Spring 2022, Volume 32

Fiction by Tamas Dobozy


Feri Bolez liked to show people how to make bombs. It was his thing.

My son, Henry, had trouble pronouncing his name. He didn't mean to be insulting, but the way he pronounced it, it sounded like Fairy. This drove Feri nuts. Hi Fairy, he'd say. How are you, Fairy? You are a shit kid, Feri would reply. Is your father home?

Let me be clear: back in those days, I had no use for explosives. I was a grown man. The days of bombs, their appeal, was twenty years behind me. When I was younger it was different, I screwed around with that stuff all the time—tossing gasoline on campfires, making incendiary bundles out of fireworks with cardboard and electrician's tape, holding a Bic lighter to hairspray. I liked to imagine that violence could change the world, make it treat people better, but I was stopped along the way by books, by classes, by Law, which is a way of saying I was not, and never had been, ready to go that route.

I'd like to say I decided to change the world another way, but that's not correct either. It was decided for me, by whatever it is—DNA, soul, environment, failure of nerve, pick one—that makes us who we are. I became an attorney, I stayed within the bounds of the law, though I continued my devotions to the cause: needle exchanges, women's shelters, environmental efforts, non-profits dealing with poverty, union organizers, and activists on the progressive side. I was not on the front lines, but I provided essential resources and support. I was still part of it. That's what I told myself.

 Feri was sixty-three by that point, using pencil and a sheet of foolscap. Beer bottle, motor oil, gasoline, a torn-up T-shirt for a wick, that's all you need, he said. He wrote out the proportions: 2/3 gasoline to 1/3 motor oil. Soak the wick properly beforehand. Very important! Now, put this somewhere you'll know to find it in an emergency.

I'd throw his diagram straight into the garbage after he left. It's where I threw it every time. And that's where Henry must have gotten it.


You should have seen the state of Feri's body. He was missing most of his right hand. He'd blown off two fingers—pinky and ring—during a job demolishing the Dollar Store in Lancaster Square forty years ago. He'd done it on purpose, he said. He'd chosen those two fingers. He could still do a lot with the thumb, middle and index. With the disability money he was able to devote himself full time to politics, though it was bare life, enough for rent and food and clothes bought cheap. He referred to the disability cheques as operating capital. For operations against capital.

Then there was his head. There was a dent in it like he'd been hit with an axe and it had healed over. He'd gotten that one as a boy. His father had worked for logging companies on the west coast, blasting hillsides to put in roads. One day, Feri snuck some of his dynamite to play with. Nearly took my head off, he grinned. But it also got into my head, if you know what I mean, he added, pressing the soft spot. Sometimes, when we'd been drinking, he'd dare Henry to touch it, taunt after taunt, until Henry couldn't say no, and then, pressing his finger into that jelly-like skin—not finding the expected bone beneath it—Henry would jerk back his hand like he was fondling an open wound, and Feri would tell him he was a wimp who'd never make any difference in the world.

Then there was Feri's rib, the missing one, shattered by a police baton in 1975. This was during the strike at the Royal Canadian Mint. Feri wasn't an employee, but he'd gone on behalf of an anarchist organization, the Canadian Commune of Labourers, in support. They were lighting fires under effigies of the Treasury Board Chairman and Chief Administrator when a cop mistook his torch for a bomb, or so the cop said afterwards, at the hearing. Feri didn't buy it, he said the cop was looking for someone to hurt. The rib was so badly damaged the doctors had to remove it, and Feri would show us the result in my kitchen, lifting his shirt, the angle of his chest to his stomach all wrong, like he had no innards. Feri told Henry that one day, no matter how well behaved he was, no matter how perfect his manners, he'd get beat up, too. Just you wait, he said, wagging a finger. Someone will come along and kick all the shit out of your ass.


