If guns are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns...
- Common Sense
The Hot Walk
Jack Thompson walked up Fourth Avenue on the way to the Fan Club, a local pub with good libations. It was Tuesday and it was hot like any other summer workday in Orlando, Florida. Rainy and muggy was tossed in for free.
Thank God the day was over, Jack thought. Now he could kick back and soak his brain in music and booze and maybe something else.
Staring at another computer screen tonight would be the farthest thing from his mind. All he wanted to do now was relax, chat up a chick, maybe get lucky and failing that, listen to the new band he'd heard about on the radio. They called themselves "Gizmet." Whatever.
The blow to Jack's skull was a shock. It did not register at all.
One moment he was walking, but in the next slice of time, he was just not walking any longer. He was floating on concrete and asphalt and it felt nice.
There was something on the ground next to the sidewalk. A broken beer bottle. That was the first clue things weren't so nice. That and the urine colored film over his eyes.
It seemed to take hours to gather his thoughts. He knew he was moving or being moved. But everything was peaceful, serene almost. Like he was waking up after a good nap. Stretching. All except for a shadow that kept talking. But he couldn't make out the words.
The street disappeared. He was in an alley now and his leg was hurting. Throbbing. Jack looked at his leg. There was a hand on his ankle. The hand was pulling. The hand was hairy and incredibly big.
Jack's head bounced on the concrete, then along the brick wall. Something stank. It was boxy and big and green. A dumpster. It had stickers on it. Company logos. What the hell?
Water was pattering. Drizzling from a broken gutter above. It was a pleasant sound, but muffled. Maybe it was his head that was muffled, Jack thought.
Have you had your Identity stolen?
A shape now morphed into a human. It blocked a small wedge of sunlight.
In that moment, enough of Jack's mind was 'online' (from the forced reboot, he figured) that he could now reintegrate the noises and fumes, emanating from the hole under the human's pockmarked nose.
“You dead?” the human asked. His breath smelled worse than the dumpster.
Jack didn't answer.
The man kicked him hard in his ribs. He grunted.
“No. You ain't dead yet.” There was a pause, then the word 'yet' repeated itself in Jack's mind.
“What do you want?” Jack asked, when he could finally breathe. He tried to sound unafraid.
“I ask questions.” The form moved, still blocking the sunlight, most of his face still in shadow.
What is your name?” he asked, like it was just another day in sunny Florida.
“My name?” Jack replied as he tried to sit up.
The man responded with another kick, but not so hard this time.
“I get it, I get it.” Jack responded. “My name is Jack Thompson.”
“And your Social Security Number?”
“My Social Security Number?”
The form moved in and Jack did not hesitate. He gave him the number.
What followed was a series of questions so bizarre, but seemingly so innocuous, for the life of him, Jack just thought he was being thoroughly identified by a wacko.
But there was no reason for it. Had the thug wanted his identity he could have just taken his wallet.
- According to the Bureau of Justice and Statistics, in 2012 16.6 Million Americans had their identities compromised. These were just the adults.
When Jack's vision cleared, he could see enough to know that the shadowy human was a man and that the man held sharp object in one of his hands.
It looked like a giant silver knife or small sword.
He noticed something else too. The man was not so dirty, but dressed in a suit and tie. Jack wore jeans and an old sloppy football jersey. It was a remarkable oddity to him.
“You know why I dragged your butt into this alley? the man asked.
“No, but I think you are going to tell me,” Jack quipped. The man let it go.
“You know how many people die a day in this city?” he asked.
“Don't answer that, just shut up and listen.”
He sat down on some stacked cartons. Thinking about something. If he would say it or not. He made some inner decision. Then he started again.
“The other day I was at your local watering hole. It had been a long day. We'd taken four bodies off the street that night. Two stabbings, one shooting and a drunk who killed a three year old. It was a crappy day.” He peered down the alley, but all was quiet.
Jack thought about yelling for help, but the noises from the interstate seemed to swallow all sound.
“You are a mouthy little wad of spit and vinegar, did you know that? You were in there, in your little bar, yapping about the merits of 'gun control.' It was like some philosophical debate for you. Your Utopian Society of Peace and Love." The man spat against the wall.
'You really got under my skin. That usually does not happen. Maybe I should never have come into your Children's Hour pub. But I did.” He stopped, reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone.
Jack looked for a way out, but he was still wedged between the dumpster and the thug. The thug returned the phone to his pocket.
“As I was saying. You don't get it and I don't think you are ever going to get it so I'm taking time out of my busy schedule to help you understand. I call it tough love. Ever heard of it?”
Jack expected a kick. It never came.
The thug pulled out a gun. He pointed it squarely at Jack's head. Jack closed his eyes.
After what seemed liked an eternity, Jack opened his eyes.
The gun was still pointed. Jack worked on his bladder control.
