The Gentleman Grey
By Brendan Detzner
The crowd around the house was growing. And growing. It filled the street and was starting to move in onto other peopleís yards. As it grew larger, more and more people appeared who didnít now why everyone was there in the first place. Some idiot thought it was a party and had loaded his truck full of beer. A small fight broke out someplace. Somewhere, somebody was heard screaming about something. A policeman was yelling through a loudspeaker, trying to get everyone to leave, but nobody was listening. Some people were afraid it would turn into some kind of riot. Several of the policemen looked for someone a little more imposing then the current speaker to get all the people to disperse.
Luckily, someone perfect for the job appeared from around the corner.
"Look, itís Mr. Daniels!"
The crowd parted way as Mr. Daniels stepped up to the policeman with the loudspeaker. The cop handed over the device immediately.
"Ladies and gentleman," said Mr. Daniels, "the house across from us, a house that was a part of our community for a very long time, is in ruins. It is the belief of the police that the house was the target of an arsonist. No money was stolen. Nobody wanted this land. Whoever did this did it for no reason other than his own sick impulses."
"Good people, people like us, may wonder why anyone would do such a thing. They may wonder why some poor misanthrope would choose to deal with his problems like this-" he motioned to the wreckage, "Ö when so many other options were available to him. Whoever this person was, no matter how bad off he was, he could have sought help. He didnít. So a member of our community, a father, is lying on a table in a burn unit screaming in pain."
"I know the reason why someone would do this. I know the reason why people feel they have to rob, and destroy, and rape, and murder. There are two reasons. Fear and pride. The fear is that they are afraid to reach out, to overcome the hurdles life has set to them. And the pride, the pride is what wonít let them be like us, to be good and happy. This insane pride is stopping them from living like us. They canít just take a job, get married, live die, be happy. No, they think they are too good for that."
"Yeah!" the cry rose from the crowd. Several people started to cheer. Mr. Daniels silenced them with a wave of his hand. He paced a little before continuing.
"No," he continued. "They have to burn buildings to the ground, and wave guns at people and rob convenience stores and harass people on the street and leave their parents and their homes and the places that raised them. They have to run and leave us and try to do all these great, glorious things in all these great, glorious places. But they donít, they canít. They canít do these things. They arenít heroes. They are thieves and backstabbers and firestarters. And we have to pay the price for their foolishness."
The crowd was silent, then started to cheer. The cheering continued for a while until a voice from the crowd yelled out.
"Wait! I canít find my children! Elizabeth and Jenny! Theyíre gone!"
"Look for the children! All of you check the streets! Iíll look in the woods!" The crowd set off into the night, following Mr. Daniels instructions.
Mr. Daniels handed the microphone back to the policeman. The policeman took it, and shook Mr. Daniels hand furiously. Mr. Daniels graciously accepted the handshake, then pulled away to go check the woods.
He found the spot very quickly. It wasnít hard. There was a huge clearing. There were several neat piles of ashes where the trees used to be. Eddie was gone. Grey was lying on the ground with burn marks all over his skin and clothes. Mr. Daniels leaned over and looked at the marks. They were healing. They were doing it just fast enough so that you could see it happen, but no more. It was like watching the minute hand on a clock rotate. He wouldnít recover instantly, but heíd be back in action by morning. Beth laid behind him. She was relatively unharmed. Grey had shielded her from the heat. She began to stir. Mr. Daniels walked over and laid his hands on her forehead.
She stopped moving. Mr. Daniels got up again and began to look around. He walked over to Grey again and picked up the fruit he had been holding. Because Grey had been holding it, the fruit was unblemished. Mr. Daniels pulled a roll of duct tape he had borrowed from the centerís arts and crafts supply and strapped the fruit tightly against Bethís face, completely smothering her nose and mouth, allowing only a little space for air to get in.
As he put on the last couple pieces of tape onto her face, he felt a sharp pain in his back. He reached back and knocked the black cat off of his back. It had been biting and clawing at him as hard as it could. The cat landed on all fours, then darted back at Mr. Daniels. Mr. Daniels grabbed the back of the cat with one hand, then reached in with the other to completely disable it.
The cat was still.
Now look you little bottom feeding maggot ridden animal, you are going to do exactly what I tell you from now on. Youíve been on my territory and harassed my people, just like all the rest, but stupid little rodents like you usually donít warrant my attention. But you fuck with me now and you have no idea the things I can do to you. Do you understand me!
Mr. Daniels could feel the cat shivering in is grasp. He threw it into the dust and kicked it away from him, then left.
This was where things get complicated.
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