WHY ARE YOU JUST SITTING THERE?
by Robert Weibezahl
It’s an unusually pleasant day for
March, not quite spring, but filled with promise. In a small pocket park in the
city, the solitary man sits on the single bench—calm, daydreaming. If you
listen closely, you might hear him humming softly to himself. Something by
Sondheim, maybe? Or is that Hamilton?
When the other man enters the park, clearly
in a hurry, the man on the bench takes no notice at first. But the rippling
trail of panic this interloper leaves in his wake is impossible to ignore for
long. The man on the bench stops humming Sondheim, or Hamilton, and looks at the
other man. He is weighed down, this
other man, by two large brown grocery bags, brimming over with stuff—packaged
food and cooking oil and far
too many rolls of toilet paper. When this man notices the daydreamer, he stops,
incredulous, for a moment even speechless.
“Why are you just sitting there?” he
finally, feverishly asks the man on the bench.
“Don’t you know it’s coming?”
The man on the bench points to the brown
paper bags. “What’s all that?”
The other man’s impatience is now
palpable. “Essential supplies.”
“Supplies? For what?”
“Are you serious? Where have you been?”
“Sitting here,” the man says, although
he’s not sure why he feels compelled to answer, “For a while. Before that, I—”
“Where’s your phone? Haven’t you been paying
attention? It’s everywhere.”
“What is?” For the first time, the man
on the bench realizes this stranger is wearing a mask. Not a Halloween mask of
a superhero or a comic world leader, but the kind doctors wear across their
noses and mouths.
“It’s coming. It’s already here. There
have been deaths. Are you a fool?”
“Deaths?” The unexpected word startles
“I can’t believe you haven’t heard.”
“I may have heard some rumors,” the man lies.
“What do you know?”
“It’s everywhere. Check your phone.”
Suddenly the man on the bench is no
longer thinking of spring. He points again at the other man’s bags. “What’s
“For . . . before it’s too late.”
Visibly alarmed, the man on the bench rises.
He moves closer. “Give me some.”
“No. Get your own.”
“Just give me a few rolls,” he says with
desperation. “You have so many.”
“No. I need it all myself.”
Then, the man from the bench closes in.
He tries to grab some rolls of paper from other man’s bag, but the frazzled man
resists. No one witnesses the brutal struggle, but there are grunts and thumps
and the crack of bone on concrete, and soon enough the bags are on the ground,
their contents strewn across the pavement and the lawn. No one sees the man
from the bench pick up the large branch that fell from one of the park’s
wizened trees. No ones sees him beat the other man senseless.
“Are you all right?” asks the man from
the bench as he catches his breath. “Hello? Are you all right?”
The man on the ground cannot answer. The
man from the bench begins to cry as he gathers up the items that spilled from
the grocery bags. “You’re the one who said it’s coming,” he says. “It’s your fault. You said . . . Before it’s
too late . . . It’s coming.”
With the bags now refilled, he runs from
the park, hurries down the deserted nearby street. One block. Two. At the
corner there is a bus stop. A solitary woman waits, sitting on the single bench.
“Why are you just sitting there?” the agitated
man asks her. “Don’t you know it’s coming?”
Robert Weibezahl’s stories
have appeared in CrimeSpree, Beat to a Pulp, Futures Mysterious Anthology
Magazine, Mouth Full of Bullets, Kings River Life, and the anthologies Deadly
by the Dozen and Moonlight & Misadventure. He has been
a Derringer Award finalist and has also been twice nominated for both the
Agatha and Macavity Awards in the nonfiction category. His two crime novels, The
Wicked and the Dead and The Dead Don’t Forget, feature
screenwriter-sleuth Billy Winnetka. Find him at www.robertweibezahl.wordpress.com.
If Charles Addams, Edgar Allan Poe, and Willy Wonka sired a bastard
child it would be the fat asthmatic by the name of Michael D. Davis. He has been called warped
by dear friends and a freak by passing strangers. Michael started drawing cartoons when
he was ten, and his skill has improved with his humor, which isn’t saying much. He
is for the most part self-taught, only ever crediting the help of one great high school
art teacher. His art has been shown at his local library for multiple years only
during October due to its macabre nature. If you want to see more of Michael’s
strange, odd, weird, cartoons you can follow him on Instagram at