John woke up from a dream, he couldnʼt remember the dream, he just remembered he had a dream. He never could recall his dreams. He lay there for a short while, got up, went into the bathroom and used the toilet. He felt good again and he knew he didnʼt need his medicine again today. He opened the medicine cabinet and looked inside. He saw his medication and gave a little laugh. He didnʼt hear voices and he wasnʼt depressed, he wasnʼt like the other wackos at the doctors office. He had a doctors appointment in a few days, so he was going to have to start taking the stuff again, but today he was in control and didnʼt need it.
He showered and shaved. Then he looked into the mirror and said to himself “what face do I want to put on today?” He tried a few different looks and settled on what he felt was the perfect one. He dressed and went into the kitchen and made himself a bowl of cereal. While he sat there he started thinking about where he was going today. The face he wore determined what he was going to do. He was going on a field trip. He decided on the suburbs. They were always nice this time of year. He put his bowl in the sink, he would get to it later. Right now he had plans to make.
He went into the living room, grabbed his tool bag and sat back on the couch. He pulled out his map, opened it and looked at it for a long time. There were little red dots in lots of different places. He remembered each one of the dots. He said to himself “I havenʼt been out to Sundale yet.” He smiled to himself as he put the map back into the bag. He got up, walked over to the full length mirror hanging on the wall near the door.
He looked into it and stripped to his shorts. He flexed his muscles and liked what he saw. He was in great shape and was tougher and stronger than he looked.
He thought about what had happened two days ago. He had been at the martial arts studio. He had felt good for two days before that. He was using the heavy bag practicing kicks and body punches. Tim came to where he was and pushed him out of the way and started using the bag. John looked at him and politely said “excuse me I was using that.”
Tim looked at him and said “ Hey no belt, Iʼm a black belt, if you want a beating just keep on talking.”
John grabbed Timʼs arm just as he making a punch. Tim looked at John and said
“have you lost your mind fool?” as he shook Johnʼs hand off.
John said again very politely “I was using that bag. I would like to finish my workout.”
The instructor saw something was going on so he walked over. He stood there a moment with his hands on his hips, and asked “what is going on you two?”
Without taking his eyes off Tim, John said “I was using the bag, he came over and pushed me out of the way. All I want to do is finish my workout and then go home. He can use it as much as he wants then.”
The instructor looked at Tim and said “that seems reasonable to me, do you have a problem with that?”
Tim looked at the instructor and said “heʼs a no belt. I am a black belt, he should give way to his superiors” as he pointed to John.
The instructor raised his eyebrows in surprise. He looked at Tim and said “I have tried and tried to teach you the reason for martial arts. It is not to bully people. It is for self defense only and to help those who are not as strong as you. But I havenʼt been able to teach you that. Maybe it is time you learn your mouth can get you into big trouble.”
Tim looked at the instructor with a bit of surprise on his face. He didnʼt know what he was getting at. He thought the instructor was going to challenge him to a fight or something like that. While he was a black belt, he wasnʼt sure he could take the instructor and didnʼt want to find out.
The instructor looked at John and said “you up for this?”
John just smiled and nodded his head once.
Tim looked from the instructor to John and back then smiled in understanding.
The instructor called all of the students and put them in a circle. He looked each one in the eye and said “I donʼt teach martial arts so you can bully people. When you get the higher belts I expect a certain level of mental and physical restraint. What we have here is a man who earned his black belt a while ago. While he has the necessary physical skills he still hasnʼt learned the mental restraint that goes with those skills. I have tried to teach you to use your skills to help people not hurt. However Tim thinks that because he has a black belt everyone should bow to him, or at the very least they should get out of his way. Tonight a man refused to get out of his way. So there is going to be a demonstration tonight. Tim thinks because John doesnʼt have a belt he isnʼt worth respect. John believes even if he doesnʼt have a belt he deserves respect. There is only one way to settle this.”
John and Tim had taken opposite sides of the ring and stood waiting for the speech to end. John had calmed himself and had done all of the mental exercises he was taught, he was ready, and he was feeling good. Inside and out he was calm. He knew the adrenaline would only help once the fight started. He looked at Tim who was bouncing on the balls of his feet. John smiled at him, he knew he was in complete control.
The instructor stepped back to ring formed by the students. He looked at John and Tim, then said “OK go for it.”
