A Random Evening (Jason’s short Story)

The time is thirty minutes past four in the afternoon. Not an ounce of quiet can be found in these bustling streets. Heading north on Main street, vehicles begin to align bumper to bumper. On one side of Main street, heading south, the public bus stops to drop off and pick up a handful of passengers.  On that same exact side of the street, a mob of teenagers on their bicycles are gunning down the sidewalk while trying to outmaneuver through a dense crowd of bystanders. In the process, the teenagers arouse within a few bystanders a feeling of frustration. Parallel to that street, its sidewalk portrays the same traits. Crowded and busy. Some are walking in and out of stores, while others are making haste to get to their next destination. Suddenly, the sound of a siren echoes down Main street alerting everyone in the process. It’s faint at first but with every passing second, the siren elevates in volume. As the drivers begin to maneuver to the side of the road, another vehicle unexpectedly zooms down North of main street. Unable to slow down due to traffic, the driver crashes into another vehicle causing a catastrophic chain of reaction. Everyone panics! The perpetrator immediately exits his car and runs off like a madman. He takes off pushing every pedestrian in his path without a care in the world. Meanwhile, the siren finally rings in its full glory revealing a decked out police car. Realizing the mess the perpetrator had left behind, the officer rapidly exits his vehicle in pursuit of his target. A few feet ahead, the perpetrator resumes his rampage to escape, shoving an innocent woman in the company of her child. Completely and utterly unprepared for such a violent interaction, the woman’s body ragdolls in the concrete wall while unintentionally smashing her head in. The crowd screams! The child begins to cry and the perpetrator once again escapes. A few seconds later, the officer runs by the victim. He gently injects her and presses a button on his utility belt. 

“Medic. Code 098. Temporary aid needed at my pinged location. Victim – Woman, brown hair, light green eyes. Age – early forties, bleeding on the right side of her head.” shouts the officer through the comm attached to his hand. 

Then, he urges the witnesses to keep the victim company while the medics arrive. The officer then resumes his chase. Standing at the entrance of his Dojo, Jason drops both of his grocery bags on the ground and urgently takes off after the maniac responsible for committing such a monstrous act. On the way, he stops to check on the injured woman and her child. He puts his best foot forward and tries to console the child to the best of his ability. In the spur of a moment, a drone arrives at the scene. 

“Scanning pinged victim.” announces the drone in a very pleasant programmed voice.“Pinged victim identify. Administering temporary med-aid.” says the drone.

Witnessing the drone administer medical aid to the injured woman, Jason feels a bit indecisive. He’s unsure whether he should remain at the side of the victim and her child or chase after the person responsible. After all, is it ethical to place the life of an injured woman at the hand of a mechanical drone or to allow such a maniac to run amok without restraint? In a crouched position, Jason looks to his right, then to his left. He grabs the nearest person and instructs them to look after the child. He stands up and instantly accelerates North. He runs block after block. Those rigorous training exercises and experiments he was put through at A.R.C were paying off. Being in the best shape any man would dream of, he sprints. Following a brief minute, he finally catches up to the officer. Jason slowly looks over his shoulder and notices the sweat and fatigue painted all over the officer’s face. “Poor old man.” thinks Jason. Not wasting another second, he overtakes the officer in pursuit of the perpetrator. After multiple turns and weaves, Jason begins to feel just sick and tired of this maniac’s destructive behavior. He notices the perpetrator forcefully yank a man away from his car illegally parked on the side of the road. He gets in and sinks his foot on the gas pedal. Unaware of incoming traffic behind him, he lags to close the driver’s door and gets it wrenched off by an incoming truck. Not a bit unnerved by the incident, he drives further North and then takes a left turn. Aware of all the streets and intersections in the area, Jason decides to cut this chase short. “He’ll hit traffic in less than a minute. The road he turned into is a one way street. He’ll have no choice but to head upI have to catch him before he crashes into any more people.” says Jason. Resuming his chase, he zooms North to intercept the maniac. Just as he planned, a few miles north of the one way street, traffic was indeed in session. Horns are blowing non stop. Jason analyzes the area and notices one horn blowing particularly irregularly. He pinpoints the vehicle and in a stealthy manner chases after it. Finally at the end of his mission, he slowly and quietly creeps up on the perpetrator. Completely caught off guard, the perpetrator is ambushed. Jason knocks him out cold and removes him from the vehicle. He carries him away from the street to the sidewalk. With the perpetrator tied to a lamp pole, Jason quietly remains seated next to him as he patiently waits. A minute goes by and no one shows up. Two minutes, not a soul in sight. Three minutes, all you can see is a collection of vehicles stuck in traffic with drivers trying their best to stay sane through this ruckus. Suddenly, sirens break loose. “About time they showed up.” Jason expresses out loud. 

