People’s Eye

by Greg Baines


I couldn’t see very clearly. He looked scared to me. But the light was poor, image grainy. Beads of sweat could be lost in fuzzy electronic noise, twitches of facial muscles impossible to tease out.

My wife came in after tucking the kids in and saw me squinting at the screen, cup of hot chocolate in her hand. She smiled when she saw me and said, “You look like an old curtain twitcher.” I laughed.


We were in down town weren’t we? Watching on the sky screens above the tube. I couldn’t believe it, the force of it. I remember you fell against me, really, you actually stumbled… you don’t remember? Well I remember, it made me sick to my stomach. Fire and screaming and silence as someone pulled the images and the screens flashed to some stupid bloody cooking program. We all had the chills then. You wanted us to get home, you were afraid of the open streets after that. On the tube I couldn’t get the fire out of mind, and seeing… human… on the street. In our time.

He deserves it. If you ask us, I know I shouldn’t speak on behalf of you, love, but I saw your face. You had nightmares all week. He deserves whatever he gets, anyone who does that. Anyone.


It hovers above me. They say not to look into it, people read things in your eyes. I’m resisting the urge to look up. The lights on me are hot and bright and they assured me it was only to ensure the image quality is the best. I have never been in front of professional media lighting. It’s so bright I can’t see the corners of the room, any definition. Everything is white and fuzzy.

I’m trying to push the fear away. I feel it in waves. Panic claws at me and I try to push it back. When I see movement from behind the lights somewhere I feel my heart race and I fumble with the tablet they have placed before me. Incredibly, it includes movies for me to watch. I tried starting one but my head is full of white noise. Nothing is clear.

The headache is coming back. I start to scratch at the bandage near my ear and I feel blood seeping through the dressing again. Someone comes from behind the light with a medical box, smiling.


I see the forensic feeds coming in. I have moved them off to the corner of the room so I can zoom in on his face. I normally don’t care much to be participating in these, but I saw the news feeds while I was working. No one did much work that day. Some people covered their feelings in laughter, others went home to hold their kids. We were all glad it wasn’t us.

I zoom in to try and see his eyes, see what they look like. Are they just like mine? He doesn’t look up. He is hiding something, doesn’t want to be read? He has seen all the crime shows.  Eye witness accounts and twitters are rumbling along the side wall, they are horrifying. I track back through the record of the feed to see if he has looked up, but I see only nervous hands and jittery feet.

Results are starting to come in, to feed across the bottom of the screen. People are making their mind up.


They are very kind. The People feed me and the food is good but I can’t taste anything. I can just smell the blood that won’t stop from my head.

A microphone lowers from above me and a very calm female voice asks me a series of questions. I shake as I try to answer, fingers twitching. I can only look at my hands and as I lower my head the microphone tracks down to follow me. They ask me the same questions and tears start flowing out of my eyes like someone else’s tears. Where are they coming from?

I can only tell them truth, which is what they demand by law. And the truth is—I don’t remember, I have tried, but I can’t recall anything. They ask the same questions in different ways and I can only give them that same simple answer.


They have participation figures now. They are huge, in the millions.

He says “he can’t remember” and I saw tears in the last feed. They are all like that, men. If they could remember where to keep their hands it would be good for us all. If I hear another man say “I can’t remember love” I’ll break his nose.


My head aches, pulses pain from the back of my head to between my eyes. The Eye of The People watches me. It’s so silent and calm it’s terrifying. I sense a lot of movement behind the glare of the lights, like The People have decided and they are getting ready for something. The Eye is impassive though. I look at it now, directly up into the small white centre of it. I don’t care what they think. I sense it’s too late for that, either way.

I imagine the screens it’s pouring my image into. I shudder. I can’t stop chewing the inside of my lip and I can taste blood there to.

This is how I will be remembered isn’t it?


It was clear to us. Geoff was an ass drinking and screaming at the screen, “This isn’t a fucking  game.” I told him but he kept at it and drank me out. But we all voted the same way, beer or no beer. Who believes that “he just can’t remember”? His legal defence is shooting out these photo analyses that show that images of the explosion only show partial shots of the bomber and blah blah fucking blah. Heard that all before. There’s a twitter feed by a few thousand people rumbling through that’s calling for his organs to be used to help engineer replacements for those who died. Poetic justice if you ask me!


Two large numbers in green float above me. The number representing those who think I had nothing to do with it is so small I gasp and let my head drop. I instinctively lean back into the chair away from the glare and The People’s Representatives coming for me, smiling and calm and nice, from behind the lights. They wrap their arms around me and hold me and we stagger off and away from the lights and I am blind for half a minute. I fight the blindness and expect my eye sight to recover but I it doesn’t, things seem to get darker and darker and someone whispers into my ear, “The People have spoken.”

I lean into him/her and the tears won’t stop and my head throbs and I say, “But… I don’t remember.” And I hear the figure’s gender now, it’s a women, and she says, her voice velvety and black, “It’s ok, it will all be over soon.”