Feri's wife was Abigail Prine. The daughter of Alistair Prine, one-time leader of the now forgotten Labour Together! movement of the 1930s. They'd met at a conference for third world workers' rights in Montreal in 1983. She was the payment I received for keeping Feri as a client—payment not in money, but in kind. She'd call and ask if we could talk about Feri's parole hearing, and I'd say, Sure, come over, and hours later I'd find her pushing Henry on the swing or making castles with him in the sandbox. Out of gratitude, I provided a lot of free hours.

Abigail worked as a waitress at the Green Dragon Restaurant. They lived in a small one-bedroom above it for free, in exchange for keeping an eye on it after hours, and because the owners owed Feri a debt. That plus Feri's disability cheques kept them alive, and once in a while enabled them to pay me. Sometimes, when Feri was in jail, Abigail would go down into the restaurant at three in the morning, make coffee, and sit in a puddle of light by the front window watching the street. She said it allowed her to measure the exact size of her trouble.

When he was home, Feri was the king of dumpster divers, showing up with turkeys, chickens, steak, fresh from what he called the environmental holocaust of supermarket waste. When that wasn't available, Feri would go into the restaurant and cook, using whatever he found, and the owners were okay with this. He was a good cook, he'd done that in logging camps. He'd sneak them into hotel swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms, spas. He'd get them nice clothes from the lost and found at the Huntington Golf Course, and its eighty-thousand-dollar annual membership fee. He'd wander into society weddings and make off with plates of hors d'oeuvres and bottles of champagne. Abigail would laugh. These minor thefts and infractions were, for her, Feri's most gratifying political activity. Subsistence subversion, she called it.

Feri said he didn't mind being in jail. Eight, ten months, a year—it saves me a lot on room and board. It also gave him a captive audience to teach. Tactics and strategies, revolutionary theory, and, his favorite, the mechanics of bombs. He'd spent a year at Millhaven in 1975 resulting from the kidnapping of investment banker Philip Priestly. He'd spent sixteen months during 1981-82 at Algoma for arson on a housing estate. He'd done six-, eight-, and ten-month stints at Maplehurst for resisting arrest, parole violations, and public mischief. In 1996 he got two years at Collins Bay for a car bomb (discovered in time) planted under a police vehicle. Those were the big ones. But his record was littered with various acts of nuisance and agitation and violence.

As Feri aged, he grew more radical, like a kid with world-shattering plans: the bombing of a politician's car, an action against police, vandalism of a bank. They were extremist actions, nothing like the careful, coordinated work he'd engaged in when he was younger. He wasn't a lone wolf, not yet, but he'd distanced himself from his former associations and made friends, usually in jail, with a younger generation, kids who are called anarchists in the press whenever there's a G20 or WTO meeting and a small cadre goes out smashing windows, torching cars, fighting with police. Violence junkies, that's all there was to their politics. Whenever Feri made plans with them, Abigail would tip off the police, then came to me. Feri doesn't listen to me anymore, she'd say. She wanted him caught early, before he'd committed any actual crime. That was more important to her than being loyal. Ten years was probably all the life Feri had left, she didn't want him spending it in jail.

While he was locked up, Feri didn't give her a cent, and refused all contact. Abigail told me she understood it—Feri’s way of repaying her for being a snitch. Abigail would wait it out, knowing that sooner or later he'd be released and come back—first on the pretense of picking something up, then grudgingly for coffee, then dinner, then the night. Inch by emotional inch she reeled him in again. Until the next time.

With Abigail's help I managed to get him reduced sentences, probation, community service, and, once or twice, even acquittal. But each sentence Feri received grew harsher because of his priors. Even if he never went all the way, he was still arrested for something—forbidden ordnance, intent to commit, criminal conspiracy. He'd established a pattern, showed no signs of remorse, and the judges were less and less lenient.

Then Abigail disappeared, and things got really tough for Feri.

