Drama Crime Speculative

I plant a bomb, for old time’s sake. It’s a rather large one, under the stage where the honky-tonk band plays songs that make everyone two-step. In less than thirty minutes it will detonate, killing everyone in the Red River Saloon. Unless you stop me like you always do. 

More people are gathered on the dance floor than at the bar. Good. Gives me room to sit and enjoy a drink. I need to kill time until you show up. I strut to the bar in my boots and my cowboy hat and my tight jeans. Unassuming. One of the innocent.

“Round me up a shot of tequila, partner,” I tell the bartender in my best country accent. He gives me the shot, then stares at me. “You eyeing me, boy?”

“Watch how you talk to your elders, son,” he says, the white bearded bastard. “Anyone ever told you you look like that Green Gambit guy who broke out of prison last year?”

“Well, if I were him I’d be wearing something green, wouldn’t I, partner?” I look away from him, hide my face a little. Don’t want him to recognize me and cause a scene, make everyone flee. I know how much you like an audience.

As I look over my shoulder, a girl catches my eye from afar. Ginger, pretty, about as old as my daughter, Caroline, should be about now, I think. 

I don’t remember how old my daughter is. 

Oh, God.

Can’t think about that now. This girl, in the Red River, is not my daughter.

She sits alone with her beer bottle, looking across the lively saloon at me longer than necessary, then looks away. I walk to her. What fun can I have with her while I wait for you? What fun can I have with her in front of you?

Her face is to the floor when I approach her. “Mind if I buy you a drink, miss…?” Like a flash of lightning she’s on her feet with one hand grabbing my collar and the other hand growing nails so long and sharp they might as well be considered knives on her fingertips, a hair away from piercing my throat. As soon as I’m able to register what happened, I’m locked onto the glaring scar that starts above her right eye and ends below her left cheek. She lets go of me and cries.

“You a meta.” My voice is too low to be heard over the music.

“I’m so sorry,” she says. Her claws retract. That hand shakes. Her cheeks are wet with tears. “I thought you were someone else. I thought you were a bad man.”

“I have one of those familiar faces. Let me buy you another drink.”

She tries to turn and walk away. I reach her by the shoulders and guide her back to her seat. On her lonely table sits three empty beer bottles, with the fourth spilt over when she attacked me. She should be drunk already, with that little body of hers, despite her incredible reflexes.

I leave, and return to her with two bottles, one for her and one for me.  She takes my offering while I take a seat next to her. 

“I don’t care if you’re a meta, you know,” I say.

“I do,” she says. Tastes a sip of beer. “I wanted to find Brian Cassidy and make her proud of me, but I fucked up. Like, what am I even doing here?”

“Brian Cassidy?” I play dumb. I’m Brian Cassidy.

“You know, the Green Gambit? I thought you look like him, but I don’t even know what he really looks like when his stupid mask covers half of his stupid face. I’m such an idiot. Please, I’m sorry if I hurt you.”

“If you don’t mind me asking,” I say, “who were you trying to make proud?” 

“I probably shouldn’t say.”

“I’m just a regular guy. Who would believe me if I told anyone?”

She takes a long sip of her beer. “It’s Ms. Miracle.”

I want to laugh. You, leaping across rooftops with a sidekick? You’ve gone soft while I was away, haven’t you? I glance at my watch. She has seventeen minutes left if you don’t come and see me.

“I bet that sounds crazy to you, huh?” she asks. Another tear drops from her cheek. My thumb brushes it away. I’m not sure why, but a rolodex of images flutter in my mind of all the things I wanted to do with Caroline when she was born. Camping trips. Rollercoaster rides. Trick-or-treating. Sing-a-longs on road trips. Dancing. 

“Wanna dance?” I ask.

“No,” she pouts, brushing my hand away. “I wanna find Cassidy. Then Ms. Miracle won’t have to fight him anymore.”

“C’mon, miss, I don’t see any bad guys here.” I take her by the hands, praying her claws don’t pop out again. “The only criminal act I see is a beautiful young woman crying in a saloon, and I’d be an accessory to it if I don’t show her a good time.”

We’re line dancing, your supposed ward and I, and we’re horrible at it. We’re tripping over our own feet trying to keep in step with the other dancers. She was reluctant at first, but it doesn’t take her long to loosen up. She looks at me as her drunken feet stumble, and she laughs. I do, too, to show her I can. I don’t know how to feel, however. The thought of the horror on your face when you make your heroic entrance and see me having a fun night outing with your sidekick, knowing that my bomb will blow us all sky high at any moment, brings a smile to my face. Yet to make this lonely girl with the ugly facial scar smile and laugh for the first time tonight warms my heart more than I deserve.

All the people dancing shuffle amongst themselves, as per the dance. Her arms are extended. Her claws accidentally pop from her fingers. She cuts another woman, deep. This woman screams in pain. Those who notice stop dancing to tend her. One can tell her arm is oozing with blood despite the dim blue strobe lights.

Your ward stands frozen, staring at the woman. Her claws are still out, soaked in blood. A man yells at her. She retreats to the women’s restroom, and I after her. 

