Hashtag by Macsween
Reece, shaking like Tokyo on a bad day, took the box of cigarettes from his bag. His guts felt like they'd been wrapped in hot iron and the sweat that dripped from the tip of his nose formed a small pool at his feet. They, that is he and his girlfriend Cassandra were standing in the menswear department of Frewin's Department Store on Pico.. For a Saturday afternoon the store was very quiet- just a middle aged couple, a bored jock and a girl in her mid-twenties, who was constantly on her phone.
"You ready?" Reece asked.
"Not yet, that big guy is a little close."
Reece glanced over and, agreeing with Cassandra, moved further along the rails. Cassandra looked over the rows of suits. "I never knew they came in so many colors."
"They have to dye the blood out."
"Come on, let's do this."
They looked about. The other customers were busy. It was time. Reece opened the packet of cigarettes and drew one out. He inverted it and slipped it back inside the packet. Cassandra took, from her pocket, a lighter and tried to light the tip of the upside down cigarette. It wouldn't light and Reece was worried that the rasping of the lighter would attract a customer or, worse, security.
"Maybe you have to light it as if you're going to smoke it," Cassandra said.
Reece plucked the cigarette away from its companions and slipped the filter in-between his dry lips. Cassandra, with a hand shakier than Reece's, lit the end. Reece quickly sucked against the firm filter. When the cigarette glowed with satisfactory glow, he carefully placed it back into the box. He nodded to Cassandra. She knew what to do. She reached towards the rail and pulled back the lapel of the suit nearest to them. They peered into the deep dark pit that was the pocket. In silence, Reece slowly moved the box towards the black hole. Just as he was about to drop it into the pocket a voice behind Cassandra shouted, "Police, don't move."
Seconds later rough hands grabbed hold of them and threw them to the floor. Reece felt the cold snap of chain-link cuffs against his wrists. He watched as Cassandra had the same thing done to her.
"We weren't smoking," Reece shouted.
"No, but the store would have been."
Reece didn't like the police station. He didn't like the police officer who was in the room with him either. Sergeant Stroud Green wasn't too keen with the company either.
"So, you and your little lady think you're big bad terrorists then. I suppose you think that's funny."
"We're not terrorists."
"Oh, aren't you, I'm sorry. You were trying to burn down a department store, which is not only against federal and state law, but is also dangerous to human life as well. You were doing this, I believe, to intimidate or coerce a part of the civilian population. You, my little friend, are a domestic terrorist."
"I'm not a terrorist."
"Well, what are you then?"
Green got up from his chair, walked around to Reece, sat on the table and said, "Look, kid, I read your blog."
Reece aghast shouted, "You can't do that."
"Yes I can. You posted it in the public domain."
Reece felt sick. Foolish. Stupid. Green took out a notebook, flipped it open, read it and said, "So, you and Cassandra are the founding, and only, members of the Animal Liberation and Freedom Army. Can I call you ALFA? Easier to say. Anyway, what I found interesting, well the only thing I found interesting on this site was the last few entries you made." Reece shuffled on his chair. "November ninth. Read a disgusting tweet today from VeganKing: OMG. Truckload of seersuckers delivered to Kray's garment factory. Can hear them screaming hashtag freesuck hashtag animalrights."
Reece stared at Green. "I'll go on. You seem to like this VeganKing and there are a plethora of quotes from him on your blog. According to VeganKing, seersuckers, when they are new-born and still blind are plucked from their mother's breast and transported to garment factories where they are skinned alive. He states that they must be killed this way or the skin soils. The skin's no good for making seersucker suits if it's soiled now is it?"
"I just care about animals."
"So do lots of people, but they don't go around torching places now do they."
"Maybe they are not as committed."
"You just might get committed for this."
"Son, you're an idiot. VeganKing's not real; he's a comedian. He specializes in wind ups and jokes, tweeting fake stories about abuse of animals, real or imagined. He's an activist, like you say you are, but he specializes in reeling in suckers like you. According to his blog he exposes the ignorance of people like you; people so deluded that they will believe anything written about a particular subject they are interested in without first checking the facts out for themselves. You should have researched him. " Reece couldn't believe it. "You believed him and wrote on your blog the threats that you were planning against Frewin's. You even gave us the date, I quote, you: 'NOV 25 let's see if Frewins can sell smoke damaged seersucker suits.' It's all there. We weren't sure if you guys were for real so I had a few of my guys down there posing as customers just in case. Paid off didn't it?"
"What happens now?"
"It's out of my hands. The FBI are coming to speak with you."
Reece wailed. Just as Green was about to leave he turned to the boy and said, "One last thing. You do know that seersucker isn't an animal?" Reece's face said it all. "Seersucker is a type of cotton fabric."
Green left Reece to his thoughts.
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