Public Speaking

The rifles are already aimed. Four soldiers are on a knee, ready to fire once the order is given. Once ordered, they will fire into Kenneth Mariner until their magazines empty. Judging by the rifles, that’s either sixteen or twenty shots. Finally, the officer will deliver a coup de grace with his sidearm and inspect the body. Kenneth is looking right down the third soldier to the left’s iron sights, into the soldiers blinking nervous eye.

In the surrounding auditorium, Kenneth Mariner’s peers sat, their parent close to them. They were all dumbfounded at the oddity. Here stood a boy eleven years of age standing as tall as he could, as strong as he could. He stared at a point somewhere beyond the projector. He was waiting for the perfect words to form. Fifteen seconds of silence passed as if hours, then he spoke.

“Cuba is an island slightly smaller than Pennsylvania. Seated adjacent to Central America, it is the largest island of The Western Antilles. The country’s official language is Spanish. The 11 million people who live there enjoy basketball and baseball. Their main export is sugar.”1

“Very good, Kenneth. What kind of delicacies have you brought to your table?”

“Deli ham wrapped around a pickle slice.”

“Sounds scrumptious. Let’s give Kenneth a hand.”

Mrs. Tran was always nice, but she couldn’t stop what’s coming. During the ovation, Kenneth sunk down the podium and the bandstand, towards his table where he was sure his fate awaited him. Peter Mariner secretly wondered if his public speaking technique didn’t quite translate right. He watched his son make a rosary and Pete was assured that he had been a bad father. Luckily, their health insurance covered psychiatry.

Never again would Pete watch Paths of Glory without feeling slight amounts of shame.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. D.J. Lutz
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 21:13:17

    I really like that transitory technique, going from the imagined to the real. Excellent reading! Best of luck on the story a day mission; I am having a hard enough time writing one a week! Kudos, sir.


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