Friday, February 15, 2008

A Bloodless Fight


Apology Accepted, General Mowk

I was famished, so I decided to pop in on Dex Jettster. He’s the only one I know who can make graschner slugs taste better than my grandmother can. “Hey, Red!” Dex boomed as I walked into the diner. “The usual?”
“Please. And a cup of threein caf.”
Wiping his two dirtiest hands on his food-splotched apron, Dex poured me a steaming mug of black caf. With a flourish he flung two cubes of dried, fermented threein eggs into the mug. He placed a cap on it and shook it until it was finely mixed. Another minute and my graschner slugs were ready. Dex threw them into a to-go container and winked at me. “On the house, Red.”

I grinned and nodded my thanks to him as I left. I hopped into a cab and directed the driver to my barbershop. Oh, perhaps you didn’t know that barbershops existed on Coruscant? Well, mine’s one of the few (and probably the best) around. I mean, Jedi and Wookiees have to get their hair cut sometime, right?
Anyway, I walked into the shop and hungrily devoured the delicious food. When I finished, I started cleaning one of the razors that I regularly used. The bells above the door jangled barely a few minutes after I finished. I turned and saw a figure I truly never want to see again.

General Daqqer Mowk was a Gran…a Gran who had brutally murdered my family on Malastare. He didn’t know the identities of the people he had killed. No, it was just business, just a random raid formulated to enforce the idea that Grans were in charge on my homeworld. The Separatist scare was, and still is, in full force, and many of the people on my homeworld were torn between the Separatists and the Republic.

I clutched the razor. How I wanted to jump at him, slash his throat as he had my mother’s, tie him to the wall and cut his wrists as he had my father’s, cut out his heart as he had my brother’s…but I forced myself to smile at the general. He hadn’t even bothered to evict hundreds of families from their homes before he burned them down, but I plastered a smile and looked up at him.
Many Grans were congenitally hairless or shaved their hair, but Mowk had evidently not shaved in weeks, maybe even a month. His cinnabar-colored beard was nearly to his waist and his shiny belt buckle.
“Hello, Barber. I need a shave.” He removed his cap to reveal a head of curly red hair. “Head, too. All of it.”
I croaked past the ball forming in my throat, “Alright, sir. If you’ll kindly step this way and take a seat.”

As I prepared the razor, I glanced down and my eyes alighted on the drain in the middle of the floor. It was designed to drain used water. It funneled the water into plants specifically designed to recycle it. The water was boiled, captured as it evaporated, and frozen in its pure state. The excess was thrown into an incinerator.
The drain could easily funnel blood…but no. I would not disgrace my name…or would I?
I was nearly shaking as I wetted the razor. The Gran closed his three eyes with a long, low sigh. Few words were spoken as I cut, inch by inch, the beard adorning his smooth skin.
Not once did this…monster…I controlled the life of open his eyes. Not until I had finished did he open them, slowly, as if he were some creature awakened from a deep, peaceful sleep.

Despite my shaking, clumsy fingers, not a bit of stubble had been left unshaved. Mowk closely inspected his chin in the tall mirror, and then nodded in obvious satisfaction. He leaned back once more and awaited the touch of the razor on his scalp.
I watched out of the corner of my eye as the soapy, foamy water flowed and collected in a little whirlpool as it drained. I could almost see General Mowk’s blood flowing, running down the sides of the chair in little cascades. I looked upon this monster, upon his smooth, vulnerable throat, and could almost smell the distinct, metallic smell of blood.
With one slice I could finish him off once and for all. But what would my fellow Dugs say? What would they call me? “Rednax the hero,” or “Rednax the murderer, killer of a loyal government servant”? My name would be whispered in the alleyways, and all would know who was under discussion. “Rednax, the one who saved us from General Mowk — just to subject us to another tyrant, worse than the first!” The galaxy would no longer be a safe place for me, especially not Coruscant or Malastare. No, the Grans would make it worse for my kind, until the Dugs turned on me as well. Then they, the Grans and Dugs, would in all likelihood team up to hunt me down. They would not care that I was avenging my family. I would be forced to forge a new identity, become someone I was not.

I looked back down and found Mowk’s three eyes staring into mine. And somehow…he knew. He knew that I was an indirect victim of his massacres, but more so than most Dugs. He knew that he had butchered my family. I could feel it…and I hated him all the more for it.
I jumped back into action. Within a few standard minutes, the General’s head was glimmering, but it was as tough as a dewback’s hide.
With another forced, and hopefully not-too-nervous smile, I applied a lotion to soothe the scalp. “K-keep using this, sir, and your head will soon be smooth and soft, like a baby’s. Careful not to get it in your eyes,” I cautioned, waving a slightly quivering finger at him. “It’s potent enough stuff to cause temporary blindness.”

Mowk nodded as I removed the bib. “Thank you, Barber. You do your job well.” He moved to the door in a few brisk strides and with a very noticeable, self-confident swagger, and then stopped with his hand on the doorknob.
My heart seemed to boom like a shipful of exploding thermal detonators, one after the other after the other.
Mowk turned, and my hand once again tightened its grip on the razor. A slow, slow smile turned the corners of his lips toward the sky. “They told me you are a good man, Rednax. They told me you would not harm me.” He nodded again. “They were right.” He looked down at his feet and seemed to deflate as he sighed. “What I did to your family…” He swallowed hard. “It was…I was merely…I was just following orders, Rednax. Orders are orders.” He looked up, and I was astounded to see tears glittering in his eyes. “I know that ‘sorry’ doesn’t do a thing, but…I’m sorry. I truly am.” Mowk turned back towards the door. As he left, Mowk said quietly, “Goodbye, Rednax.”


I stood staring at my family’s graves. There I still stand, and recount this tale as I do. General Daqqer Mowk was wrong. “Sorry” can mean a lot.

©2008 Benny Heather

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