Salvation Now [Flash Fiction]

Two cups of coffee . Two friends in Cafe Mogador.

“I have a solution for crime,” she said.

“What is it?” He asked.

“Crucifixion,” she said.

He asked, “Crucifixion?”

“Yes,” she said, “we must crucify criminals. Nail them to their crosses.”

“Crucify them?” He asked. I won’t say how.

“There is no other way, really,” she said.

They paused.

“Are you mad?” He asked.

“Mad in more than one way, maybe,” she said. “What is madness, though?” She asked. “Mad as a hatter, they used to say,” she said. “All hatters went mad, right?” She asked. “A high incidence of madness among hatters–was it the mercury?” She asked.

“There has to be something else to do with them?” He asked.

“All else is diversion and lies when it comes to what to do with them. We have to be brutal with criminals,” she said.

“But—”

“There are no buts,” she interrupted. “There is nothing humane about punishment, and punishment cannot be ignored, cannot be avoided.”

“Punishment is an agent of power. It functions by power for the benefit of power with the sanction and defense of power,” he said.

“No, punishment is agent of the human,” she said. “The human always punishes the animal in us. There is no human without punishment. Don’t you know that?” She asked. “You must always do what is right, but what is right cannot be weak and insipid,” she said. “There is Justice, but it often lies beyond our understanding. Civilization as advanced by dropping millstones on heads,” she said. “Morality has its genealogy, and that line of descent has been its brutality against criminals. It’s not Thou Shall Not Kill, but Thou Shall Not Murder,” she said.

They paused.

“So, we must crucify them then?” He asked.

“Of course.”

“So, it’s crucifixion as an agent of civilization?” He asked.

“One of the many horrors of existence,” she said. “We absolutely have to. You think not, you think otherwise, I know, but that would be a mistake. Crime deserves its punishment, and not to punish a crime is another one, against Nature, and this Nature will cry out,” she said.

“You think so?”
“I know so,” she said. “The thirst of the human and for the human is to drown the animal in us.”

“So you think we must hang placards from their necks in public,” he said.

“Yes,” she said, “in Public—before everyone there is to see,” she said. “Line Broadway from the Battery to Fort Tryon Park, and you will see a change,” she said.

“Line Broadway from one end of the island to the other?”

“It’s the only way.”

“I don’t know if I can get there, accepting this,” he said.

“There are many people who feel as you do,” she said. “But we have to see the writhing broken bodies if public morality is ever to be instructed, and instructed it must be. Good is not of nature—in fact, there is no good or bad in nature. But the last thing a civilization needs to be is natural—that’s our mistake. It is red in tooth and claw; our humanity has little to do with our nature as a species of animal, Homo sapiens. You don’t think the Romans were barbarians, do you? They were not—in fact, there were no citizens of any country anywhere in the world for two thousand years who were as protected by law and who lived as free as Roman Citizens, even under their Imperium. Crucifixion was an instrumental tool in Roman civilization, and do not think that it was not.”

“But do you think that you can instruct public morality?”

“Instruct it this way, of course, I do,” she said. “There is no other way to impart morality except by instruction—imposing it. Don’t think that chimps have any morality, don’t think that any animal in any jungle or forest has any. The theater of the cross is an effective tool, an effective method, as theatre has always been. I mean Crassus had Spartacus and his army of seven thousand slaves crucified from Bari to Rome—and don’t think that that did not help, it did. He saved Rome, didn’t he? No other rebellion for five hundred years until the fall of the empire in the west. Darius of Persia understood. Charlemagne did too. Vladimir of Hungary also. Darius glorified Persia as Charlemagne and Vladimir saved Christendom from pagans and infidels. Do we need more?” She asked.

I don’t think there could be more.

“I know what you’re thinking,” she said.

“You do?” He asked.

“Yes,” she said.  “But do unto others as you would have them do unto you is exactly the point, just before they ever get the chance to do to you, that’s all, always,” she said.

The end.

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