“And I quote Mr. Reynolds, bless the Lord in heaven did I blow up that bathroom. Unquote” Detective Charles Garth said grinning. Never in his entire career on the force had it been so clear of who the suspect was, yet across him sat an obstinate Jason Reynolds who by all accounts was responsible for the attack at Walmart.
Jason Reynolds continued the staunch defense of his actions.
“It’s a figure of speech officer…”
Detective Garth held up his hand.
“It’s Detective Garth, save that officer crap for the patrolmen when you get pulled over. Now, continue.”
Jason Reynolds shook his head dismissively.
“Detective…Can I get a drink? I feel like I’ve been here for hours. You guys got Pepsi back in that break room of yours?”
“Is Coke alright?”
Jason threw his head back in anguish.
“What kind of hell is this!?”
Detective Garth gestured for him to calm down and after a few moments of awkward and uneasy silence, the questioning could continue as Jason reluctantly took an exaggerated swig of Coca Cola.
“Satisfied?” the detective asked sardonically.
Returning the question with an irreverent grin, Jason allowed the questioning to continue.
“Again, we have numerous witnesses stating you blew up that bathroom. That was the source of the explosion that injured two dozen patrons. For your own sake, just confess, and we can move on. This sort of reluctance is going to be frowned upon in the courts.”
Jason shook his head and grunted in frustration.
“How many times do I have to tell you, I was taking a smash? I have irritable bowel syndrome, and I ate some bad leftovers. You ever go grocery shopping on an empty stomach? That’s an invitation to empty a bank account. I found the first thing in my fridge, I walked around the store apparently stirring up my intestinal brew. I was just thankful there was a bathroom in the layaway area.”
Detective Garth shuffled his papers around for a moment pulling out another testimony. He grinned and tossed it across the table at Jason who read it.
“Patron says he heard suspect apparently singing “Light it up, up, up” followed again with “light it up, up, up” and finally as the door closed the patron states the suspect said something about it being on fire.”
Jason slammed his fists on the table.
“That’s a God damn Fallout Boy song!”
“Are you admitting you like this, Fallout Boy and that is your explanation for the cavalier approach to this situation? Let me again stress the necessity of cooperation Mr. Reynolds.”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know who Fallout Boy is you son of a……”
Jason hard stopped his words then hesitated for a moment.
“What’s the problem, Mr. Reynolds? Answering this isn’t rocket science.” The detective pressed Jason for answers.
Swallowing hard, Jason mustered up a response.
“For the record, I do not like Fallout Boy. I want to make that very clear. Second, I was going in to take a shit. There are you happy? I came out and said it. I was going to take a shit. Want to know something else? I didn’t even wipe the seat down let alone build one of those nests. Diseases don’t come flying through your ass pours!”
The detective leaned back and tapped his pen against the table taking in Jason’s words.
“I want to tell you that having a bowel movement is a likely excuse.”
Jason turned his head in confusion.
“I mean….is…isn’t it?”
Detective Garth gestured for the guard outside of the door to come in.
“Mr. Reynolds, even though it is against my better judgment to let you go, I have nothing to hold you, but I will be expecting to see you at the arraignment.”
The guard handed Jason a piece of paper.
“Three days! I have the arraignment in three days! That’s impossible!”
Detective Garth shrugged his shoulders.
“Judge believes this could be an act of terrorism and the people want the due process to move along a bit faster than normal.”
The guard gestured for Jason to leave.
“See you in court, Mr. Reynolds.”
“So you decided to waste your last days of freedom at Planet Fitness?” Renee asked as she squatted down and shoot back up again, finishing the rep.
Jason added another weight and stepped into the squat rack. He could barely lift the weight Renee did, but his masculine pride kept him from doing the smart thing. His lower back hated him for it, but his ego salivated when the bar went back onto the rack.
“I figure I should get a jump on working out before prison. Although I am 100% innocent, it’s not looking good. Listen, Renee I just want to say I appreciate you standing by me and although I’ve been buried in the friend zone for the better part of a decade, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
“Just pretend I’m lesbian and you won’t look at it that way.”
Jason spotted her last rep.
“I’d just assume grab onto the last shreds of hope there might be. I mean who knows when I get out of prison I should be pretty ripped and those muscles will be decorated with makeshift and hastily drawn tattoos. If you can look past the probable hepatitis C then it could be our shot at being more than just friends.”
The bar slammed back down.
“Not to take a severe turn here Jason, but if you are found guilty, you’ll be behind bars for a long time. I can visit from time to time, but let’s be honest here. Eventually, I’ll find a guy who will treat me bad from time to time, but the sex will be outrageously great, and I’ll stop visiting.”
Jason wiped off his face with his towel.
“I think we’re getting a little too oddly specific here and I need to put the breaks on. I’m heading to the hydromassage table. You joining?”
Renee shook her head.
“I have to head out, but listen I’ll be there to support you at the trial.”
“There is still the arraignment in two days.”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“That never takes that long. My dad is an attorney, and he says that you’ll be behind bars before you know it. Then there will be a trial. See you later!” Renee bubbled before leaving the gym.
Jason went over and signed up for the massage bed and collapsed into the chair across from the check-in counter. The employees went about their business as he drifted off into his own mind. It had become his only escape, the only problem was he tended to get lost in his own vision of what his life was supposed to be life.
After what felt like a few moments, the woman at the desk called his name, and he went back to the massage table. Ten minutes of pure escape followed by a gross reminder that hundreds of sweaty bodies laid down on the table spelled the end to what might be a final gym visit that didn’t involve exchanging side glances with white nationals as he sought to keep his head low in prison.