Tim immediately attacked. He threw punches and kicks. John blocked some of them, ducked some of them, but some of them found their mark. John thought to himself,
“tomorrow Iʼm going to hurt, but tonight the adrenaline keeps me from feeling it.”
The students were cheering and booing. They were also shouting advice to both fighters. John kept sliding his feet, keeping at least one foot in contact with the mat at all times. He kept just out of Timʼs reach. Tim kept attacking and trying to move into strike range. After a few minutes Tim was breathing hard. He started missing more and more, he noticed his arms were getting heavy. He realized he was getting tired, and he had better end this soon. He renewed his attack and started throwing more punches and kicks. John watched all of this. This was going just the way he had planned. He knew Tim couldnʼt keep up this level of attack much longer, then it would be his turn. He kept moving back just at the edge of Timʼs of reach. He kept blocking and dodging the strikes.
Tim was having a hard time breathing, and his arms were getting so heavy. He decided to grab John and give himself some breathing space. He grabbed John in a bear hug, pinning both arms to his side. John reared his head back and head butted Tim right in the nose. Timʼs nose immediately spurted blood. Tim howled in pain and dropped John.
The students grew quiet looked at the instructor expecting him to stop the fight. The instructor looked at them and said, “if you are getting mugged and get a bloody nose, what are you going to do? Are you going to say, well I have a bloody nose we need to stop. No you keep on fighting. This is the same thing, you have to learn to fight through the pain.”
Once Tim let go, John went on the attack. He started throwing punches and kicks.
Unlike Timʼs attack, Johnʼs hit the mark more often than not. A few minutes later Timʼs eye was starting to swell shut and he had a fat lip.
Just as the instructor was getting ready to stop the fight John hit Tim hard and knocked him down.
The instructor went over to Tim and looked at him, “you OK,” he said as he got on one knee. Tim looked up at him and growled “Iʼm fine, I want to finish this!” and started to get to his feet.
The instructor gently pushed him back on the mat and told him to lay there for now.
Then he looked at the circle of students.
“Just because someone doesnʼt wear a certain color belt doesnʼt mean they areʼt deserving of your respect. John here doesnʼt wear a colored belt, but I dare say he could beat several of you at the same time. Let this serve as a lesson. You need to have the mental maturity as well as the psychical skill to move up into the higher belts.”
Then he looked at Tim and said “I hope you learned a lesson tonight. If you have then, come back. If you havenʼt find a new studio, I donʼt teach bullies.”
John stood in front of the mirror and saw the night as if it was happening again right in front of him. Just then a horn blared outside and shook him out of his revelry.
Johns eyes refocused on his image. He smiled and looked at the few bruises he had from the fight. “I may have a bruise or two, but Tim will not be able to see out of that eye for at least two more days. He has a fat lip and lots more pain.” As John talked to himself he gave a little laugh.
He shook his head then redressed, grabbed his tool bag, went out the door and down the street and caught the bus. As he rode toward Sundale he watched the sun come up and thought again what a beautiful day this was going to be.
When he got to Sundale he walked along and marveled at the clean sidewalks. The suburbs always had clean sidewalks. Where he lived the sidewalks were almost black they were so dirty. They had years of accumulated vomit, urine, spit, blood and gum on them. These sidewalks were so bright he thought they might blind him. He liked the burbs. The nice neat houses with their neat lawns and gardens. Everything seemed perfect, except he knew what happened when the husbands were away. The sluts who lived in those neat houses cheated on their husbands every day. He walked on muttering to himself. When he got to the corner he realized he was getting upset. He was shaking and when he talked spit flew out of his mouth. He felt good and when he felt good he was in control, but he was losing control. He stopped and got himself back under control.
Once he had himself back under control he walked on. He saw the school as soon as he came around the corner. He liked elementary schools. He like watching the kids going into the school. They were just at the age where they were getting their first taste of independence. When they first got to kindergarden, the moms would drop them off and they would run into the school. The older kids werenʼt to the age where they knew everything yet. They could still be taught, and he loved teaching them. He was proud that he was the one who taught some of them about how the world works.
He had watched kids before. He knew he had to keep moving. When he did that no one paid any attention. If he looked like just another working stiff, he could hang out and watch the parents drop off the innocents without raising any suspicions.
He moved on when school started. He walked around the neighborhood for some time.
Finally he came up to a park where there were several mothers with their children. He watched for a short while, then he caught sight of her. A perfect little girl. she had brown hair that came to just below her ears, he liked brown hair. She had on a cute pants and matching shirt set, and she had the cutest athletic shoes. they were brown soled with pink tops.
