The Sound of Silence

This is a prologue to 'The Post War Dream' and so doesn't answer any of the questions that people had asked me.
I will write one more piece based on these characters which will answer most if not all of those questions. Furibundo, rest easy till then. :-)

The bottom of the polished metal door scraped the pitted concrete floor as it swung open with a creak. The silhouette of a bald man made itself apparent against the bright light of the bulb outside flooding into the dank gray room through the wide doorway.
Garbed in a black dress uniform the colonel strolled to the record player in the far corner of the room paying no attention to the prisoner bound to one of the two metal chairs in the room. Retrieving a large record from its jacket he examined it carefully, blew away some of the dust that coated the old record and put it onto the waiting turntable. The record player started with a loud click as he turned the switch, the whirring sounding suspiciously loud. He carefully placed the needle on the turning record so as not to break it. A brief burst of static to be replaced by the violins of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
The colonels swift movements were being weighed and measured by the attentive eyes of the other occupant of the room, a prisoner of war. A short man in dirty, ragged clothes, the defiance in his eyes made him seem larger ... made him seem beyond the mere chains and conditions holding him there. A metallic screech permeated the room as the colonel dragged the empty metal chair closer to the prisoner and deposited himself in it. The two men sat face to face, staring at each other, neither of them blinking, like they had all the time in the world. Teacup sized, calm eyes confronted deep set, defiant eyes.
The colonel sighed and shook his head, looked at the prisoner again and pushed himself out of the chair. The sound of his boots almost in time with the music as he paced around the chair, staring at the prisoner once more. Two pairs of eyes, one calm, the other defiant never left each other.
The mutual scrutiny was interrupted by a knock on the door. The creak of the hinges registering its protest, it opened to admit two soldiers, one wheeling in a small metal cart who and another carrying a pair of buckets. Depositing their burdens the soldiers left with a nod to their superior officer.
The colonel slowly walked from the corner of the room to the cart. The two men stared at each other all the while. Calm eyes now had wrinkles at their edges with a slight smile below them. Defiant eyes, now hard as stone with a quivering lip below. The eye contact was broken when the colonel turned his back on the prisoner to busy himself with the paraphernalia on the cart.
The colonel hummed in time with the music ... Tchaikovsky. He broke a blade in half and stuck it in the razor that was on the cart. Losing himself in the valleys and peaks of the piano he directed an imaginary orchestra using the now sharp razor as a baton. A deep sigh and a shake of the head as the piece reached its end. Bending over his prisoner the colonel began cutting his pants just below the knees with flicks of his wrist, leaving the calves exposed. He picked up a large black rag, frayed at the edges with small holes in the material, smelling of petrol. The prisoner kept his eyes open in spite of the petrol stinging his eyes as the colonel folded the rag and lowered it over the prisoners eyes. He could still see through a hole in the rag partially exposing his left eye.
The colonel dragged the two buckets to the prisoners chair. One filled with boiling water and the with cold water, large pieces of ice floating on the surface. Lifting the prisoners legs he dropped them in the hot water with a splash. Picking himself up the colonel walked over to his own chair and lit a cigarette, closed his eyes and enjoyed the music, Bach's "Cantata No. 147". The orchestra played in the large dimly lit hall. Gold cornicing reflecting the light to make it seem brighter. The red carpets and blinds soaking up just enough of the sound to make the acoustics perfect. If only ....
The prisoner stared at his legs, his calves submerged in boiling water. He set his jaw and shifted to look at his captor through his limited viewport. He wondered why he was here. The guards had just picked him up from the field. His friend had tried to stop them, ask them why they were taking him. One of the guards had hit him with the butt of his rifle. Hopefully, he hadn't been hurt too badly. They'd been talking about going back home, about looking at the stars from the roof of their houses. If only ...
The colonel stared at the prisoner over his waning cigarette.