I remember that morning. The police called, notifying me that my client, Feri Bolez, was once again in custody. At that point, Abigail had been missing forty-eight hours. When I asked who'd called it in, the police said it was Feri himself. Why would he call it in if he's the one who did something to her? Deniability, the cop replied, hanging up. They weren't going to tell me another thing, not for free.

I found Feri in a temporary holding cell, waiting to be transferred somewhere more permanent to await trial, unless someone posted bail, set at two hundred thousand dollars. They realized they had a shot at keeping him in forever, and didn't want to risk him absconding. His head rested against the wall, his feet were pulled up to the edge of the cot, he was running his across his freshly shaved scalp. I asked Feri to recount the events leading up to Abigail's disappearance. She hasn't disappeared, he said, she's left me. Just tell me what happened, the last few days, whatever occurs to you. Feri stared at the ceiling, nostrils flared. The last few days? Normal, normal, normal—gone, he said. That's the last few days. He was in a state of panic. It's not that he didn't want to answer my questions, it's that he could barely hear them, never mind take the moment of calm required to process each one and come up with an answer. Did she say anything? I asked. Feri kept gazing at the ceiling, and it realized his eyes had filled with tears, they were two tiny bowls he was trying to keep from overflowing. I was startled. Feri had never struck me as someone who cried, ever. She said something about a kid, he said. A kid? I asked. He nodded. I told her we were long past that conversation. But she wanted to talk about it—the kids we might have had. That's how she put it. For my sake, she said. They would have helped keep me out of trouble. He shook his head and closed his eyes. She even gave them names. Hank. Ella. Misty. Misty? I said. He nodded. I know—terrible name. I told her there was no way I was interested in producing another victim to the future that's coming. He raised his hands at the cell. Bring a kid into this shit? They'll just end up in here with me. Or out there, he said, pointing to the wired window, in a murdered world. He shook his head. Helping other people's kids take what's still left—that's enough for me. Normally, I could feel Feri’s eyes digging into me when he spoke, channelling his conviction. But now they were wandering, alighting here and there, erratic as houseflies. When we spoke of kids, there was reproach in it. I'd had kids, or a kid, and Feri thought it irresponsible. Now he seemed uncertain. How am I ever going to find her? It was the most genuine question he'd ever posed to me. That's what he was worried about. Not being in jail, not being under suspicion of abduction or worse, neither of these mattered. It was life without Abigail that terrified him.


Later that night, Henry asked about Feri. He'd overheard my phone conversation with the police. He's in jail? I nodded. What'd he do? I didn't want to tell him, but the question had cornered me, and the answers that filled my head sounded like bullshit. Abigail, I said. She's disappeared. Henry crossed his arms, then uncrossed them, then expelled the emotion with a frown. Henry loved Abigail. She was what the world had given him in place of a mother who had no interest in the life she'd fled from, including Henry. When Henry spoke, Abigail listened. She took each of the words he offered and kept them, without offering better ones in their place, as I typically did, overriding him with a wisdom he couldn't understand, much less use. This, I discovered, was one of those simple things kids needed: being attended to. Do you think he did something to her? No, I said. I don't think so. And I don't think anything did happen to her. Henry fidgeted with his knife and fork and then, instead of asking how I could be so sure, he asked why I took on clients like Feri, which was another way of asking why I only took on clients like him. He'd seen them file through the side door to the office I kept on the other side of the house, a duplex I'd bought with my ex-wife twenty years ago, when real estate was still relatively cheap in Kitchener, after the manufacturing died out but before tech moved in. I thought the legal business half would finance the family half, and it did, but barely, and only because the occasional high-profile stuff—representing unions, or NGOs, or charities—offset clients like Feri. Henry had seen enough of these clients to know that my work, directed elsewhere, could have paid a lot better, and that, if it had, maybe his mother would still be around. None of it was lost on him.

