Barry slows down and approaches the audi parked on the shoulder of the road with the driver’s door open. There is a motorcycle parked behind it and two men are fighting. Or rather, one man is beating up another. On the ground is an old man who appears to be unconscious. His face is badly beaten and his lifeless body is absorbing the kicks of a young man who is perhaps twenty years old and wearing steel toed boots. The young man gives Barry a vicious look and turns back to the body on the ground, throwing a punch with his right hand. Barry slams on the brakes and leaps out of the car. “Hold it right there” he shouts at the man, who viciously looks at him and snarls:
“What the fuck do you want?”
“I don’t want anything” says Barry. “I am telling you to back the fuck off right now!”
The young man shouts “this man was fukkin with me and he is getting what he deserved! He took a punch at me so I hit him back.!”
“Repeatedly, with your fists and feet like a cop? I said get the fuck away from that man.”
The young man, perhaps twenty, was a toned and athletic six foot four. He looked down at his victim then back at Barry who was fifty years old, five foot ten and a dumpy 200lbs. “You’re soft like he is. Look at you, you are pathetic. Don’t you old motherfuckers believe in staying in shape? Or maybe you’re life is so meaningless that you can’t wait to die. Now you are fucking with me just like this guy.”
Barry had seen the two in traffic five miles back and two red lights ago. The man in the Audi was an older man in his early sixties with thick rimmed glasses. He was smoking a cigarette and flicking his ash out the driver window while the kid on the bike was yelling at him.
“I breathe the same air as you and I’m telling you to knock it off, motherfucker!” the kid raged.
The man looked in his rear view mirror then grinned and flicked the butt out the window as the light turned green. They came away from the light with Barry following them between 55-58MPH and the young man driving up next to the old man and gesturing for him to pull over. Barry could see the old man yelling back at the kid as they drove through the yellow light, but had no choice and had to wait for the light all by himself with no other cars in either direction, just Barry sitting at the red light.
That was unfortunate for the old man, who was disturbed by the young man abusing him and baiting him into action with his tailgating and challenging him to pull over. The old man pulled over his car and was going to give the youngster a piece of his mind, but as he stepped out of the car and turned the younger man hit him in the face so hard he never saw anything again. He crawled on the ground toward the back of the car, and when he wouldn’t answer the young man’s charge to “get up, fight like a man” the younger man began punching him in the back of the head and kicking him in the ribs.
Now Barry looked into a pair of eyes that pointed to a legion of intruders, but he wasn’t scared. And before the kid could take a step Barry whipped the pistol from its holster. There were no words. Just shut up the mind and watch. The kid’s eyes quickly looked down and to the right, down and to the left, down and to the right. Then those eyes looked into Barry’s with intent and resolve. “Put that gun down or I am going to kick your ass!” the kid shouts.
Barry was prepared. His whole life he had been prepared. He had suffered at the hands of the insolent and the uncivilized, witnessed everyone, including himself imposing and being imposed upon. And whether the younger man deserved it or not what Barry saw was a raging narcissist who was indulging his temper and had to be stopped.
Barry said nothing, which unnerved the young man who wished to trade insults. But ultimately it was of no consequence. The guy holding the gun was another person asserting his own authority. The fact he was holding the gun was just a thing to overcome. Barry saw the look of resolution and then the shoulders move forward and before the young man’s body could follow, Barry shot him twice in the heart. The kid’s momentum brought him across Barry’s legs as he tried to twist out of the way.
“That is an interesting story,” the kid’s father said to his wife two weeks later, with a slight exuberance that his wife found distasteful. She kept quiet because she knew her husband would make things right even if it was unnerving that he seemed to be joyed by the death of his son. He was a heart surgeon and would get the best attorney to make the slob who killed her son pay for the rest of his life. The police had two dead bodies, but a few witnesses verified Barry’s story with the police and no charges were brought against him.
Then one day a little man who wore the exaggerated “chest out and tummy in” bearing of a person in uniform (Herbie from the Circuit Court) stood on the front porch growling “Mr. Schnitzen, I am an officer with the court and I need to see you RIGHT NOW!”
Barry answered the door and looked at the little man whose stern officiousness Barry found comical. “I need you to sign for this. You have been ordered to appear in court.” And with that the little man shifted his heels and retreated quickly to his truck. Barry opened the envelope and took out the summons. It was an order to appear for a hearing as he was being sued by the kid’s parents for wrongful death.
Of course, there was little in the way of facts to bear at a trial. Barry wasn’t concerned about that. What concerned him was that the young man’s father, the heart surgeon, announced his candidacy for public office the day before and appeared in a local news spot that night saying that he brought the suit to seek justice for his son who didn’t deserve to have his life ended so tragically and at such a young age. He alleged that the trigger man had a history of mental illness and should not have had the gun. An investigator had learned that Barry had been on medication for depression and anxiety in the past. Did he have the right to own a gun? On behalf of the heart surgeon’s son who gave his life so tragically, we shall have legislation that will make it tougher for people like Barry to get a gun. The truth? The common good doesn’t require truth or meaning, only that truth or meaning can be useful to the common good.