The Execution

Story from trip described in travelblog, Big Trip Up North.

It was the damnest thing, when the reenactors grabbed that old man, him yelling in Japanese. I suppose it was our fault.

Bob and I had stopped at the Halifax Citadel, which is an old fort in the center of the city, strategically overlooking the harbor. We had time because the ferries from North Sydney to Port Aus Basques were all booked up by old people in campers and the trip to Newfoundland was out.

(When pausing too long at a complicated intersection we were yelled at by a young man in the traffic behind us. "Just go, go - sir!" Maybe that prompted Bob to drive up to the fort.)

We parked the Z4 in a lot at the top of the hill and walked through a passage in the wall to the interior. Bob said it reminded him of the fort in Puerto Rico near where he had been stationed in the Army. He was an MP. I think the fort was El Morro.

Inside was a large white gravel parade field, old barracks and other structures, including a gift shop where some tourists were gathered. Cannon emplacements were located around the top of the wall. A squad of reenactors, dressed in military kilts practiced drills. They'd march a couple of hundred meters this way, then do a turn or a wheel and go the other way. Their rifles seemed real.

I said to Bob, "I bet I could still march those men." and muttered, "hup thrup threep four, left,left, left right left."

Bob drawled, "Well you go ahead."

An old Japanese woman who was with an old Japanese man and several generations of family frowned at me. She wore a sky blue golfing hat with just a brim. Their little boy screamed like a samurai and went running off, crunching in the gravel.

The young man calling cadence for the squad of reenactors had a voice like a bull. He was accompanied by another pretend NCO who walked alongside the squad telling them to dress up the line, to straighten up, not to bounce. The boys, red faced and serious, seemed to get into it and for a time I thought they might be the real thing, maybe soldiers on loan from a local garrison. Bob thought they were silly.

Bob and I climbed to the top of the parapet, looking back down on the parade field and out across the city. The walk was about the same height as the town's taller structures. My friend Max once said he'd like to live here and I tried to figure out what made the place appealing. Maybe because it is a nice size and picturesque.

A boy wearing kilts and a khaki shirt was standing by one of the gun emplacements. At this point I still thought the reenactors might be actual military and asked him about that. He said, "Not really. Although some of us were in the Army. I was for instance."

Then I asked him if this fort had ever repelled American invaders. He grinned, "No, the Americans never got this far North."

Bob, who had been standing to one side, leaned over and drawled, "You know son, you could make these reenactments a little more exciting."

The boy said, "How's that sir?"

Bob pointed to a long brick wall at the base of the opposite parapet and casually advised. "Well you could stage a mock execution."

"Eh, an execution you say."

"Sure just grab somebody - a tourist even - and drag them over to that wall and pretend to shoot them. Don't even tell the person what is going on. Just take them kicking and screaming. It would be fun."

The boy said, "Uhm."

We walked on, continuing our tour of the parapet. Another group of pretend soldiers, dressed in different uniforms, were running signal flags up what appeared to be a ship's mast.

We were back on the parade field when the yelling started. Stepping around the barracks we saw four members of the reeenactor squad dragging the old Japanese man over to the wall. The remainder of the squad, led by our friend from the parapet, were forming into a line. The old man yelled and kicked. The old woman screamed and beat at the young men with her sky blue cap.

But the reeanactors, faces fixed into polite smiles, persisted and got the old man placed against the wall. Two held him more or less in position while the rest ran back to join the firing squad.

While the other tourists, including the remainder of the old man's family watched, the reenactor NCO quickly yelled, "Ready, aim, fire."

At "Ready" the squad brought up their rifles; at "Aim" they pointed them at the old man, (who now faced his executioners with stoic composure), and at "Fire" the group yelled out "Bang!"

After a moment, the onlookers, including the Japanese applauded. The old man's son, who was carrying an expensive looking Nikon, said, "Again please. I want to shoot a picture."

He said something to the old man who did not have to be restrained this time. The old woman still seemed mad. But at the command of "Fire" everybody yelled "Bang!".

1 comment:

Melpomène said...

instigators :) Very funny situation