Fiction: Hours before the Hateful Act

August 1, 2017 Fiction , Literature , POETRY / FICTION

Thomas Bormans



Bob McNeil



Four hours before the hateful act, a sand-colored man visited his sand-colored ex-wife. Each word shared by the couple came with heart-formed emotions. Contritely, as if speaking to Allah, the man wanted absolution for his pending abomination.


Three hours before the hateful act, he visited his sand-colored adult son. Again, compunction dove from the father’s tongue. Submitting to tears, the two waded through a reconciliation.


Two hours before the hateful act, he went to his parents’ graves. Aware that he was speaking to himself, the man thanked them for their love.


One hour before the hateful act, he thought about the clandestine explosive belt under his thawb while entering a secret al-Qaeda headquarters in Jackson Heights, Queens.


Thirty-six seconds before the hateful act, regret did not enter any door in the man’s mind. Content to assassinate terrorists who massacred many people in the aforesaid city and beyond, the man tried to imagine a time unfettered by terrorism.






Bob McNeil

Tenaciously, Bob McNeil tries to compose literary stun guns and Tasers, weapons for the downtrodden in their effort to trounce oppression. His poems and stories want to be fortresses against despotic politics. 

After years of being a professional illustrator, spoken word artist and writer, Bob still wants his work to express one cause—justice. 

Editor review


  1. John Maney December 21, at 20:31

    Powerful piece! I like the way it turns terror on terror, which is kind of the way people on both sides see it. Very provocative! It shows humanity in the terrorist, despite how they may justify inhumane acts. This is something we all need to examine with more honesty.

  2. sarah ito October 30, at 00:03

    A wonderful example of the power of short fiction..

  3. Clover Mathis September 05, at 16:39

    What surprises me most about Hours before the Hateful Act is its form, which is perfect for both the content and these present times of sound bites and montage editing. Your precise use of words convey the man's emotional, psychological and spiritual states during each step he makes towards his fate as the hours, and seconds, tick away. The language, and images thereof, evidence, in my uninformed opinion, the breadth of your talent, McNeil. Whether poetry or fiction, your ample offerings contain a compassionate and learned tone that calls to mind, as I've said before, the Negro poets of yesteryears--which never fails to tickle my memory of us! Hours before the Hateful Act is a big little story. It swings with the meticulousness of a masterful Ellington miniature.

  4. Robyn Holly August 04, at 04:30

    Bob, you are impeccable with words and solid in expression of oppression that has left many wondering why a system has purposely discounted and failed many. I am uplifted by your direct response to this injustice. You are the voice of our ancestors teaching the children about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Thank you, blessings and Love.

  5. Donald Rilea August 03, at 01:41

    Interesting piece and take on the subject matter here. Its language, particularly in the final paragraph of the story, reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's in many of his creations, in its simplicity, brevity, and starkness in its portrayal of the protagonist's feelings in the last seconds of his life.

  6. Edna Garcia August 02, at 12:48

    Congratulations, well done, Bob McNeil! As always, your fiction attempts to capture the reasoning process of a person who is despondent. The character realizes that what he is about to do will cause much pain to many, including his loved ones. His troubled mind doesn’t allow him to fully realize what he is about to do. After believing he’s let everyone down, the sand-colored man feels pain and anger towards himself. This point is clear in the interchange with his wife that’s filled with emotion. His inability to communicate with his adult son in an effective way is explained. At the end, he visits his parents’ graves, perhaps to tell them what he never said when they were alive. All those circumstances leave the sand-colored man empty, lacking empathy or feelings for anyone else’s pain as if his is much greater. He sets himself free from his self-imposed bondage by rationalizing an inhumane act.


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