Anatole noticed the bruise on his arm on the day that Ceauşescu came to power. It was a dark red oval on his otherwise unblemished skin. It probably happened when the police came to break up the clandestine meeting he’d attended three days earlier. It didn’t hurt so he thought little of it; there were more important things for an anti-communist in Romania to think about at the time. But the bruise grew larger, and darker, over the ensuing months. As the purple spread towards his wrist, the hair caught in its path fell out which made the splotch much more noticeable.
Anatole noticed the numbness in his fingers on the day he was arrested on suspicion of anti-government activities. A secret informant tipped off the Securitate that he had been seen loitering around the vacant home of a dissident pamphleteer. He was released after a few days with the warning that he would be watched. Anatole assumed that the deadening in his fingers was from the handcuffs they’d kept him in. But the bald patch of steadily-blackening skin began to concern him and he kept his sleeves rolled down.
Anatole noticed the smell on the day he was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation for not having registered with the Party. The doctor noticed it too, as well as his blackened arm and clumsy curled fist. After that day, no one ever saw Anatole again. It was the beginning of a time of disappearing and nobody asked questions.
On Christmas day, 1989, eight years after a cure for leprosy, and after nine days of revolution, a transistor radio in the hidden leper colony of Tichilesti crackled that Nicolae Ceauşescu had been executed by firing squad.
Anatole, blind and without a nose, raised himself up and smiled a toothless smile.