This is the 59th a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Honest Hero, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 29th January 2012
Word count: 852
“You’re a hero,” the young woman said as she wrapped her arms round his neck and planted a warm wry kiss in his cheek.
“Erm,” the Yorkshireman struggled to get his bearings, “It was nothing.”
“Let me shake the hand of the finest man on this island, if not the world,” the brash American said in his Hawaiian shirt.
It was all kind of comical really, the Yorkshireman hasn’t actually done much at all. Not really, yes he’d stood in front of the would be kidnapper almost instinctively, but he was still no threat to the kidnapper. Someone else from out of no where floored the guy.
The police arrived, they arrested the still unconscious kidnapper, spoke to the boy he’d tried to take, and they were asking questions of bystanders , and people would point at the Yorkshireman.
“So you saved the boy?”the policeman finally asked in heavily accented English.
“No honestly, I just stepped out in front,” the Yorkshireman, preferring honesty.
“You must be like wall,” the policeman said conspiratorily.
“It wasn’t like that. I stepped out in front of him and someone else punched him as he tried to move past me,” the Yorkshireman tried to explain.
“Ah I see,” the policeman said, which earned a sigh of relief from the Yorkshireman. “So who was this… How do you say it? Mysterious? Who was this mysterious puncher?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t see,” the Yorkshireman said, “One Of the other witnesses must have. The boy for instance.”
The policeman laughed, “I think you are too modest. There is no crime in what you did. You are a hero be proud of that.”
“Not modesty enough. I didn’t do it,” the Yorkshireman said firmly.
It didn’t help, though the policeman did agree not to put the Yorkshireman’s name in the official account. The policeman then seemed to think he was dealing with James Bond.
The Yorkshireman walked away from the chaos, the buzz of having done the right thing in stepping out was still there, it might have been futile really, even dangerous stepping in front of an armed man, but it had been something.
Back at the hotel he was dismayed to find the story people seemed to believe, that he had punched out the kidnapper had spread there.
“On the house,” the bar tender said, he was English like most of the staff at the hotel.
“It wasn’t me,” the Yorkshireman said leaving the money on the bar and heading off to a dark corner.
He’d lost the urge to drink, so he just sat nursing the beer.
“May I join you?” a fit young Latin woman asked, her accent only having the slightest hints of Hispanic about it.
“Sure,” the Yorkshireman said, not really wanting company, but too exhausted, and too troubled to say no to a pretty smile.
“Say, aren’t you the hero from the Marina?”
“That’s what people say,” the Yorkshireman said, he couldn’t be bothered denying it anymore, ambiguity seemed his only recourse.
“Why so modest?” the woman asked.
“Its complicated,” he said. “Can I get you a drink?” he asked as he realised she didn’t have one.
“No need, I’m not stopping long,” she said, which piqued the Yorkshireman’s interest. “I’m the one that punched the kidnapper.”
It took a second for these words to sink in for the Yorkshireman, “Why?” he finally asked.
“Like you, I wasn’t going to let a kidnapper get away,” she answered, leaning in conspiratorially.
“No, why not step forward? Everyone thinks I did it,” he said leaning in and whispering, unconsciously imitating the woman.
“Its complicated,” she said, “Suffice to say I cannot be involved, it’s dangerous for me. Now I’ve already said too much, just please stop telling people you didn’t do it.”
The Yorkshireman was unsure what to make of this, but the woman was getting up already.
“Be the hero, you were you know. Okay?” she said stood up.
The Yorkshireman nodded. Before he could think of something to say, she’d walked off.
He got up, but when he got to the door of the hotel bar, the woman had vanished. He walked back into the bar and ordered another drink.
“Your money’s no good here, at least tonight,” the bartender said turning down payment, “You’re a hero, fella.”
Remembering what the mysterious woman said, he gave in and accepted the offer.
A few days later the reporters arrived in the little Island nation. By then the Yorkshireman had the story down pat, and while he tried not to take the piss, everyone seemed to be wanting to reward him in some way, free drinks, free food, free hat – though the Yorkshireman strongly suspected the hat was a PR opportunity for the tourist shop.
The Yorkshireman was ready to go home, get out of the madness, it had been fun, but deep down he knew it wasn’t for him.
“Everyone at home knows your story,” a man said joining the Yorkshireman at his customary table.
“Your famous back home,” the Englishman said, destroying the dream that the craziness was contained to the island.