John Garrison and the 5:2 Diet

July 29, 2013

The call came at midday. Garrison put down the phone and rubbed his temples. “Not today” he growled. Garrison put his hand up to the fridge door but froze in mid air. “No.” he scolded himself.

Garrison arrived at the school and reported to the commanding officer for briefing.
“Garrison. Boy, are we glad to see you. How are you?”
“Ugh” he sighed. “I’ve got a splitting headache. Today’s one of my fast days.”
The Officer raised his eyebrows and nodded knowingly.
“What’ve we got?” asked Garrison, hoping he might lose himself in his work.
“Robert Halliday. Fifty-eight. The school custodian. He’s got eight kids in there. Armed with a hunting rifle. Teachers say he just… flipped. No demands as of yet.”

Garrison was listening… but none of the info was going in. All he could think about was the McDonalds restaurant that stood across the street. There it sat, beaming like a bright green and yellow calorific beacon of sheer joy and relief.

“Maybe I should just get a burger. A small one” he thought. “It’d clear my mind. Help me save those kids’ lives. Surely this is an exceptional circumstance.” But no, this was just the weak part of his mind, looking for a way out. If it weren’t this classroom full of kids, it’d be work drinks or the opportunity to have dinner with a friend he hadn’t seen in a few weeks. Garrison had saved lives on three continents, grappled with the world’s most dangerous men and lived to tell the tale. Surely, he could stick to one simple diet.

Garrison grasped the megaphone. The loud crackle of interference made him wince. His headache was getting worse.

“Robert Halliday! This is John Garrison. I just want to talk, OK?”
Halliday opened the classroom window and, using a four year old as a human shield, shouted back. “There’s nothing to talk about! I’m going to kill these kids and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.” Garrison’s heart sunk. He had hoped that Halliday would simply want some money and this could all be over quickly. He could’ve been tucking into his small bowl of weak pea soup within the hour. This, however, wouldn’t be quick.

“I’m coming over. I’m unarmed. OK?” Garrison put down the megaphone and, with hands aloft, started walking towards the window.
Halliday trained his gun barrel at Garrison. “Don’t come any closer!”
“Why are you doing this, Robert?” Garrison shouted.
“I… I… don’t know. I’ve not been thinking straight” Halliday grimaced. It was a grimace Garrison recognised. He’d seen it that very morning… when he looked in the mirror.

“I know how you feel, Robert!” Garrison pleaded.
“How could you possibly know?!”
“It may not seem like a big deal to you right now” Garrison said lowering his arms. “But I’ve been sort of having a rough time lately too. I’ve been on this diet. It’s called the…”
“5:2 Diet?!” Halliday blurted. “I’m doing that too. My wife’s making me.”
Garrison nodded sympathetically. “Ditto. And is today one of your fast days?”
“Yeah!” Halliday yelled back. “It’s impossible. How can a man survive on just 600 calories in a day? Twice a week?! It’s insane.”
“That’s what I thought.” Garrison called. “But you just need to get creative. Sandra, my wife got me a book. It’s got some pretty good recipes and eating plans. It’s no steak dinner but it relieves the monotony. Trust me. It’s possible.”

All the bleak, hopelessness lifted from Halliday’s face. He put the child down and lowered his gun.
“Can I have it?” he limply asked.
“Can you have what?”
“Can I have that book?”
“Well… no, it’s mine. I need it.”
“I’ll let the kids go and give myself up if you give it to me.”
“No. Get your own.”
“Give him the damn book, Garrison” shouted the commanding officer from behind. Garrison turned and shook his head sternly.

The SWAT team entered the building at 12:48. Robert Halliday died on the scene. Seven out of the eight children survived. And John Garrison lost five pounds in two weeks. They call that… a result.

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