Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Hero Out of Context

It was the morning after the government imprisoned the second slew of reporters. It was not much in the news, for obvious reasons.

That morning he sold his minority share in the food stand to the chicken vendors, and mailed all of his earnings to the bank and his uncle. This paid off his debts. He also mailed an apology to his cousin, not for selling his minority share, but for miscellaneous grievances that had not received due attention. He thanked his cousin for all his tolerance in their youth, and for a lighter he’d given him for his twelfth birthday, which he still owned despite quitting smoking.

After returning from the postal office, he spent an hour at coffee with his wife, and another hour at another coffee with his mistress. With each he talked about their hobbies and what they might do for careers if the government became more violent, or if riots began. Neither believed riots were possible. He argued very little, and left each with a letter that he felt was not safe with the postal system.

This took him to lunch. He spent what was in his pockets on oil rather than food, and sat in the most popular food court until every table was full. He gave up his own table to a young couple, asking if they had cameras in their phones. When they said yes, he walked three paces from the table and doused himself in the oil. He screamed to God and a camera crew of passersby as to his reasons, then ignited himself with a nickel-plated lighter.

Riots began the next day.


  1. Dark. And I like the fact we never know his reasons...Although I do want to know what they were!

  2. The first two things that jumped into my head upon reading this:

    * "The Day Before You Came" by Abba (definitely one of their better songs)
    * The beginning of The Quiet Earth (the New Zealand SF film)

    The third thing was that line of Shakespeare's, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers".

    I liked that you didn't give away the MacGuffin of why "he" knows the riots are coming. The riots could come for loads of reasons. What I liked best, though, is how strange the behaviour of someone who has completely lost faith in all of a society's institutions, down to something as pragmatic as the postal service, seems to those around him.

    Good stuff.

  3. Hi there John -- I like the way the little, seemingly inconsequential details of his life create a real-feeling person in such a small space. It kind of matters when he ignites himself -- for that and the ensuing reasons. Good writing. St.

  4. Man, this is weird, but very intriguing. I could see you writing a whole series of these.


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