“What are you going to do with all of those water balloons?” Tortoise asked.
There must have been a hundred of them in every color, constructing a rubber pyramid that wobbled above a red pull-along wagon. Hare grabbed the top balloon, and launched one at Tortoise’s snapper. When the balloon burst, Tortoise tasted metal in his mouth, and felt like his stomach had dropped out of his shell.
“You can’t be serious,” Tortoise coughed. “What could have made you this...this... evil?”
When Hare pelted a balloon right into his eye, Tortoise kicked his two unbound legs frantically, and rocked the chair in the hopes that one of the oak legs would give out. His hands had gone numb an hour ago, if you could call them hands anymore. Two bloody nubs chained to a wooden chair. Another balloon burst Tortoise on his stomach, and he hopelessly watched the pellets drip down his yellow bone chest.
“At least tell me why,” Tortoise moaned, spitting while he spoke, but Hare did not respond.
“Was it those nasty brats? I know it was wrong, but, maybe, it’s not you. Maybe Trix really are just for kids?”
Hare popped a blue balloon in his hand, and growled.
“You don’t even remember me?” Hare grunted through gritted teeth. “How can you already forget me, Tortoise? You ruined my life. You didn’t have to do that. You could have been quiet, or at least honorable. But no. You told the entire world about your amazing race against the Hare. And then,” Hare paused. “THAT BOOK!”
Tortoise winced. Hare looked nothing like the youthful rabbit he raced all those years ago. A dark gash ran from his gnarled right ear to his mouth, and his white fur, where there was fur, was stained a brownish-yellow.
“Oh, yeah, you got a copy of that book, huh?” Tortoise asked quietly.
“Everyone got a copy,” said Hare, dragging each word like a dead body. “My wife left me almost immediately, with the kids mind you. Lost my job, had to sell my hole to a snake, and my parents… I don’t even know. They must have changed their name and moved.”
Hare looked up at the hanging caged light, and Tortoise spotted the fur below his brown cheeks had soaked.
“I saw some dark things, after that,” Hare said, looking at Tortious with absent eyes.
Hare turned away from Tortoise, and dumped the red pull-wagon. As the balloons rolled under the Tortoise, Hare hopped around Tortoise like a pogo stick, popping the balloons with his feet. From behind his mangled ear, Hare pulled out a gold Zippo and flipped the top. Tortoise thought of screaming, but worried that would only add fuel to the flame, which wasn’t lacking for fuel.
“Well, you may not want to hear this, but this is not my fault. You took two naps and ate breakfast during a race! You, Hare, shouldn’t feel bad, but you need to take responsibility for your actions. Maybe that’s the real lesson from our race,” Tortoise surmised.
Hare considered Tortoise’s anecdote for a moment, closed the Zippo, and began leaving the room.
“See, there you go! Taking responsibility for your actions. Now, just don’t forget to untie me!” Tortoise yelled.
When Hare had nearly left the room, he stopped, lit the Zippo again, and turned to Tortoise.
“You’re wrong. That’s not the moral, because the story didn’t end that day.” Hare said before tossing the flame into the fuel underneath Tortoise. “You may have won the race, Tortoise, but life isn’t a god damn race.”
Bio: David Gregory is a marketing pro from Washington, DC who loves humor fiction. When he's not pretending to know something about politics, David is wrestling with his first novel, and begging people to read his humor fiction magazine at www.FunnyInFiveHundred.com.
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