Hal and Davies cut off the little boy’s head because he won’t stop screaming and the middle aged men in the night suits are getting close. The little boy has skin like newspaper and his blood looks like a dark red scarf. His name is Harold. The men in the night suits are, indeed, close. In the forest, middle men shout like people who belong in mad houses. In some of the canyons in the woods, their voices are echoes.
We shouldn’t have started the War Company, Hal thinks. There are mosquitoes on his neck and his body feels like it is inside a spider web. Harold’s head is on a flat rock. Harold’s body is against a tree. It is odd to look at a boy’s body that doesn’t have a head or a boy’s head that doesn’t have a body. Why was he screaming, Davies asks. The other children are quiet. The youngest one, Jacko, urinates in his pants and holds onto Mark’s hand. Mark is Jacko’s brother. Your hand is sweaty, Mark says.
Hal makes a small hole and buries Harold’s head in the small hole. Davies puts small rocks and sand and dirt on top of Harold’s eyes. Are we going to bury his body, Davies asks. Did you close his eyes before you covered his head with sand, Hal asks.
The boys are from the third grade elementary class at Roseland Elementary school. They stand around Harold’s buried head. Harold’s body is still propped up against the tree and Mark thinks that it looks like an old scarecrow. Who knew Harold best, Hal asks. None of the boys says anything and it is quiet except for the very loud screams that seem to be very close. The screams sound like somebody who might be crazy or might be in a lot of pain. Davies picks up the saw and Hal shakes his head. But Hal is just upset because he is tired and it has started to rain and there are only twelve boys in the forest and the screams do not seem to want to go away.
Those aren’t decisions for you to make, Judge Herring says. She went to a very good law school when she was twenty-two and then she had a daughter who she named Becky. Becky is a very good swimmer and went to the Olympics but didn’t get a medal. Judge Herring eats shrimp and pasta and hamburgers when she is hungry. She wears clothes from a store on Fifth Avenue and she spends her vacations on an island in the Caribbean.
Hal looks at Davies and Davies shakes his head because the screams would have kept screaming if the little boys had not had their heads cut off. Judge Herring looks like a nice woman, Davies says. She looks clean and well mannered, Hal says.
Hal sits behind a big oak desk and stares at the floor. Sometimes, Hal thinks, Judge Herring probably doesn’t think that something that is terrible and horrible is also something that is probably ok too because it makes the screaming stop.
I don’t know, Davies says. I guess I just don’t suppose it’s a bad thing.