by Jardonn Smith
I am in pain. I look through up and down metal bars, metal bars built into cutout of wood door. I look down to the man snoring in his cell. His undergarment white, some kind of fabric, the kind his people call shorts, cover him low on his waist stopping at the top part of his legs. His other clothes have been taken from him, and he sleeps because he has suffered many punishments for many hours. I am in pain because I watched him suffer. Worse, I helped them to make him suffer.

It is strange how they bring him to the place they try to hide from him. He says he is called Marshall Crane. They do not believe him. He says he is a sailor in the U.S. Navy. They say he is more. He says he fell into water from his ship called USS Philippine Sea, says it is aircraft carrier, says he was blown off flight deck by jet engines of a Corsair. I do not know these new airplanes called jets. I hear them high up in air, but I do not understand their sounds. I think maybe to make such noise this jet will blow a man from his flight deck into water, but no matter what I think. They say he lies. He says he swam to shoreline, swam on his back, swam from somewhere in Sea of Japan to shoreline at Kosong. They say it is not possible from so far. They say he came in small boat. They say he came alone or with others. He says, “Where is this boat? Why is there no boat?” They say he spies for United Nations, spies for United States, enemy to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They say he came searching for their big guns built into cliff, still being built into cliff, guns hidden in cliff rock, and so they bring him to cliff rock and make him suffer. He must suffer until he tells them truth.
He is a beautiful snoring man. He is not like men I know. He has hair on skin, some on chest, some on stomach, some on feet, much on legs. It is strange for me, so much hair, but he is a beautiful man. He is not so tall, but he is more wide than men I know, at his shoulders, at his chest, at his arms and legs. His sides taper from ribs to waist. When his stomach stretches his muscles show. Muscles curve like a pear around his navel, his navel a deep hole.
I do not like Gim Pak. He brings us here to serve his men, my sister and I. We cook, we clean, we wash clothes. We do not like to do this for Gim Pak. He takes us from our village, says we must do our duty to country, for his men building guns in cliff rock. I do not like Gim Pak, but he does his duty to country, so I obey. It is Russian I hate more. He stops Gim Pak from building guns in cliff rock, says he must make Marshall Crane suffer. He is called Feodor and he is very bad. Because of Russian we do not cook, my sister and I. We do not clean, we do not wash. We help make Marshall Crane suffer. Feodor tells Gim Pak. Gim Pak tells us, says to bring water in buckets, salt in bowls.
They have a round table for Marshall Crane, but it is not big enough for him. Only his length from his behind to his shoulders fit on top. Arms, legs and head do not. The table is in a room not finished, dug into cliff. Wood posts hold up ceiling of room. Loose rocks from wall sit on rock floor. Four ropes keep Marshall Crane on top of table, two tied to ankles, two tied to wrists, all tied to wood posts. Ropes go four ways to reach posts. Arms and legs go four ways, go almost to floor. Man on table is stretched and his back curves, chest goes up, stomach goes flat. I see muscle. He sees upside down.
Gim Pak brings a machine. I know this machine. Gim Pak has many. He pulls cord, motor starts, makes light in room. Our room has light, no need for machine. Cords and wires are not hooked to light. Feodor the Russian holds cords, made of rubber, lets Marshall Crane see.
“Wha… what are those?” he asks. “Spark plug wires?”
“Of a sort,” says Russian. “Thought we’d give you a jump start.”
“You son of a bitch,” says sailor.
I do not know these words — spark plug, jump start, son of a bitch.
Ends of cords are round, thick, tiny wires inside, like needles inside. Gim Pak pulls cord on machine, flips switch. Russian puts cords onto man tits, needles into man tits. Marshall Crane’s back curves more, toes curl, fingers make fists, eyes close tight. He smiles upside down, makes sound like growling bear. His body shakes, muscles tense. Beautiful man.
Russian removes needles, asks sailor for truth. Sailor says same words, same story, gets needles to tits. More jump start. Longer time, louder sounds, room is cold but suffering man sweats. Very beautiful man.
Gim Pak flips switch, torture stops, Russian drops cords, sailor’s tits bleed.
We lick his blood, my sister and I. Russian tells Gim Pak, Gim Pak tells us. Our tongues lick Marshall Crane. Our lips suck the sailor’s man tits. He lifts his head, watches us, his stomach goes up and down very fast. He watches us do what Kim Pak says. Our fingers put salt to his tits. Our fingers rub salt in circles. With our eyes we try to tell him we do not like to hurt him, do not want to burn his bleeding tits with our salt, and I think he pretends to smile before he moans, drops his head. He listens to Feodor the Russian ask same questions. He says no words.
Russian and Kim Pak bring one rock, one too heavy for one to lift. Rock goes onto man’s stomach, all muscle between bone of his hip and bone of his chest. Marshall Crane is sick. Maybe he will puke, but no time — cord is pulled, switch is flipped and needles stuck into salted tits.
Why does he not tell truth? Why does he not say any words to end his torture? Truth or lie?
He only makes sounds of the bear, sounds of a puking bear for many hours, many repeats of jump starts, questions, jump starts, sucking of blood, sucking of salt, rubbing of fresh salt, jump starts, questions, jump starts, jump starts. His white shorts turn yellow. We rinse. His white shorts turn brown. We rinse. He endures more pain, more torture. Such agony, such strength, such an incredible, beautiful man.
He will die before he will talk, but he is too beautiful to die. Day one of his suffering has ended. Now he sleeps. Tomorrow he suffers more, and if he suffers, I suffer. I am in pain for what I did, but not for long. I will not watch them, I will not help them. I, we, my sister and I will help you.
Do you hear us, Marshall Crane? Metal bars are open, cell door open. You must stand, Marshall Crane. You must walk. We know this cliff rock. We know outside of this cliff rock. You must use all your strength, come with us from north to south. You must not die, Marshall Crane, sailor man. You amazing, glorious, beautiful, beautiful man.

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