It was a cold night. Not freezing, but the kind of night that sent a chill through you straight to the bone. The old woman wrapped her scarf around
herself leaving just a small opening to see out of. She didn't like blocking her peripheral vision in this part of town but what kind of stupid
criminal would be out in this weather anyway? The only reason she was out was because her granddaughter was having a baby shower and she needed a
gift. After all, how many people get to see their own great granddaughter? She spent more on the gift than she could really afford, which was nothing,
but this was a very special occasion and no sacrifice was too great for such a wondrous event. She hadn't seen her granddaughter since her wedding.
What a great time it was to get reacquainted.
The two men were noisy and raucous coming down the street. They had obviously been drinking, or something to that affect. The old woman hoped to pass
by unnoticed. She made herself as small as she could and stayed in the shadows as much as possible. Somehow, though seemingly blind to the four inch
curb directly in front of him (that he did trip over) the louder of the two managed to spy the small woman huddling in to herself against the cold in
the shadow of the inset doorway. The shiny, brightly colored ribbon on the freshly wrapped gift peaking out of her tote had given her away.
“Hey! You bought me a gift,” the louder ruffian shouted with a feigned look of surprise on his face. “You didn't have to do that.” He laughed
at his own joke and looked at his friend for approval.
“Leave the old woman alone. She's scared enough already. Let's get out of here.” The second thug wanted nothing to do with the old woman and much
preferred the idea of getting home and finding the remains of a bottle of scotch he had started the night before.
“No, no, no. She was nice enough to buy me a gift,” slurred the thug. “The least I can do is take it from her,” the drunk insisted as he moved
toward his intended victim. The old woman tried to flee hoping the stumbling drunk would be unable to catch her. The drunk had no intention of messing
with the woman herself but had his eyes set on his prize – the shiny ribbon wrapped gift. Drastically over estimating his abilities, as these types
of people often do, he attempted to strip the tote from the old woman's grasp as she ran by. He had planned to finish his brilliant act with a hearty,
“Ole'!” as she went by. He hooked his arm in the strap of the tote and swept it in a huge arc with a matador's flourish. Instead of sliding free
of the old woman's grasp as he intended, he sent the old woman reeling, knocking her off her feet, her head hitting the four inch curb with a
sickening cracking sound where she lay motionless.
Time seemed to freeze for a moment as the drunks tried to process the event that had just transpired. “I didn't mean to hurt her,” the louder
drunk insisted. “I just wanted the box, you know, just messing around. I wasn't even going to keep it. I was going to give it back.” It was
unclear whether he was trying to convince his friend or himself of his benevolent intent.
The old woman was not moving at all but her attackers were, and fast. Panic had set in and the two were running like the devil himself was on their
tails. He was, but they had no way of knowing that. They ran without incident the rest of the way home where they collapsed in two very different
heaps. One was mumbling a myriad of excuses meant to convince anyone listening that it was an accident and not his fault. The other, overcome with
guilt, insisting they turn themselves in. They fought briefly, neither wanted to do any real damage to the other in hopes they may still figure out a
plan they could both agree on. Exhausted and full of liquid depressant they eventually passed out, situation unresolved.
The hangover made its presence known the exact moment he awoke. Then the memory of the event flashed through his mind and the fear it generated made
the hangover seem like a minor inconvenience. He turned on the television just in time to hear the news anchor talking about the sad state the city
was in and the violence on the streets that must be stopped. They were talking about an eighty two year old woman who was savagely attacked the night
before. She was found by passing motorists and taken to the nearest emergency room. She would survive the incident but due to a most unfortunate
combination of conditions, would be left blind. There was a surgery that might be able to restore her vision but it was very expensive and the woman
could not afford it. It was $30,000 worth of expensive.
The news anchors continued their story relating the areas where this kind of violence occurred most often in the city. There were several parts of
town that it just wasn't safe to be in at night. Overwhelmed with guilt, feeling sick to his stomach looking at his still unconscious friend, the more
sensible of the two attackers wanted to turn himself in but couldn't find the fortitude to turn in his friend also. He knew he would be blamed for
what his friend had done and that would solve nothing. His mind was awash with variants of this theme, all ending with him in prison and nothing
making any of it right. He resolved that his friend was on his own. He would do what he had to do and his friend would have to deal with his own
conscience in his own way.
Conscience. His was not doing him any favors. He wandered the streets half hoping someone would victimize him so he could somehow feel as if his debt
had been paid. He thought about the many thugs who preyed on innocent defenseless victims like the old woman but did not count himself among their
numbers. He didn't do it, his friend did. And he isn't that kind of person drunk or not. But here he was, accessory to the crime whether he liked it
or not. He wondered how the people who intentionally do these things lived with themselves. His guilt was trying to drive him insane even though his
involvement was accidental at best. Something had to change. He had to make it right.
edit on 11-8-2018 by Vroomfondel because: (no reason given)