He watched her and her mother play for a long time. Finally the mother called to her and they left the park. As they walked down the street to their home the little girl would hold her mothers hand for awhile. Then she would see something like a flower or a bug that caught her interest and she would run off to investigate. John liked the little high laugh she had. He liked being around kids when they laughed, it made the world right.
John walked at a distance, so the little girl and her mother had no idea he was following them.
The little girl skipped and and did little spins. John could tell she was young enough to not have any worries or cares. As John walked behind them he swung his tool bag and whistled to himself.
When the mother and little girl turned up a driveway John kept walking past. He looked at the house. He said to himself, “yep, just the kind of house I suspected.” It was blue with white trim. There were low bushes lining the front of the house. There wasnʼt a sidewalk, just a driveway. He noticed the roses on the side of the house. He saw there was a fence around what appeared to be a back yard.
He walked two houses down and turned up the driveway. They didnʼt have a garage and there werenʼt any cars in the driveway. So he walked up to the gate and let himself in the back yard. He hopped the fence heading for the little girls house. He didnʼt want to hurry too much. He guessed the girl would take a nap before lunch. But before that she would have a snack. So he had time to kill before he payed his visit. As he jumped the second fence he was greeted by a large dog. He had moved so quickly and quietly he had surprised the sleeping dog. As the dog saw John drop down to the lawn he started barking and then charged John. John stood there and watched the dog charge him. He was in control, so he was calm. Just as the dog jumped for Johns chest he stepped out of the way. As the dog flew past John grabbed his tail. He used the dogs momentum and swung the animal into the fence. The dog made a little yelp and went limp. John looked at the unconscious dog and jumped the fence into the little girls yard.
He stole across the yard and peeked into the window. He was looking into a kitchen area. The slut was the only one he could see. “So much the better, it will make the lesson that much easier,” he thought to himself.
He moved out of sight of the window and opened his tool bag. He pulled out the paper painters overalls and the latex gloves. When he went on field trips he always made sure he had the right tools. He slipped into the overalls and gloves. He watched CSI so he knew what the police would be looking for. He was sure not to step into the dirt, that way they wouldnʼt have footprints to make plaster casts of. He smiled to himself, he was in control.
He grabbed his tool bag and moved up to the window again. He looked in and almost cried out. The slut was kissing some guy in the kitchen! Here she was, getting ready to do some guy in the kitchen while her husband worked hard to make money. John sat there for a minute longer feeling his rage growing.
“Iʼm really going to like giving this lesson,” he thought to himself.
He reached into his tool bog and got his lock pick. When he opened the door he was sure the slut and the man hadnʼt heard him. As he moved into the kitchen he grabbed his sap from his tool bag. What he saw almost made him gag! The slut was up against the counter with the guy leaning in and kissing her. At least they both had all of their clothes on. He wasnʼt sure he wouldnʼt have thrown up if they were naked.
The slut opened her eyes just in time to see him bring the sap down hard on the side of the guys head. She screamed as the man gave a little grunt and slid to the floor. John dropped his bag and grabbed her by the throat with his left hand. He pushed her up against the cabinet and squeezed. She struggled and grabbed his hand trying to pry his hand lose, but he was just too strong. He liked watching the faces of the sluts as they realized they were paying for their lifestyles. The sluts eyes bugged out. Her face turned a reddish purple, and she tried to gasp for breath.
John kept up the pressure until she stopped struggling. He pulled his had away and she slid to the floor. John knew she wasnʼt dead yet, just out due to lack of oxygen. He put his sap back in his tool bag, and pulled out his knife. He lovingly looked at the thin chrome blade. It was made for just this type of work. But before his knife could do its work he needed some items. He looked around and found the drawer the slut kept her dish towels in and pulled several out. Now, he was ready!
He felt for the mans pulse on the side of his neck. John coved the mans neck with two of the towels. Then John slid the blade into the artery pulsing under his fingers., blood immediately squirting out. John smiled, this was a trick he learned a long time ago.
When an artery is cut blood gets everywhere unless you cover it up. The first time he did this he was covered in blood. He had to take a shower before he could leave the house.
Then he moved to the slut. Her breathing was shallow and rapid, so she was still alive he observed. He repeated the process with the towel and knife. As he stuck the knife in her neck her eyes flew open. John immediately sat on top of her to keep her from moving. He wasnʼt worried, it would only take a few minutes before she was out for good.
