Friday, 9 April 2010

Even the Terrorists Go Christmas Shopping (#fridayflash)

Leanne waited until the guard was across the other side of the visiting room to ask the question.

"Tell me why you did it, Tommy."

"Keep your voice down, okay?"  He let go of her hands under the table.  "As far as these lot are concerned, I'm pleading not guilty."

"I don't care what they're concerned.  Tell me why you did it."

"I had no choice.  It was my first operation.  I needed to prove myself."

"No choice?  No choice? You mean they told you to lay down our baby on a mattress stuffed with explosives?"

"Not as such, no."

"What then?"

"'Use your ingenuity, Tommy,' they said.  I thought it was fucking ingenious.  If only you hadn't told the squaddie to piss off when he asked to search the pram.

"I wanted to get on, for our one day together Christmas shopping.  I didn't want to wake Jimmy up, to set him off crying."

"So you told the squaddie to piss off. Full marks to you for how to charm the British Army."

"How was I to know you were hiding anything?"

"How were you to know I wasn't?  If you'd just have let him look in the pram, he'd have glanced inside to see if we were hiding an AK-47, and it would have all been great.  He'd have let us go.  You know that."

"If you hadn't been using our day out to smuggle your mate's bomb-making-kit into the city centre it wouldn't have mattered."

"Are you deaf? Watch my lips.  I. Had. No. Choice.  I joined up for you. 'Protect our community,' you said. 'Be a real man.'  This was my first operation.  No one gets caught on their first operation.  I was a clean pair of hands.  That's why they chose me."

"Well they could've chose someone else.  I'm the one who's left to pick up the pieces.  To do our son's first Christmas without his father."

"Boo hoo.  And you think it's going to be all joy-to-the-world for me banged up in here?"

"I'm going now Tommy. Here's hoping you have a very Merry Christmas."

Her heels clicked as she walked towards the door.

He shouted as she left: "Will I see you in the New Year?"

She ignored him.

The guard walked back to Tommy's side of the visiting room and stood beside the table.

"Merry Christmas, mate," he said.


  1. What a way to go down. :) She's better off without him. Great read!

  2. I much prefer christmas tales when it's nowhere near christmas :-D
    Good dialogue there

  3. Great title. This is what happens when your top boys gradually get whittled down by death or incarceration, you start having to recruit chaff.

    Marc Nash

  4. What a great twist on a "domestic." I really enjoyed this - good dialogue with a dose of historical bittersweet. Bravo!

  5. I'm thinking his priorities are a trifle skewed.
    But hey, nobody's perfect.

  6. Hehe - yes, Christmas can take so many forms for different types of people. Great dialogue!

  7. Nice gritty piece of realism. It is sad when people get so entrenched they can't "see" anymore. Also sad that he probably didn't think he had a choice. Not a good situation. And I hope she makes it okay.

  8. Terrorists are recruiting anyone these days...

    Leanne is definitely the tougher of the two. She might have been able to pull it off... if it were on her itinerary.


  9. Actually this is pretty chilling when you think of it. And truthful, too many people are misusing children in this way these days... Glad they got caught really!

    Interesting that she is the one that pushed him to protect them, but is quick to jump ship when he's banged up.

    I'd like to know more of their story.

  10. Much more tension and implied action than usual, David. Very enjoyable, despite their misery.

    Editorial note: "you're" instead of "your" in the third paragraph.

  11. Well done. A compelling tale. Nice use of dialogue in this story to propel it forward, hint at things.

  12. Well that made a chill run down my spine, very compelling read. Gillian

  13. Love the title and the dialogue. Good story!

  14. In our writers group, as everywhere, the mantra is "show, don't tell". Yet, I come across dialog stories where the mechanics cause a 'tell' story.

    This was very well done. I felt like I 'watched' the events unfold, didn't 'hear' them. I've gotta learn this technique. So often, I want to tell a story through dialogue and I get lost.

    Really. Well done. I was hooked until the last word.

  15. Nice. He's right where he should be.

    Tight, tense dialogue that really shows the whole story.

    I'm impressed. :)