It was the night that wouldn’t sleep. And the stifling cold crept through cracks in the ships wooden walls. And every time the angry waves crashed against the boat, water seeped through. Crash. Pool of water. Crash. Pool of water. Rex wondered how long it’d be before the guard with the stubby beard returned, stomping on the creaky steps. Pool of water. Another cough from the frail old woman who sat to August Rex’s left, chained to the hold’s wooden walls. They were all bound by metal, steel, and anxiety: Rex, the old woman, and ten others. An hour before there had been eleven others, and before that, fifteen: sickness and suicide.
Rex tapped the back of his wrist shackle against the wood under his feet. The drunken guard stumbled down stairs, a bottle of liquor in one hand, a black bat in the other. The bat was stained with blood. Rex dropped his head as the man walked towards him.
“You want more, traitor.” The guard’s bottle dropped from his hand, hit the croaking floor and rolled left to right. “We’ve thrown people over for a lot less than what you’re doing to me. Is that what you want?” The black and crimson stick was pressed against Rex’s nose; the stench of pine and sweat poured into his nostrils. “I will beat you good and give you to the tiger whales. Is that what you want?”
Rex wanted to stand, but couldn’t. A belt fastened him to the craggy bench he sat on. He felt a splinter in his right ass cheek. He wanted to respond, but anything he said would make the beating worse. He was restricted to a wooden plank, in a wooden box, and all he could think about was whether or not the King had completely abandoned him. Pool of water. He was banished from the kingdom, and on his way to exile.
The guard’s bat shattered Rex’s jaw. Another prisoner checked out. Pool of water. The night had a mind of its own.
Randy Brown Winston writes about death, religion, and politics in worlds and times afar, but much like our own. He has written for The Blue Mountain Review, Rasputin: A Poetry Thread, and The Sentinel. He also served as editor-in-chief at The Sting, Kennesaw State University’s student publication (formerly Southern Polytechnic State University), where he became the first ever student commencement speaker in 2014. He currently hosts the monthly MFA Student Reading Series at The New School.