Flash Fiction: "Jacomo," Read on Video by the Author

Jacomo: Flash Fiction, Read by the Author

The screams from the office seem distant, as though they’re emanating from a different dimension. The pop-pop-pop of the gun is surreal, so fantastically out of place in the monotonous setting of accountants. For the moment, I’m out of the way of the bullets that are ricocheting off the floor, splintering wood, penetrating flesh, lungs, hearts. I watched friend after friend cut down by a man who just a few days ago was my friend as well.

Our boss let one of the accountants go last Friday after a long pattern of serious bookkeeping errors. The one who was terminated is named Jacomo. Who gives their kid a name like that? We call him Jack. Behind his back, a few call him Jack Off.

I know Jack hadn’t been sleeping well. I suspect he was sleeping less than he told me. If you’re getting four hours of sleep every night, you don’t buy a gun and mow down your coworkers and friends. If you’re getting no sleep per night, maybe you’ll do that and then blow your own head off.

It’s quiet inside. Too quiet. If he was gone, the survivors would be calling the police and helping the injured, but I don’t hear anything. He’s still in there, I’m sure of it. I could peek around the corner, but if he sees me, I’m screwed.


I’m afraid of heights. I may not have a true phobia, but a guy named vertigo is doing his best to spin me off this ledge to my death thirty stories down. Damned if I stay out here, damned if I try to get back inside and damned if I don’t need a cigarette right now.

The argument with my wife last night ended with a kiss this morning before we each left for work. I can still smell the lavender soap she uses when she showers. At least she knows I really do love her. But that son-of-a-bitch has no right to take my life and screw up my wife’s life, my daughter’s life. I’ve got to live, damn it. I’ve got to get home to my family.


Someone is by the window. What if it’s Jack? What if he’s going to check to see if anyone was stupid enough to crawl out onto the ledge where there would be no place to hide? It’s a man. He’s sobbing. My friend Stephen is trying to climb out the window like I did. There’s room on the other side if he can make it. He sees me, and I point to the other side of the window. He nods his head and the back of it explodes. Blood and brains splatter the window casing and out into the air to fall to the pavement below. He sags across the sill like a rug over a clothesline.

The screams resume which tells Jack who’s still alive and where. I know this because he’s shooting again. There’s Janice’s voice. She’s the life of the office, the one who plans all the parties for birthdays and holidays. Please, Janice, just shut the hell up and hide. Another pop, and Janice is cut off mid scream.

Somebody pulls Stephen’s body off the window sill. Who is it? Someone else willing to gamble on the fifty-fifty odds? A head and shoulders emerge. It’s Jack. Sirens wail in the distance. He’s climbing out the window. Is this his idea of an escape? He set the gun on the sill and is climbing out onto the ledge.

He still hasn’t seen me. I kick at the gun and miss. I try again. Another miss. He’s standing up on the other side of the window, bending down to get the gun. He reaches. This time I kick too hard. Oh god, I’m leaning out, falling away from the building. I grab for the window frame and my fingers find the groove the window slides through. I swing outward, then back and hug the corner where the window is set into the wall.

Jack is on one knee, scooting closer and closer to the gun that is now at my feet. I kick again, and the gun slides off the ledge. Jack grabs it out of the air. He has to turn the gun around to use it, and I kick yet again. My foot strikes jack in the head. He falls outward, but his hand catches the window frame opposite the one I’m hugging. He has a single hand grip. His arm is fully extended so that he’s leaning away from the building, bent at the waist, with both feet planted on the outer edge of the concrete ledge.


“Why, Jack? Why are you doing this?”

“It’s a going away party, Dave. Goodbye Jack the jack off. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that I’m not coming back to work. They fired me, and I at least deserve a going away party like everybody else gets when they leave. Don’t you think it’s fair that I have a chance to say goodbye to all my friends? And now it’s time for me to say goodbye to you.”

Jack raises the gun and points it at my head. He slips a finger over the trigger and squeezes. I swing my leg one more time. The shot goes wide and misses its mark, but not by much. The kick sends him off the ledge. The kick from the gunshot, not from me. No, not from me. Jack’s scream lingers, then ends abruptly.

Hands grab me, pull me down and in. I’m off the ledge, finally off that damned ledge. The scene inside is too much. I fall to my knees and weep. The officers give me a few moments, then one puts his hand on my shoulder and speaks up.

“Did he jump, or did he fall?”

I ponder the simple question. “It was the kick from the gunshot,” I say. I’ll keep telling myself that. The policeman seems to believe it, why shouldn’t I?

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Comments 23 comments

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 2 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

Thanks Ann. You will catch up. I'm doing a lot of reading in the NYCM form, so writing is taking a back seat right now. I did publish a poem this morning. I don't do that very often. Thanks for the comments.

annart profile image

annart 2 months ago from SW England

Realistic to a T, Chris. I thought about all the real-life situations of such things which seem to happen more and more these days. Great idea to use the 'office party' reference.

