Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shades of Grey

Everything's still a little hazy, nothing like Hollywood's stuntsmen had taught me. Oh sure, the adrenaline's still pumping and my vision's sharpened - but my knuckles hurt like a bitch. I massage them bitterly, lifting my right hand to my mouth and sucking at the open wounds. It stings, but somehow feels better. The bitter metallic taste makes me gag a little.

We're standing in the corner of the alley, near the dumpster, and though I can remember the pungent reek of rotten eggs and off-milk from before - I can't smell it anymore. Matt and Frank are shuffling from foot to foot in the cold. With these temperatures, we had expected it to snow by now, but I guess Mother Nature's getting old and behind with the times. Three cops are standing in the opposite corner, talking to the pub owner; Ian. He's a small man, but he's got a big heart, often donating much of the pub's revenue to charity. Swell guy, he doesn't run it for the money. All of a sudden, one of the cops breaks off from his comrades and strides over. Jesus, I think, the guy probably has "anabolic" tattooed on his arm. He stops, puts his gigantic hands on his hips and looks down at us.

"Well, gentlemen?"


We pause for a second, looking at each other, unsure of how to proceed. The cop sighs and reaching for his back pocket, pulls out a pen and pad. He flips a few pages back and recites:

"One Mr. Taggert," he says confidently, looking back to us, "is currently in hospital with a concussion. Unfortunately, in his state, he could not answer many of our questions. The most important being, 'who hit him.'" He tucks the notebook back in its place and crosses the massive pythons across his chest. "Now, boys. I trust I don't need to explain the seriousness of the situation?"

We shake our heads unanimously.

"Good." He nods in approval. "Now, I'll still be needing an answer to that question."

Matt blinks a few times, totally flipping out in his mind. He's never been confronted by a cop before, and this arrogant dick isn't making it any easier for him. I guess that's his job though, I think to myself. I don't need to look at Frank to see the sweat breaking out on his forehead. Even in this cold. He's got a damn hot temper, but he's a solid friend. Always at your back, fiercely loyal and damn honest. I can see his breathing grow shallower as his asthma kicks in. Go figure, a fighter with asthma. Breathing problems aside however, Franky's biggest problem is his record. I shudder to think of how many times he's been involved in 'public disturbances' - almost always standing up for the proverbial 'little guy', in fights he has no business interrupting. But he does it anyway, any day, come rain or shine. He can't take another legal-hit.

Frank may be sweating, but he sure as hell doesn't flinch. I hear him suck in a deep breath, but I take advantage of how long it takes him to get started.

"Officer, It wa-" he starts

"-me." I finish.

So cliche. Everyone looks to me. Matt looks up from his frozen feet. Frank's eyes shoot to me, completely taken aback. Even the cop raises his eyebrows. Yeah, alright, I don't make the most convincing fighter - I'm a 5'10'', lanky computer-engineer that can't hold liquor to save his life. But it's not as if I couldn't hit anyone? My poor, split-knuckles sting more than ever. I should probably see a doctor, I think to myself.
In all honesty, I had started the fight - trying to take a leaf out of Franky's book and help the poor girl that Taggert had his hands all over. Ended up using his jaw to break my fist. If my friend hadn't come to my rescue, I'd probably be the one in the ER.

Franky's still flabbergasted, but I can see the gratitude in his eyes. The cop looks to me, obviously not the brightest, and asks: "Name?". I give it, "Richard McLeod". No flinching. Just like Franky.


This world isn't painted black and white, absolutists can spout and spew all they want. Yes, there is good and evil, vitue and sin (not in the biblical, staunch sense of the word),  but everything is made up of a combination of the two. And unfortunately, balance isn't something that comes to humanity naturally, so there tends to be more of one than the other at any one time. It gets a little trickier when you think about morality. It makes me wonder whether obvious evils like lying and killing are really so obvious... so pitch black. Richard lied - but he didn't do it selfishly. Does that justify his sin?

Yeah, sins like these are inherently evil, but I say again - this world isn't painted black and white. You'll have unfair run-ins with such moral paradoxes throughout life and the real answer won't be so obvious. I guess my point is: to fight the shades of grey, you need to choose the right combination of both.

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