Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Vengeance in All Things by W. Bruce

They were dead. That's the end of the story.

It's also how the story begins.

They were dead. I could do nothing about it. I was young. Coins on the ground, glittering in the moon light. Silver beside crimson.

He had been brave. I know that. I will always remember his bravery. He went for the gun. He lunged for it, even as it was shoved into his heart. She fell backwards, dropping her purse. Silver beside crimson.

I cried beside them as they breathed their last. As their killer walked away. With a child's voice I swore revenge.

But a child cannot fight. A child cannot take vegeance. So I became a man.


When I was a child I read comic books. Superheroes in bright costumes. But in the real world the masks men wear are under their skin. Acts of justice must be cloaked in darkness, and the law is not so forgiving.

But I desired vengeance. And I learned to find it in everything.

Our world is full of injustice and evil. There are little evils, and there are great evils. Though I had become a man, I couldn't take on the great evils yet. But the first time I saw the man on the street, I knew he was one of those lesser evils.

He looked like any other man, but my eyes were full of vengeance and I knew that he was apart from them. The ways he moved. The way he walked. There was the swagger of crime in his walk. Every step was so sure of itself, but at the same time stalking. He was a predator among prey. They walked around him and past him, but never directly near him. I had seen any number of men like him, a thief perhaps. Or a drug dealer. Though his walk was a predator's, the look on his face was a guilty one. The way his eyes darted about, the way his mouth twitched.

All men wear masks under their skin. All men wear these masks, for good or ill. And I could recognize the man's guilty mask. To me he had not just become a mere criminal, he had become Evil.

But the act of evil is the act of crime, and so I waited. I stalked behind him. And he grabbed the woman's purse. He darted in behind her like a jackal, and he made off with it. And so I followed.

He didn't see me, for reasons I don't quite understand. Perhaps he was too enraptured with the thought of his ill gotten gains. Perhaps because I was not the sort of predator that he was, he did not see me becuase I blended with the crowds. And perhaps it is simply the nature of the prey not to realize the predator.

He entered an alleyway, and I followed. He opened the purse onto the ground to see what was inside. And silver poured onto the ground.

Coins on the ground, glittering in the moonlight. And I came at him. I didn't have a plan, I didn't have a weapon. So I hit him with a trash can. I threw it at him, and as he fell I tackled him. Then I was on him, and he was at me. In those early days I didn't know disciplined fighting. I didn't know how to throw a punch to knock a man down, or how to back him up with a glance. So I hit him, over and over. With all the fury of a boy without parents; with all the fury of a man sworn in the name of vengeance.

When I left he was still breathing. I didn't go to return the purse. At the time I did not think that I would right wrongs, only accomplish vengeance. That would change over time.

And so I made my first step towards finding vengeance in all things.


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