I haven't run the video yet as I like to comment on my interpretation first (bit like reading a book before I watch the film).

You have a great knack of setting scenes and this is crystal clear - I almost had vertigo!

I have so many of your stories to catch upon but I'll get there.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 2 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

Shauna, thanks for the valuable feedback on the reading of the story. I have to decide if it's worth the time to record. I could also put them on YouTube.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 months ago from Central Florida

Chris, I think this story is well-written. Lots of tension and I had no problem picturing the scene.

That said, I've never been a fan of audio books. I prefer to "hear" what's going on by using my own interpretation based on how the words resonate with me. If a piece is written well, my imagination takes over and runs the film in my head. It's for the same reason I rarely watch choreographed music videos. More times than not, I prefer my interpretation of the song over what the artist wants us to see.

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 2 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

Deb, thank you. and regarding your comment about the question by the officer, jgshorebird also pointed that out. I'll probably change that part slightly. It is a good observation. thanks

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Superb work! However, only a police officer that knew you personally could ever get away with a question like that.

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

Shyron, Thanks for your comment. I responded two days ago, but I see that it didn't go through. I do appreciate your visit.

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 months ago

Wow Chris, this is to fantastic. I don't know what is wrong with HP, this is exceptional, I think they hired people who not only can't write but, ones who can't hear or read.

Blessings dear friend

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

johnmariow, Thank you for that enthusiastic response. I appreciate you taking time to read the story and respond.

johnmariow profile image

johnmariow 3 months ago from Connecticut

An 'edge of your seat' thriller that almost has the reader speed reading to find out what happens. Excellent!

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

manatita, yes it is sort of humorous, I suppose. They did say it was discovered by a person, not a software program. I was instructed to make changes to bring it in line with HP standards, but they didn't say what standard I failed to reach.

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 months ago from london

Sometimes they tell you, sometimes I feel that they use some kind of moderator. I had a situation once where my work kept being rejected. Taking out things didn't help, but all was well when I removed a simple word, might have been 'breast' or something related to the body. Funny eh?

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

manatita, I appreciate all that you said. I won't turn down an offer to edit. That would be excellent. I always appreciate the insights you pass on, especially when you offer suggestions for improvement. Thank you.

Regarding the video. I had to pull it, although I worked very hard on it. HP has some problem with this story. They have not told me what the problem is, so I can only guess. In the original, I used a nick name for the killer. His name was Jacomo and I used a nick name that in real life someone would have used in this situation. I removed that reference and asked for ads to be restored and for my story to be featured. I have never had an unfeatured hub. It is now featured, but ads have not been restored. The video still has the nick name I referred to. I haven't figured out how to edit that out. I would like to put the video back up. If it wasn't the nick name, then the problem has to be the violence, but I don't think it is any worse here than in some of my other stories. So I am at a loss about what is wrong with this story.

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

Ruby, thank you for the feedback on the intensity. That is what I wanted, psychological suffering that anticipated what might happen. Thanks for reading and for the feedback.

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

Eric, I was going for more of a psychological struggle in which the POV character saw and heard the horrible things. I hope I achieved that at least a little. Thanks for reading and for the feedback.

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 months ago from london

Me again. I can't see the video, but know I agree with Ruby in another mail, I believe. When the story is that good, it is always better to read it, and oh, do not worry about some comments here. You're not a policeman, just telling a great Flash! Peace.

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 months ago from london

My reply has disappeared. I hate to lose the moment. Now I have to make it up, I feel.

Awesome and awe-inspiring. What a great piece of Flash. Very well woven and told so well!

If you need editing, then let me know. I mean with your book. I figure you are miles better than some of the books I read. That ambiguous touch at the end (deliberate?) Ha ha. Don't tell me. A feat of real genius! Thanks for a superb piece of Flash. Much Love, Bro.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 months ago from Southern Illinois

This was so surreal. I felt like I was on that ledge, I kid you not! Your writing was so intense. This scenario could happen anytime, anyplace. Great piece of writing!!!

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

You bridge a gap between what we see on TV and the stark reality of our times. The fear, the racing mind and the hope to live. Only seconds to live an entire lifetime.

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

Venkat, thanks for reading and commenting

Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 3 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Very good and interesting story.

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016. Author

jgshorebird. Excellent observation. I have no law enforcement background, but I'm surprised I didn't have at least a little red flag pop up about that. Thanks for reading and for the comment.

jgshorebird profile image

jgshorebird 3 months ago from Earth

Another good story, but one thing I noticed coming from a law enforcement perspective -- and that is the cop should not ask leading questions. Just "what happened." My opinion. The video lends it more power and lets the reader know the emotion behind the words.

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    Chris Mills (cam8510)473 Followers
    208 Articles

    Chris has written more than 100 flash fiction/short stories.Working Vacation took 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

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