Friday, 12 April 2019

Retribution

There was a hint of dawn in the sky. Tom should have been stiff from hours of sitting, or bored from watching the empty sidewalk in the side-mirror of his van, but he wasn't. He'd thought about this moment for seventeen-years. He'd planned it, dreamt of it, obsessed of it and today it was going to happen.

He stretched his fingers inside the black leather driving gloves, making sure they would not slip when the time came. A folding sunscreen filled the windscreen, hiding him from the front and tinted side windows made him basically invisible inside the cab of the van. He was content to wait, that's what prison had given him. Time to be patient.

A flash of movement in the wing-mirror attracted his attention. Tom knew it was the Judge by the way he moved. He half-jogged, half wobbled down the street. His extended gut swinging around inside an expensive Lycra exercise suit. Even though the day had still to begin he was wearing sunglasses, because in the Judge's opinion, important people should see, not be seen. As the Judge neared, Tom could see the last seventeen-years had aged the man who had taken his life apart, but that would buy him no sympathy. It was too little too late.

Tom rested his hand on the door-handle and waited. The Judge slowly closed in on the van, his head thrown back, looking down on the world as he passed. Three strides away, two, one...Tom threw the van door open nearly knocking the man into a hedge.

"Hay! Watch what you're doing, idiot!" the Judge yelled before properly looking at Tom, and when he did the shock showed in his face even though Tom couldn't see the man's eyes. He tried to get past the door but there wasn't enough room.

"What do you want?" the Judge cried, shrinking back from the man in the mask who was closing in on him.

"Justice," said Tom, quietly then rammed the tazer into the man’s chest and pulled the trigger.
***
Tom didn't know how long it would take the Judge to come around. He had poured a vial of Rohypnol into the man's mouth after he went down on the pavement, and at least some of it went in. It made transporting the Judge easy and quiet. Now he waited and watched the man move fitfully on the hard-concrete floor.

It was evening when the man finally sat up and rubbed his face, trying to get his brain to clear. Tom sat across from him, the warehouse was vast and bare. The Judge wasn't tied or gagged, but he was as caged as Tom had ever been. Slowly, the Judge started putting things together. Tom stood and moved to a spot where the Judge could see him.

"What have you done to me?" he asked, his voice slurred like a drunk.

"The same thing you did to me, taken away your freedom," Tom said, the mask he was wearing reflecting some of his words back at him making his voice sound...different.

"What do you mean?" asked the Judge, his mind still battling the drugs.

"You locked me up, now I've done the same to you."

"No way I'm staying here," the Judge said struggling to his feet. His fat-packed thighs were ridged from lying on the rough concrete floor. The Judge staggered toward the door and Tom did nothing to stop him. He simply waited. 

After ten minutes of pointless tugging, the Judge gave up trying to force the door and began searching for another way out. Tom knew he was wasting his time. The windows were twelve feet up the wall and there was only one door. Eventually the Judge returned to where Tom stood, some of his superior attitude starting to return.

"What is your name? Do you know how much trouble you're in?" Tom didn't dignify either question with a reply.

"I haven't seen your face, it’s not too late to let me go and walk away from all this."

"You took seventeen years of my life! How can I just forget that?"

"I was only doing my Job, if every..."

"NO! If you'd been doing your job, you would have seen that the case against me was bullshit! All you saw was a black man, a poor black man, which I am, but I'm also an innocent black man!"

"So, you came for revenge?"

"Exactly."

"If you're going to kill me, why didn't you do it back on the street. Why bring me here?" asked the Judge and Tom wondered if he was trying to logic his way into a better place than he stood?

"I'm not going to kill you," Tom said, and in his head the words sounded more than generous. 

"So why?"

Tom strode up and down before the Judge, enjoying having the power he'd been denied for so long. "Did you know that the first prisons came into existence in Babylon? Before that, justice was extracted through...retribution. An eye for an eye, a life for a life. You took my freedom, now I want yours."

"You can't leave me locked in here!"

"I can, and I will," said Tom. "But I'm not as cruel as you. Firstly, you have your own cell, and one much bigger than the one I had to call home. And second, I've left you a way out." Tom pointed at a manhole cover, slightly ajar.

"Down there?" he asked incredulously.

"It's another thing I learnt during my forced stay inside. During Roman times, prisoners were kept under the city, in the sewers. So, you've a choice. You can stay in here, with no food, no water. I think you might last two weeks, or even a month. It's up to you, but I'll tell you this, a minute down there is going to feel like a year," Tom said pointing at the manhole.

With nothing else to say, Tom walked to the door and unlocked the padlock. He heard the Judge rushing toward him. He swivelled and drew his tazer. 

"Back!" he said, stopping the Judge a few feet away. With the weapon trained on the Judge's chest, he unhooked the lock and opened the sliding door just enough to step outside. With one swift movement the door clanged shut. The Judge hammered the inside of the door, crying for release, but Tom knew he wouldn't be heard. There was nobody to hear him. The only thing that came through here was thousands of tonnes of human waste from the city in the background.

Tom opened the back of the van and threw his mask, gloves and black jacket inside. He removed the false plates and tossed them in. They clanged off the portable welder as they vanished. Tom looked at the line of manhole lids stretching away into the distance. Each one welded shut. That fat human turd was going where he belonged, The Judge might make it out, he might not, either would be fine by Tom because he had his retribution at last. 

2 comments:

Petra Smit said...

Loved the story. Thank you.

Squid McFinnigan said...

Thank you so much, Petra, it's so good of you to drop by for a read and for saying Hi.