“How does it make you feel?” the thug asked. His gun hand was very steady, almost practiced.
“Freaking helpless.” Jack responded, his voice now more than a screech. "Please point it somewhere else."
“You felt it, didn't you? I just pointed this thing at you and you turned to jelly. In fact, that's your new name. I'll call you Jelly.”
“Yep.” was all Jack could say.
“So, Jelly...tell me about your 'gun control' plan again. The one you and your buddies cooked up over drinks the other night.”
“I have no plans. I just don't like guns. It was just talk. Stupid talk.”
“I don't like guns either, Jelly, but they serve a purpose in this day and age. They serve and protect.”
Jack still did not hear it.
Orlando - the City Beautiful
- In 2003, Newsweek reported that American citizens with guns killed more than twice as many criminals than police did. And the citizens identified the perps 5 times better.
“In the right hands of ordinary people, not me of course, but regular folks, guns save a lot more lives in this city – than they take. I see it every day, but folks often don't file reports when they scare away a thug with their gun. So there are a lot people alive today, not raped today, not mugged today, and all of that, because of guns..”
He slipped a piece of gum into his mouth and began to chew. He offered Jack a piece, but Jack declined.
“When can I leave?” Jack asked.
“Leave? I have not even decided if you will live. It seems to me you might just become another statistic.”
He laughed. It was a hard guttural chuckle, from someone who had seen too much pain, Jack sensed.
“You ain't listening Jelly.” The thug made his knife disappear into his coat. He did not holster his gun, but he did lower it to Jack's chest.
“Last year, in 2015, in Orlando, Florida, there were over a hundred rapes. Dozens of murders. Thefts? I lost count. Assaults? Thousands.” He paused as if making a decision. “But you know what is pretty cool Jelly?”
“No” Jack said.
“I read this article the other day. It said that about 3600 rapes are prevented every day in the US, because the intended victim had a gun. I thought that was pretty significant. Jelly, don't you think that is a significant number?”
“So I read some more. And you know want I found out Jelly?”
“I found out from a Harvard Study – and you know those Harvard guys are kinda smart – I discovered that countries with more gun owners have less murders. And I thought, Eureka! it was like a sign form the great above. That is, until I walked into your high-brow pub and heard you yacking.” The thug's gun moved lower. Pointed where it should not.
Jack trembled and cringed.
“You know, I should prevent your kind from reproducing, but what would be the point?” The gun pointed at Jack's legs now. Jack wondered where all the pedestrians were at this hour and the thug seemed to read his mind.
“It's kinda quiet here, isn't it. That tells me a lot.” The thug began to wag his gun, back and forth. Jack followed the barrel, eyes wide, back and forth.
“You see last week a guy, about your age was hurt bad right here. Some scum bag druggy ran out of this alley yelling and screaming about bugs or something. That victim had plenty of time to reach into his pocket a whip out his gun, but you know what?”
“No. What?” Jack answered...and asked.
“The victim did not have a gun. He was against them. He told me that, at the Hospital, before he died. He said he was no Al Capone, that he believed in life and all that. You know what killed him?”
“You're gonna tell me, aren't you?” Jack's head pounded.
“Jelly, what killed him was that suspect was so high on K-2 that his mind was just distilled putty. The perp came running at the vic and just beat him. For no reason. It was just the bugs. That's what the vic kept saying the perp was yelling. About the bugs.”
He stopped wagging his gun. He was listening again. The thug looked at Jack, who had propped himself against the dumpster.
“And you know what else the suspect asked, before he ran at the vic screaming about the bugs? He asked the vic if he had a gun. The brilliant vic said that he was not armed. Vic was honest, I give him that. He was not so smart though."
The thug put his gun back in his holster – in his coat. It looked like a police holster to Jack.
“Are you a cop?” Jack asked.
“Not now. Right now I'm your teacher, Jelly. And after all of that, I feel better. So, Jelly...I've decided to let you live.”
Jack tried to stand and succeeded, if not a bit wobbly.
“One more thing, Jelly.” The thug, who just had to be a cop, scooped up a cell phone. It was his. Jack must have dropped it at some point.
“Here's your Iphone. I took the liberty of downloading some things for you. Just some dry statistical stuff about lives saved with guns. Just as so you can compare notes with your partners at the pubby. Compare Columbine to reality, if you will.” He began to back into the alley.
“Oh and Jack Jelly, I'm no cop. Not today, like I said. I do actually kill for a living, but it ain't that fun. I get paid for it. Not much. And I don't really care if you and your cronies eventually outlaw guns. I'll always have mine. And the bad guys will always have theirs. Just don't be in the middle, Jelly. Buy a gun, while you still can. Remember, don't become a statistic.”
With that the thug-cop drifted into early evening shadows. There were more victims to convince.