Monday, September 26, 2005


At age 32 Alex found himself single, independently wealthy, wanting nothing, bored, and lonely. And, like other young men in his particular predicament, he decided to find a hobby. However, instead of turning to drinking, drugs, or womanizing, he decided to pick up crime-fighting as his pass-time.

Naming himself Paladin and dressing in several shades of dark blue, Alex hit the streets at night, looking to right wrongs and defend the defenseless. Masked and covered in body armor, Alex felt invincible.

He spent his first few nights riding his motorcycle, listening to the garbled police blotter through his headphones, arriving at crimes already stopped, and generally looking ridiculous.

He decided to ditch the bike and creep to and fro in the shadows of alleys and rooftops in what was considered by most to be "the worst part of town." This is when things got exciting for him.

Alex peered out from the alley between The Busty Boutique and Garvey's Liquor and Tobacco. Even at three in the morning there was still much activity in the street. He'd been jumping from rooftop to rooftop and sneaking about for hours without seeing so much as a mugging. He needed a break.

He casually walked deep into the recesses of the alley, where shadow and the odd scent of decaying garbage concealed him. He removed his gloves, gauntlets, spandex shirt, and elbow and shoulder pads. He undid his flak jacket and threw it into the pile. His body was dripping with sweat. I'll have to bring some water next time, he thought. He removed his mask and ran his hands through his wet hair, sitting down on a stack of several old tires. He sighed and reflected on the practicality of his new-found hobby.

Behind him, a side door to Garvey's Liquor flew open. Alex stood up and spun around to see a scared middle-aged man being pushed through the doorway. "Get on your knees, chink!" said a skinny man in a hooded sweatshirt behind him. Alex watched as the man he assumed was the store clerk slowly bent down, hands behind his head. The hooded man pointed a pistol at the back of the clerk's head. Alex's heart raced. He knew what he had to do, but could he?

The man with the gun leaned down to talk into the clerks ear. "I'm only gonna ask you one more Goddamned time! What's the combination to the safe?" The clerk replied that he didn't know between sobs. "Wrong answer, chink." The man cocked the gun.

Alex took a step forward and shouted, "Stop!" It was just like out of a movie. Alex stood bare-chested barely visible in the scant light cast from the open door, his face still concealed. The clerk's assailant looked up and made an exclamation of confusion. There was a moment of silence. Alex began, "I'm Paladin, defender of light, and you, sir, are committing...." The man with the gun turned it on Alex and pulled the trigger three times quickly. Alex stood for a moment, then crumpled to the ground.

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