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My Six Hundred Kiloton Life

T. E. Kinker is a college-educated pizza deliveryman and playwright currently writing out of Marietta, Ohio. While his play, On Squirrels and Gophers, has appeared in the Mid-Ohio Valley player's one act festival, "My 600 Kiloton Life" marks his first appearance in the world of fiction.

Imagine my surprise when I got the phone call. The call, relayed six times, routed and rerouted, buzzed straight through six thousand miles to our little New Mexico research lab.
"The Bomb is alive?" I asked. And there were several seconds of silence before the voice grainy with radio static replied.
"Yes, and it's worse than that--it doesn't want to explode."
Static, as I and the rest of the R&D team shared a glance.
"Well," I said at last, "Did you explain the situation to it?"
"Yes. But..."
"Perhaps I should put him on."
After a moment of muffled conversation away from the receiver, a voice chimed in: "Hi! How you all doing? Look I hate to be a bother--and seeing how I was just born yesterday--maybe I ought not to weigh in on this, but it seems to me that if I fall and explode quite a lot of people will die. Am I correct in that, gentlemen?"
I choked on my words, and my mouth hung open. A younger member of the team cleared his voice into the receiver. "Ahem, well, yes. Well that's the point, isn't it?" Then he continued hotly, "Look here, we created you in order to save lives! Don't you see? By taking some lives now, you'll send the message that all resistance is futile, that all war is pointless since from this moment forward we have the ultimate solution to violence. Why, they ought to hand you a Nobel Peace Prize!"
Crackle. Pop. Crackle.
Then on the other end: "Nope, I'm not buying it. That's the what the boys in the plane have been trying to tell me, but--hey listen. Following that logic, I should just go boom here in the bomb bay. Boom! Save a lot of lives that way. Or I'll go ka-pow mid-flight! KABLAAAM!"
Sweat beaded down our necks.
"Maybe" it said in over blown nerve "I won't blow at all."
"But... you're a bomb!"
"Maybe, but I'm a new kind of bomb."
We talked on, but you can see how persuasive a fella can be when he speaks softly and carries a payload of twenty-one thousand tons of TNT.
We called the other plane.
"Listen, this might be a strange question, but has your bomb been... well, expressing any opinions?"
"Sir, I think they've all been talking."
He did get that Nobel Prize, too. That war ended peaceably enough. And while war continued around the world, it was a good deal more hushed now that a Hothead pacifist watched over everybody's shoulder.
Feeling, as I did, some kind of paternal responsibility, I took the bomb home to small town Kansas. He married a Kansas woman, joined a Methodist congregation, much against his will, and got a house in the plains. Not many neighbors to speak of. You can imagine why. Despite a Bomb's best intentions, he really can't change his nature. And sometimes when, in heated conversations about the Jayhawks or politics, his face would glow red and his wife would run to the red marked blast radius.
Both our sons played varsity and during the games I would walk out alone to where he sat a hundred yards away. He'd ask about my work on power plants. I would ask about his work against hunger in Africa.
He'd let out a long sigh and settle into his tail fins. "Tell you the truth, Jim, I don't think I'm cut out for it. I'm just an old bomb. And a bomb's got one thing it's meant to do."
He wasn't young. I would say he was well into his half-life crisis, and he was starting to show cracks and fissures. His wife, poor woman, kept a Geiger counter and Lead-lined apron.
The government for their part, thought he was a nuisance creating a thousand zoning and fly over issues.
At nights, he would walk the line and stare out at the distant lights of the cities and the stars pondering how he might benefit humanity.
But when the telescopes discovered the object in the sky, estimated its mass and calculated its trajectory to Earth, he finally knew his purpose and "why the good lord had seen fit to make a humanitarian out of an atom-bomb."
After kissing his wife goodbye and throwing one last pass with his son, the bomb climbed aboard the rocket.
Payload secured, the countdown began at T minus 9 as I and the rest of small-town Kansas watched.
"That bomb's got a heart of Gold," said Mrs. Petersen from the bake sale committee.
"No," I said as blast off commenced, "just plutonium-239."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, May 25th, 2022
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