night of the flying hamburger

The chopper’s searchlight illuminated twenty cops who were now waiting to escort the hamburger thrower into the van.…”


by kim farleigh



A woman’s lover attacked the man who had thrown the hamburger. The woman’s white dress’s now ugly, brown-red stain lacquered bewilderment upon her grieving eyes. People scampered to avoid fists. Chairs tumbled. The waiters separated two wild-eyed men. Police arrived. Blue lights flashed. Passers-by, hearing “Bastard!,” stopped, hoping to hear more of those yelps of Mozart beauty.


Police sirens and flashing, blue lights clog footpaths, suggesting primeval thrills, the diners’ hopes of primitivism persisting because of finger-pointing accusations.


More police cars arrived. The footpaths clogged up with previously rushing people who precious time was adequately compensated for by gawking.


A police helicopter hovered above. Many hoped a missile would down the chopper. The chopper’s searchlight illuminated twenty cops who were now waiting to escort the hamburger thrower into the van.


The chopper’s pilot dreamt of zapping the crowd. Vietnam War envy gripped him. People hoped his chopper would get hit. Free entertainment on that scale is hard to find.


The people extended for hundreds of metres from the restaurant. Some, now mesmerized by drama, had once said things like “I hate football. I abhor violence.” But contradictions proliferate because self-analysis doesn’t; blue, flashing lights attracting humans like bees attracted to flowers.


Increasing numbers stopped. Another police car arrived. Radio calls attract cops like flies. If a cop hadn’t gone, someone would have said “You weren’t at the restaurant doing nothing; instead you were driving around doing nothing!” But bored, action-hungry cops naturally create blue-uniform herds.


People watched from rooftops. Someone claimed it was “terrorism.” That person imagined doing press interviews, lights illuminating his stern, courageous face, while saying “The perpetrator destroyed a white dress with a hamburger that he launched with the chilling accuracy of those bent on destruction. A ketchup bottle smashed on the floor. This ironic, red symbolism was stunning. Lou Brickfoot, NBC News.”


The terrorism rumor inspired hopes that Arabic-ranting fanatics would get tossed into vans. Rumors break the sound barrier. Only light travels faster than gossip. More people stopped, tip-toeing, looking over heads, yearning for primitivism, lusting for risk-free thrills.


But the ordinary prevailed, except for the woman with the stained dress. Her victimization was “incomparable.”


“Why me!” she grieved.


Her new dress had been ruined by a lunatic! War was nothing compared to this!


The diners ignored her after the police had left, their talk drowning her voice, magnifying her shock.


“What indifference!” she howled. “They don’t care about my dry-cleaning bill!”


“Don’t worry,” her lover announced. “I’ll pay for the dry cleaning. And I’ll buy you another dress. I’ll get you through this tragedy that you, of all people, do not deserve.”


“Oh, darling,” she said. “What an angel you are!”


“Shucks,” he said, another tragedy becoming serendipity.


It was even worth the black eye he had got defending her honour. Although he had to admit that this continual turning of tragedy into serendipity was becoming expensive and certainly dangerous.


Originally published:
Issue Seventy-Nine
July 2019



(illustration: john richen)

Kim Farleigh has worked for NGO’s in Greece, Kosovo, Iraq, Palestine and Macedonia. He likes to take risks to get the experience required for writing. He likes painting, art, bull-fighting, photography and architecture, which might explain why this Australian lives in Madrid. 165 of his stories have been accepted by 98 different magazines.

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