Raptors Flash Fiction

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Raptors
Bistro 21

“Falcon, Richard?”
“Here, sir.”
“Finch, Thomas?” Mr. Shrike’s predatory eyes squinted out over half-rimmed glasses.
“Thomas Finch?”
“Not here, sir,” Dick Falcon answered.
“Why not? His trunk’s here.”
“Don’t know, sir.”
“Hawk, Peter?” Mr. Shrike continued.
“Here, sir.”

* * *
“Tom Finch not back?” Mr. Shrike perched by the fireplace with his conspicuous, upright stance. “Why not?” He addressed the staff room then spat in the fire.
“Tricky business,” Mr. Slaughter replied. “Important birthday, his mother said when she called. He’s at home but his trunk’s here. He’ll be back.”
“Pity,” Mr. Shrike winced. “That boy’s spineless. I’d like to…”
“Impale him on a thorn and hang him out to dry like the butcher you were in the war?” Mr. Slaughter peered down the long beak of his nose. “Not on school grounds, I hope,” he sniggered.

* * *
Tom and his mother lived with her parents. His birthday cake had thirteen candles that year. He blew them out and made a silent wish: “Let me be brave enough to do it.”

* * *
After tea, Tom’s mother sent him into the kitchen while she talked with her mum and dad.
“He’s got to go back to school,” Tom’s grandfather cleared his throat and spat in the fire. Tom’s mum recoiled at the stench of burning phlegm.
“He doesn’t want to go,” she murmured. “The boys bully him and the masters are worse.”
“Just like the army: he’ll get used to it. It’s me paying his fees; it’s my money you’re wasting when he’s not at school,” he spat again.

* * *
Tom leaned over the chipped porcelain sink in the kitchen. His fingers brushed against the damp red flannel and the soap dish. Then he touched the leather case of his grandfather’s cutthroat razor.
The folded razor lay cradled in his left hand. He nursed it, swaying back and forth on his feet. He found the groove and pulled the cold steel blade from its protective casing.
The razor formed a glittering right-angled claw. Then it became the sinister half-wing of a hawk that fluttered for a second, hovering above his wrist.
It pounced.
A fierce talon slashed into Tom’s wrist and a red river of pain sprang out. Tom fought the urge to scream as he stared at the flowing blood. The great claw of the triumphant hawk lay deep in his wrist. Strong wings flapped and bore him away.

* * *
“Falcon, Richard?”
“Here, sir.”
“Finch, Thomas?” Mr. Shrike’s strident voice pierced the classroom. “Thomas Finch?”
“Not here, sir,” Dick Falcon answered.
“Why not?” Mr. Shrike surveyed the class.
“Don’t know, sir. But he won’t be back.”
“How do you know that?”
“Saw his trunk being sent home, sir.”
“Finch, Thomas: absent,” Mr. Shrike looked down at his list and skewered the boy’s name with the absentee’s black cross. He smiled a cruel, calculated smile, and returned to his list.
“Hawk, Peter.”

* * *

11 thoughts on “Raptors Flash Fiction

    • I think a cut-throat razor is ambivalent: one thing for those who lovingly watched their grandfathers shave, and something else for a person who would not normally use one. For me, the “glittering right-angled claw” or the “sinister half-wing of a hawk” is more powerful and hence more frightening. Each to their own, I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

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