Note: this was originally on spork press
Pol Pot was dead.
Then there was a helicopter, an aeroplane, a scientist, some drugs, some lightning and a video recording of some guy screaming ‘It’s alive…mostly.’
Pol Pot was man again.
But he felt bad.
The last twenty years or so he had been on the edge of nothingness. But only on the edge. Something wouldn’t let him fall in, he didn’t know what, so he’d been sitting there, his legs dangling over the edge, thinking about everything he’d done in his life while others came, waved and then dropped into the abyss.
The first four years had been okay.
He’d had a decent life, hadn’t done much wrong. He’d risen high, met every challenge in the face, dealt with those who turned against him.
But still he couldn’t fall into nothingness.
After four years and a bit, a farmer from his country drifted by and called him a ‘monster.’
‘Sorry?’ said Pot, confused.
‘I said, ‘monster’,’ the farmer repeated.
‘Do I know you?’
‘So why do you call me monster?’
‘Because you told someone to kill me, monster.’
‘All I did was farm my land and then you came and took it from me.’
‘And then killed you?’
‘That’s right, monster.’
It was too late, the farmer was gone.
Pol Pot thought about what the farmer had said. He knew a lot of people had died because he’d ordered them dead, but those guys, they were all his enemies.
It was war.
They were going to kill him and take his throne.
He didn’t want to kill anyone.
They were all assholes.
They had it coming, opposing him like that.
Only farming their land?
It was never their land.
Country before individual, always.
Pot folded his arms, convinced he was right, convinced he was wrong to have even doubted his rightness in the first place.
Of course they’d say it wasn’t their fault.
Another farmer drifted past and called him a ‘prick’.
Pot ignored him.
What did he know?
He probably just heard that other farmer giving him shit and thought it’d be funny to copy.
Five years and fifty-three thousand, nine hundred and twenty seven farmers later, Pot’s arguments had been modified.
At first they’d gotten more extreme.
It was the worst ever war.
They wanted to flay him and take his throne and kill his family and all decent Cambodians.
He was a man of peace.
He’d never hurt a fly even if it was right in his face.
Farmers were the devil.
Yes, the devil had split itself into millions of Cambodian farmers.
He’d saved the country from destruction.
But more farmers came and Pot reached a point where his argument could hold no longer.
It wasn’t war.
All they wanted was to farm their land.
They were farmers.
He was a monster.
The scientist put a jacket over Pot and told him he was doing okay, his vital signs were stable and in a few days he could start his re-implementation into society.
‘I’m not an implement,’ said Pot, taking off the jacket.
‘Mr. Pot, please…put the jacket back on, you’ll freeze.’
Pol Pot shook his head and walked out of the lab.
Outside it was snowing. Pol Pot looked at his surroundings, unsurprised. It was a castle. Somehow, he knew it would be a castle.
He walked down the slope and onto the path that led into the forest. He was cold, but forced himself not to shiver.
After walking through the forest for an hour or so, he came to a road. There was a sign in what looked like German.
A truck drove past. Pot stuck a finger out and brought it in.
‘Where to?’ asked the driver, not seeming to care that Pot was naked.
‘You’re in luck, my friend. That’s exactly where I’m dropping my cargo. Hop in.’
‘I’m already in.’
The driver laughed, slapped Pot on his thigh and pulled back out into the road.
During the ride, the driver took off his jeans, saying it was too damn hot, and tried to push Pot’s head down onto his cock.
Pot refused the first seventeen times, but then had a thought. What if this is part of it?
The eighteenth time, he said, sure, why not?
In Cambodia, Pot left the driver and went into the nearest clothing store to buy some pants.
He’d decided that being naked wasn’t part of it, and the real suffering would come soon enough anyway.
The owner of the store seemed to recognise him and started to sweat.
‘Are you okay, man?’ asked Pot.
‘You’re…it can’t be…how did you…’
The man couldn’t speak straight so Pot left some coins on the counter and walked back out into the street.
No one recognised him on the streets.
Maybe they were too busy?
There were a lot of young people around, perhaps that was it. They hadn’t known about him and had never realised he was a prick.
A young man stopped next to Pot and spat on the ground in front of him.
‘That’s disgusting,’ said Pot.
‘Fuck off, fatty.’
The young man stared at Pot as if he was going to hit him, then turned and walked off, disappearing into some kind of tunnel further down the street.
Pot looked at his body. He was fat, but…fatty?
Where was the fucking respect?
A brief image of the young man hanging by his ankles, a knife cutting down his chest, an officer declaring a list of make-believe crimes.
Pot couldn’t help but smile.
That young man, he was a prick.
He had no manners, no respect…it was okay to get rid of people like that…
Pot kept walking, leaving the city and finding some trees. It seemed to be a forest, but not a very pretty one. What had happened here then?
He looked around for someone to ask and saw a farmer.
No, not him, he thought. I’ll ask someone else.
But there was no one else.
Pot forgot about his question and walked through the ugly forest until he came to what he knew to be a burial site.
The graves were all covered up now, but he’d visited enough times before to know he was in the right place.
He bent down and started to dig.
Two days later, he’d uncovered enough of the grave to see around seventy skeletons. He’d thought a lot about these skeletons while digging and had tried to explain his past actions again. But then he’d thought the other way and told himself, no, there’s no explaining, even if there is an explanation, that’s not how this works. I’ve just gotta shut my mouth and get on with it.
Pol Pot climbed into the hole and lay down next to the largest collection of bones. Then he spread as much dirt over his body as he could and waited to die.
With a little bit of luck, this would all be over in a few hours.
A few days later, a young farmer walked past the open grave and saw Pot lying next to all the bones, most of his body covered with dirt and insects.
The young farmer jumped down into the hole and slapped Pot in the face, telling him to wake up.
Pot woke up.
‘Is it done?’ he asked.
‘Huh? What are you talking about?’
‘I mean…am I forgiven?’
‘Do you forgive me, young man?’
The young man nodded, pulled Pot out of the grave and laid him down next to one of the few remaining trees nearby.
He told Pot he’d be right back then ran off.
Pot lay back and smiled.
It was a sign.
Four days later, as he lay in a hospital bed, after two separate doctors had tried to kill him with an overdose of meds, Pot re-evaluated the ‘sign thing’ and decided instead that the young man probably hadn’t known who he was.
But even so…
I lay in that grave for two…three days, thought Pot. That’s something.