Donnie Malloy was fat. He hadn’t always been fat. In fact, unknown to the majority, Donnie had been quite a hero once, a thin military hero. He’d fought his battles from Northern Ireland to the Gulf and back.
Now, in his middle age, he faced a new battle, a battle against ridicule. He wasn’t grossly overweight. He didn’t smell! He was rarely out of breath and he didn’t smoke. He hardly drank.
Donnie earned his living as a security guard. He worked long hours at a power station that stood upon the banks of a river valley on the Welsh border with England.
He tolerated the hard faced comments, the so called banter and the back stabbing.
His workmates were the usual types you would find in a security guard’s uniform. The worst of the lot was the odious Yorky Shaw, who was small, slight, selfish, sly and cowardly.
Donnie wanted to punch the living daylights out of Shaw. But, he feared for his job. It was a job he knew he was good at. He’d been at the power station for almost four years. Not everyone was insulting. But, enough of them were. Yes, he’d had enough!
The final straw came at the end of October.
“Donnie? I see you’re off shift on the bonfire and firework display night.” This, from Bill Duncan, Donnie’s supervisor. Donnie looked at him, then said, “Yeah, that’s right, first one I’ve had off. In fact, I might get a ticket and go as a punter.”
Duncan squirmed in his chair and reached for his cigarettes. He lit one, exhaled smoke and replied, “Well, I’d really like you on shift that night. Jim Lowe’s got holiday that day, didn’t you know?”
Donnie glared down at Duncan’s skinny gargoyle like face. “Jim’s away is he? No, I didn’t know? Nobody told me. If I work it, I want overtime at the proper rate. Anyway, what if I say no? Will you do my shift?”
Duncan got to his feet, the cigarette dangling from his mouth. “There’s no one else Donnie. We won’t be able to get any part-timers either. Now, will you do it?”
Donnie looked up at Duncan. He stood up, dwarfing the supervisor. He looked down, grinning, as an idea formed in his mind. It was a revelation.
Calmly, he said, “Okay Bill put me down for it. I expect to be mobile that night. I won’t be in the gatehouse with Shaw, okay?”
Duncan visibly relaxed. Not only was he afraid of his subordinate’s size, it was the look in his eyes. “Yeah you can stay out of Shaw’s way, use the land rover. Walk around. Patrol the bonfire area.Watch the fireworks, if you want.”
Donnie smiled his acceptance and turned to leave the room. Duncan spoke again, “Oh, and to answer your earlier question? I’ll be in that night. I’ll be in the gatehouse with your friend Shaw. All hands to the pumps, eh?”
At this, Donnie’s face became almost beatific. “Bill, you do surprise me. But, no matter, I’m sure you’ll make the most of your time together.”
Duncan inwardly paled. There was that look in the eyes. Never been able to work this one out, he thought. Good riddance too, he told himself, as Donnie left the room.
When he left the office block, Donnie didn’t have a care in the world. His revelation was complete. He had crossed the rubicon.
As he made his way back to the gate house, through the vastness of the station, he looked about him, at all that was familiar, all the critical points laid bare. He took his time, taking things in. After all, he had a week or so, and for Donnie, a week or so was all he needed.
When he entered the gate house, he found Jim Lowe busy at a computer. “Alright Donnie, quiet down here! What did Bill want, or was it private?”
Donnie sat down. “He wants me in on bonfire night. You’re away, apparently.” Lowe blushed. “Yeah, I’m owed the time off.I’ve personal business to see to.” Donnie knew he was lying.
“Never mind Jim, you won’t miss much, it’s usually over quick, isn’t it? Mind you, it could be more spectacular this year, you never know.” Lowe spent the rest of the shift wondering why Donnie was in such a good mood.
Donnie’s roster showed that he had four night shifts to go. Each day he’d catch some sleep, then, he’d get to work on his equipment.
At the rear of his neat, two up-two down semi, was a large shed. It was his workshop, his thinking space. It was here that he would create his victory.
He’d patrolled, walked and driven enough miles around the power station, to know exactly where to be seen and not to be seen.
At night, in those silent hours, the station was shadowy and quiet. He hugged the darkness and used the silence. Nobody questioned him, nobody suspected him.
Then, he knew he was ready. All was in place. His revelation was about to be fulfilled. It would be the ultimate retribution for the pain he’d suffered. He was prepared for the innocents. His conscience was clear.
The night was dark and brilliantly clear. Donnie and four other guards directed cars and coaches, controlled and shepherded the crowds.
In a long and happy murmuring movement of shadow, the crowd moved to the towering mass of wood. They wanted to see the lighting, to exult in the ritual.
Donnie and the others stayed with the crowd until the bonfire was surrounded. They patrolled the area and witnessed the lighting.
On cue, and taking his time, Donnie left the scene and went to the land rover.
He called in at the gate house, to show his face. Bill Duncan was amazed to witness Donnie speaking amicably to Yorky Shaw, who was secretly relieved, as he was terrified of the big man laughing with him.
Duncan and Shaw were puzzled, when Donnie left them with a farewell. It sounded so final.
Donnie took the land rover on one last circuit of the station, in a patrol pattern. When he felt ready, he parked the vehicle, left the keys in and walked away. Nobody noticed him leaving the station, by crossing the river, on the old railway bridge.
On the other side, he dropped down, walked some yards, climbed a gate, and, started uphill. In the darkness he grinned hugely. He was enjoying the exercise, just like the old days! He paused briefly, to look down to his left.
In the distance, he could see the glow of the bonfire. Breathing evenly and sweating freely, he carried on.
Across the river, loomed Shepherd Hill. In the shadows of the tree line, that clung to the summit, stood Donnie Malloy.
Below him, he could see the whole illuminated spectacle. The huge crowd surrounded the flames.
All of them were expectant, flushed by the primordial heat! Impatient, for the sound and the smell. Donnie was patient beyond measure. He’d come this far. Then, the first firework, whooshed skyward.
He looked up, smiling. Then, from his coat pocket, he produced an object, not unlike a mobile phone. It was a transmitter. It was sophisticated. It was deadly.
He switched it on and moved his fingers deftly upon its illuminated face. Then, he manipulated a dial, and his fireworks began.
On his signal, his riposte to the display across the river, came controlled explosions. Expertly concealed, his pyrotechnics began with the destruction of the main gas tank, this shattered the furthest buildings. The fuel oil store, adjacent, to the railway line. “Napalm”, whispered Donnie.
By now, the agitation had begun on the periphery of the crowd. Three down! People running about, like so many ants! BOOM! BOOM! Echoing across the dead ground.
The rail head diesel tanks went up. “Magnificent” sighed Donnie, as tears streamed down his face.
And now, the coup de grace. He could see Jim Duncan and Yorky Shaw, as small figures, about to emerge from the gate house. Donnie pressed the last button.The Gate house and Duncan and Shaw, vaporized. He switched off the detonator and returned it to his coat.
He stood for some time, watching the conflagration, breathing in the carnage. His revelation fulfilled. He listened to the mighty boom of explosions, the screams of the innocents. He saw the stampede of humanity.
Using a handkerchief, he wiped his face. He’d shed tears, but he was at peace. Quietly and carefully, he folded the damp linen and returned it to his pocket.
Then, he walked away, from that distant and illuminated hell.
Out of the darkness, he asked,” Now, people, who’s a fat bastard?”