Benjamin Tallmadge did not see the drawing until the prisoner lifted it up to him from where he sat. The prisoner set the charcoal stick down on the table, the ash leaving the creases of his fingerprints and smudges across the paper. He wouldn’t admit he recognized who it was at first. Their was a horse with a mane of blonde, and somehow although there was not color to the art, Benjamin recognized the light shading. Every hair in place, and his eyes caught on the gentleman riding the mare. The man’s hands were tied behind his back and strands of rope hung off under the rawing of his wrists. As he stood, under his collar he began to sweat, not raising a finger to loosen the buttons around his neck. Ben shuddered, mind hammering to the notice of the familiar facial features. The same as the prisoner he was guarding at the desk.
John Andre let out a chuckle, “Quite a comical parade, is it not?”. The second guard at his right, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Hamilton, did not smile in reply, and neither did Ben. Silence perpetrated the room. A stranger fear pierced through him as if the cutting of a knife, the state of tension between love of natural beauty and the consternation of natural meaningless or absurdity. It was not surprising when the guilty verdict rang out across the courtroom, and it was not surprising when there was a pang of guilt that riveted throughout his chest. Tomorrow was the day, his life will hang as an unfinished sentence with a dismal comma sliced after the words. He could be thirty-one next year, he gambled with dice, on what mattered most. He lost.
Out of the corner of his view, the edges of Hamilton’s rose lips were screwed up, tight with pity. Ben’s ear twitched and he diverted his secret glance, the constriction in his shoulder building and he shifted footing. He could feel his eyes water and he blinked rapidly to mask; what use would it be? Would his tears somehow change the jury’s verdict? Would his pain somehow steal from the Andre’s death? He’ll rendezvous with death, at some disputed barricade. The silhouette of life’s shattered dreams, broken hearts and tearful streams. Ben was always too sensitive, overthinking every little piece; at least that’s what he was once told.
He once wondered why he didn’t look as any of his four brothers did. His mother always told him that there were no nightmares underneath his bed, they were all inside his head. Somehow, with every bed time story, the wisps of his mother’s resemblance to himself told him stories of beautiful girls he would one day marry. Her lips failed to mention to him about boys with sunshine trapped in their hair, ice in their eyes and laugh that seemed to stop time itself and crack the empyrean. He would trade every one of his joyous memories for one last moment with that boy.