The Janitor

Bruno pulled the rake through the clodded sand. It stank of iron and ammonia but at least now the flies had stopped their gorging; now they no longer funnelled fatly up around Bruno’s face when he disturbed them. He sweated and choked in the smoky still air. He swallowed, hawked and spat, then swallowed again when he saw what his rake had dragged up. The lion’s tooth caught the light from the guttering torches around the arena.

He picked up the tooth and turned it over in his hand. It was jagged at the base so it was broken, it had not just dropped from the jaw of one of the older lions, the ones who were too tired to attack until starved and tormented with long stabbing spears. One of the traitors must have fluked a lucky blow before he met his divine punishment or perhaps the lions had butted heads in the ripping and rending of flesh, the cracking of bone.

Bruno slipped the tooth into his pouch. He would hand it in to his gangmaster when the sand in the arena was ready for the next day’s bloodletting. It might be worth an extra piece of bread. He spat and began to rake again.

First published 16 January 2015