My ex-wife and I had argued over this. Linda said I'd studied too hard, she’d supported me through too many years of university, to waste my life on this stuff. She saw no glamour in it. Whenever we talked numbers, basic income, mortgage, the car, saving for Henry's university, she made sense. Then someone would walk through the door and start talking about being ripped off by an employer, or a company getting away with dumping fertilizer in the river, or a low income neighborhood being squeezed by a developer. These were exactly why I'd gone into law. Linda would go crazy. Then, tired of the interest on unpaid bills, the re-mortgaging, the crappy lease on the crappy car, she reminded me of what she'd not signed up for. She would have taken Henry if there was anywhere to take him to, or to take him with, but Linda had always followed me—through two degrees, a marriage, a kid, the business—and now she wasn't equipped for anything, she was starting from zero.

But it didn't take her long. Within three years Linda had a job, a husband, and cheques for making alimony payments. I stood by the mailbox holding the first one she sent, trying to figure out whether to toss or cash it. She waited a few months, watching the money in her account, then understood I didn't want it. She rarely if ever sent for Henry, first because I'd fought like hell, using every legal recourse and loophole, to win sole custody, and second because her new guy wanted no part of her past life. So what else was there but to send money? Except it felt like a payoff, and I'd vowed never to take one, not from a client who was guilty, not from an organization trying to coopt me, certainly not from a wife who'd run out on her family. It was easier, it made me feel better, to look at it like justice, instead of looking at it like revenge.

I got down beside Henry. Said I didn't believe Feri was a criminal. I believed he was the future, or the hope for it, that his crimes, if you had to use that word, were only crimes in the present, not in the world he was trying to bring into being. I too, in my way, would make the sacrifices that world required. Is that why Feri's so rude to me? Henry asked. Is that my sacrifice? There was no sense of irony, no sarcasm, in the question, only a twelve year old's bewilderment. No, I shook my head, but I didn't add that Henry shouldn't have been asked to pay for anything, and yet he'd already paid more than any of us.


Abigail went missing a week, two, three. Nobody paid Feri's bail. He was ten days' incarcerated at Algoma when the police called. They said Bao Chu, the woman who owned the restaurant, claimed to have witnessed Abigail leaving, with a suitcase, on the day of her disappearance. But the contents of the apartment did not corroborate the story, since none of Abigail's effects seemed to have gone missing. There was no indication Abigail had purchased a bus, train, or airplane ticket. No indication she'd rented a car. No spending on her bank card. No surveillance footage from Kitchener Station, the Charles Street bus terminal, the LRT. Her bank account had been emptied a few days prior to the afternoon Bao Chu claimed to have seen her, and no activity since. In the meantime, Feri was sending me mail from prison, having caught wind of Bao Chu's story, saying it proved him right. The police, however, were unconvinced. I said I'd look into it.

Bao Chu was a young woman, twenty-five. She'd inherited the restaurant from her parents, who'd started it up after coming to Canada in the 1970s. She'd modernized the menu. Asian fusion, she called it. But she'd done very little to the interior. Authentic inauthentic decor, she called it, smiling. Authentic shitty Chinese diner from the 1970s, updated with non-national food. A big hit with the university kids. She'd kept Abigail and Feri on as tenants in the apartment above as a favour to her parents. Feri had done something for her father once, it involved Feri's expertise, as her father had referred to it. The bank had repossessed the restaurant in 1979, at the height of the oil crisis, as the economy was tanking. Having been locked out of their sole means of making money, Bao Chu's parents were stuck: unable to win back their means of livelihood because it was the only means they had of winning it back. Enter Feri, ever the friend of the working man, who'd heard of the situation from friends of friends of the Chu's. He did the job gratis, because he felt for them, but mainly because he hated banks, blasting open the metal door on the cellar, which was locked from the inside, at three am, opening the way for the couple, who ended up cooking out of the kitchen under the cover of darkness, then selling their food by delivery until they were able to pay off the arrears on the mortgage. Sounds like Feri, I said. But now it's him who needs help from you. Bao Chu nodded and told me about the night Abigail left.