She disappears in one of the restroom stalls, which doesn’t faze the obese girl who checks herself out in front of the mirror. Upon seeing me, however, she freezes, follows me with her eyes through the mirror. I approach this girl from behind, wrap my arm around her neck and squeeze until she passes out. I manage to drag her large carcass to the restroom door to act as a barricade. 

Your ward did not see this. She is on the toilet of an open stall, hunched over her knees, head buried in her arms, sobbing. I watch her. I’m thinking this will stop on its own, but she still sobs after two minutes. Five minutes left until the boom. I can’t hear your classic righteous bolstering beyond the pounding against the restroom door, the angry cries of “She’s too dangerous!” “Get the meta!” “Fucking freak!” 

“I tried,” your ward says. “I tried to be good, but I screw everything up. She’s been so good to me, like the mother I never had, but I’m useless. I ruin everything I touch.”

“C’mon, miss,” I say. “Let’s get out of here.”

“I’m not going home with you. You’re sweet, but I’m clearly not in the mood.”

“No, no, I mean you need to leave this bar right now.” I take her hand. She pulls it back. I get annoyed. “I’m trying to save you.”

“You don’t even know me. I’m a freak, like they say. Just get out of here!”

Four minutes left. I don’t think you’ll show. I could leave her to die. Witness you crumble in the aftermath. But what I would do if she were my daughter. If she were Caroline. “Look, there’s an angry mob out there looking to get their hands on you. The way I see it, you have three options: you can let them do God-knows-what to you, you can defend yourself and kill a bunch of innocent and confused people, or you can let me distract them while you get the hell out of this goddamn bar.”

Three minutes left. I offer my hand once more. She stares at it, then takes it. When I pull her from the stall, I see the obese girl rushing out the restroom. In her place stood a tall, athletically built blonde who looks as old as I am. I can hear the band playing on stage, the jumbled noises of people talking, but no angry mob.

“Brie?” the blonde asks. “Brie, it’s me, your mom.”

“Oh,” your ward says. “Hi, Mom.”

“I’ve come to take you home.”


Their gazes shift between each other and me. I stare at them both. I don’t know what’s going on, but this silence is awkward. 

Your ward lets go of my hand to embrace her mother. The mother then approaches me.

“Uh, hi, I’m Leslie Hopkins.”

“Arthur McKinney,” I say with a smile. We shake hands with that same unexplained awkwardness. Brie looks at me once more, then walks away under her mother’s arm. I don’t think I’ll see her again.

My parents wanted nothing to do with me when I rejected the life they wanted for me and turned to petty crime. My lover gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and fled with her when became the Green Gambit. My henchmen ratted me out when I was finally brought to justice. The only one who stayed, who never left me whenever I showed the world my true self, was you, Ms. Miracle. But tonight, you never came to see me, and now my bomb under the stage where the honkytonk band plays will detonate in thirty seconds.

I stand in the middle of the dance floor, facing the stage, surrounded by a dozen dancing duets, laughing, bonding. I look at my watch. Six seconds.






The band still plays. The couples still dance. Nothing else is happening.

I dance alone.

May 26, 2023 04:49

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Zack Powell
20:26 May 31, 2023

I was going through the stories for this prompt, which I found to be the hardest of the five this week, and what do I see but a submission entitled "The Bomb"? Naturally, I had to click on this, and I'm glad I did. Two things stuck out to me after reading this: 1) The POV. I really love that you went for an I/You type of narration, especially since we never actually see the "You" character, this fabled Ms. Miracle. Gives the story an extra touch of tragedy. Here we have Green Gambit jilted by his lover and child, and then the exact same th...


Jarrel Jefferson
04:47 Jun 01, 2023

Thank you for the kind words, Zack. They mean a lot.


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Lily Finch
18:51 May 31, 2023

Jarrel, what I liked about this piece was that you set up the reader while, immersing the reader too, into the dual storylines going on. The focus on the two characters and the interspersing of the minor characters made for good use of reality and established your setting in a honky tonk bar. The amount of attention given to both characters and the mysterious you created a suspenseful element to the story that was just another layer. Knowing the reader would figure out Arthur McKinney was the common link that intersected both storylines. ...


Jarrel Jefferson
04:50 Jun 01, 2023

Thank you for the compliments, Lily, as well as the critique. I don't get enough critiques, and I need all that I can get.


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Mary Bendickson
03:37 May 28, 2023

Tommy sent me to check out your writing. You are just as deep as he is.


Jarrel Jefferson
05:16 May 28, 2023

Thanks. This is the deepest I've ever gone in a writing project. Can I get some recommendations on romance novellas?


Mary Bendickson
06:06 May 28, 2023

You are teasing aren't you? That's not my forte yet either. I've done mostly creative non-fiction and light humor.


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Tommy Goround
05:01 May 27, 2023



Jarrel Jefferson
13:50 May 27, 2023

I was going to something stupid at first, but then I had a bad night and decided to write something less stupid.


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