at least a prayer; then he turned around and he looked at Jean Pierre directly, his eyes became wide big and his legs betrayed him once more.
– oh, so you do remember me, your highness – Jean Pierre look at him from bottom to top – because I remember you
– the butcher… you are the butcher – the Duke’s voice was almost inaudible – I never did anything to hurt you
– yes, that’s is true – Jean Pierre bended down to unlock the ties of the table – your chariot is the one who killed my son, and your accountant was the one who gave me only one week of taxes extension because of my lost; that’s what you considered an “appropriate condolence” – he stood up and put his big and heavy hand in the Duke’s shoulder – from you the only thing I heard was… “move that of the street, I’m arriving late to my tea party”
The Duke thought he will die in that moment, not under the blade but under the hands of this man, but the only thing he did was to put the Duke’s body that it was light like a feather in front of the table, he tied him up, pull the lever and immobilized his head under the blade. The duke shaking even harder than before, whispered something that seemed to be a prayer, the people in the surroundings laughed and screamed while inside the rectory that now was serving like “waiting room”, a little girl, the duke’s youngest daughter looked outside through the window.
The blade fall down and people cheered but immediately after they saw… something was wrong. The head didn’t fall and the blade was stock, the Duke was choking with his own blood and a gravely-like silence involved everything. “Finish him, finish him in the love of God” somebody screamed in the crowd. Jean Pierre tried to pull the blade back up and leave it fall again but is was stocked, he screamed at the people watching, asking for an Axe and nobody answered. The was only one option…
He climbed over the table and he stepped over the blade, pushing it down with all his bodyweight, the blood started to split in the surroundings and the girl watching inside screamed from the bottom of her heart, the people watching remained silent at the beginning, but the blade was still stock… one, two, three kicks and the forth one made the trick, the duke’s head fall to the ground and started to roll in the middle of the people’s feet. The crowd escaped terrified screaming and trying not to step in the line of blood that was pouring from the platform. Jean Pierre looked at the captain in charge with his face covered of blood; the captain looked at him back and only said “clean up this mess, we are done for today”.
Jean Luke walked back to his house, his hands were already clean and he was wearing now a clean short some neighbor gave him, he just keep walking dragging his feet looking at his shoes completely covered of blood and mud when a soldier voice made him stop: “wait, you forget you pay”
The soldier reached him and gave him an small bag of leather, offered him a warm look and putting a hand on his shoulder said “when the newborn France needed you, you didn’t hesitated; you are a good son of France”. Then he walked away. The weight on his hand made him think on food for his family, some milk for his cat, and a new pair of shoes; and he couldn’t avoid to smile.
Yes, today it was a good day for Jean Pierre.
Writen by: E.S. Connor
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