Dream: If you feed the banana to the computer, a hitman receives his orders by Matthew Rettino

I lay out the banana peel flat as a punch card.

I read the death sentence stenciled upon it.

I can decide whether to feed the banana to the reader

and let the machine carry out the inexorable command

or disobey them.


In the jungle,

villages appear and disappear overnight,

carried around on bundles on bent backs.

Communes vanish into the night.


Ancestral memories have called forth a monster

that stalks the nomad villagers.

Through-hikers disappear, their bodies discovered too late;

Even ghost hunters go missing.

Their electronics overheat, explode.

Bombs and car alarms.


The briefing.


Detective office in stone neoclassical plaza.

Three of us. Employed by a bank.


A chubby, bearded Doctor Challenger

With a face out of Conan Doyle

Our stalwart emotional bedrock.


A tall, bald African man, our intellect

Gifted with the supreme powers of deduction.


We’re the security for the bank’s investments

And learn the latest intel.


The boss has a cascade of black, curly hair

And a smile that says mischief.

She speaks for the villagers,

a token comrade.

Maybe her elders still roam the jungle, haunted.


She briefs us on the deep traditions of democracy

the villagers profess, their One Hundred Rules:

a codified hospitality shown even to enemies.

Pashtunwali of the jungle.


“But there is a misconception,” she says.

“There are no ghosts, no monsters,


only two sides in a criminal war

hacking devices, unlocking systems

to kill. They use legends to hide their activities.


Now you must make a choice.

We know who must die.

If you feed the banana to the computer

a hitman receives his orders.”


She gives me a round sticker

like a lump of mold, organic,

which I must

plant

beside the victim’s profession (judge).

This will authorize the kill. This is our task.


The judge could be an inconvenience to the bank that employs us

or an obstacle to justice.


But I trust the manager implicitly; she smiles.

“Let’s toss a coin,” my coworkers say.


I can’t hack deception,

but I can read the code’s syntax:

there’s the firstname lastname of the hitman,

a space,

then the victim’s profession,

the rest of the information encoded in the organic


dot.


I can write banker, hacker, murderer instead of judge. Take a chance on that.

Would the machine notice the manipulation?


My charcoal pencil trembles

on the wet, rotting banana peel.


Matthew Rettino has written poetry for Scrivener Creative Review and The Veg literary magazine. His most recent publication was “The Goddess in Him” (NewMyths.com, 2020), a short story about a time-traveling Scythian refugee living in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood. A graduate of McGill University and the Odyssey Writing Workshop (’16), he currently works as a pedagogical councillor at Dawson College and teaches occasionally at the Thomas More Institute in Montreal.

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