He turned the corner and waited in line to return the card where he must have got an early start on looking towards the floor.
“What the fuck is a matter with you!?” A woman yelled.
Jason kept his mind away from the commotion until the realization that she was screaming at his set in.
“Excuse me?” He asked.
“Don’t play dumb with me asshole! You’ve been staring at through the back of my yoga pants for the past five minutes, you perv!”
She vehemently tossed Jason the finger and ran to the desk.
“That guy over there is staring at me, and I want him gone.”
Ironically, Jason finally did notice her body as she leaped up at the counter. He could see why he’d stare. He wasn’t staring, but considering where his life was going, it wasn’t worth fighting.
The staff member came over, arms crossed and full of feminine fury.
“Sir, this gym is a judgment-free zone, and you are violating the terms of the agreement by harassing this young woman.”
Jason looked over at the still fuming patron.
“Even if the judgment is a positive affirmation about the attractiveness of her physique?” Jason said drumming up the only type of defense he could.
Both the staff member and the patron were appalled but stood in silence waiting for him to presumably apologize.
There would be none of that.
“I mean, I can stand here and tell you I wasn’t staring…because I wasn’t, but I couldn’t give a fuck at this point.”
Jason pushed past the angry eyes of everyone in the place and out the door. Never to return.
Even if he did manage to avoid jail time.
The day of the arraignment came and went. One not guilty plea later and he found himself standing before a jury of his peers. His peers, of course, were a chorus of the unemployed, two elderly women and three people he presumed to be too stupid to get out of jury duty.
His fate felt as though it had been sealed.
The questioning opened up with the first witness. A Walmart employee named Maryanne.
“Did you hear the defendant state that he was going to light up the bathroom?” the prosecutor asked.
Jason rolled his eyes in contempt of the question, but the answer was even worse.
“Well, he was singing as he entered. I remember a coworker telling me it reminded them of…um….I think he said a Nickelback song.”
Jason bit his lip in anger.
“Are you familiar with the band Fallout Boy Ms. Jones?”
She shook her head then her eyes lit up with realization.
“Oh yeah, that’s the emo guy, right? Sounds basically the same as Nickelback. Sorry I get the two mixed up. I suppose only a real fan knows the lyrics to Fallout Boy songs.”
Jason slammed his fists on the desk.
“I am not a Fallout Boy fan! I was merely using…” Jason’s attorney gestured for calm.
“Don’t worry you’ll get your chance to explain.”
A few more hours of questioning continued. Jason’s frustrations mounted as each witness told one vague recollection after another. The judge ate it up, the prosecutor ate it up and unfortunately for Jason, the jury ate it up.
“Mr. Reynolds would like to take the stand.” His attorney offered.
Jason sat in front of the room to a courtroom full of the frowning and angry. He sighed and prayed that his words would be heard.
“Mr. Reynolds, what were you doing in Walmart the day of the explosion?”
“Buying groceries, five dollar Blu-Rays and socks. Fascinating stuff I know.”
The judge pounded the bench with the gavel.
“Save the sarcasm for that 70’s Show Mr. Reynolds.”
The room laughed at the outdated reference, and the examination continued.
“Could you tell us in your own words exactly what happened?”
Finally. Jason thought to himself.
“As I told Detective Garth I made the horrible mistake of eating leftovers that had no business being in my fridge. Being a bachelor, I tend to neglect nutrition and good judgment from time to time. In any case, my stomach did not cooperate. Thus I headed to the bathroom. At this time I sang Fallout Boy to myself as a joke.”
The prosecution held up a hand.
“What’s the joke, Mr. Reynolds? Please enlighten us.”
“Those lyrics reflect the nature of my dump. It was going to be explosive. Does that suffice?”
The prosecutor nodded and raised his finger.
“Just one more question Mr. Reynolds. Singing the lyrics to….” He checked his notes. “Fall-out-boy, you’d say you’re a fan. That sets you apparent from the rest of us in this room?”
Shaking his head, Jason let out a big sigh.
“If it puts an end to this shtick then yes I am a fan of Fallout Boy. They are talented, and this song, in particular, represents what I do to toilets when food does not agree with me.”
A few murmurs from the crowd caused the judge to slam his gavel again.
“And when you said you blew that toilet up, that was a euphemism as well?”
“Yes or no, Mr. Reynolds.”
“No further questions.”
With that, the jury disappeared, and Jason was left to stew in the belief that he was about to go to jail for using a Walmart bathroom. A coincidental moment in time where the consequences are horrific.
It took the jury four hours to come to an agreement, and Jason stood to wait for the verdict.
“Jury have you reached a verdict?” The judge asked.
“We have your honor. We find the defendant……..”
The doors at the back of the room burst open.
“Wait!” A voice cried out from the back.
It was Renee and her father.
“Your honor, we had an independent review conducted of the incident. May we speak freely?” Renee asked.
He nodded and called her forth.
“According to this report, the explosion was not Jason’s doing. A byproduct of gas buildup due to the cold weather caused a rapid expansion and subsequent explosion when there was an electrical fire under the building.”
Jason stood aghast.
“Why the hell wasn’t this done before?” He yelled.
The prosecutor shrugged his shoulders.
“So I’m free to go?” Jason said turning to the judge.
“You are free to go, Mr. Reynolds.”
Jason raced to embrace Renee and pulled her close.
“So it wasn’t your irritable bowel syndrome that caused the explosion, it was gas!” She exclaimed.
“Was that a fart joke?”
“Can I say I love you?” Jason asked.
She pecked him on the cheek.
“No…except as friends.”
“Knee deep in the friend zone?”
“Chin deep. I’ve heard more about your bowel movements to get past that for a while.”