Exit Strategy

Barry Basden

We face each other across a mahogany table, our counsels assessing strategy. Mine has questions: Do you eat out? How often? Do you drink alcohol? How much? Do you have a phone? Do you use drugs? Pages of interrogatories to wear you down.

No windows in this room, not even rush hour noise can penetrate these walls. The fluorescence is best suited to anguish, a room where no one wants to be.

The questions pound at you and I wonder how it has all come down to this. My lawyer beats you with our terrible secrets until you sit still, defeated. I despise this end, this finality. I would much rather see something familiar–your gleeful rage, for instance.

If I had that butcher knife, I would slide it across the table and you could come swishing it at me again, making your primal animal sounds to startle this room. I could reach again for that blade and once more see the fury in your gray eyes soften and fade as blood begins to flow.

I could hear you tell me one more time that you love me.


Barry Basden lives in the Texas hill country. He edits Camroc Press Review and is coauthor of Crack! and Thump: With a Combat Infantry Officer in World War II. His shorter work has been published widely, both online and in print. His latest flash collection is Wince.

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