With an iron fist
“It’s perfectly safe you know.”
I looked at my sister, trying to remember what the conversation was about. We were having lunch at a corner diner, the same one we had made a habit of visiting for six years now. Perhaps the only family tradition we kept, and were somehow fond of. Lisa always had a chicken cordon bleu, and I, a turkey pest ciabatta sandwich. The food tasted good, but the coffee was too bleak for my taste. I still drank it, taking it in small sips. I didn’t want to rebel against what we’ve build and adopted as a happy time.
Lisa slipped two spoons of sugar in her steaming cup.
“Shaun? Are you even listening to me?”
“So what do you think, cool or not?”
Ah, water skiing with her friends next month, that’s right.
“I think cool. I trust you’ll take care of yourself.”
She raised an eyebrow and sat back.
“What like no witty retort from you? You feeling okay big bro?”
“I’m fine. And yes no witty retort this time. Water skiing seems fun and you look like you need some. I’m happy you’re still consulting with me.”
She looked outside the window and fell silent for a few.
“After mom and dad I feel like I can’t let completely let go. I want to live and be brave and have fun, but sometimes this idea nests in my head, that I might die and leave you alone, or that you might die while I’m away and I’ll get that phone call…”
I reached my hand over the table and covered her gentle wrist, caressing, soothing, reassuring.
“I’m not going anywhere. You are not going anywhere. We stick together, take care of each other. But we also gotta live Lizzy. We’re not dead. You needn’t worry.”
She smirked and pulled her hand off mine, uncomfortably grabbing the cup of coffee instead.
I joined her silence and we ate, the diner becoming audible with its clacking of dishes and lively lunch chit-chat.
My eyes caught a fast-moving shadow outside. I lifted my gaze and traced the figure of a hooded man rushing outside our window. It happened in a split second. He neared a young woman and grabbed her purse, viciously pulling it away from her hands. He turned to run, but she was too fast, she was prepared and tripped him over. He fell flat on his face. The customers jumped on their feet watching the scenario unfolding. So did I and Lisa.
The young woman knelt, took her purse and slowly pulled out a Glock. We watched as she fired three rounds in the thief’s head. She hid her gun back in the purse, zipped it and continued on her way. I had never seen such a steel gaze as hers.
People in the diner screamed then covered their mouths, shaking heads in disbelief, and outside people gathered over the body, watching hypnotized as the pool of blood spreads.
Lisa looked at me searching for the reassurance I gave her just before. How was I supposed to say the truth when the world becomes like this? How was I to promise her nothing will happen, no one will get hurt and bleed…Maybe it was time I go out on the streets again. Maybe the days of my hiding were over. An example was needed, an image to speak of safety and hope. For the ordinary people who had taken the fight in their hands and dug their nails in dirt, and for Lisa who needed to believe that she can live.