It was just luck that Bao Chu was at the restaurant. She'd forgotten her purse in the kitchen. It was one in the morning, the neighborhood was asleep, except for the occasional drunk stumbling toward the soup kitchen at the Saint Louis Infirmary. She was getting out of her car when she saw Abigail open the back door with a suitcase in hand. She was wearing a shawl on her head. Not a word passed between them. Normally they were on friendly terms, but that night they didn't even say hello. What needed to be said, anyhow? What, beyond all that went into that exchange of glances? Abigail looked at her a long time, then put a finger to her lips, and then, two or three seconds later, when she thought Bao Chu understood, she slipped between the buildings.

When the police showed up, two days later, and went into the apartment and came out with Feri in handcuffs, she knew Abigail had done it on purpose. When I asked what she meant, Bao Chu shrugged. Some days when Feri was off on an adventure, or in jail, or giving her the silent treatment, Abigail would put in an extra shift just for the conversation. In the weeks leading up to her disappearance she'd been especially irritable, as if she'd reached the end of her ability to cope, she even wondered aloud one night what it would take to keep Feri out of politics, by which she meant jail, forever. It's going to kill him, she said. I asked Bao Chu if she'd told this to the police, and she replied, nervously, that she had, but not in so much detail. I assured her our conversation was covered under attorney-client privilege, and she relaxed. The police, she said, only seemed interested in the holes in her story, those places where she wavered on details, or said she misremembered, their focus confined to how dark it had been, how little light there was in the parking lot, how tightly the shawl was drawn around the face of the woman she alleged was Abigail. The police were looking to confirm their doubt. But it was Abigail, Bao Chu was positive.

I went back to my office and sat for a long while in front of my file on Feri, going through the names and contacts I'd accumulated over the years. Many of them were dead. Associates of Feri, killed in workplace accidents, dead from drink or drugs, found deceased in jail, murdered in acts of police brutality. Abigail's associates were even thinner, as if she'd either kept them secret from me, or had gone over so totally into Feri's life she'd severed every connection. At some point, Henry slipped through the door I'd built connecting his bedroom to my office and asked when we'd be having dinner. I looked at the clock: 7:00 pm. It wasn't the first time this had happened. I looked at Henry. He had the face of a long-suffering saint, whom a lifetime of disappointment had trained into an unearthly patience. He didn't seem upset. He didn't even seem hungry. He just seemed to be waiting. I turned from the file and brought him back to the home side of our house and made a pot of Kraft dinner.

Three weeks later a packet arrived. Inside was a wad of bills equal to the arrears on Feri's account with me, plus a little extra. I recognized the gesture immediately: Abigail. I was amazed at her lack of caution. Cash, sent like that, stuffed into an envelope, through regular mail—unregistered, uninsured, no signature required. There was a handwritten note inside: Sorry for the lateness of this. But there's been a fair bit of upheaval. Please say Hello to Henry for me. I hope to send him a letter of his own one of these days. And please look after Feri. He's going to need it, especially now.

I went back through the correspondence in Feri's file, pulling out any post-it, cancelled check, envelope, that bore Abigail's signature, and checked it against the note that came with the money. The handwriting was a match, but I had it confirmed at Clerck & Pointe Forensics.

I showed the note a few days later to Henry. Abigail's still alive, I said. He took it and held it in silence. When he looked up he was smiling. The brightest smile I'd seen on him in a long time. So Feri didn't do it, he said. Pretty tough to prove innocence from a note, I said. But it'll be enough to at least get him out of jail. Henry read the note again, lingering on Abigail's promise of a letter. Where do you think she is? he asked. I had no idea. The envelope had no return address. If Abigail was smart, which she was, she'd have made sure it was untraceable. She did not want to be found.

