Friday, July 15, 2011

Taken by Force

            “I said, give me your money.  Why are you looking at me that way?” the man who barked out the command was holding a gun, pointing it at his victim.  But the man who had the barrel of the gun pointed at him didn’t look like a victim.  He was dressed like a successful businessman.  Of course that’s a vague notion, businessman.  But that was the impression people had when they looked at him.  His actual profession seemed like it shouldn’t be defined, as if his success and its roots should remain ambiguous.  But the air of success was certain.  This man had money.
            His appearance was a stark contrast to those before him.  They all wore coats as if to hide their identities behind a shield of cloth.  Collars were upturned and caps sat low on their heads, hiding their eyes.  What the clothing could not hide was the posture of men that didn’t seem to respect themselves or have any confidence in their own lives.
            “Why?” asked the man in the suit.
            “Because if you give me your money I’ll give you back your life, if not then I’ll take your life and then take your money.  Don’t be stupid. Hand over your wallet.”
            “My life is not yours to give or take.  Where did you get such a stupid idea as that?” the man who would not be a victim stared back at his assailer with a look that demanded a response.  The answer the bandit gave him was to turn his gun to show its profile and give it a sarcastic wave before pointing it again at the suited man.
            “This says so. You’re a cocky bastard but you’re not bullet proof.  Now.  Your wallet.”
            Ignoring the demand for his wallet he asked another question, “What?  Whoever has the most force wins, is that how it is?”
            “Yeah, and that happens to be me.”  The victim smiled.  He could tell that this was no random mugging, of course it wasn’t.  This gun-toting thug considered himself something of a mastermind.  But he had come no further than alley muggings.  He only happened to be selective in his targets, a suit meant a larger return.  The distinction in his mind was no doubt much larger than it really was.  Such is the delusion that comes to those who find power in the weapons they wield.  That was certainly why he was still talking and hadn’t actually done anything, like use the gun he held.  The dialogue was a sort of gloating at his assumed victory.
            “All because you have a gun? I wouldn’t be so cer—” the man who was speaking cut himself short.  The calm collectiveness that he had showed while being mugged fled.  Fear leapt into his face as quickly as the confidence left.  His eyes that had held a steady gaze at his assailer darted to something else in the moment that he stopped speaking.  He was looking past the leader and his two thugs that flanked him.  They instantly believed the fear they saw in the face in front of them and turned to see its source.
            In turning, their guard was let down.  They disregarded their victim to appraise what was surely a much greater threat.
            And that was their mistake.  But in the moment it took to realize there was nothing to fear behind them, that they had been fooled, they also realized that the real threat was behind them. 
            But it was too late.
            That brief moment was long enough for the tides to turn.  The man in the suit moved as quickly as a striking snake.  A kick in the leaders gut doubled him over.  The knee that moved upward into his face was accompanied with a sickening crunching sound.  Before he slumped to the ground the gun that had been his authority was snatched from his hand.
            His two stooges who were slower to realize what was going on gathered their wits just in time to realize that the two sounds that they heard were gunshots.  The realization came at the exact moment that they each felt the pain of the bullets that found targets in their chests.  But the though of pain could not have been long contemplated, because they were both dead by the time their bodies hit the ground.
            The man in the suit stood above the three bodies that lay before him; two dead, one writhing in pain.  He looked unruffled standing there holding the gun, as if it were more at home in his hand than it had been in the hand of its previous wielder.  He surveyed the bodies before stepping forward and crouching next to the foremost man.
            “The problem with power by force is that there is always someone who has more than you do.  Your gun wasn’t enough today.  You see, my life isn’t yours to take or give after all. But since you believe that, I will play by your rules.  And now I am going to take your life.  It’s too bad that learning this lesson will do you no good since you will be dead.  Oh well.” 
            The man looked up with fear in his eyes.  Fear so great that he was paralyzed, frozen in the face of peril.
            “You wouldn’t—” he started to say but didn’t have time to finish.  A third shot rang out.
            In a quick motion a handkerchief was produced from a coat pocket. In a second quick motion any and all fingerprints were removed from the gleaming metal.  In a third motion the gun was tossed onto the dead body of the man who had made a grave miscalculation.
            The man in the suit walked around a corner and away from the alley. Walking down the street he looked as cool and collected as he had before the attempted mugging.  Looking at him no one would suspect that he had dealt out his own form of justice in the form of three remorseless murders.
            Hands in his pockets he began to whistle as he strolled down the sidewalk.