Bev Vines-Haines
Dorsal Winner

Jason Fedderly’s world fell apart like Oliver Wendell Holmes’ story of the Wonderful One-Hoss Shay.  One minute everything was on point and perfect.   The next?  Everything he had achieved and acquired over two decades was gone.

Jason was a writer.  New breed, he liked to think.  Digital words in a digital world.  He blogged.  He free-lanced.  He wrote opinion pieces and on late sleepless nights he trolled through other people’s blogs, opinion posts and any attending comments.  He attacked and destroyed beliefs that varied even a tittle from his own.  Left or right.  Conservative or liberal.  Saint or sinner.

His world consisted of a tiny apartment on the 37th floor of a declining building in the Bronx.  He had a small bath, a kitchenette, a hotplate and a foldout couch that he never folded.  His passion for newspapers, magazines, circulars, and anything else printed on paper had led to ever shrinking paths that snaked through mounds of debris. 

He often stayed on his computer all night.  He loved the freedom of moving about the web and took an almost orgasmic pleasure in peering into windows left open by careless users.  When he found a comment infuriating he would follow that poster into their innermost secret places.  He looked at their friend’s posts, made comments and left threatening messages for each person.

One night his wanderings took him to a political commentator’s personal page.  What an idiot!  He felt heat in his cheeks as he leaned over the keyboard and ripped into every theory and post.  He suggested the man should simply die and stop influencing innocents and the gullible.  He even offered to shoot him or blow him up.  Freedom of speech, right? 

He was on his third cup of coffee the next morning when a furious pounding sounded at his door.  Jason ignored it.  He never answered his door.  Hadn’t for more than twenty years.  Moments later, while he was in mid-sip, the door flew open.  The force took off three deadbolts, two chains and a flip lock, leaving the wooden frame in splintered pieces on the floor.

Cops stormed into the room.  They handcuffed him and shoved him on the bed.  There were shouted questions, accusations and threats.  Jason said nothing.  Fear clutched his chest.  His landlord appeared in the room and yelled something about fire safety.  

He was charged with terrorist threats against the idiot commentator, threatened with years in jail.  They packaged his computer.  When he refused to walk from the cluttered apartment they dragged him. His fingers itched to write about this travesty, these tormenters!  He cried out to the gods of justice. Silence greeted his pleas and the god of bullies laughed.

First published: November 2017
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