Puffing on the stub of the cigarette the colonel walked over to his victim. He lifted the now beet red legs out of the bucket to examine them. They were scalded. He gently touched the part that seemed to be the most affected and watched the prisoner's face. It seemed to have been set in stone. The colonel could see only the eye moving through the hole in the blindfold. Even an increase in pressure did not seem to make any difference to the expression on the idol's face.
The colonel shrugged and puffed on his cigarette stub. Holding the stub carefully between his forefinger and thumb so as not to burn himself he pulled it out of his mouth and put it out on the prisoners calf, at the exact spot where he had been pressing it. The reluctant embers went out with sizzle. A circle of crimson stood out against a background of red. The only acknowledgment was a soft grunt from the prisoner.
The colonel lifted the prisoner's legs once more and dropped them in the ice water. A stifled yell as the extreme change in temperature assaulted his legs. The fresh wound seemed to be on fire and bathed in snow at the same time.
Bach's third Orchestral Suite seemed a fitting accompaniment to the conflict of sensations.
A softer sound ... a humming, barely audible over the organ could be heard but the prisoner didn't pay attention. The humming became louder and turned into a whistle as the colonel directed the music, his fingers moving following the rhythm, he stood on the tips of his toes with the rise in tempo. He looked down at the brass and string orchestra behind closed eyes.
An extraneous sound interrupted his tryst with the destiny of his choosing ... a repetitive sound, almost regular, but not quite. The prisoner's teeth, chattering. The colonel stared at the man in the chair with a mixed look of respect and disdain. The starch in his uniform made his sleeve crinkle as he folded the one sheltering his right arm. The sound of his boots seemed at odds against the soft notes of Mozart's Piano Concerto.
After pulling his charges legs from the bucket, he put his arm into the freezing water. Gritting his teeth against the bitter cold he fished from the bottom a bottle of wine. He glanced at the label, raised his eyebrows and nodded his approval.
The colonel dried his hand on the blindfold. The rusted corkscrew squeaked in protest as it was inserted into the bottle. A pop as the cork was rudely pulled from the place it had rested in for almost a decade. A metal clothespin found its way to the prisoners nose, forcing him to breathe through his mouth. He walked behind the prisoner's chair and grabbed his neck below the chin, roughly pulling his head back.
The colonel forced the bottle into the prisoners mouth despite muffled protests. The red fluid began to flow. A gurgling sound as he tried to close his mouth enough to spit it out, only to be replaced by the sound of him swallowing as much of the wine as he could. The intensity of his thrashing against the chair dropped until it stopped altogether.
The colonel took the bottle out of his mouth, almost all of the wine gone, some of it on the prisoners already stained clothes.
The record player finally finished its run filling the room with static. The colonel walked to the door and dragged it open, the scraping of metal against concrete mingling with the already jarring sounds. The two sentries posted outside filed into the room as the colonel walked over to the record player, waving his hand towards the prisoner, gesturing that he be taken back. One of the sentries untied and lifted the prisoner over his shoulder and walked out the open door. The colonel lifted the needle of the record player, leaving the room in a sudden vacuum.
"Sir, may I ask a question?" the remaining sentry asked in a voice that seemed too young for a soldier fighting in a war.
"Of course, son. Of course." the colonel replied in a deep voice that making the young man's voice sound all the more out of place.
"The man that was in here earlier, sir, he's never spoken a word in all of the interrogations. I've heard you say that he probably doesn't know anything. And .... and he didn't even steal that bottle of wine this time...." the young man's voice trailed off.
"Your point being?"
"Sir, if he didn't do anything, why was he in here?"
"Oh." A deep throated chuckle. "I just wanted to have some fun."

Who am I?

I speak. I listen. I imagine. I dream.
These define who I am ... define all the irregularities and the imperfections that are me.
I am the sum of my experiences and opinions, of my victories and mistakes.
I am the realisation of my wants and losses,
of my hopes and prejudices.
I am the whole of my affections and affectations, of my perceptions and inabilities.
I just am.