A Short Story – Jan. 15, 2010 – “The Bomb Squad”
A Short Story
by Chris Hibbard
Del was getting sick and tired of going to work. He needed a day off in a bad way, having logged in over 40 hours this week already, and it was only Wednesday. Sitting up, he turned and looked at his girlfriend Rita as she snored softly beside him, not even registering as the alarm clock was beeping beside her head.
Slipping out of bed and scurrying quickly across the cold floor, Del cranked the shower on high in the bathroom across the hall before relieving himself. His boxers back on, Del raced up two short flights of stairs and hit the auto start button on the coffee maker, having remembered to prepare it the previous evening for a change.
In the bathroom downstairs, Del jumped into the shower stall and attempted to avoid the majority of the red-hot scalding spray, until he had gingerly turned the cold water on to cool it down. Del was often drenched with enough cold water during a typical work day to make a SCUBA diver shudder. This morning shower routine was a practiced ritual that had developed as a result.
Washing his face and shaving coarsely, Del dressed himself in sweats and proceeded to fill his thermos with jet black coffee, adding a heaping tablespoon of sugar to the container before screwing the lid of tight. Wishing he was still in bed, Del returned to the bedroom where he kissed Rita softly on her temple and whispered goodbye in her ear. This caused Rita to roll over onto her opposite side and mumble something that sounded suspiciously like ‘go away’.
Jumping into the car, Del tuned the FM radio into the local talk radio program and let the engine idle for a few minutes. God, he thought, how he sometimes he wished he still smoked. Cigarettes used to be involved at this stage in the morning ritual. Light one up, shift ‘er into reverse and head off to work. Nowadays, it seemed like just focusing on the morning weather report was a daily challenge.
Turning left at Stanford St., Del eased into traffic behind a small white pickup truck with snowboarding stickers affixed to the bumper and rear window. Where the hell does someone go snowboarding around here, he thought. The nearest mountains were almost 3000 kilometres away. Anything closer was more like a mere foothill. His mind wandered, remembering back to the last time he wore skies and rode a chair lift, fourteen years earlier, before the bomb had obliterated his old personality.
These thoughts now led to thoughts of his family, of old friends and of her. She had a habit of popping into his mind at the oddest times, associated with memories of moments that he couldn’t even remember ever sharing with her. Fuck that bomb, Del thought, before he changed lanes to get around a small hatchback blowing blue clouds of exhaust. Gunning it through an amber warning light, he nearly took out a whole day care class which had just started to cross the intersection. Jesus Del, he thought, his heart racing. Take it easy man. Life is still here, all around you. You are merely a hollow reed which the universe blows through. A familiar pattern of obscure philosophical thoughts eased into his mind, slowly taking over – just like he and the shrink had practiced in post-trauma counselling. Remember the ducks Del, he told himself. Ducks swim, even when they are cold. They fly when they are frightened or they stay mostly hidden beneath the surface. Shaking his head unconsciously while switching over to the local indie rock station, Del swore to himself that he was done with explosives.
He was done with the guys who disarmed them, done with the guys who made them and rigged them to kill, done with the fear that made his hands shake even now, even while simply steering the robot to get near them. Just three more years, Del thought. That was how long was left until his pension kicked in. It wouldn’t be much, but it would be enough to let him sleep in with Rita, he thought, as he pulled into the parking garage at police headquarters, grabbed his demolition squad kit from the trunk and headed up the service elevator.