Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Good, Hard Man

Goro Kusowa is a good man. Used to be a hard man.

He was en route to being a police officer. He went through the whole five weeks at the slaughterhouse, smashing skulls and slitting throats. The point was to desensitize a potential officer, so that when they had to kill they wouldn’t hesitate so much.

Well, part of the point. The other part was giving the slaughterhouse five weeks of free labor, and the kickbacks it earned the police chief.

Regardless, the ritual separated the men from the meek. People quit. Strong men, men who could survive a riot, made it five weeks cutting bovine throats.

Goro made it five weeks without a flinch. Even the owner of the factory called his attitude inhuman. Goro made nothing of it, washed his hands, and spent the week vacation helping his dad on the family farm.

Seems his dad had a horrible accident. Cut himself up bad. Goro had to operate on him, with next to no experience. Had to perform surgery on his dad right there on the kitchen table, bleeding into his sister’s peach cobbler. You couldn’t wish that on anyone. And Goro had no experience at it, so Mr. Kusowa died.

Goro couldn’t take much of anything after that. Couldn’t go back to the slaughterhouse. Couldn’t go back to the academy. Couldn’t put a sword in his belt, or keep his hand straight to button his shirt. His sister had to cut his dinner up for him, and holding a fork made him sweat like the summer had come early.

Didn’t talk in his sleep, but muttered much while he was awake. Sister kept catching him calling himself a murderer. He didn’t murder his father, but that failure was every bit as bad as a murder attempt. That did him. Morals didn’t matter. You see, morals are something humans made up. Ain’t no other way about. Dirt’s real. Leather’s real. Morals are in your head and they get twisted like thoughts. Maybe they are thoughts, or they’re the flavors thoughts come in. Convincing somebody of a moral is like convincing them a ghost’s in the oven. What matters is what moves you. What does you. And Goro’s father dying while he was holding the knives did Goro.

Soon as he buried his father he sent in notice, quitting the academy. He became a monk, but wouldn’t even shave his head. His sister had to shave it for him, just as she’d dug the grave and wrote the letter of resignation. She had to hold the razor, the shovel and the pen. All were mightier than he. She’s probably got to butter his bread for him, and you know a man that husky takes butter on his bread.

Instead of police work, that hard, hard man took up basket weaving. Sells them on the side of the road near his house. Near his sister’s house, that is. Don’t think he’s ever traveled more than a hundred miles from it since.

He’s a good man, though. He yokes the oxen for her, and tends to the fields. They seem to like him, and he doesn’t flinch around them.

1 comment:

  1. I'm stunned. This is amazing. Despite or perhaps because of the incongruous details (bleeding in the peach cobbler) it hits home really hard. The whole piece about morals - and the point that we make up the distinction between good and bad - that's incredibly well-put.

    As usual, you manage to put into eloquent words what I've only ever clumsily thought.


Counter est. March 2, 2008