Matthew Borczon

He Read Hemingway in Reform School

He was forced to read Hemingway back when he was in reform school. It was a short story about a waiter who dreamed of being a bull fighter and when one of his co workers tied two knives onto the legs of a chair he tried to fight it like it was a bull. He is eventually stabbed deep by the knives and the story ends with this waiter, a kid really trying to die bravely like a real bull fighter. Duane is thinking about this story now instead of thinking about the two shots he had left. There were at least three cops out behind the two police cars that had forced him off the road and on to the ground behind his car.

He is thinking about this story instead of thinking about the dish washer he shot through the head back at the diner he robbed. He hadn’t intended to shoot anyone, just snatch and grab some wallets and watches. Why the dish washer decided to be a hero is the answer to a question he took to his grave.

He is thinking about this story instead of questioning himself harder. Two years ago after his first ride down state he had decided that he was never going back to prison. Being small, young and white he was vulnerable and as easy mark. He doesn’t want to wonder if being a punk again is really a fate worse than death.

He is thinking about this story instead of thinking about Elizabeth, she would be waiting for him back at the motel outside of Waco Texas. She is nineteen and a red head. The day he met her he thought the universe had finally thrown him a bone.

Duane hears the sirens in the distance as he ducks farther behind his car. Gunshots are tearing into metal and flattening his tires. He is thinking about this story instead of listening to the cops as they shout for him to throw his gun down. He is thinking about how much it doesn’t matter that he didn’t plan to shoot the waiter, or didn’t plan to shoot at cops. He knows he can’t go back to jail. He hopes Elizabeth will be alright. He is thinking about that story, how sometimes a bad end is a part of the job. You know it when you take it even though you never think it will be you it ends badly for. He is thinking about this now, and he hopes he will die bravely, like a real bull fighter.

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