THE DETONATOR • by Richard M. O’Donnell

Martha White sat tied to a folding chair in her pink pajamas and kitty slippers. She passed the morning by licking off the sticky of her duct tape gag and planning her revenge. There was no need to involve the police. Her middle-aged son, Georgie, visited every Wednesday for lunch. He would untie her. Across the street, the bells of St. Genesius Catholic Church chimed twelve times. At the same time, the duct tape slipped off the right side of her mouth and hung off her cheek.

Martha heard Georgie open and close the front door. He paused. A failed hippie, he became an accountant. He rebelled against the man by wearing faded blue jeans, psychedelic shirts, and Willie Nelson braids to work. Martha knew without looking that her baby-boy would squint at the empty hallway. His lips would purse. Then his hands would begin to flutter about his sides. The thieves had taken everything as if Martha had sold her house and moved away. She counted to herself, “One, two…”

“I’ve been robbed!” Georgie yelled.

He raced through the house, upstairs and down, twice, yet he failed to see Martha tied to a chair next to the bay windows in the living room. Hyperventilating, he stopped in the dining room to catch his breath. “The china!” Puff-puff. “The silver!” Puff-puff. “The Norman Rockwell!”

“All a façade,” said Martha, “to fool the capitalists.”

Georgie stepped into the living room wearing a pout that would put a pug dog to shame. “If I told you once, I you a thousand times, an old woman living alone is a robbery waiting to happen, but would you listen to me? Nooo!”

“It’s okay, Georgie,” she told him. “The redistribution of wealth is a good thing.”

“A good thing!” Georgie tugged on his braids. “But this time it was my wealth that was redistributed.”

“Not to put too great a point on it dear,” said Martha, “but everything stolen belonged to me.”

“But it was my inheritance,” whined Georgie, “and I wanted it.”

“Georgie, Georgie, how can we bring about a new world order if you’re still tied to your possessions?”


“No buts!”

Georgie hung his head and shuffled his feet. “I know. I know. I blame Ronald Reagan.”

“I do, too,” agreed Martha.

“I should never have joined the Young Republicans.”

“It was a phase.”

“But look at the house,” Georgie said. “They had no right.”

“The poor are simply a byproduct of this materialist, decadent society that seeks wealth at any cost. I am happy to be rid of the clutter.”


“Now we can concentrate on the revolution without distractions. It’s just that…”

“Just what?” asked Georgie. His pout turned into concern.

“I’m afraid they took all my bombs, too.”

“Oh, my God! You’ve been making bombs again?”

“Can’t have a revolution without bombs.”

“But that was before 9/11 and Homeland Security.” Georgie twisted his braids into a knot. “Oh, sweet Jesus!”

“Now, Georgie,” scolded his mother, “you know religion is the opiate of the masses.”

Georgie forced himself to calm down. “Okay, okay, who did you make the bombs for this time?”

“Let’s see…” Martha thought for a moment. “There was the one for the Farr Creek Militia… the local Northeast Ohio Neo-Nazis… I gave them a first time discount… The Crips…”

“You built bombs for the Nazis and the Crips?”

“Georgie dear, you can’t create anarchy by giving bombs to only one side.”

“Jesus Christ,” Georgie cursed.

“Now, he was a man who understood the redistribution of wealth.” She raised an eyebrow at him.

“What… what now?” asked Georgie.

Martha glanced at the rope binding her.

“Oh… Sorry.” He began to untie her. “You should have told me.”

“That’s okay, sweetie,” said Martha, removing the tape from her cheek. “I enjoyed being tied up. I reminisced how your father used to…” Georgie put his hands over his ears as he shouted, “La la la la la…” until he thought his mother stopped. “…and that’s why I keep a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey under my pillow.” She stood up and stretched. “Now be a good boy and see if they got the bombs in the workshop, too. I wrapped them up like birthday presents.”

Georgie hurried downstairs into the basement. “Yeah,” he called up. “They got them all. They even took the barrels of fertilizer.”

“Oh, bother,” sighed Martha.

“What,” shouted Georgie from the basement?

“I said, OH, BOTHER.”

“I’d like to wring their necks,” shouted Georgie.

“Not to worry.”


“I said, NOT TO WORRY.” Martha reached into her pajama pocket and pulled out a small black box with a red button. She smiled. “They’ll never know what hit them.”

“Never know… WHAT?”

Martha held the box up to the light of the bay windows. Across the street, the statue of St. Genesius stared at her. Martha liked Genesius. He had been a comedian who mocked the Christians in his performances before his conversion. The Romans tortured him, yet he would not renounce his faith. She hoped she would have the same strength if Homeland Security sent her to Guantanamo to be waterboarded. At least, Emperor Diocletian had Genesius beheaded. Martha doubted President Trump would give her the same honor.

She pushed the red button. Nothing happened. She shook it and slapped it on her palm. “I should never use components made in Cleveland.” She opened the case and rolled the batteries with her thumb.

“Look, mother,” said Georgie, coming up behind her. “I found a package wrapped in Bozo the Clown wrapping paper, my favorite.” Martha glanced over her shoulder when two simultaneous blasts exploded, one on the far side of town and another inside the house. Martha, Georgie and the bay windows disintegrated. Across the street, St. Genesius watched as the debris settled around him. A scrap of burnt wrapping paper floated down onto his nose. Bozo the Clown smiled up at him. St. Genesius smiled back.

Richard M. O’Donnell, MFA, is the co-founder of the Oberlin Writers’ Group (2003), the MindFair Poets (2016) and the founder of the Infinite Monkey Sci-fi/Fantasy Writers group (2014). His works have appeared in many venues including a chapbook, Special Watch, by Crisis Chronicle Publisher (2016), a story collection on floppy disc, Rice Wine, Guernica Editions (1984), and stories or poems in Every Day Fiction, Every Day Poets, A Long Story Short and the North Coast Review to name a few. The Ohio Arts Councils has awarded him two Individual artist grants for his fiction.

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