The Whip – Part 2
Darlington, Western Australia
Wild Competition Entry
Continued from yesterday …
I was starting to panic. Once John had his mind set, there was no changing it, and God knows this was not a good choice. He just started storming off, the noise of the shrieks that still pierced through all the other sounds of the busy compound, and the noises of the Mosque’s prayer just after dusk.
‘John! Wait!’ I put my drink down and did a brisk walk to catch up to him, but he was moving fast. When I finally caught up to him, he was at the barrier, at the edge of the compound, arguing with the guard that sat at his post.
‘ … can’t keep me here! I have my rights!’
‘But sir, it is not safe. You should stay in the compound, there are many bad people out there, and I am responsible for your well being …’
‘There is a man out there, hitting his wife with the whip he uses for his livestock! Beating her! Why don’t you do something?’
‘Sir, I must ask you to calm down …’
I felt bad for the guard, as he was just trying to do his job. Suddenly, John hit the man, pulling a right hook, connecting with his face. The man went straight down. In that moment I could do nothing but feel like it was completely my fault. I talked him up and now he was at breaking point. Perhaps if I had tried to diffuse the situation and not stoke the fire, the man would have been okay. John stormed out, moving between the barrier pole and the guard station next to it, and disappeared into the night. I knelt down and tried to help the guard. He was unconscious, but seemed to be still breathing, with no visible trauma. I put him in the recovery position and called for help as loud as I could, the sound of the prayers in the mosques still howling out into the night, their ghostly, lonely sounding voices merging with my shouting. I saw someone running in the distance and decided to leave the man and head after John. I hoped there was still time to stop him before he got himself into even more trouble.
I moved as fast as I could around the outside of the compound, to where my house was on the east side. I heard more shouting as I neared the house, darting in between thin alleyways and the questioning stares of the locals. As I got to the square in the village, the dull light sprayed itself out into the street, the silhouette of John could be seen on the road, the large build of him standing over another shadow, which I assumed was the man. The silhouette depicted a very violent scene, John just pumping his fists over and over into the other shadow. I made my way to the front door, but by that point there were already about seven other villagers standing around the door. I pushed through them, and they started yelling at me. I grabbed John back, and held him. He was screaming at the top of his lungs, and was fighting against my grip. The man lay beaten in the doorway, the broken plates laying beside him, with one bloodied whip loose in his clutches. I looked over and saw the woman cowering in the corner, her burka over her face, but the marks on her back were wet from the blood that had soaked through her clothing.
‘John! Come back with me! This is very, very dangerous!’
‘Get off me! I’m not done with this piece of garbage yet!’
He struggled against me, and eventually shook me off, pushing me into the door where I fell down. It was then that I saw it. A crowd of people moved into the house, yelling in Arabic I didn’t understand, some carrying weapons. I looked over at John, who hadn’t noticed them, his view so narrow in his rage, that he continued to beat the man who had been whipping his wife.
‘John! Look out!’
The events that occurred next seemed to be in slow motion, when your adrenaline kicks in and time seems controllable for a split second, if only I had any conscious thoughts to act on. All the villagers converged upon him, a few grabbing him, whilst the others, perhaps four or five of them, started hitting him. They blocked out my view, and I could no longer see John. I tried to scream for them to stop, but they wouldn’t. Suddenly, I was hit with something from behind, and then there was nothing, just the empty dark of unconsciousness.
When I awoke, the wife of the man with the whip was sitting over me. She was dabbing my head with a watery cloth. My vision blurry, I sat up, and looked for John as soon as I remembered what had happened.
‘He is gone. I am sorry. The other men took him away …’
We sat there in silence for a time. I was in shock, and couldn’t quite find a reaction to the situation. I thought about the violence I had witnessed, and how it seemed contagious, spreading through the other villagers like wildfire. Eventually, my emotions caught up with the situation, and I began to lose control. The woman sat with me and tried to calm me down. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I couldn’t believe he was gone. I walked out into the dining area of the house, shuffling like an empty vessel. I looked to see the broken plates littering the floor, blood smeared over the side of the table, pooling on the floor and trailing outside. The whip the only thing that was left untouched, the shape of it’s multiple tails stretched out like accusing fingers.
I never saw John again.
Bio: Adrian tells us that this piece was inspired by a true story, told to Adrian by a client as a Community Nurse. Adrian says that ‘although I do not remember his name, I dedicate this story to him and only hope that it does his story justice.’