Banquet of Souls, 10th Course, Palate Cleanser, “What Actually Happened on August 14, 2003”


What follows is an excerpt from the tenth story from my new anthology, Banquet of Souls.

What Actually Happened on August 14, 2003


“I need to confess something.”

Officer Greg looked at the slight, middle-aged man who had stepped up to the barred window. He wore a faded plaid shirt, jeans, and an International Tractor baseball cap.

“OK,” the officer sighed. “Confess to what?”

“It happened a long time ago, sir. Back in 2003.”

“Okay, give me a clue, will ya? Confess something.”

“I was the cause of the great blackout.”

The police officer closed his eyes slowly, wishing he was anywhere but standing at the window. Every once in a while a nut would come in. Today was, apparently, one of those days.

“The world forgives you. Go home.”

“No, no. This thing has been eating me up for years. It’s getting so I can’t sleep. I’ve got no appetite. It’s really weighing on me more and more. Please, listen to me.”

The officer stared plaintively at the distressed man. He finally let out a sigh of resignation.

“You packing a gun? Any weapons on you?”

“No. I said I was coming in to confess. I wouldn’t bring a gun into a police station. I’m not stupid.”

That remains to be seen, the officer thought.

“Okay, empty your pockets, step through the metal detector.” He motioned for Officer Jane to take his place at the window.

Officer Greg looked over the few items passing through on the belt. Nothing but the usual things—keyring, nail clipper, a couple of wadded up store receipts. He instructed the man to gather his belongings on the other side.

“Buzz us in, Jane.”

“Not your day, eh Greg?” She pressed the button and shot her colleague a smirk.

Officer Greg replied with an irritated grunt.

“Have a seat, sir. I’ll get the paperwork started.” He switched on the notebook computer atop the scratched gray metal desk. He pulled a small voice recorder from the drawer and pushed a pen and yellow steno pad at the man. “Print your name and address and any phone numbers you have.”

The man scratched his personal information down, his hand shaking a bit.

“Am I going to jail?” The man slid the pad back to the officer.

“Not until I hear your story…” The officer read the name scrawled on the pad. “Mr. Colby.”

Colby shifted uncomfortably in his seat, then began:


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