After all movement stopped John got up and washed the knife in the sink. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” he said out loud to himself. Then he pulled off the coveralls and gloves. He put them in a plastic garbage bag he had pulled from his tool bag. He put a clean pair of gloves on. He had done this so many times it was second nature to him.
He was sure he wouldnʼt leave anything behind that would lead to him.
He looked at the pair on the floor. The blood had pooled around them in a large puddle, so he couldnʼt walk over to them and close their eyes. As he looked he noticed the sluts face showed surprise and fear. He hoped the look would freeze on her face forever. He wanted people to know what happens to women who bang other men while their husbands are away.
He walked through the living room toward the front door. As he walked through the room he looked around at the furniture and pictures. A picture on the bookshelf caught his attention. He walked over to look at it. When he got close enough he let out a little laugh and had a sheepish grin on his face. He noticed a man, woman and little girl in the picture. The man and woman were standing on either side of the little girl. John saw the man and woman were the ones in the kitchen.
“Oops. I guess she was just having a little daytime fun with her husband.” He said with a little laugh. Then getting serious he said “but she was probably screwing every guy she could. Thatʼs what sluts do.”
He picked up the phone and dialed 911 and left it off the hook. He knew the police would send someone by to check out the call. He left the front door open a little bit. That way the police would get suspicious and look around. He want them to find the people in the kitchen before the little girl did.
As he walked toward the bus stop he whistled a peppy little tune. He felt good about this field trip. The little girl would learn not to be a slut like her mommy, and the slut wouldnʼt be able to cheat on her husband anymore.
When he got home he grabbed his martial arts uniform and headed to the studio. He needed a good workout, and he had some classes to teach tonight. When he got to the studio he started working out. After a field trip he was at his best, also he had lots of extra energy to burn off. He looked around for Tim, if he came in John would give him lots of room. John wasnʼt interested in a fight, he was feeling good and didnʼt want anything to spoil the mood.
When the studio closed he went home. “Now I have other appetites to satisfy,” he said to himself as he took his shower. After his field trips he like to find his girlfriend, Candie, and spend the evening with her. She was the only one who could satisfy the feelings he had right now. As he was drying off after his shower, he looked at his medication again.
He looked in the mirror and said, “I feel good. I went on a field trip today, I have put the other face away and donʼt need to get another one. I”m going to see Candie, so I donʼt need those tonight. Maybe tomorrow.”
He went to his closet and found the best jeans and shirt he had and went out. He went to the spot Candie usually hung out and it didnʼt take long before he spotted her getting out of a car. He went to her, and since he was her favorite they went right to her room.
As John lay there in the after glow of one of the greatest days he had ever had he thought, “OK this is the day. Iʼm going to ask her to marry me.”
As Candie lay on her side facing away from him, he asked her, “donʼt you have to get back to work?”
“When Iʼm with you I can take the night off. Now go to sleep, Iʼm tired.”
“I just want to help you with the rent and stuff like you said. I want to ask you something. do you love me?
Candie sighed and barely awake answered, “of course I love you.”
John gathered up his courage and asked, “then will you marry me?”
When Candie answered her voice was just a whisper, but you could still hear the irritation in it, “yea, whatever. Now would you just go to sleep.”
Johns heart swelled! The woman he loved with all of his heart, and who loved him with all of her heart was going to marry him!
He lay in the semi dark thinking of all the things that needed to be done. First he had to get a ring. He knew a pawnshop he could get the ring from, so that was one thing done.
As he was going over the details for their wedding he drifted off to sleep.
He awoke early as usual and left the room very quietly, he didnʼt want to wake Candie.
She worked nights in customer service and needed her sleep. He went home and got his money. He looked at the medications again and decided he didnʼt need them. He wasnʼt hearing voices or seeing things, so he wasnʼt crazy. Anyway the stuff made him tired, and he didnʼt like feeling that way. After the field trip and the night with Candie he felt he was on top of the world.
He went to the pawnshop and talked to the owner. The owner was very helpful and they settled on a small diamond for a price he could afford. Afterward he went to the studio and worked out a bit. Tim showed up but kept his distance. John was thankful for that, he didnʼt want trouble with Tim tonight. He thought to himself, “Iʼm going to have to do something about Tim someday. Maybe a field trip.” He only stayed about two hours and had someone else teach his class.