The police were skeptical, or pretended to be. Mainly they were disappointed. It had looked so perfect, Feri's crime. They finally had him, then they didn't. The investigation continued, but there was enough doubt to get Feri released, under certain conditions, one of which was sticking around Kitchener. This was the hardest for him, and by extension me, because all he wanted was to chase off after Abigail. It was what the police wanted him to do too. They were dying for him to break his release conditions, so they could throw him back in jail. Prior to Feri's release, I emailed every car rental outfit, cab company, bus depot, train station, and local airport a photograph of Feri. They were under no obligation to alert me if Feri tried anything, but in most places there was someone I'd defended, or someone who knew someone I'd defended, and they kept an eye out. It wasn't foolproof, but it wasn't nothing.

Feri asked to see the letter from Abigail so many times I made him a photocopy to sleep with.

Henry went to the mailbox every day when he got home from school. He'd never waited for anything the way he waited for that letter. Every day he woke to the hope of it like it was the first time. It did not wane. At least not until that day Feri, also living in constant anticipation of hearing from Abigail, came over and broke down, and that also broke Henry.

I had, in the meantime, been trying to find her. I tried every contact I could trace: parents, siblings, friends. There weren't many. Her father had died years before. Her mother was in a nursing home nursing considerable holes in her memory. She told me that if Abigail had gone anywhere, it was the beach, she loved the beach, it was much preferable to enduring the taunts of the other kids. They call her raspberry face, she finished, referring to the large birthmark that took up Abigail's left cheekbone and ear and much of her neck on that side. Feri said it was the sign that told him he should be with her. The mark of godless communism, he called it, laughing. Abigail would smile self-consciously and stare at the floor and Feri would put his arm around her.

The friends Abigail once had were unfriendly. They hadn't spoken in years, ever since she'd taken up with that radical, Feri, though I got the sense it didn't matter to them either way, almost all of them hung up abruptly, citing some excuse around kids hockey practice or picking up groceries.

Abigail's sister was ten years older, and admitted after the third call that Abigail had passed through her place months ago, she'd spent two nights exactly, making her promise not to tell anyone except Feri's lawyer, if he really pushes it. When I wondered why, the sister answered, vaguely, that Abigail told her I'd get it, whatever that meant. Get what? I wondered. My client's freedom depended on her return, or, if not that, at least a public declaration of her existence. I toyed with subpoenaing the sister, but it was not, I realized, what Abigail would have wanted, it was not the solution to her plan, so I recorded the days and times and content of our conversations, and moved on to the brother. He was a taxi driver in Vancouver. That had always been his vocation, he told me. Seriously. He loved the city at night, it was the only time he drove, and the weird and deranged, which he got plenty of via the drunks, prostitutes, sexual adventurers, executives disillusioned and marooned in life, that he picked up. He sounded like Feri, bent on occupying his dark corner. Abigail is staying with you, isn't she? Instead of answering he recited the questions the police had asked and the replies he'd given, none of them direct, or conclusive. But the police had decided his responses were entirely in keeping with the suspicions they preferred.

I was on the verge of flying out, when Feri showed up that evening, nine months after Abigail's disappearance. He'd been following her trail along different lines. Abigail was not close to family, he said. Especially her brother. What kind of child dreams of being a taxi driver from the moment he sees his first yellow cab? Who aspires to be a slave, transporting people between the incidents of their lives? Feri shook his head. Abigail had sought refuge among the only network that could truly protect her from the police: their network of activists, anarchists, old school union organizers. Why would they help her? I asked him. Their only allegiance is to you.

Because it's about me, Feri said. He was agitated, moving around as if gas was filling the room and he was desperate for a door or window to open. Because what Abigail is doing is to protect me. I leaned back in my chair. I went through this with every case. Feri always had some theory he wanted me to pursue in the courtroom, each and every one a disaster I avoided by listening to it, and then doing the exact opposite. But this was not Feri's ordinary rage-storm. And that's saying something, because his entire being was structured around convictions, they were not only the place from which he took instruction, but what he boiled himself down to, standing firm. She's protecting me, he shouted. Haven't you figured that out yet? I put my feet on the ground. Listen, he continued, I have not been able to make a single move—not one—since getting out of jail. I can't get on a bus or train. I can't write a text or email. Hell, I can't even write a letter without someone reading it over my shoulder! They're on my phone, too, I know it. She's finally figured out how to keep me at home.

