Ritual At Daybreak

by Merkin

"Do you want a cigar?" The young officer spoke in fluent English.

"Do you even have a cigar?" Sebastian stood against the brick wall, his hands bound behind him.

"Oh, yes. We keep one in this little box, just for this occasion. It is seldom requested, so this one is maybe five years old."

"No cigar."

"Do you have any last words?"

"No, I have been shouting those for the past week."

"I admire your bravado, Englishman. A pity it did not serve you when you committed your act of insanity."

Sebastian shrugged.

"Do you have any regret?" The young officer looked searchingly at his prisoner.

Sebastian hesitated, then cleared his throat. "I regret I never learned your language. I would like to have read its poetry."

"You do not speak Farsi?" The young officer was astonished.

"No, not a word."

"But the crime for which you have been convicted..."

"I have been curious."

"It was blasphemy. You were found in the middle of the riot you caused, shouting curses against our culture."

"Actually I was asking directions to the market. I wanted to buy a bit of bacon."

The young officer paused for a moment.

"Do you want a blindfold?"

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