by: Marty Chrisman
Luke finished the slop in his bowl without gagging. Pete was right, it didn’t take long to get used to the foul taste. When you’re close to starving, you’ll eat just about anything. Luke had been in the camp for two days and he’d already seen four men in the cage with him die. The conditions were deplorable. There was no place to sleep except on the cold, hard ground and nothing to cover up with to ward off the chill of the night air. A corner of the cage had been designated as a waste area and that was where the prisoners were forced to relieve themselves. It was one of the areas the guards frequently sprayed down, sending rivers off liquid waste among the prisoners. Luke quickly learned to get out of the way as best he could to avoid getting any more of it on him than he had to.
The days were long and sweltering hot. So hot it was hard to breathe sometimes. And the insects were a torment all by themselves. Luke’s body was soon covered with bites and stings. And at night, other animals, like rats and snakes, would slip into the cages. More than once Luke had watched in horror as a rat tried to make a meal out of another prisoner’s leg or arm, especially if he had an open wound.
Three days after Luke arrived at the camp, a guard opened the cage door. Flanked by four other guards with guns, he came inside and grabbed Luke by the arm, jerking him to his feet. He pulled Luke outside of the cage and shut the door, locking it securely. While the other guards kept their guns aimed at Luke, the first guard securely tied his hands behind his back with a thick piece of rope and then slipped another piece of rope around Luke’s neck. Laughing, he stated walking towards a one story block building pulling Luke along behind him like a dog by jerking on the rope around his neck.
Luke kept stumbling and falling to the ground as he was led down a long hallway. The guards led Luke to a small room. The one holding the rope yanked downwards as hard as he could causing Luke to fall to his knees. Luke coughed violently and inhaled deeply trying to catch his breath. He stared around the room with wide frightened eyes. The room was filled with instruments all designed for one purpose to torture the prisoners. Luke was practically drug across the cold hard floor over to the far wall. One guard cut the ropes binding his hands behind his back, only to force his hands around in front of him where he clamped Luke’s wrists together with a set of handcuffs and wove a chain through the center.
The guard pulled on the other end of the chain, hefting Luke up several inches off the ground and fastening the end of the chain to an eye bolt in the floor. One of the guards turned on a valve on the wall behind Luke which caused a stream of cold water to pour down over Luke’s head. Then the guard put on a pair of heavy rubber gloves and pushed a metal cart over in front of Luke. Sitting on the cart was what looked like a car battery, covered in a plastic box, so only the prongs showed. Luke tried to hide his fear, knowing what they had in mind but his fear could still be seen clearly in his eyes.
The guard connected a set of jumper cables to the battery. He snapped one of the clamps onto Luke’s left nipple, the teeth of the clamp cutting deep into the sensitive tissue. As he snapped the other clamp to his right nipple, Luke screamed. His body bucked and jerked from the electrical current that suddenly surged through his muscles. The water on his body only heightened his pain. The guard pulled the left clamp off, stopping the surge of current. Luke’s heart was pounding frantically and he was breathing in deep gasping breaths from the violent assault on his senses.
“Who are you?” One of the guards demanded in broken English.
“Sergeant Lucas Kristopher Duke. United States Marines Division D.” Luke told him. The guard gave Luke another electrical shock that left Luke’s entire body shaking and his throat raw from screaming..
“Wrong. You are nobody. You have no name. You are our prisoner.” The man growled. “Where are you from?”
“Hazzard County, Georgia.” Luke responded, only to receive another electrical shock that left him screaming in agony again.
“Wrong. You have no home. You are nothing unless we tell you that you are.”
They repeated the same questions several more times, each time shocking Luke when he refused to give them the answers they wanted to hear or didn’t answer fast enough. By the time they finally finished with him and unchained his hands, Luke’s heart was pounding so rapidly that it felt like it was going to explode and he was barely conscious. The guards drug him back to the cage and threw him inside.
Luke crawled into one corner and curled up against the wall in a fetal position as he waited for his heart beat to return to normal. He was still trembling and his muscles were still twitching from the torture he’d been put through. The other prisoners ignored him. They’d seen it all before. It wasn’t anything new. It was just a normal part of their everyday existence. Once more, Luke let his memories take him away from terror of this place and back home to Hazzard.
He was in the hayloft with his first serious girlfriend, Mary Anne Jenkins. He was fourteen and she was thirteen. Luke had been sexually active for almost a year. His first time had been with an older girl at school who had the reputation of breaking in the virgins. When you live on a farm, you learn about the facts of life early on and Jesse had explained about the birds and the bees when he was twelve.
Mary Anne had allowed Luke to do some pretty heavy making out but had refused to let him go all the way until today. With the help of some of Jesse’s shine that Luke had confiscated for just this purpose, he soon had Mary Anne ready and willing to let him go as far as he wanted. They made love and it was perfect. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t last. Mary Anne and her parents moved away from Hazzard a couple of months later leaving Luke without a steady girlfriend.
But Luke was already popular with the girls at school so it didn’t take him long to find another girlfriend. Luke had enjoyed dating a lot of different girls during high school never settling down with one for very long. The girls might have liked him but most of their daddies didn’t. They considered him too wild and reckless to be spending time with their daughters.
Luke was pulled out of his thoughts by a hand touching his shoulder and a quiet voice saying “You okay, Georgia boy?”
He opened his eyes and saw Pete kneeling beside him with a concerned look on his face. Slowly Luke managed to nod his head. Pete sighed “I wish I could tell ya that’s the worst they’re gonna do to ya…but I’m afraid it’s not….it’s only gonna get worse….a lot worse.” When Luke didn’t answer, Pete gently patted his shoulder and straightened up, walking away and leaving him alone. Luke stayed curled into a fetal position, fighting back the tears that flooded his eyes. He was twenty one years old but at the moment he had never felt more like a child.