Nonfiction 3

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By Wu Ming

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Don’t you worry, they won’t shoot us. ’ ‘Yeah, don’t worry,’ he said. He headed towards the truck, cursing. ‘What are you doing? ’ asked one of the others. The Roman shrugged. ’ He pointed to the captain. ‘I don’t trust him one bit. Whatever happens he’ll bang us in the slammer. And he’s just as capable of having us lined up and shot. ’ He picked up his rucksack again. ‘If my wife could see me now . . Fuck the lot of you, your father and your –’ As he turned around he caught a sudden movement, the captain taking something out of the interpreter’s belt.

Everyone who had been besieged in the church was arrested and dragged away. All but Rizzi and Pinamonti. A moment before the police burst in, the architect and the teacher had hidden themselves in a confessional. Just by a hair, they had escaped being beaten up and arrested. They stayed in the sacristy talking about what had happened, while the priest went to deliver his protest at police headquarters, saying that the church had been profaned and that even if the sky should fall he would reconsecrate it that very afternoon, in front of the faithful and all the people of the city.

They were used to death, even their own, they had grown accustomed to it over thousands of generations. On the other side eyes lowered, reflected sensations. The two rows of men faced one another, motionless, like statues abandoned in a field. One of the condemned men rubbed a foot against his leg, a movement at once automatic and grotesque. The captain turned to face the houses and called the interpreter over. ‘The inhabitants of this village have given refuge to communist rebels. ’ The interpreter translated.

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