He went home, took a shower and went to look for Candie. When he couldnʼt find her he found her friend Tiffany.
“Hey where can I find Candie?”
Tiffany looked at him with a mixture of surprise and sadness.
“Sweetie, donʼt you know?”
“Donʼt I know what?” John said
“Mr. Delemorte called for her today. No one has seen her since. You didnʼt hear this from me. Mr. Delemorte likes it rough and I think he got too rough and killed her. But like I said, you didnʼt hear that from me. Understand?”
John stood there stunned. He couldnʼt believe what Tiffany had just said. His brain heard the words, but just couldnʼt process them.
“Hey, did you just hear what I said? I said you canʼt tell anyone what I just said.”
Tiffany looked at him with a worried expression on her face.
John got control of himself. He stood there another minute and gathered his thoughts.
Then he looked at Tiffany with a face devoid of emotion and said, “I heard you. Donʼt worry, I wonʼt tell anyone.”
Tiffany tried to light a cigarette, but her hands were shaking too much.
“Thanks. I know you felt something for Candie, I”m sorry to be the one to tell you.”
John knew what he had to do. This thought came as clear as when he got them for his field trips. This was the woman he loved. The woman who would have his children.
They were going to move out of this area of the city. They would find somewhere nice.
With his disability pay and the money she made from her customer service job, they could make it.
He started walking home. He knew who Delemorte was. He was a dirtbag drug dealer.
First thing he had to do was go home and put on the correct face. Then he had to find Jingles. Jingles was Candies manager. He carried Susan B. Anthony dollars in his pockets for the kids, so he jingled all the time.
John opened the door to his apartment. Whenever he walked in he felt safe. This was his sanctuary. Whenever he was inside he could be himself, he didnʼt need to put on a face.
He never felt more in control than he did now. He looked in the mirror and decided on the face he was going to put on. He had a plan and this face was just the right one.
He grabbed his tool bag and walked out to the street where he thought he would find Jingles. He figured Jingles could lead him or show him where Delemorte was.
He asked a few of Jingles employees where he could be found. One girl told him she thought he was at the coffee shop down the street.
He walked on the opposite side of the street from the coffee shop. The street lights had been knocked out by the drug dealers so the whole street was in shadows. He melted into a doorway across from the coffee shop and looked in the big front window.
He saw Jingles sitting with Delemorte in a booth near the back. Between the front door and Delemorte were two rough looking thugs. John knew these must be Delemorteʼs bodyguards.
He gripped his tool bag tightly and walked across the street. He opened the door and walked in. As soon as he cleared the door he dropped his tool bag on a table. He continued to walk toward Jingles and Delemorte.
As he got closer he said in a loud tone, “Jingles, can you help me out? Iʼm a little short and need a job.”
The two bodyguards got up from the table and started to block his way. One pulled his gun out.
John was ready for them. He had been practicing martial arts for 20 years. He just shut down the thought section of his brain and reacted.
He grabbed the gun with his left hand and twisted it up. With his right elbow he hit the guy under the chin. The thug stumbled back and fell. John brought his foot down hard on the second guys knee. There was an audible crack as the leg broke. John grabbed the guy on the back of the head by the hair. As the guy started to fall John brought his head down hard on the table. The thug fell unconscious and rolled onto the floor.
The first guy had recovered and started to swing at John. John blocked the swing and brought his knee up to the thugs groin. The thug let out a little “oof” and fell to his knees.
John kicked him on the side of the head. He fell over unconscious still grabbing his groin. The whole fight had taken no more than 10 seconds.
Delemorte started to pull his gun but Jingles stopped him. “Heʼs one of Candies customers, and he does some courier work for me once in a while. So heʼs cool, just a bit nuts.”
John stood and looked at the two men and said, “Jingles you got anything for me?”
Delemorte looked at John and said, “you just walked through two of my best. And you did it without a gun.”
John gave a sheepish grin, looked at the two on the floor then back at Delemorte and said, “hey, Iʼm sorry. I didnʼt know they were yours. They just jumped up with a gun and I reacted.”
“Thatʼs alright. If they couldnʼt protect me what good are they? You said you are looking for a job? How about being my bodyguard?”
John walked over to one of the thugs picked up his gun and shoved it in his belt. Then he walked toward his tool bag and said over his shoulder, “let me get my bag first. Yes I would like to work for you. And donʼt worry, Iʼll take care of you.”