Fourth Tourmaline: Sympathy for the Torturer (final)


Sympathy for the Torturer


And he doubted he would know his grandmother’s apartment house, or even find it. You couldn’t ask someone where the street you remembered had been. It was subversive talk, this raising of nostalgia. He would not find the offices of Palma’s old newspaper, where she’d let him sit watching her at her work…and never would buy any of his poems, or assign him an article.

For the new people, brought in to make the population of each city quadrant equal, nothing in D had ever been named.

As soon as Anton sank into an upper-tier seat, close to the stairs, he was joined by a uniformed officer. So the precaution was of no use. His badge, traveling on his person, had signaled his violation via the bus’s console.

“But,” he said, “if I don’t get off. If I only ride, and come back to ANE…”

“No, no. You had better show me. We’ll take a walk and then we’ll come back in a car. You have some idea, Leonhardt, that your grandmother lived down in D. You were a reporter, weren’t you, for that woman Palma?”

This, Anton would rather not deny, if the officer believed it.

“All those delusions of yours are in your file. Healthier for you seeing for yourself.”

Otherwise lulled by the ride, resigned to his arrest, Anton didn’t like the way the officer peered at him every time he came to a blank between thoughts. He thought of his mother. Again, another night—he had just said it to himself—I won’t come home, and this time she won’t wonder.

“That’s right,” the officer said, and Anton darted a glance, to find him looking up from the screen he’d been writing on.

And why should I feel bad? I don’t. Maybe Anton could have kept himself out of trouble. But how does she play herself this trick?

“Don’t worry about it.”

“My mother…”




More of this piece on Tourmaline Stories page

Promoted to Exile (fifth Tourmaline)

The Hidtha Language


(copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster)



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