Broken Watch: Part 1

I decided to add some backstory to a previous project I worked on here. Here’s a draft of it. Enjoy!

Broken Watch

Mr. Guillory was free to wrench the gun out of the boy’s hand and pummel his nose with the back of it until the resulting twisted volcano of blood flashed him back to boot camp. The bald twerp held a rifle like a gangster in a video game holds a handgun. Still his heart swung in small circles, a rhythm he needed to talk to Dr. Starek about.

“If you don’t believe me, ask Tie herself,” said Mr. Guillory.

Tie sat with skinny arms resting at her sides, on a chair of broken computers and laptops that the office workers left behind years ago. Hundreds of outdated electronics held her up. Her black tie ran underneath her large eyes and between her small breasts. “I’m sorry, Cane. I meant to tell you. You can put down the gun if you want.”

Watching Mr. Guillory and Cane, four other teens fidgeted, rope and canisters and bat and bloody fist at ready. The windows at the far ends were wide enough to render the remaining walls useless. One teen’s green necklace of different animals shone brighter when looking at her red hair. One grew a beard on his Arabic chin, his eyes darting to all the exits. The youngest one shuffled her feet as if in a dance. And the non-bloody fist of the big one carried a stack of papers as thick as the skin on his face. There were unknown stains underneath them on the cement floor, and were all over the abandoned staircase.

Cane’s finger, first frozen on the trigger, came to move away from it. He picked up his sleek black cane and held it like a defending sword while his other hand lowered the gun. Mr. Guillory smiled.

Then Mr. Guillory hit the floor.

His chest stung on the outside, dug a hole in itself on the inside. If Cane resisted a smile, nothing about his body showed it. Mr. Guillory coughed. His lucky pocket watch fell out of his breast pocket.

“I thought you said-“

“’Down, lapdog?’” Tie mocked. “I have no more authority over Cane than a fat man in Washington has over your breakfast. Cane is responsible for what he does alone, just as you are responsible for looking like you tattled to the teacher. If you have any grievances, then talk it out like humans.”

The teen with the necklace put a hand under Mr. Guillory’s armpit and held his other arm, both of them lumbering up like a tent blown out by the wind. If anyone else was in the building, they could’ve heard the breaths of the anarchists synchronize against Mr. Guillory’s labored respirations. The swastika-tattooed fist of Cane tightened.

“Cane,” said Mr. Guillory, readying the lie. “Cane, I did not meant to insinuate that I- or Tie- have power over you. You are free- to do whatever you please.”

Cane’s eyes contracted.

“But please understand that Tie invited me here, and that I have no intention to report any of you to anyone.”

“Then why are you here?” snapped the one with the beard.

Mr. Guillory looked to Tie. Tie nodded, and then spoke. “We met at Zeno’s. I happened to be reading Anarchism and The Moral Condition. He kept staring at it. I told him, have it, don’t show it to any librarians. At the end, I left our address.”

All the heaviness of the room funneled into the curses and shouting of the other members. When they finished, Tie spoke again.

“Believe me, I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t read him first. Belt?”

The youngest one, a preteen with a sparkling pink belt buckle, stepped up to Mr. Guillory. She looked at him as if he wasn’t two feet taller. “What is death to you?” she asked.

“Death?”

She nodded.

Mr. Guillory played with his tie in one hand, touched the personal pocket schedule with the other. “… There’s a reason we consider it evil. To be good is to… take care of those who need care. And power’s defined in part by that. I mean, of how many people you reach. Death is the child you can’t touch. It’s an alien power, stronger than us, ruling us without being in the same-“

Belt clapped her hands, shrieked. A great smile flashed on. She ran to another room.

“She does that,” said Cane as Mr. Guillory watched her leave.

“Is she going to write that thing again?” groaned the one with the beard.

Mr. Guillory looked at the stains. Some of them were just ‘The Ultimate Rule is Death,’ written in tight crayon and smudged together.

Tie laughed. “You’re either very fortunate or very right for us. What would you like to be called?”

“Mr. Guil-“

“’Oh Officer, I confess! I broke in! And Mr. G helped!’” Tie mocked. Her eyebrows tightened. “I’m Tie. This is Cane, Necklace, Beard, Manifesto, and Belt’s in the supply closet. Who are you?”

He could check the time, find a reason to return to the thundercloud of a home. He raised his head. “The Fixer.”

Beard snorted. Dimples popped up on some of the members.

“All right, Fixer,” said Necklace. “Welcome.”

Mr. Guillory was now a scuba diver ascending, the water pressure dissolving above him. He was about to breathe again.

“You were all at the NATO protest, correct?”

They didn’t need to nod.

“Did it ever occur-“ he continued before his face flushed.

“Don’t self-censor.”

Mr. Guillory wheezed before finishing. “Did it ever occur to you that the police are more free? Because they can do more than you.”

“Yeah, they’re free. Except for their thousand laws and commitment to violence and their addiction to donuts and-“

“Beard is upset about New Caveton,” said Cane. “When we go there, he’s going to suicide bomb them to teach them Allah’s law against suicide.”

“Hey, fuck you! At least when we go up against America, we don’t fold like a bitch ready for a fat one!”

“Our leadership was-“

“You guys are so gross,” said Necklace. “The spirits wouldn’t care about such crude matter.”

“Woman, you need spirits to get your shit!”

“I’ve had enough-“

Before Cane raised his namesake- and before Mr. Guillory walked out- Manifesto rustled through the pages in his book, his glossy eyes scurrying within that square page. Everyone stopped to watch. He hadn’t stopped smiling, nor looked like he was going to. He found his passage and read.

“’Though Death may seem as if the ultimate boon to give under Veritasism, the mysterious nature of the afterlife leaves the question of killing undecided. Shall there be paradise, Veritasism will fail, since the pain of the dead both ends and fails to make a better world. Our power only extends to what we know. If the greatest misery produces the greatest happiness, if the longest shadow means the brighter light, one cannot risk sending friend, foe, or fellow to a better world.”

Mr. Guillory didn’t grasp what exactly was said, and neither did anyone else according to their faces. But they all exhaled at once, and their shoulders dropped.

Tie stood up from her seat. “So because the police are powerful, they are free.”

Mr. Guillory confirmed.

“Are you more free than us, then? Because you have age and a job and a life?”

“That’s why I want to help,” said Mr. Guillory, taller than the growing bodies around him. “You’re the future. But you don’t know what true freedom is. It’s more than all those broken bones. I can teach you. I can make you into builders of the new world, instead of breakers.”

Tie laughed. “That’s the thing, when you leave school. You become your own teacher. We’ll see what you make of us, and we’ll see what we make of you.”

Continued in Part 2.

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5 thoughts on “Broken Watch: Part 1

  1. Pingback: Broken Watch: Part 2 | Word Salad Spinner

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