What are you talking about? I replied. The police can't do that. And if they did, I'd know. But Feri just laughed. I realize it takes an ignorance to believe in the law. I know without it it's hard for you shysters to function, I mean be part of the system. It requires you to think that way. That's how it works right? You tell yourself you work with people like me, folks on the margins, I think that's the phrase, to make sure justice is served, but all you're really doing is proving that everything we do is marginal. Your job is to keep me right where I am. And for me you're just a shitty tool I have to use, given to me by the same system I don't believe in, that I fight. But Abigail is different. She knows what we're capable of. That's why she did what she did. She's totally wrong about that, but at least she has faith, you know. At least she knows she's looking after a revolutionary, Feri said. All you're doing is pretending to be . . . not even subversive. Just edgy. That's all. And it keeps you from facing the fact that what you really are is a failed lawyer, and a failed father.

He stopped talking then, and glared a long while. He wanted the fight, the insults, the damage, he was tossing bombs, and he didn't care about the target.

And you're nothing but a petty criminal, I said. Since we're being honest. Because you're old and scared of being forgotten. Blowing up a present that has discarded all the beliefs you think still matter. That's all your politics are: the tantrums of a sixty-year-old delinquent. And a failed husband.

I thought Feri was going to hit me then. I was ready for it. But he only smiled grimly at something behind my back. You'll never see Abigail again, you little punk, he said. And you can thank your father for that. If he was better at his job she'd still be here. Then Feri lifted his coat off the chair and left, and I turned to find Henry standing in the doorway, and I guess he'd listened to the whole thing.

Henry kept to himself after that, and I gave him space. I'd made my case, I felt, though all I'd really done was stand up for myself, which is not the same thing.


The explosions began a few weeks after that, one night, while I was still looking through my file on Feri wondering if his theory on Abigail was right, and if, as his lawyer, I should do my job and locate her, or if, as her friend, I should just let Abigail's plan tighten around Feri so he'd be saved, and lost.

It wasn't an explosion so much as the shattering of glass, followed by a loud whump of fire. I left my office and went around back, chasing the sound. Henry was there, with Feri, throwing bottles against the concrete wall of the parking lot we'd put in for clients. Linda had foreseen a series of cars there, all spaces filled. She'd had grand ambitions. After that, we'd get a bigger office, downtown, with partners, and clients who'd have to park in the street and put money in the meters, which they'd happily do, a tiny price to pay, in return for me representing them.

But now, Henry was throwing explosives in the empty spaces, as per Feri's instructions. The old man was standing behind, barking instructions, and even, for the first time, praising Henry. They used beer bottles, with a torn-up t-shirt for a wick, and Henry lit them, awkwardly, with matches, then pulling them back over his shoulder and hurling them straight at the wall.

Feri looked at me and grinned, the way he grinned at police who walked back and forth in front of his prison cell. Or maybe the way they grinned at him.

Do you want to try? he asked, not looking at me as he helped Henry, adjusting his wrist and his elbow. With each explosion there was a moment of heat, intense, and Henry would jump back, but it wasn't out of fear. It was strategic. Feri had shown him how close you could get without being burned for the best accuracy. I put a hand in front of my eyes against the sudden flare. We watched it die. Then Feri handed him the next one. There's a comrade, he said. It sounded paternal rather than political.

Do you want to try? Henry asked, face glazed with sweat, repeating Feri's question.

I looked at him, then Feri, then shook my head. If Henry kept it up long enough, I knew my turn would come.




BIO: Tamas Dobozy has been published in journals in the UK, Canada and the US, and has four collections of stories. He lives in Kitchener, Ontario.