I haven’t written anything here for a while now, so out of deep seated guilt I’m sharing with whomsoever it may concern a short tale I wrote as part of a writing exercise- the aim was to write on “Facial Recognition” and do it in under 400 words.
“What’s there to a face? I could put one together in seconds!” thought the warden. Each month a batch of scum would be deported from Fort Windsor to the high security prison while some others would be fortunate enough to get whisked away to the gallows. The prison system in cold Britain back then was under quite a lot of pressure hence, those ousted were rather promptly replaced and then there they would be again... All lined up in a neat queue of 50 odd inmates- reduced to nothing more than faces and numbers. “Fresh meat,” he would call them.
Not to sound racist but once the heads were shaved off and the dirt was washed off their faces it was impossible to tell most of them apart. They were all the same class of criminals, similarly built, similarly bred; to the untrained eye they would just appear as white ones, brown ones, black ones and in some months, Hispanic ones. The warden could tell them all apart by number alone – or so the guards thought. He knew each of them by face. “It’s just the nose, the lips and the space between their eyes. Don’t forget the ears though, that’s the best giveaway,” he would say.
Number 33 looked exactly like number 17; except for his chin... 33 had a depression on his chin. There were examples and tests galore! The guards for one called number 24 and 48 the twins; it wasn’t in jest either. They were like two ripe tomatoes, equally round and red. The warden however could tell them apart even in the dark; their silhouettes were all he needed. The edge of their ears and jaws was all he would focus on.
The hooligans would often brawl out in the yard and the warden would let the show go one for a while- the guards needed the entertainment. But that evening after a bloody fight that went out of hand, even the doctors couldn’t tag the bruised bums right- the warden walked in and sorted them out in minutes. There was quite a fuss over the last two unconscious goons. When quizzed as to why a man of his calibre took so long to identify the bloody duo the warden said: “I can deal with broken noses and bashed jaws but, the buggers gouged out their eyes... what’s a face without the eyes?”
You may also want to read STORY OF THEIR LIFE and CAGED- The Tale Of A Con
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