Let’s Kill Harry Potter
By: Antwan Crump
Everyone admired The Boy Who Lived. James knew the truth. That “boy” was a man, and that man was full of shit—a false prophet, whom openly accepted praise from the Neanderthal infested populous, that too many deemed a functioning society.
It sickened him. He cracked open his shotgun and let the bullets fall into his hand. He loved to roll the shells around in his palm. Soon enough they’d pierce the wizard’s skin—he thought it best to leave as many clues as possible. Chaos needs a face.
“James!” He heard cry to him from the top of the steps, “Dinner’s almost ready. Are you hungry?”
“Yeah. I’ll be there in a minute, Ma.” She had no idea what he’d been planning. Whenever asked about what her thirty-year-old son was doing with his life; she’d either make up a story about his “creative indifference” or imply that he’d had some undiagnosed mental disorder. Recently, she’d more often relied on the latter excuse. His self-imposed social exile was more difficult to explain with every passing birthday on the road to forty. He knew about it. She’d told him. His solution was simple…kill a god.
He shoved the shells back into the barrel, snapped the weapon closed, and slid it under his bed—with the rest of his equally lethal stash. He’d been planning his attack for a while. Now, that the “asshole” had finally been where he could get to him, he intended to strike, once given the “right” opportunity—even though he hated Broadway.
He pulled a dart from out of his wall—where he’d hung an old picture of Daniel Radcliffe— and tapped his index finger on its point. “Soon motherfucker,” he mumbled to himself, “Soon,” and lodged the dart into the center of his lightning-bolted forehead. His eye’s welted as they reddened and swelled his lids to a squint. He trembled, digging the dart deeper into the photo than he ever had before. “Soon, they’ll know.”
“James!” His mother called.
She’d made pot-roast and potatoes. It was his favorite.
“So, I’m thinking that maybe you could get a job with the city.” His mother said, looking down at her plate—avoiding eye-contact. She hated having the conversation, it’d always led to an argument about truth and conspiracy. “I think that it’ll be good for us, ya’ know. Get a little extra money in the house. Get you out of that damn basement. Maybe your own place. A girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever. You know…life.”
James sat quietly across the kitchen table. His usual strategy was to drown out his mother’s nagging with the volume of the television. She’d been on to his game. The kitchen t.v. was off, and the remote was nowhere to be found. Fuck it all, he thought as he contemplated skipping the meal—but warriors needed to feast. His beer belly wouldn’t maintain itself.
His mother continued, “You know, I was talking to Barbara, and she said that Ronny, just graduated from the academy. He’s a court officer now. From what I hear, it’s good money.” Her encouragement was never convincing. He hurried to finish his meal. “Just think about it Jamesey-boy, your own place, where Momma can’t nag you, and you can do and say whatever you want.”
“Are you really using yourself, as a negative attribute of living here? You realize that proves that your annoyance of me is premeditated, right?” James said, and tossed a large chunk of meat into his mouth. “That’s fucked up, Ma” he continued—his words, muffled by his free meal.
“I don’t give a damn if it is. Is it working? That’s all I want to know.” She’d been planning this confrontation for some time. His mother was far too timid to ever assume the role of the aggressor without a game plan. James listened, although he didn’t want to, “James, your thirty-goddamned-years-old. You’ve got a Bachelor’s degree, why the fuck, are you still in my house?”
“Hmph…” James scoffed. “I never thought that I’d have to see the day that my own mother, would fall victim to the patriarchy. I thought you were woke, Linda.”
“Don’t you fucking call me that, you little shit! It’s Mom.” She slammed her utensils on the table and finally looked her son in the eyes, “Don’t fuck with me, James. I’m trying to help.”
“No,” James wiped the grease and spittle from his mouth with his trench-coat sleeve—he wore it in any weather, “You don’t even realize what it is that you’re a part of. They’ve sent you to stop me. But, I know the game. I know how to win.”
