February 9, 2015

Home » Commentary » Purgatory

I didn’t panic at all, not at first. We tourists at the Museo Casa de Purgatorio in Guanajuato simply followed the guide behind stone walls into a dim room where he said, “Here, ladies and gentlemen, we have a traditional stockade used to harness drunks and teach them discipline. Sir, would you like the give this a try.”

The smiling young fellow stepped up and bent over, and the guide raised a board, comprising the top half of three wooden holes, for head and hands, and eased him into the stockade and locked it.

“Now over here, if you please, note that we have a strong iron chastity belt.”

“Just a minute. My husband,” said a lady, pointing to the sober drunkard.

“Try this on madam.”

“I will not.”

About ten large young assistants rushed in. Two lifted her while another slid the belt over and up her legs and locked it into place.

We laughed, a little uneasily, at this elaborate jest.

“Say, a little rough there, aren’t we,” said a middle-aged man, aiming his index finger at the guide. He nodded at guards who picked the fellow up and carried him to a bench, bound him there, and held his hands on the table. The guide placed a long, low iron device in front of the protester and said, “See those eight holes, one for each finger. Nothing for your thumbs but that’s a design flaw forgivable four centuries ago in Europe where all these marvels came from.”

When the man’s digits were shoved through the holes, a small wheel turned, slowly crushing bones as he shrieked.

People rushed for exits but found only barred doors and frowning men.

“I suppose there won’t be any more volunteers, so I’ll just choose. Ma’am, I think this next one’s just right.”

Two assistants lifted the screaming lady and carried her to a large round wooden board and manacled both wrists above her head in V-formation and secured her ankles below in an inverted-V. “And now we spin the wheel,” he said.

“Oh, god,” was the last intelligible sound she made.

The guide put on a steel helmet armed with a unicorn-like steel penetrator and cornered an older gentleman, jabbing him then stabbing with the spike, forcing him onto a wooden seat where assistants tied him and began drilling his back with a long rusty spike through the back of the chair. Imagine the poor man’s distress.

“Step into the courtyard, if you please. Here we offer a patient man the opportunity to confess. I know, you’ve done nothing, but pretend. You, there.”

He was pointing at me. I charged and could have taken him one on one but it was four on one, at least, who tossed me onto my back on a thick wooden table and manacled ankles and wrists.

“Let’s start this pendulum and watch the blade slowly descend.”

Like a half-moon razor five-feet long, the blade began swinging. Unlike some of my comrades, I at the moment suffered little physical pain but stress was severe.

“I’m confident you know what this is, a quite primitive gallows lacking a fancy platform and trapdoor. We really don’t need those niceties. This wooden frame, a profound rectangle, is sturdy enough to hold the noose and any man in it.”

The tourists revolted, and from my table I saw them swinging fists and purses against axes and swords, and soon they either desisted or died.

“Since none of my men suffered injury during your insipid escape attempt, I shall be generous and forgo hanging this elderly lady by her neck and do so by her hands.”

“You’re incomparable beasts,” I shouted.

“Sir, I believe our blade may be too good for you.”

Several assistants pulled, carried, and pushed me to a charred vertical wooden stake around which my hands were pulled back and secured and then my feet.

“You’re no better than ISIS,” I said.

“Nor are those who bomb and fire missiles.”

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for GeorgeThomasClark.com are read in more than 50 countries a month.

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