The black clouds parted enough to allow a few rays of warming sunshine to peek through. There was a faint rumble in the distance like thunder but it didn’t belong to the stormy sky. With wet slaps, a man walked down the freshly rained on streets toward the commotion. He wore plain blue jeans, a black bomber jacket, and a black baseball cap facing forward.

As the man walked through a neighborhood of silent apartment buildings and empty storefronts, a light drizzle picked up and threatened another bout of rain. But he didn’t notice. All he focused on was the growing sound of people shouting in the distance.

Dark puddles dotted the wide steps of the Capitol building. A crowd of angry men stomped through and splashed water about as they stormed the entrance, shouting and pumping their arms as they did so. Some waved flags. Some held signs. Many of the men brandished rifles and wore bulletproof vests as a show of their constitutional rights. Some wore skull masks because they wanted to be feared. But they all had one true mission—one real goal: to intimidate.

The man finally came up to the steps of the Capitol building and looked up to witness the protesters in person.

“Open up! Open up,” one protester chanted.

“Let us work. Let us work,” another shouted.

The police were lined up silently in front of the protesters but did nothing else to deter them from pushing their way inside the building if they so chose to. The man standing at the bottom of the steps watched this and found it strange how the police seemed so calm and unafraid of the armed mob screaming and chanting in their faces.

One of the protesters, a tall middle-aged bearded man holding a hunting rifle, was almost nose-to-nose with one of the officers while screaming “Let us in!” at the top of his lungs. The officer remained still.

Slowly, the man in the black baseball cap climbed the steps until he was standing with the protesters. 

“This is such bullshit. We have rights,” a small man wearing a red hat said while standing a short distance away from the crowd. 

The man in the black cap looked at him but didn’t say anything.

“These assholes will fucking learn. They can’t shut us up,” the small man continued. 

Again, the man in the black cap remained silent. 

The protesters grew more hostile with each passing minute as if their rage was fueled by the police officers’ lack of response.

“Trump 2020! Trump 2020!”

“Lock her up!  Lock her up! Lock her up.”

“We are not prisoners!”

As the protest became more chaotic and the armed men pushed more and more to get inside of the building, the man in the black baseball cap wormed his way into the middle of the fray.

“Give me liberty, or give me death!”

“MAGA! MAGA! MAGA! MAGA!”

 “Build! The! Wall!”

The protesters reached a fevered pitch and the police now had no choice but to hold their ground by pushing back with their batons. Many of the protesters bumped and knocked into the man in the black baseball cap, but he didn’t say anything. The only thing he did was remove his cap.

Beads of sweat ran down his flushed cheeks. His brown hair was wet and matted to his forehead. His blue eyes were glassy and his maskless face exposed lips that were cracked like sunbaked cardboard. The man looked faint. He had held it in as long as he could up to this point but he could hold it no longer. 

Standing in the middle of the crowd of protesters, the man coughed. And coughed. And coughed again until he was doubled over. 

The crowd was suddenly quiet. 

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Flash Fiction

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