6 Nov


centurion photo: centurion Centurion_25482507_std.jpgThe Centurion gazed malevolently at Grobbos and shook his head.
“They want you, lad,” he muttered. “They know you’ve deflowered one of their young beauties and they want you.”
“Deflowered? That’s a bloody joke,” snorted Grobbos, stepping outside his shell of insular introversion for a moment. “It wasn’t me, that’s for sure.”
“You mean, some other guy poked his tackle into her? Not you? Then you’d best tell me who the other guy was before I hand you over…”
“I meant it was her, sir!” retorted an anguished Grobbos. “She called me to her, she flashed her body at me, all of it, top and bottom, and sweet-talked me into her home. I couldn’t help it, I swear it. And her eyes were alight … really alight, sir, and her words … she was a foul-mouthed little darling, you can take my word for that! She knows what dirty words can do to a man when they’re spoken by a lass! And she knew what to do, all right. She had me wrapped round her little finger, I swear it.”
“So it was you?” The Centurion was enjoying himself. He didn’t like Grobbos, never had. The man was too quiet for his liking, too lonesome, too bound up in his own thoughts and different from his comrades. He liked his troops to be on the verge of being wild. And if there was any raping and pillaging to be done he wanted it to be decent bullying raping and pillaging by a gang of sex-hungry soldiers, not this sneaking into a young tart’s room and doing the deed in private.
“I was there, but it was down to her,” muttered Grobbos.
“Sir!” shrieked the Centurion. “Well, as I see it, that’s that, lad. The locals want you. They want to have some fun before they send you to spend eternity with your ancestors. And they will, man, they will. It’s our orders not to interfere in local affairs, especially in this neck of the woods where things could turn nasty.”
“What about the girl, sir..?” asked Grobbos, an image of the tantalizing Mary dancing on a stage inside his head, naked and desirable and beckoning him, bright eyes taunting him. It was an image that came too often since she had seduced him less than a month ago.
“Oh, she’s long gone. They’re all on the move for the census, and she’s gone with a bloke she’s intended for. I did ask, thought her word might do you some good, but it seems it wouldn’t have. They’re funny folks round here, lad, and it seems that the very fact that you raped her…”
“I never did that, sir!”
“In their eyes you did, and the very fact that you did it made her more guilty than you. So she’s beaten it, gone off into the wilds, and you’re to take the blame. All of it, and there’s nothing you nor I nor even the Emperor could do about it. They have their rules round here, lad, and we’re guests in their country, we’re subject to them just like anyone else…”
“And they’re going to try me?”
“Try you, son? No, nothing formal like that! In their eyes you’ve already been found guilty! No, it’ll be a damned good stoning for you! And they won’t be happy until your blood has all oozed out into the midday sands …that’s the way they are, son, and I’m sorry, but I’d best sacrifice you than have a rebellion to cope with…”
“Stoning, sir” Grobbos shivered. He knew about stoning all right. It was the peasant’s justice, the kind of thing that happened when the odd rules and religion of these dreadful people had been transgressed. And it was always fatal when viewed from the perspective of he or she being stoned.
Stoned to death…
“I did nothing, sir, nothing to earn their hatred…” he began. “In my way I loved her … I was gentle with her … and she egged me on until I was a wreck of shivering nerves and … and … and…”
“And had the prince of hard-ons?” suggested the Centurion.
“Sort of, sir,” agreed Grobbos dejectedly.
“You despoiled a young virgin … fifteen, they say she is, and that’s that.” concluded the other.
“If she was a virgin then I’m a Turk,” growled Grobbos.
“Then a Turk you be,” sighed the Centurion. “That’s all. My inner guard will hand you over, together with gold to compensate the girl’s father for your wretchedness, and we’ll get on with this goddamn country until our tour’s over and then we’ll get home ready for the Winter Solstice… That’s the rest of us, Grobbos, not you…
“You’ll be all alone in the desert sands with blood-stained stones piled all around you…”
© Peter Rogerson 06.11.14


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