“What the fuck are you talking about, boy? You’re making me nervous.”
“Don’t be nervous, Ma. It’ll all make sense soon enough.” James stood up from the table, and brushed the crumbs from his shirt and thighs, “You know, I should thank you. After all this time, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know. I thought maybe there’s a chance that I’m wrong. But, now-now that they’ve gotten to you; I know that time’s running out. You’re my catalyst, Ma. Thank you.”
James walked to the end of the table, where his mother sat, and kissed her on the forehead. He noticed her flinch. She was scared. He forgave her micro-aggression and headed back downstairs to his room. “Soon, they’ll see. They’ll all fucking see.”
He sat on his bed and opened his laptop.
He bought tickets for Privacy. It was an Off-Broadway show, starring Harry Potter, himself. Perfect, he thought. “They do meet and greets,” hearing the words escape his mouth, left a smile behind as he completed the sentence.
Nearly two-hundred dollars later, his plan had a date.
“Are you sure that you want to do this?” The two had met at the pier. Ronny had parked just feet away from the water. James arrived on his ten-speed bicycle—looking as if what they’d had to discuss was a matter of life or death. Neither of them trusted the use cell phones; not for the conversation that they knew had to take place. They feared being watched.
Ronny had long ridden the self-proclaimed, truther-train for years. He’d still indulged himself in the crock-pot theories, but after the birth of his son decided it’d be best to distance himself from the crazies.
“I’m certain of it,” that included James. “Listen to me Ron, time’s running out. If we don’t do this now, there’s no telling what horror it may bring. Think of your son.”
“I am. That’s why I don’t want to do it.” Ronny was still very much in tune with the underground world of conspiracy theory—especially then, with Trump closing in on the presidency. The connections that his peers had been making were all too real and plausible for him to ignore. “My family needs to be first and foremost, James. I can’t be running around solving mysteries and battling the unknown. What if they come for me?”
James lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. It was understood between them, that the gesture meant whatever he was about to say, was of the utmost importance, “They already are Ronny. You’ve been playing their game for months now. You’ve done well. Soon, you’ll have access to the court system. That’s huge, and I appreciate your valor. But, what I’m trying to tell you is, the time for playing the long game, is over.”
“It’s a good job, James. Sure, it started as a way in, but I’ve met some real people, good people.”
“No, asshole. People. Just like you and me, who just want to do some good in the world. To collect a check and take care of the people that matter most to them. That’s the game. It’s the only one worth playing.”
James dropped the cigarette from his lips, “That’s a lot of dangerous talk, Ron. Please don’t tell me that they’ve gotten to you too.”
“What! No! What the fuck do you mean, too?”
“Linda’s been compromised.” The words fell from his quivering lips as if he’d been reporting a murder, “She can longer be trusted. I can only assume that my home is bugged as well.”
“Fuck…” Ronny said, and cast his head away, “How do you know? Like, for sure?”
James exhaled a cloud of smoke and turned to Ronny. The fumes and fluttering ash consumed both sides of his glasses, “You can just tell. She’s one of them now.”
Years ago, the two had made a promise to one another, in case an instance—such as familial betrayal had ever occurred. James was ready to cash in on that deal, “I’m going to need you to take care of it.”
“James…You know that I can’t do that.”
“Then, I can only assume, that you’re compromised as well.” James flashed Ronny the pistol that he’d always kept strapped to the inside of his trench coat—with Velcro. “Please don’t make me have to kill you, Ronny. We made a deal. I need you to honor it. After that, I need your help killing their mascot. When it’s done, I’ll take the fall. You can go back to your family. I’ll fight the rest of this war alone if need be. There’s just not enough time now.”
“They’ll come for us, James. You know that better than anyone.”
“And that’s why I need you to fight with me. Like I said, think of your son.” James extended the half-smoked Marlboro to Ronny and looked at him with desperation. “Please. For the good of mankind.”
