Fiction | Milo
It is half past six in the afternoon, and the sky is the kind of light blue colour that you find splayed on premium water bottles. You know the colour. The low early evening light drips through the arched window panes of the courtroom, and the glass makes the sky seem as artificially strange as bottled water. It’s hot inside the courtroom but much cooler outside, or at least my phone tells me that that is the case. Hot, cold, it doesn’t matter really buried as I am under this Kevlar vest. I rub my brow as I listen to my superior. The thin layer of cloth between my helmet and head starts to chafe. I rub my brow some more, ignoring the fact that it cannot reach that itchy spot. There is a raucous cheer in the courthouse as the defendant receives his sentence, however I can’t say what it is as I am not paying too much attention to it. So many counts of this, a few more counts of that, he deserves so much worse, he deserves to rot in prison forever etc. I wonder, as I yawn, if my disinterest is healthy or unhealthy. I also wonder, as our unholy procession starts, whether they will remember him five years from now, five days from now or even five minutes from now. I hold his arm. It’s flabby. There is no resistance, and I imagine it’s because he hasn’t processed where I am taking him. It usually takes them a while to process it, and from what my co-workers tell me, he’ll probably contemplate suicide as he wakes up in the middle of the night, trapped beneath another man colder and capable of greater cruelties than himself. I think about that first night often, perhaps because I am not the one who will be responsible for seeing them through it. This weird combination of love and hate we must have, those of us charged with protecting people from themselves, I can’t make sense of it. We are outside and the crowds chants are deafening. Spit falls on my face, and a bashful protester half apologises realising that they have missed their target. At least I hope she did. When I see her again at another protest, I’ll have to remember to ask.