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John Donne Was Wrong

Short story By: Jack Flagberry
Flash fiction

This is an idea I've toyed with for a while. Give it a read, and let me know what you think.

Submitted:Sep 9, 2011    Reads: 73    Comments: 2    Likes: 1   

John Donne Was Wrong

This is a man who hates his job. He hates his job and he hates his home, and the street it sits on. He hates the cars that pass by, and the people in them with their dogs hanging out the windows, tongues flapping. He hates the schools, and the pools, and the parks with the kids all around them. He hates the foreigners with their accents and words he cannot understand. He hates the milk man, the mail man, the garbage man, the clergyman, the fisherman, the fireman, the lawman, the salesman, and the ice cream man. He hates his street, and his block, and his city. But most of all, most intensely, he hates waking up everyday.

He finds no joy in anything. Second to waking up, he hates loathes his job most. He sells used cars. He is not good at it. People do not want to buy a car from the man who hates everything. People do not want to be in the same hemisphere as the man who hates everything. This was the case with his family, and his friends. He earnestly tries to sell, and come through peppy, but all the brewing, fizzing hate seeps through his plastic smile. So he inevitably loses the sale, barring his lifeline: the occasional deal with a desperate or apathetic buyer.

The sun creeps through the window in the small bedroom of his overpriced, undersized studio apartment, jerking him from his sleep as his alarm clock begins to blare what could have been tornado siren in another situation. He drowsily opens an eye, breaking the crusty adhesive that formed there through the night. His head pangs with pain from the dehydration of a night's sleep, and his mouth is all slime where saliva used to be. So he reaches for the water bottle that was there the other ten times he needed it throughout the night, when thirst punctuated rest.

Laying in bed, thoughts of the day to come begin surfacing in his head. The idea of another day like the others is unacceptable. He cannot deal with the people, and the cars, and the job. He cannot deal with the stream of failure and seeing another day through concrete colored glasses. No, he decides that this is not going to continue. He decides that this will be his last day, but that he will make the most of it. Whatever comes to mind will become an action. Whatever is in him will come out.
He springs out of bed and puts on his favorite outfit: a pea green and banana yellow checkered blazer and matching high-water slacks, with a cornflower blue, satin button down shirt on underneath that buttons halfway up his chest. Once dressed, he eats the month old sub sandwich sitting in his refrigerator. Being done with his refrigerator, he tips it over onto the ground, causing a considerable crash. Realizing that other tenants will likely inquire about the sound, he steps to it, pouring gasoline throughout his apartment from a gas can he had from his days as a homeowner.

He slips into his favorite pair of moth bitten, old cross-trainers, grabs his aluminum baseball bat and the only pistol he owns, and heads out the door as he lights a match on the fourth try and tosses it in. He sprints down the hall and out the door, happy he lives on the first floor. Within seconds his apartment is swallowed by fire, and it begins spreading to nearby dwellings as well. The next moment he is out on the street, still running.

Sweating through the armpits of his "suit" he comes upon the park full of the children he hates so intensely, and proceeds to knocking the children off of their jungle gyms and monkey bars. He bats children as they swing upward, and rubs their faces in the wood chips. Their cries bring the attention of the various parents who were, until seconds before, engrossed in conversation about this or that, or nose deep in some publication. The man notices the herd of angry mothers and fathers, and continues his joy-run, losing them shortly because of their lack of conditioning and abundance of weight.

Next he comes to a street where a number of the cars he sees on his way to work most days are parked. While keeping his stride, he swings his bat into door sides and windows, scaring passing children and animals, the whole time laughing like he used to when he was not so bitter. Car alarms ring out, like some ray gun symphony.

The cathartic marathon continues to his place of work. He dashes through the lot, adding players to his symphony and turning coworkers into patients. Once at the doors, they blast open and he hops inside. The dealership, now caught in a mix of bewilderment, disbelief, and fear, simply watches as the worst employee of the company begins smashing, bludgeoning, and, as a final coupe de gras, urinating on the office.

Finally out of steam, he drops the bat, walks back outside to the sidewalk, and pulls out the pistol he took from his apartment. Looking at it, he realizes that suicide is simply not in the cards today. It was too good. So, with all bridges burnt, and making yet another terrible decision, he fires the gun in the air until the bullets are depleted.

In the distance, police sirens can be heard, distinct from car alarms, and onlookers gawk at The Happiest Man in the World.. He has no attachments, he has no bridges unburned, and he has no expectations or opinions. John Donne was wrong. This man is an island, entire of himself.


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