Friday, April 18, 2008

Powder Burn Flash #79 - Michael Knowles

Ten For the Price of One

“This is one outstanding sandwich. I had no idea a little convenience store like this even sold fresh sandwiches.”

“Thank you, my friend. Are you sure you would like only one? You look like two or three would be more appropriate.”

“No, no one is enough. Say, could you turn up the television? I want to see what the Prime Minister has to say about that poor dead boy.”

“Fucking Canadian Government! One soldier dies and they lower the flag. One man gets a national symbol. What about the people he helped kill? Where is their symbol, my friend?”

“You don’t support the war in Afghanistan?”

“My friend, I am Afghanistan. My country is no better with you there. Taliban we knew; with you people, there is no order at all”

“I’m not there, I’m here. So are you.”

“My friend I am here, but my mind has never left the land of my father. I raise support everyday for my brothers in the struggle.”

“Oh yeah? Raise how?”

“I send funds back to my army.”

“You mean jihadists.”

“We are nothing so fundamental my friend. It is not jihad on the ground; it is war. Jihad is for the imams in the mosque.”


“What is ironic, my friend?”

“That I’m a government employee eating in your fine establishment.”

“And why is this irony?”

“I do government work, get paid a government wage. By eating here, I’m sponsoring terrorism.”

“Not terrorism - a noble war effort against an unjust occupation. Terrorism is so subjective. In my home, it is your employers who are the terrorists.”

“Why are you here then? Why not stay and fight in your war?”

“My friend, what I do here does more for my people than what ten of me could accomplish on my home soil.”

“Aren’t you worried about the government? What if they find out about what you are doing?”

“Worry? What is there to worry about? Your country is civilized is it not? You will not murder me. You will simply send me home. And before long, I will be back. It has happened before and it will happen again. You see, your meal is not ironic; it is part of a chain of ignorance. Your employer lets me exist; they even gave me a business grant. Your patronage is just another extension of you country’s ignorant hospitality.”

“Well, whatever it is, the sandwich sure is good.”

“Thank you, my friend. But tell me, what do you do for your country?”

“I serve, like you, just not with sandwiches.”

“How do you serve then?”

“I assess risk. I find out the best way to solve a situation. It’s a good job. I get to lug this briefcase all over the world. ”

“Where will you travel next?”

“I’ll be home for a while. My last trip overseas showed me the real risk was not where I thought it was.”

“Where is it then?”

“At home, in places you’d never expect. But enough of that, I’ve talked your ear off long enough. My lunch break is over and I have to get back to work. How much do I owe you for the sandwich?”

“Three seventy-five.”

Three loonies and three quarters hit the counter.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have much left for a tip.”

“My friend, your money will do plenty. I thank you and my people thank you.”

“Let me check my inside pocket. There we go, I found something.”

“Wonderful, my friend.”

“What do you tip on a sandwich worth three seventy-five? Ten percent?”

“It is up to you.”

“Well, you’re in luck. I just happen to have a .38.”

FUPP. The sound of the body hitting the floor was louder than the silenced shot. The government man holstered his gun and threw the rest of the sandwich in the garbage. He took out his phone and dialled the number for a clean, prepaid, phone as he walked away from Hasty Market.

“It’s MacDonald. Everything went fine… No, no one saw anything. I think the sandwiches keep most people away. I’m moving onto the next name… I don’t care if you don’t think it’s wise. My down time is my own. The way I see it, it’s like there will be ten less people waiting for me when I meet you in Kabul.

MacDonald ended the call and got into his car. He checked his watch then started the engine. He put the Ford in drive and waited with his foot on the break. Through the windshield, he watched the Hasty Market tremble before sending its glass out onto the pavement ahead of the explosion inside. No one watched MacDonald leave the parking lot; everyone’s eyeswere on the fire.

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