Rikon > Short Stories > The Prince of Chairs

The Prince of Chairs

For twenty-five years Bob Johnston had worked his way up through the ranks of the chair factory. Twenty-five years of hard work and slavish dedication to the firm. But now, all that was over.

As he huddled beneath the freeway overpass, clutching the briefcase to his chest, the evening's horifying events replaid themself in his mind. The security gaurd's shocked expression when Bob had hit him over the head with the flash-light, knocking him unconscious. The frantic chase as the police had persued him through three counties and finally into the city itself. Then, finally, the realization that the FBI themselves were now after Bob. Chasing him down like an animal for the secrets he, and he alone, now held.

Bob led the brief case out in front of himself at arm's length and stared at his reflection in it's black synthetic hide. Here, for the whole world to see at last in unequivicable proof, was the greatest conspirousy ever known to man; people don't need chairs.

The realization of the power that he held made Bob shiver with delight, and his hands shook as he opened the case.

There they were, as real as when he had pulled them from the company safe. Floppy disks full of databases detailing the conspirisy. X-rays and doctor's reports of the thousands dying from terminal contact with chairs. An finally, most damning of all, the president of the company's own hand written notes detailing his efforts to personally remove every chair from every school room and to implement broad-reaching educational programs intended to teach people how to sit properly again. And all of it without chairs.

The president had died in a car accident before he could carry out his plans, and Bob knew only too well that this was no ordinary accident, but the work of the conspiracy itself. He knew they would stop at nothing to silence him and retrieve the materials.

Bob sealed the brief case again and carressed it's reassuring solidity. Then, seeing that the rain had subsided, moved to leave the underpass.

As Bob neared the edge of the underpass, though, he caught the sound of a police radio. There, just above him, were three squad cars laying in quiet wait for him. Now that he was in a better viewing position, he could see that the fields on either side of the road were full of armed officers wearing FBI slickers and laying in the grass, waiting for him. He turned to hide again in the dark shadows under the bridge, but being a man of not inconsiderable brilliance he knew that they could wait him out. Or worse yet, send in trained dogs that would rip his flesh from his bones.

Bob knew his only chance was to turn these officers to his side. Surely, once they knew the nature of the crisis they, too, would turn against the authorities and act on his behalf.

Bob took a deep breath and prepared himself.

Above Bob, on the overpass itself, Sargent Frank Brellatti rubbed his lower back.

"What's wrong Frank?" Sandy, his partner for six years, looked over at him, concern on her face. "Didn't you go to the doctor about your back?"

"Yeah, but what the hell can doctors do." Frank wished he had an ice pack to put on his back, or maybe some more asprin to help with the pain. The doctor, though, had warned him about the ulcer he was going to give

himself if he kept taking huge amounts of aspirn, so Frank gritted his teeth and turned his attention back to the suspect. "It's just my damned chair in the office. The way my back hurts when I sit in it all morning, I'd swear it's trying to kill me."

Suddenly, without warning, the suspect did something that amazed Frank Brellatti. Even after twenty-five years of police work he still could not fathom what went on in the heads of perps. The suspect was walking out without his team having to fire one shot, lobbed in tear gas, or even have to say one word.

"Easy work tonight, huh?" Sandy said as she stood with her fire-arm aimed carefully at the perp's body.

"Yeah. Must be our lucky night." Frank stood carefully, being careful to keep the car squarely between himself and the perp. "What the hell is he yelling?"

Above the noise of the officers telling the perp to lay down and put his hands over his head, the perp was yelling like his life depended on it. Something about chairs and cancer and people dying and he had proof.

Frank stepped around the car and caught up with the fedral agents who were quickly closing in on the perp. Above the noise, Frank got an earful of the nut's yelling, and now he understood a little better why the federal agents were so interested in capturing this guy.

As the agents hand-cuffed him the ambalance finally arrived, and as Sandy finished reading the still yelling perp his rights the medics shot him full of sleepy-time juice and he passed out.

Watching the medics wheeling the now unconscious Robert L. Johnston to the ambulance, Sandy asked Frank what all the yelling was about.

"I don't know" Frank said, his face full of puzzlement. "Hey, agent. Sorry, I missed your name. But what the hell was all that about chairs giving people invisible cancer?"

Frank turned to the elderly federal agent and stepped back in shock as he saw the agent bend over and pour a can of lighter fluid over the contents of the now open brief case.

"Hey! What the hell?" Frank demanded, but the agent just stood up and walked to where Frank and Sandy stood. He paused, and pulled a pack of cigerettes from his trenchcoat and, after lighting his smoke threw the match into the volital briefcase.

The conflaguration was brief, but impressive, and Frank watched in stunned silence as X-Rays and papers and floppy disks curled and lost meaning in the flame.

"Damnit! " Frank finally managed. "That was evidence you jackass!"

The agent turned on him dowerly. "No it wasn't, officer. That was a mistake. A mistake we won't be making again."

Frank absent mindledly rubbed his aching back as he watched the agent walk to his big black car. "Look, you jackass. This is going down in the record. What's your badge number and name?"

The agent stopped at the car door and considered Frank, puffing contentedly on his rapidly deminishing cigarrette. "I see you've hurt your back." Then he smiled. "Maybe you need a new chair?"



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