THE ARREST by D. Harlan Wilson

A man said, “You are under arrest.”

Another man said, “No. You are under arrest.”

“No,” said the first man. “It’s the other way around. You are the one who is under arrest.”

“I’m not under arrest,” said the second man. “You are.”

“I’m going to arrest you now,” said the first man, taking the second man by the elbow.

“No. Now I will arrest you,” said the second man, taking the first man by the elbow.

“Let go of my elbow,” said the second man. He agreed to let go, but only if the second man let go, too. A third man said, “I’m putting the two of you under arrest.”

“No,” said the first man.

“No,” said the second man.

“Yes,” said the third man.

The first man put the third man in a headlock. He jumped up and down and the third man groaned perfunctorily.

The second man put the first man in a headlock.

He jumped up and down so that the third man experienced the brunt of two men jumping up and down.

He groaned louder, with more drama, yet with less resolve.

“That’s enough,” said a fourth man. “You are all coming with me. You are all under arrest.”

The second man tried to put the fourth man in a headlock with his free arm but the fourth man ducked out of the way. A fifth man snuck up behind the fourth man, wrapped his hands around his neck and choked him to death. Eyes wide with surprise, the fourth man slid to the floor like a raw egg. The second man released the headlock on the third man. The first man released the headlock on the second man. The first, second, and third men faced the fifth man and the third man said, “You killed that man.”

“The three of you are under arrest,” said the fifth man.

A sixth man punched out the fifth man. “I’m arresting you.” He looked askance at the other men.

“I’m arresting all of you, too.”

The second and third men attacked a seventh man with tomahawks before he could open his mouth and put anybody under arrest. The seventh man shrieked during the murder. Blood exited his wounds in japanimated spurts as he accused the first and sixth men of allowing him to be murdered by the second and third men. Weird mucous leaked from the fifth man’s orifices. With his last breath, the seventh man whispered, “I should have arrested you all.”

Unexpectedly, the first man took off his clothes and began to make love to his wife. She lay on a cot, on her back, beckoning him with spread legs and locked knees.

“What does he think he’s doing?” asked the third man. The fifth man woke up and the sixth man punched him out again, dirtying his fist with slime.

The third man said, “Public sex is an offense. I’m putting those sex offenders under arrest.”

The first man climbed off his wife and attacked the third man. They wrestled around on the floor. The nakedness of the first man made the third man increasingly uncomfortable, and he tried his utmost to beat and arrest his opponent without touching him, an impossible feat, technically, and yet within moments, he was in fact beating his opponent without touching him, somehow, impressing all of the other men, except for the second man, who turned to the sixth man and told him that he knew how to beat people up without touching them better than the third man did. Soon the first man rallied. He grabbed the third man by the ears and cranked his head and snapped his neck. The third man slumped over like a wet pancake. The first man immediately arrested him. Then he arrested the fourth man, the fifth man and the seventh man.

“You can’t arrest dead men,” said the sixth man.

“You can’t arrest an unconscious man,” said the second man.

“I can arrest anybody I want,” said the first man.

“No. I can arrest anybody I want,” said the second man.

“No you can’t,” said the sixth man. “I can. I can arrest anybody. I can arrest the entire world.”

“I’m putting the world under arrest,” said the fifth man, awakening.

“No. I’m putting the world under arrest,” said the sixth man. He blew off the second man’s head with a shotgun. “I’m going to arrest the galaxy as well.” He turned the shotgun on the fifth man and fired. The fifth man’s stomach exploded into flaming tendrils of gore. The sixth man said, “Forthwith I will put every last black hole in the universe behind bars. I will teach Eternity the very meaning of deference and respect and authority. But first things first.” He emptied the shells from the shotgun, reloaded it, and put the barrel in his mouth …

The first man looked at his wife. She was asleep.

“Wake up,” he whispered helplessly. “You are under arrest.”

She opened her eyes. She stretched, sighed. She rolled off the bed, slipped into the bathroom and turned on the shower, annulling the voice of her husband . . .


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D. Harlan Wilson is an award winning novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, literarycritic, and English professor. Visit him online at
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The Arrest is part of They Had Goat Heads, a single author collection of flash fiction.  Stay tuned for a brief review and interview with the D. Harlan Wilson. Pre-ordering available from Atlatl Press.

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About Bosley

Bosley Gravel is a hack.
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