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Sometimes Its Better To Do Nothing

by Steven Collins

John Grove watched the man kill the woman, and felt nothing. He made no attempt to stop him but not because he feared for his life or had anything against the woman. In fact, he had never seen either of them until the day of the murder. He watched the woman sit on the small bench across from him, place her small black purse down beside her, and start reading the paper. John guessed her to be at least fifty, but not because of the way she looked. Her hair reached to her shoulders and was a dark brown that was just beginning to show hints of grey. Her face knew few signs of age, which made her somewhat beautiful for an older woman. She wore clothes that would have looked just as good on someone younger. Looking at her, John saw no reason to think her any older than thirty nine or maybe forty, but he could not shake the feeling that his first guess would have been much closer to the truth.

The murderer was a much younger man than she. In the old days one would probably have called him a hoodlum or a punk, but John could not place a title to him because he shown no signs of being either. He was dressed no different than John had seen a million young men dressed around town, neither distinguished nor ragged. He had light blond hair that hung into his blue eyes. His face was long and horse-like in nature. His body was thin, tall, lanky, and he walked hunched trying to hide his height. When John saw him first, he thought he would pass by as others had, paying no attention to the woman, but was surprised when the man sat next to her and stretched his arms across the back of the wooden bench, one arm disappearing behind her.

For a moment they sat in this position. His head looking side to side, while hers darted up more and more from her paper, trying to see if the man would somehow get the hint to leave. Then John watched as the man leaned over and whispered in her ear. Her eyes grew wide as he smiled showing a row of crooked brown teeth. She folded her paper, grabbed her purse, and started to rise. He seized her arm and pulled her back down, tightening his grip as she returned to the bench.

The man leaned over and whispered once again in her ear and her left hand pulled her purse in front of her. The man looked at it with question and then slapped it to the ground. Another whisper escaped into her ear. Her lips started to quiver and fear appeared in her eyes, which now only looked in front of her at nothing in particular. John could imagine the thoughts running through her mind. She could scream and hope for help. She could comply and hope to live. She could fight and hope to win. None of these options seemed right, but one would have to do.

The man whispered something else in her ear and her face changed. John knew which she had chosen and wondered if it was the right one. Her left hand clenched into a claw and struck the man’s face. Blood poured from four fresh wounds below his eye. Another stroke caught the hand that held her and he released her, grabbing his wounded wrist. She saw her opportunity and began to run but her movements were not fast enough.

The man recovered and pulled a knife from his jeans pocket. With one quick motion, the steel blade appeared from the handle along with a look of pure hatred on his face. His hand reached out and caught her arm once again. This time he pulled her violently towards him, the blade disappearing into the folds of her clothing. He pushed the blade farther in, her eyes widening with pain, her mouth open to scream but no sound coming out. He pulled her in close and placed his face against hers looking into her eyes. And then he let go.

Her body fell, her arms and legs crawling at the ground still trying to escape. He stood over her, the bloody knife still in hand. He made no movement, his eyes showed no emotion as he watched. He glanced up only once, looking around to see if anybody had seen his deed, and then back down at her. He watched until she lie still, her eyes fixed, and her breath gone. He then reached over and picked up the discarded purse, looked at it, then at her, and left. He shuffled away, blending in with the background, a man taking a stroll for the day.

John watched it all happen, each second an hour, each hour an eternity. He watched it as he had watched thousands of television shows; only this one was not hidden behind a glass screen. He thought of all the great plays he had seen; Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, yet none came close to what he had just witnessed. The reality had dwarfed the fantasy.

He sat looking at the woman for a long time before getting up and leaving. He could have stayed and waited for the woman to appear, as they always did, but he didn’t want her to see him. She would have questions and he didn’t feel like answering them, not that he had any answers to give her. She would have to do like he had done years before and learn on her own. And she would learn the first thing he had: the dead keep to themselves.

Copyright Steven Collins 2007

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