Deputy Jailer Afzal Hossain sat sweating in his leather recliner. The ancient ceiling fan whirled on noisily trying to dispel the stuffy air in the room to no avail. The officer wiped his balding forehead with a handkerchief as he stared at the inmate sitting on the floor in front of him. The inmate looked young, probably in his late teens, and annoyingly pretty. Pretty boy in a pretty pickle, huh.
"Sir, we should transfer him to the hospital immediately," Chief guard Hawaldar supplied. "He coughed up a lot of blood this morning."
Pretty boy in a pretty big mess. Drowning in his own blood. Red hot blood. Afzal Hossain blinked. Where did that thought come from? The stray violent thoughts have been more intrusive than usual lately. Afzal Hossain looked at the boy again and felt his insecurities flare up. Why was the boy so pretty? Thick lashes, pale smooth skin. With a start Afzal Hossain realized the boy has the same facial structure as his wife. His newlywed wife.
Afzal Hossain had gotten married very recently. His bride was about half his age, and devastatingly beautiful. So very beautiful and distant. Afzal Hossain did not really know how to approach his aloof beautiful bride. He had little experience with the fairer sex, his conservative upbringing partly at fault here. The crippling insecurities about his own appearance did not help either.
Afzal Hossain leafed through the pretty boy's files. He was part of the separatist rebel bloc fighting for freedom in the hills. The boy apparently hailed from a family of separatist rebels. He was arrested only last week while acting as a courier, carrying ammunition and medicine.
"Sir, I think it's malaria." Chief guard Hawladar tried again.
Hawladar felt a bit agitated but he tried not to show it. The boy was barely out of his teens, he reminded Hawaladar of his own son.
"The quota for prisoner patients is already filled." Afzal Hossain stood up from his recliner and started pacing around the boy. "We cannot get him hospitalized today, unfortunately."
The seats were filled with inmates who were perfectly healthy. Most of the rich inmates bribed the officers to get better facilities in the prison hospital. Hawladar knew this, and his eyes darkened slightly. The religious minded Hawladar never really got around the blatant corruption of the prison department.
Afzal Hossain sat down and looked at the prisoner again. The boy looked up and stared at him with bloodshot eyes. But his raised eyebrow was eerily similar to his wife's. Just this morning Afzal Hossain's bride stared at him with the exact same arched brow. Slap that expression off his face. Afzal Hossain shook his head.
Afzal Hossain's mother had been pressurizing him to give her a grandchild. Afzal Hossain was an only child, and as such the only hope for his mother for a grandkid. Afzal Hossain certainly wanted a child himself, but his insecurities around his wife made that avenue a herculean challenge. Just take the bitch. Make her yours. Claim her. Afzal Hossain's inner voice had been growing more and more violent recently. On some level he knew that he needed help, but his pride didn't allow him to admit it, even to himself.
He stood up and kneeled in front of the boy, checking his temperature. The boy's warm skin felt smooth under his palm. Suddenly, the boy lurched and threw up a mess of half-digested food and blood on him. Afzal Hossain's vision became hazy. Red. Red. Red. Afzal Hossain saw only red.
Show this piece of shit who you are. Red. Red. Red. More red. Warm red. Afzal Hossain saw only red.
"Sir, sir. For Allah's sake, please stop." Afzal Hossain blinked. Hawaldar was holding his hand which had a baton. The baton had blood on it. Afzal Hossain looked down and saw that the inmate was on the floor lying on his back bleeding. Afzal Hossain staggered back in shock.
The room was soon filled with other officers and guards. There was a sudden great rush. Papers were filed. A death certificate was signed. The rebel prisoner was shown to be sick with Malaria and had died on a hospital bed. His body will be transferred to the zilla hospital for autopsy.
The body was on a stretcher by the prison gate. Someone had doused it with Phenyle to stop it from smelling. Afzal Hossain stood stoically by the body. The smell of Phenyle assaulting his nose. Red. Warm Red.
"Shall I warm your dinner?" Afzal Hossain's wife asked as he sat in the entryway removing his boots. The inmates' death had made his day extremely exhausting, he had to file a week's worth of extra paperwork.
"Yes please. A raw onion with it too." Afzal Hossain told his wife without making eye contact. The bitch's face. Her face. Her brows. His brows. His inner voice mused.
Afzal Hossain rushed to the washroom. Splashing cold water on his face he felt a bit better. Suddenly, the smell of Phenyle assaulted his nose again. The haze around his vision was back again. I see red. Red. Warm red. Afzal Hossain walked into the kitchen and grabbed his wife by the wrist. The girl looked up with shock on her face.
Red. Red. Warm red. I will show you red.
Akib Jabed is an MA student of creative writing track of ULAB.