Ronny stood up from his car, and paced around, while James left the cigarette afloat in the air. He caught sight of his new, baby-blue, sedan, as he wrapped back around—his girlfriend had bought him some sticky handprints and glued them to the corner of the windshield. It was meant to be a constant reminder of his child, and how far he’d come—so quickly.
Then, he thought of what was at stake, if he didn’t act. “Okay,” he took the cigarette from James’ hand and sucked it down to the filter, “I’m in. But after this, no more.”
“That’s all I wanted to hear. Thank you, brother.”
“Yeah, yeah. Just don’t make me have to drag your fat ass to safety,” Ronny joked.
James laughed, “No. This all muscle my friend. I’m cultivating mass.”
“I’ll need a ticket.”
“I’ve already gotten you one. We’ve got a week to prepare.”
“That’s not a lot of time.”
“It never is.”
“Is it done?” James asked Ronny, as he returned to the driver’s seat. It was near five, in the afternoon. The two had stopped back and James’ house before they were to hit the Verrazano Bridge and drive into the city.
He’d given Ronny his house keys to unlock the door—James didn’t want to be in the room when it happened. As Ronny passed the keys back to James, he asked again, “Did you do it?”
Ronny took a deep breath and reached for the first pack of cigarettes that he’d bought for himself in a year. James lit it for him, as it dangled from his mouth. “Yeah,” Ronny said. “It’s done. It was quick. She was napping.” James sighed. He was half-relieved and half devastated. “It’s for the greater good. Right James?” Ronny asked.
James was silent. He lit his own cigarette and leered off into the distance—as if trying to convince himself, “Yeah, buddy. Yeah. Her death, will not be in vain. They’ll pay for what they’ve done to her.”
“Fuck yeah, James.”
“Fuck yeah, Ronny.”
Fuck yeah, indeed.
Ronny started the car and pulled off. The ride was a bit uncomfortable. They’d rented the tuxes.
The suits were a tad too tight.
The play started at eight. They arrived a little early to scout out the exits, and count the guards. When they entered the building, a doorman offered to take their trench coats. Ronny agreed—to relieve suspicion, James had all of the weaponry anyway. “You should hold your coat,” Ronny suggested, “No telling what could give us away.” James agreed and removed the oversized jacket—making sure to fold it up neatly around his gun.
They scoped out the crowd. There were a sea of people dressed in varying types of formal attire. By comparison, the two appeared to be on the high-end of the audience. They took advantage of their temporary status and chatted up the one-percenter’s who’d been there to gloat their fashion sense. It worked well to rid them of the nasty glances that they’d been getting from security. “We’ve got to keep mingling. This place is crawling with them.” They did just that until they found their seats.
It was a good show.
Last of the night.
The play ended. James and Ronny sat in their seats until most of the attendees had left. The meet and greet was to be held about a half-hour after the curtains closed. They sat and ironed out the final details of their plan. “Do you want to go, or me?” Ronny asked.
“I’ll go. You’ve already done your part today. Just make sure that you’re streaming it when the time comes. How’s your battery look?”
“Attention, all audience members. The meet and greet will be starting in fifteen minutes. Please line up in an orderly fashion, beside the concession stand. No pushing. No screaming. No fighting. The actors will get to as many of you as they can before we close. Please, no pictures until it’s your turn in line. Thank you. And have a wonderful night.”
It was time.
James stood up first. He unraveled his coat to get a good grip on his gun, “There’s no turning back now, Ronny. Are you ready for this?” Ronny stared at the stage, said nothing, and didn’t move. “Ronny! Are you alright? Don’t get cold feet on me now, brother.” Ronny was still silent.
James bent down and placed a hand on his shoulder. Ronny refused to look at him. “Ronny…” Before he could finish speaking, he heard a single pair of hands applauding. The sound echoed through the emptied theatre. “What the fuck?” A shadowy figure emerged from behind the curtains. James panicked, “Ronny! We’ve got to fucking go, man!”
