by John Goldbach

Tears began to form in his eyes while, thinking of his mother and brothers and father and sisters and friends and girlfriend, as he stood in front of the Kazan Cathedral, staring at its gold cross penetrating the blue sky, an artificial looking sky, like a Technicolour movie sky, and the gold twinkling in the omnipresent sun, he dreamed of a video camera recording him, men in masks and a knife to his throat, all of these things he thought of while tears formed and he thought about what he’d say, what he’d do, in the last few minutes before these men, these men he had little to nothing to do with, decided to chop off his head, like they’d done to others, while staring at the spire shining in the bright sun and tears were growing larger and starting to leak out of the corners of his eyes, but he’d be brave, he decided, not begging but smiling, smiling into the camera, and he’d say that he loved his mother and his brothers and his father and his sisters and his friends and girlfriend very much, especially his girlfriend, who was his favourite person that he’d ever met while living, and that he was grateful to her, perhaps, but that would sound lame so maybe he’d just tell everyone that he loved them all, keep it simple, not waste words, and be brave right before the men with the black balaclavas cut off his head and it fell to the dusty ground of some cave, though maybe he’d say something about his captors, too, like they were just fools so the world should forgive them, something Christlike and understanding, something full of infinite love, since he wouldn’t have to make good on that love but rather he’d just die and be done with it so he could afford to say something special and sweet for the world to remember his boundless benevolence by and he hoped that people would miss him, miss him so much, and he thought about Tom Sawyer and going to one’s own funeral and he wondered what people would say, if they’d express anger over his terrorist kidnappers or if they’d talk about what could’ve been, the potential he wouldn’t have to make good on but would nevertheless be remembered for because he’d had his head chopped off by terrorists in some remote locale, as a result of some conflict he had little to nothing to do with, and the clouds moved fast past the Kazan Cathedral in the big blue northern sky, and he started to cry a little more as he pictured his brothers hugging his mother, his girlfriend sedated with pills, everyone dressed in black, and his father silent as stone as his friends smoked cigarettes, not knowing what to say to one another, simply shaking their heads in disbelief, and he started shaking, thinking of all the people he loved mourning him and missing him and they wouldn’t be able to forget about him because he was killed by terrorists so he’d have scholarships named after him and maybe a day named after him, too, or a street or something, or a statue like Field Marshall Kutuzov, in his hometown and then he said: —This is ridiculous and narcissistic, and his thoughts started to calm down.


John Goldbach is the author of Selected Blackouts, a collection of short fiction published by Insomniac Press in 2009. He lives in Montreal, where he works the nightshift at the UN or NASA or something.

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