Flash Fiction

While time, the endless idiot, runs screaming round the world..

Leader of Men

He was a tall, good-looking man, though his features bore the slight tremor of the frenzied, similar to that strained purposefulness of a dog that has come to the end of its chain, but does not agree. He was waving a butcher knife out in front of himself while he spoke, and with each thrust, the knife, a bit of yes-man itself, nodded up and down in obvious collusion with the man who held it, giving it an added force to the man’s words that alone they didn’t carry. The woman watched the man and the knife equally, but said nothing, though her face, exquisite in its own right, said everything.They stood in front of a wounded tomato that the woman had been brutally mutilating before the man had been able to assess the seriousness of the situation and rush in to salvage it from its complete demise. There the tomato sat in front of them, bleeding to death from its right side, a savage testimony to the woman’s complete and utter incompetence.

“Wrong,” the man said. “Wrong, wrong, wrong!” He snatched up the knife quickly, calling a halt to this obscene bloodbath. Was it necessary for him to be everywhere at once? Was there nothing that the woman wouldn’t destroy if left to her own devices? She understood nothing–absolutely useless. The man held the knife forcefully, and with authority, letting it know immediately that he was in charge now, and it was to do exactly as he said.

“Look,” he said. “Look at the knife. See how I hold it?” It was true. In his hand the knife was pointed and dangerous. It was a weapon, an extension of himself. The woman’s reddened, shriveled hand had reduced the knife to nothing more than a feeble, clumsy thing that fumbled ridiculously with vegetables, pawing them into a slow and painful death. The blade stuttered and hung its head foolishly, until it became as dull and lifeless as her tongue.

The man looked over at the woman once more. His eyes rolled together in disgusted formation from one side of his head to the other, a trembling final summation of his entire contempt, and without another moment’s hesitation he gripped the knife like nothing less than a leader of men, and using swift, competent, ruthless strokes, sliced the remaining portion of the tomato that the woman had not been able to deface, whereupon the tomato-eighths, also prepared to show her a lesson she would not soon forget, dropped neatly away from each other and lined themselves up efficiently, cleanly, and precisely–like well-trained little soldiers in uniform red. The man gave the woman one more derisive look and swaggered out of the kitchen. The woman stared at the tomato, and then after the man.

“This is your head,” she said. She slammed the remains of the tomato against the wall and watched them slide artfully, gracefully down to the floor.

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