Saturday, December 13, 2008


This short piece won first prize in the humorous fiction category in the 2008 El Paso Writer’s League writing contest.


By Bob Sanchez

George knew the world was coming apart at the seams. Only by furious effort had the world avoided the Y2K debacle, with its attendant threat of planetary lockjaw. Citizens would have been shot dead for their bottled water, their gasoline, their triple-A batteries and their clean underwear.

“I’ve had it with you, George.” Lila was trying to tell him something. He examined an unopened roll of duct tape, wondering if the stuff had an expiration date. Maybe he’d better buy a fresh supply, just in case.

Okay, he thought, we dodged the millennial bullet only to take one in the heart with nine-eleven. We have Columbine shootings, no-fly lists, outsourced jobs and insourced illegals, corporate meltdowns, ozone holes, and Americans up to their asses in IEDs in Iraq. Now that Pacific Rim runt has Nagasaki-sized nukes he’ll be selling to terrorists to finance restocking his liquor cabinet and his porn collection.

Lila grabbed the package out of his hand. “This isn’t going to keep out sarin, anthrax, or radioactive isotopes.”

“You’re red in the face,” George said. “Are you sick?”

 “Only of living in a bomb shelter, surrounded by” —she waved an arm in a sweeping motion—“sterile gauze and chlorine tablets. And a year’s supply of Charmin!”

“Because if you’re sick, you should sleep on the cot tonight.” He took back the duct tape and opened the package. “Maybe I didn’t seal the windows properly.”

“We don’t need to live like this! We are not a terrorist target—we’re a hundred miles from the nearest city!”

“But downwind,” he said quietly.

For the first time, he noticed that she had her winter coat on and that she had packed a suitcase.“I’m leaving you,” she said.

“Right now?”

“Now isn’t soon enough, but yes.”

“But you’re safe here.”

“I don’t care. I’m sick of being safe. I’ll risk sorry.”

George took Lila’s hand, and for a fleeting moment her expression softened. Then he placed the roll of duct tape into her hand. “At least take this,” he said.

He thought nothing of it when her jaw dropped at the sight of his gift.

Or when she gripped it tightly in her fist.

Or when she cocked her arm like a World Series fastballer.

So he didn’t blink when her arm whipped forward. The hard, black roll followed a short, swift trajectory from her fingertips to his temple. George had always suspected that his life would end in a flash of blinding light.

And so it did.



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