Thursday, August 12, 2010

Part 20, Chapter 9 - Bye-Bye Bittie

Jonnie goes back to Bittie, certain the squirt from Scotland is dead. "Nobody could take that many submachine gun slugs in the middle of his body---and a small body---and live." The sight of a boy lying on the bloodsoaked ground, riddled with bullets, is enough to make Jonnie feel "awful."

But when Jonnie starts to pick him up, Bittie's eyes open and he whispers "I... I wasn't a very good squire... was I... Sir Jonnie." Crying, Bittie grabs Jonnie's wrist as the shock wears off and the pain returns, spasms once, and, having satisfied narrative conventions by rasping some tragic last words, is finally allowed to die.

Wonder how long he was lying there not bleeding to death while Jonnie was killing every African in the compound...

Jonnie of course is too emotional to speak, to tell Bittie that he was indeed a good squire that saved his life. I guess without seeing Bittie get shot, Jonnie wouldn't have worked up the energy to slaughter all those Brigantes on his own. After crying for a while, Jonnie puts Bittie's corpse in the car, up in the front seat. He notices the dead Russian and loads him up too, displaying no reaction to the other dead man at all. Then it's off to the Academy, Bittie's bloody corpse in his lap while he drives, Jonnie's horses following the truck as it goes at a walking pace.

Even after arrival Jonnie just sits down holding Bittie's body, unable to speak. The whole school turns out once word spreads, and then truckloads of Russians arrive, until there's a large mob brandishing weapons and glaring at the distant compound. There's more environmental symbolism as a mountain storm rolls in. That's what, the second, third?  How many storms have approached without actually arriving over the past few days?  Oh, and hey, the guy in charge of the surveillance drones drives up to show the pictures of what happened. Not a video though, just print-out pictures.

The mob, learning that all the Brigantes in the compound are dead, decide to go off and kill Terl, I guess because they want to kill something. But Jonnie finally overcomes his sorrow and reminds everyone of the big picture. Then he packs up Bittie's corpse and prepares to fly the boy home to Scotland.

Before he closed the door, he looked down at the crowd and said, slowly and clearly. "It is not the time for revenge." And then he added a bitter, grim "Yet!" The crowd nodded. They understood. Later it would be an entirely different matter.

Oh, and the dead Russian was Dmitri.

Back to Chapter Eight

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