art by Wi Waffles
by D. Thomas Minton
Alexandre found Samson exactly where the card said. The card hadn't mentioned the gun or the explosives or the twenty-seven ashen-faced hostages, but he could work with that.
"I'm just here to talk," Alexandre said when Samson's gun swung in his direction. Since the police had arrived and cordoned off the block around the bank, Samson's already accelerated heart rate had tripled. Alexandre felt it like a subwoofer beat pulsing at the core of his body.
"I didn't ask for no negotiator."
"But you did, the second you walked through that door."
Samson's face contorted grotesquely. Alexandre thought it a look of confusion, but Samson's face was a knot of gristle and bone and incapable of looking anything other than grotesque. A shame, Alexandre thought, his brow crinkling, because Samson didn't have the aura of a bad man. Since the divorce, Samson's life had been a downhill toboggan run on a sheet of black ice. Alexandre had seen it before: personal hardship leading to depression to hard drugs to a career spiraling down the proverbial toilet to a poor life choice. (In Alexandre's opinion, strapping C4 to your chest and holding twenty-seven hostages in a failed bank robbery qualified as a poor life choice.)
Alexandre hoisted himself up onto the counter that held the bank's withdrawal slips. "Is this the best you have?" he asked loudly, addressing the room.
The hostages, in a neat line on the floor along the front of the teller's counter, drew away from him as if he were something contemptible.
"How did you get in here, man?" Samson clutched a dead man's switch to his chest. He jabbed his pistol in the air like he was poking at Alexandre with a sharpened stick.
"You knew this was going to end badly." Out of habit, Alexandre used his calming voice, the one that had never averted bad endings in the past. Those bad endings haunted Alexandre, draining the color from the world. But today would be different.