The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

Zero Tolerance
by Linda Courtland

"Biggie-Bank to Outsource Programming," the headline screamed. Andy threw the paper on his desk, hitting a half-eaten sandwich.

He'd spent ten years of his life creating binary code to carry out the bank's encrypted tasks, typing out strings of 1's and 0's every week, without complaint.

And now they were letting him go.

He saw the HR Director, flanked by security, heading his way.

Andy's eyes darted around his cube, looking for a way to get even. He wished he could break into the vault and steal all that money he'd worked so hard to electronically protect.

In the end, all Andy took was a zero. As the men in suits closed in, Andy slid an index finger along his laptop's touch pad and plucked a random 0 from the code that he'd been working on. He doubted the bank would even notice.

At 2 AM, the police pounded on his door.

"We know you're in there. Come out with your hands up."

Andy stumbled outside in his pajama bottoms.

"Where's the 0?" the officer said.


"The 0," he said. "We know you've got it."

Andy invoked his right to remain silent. The police brought him to the station and escorted him into the interrogation room.

"It must have been rough, being laid off after all those years," the Good Cop said.

Andy stared straight ahead.

"We're tossing your place right now," the Bad Cop said. "We're gonna find that 0, whether you help us or not."

"If you want to make a deal, I could call the DA," the Good Cop said.

"If we find that 0 on our own, you'll do the max!" the Bad Cop said.

Andy silenced them with four little words: "I want a lawyer."

At the trial, Andy's defense attorney addressed the jury.

"You've heard a lot of accusations being hurled at my client by the DA," she said. "But the truth is, my client took zero."

The jurors appraised Andy's seemingly honest exterior.

The attorney walked slowly in front of the jury box, making eye contact with each and every one of them.

"Surely there's been a time in your life when you've stolen nothing," she continued. "But if you find this man guilty, you'll be setting a precedent. You'll be creating case law mandating criminal penalties."

Juror number 9 took notes.

"If you convict my client, you could be next. You could be having dinner with your family when the police drag you from your home, threatening imprisonment, and demanding that you explain where you hid nothing, too."

The jury found Andy not guilty.

The 0 was never recovered.