They came into my house, the government police, through the front screen door. I had opened the big steel door when they knocked, but kept the thin screen locked. They sliced it with their knives and, once on my front mat, the striped one that camouflaged the melting slush from their treads, said, “Where are the guns?” “I have no guns,” I said. “I am a pacifist.” “Pacifism does not exist,” the lieutenant of the government police said. “Now show us where you keep your guns.” They did not wait for me to answer in protest. They pushed past me without putting their boots in the rubber tray I keep by the front door for that purpose. They first stomped up the stairs to my bedroom, because that is always where first secrets are held. They cut through the mattress and wiggled the skinny young policeman underneath the frame. They tore the closet doors off the posts and pulled aside the hangers roughly so the neatly ironed clothing fell to the ground, and then they had to swish that aside to check the floorboards and the back corners. They shone their flashlights upwards and saw the attic access. They sent the skinny one up again while they ripped through the linen closet and pulled the tank off the toilet in the bathroom. The skinny one came down with insulation on his cap. “No guns?” the others asked him. He held his hands open to show: no guns. I had told them this much earlier, but no one, least of all government police, believe a pacifist. The lieutenant turned to me. “Tell us where they are. You must have guns. It is the law. It will be easier if you tell us where they are.” I remained silent. I had already said all I needed to say and more denial could only make it worse. They turned away from me and stomped down the stairs and smashed the pipes under the kitchen sink and ripped off the oven door and the fridge door, because if you do not have guns in your oven or in your fridge, then why should you have need of those appliances? They pulled dishes out of the cupboards and let them tumble to the floor for the cliché of the crash. Their movements were practiced. They clanged my pans, turning each one upside-down. They smashed the glasses on top of the pans, though anyone can see clearly through the glassware that there are no guns in my cupboards. They pulled the soot out of the fireplace, last night’s cold embers, and ground them into the freshly vacuumed carpet. They sent the skinny one up the chimney, because a pacifist might be dumb enough to store their guns up a fucking chimney, in the direct lane of smoke and heat from fire. The skinny one came out of the chimney wheezing and exhaling plumes of burned dust. He shook his head. They stomped their sooted boot prints to the basement, which housed only a furnace and a water heater, but those are perfect hiding spots for guns, so they dismantled those with their sledgehammers and steel toed boots. “We cannot find your guns,” the lieutenant of the government police said to me, panting with the exertion of stairs and dismantling and ordering others with his barking voice. “Therefore we must arrest you for perjury, obstruction of justice, and many other crimes we will find you guilty of once we discuss the particulars of your case with the government attorney. Do you still maintain you are a pacifist?” I worked up the spit inside my mouth but I could not expel it. I am a pacifist through and through. Pacifism exists but I did not say it aloud in the hollow room. They smashed my wrists into cuffs behind my back and marched me through my front screen toward their armoured vehicle.
Wendy BooydeGraaff is the author of Salad Pie, a children’s picture book published by Ripple Grove Press. Her flash fiction has been published in Third Wednesday, Rune Bear, Leopardskin & Limes, and SmokeLong Quarterly, and is forthcoming in NOON, Bending Genres, and So It Goes.
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