What Would You Do?

“Do you know why you are here, Mr. Holiday?” the inspector, or whoever he was, was leaning forward. He seemed like a man who was tired but tried to seem pleasant because that was his job.

“That is not my name,” I corrected him.

“Right, let’s assume it is,” he smiled, “Could I get an answer, Mr. Holiday?”

“I guess there was a bomb in that package?”

“Yes, exactly,” the inspector nodded enthusiastically, “Now, Mr. Holiday, can you tell me who you are?”

“My name is Howard Scott, I am a professor at the University of T___. I have a wife and two sons. Jacob is a lawyer, Mark runs a bed-and-breakfast.”

“Well then, Mr. Holiday, I just have a few standard questions, if you could answer truthfully, I would very much appreciate that. Please say I strongly agree, I agree, no opinion, I disagree, or I strongly disagree. Number one: I try to avoid conflict at all cost.”

“I disagree.”

“Number two: I am not known to rely on others.”

“I strongly agree.”

“I get embarrassed easily.”

“I strongly disagree.”

“Excellent, Mr. Holiday,” said the inspector. “Now, what would you have done, had you known there was a bomb in the package?”

“I would have called the police.”

The inspector smiled and rolled his eyes like he was saying “are we really going to go through all this?”

“Listen,” I said, “What is this all about? Why am I being questioned here? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Please, answer truthfully, Mr. Holiday. Had you known there was a bomb in the package, what would you have done?”

“I would have thrown it away, far, far away.”

“Now, we’re getting closer, Mr. Holiday, but I don’t think you are being completely honest with me.”

“Why not? And why do you keep calling me Mr. Holiday, this is ridiculous.”

“Calm down, Mr. Holiday. Please, answer me this, if you had known there was a bomb in that package, would you have left the house and called your wife to open it?”

“This is preposterous, why am I being questioned like this? Do you think I sent the package myself?”

“Now, now,” said the inspector, “I am not saying that. This is just a standard line of questioning.”

“Standard? For what?”

“I have all the time in the world, Mr. Holiday,” he said.

We sat there for a few minutes in silence. Finally, I said, “This is going to keep happening, isn’t it? These little meetings with you or somebody else, until you get it out of me. Don’t you think I don’t know what’s going on. I literally wrote the book on interrogation techniques. Actually, several books on the apparatus of oppression in totalitarian regimes.”

The inspector smiled victoriously.

“Fine,” I said, “I will admit things have not been going well between me and my wife recently. There were certain… episodes… I even thought I would feel a certain relief if she was out of the picture. But I would never…” The inspector had gotten up and was collecting his pens and the various papers he had laid out on the desk. “You’re leaving?” I asked. “Can I ask what this is all about?”

“It is decided now, Mr. Holiday. You are going to hell.”

“What do you mean hell?” I asked.

He smiled and extended his index finger pointing right at my heart and then slowly moved it down, down, down towards the floor. Or, supposedly, towards what was beneath the floor.

Change of Plans

Not so sure you were pretty, not sure you were ugly either. You had a woolen hat on, your mascara was flowing down your cheeks. Was it the rain, or had you been crying? No matter, I did not need to know. I was already sure you were the one. Came into my life so unexpectedly, carried a certain heat with you, a change in temperature. Made me no longer feel so cold anymore.

I followed you from the party to the train station. You were so alone, and so fucked up. You did not even realize no train was coming, it was almost 4 am. It was alcohol and drugs and loneliness, you had not realized all you needed in life was me. And here I was.

You tried to deny what you felt, but I knew better. I weighed you down to the ground. You were so passionate, you scratched my face. I did not care. Love was in the air.

I left you sleepy, satisfied, hardly breathing. A complacent little ball of comfort and hurt. That sweet hurt that comes from when a world is torn apart to show you the light of a new, brighter one. Sweet disillusionment.

I am sorry I met you on the day I decided to die. Perhaps I will not do it after all. Perhaps I have something to live for. Perhaps that something is you.

Homeless Guy’s Chocolates

I was taking the morning train to work. It was pretty empty at this hour, so I could sit back with my book and relax.

A homeless guy climbed aboard on one of the stations. He had all his possessions with him in a large duffel bag, a sizable parcel of winter clothes and God knows what else. I certainly do not, as I never had to rely on my own self for storage and transportation of all my possessions. He also smelled pretty bad, as is the misfortune of the homeless. He sat a little ways away from me.

Right before a stop, he fumbled in his bag a little and then dropped a number of small objects. Taka, taka, taka, tak, they fell to the floor. I glanced discreetly to see what they were. Chocolates. Small, individually wrapped, expensive chocolates. Why would a homeless person not buy expensive chocolates, I thought. Perhaps he preferred them over alcohol. It made me happy to know he had them.

He scrambled to pick them up and then rushed to the door to get off. I stayed on, saw him walk down the platform chewing and smiling, and I smiled too. Then I looked to where he had been sitting and found out he had missed one chocolate. It was on the floor, underneath a seat. I smiled and hoped somebody would find it and have a nice day.

Octopus Pendant

I gave her the pendant on our first month-iversary. My look back then was a tank top and combat pants. I tried to impress her, make her think I was a soldier. I would also try to impress the soldiers I sometimes passed in the street, I would give them a knowing nod. I hoped they would think I was one of them. That is the kind of person I was.

I guess I blew my cover giving her that octopus pendant. If it was a bullet pendant, or dog tags, she might have thought I was a soldier, but octopus showed childlike wonder and also care. It showed a deep meditative spirit and a love of the aquatic. She was not fooled by my fatigues and flak armor. By the knives and guns, and bullet wounds that I had done on me at the tattoo shop. They did scars, so I asked them if they could imitate bullet scars and they said sure, that will be twenty bucks a pop. They had a special set of scoops they did it with, each for a different caliber. For thirty bucks they could do dum-dum. I went for .546 service, or something like that. Sounded legit.

She looked at my naked chiseled torso and asked “Are you an actual soldier, though?”

And I had to say “No,” because I did not have the courage to lie or the imagination to deceive. Then I saw it in her eyes.

I still have the pendant though.

Running

I went out to have breakfast with my friend Todd. We lived in a walk-around neighborhood, so we walked to the restaurant. On the way there, a guy jogged by us.

“You know,” said Todd, “A man running this fast is bound to be running from something.”

I did not laugh.

“But,” Todd continued, “No matter how fast you run, you can’t run from yourself.”

I gave Todd an evil look, trying to communicate all my anger to him. “Very funny, Todd. Very… veeeery funny.” He knew I was considering opening a bakery. And later running it. “Very funny, Todd.”

Todd was an evil man.