Aman and Maya first saw his hands, whose cuffs dug into his flesh and pooled his blood into thick veins. Then the rest of Solomon appeared, his frame doughy, gentle. A guard several steps behind him then shuffled in, quietly closed the door, and joined the guard in the corner. Despite his preparation, Aman’s mind then went blank and so he cleared his throat, turning the upright chair toward Solomon.
“Solomon,” said Maya with only a drop of honey to her voice as Mwembe interpreted over her shoulder. “We’re new to your case, but we’re here to help you out.” But Solomon seemed preoccupied with whatever the window revealed beyond the jail yard. It had begun to rain, driving the prisoners to the cement walls against which they plastered themselves. Maya began to feel small so she put down her pencil and clasped her hands in her lap. Pressing on, she recited why they were there, the need to discuss his life story and its otherwise mundane details that showed off his ordinary nature. What his upbringing was like and the such. Without shifting his gaze through the portal, Solomon slowly began.
When he finished his story minutes later, having reviewed how he shot his cousin, Aman and Maya looked at one another. His facts were as the Professor had stated. Solomon then glanced at them, and Aman noticed that his eyes were each specked by a grey mass.
“Are you aware that you’ve been charged with the wrong crime?” inquired Maya, testing his reaction with an over-practiced, incredulous tone. When Solomon didn’t appear to register her, Maya repeated herself. He then looked to the dirt floor and scratched at his forearm, digging sharply into its flesh. Aman felt his hopelessness. “We’re going to track down your file,” he said. “Does anyone, friends or family, ever visit you?” No response. “Do you think they would talk to us about what happened? Their help is essential at this point.”
Solomon nodded, and a faint light appeared in his eyes, making their grey clouds glow. His parents, he explained, could be found in a town about an hour west, off the highway, past the church, and through the village cornfield. He added that the chief would also speak on his behalf. The students were relieved with this information, which their other clients often withheld, figuring that their imprisonment had already caused their communities enough trouble. Startling them with a visit by foreigners—there to unearth the intimate—wasn’t solicitous.