Friday, March 22, 2013

FFF: Fat Man

Every Friday Kurt posts a new piece of flash fiction. This is the fourth installment in March's Mystery Theme. Have a guess, won't you? This week...

Fat Man
Word Count: 598

At 2:30 am, Antoine Bagadonna’s cell door slid open. Leonard, Jonesy, and Agatha filed in silently.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Leonard, “Fat Man is free.”

Antoine rubbed his eyes and looked down at his droopy middle—not trim, exactly, but hardly fat. “What’s the meaning of this?” he asked.

“We’re springing you out of here,” said Leonard. “The revolution is starting.”

“What revolution?” asked Antoine.

“The one you started thirteen years ago,” said Leonard.

“Hey, why do they call you ‘Fat Man’, anyway?” asked Jonesy. “If you rolled us both down a mountain, I bet I’d win.”

“I read a lot of Dashiell Hammett as a kid,” said Antoine. “I always loved The Thin Man. Wait—what are you doing here?”

“It’s a jailbreak, old man,” said Leonard.

“Oh, fat and old, am I?” asked Antoine.

“I’m serious,” said Leonard. “We’re breaking you out—and we’re on the clock, so let’s go.”

Antoine rose slowly, ponderously. Then he sat back down. “If it’s all the same to you, I’ll stay.”

“Excuse me?” asked Leonard.

“Listen,” said Antoine, “they haven’t let me near a computer in over a decade. I’d be no use to you.”

“You’re joking,” said Leonard.

“I’m not a hacker anymore,” said Antoine.

“We can bring you back up to speed,” said Leonard.

“Can you?” asked Antoine. “I bet the four of you couldn’t count on eight hands the number of new technologies that have emerged since I went to prison. My hacktivism days are behind me.”

Leonard fumbled for words. “But… you can still lead the movement,” he said.

“Yeah, man,” said Jonesy. “You’re a symbol.”

Antoine chuckled. “I was a symbol when they put me away,” he said. “I’d be worth more as a martyr than a leader. I think I’d rather not be anyone’s symbol anymore.”

“I’m not asking,” said Leonard. “We need you. Now come on.”

“You can’t always get what you want, kid,” said Antoine. “My life isn’t so bad here. I have friends.”

Leonard drew a pistol. “No more jokes,” he said. “The movement dies without you.”

Antoine looked at the gun. “Do you even know how to use that thing? Listen, you’re young and hungry; I’m old and tired. Nothing good will come of this. Just let me stay here. You don’t even have to close the door behind you. I’ll just go back to sleep, and the guards can sort it out in the morning.”

“Don’t you want to be free?” asked Leonard.

“Free to live on the lam, you mean?” asked Antoine. “No, I’ll stay here. I deserve to be here.”

“Why?” asked Leonard.

“You know damn well why,” said Antoine. “Loretta Smith and Shaniqua Thompson.”

“They were accidents—” started Leonard.

“They were human beings,” said Antoine. “And now I get to be a symbol. You hack a hospital, innocent people die, the judge throws the book at you. I’ve had enough of being a symbol for one lifetime, thank you. Now, if there’s nothing more…”

Leonard and his cohorts stared at each other.

“We can’t go back empty-handed,” said Agatha.

“We’re running out of time,” said Jonesy.

“Right,” said Leonard. He turned and fired two rounds into Antoine: one in the head and one in the chest.

“What the shit!” yelled Jonesy.

“Police cover-up,” said Leonard. “He was killed trying to escape.”

“That’s what we’re going to be,” said Jonesy.

The four took off down the corridor as inmates shouted around them. It was a shame to have to kill Antoine, but he’d said it himself: he was worth more as a martyr.

Edited by Carolyn "Just Good Fun" Abram.

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