VII – A Guilty Roman?

Dear Journal:

I’m not sure how to write this down. Some very peculiar and tragic events have occurred today. I rose as usual and sat down with my morning tea to read the paper. A bright, cheerful spring day shone through my window, and the air was filled with the sound of the morning crowds who were up and about. I had just finished the sports page, when there were a series of sharp raps on my door.

I opened the front door and who should be standing there but a detachment of the Praetorian Guard in their best Sunday Slaughter clothes. The officer in charge looked me up and down with some distain.

“Ready to go, Citizen?”

I must have looked confused. “Go? Go where?” I asked.

“Senate Meeting, Buddy! You were summoned, remember?”

Oh! THAT meeting. I nodded and headed out the door. No sooner had I cleared the steps than I was surrounded by a small phalanx of beefy, nasty faced troops. Bad way to start the day.

As our little procession marched down the street, people stopped and stared. Some pointed and whispered. Most just shook their heads. We made record time to the Senate building. After all, when the Praetorians escorted someone, everything and everyone got out of the way.

As we quick-stepped it up to the Senate steps (I was pretty tired at this point; after all, I’m a retired fish monger – not a soldier) I was handed off to another detachment which then took me inside. There, the halls were a bustle with important looking types. As we marched by, conversation died to a whisper and stayed that way.

Oh goody, I thought. I must have done something really lame brained to get in this much trouble. Try as I might, though, I could think of nothing I had done to warrant this kind of notice. I’m a recluse by nature and non-political by habit. Safer that way. Usually.

When we reached the vestibule outside the main Senate chambers, I realized that I was not alone on this day. There was a small crowd of citizens present, all of them looking very worried. My armored friends left me with this group and clomped off to molest someone else. Looking around, I saw quite a crowd gathered with me. I took solace in this fact as it meant that this might be just an inquiry, and not something much worse.

Hmmph! I thought. This would probably take a while before I was called. Might as well get comfortable. I hate being wrong! As you may have guessed, I was the first one called in.

As the doors opened, I was led in by yet ANOTHER Guard detachment, I then realized the matter was worse than I thought. The WHOLE Senate was present and, seated at the head of the chamber, was none other than the Emperor himself. Standing to his left and slightly behind was the Commander of the Praetorian Guard and, some slanderers (not me, of course) said, the Emperor’s spare brain.

I was ushered over to a seat between, and slightly off to one side of the Senate and the Emperor. It was a comfortable chair, but the combined stares of everyone in the room took the joy out of soft cushions. Not only that, but two guards were standing directly behind my chair. I got the impression they hadn’t been fed recently, and that I could be their first snack.

The inquisition – er – questioning started when a Senator in a very ornate (must’ve gotten it from his window) toga waddled up and addressed me. What was my name? Where did I live? Was I a loyal Roman? I answered two of the questions with short replies. The third one was answered thusly “Of COURSE I was loyal! I had seen what happened to disloyal citizens. Treason!? No! Never!”

As you can see, I gave the Prosecutor a bit more than was asked for. I was taking no chances. The next series of questions confused me somewhat.

Did I not have a brother in the Legions?

“Yeees”, I replied slowly.

Had I seen him recently?

“Yes. Two days ago.”

Where was he now?

“As far as I know, with his unit.”

“As far as you know, ehh”, he sneered. With a wave of a hand, he signaled two guards who opened a side door. In they went and right back out with a manacled prisoner between them. As I saw the identity of the prisoner, a small puddle formed under my chair. I wanted to scream. Brother, oh Brother, what have you done!! There he was, dwarfing his guards and looking very beat up. My BROTHER!

The prosecutor continued. It seemed that my brother had been implicated in an attempted insurrection. Did I know know anything about this?

I quickly stammered out no.

There was a drawn out moment of silence, broken only by my brother’s raspy breathing. Time stood still for me and that puddle got larger. What to do?

My thoughts were derailed by the words of the Emperor himself. This is it, I thought. Little brother and I are both dead! As I composed myself (riiight!) for judgment, Caesar spoke. My brother had already exonerated me, and I would be free to go. However, I would be watched and, at the first sign of treason, would share my brother’s fate.

I sat, stunned, as my brother was led away. Fate? WHAT FATE!! I didn’t dare ask out loud and nobody volunteered an answer. A Senate Page came up to me to escort me out. I went with him, totally numb.

As I left the building and headed home, I could think of nothing but what had just transpired. I would never see my brother again, and my own future had just gotten a lot more uncertain. I glanced at the beggar on the corner of my street. He looked back and smiled. It wasn’t a nice smile. It seems as though I now have my own private watchdog.

As I entered my door, some of my neighbors shyly waved at me. They knew the score. I just might be the walking dead. Well, as they say, tomorrow is another day. I’d rather let someone else live it.

Good night Journal.

Chapter VIII

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “Praetorian Guard in their best Sunday Slaughter clothes”


    • *snerk*

      He had way too much fun with some of this.

  2. […] ChapterVII Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Welcome homeDowntown (Final Chapter)Azalea – 11 Published in: […]

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