“Leaving so soon James?” The voice shouted from the stage—fifteen rows away. James pulled the gun from his coat and aimed it at the stage. “Ronny! Let’s go!” Ronny didn’t move a single muscle. “Ronny!”
A tear fell from his face, as James called to him. “Ronny!” Four men in suits, with earpieces, flanked the duo from either side. James saw them. They were all armed. The shadowy figure on stage added laughter to his applause, “And now, the real encore, Jamesey boy” the man said.
“Ronny!” James screamed, oscillating his gun from the approaching men on both sides of them, and the man on stage.
“Ronny!” His scream dampened to a cowardly plea. “Ronny!”
“I’m sorry James, ” Ronny said, finally breaking his silence. He reached under his seat, and pulled out a pistol of his own, “I didn’t want it to be this way. I tried to talk you out of it. But, you wouldn’t listen.”
The men closed in. James aimed his gun to the stage and shot off every round. The shadowy figure stood there—unaffected by the bullets. He’d just laughed louder. Ronny put the gun to the side of James’ head. “Just cooperate,” he said and smashed the butt of the pistol against the back of his skull.
He woke up in a padded room with his arms chained to a metal chair. A single fluorescent light swung above him. A plain steel table laid in front of him, behind that, was an empty chair. While trying to wiggle loose, he realized that his legs had been chained as well. James had never experienced this. He’d heard of it. He’d trained for it. Now, it was here.
The door opened. It was draped in padding—like the walls. It was hard to make out at first, but James noticed the piercing vertical light widen. It’s time, he thought. He twisted his face up, in as threatening a pose as he could muster—envisioning himself as a Rambo or a Deadpool—albeit, pudgier.
“James Mitchell,” he said, as he swaggered in, holding a hefty file, and a cocky smile, “I’ve got to say, we’ve been watching you for a long time. Folks around here thought that you’d burn out. Shit, I hoped that you would. Imagine my surprise, when I hear that one of the loonies had keyed in on me. I must say, it’s impressive. Foolish, but impressive nonetheless.” He took a seat on the other end of the table and sat. “Anyway. We’re here now.” He tossed the file on the table. “Let’s chat.”
“I’ve got nothing to say to you, Radcliffe.”
“Oh, bollocks with the fucking formality. Call me Daniel.”
“I’ll call you dead, the second that I get out of here.”
Daniel laughed, “Really? You’re still going to do this? Do you have any idea who the hell you’re dealing with? What you’re up against? Who’s shit list you’re on?”
“I’ll fight them all.”
“Maybe you should consider dealing with your weight problem before you try to take down things that you don’t understand. What are you? Five-ten-ish? Twenty stone?”
“I’m cultivating mass,” James said.
“Hmph…” Daniel laughed, “Well, you’re a spry one. I’ll give you that. I’d say a decade or so in this place will sort you out.” Daniel stood up from his chair and brushed off his suit. “Anyway, good talk chap.” He walked to the door and gripped the handle.
“Wait,” James shouted and dropped his head, “What are you? What is this? What’s going to happen to me?”
Daniel smiled, “Me? I’m just an actor, my friend. This is a cell. And—before you ask—you are probably going to die here.” Daniel opened the door, two armed men walked into the room when he did. They went to James and unlocked his chains.
“Why?” James begged.
Daniel exhaled and dropped his shoulders—as if receiving an invisible massage, “It’s all just a part of the show, mate. Don’t worry, I’ll tell Mumsy that you said hello.” Daniel walked out of the room, followed by the two men. The door closed. The hanging light flickered.
James reached up to the table and fingered through the file. In it, were photos of he and Ronny at the pier, his mother at dinner—the week before, his punctured photo of Radcliffe, and a final picture dated that day, of the three of them, all together, and smiling.
“Radcliffe!” James screamed. Tears fell. No one answered.
The light flickered off.