Darkness shrouds the courtyard and I lean on George. He guides me over the cobblestones and I take careful steps to keep my heels from slipping. Boots clomp in unison and though I can’t see a thing, I feel myself surrounded by men. George increases the pressure on my upper arm to stop me, murmurs and whispers filling the pre-dawn air. The men stop marching and silence overtakes the courtyard.
From the direction of the dog kennels, I can hear chains dragging against the ground and know Saul leads the prisoner closer. As if announcing the approach, the first sliver of morning light breaks through the darkness. Ray appears at my side, an apparition, wearing a tuxedo with a red rose in the pocket on his chest. More light illuminates the courtyard, revealing blood streaks and splotches on the stone wall of the mansion.
“You’ve been busy, my love.”
“Doing your work, Ella.” He kisses me on the cheek and runs fingers along my bare arm. I resist the temptation to melt into his embrace and turn to watch Saul drag the prisoner to the wall. The ring of men surrounding the courtyard begin to form into a line, the rifles slung over their shoulders glinting in the light of dawn.
“Does the condemned wish to speak?”
The prisoner remains silent and I step forward, allowing Ray to guide me. He hands me a slip of paper, but there isn’t enough light and I throw it into the air, a gentle breeze carrying the paper a few feet before it comes to rest on the cobblestones.
Women have endured untold violence and oppression during millennia of male rule. For most of recorded history, women were property of men and had no rights. Only in the most recent moments of time have women won the right to vote and gained access to the mechanisms of power. Yet, equality has not been achieved. Violence against women results in a slap on the wrist for perpetrators. Judges hand down lenient sentencing for rape and other crimes against women, condoning and encouraging more violence.
In the coming war, there are only two sides for men. You stand with the rapists or you fight for women.
A chorus of guns loading rounds echoes in the courtyard. Ray leads me to the side, allowing the line of men to march into range.
“Men that enable rapists to escape justice commit the worst crime of all.” I lock eyes with the prisoner as morning rises in the Vegas sky. “I sentence you to die for crimes against humanity.”
Ray takes a spot in the center of the line and Saul hands him a rifle. Loading a bullet, he takes aim at the prisoner and glances in my direction as if expecting a signal. The prisoner looks away from me, preferring to stare into the line of guns pointed at his head. I feel George near me and I know the time has come.
“To all the men that think as you do, that women are less than, that women aren’t equal – I have a simple request. Die.”
George clears his throat and turns to the line of men, bowtie fluttering in the early morning breeze.