Bad Guys

Bad Guys

It’s a dangerous world. For example:

I went to the Subway on Pineridge. It was just before noon. Everything seemed normal. I ordered my sandwich and left.

That night, I watched the news. There was a story about a kidnapping, and then there was a story about a drug bust.

And then, suddenly, there it was—the Subway on Pineridge. The restaurant was surrounded by police cars. Sirens were flashing.

A madman had come into the store. He had a gun. He threatened the employees and fled before the police arrived.  

The madman had come at noon. If I had been a few minutes later, I would have been there. He would have waved his gun at me.

This sort of thing happens all the time. There are bad guys out there. It’s a dangerous world. You have to be prepared.

***

Some people don’t understand.

It was about a week after the Subway incident. I was very hungry. I wanted beef and guacamole and sour cream. So I put on my hat and my holster, and I drove to the Chipotle on Oakridge.

The restaurant was empty. It was only 10:30. I stepped up to the counter. “A burrito,” I said.

The woman looked at me. I repeated myself.

She pointed to my holster. I never wore it under my clothes. I needed to be ready.

“You can’t have that here,” she said.

“Yes,” I said. “I can. It’s my right.”

“This is a restaurant.”

“It’s my right. I’m allowed to protect myself.” I told her what had happened in the Subway on Pineridge. “The
police haven’t caught him,” I said. “It’s a dangerous world. There are bad guys out there. You have to be prepared.”

She wouldn’t listen. I kept trying to explain. She told me not to shout.

“When I shout,” I said, “you’ll know.”

The manager came out. He told me I had to leave. I explained the situation. He wouldn’t listen either. “You have to stop shouting,” he said. “You have to leave.”

I went to my car. I sat there for a long time. 

I looked through my windshield and into the restaurant. My vision started to shimmer. There was something wet in my eye.

All I wanted was to eat a burrito in safety. They had no right to make me feel that way. I was a good guy.

I watched the woman stir the metal tubs of food. My mouth ached for beef and guacamole and sour cream. I hit the steering wheel very hard. The horn screamed, and my hand stung. The manager pressed his face to the window of the store.

I was sure he was laughing.

My tires left long burns on the pavement.

I drove to the Chipotle by the interstate. I opened my trunk, found a jacket, and tied it around my waist.

I looked at my reflection in the window. The holster was hidden. I looked stupid. I was a coward.

I went into the restaurant and ordered two burritos with extra sour cream.

It’s a dangerous world—and a stupid one too.

***

That night, I watched the news. There was a story about a murder, and then there was a story about a hit-and-run.

And then, suddenly, there it was—the Chipotle on Oakridge.

Before lunch, a madman had come into the store. He had a gun. He threatened the employees and fled before the police arrived.  

Another one. I wasn’t surprised. This sort of thing happens all the time.

The manager appeared on the screen. “We were terrified,” he said.

I was very happy. He had kicked me out. He had laughed. He deserved it.

He kept talking. He described his fear. He said he had a family—two sons and a daughter. He started to cry.

My heart hurt. That was normal—especially after two burritos with extra sour cream. But my heart hurt in another way too—a new way. I saw the manager’s tears, and my heart broke.

I wanted to reach through the screen and pat his shoulder. I wanted to take him in my arms and hold him close. I wanted to whisper into his ear. “Don’t worry,” I’d say. “Yes, it’s a dangerous world. Yes, there are bad guys are out there. But don’t fear. There are good guys out there too.”

BEFORE THE RAZOR button ver 2

razor iconRyan Napier was born in Plant City, Florida. He has degrees from Stetson University and Yale Divinity School. His work has appeared most recently in the Pacifica Literary Review, Lowestoft Chronicle, and Per Contra. He lives in Massachusetts.

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