“Wake up!” says Jason while showering the perpetrator with a few slaps to the face. 

The perpetrator wakes up to find both his hands burdened by a rubber cable. 

“Who the hell are you?” asks the perpetrator.

“The face you never want to see again.” answers Jason in a cold tone. 

“What the fuck!” yells the perpetrator. “I have rights. You ain’t no cop!” further adds the perpetrator.

“You had rights.” replies Jason.

“Man, if you don’t…..” exclaims the perpetrator, but Jason wouldn’t let him finish.

“Shut your damm mouth!” expresses Jason. “You hurt a lot of good people today. Shut your mouth!”

Ensuing a few moments, a few police vehicles arrive at the scene. The officer Jason overtook earlier steps up to the curb. Completely out of breath and drenched in sweat, he states in an animated tone : “Boy, you didn’t break a sweat. You must be a track star kid. Oh I’m sure of it, you definitely are a track star.”

“What’s a track star?” confusingly asks Jason.

Baffled by Jason’s comment, the officer looks at Jason, laughs and rhetorically asks: “What’s a track star? Are you not from planet earth kid?”

“You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you where I was from.” answers Jason.

“Try me!” says the officer.

Amazed at the officer’s curiosity, Jason springs forth a light smile.

“C’mon, try me!” insists the officer.

“Not today sir. Not today. How’s the woman doing?” asks Jason. 

“She’ll be fine. She’s on her way to the hospital. Thank God for those drones uuh. As you can tell, I’m an old fashion guy. Technology isn’t my thing. But I gotta admit, those drones are God sent. Now we can be in multiple places at one. It’s a goddamn miracle some genius invented those things. ” explains the officer.

Not wanting to prolong the interaction any further, Jason decides to walk away leaving the rest of the work to the police officers on site. 

“We could use a man like you on the force!” proposes the officer to Jason as he carries away the perpetrator.

“I’VE SEEN YOUR FACE!” yells the perpetrator as he’s forcefully being put inside the police car.

“Shut the hell up and get in!” says the officer to the perpetrator.

Jason ignores it all and doesn’t reply. He continues walking down the busy and crowded street. With his back turned away from the scene, he waves his right hand at the officer. 

“See ya around kid.” states the officer.

The unforeseen and continuous rippling effect of a character molded in 1951

For so long, I’ve deeply pondered over the differences between a rebel and an anarchist. Without the aid of literature or wiki, I wanted to come to my own conclusion by just analyzing the events unfolding in today’s society. Foolish you might say. What you might not realize is, sometimes, it pays to be calm in the mind and let it figure things without the influence of another. Only then can you claim that your conclusion was the product of your own understanding. Unfortunately, I never got to that conclusion and was compelled to search through google for the differences after recently watching the controversial and critically acclaimed film – Joker.

This is going to be a lengthy piece, so strap yourselves in and enjoy the read.

Prior to my trip to watch one of DC’s most iconic villain in his debut origin film, I constantly browsed the internet for articles pertaining to the Joker. After endless clicks, a few articles caught my attention. Why? Because they all shared the same exact theme – “Joker the movie should not be screened to the public due to the fear that it might entice violence and anarchy.” To combat this fear, it was reported in multiple articles that selected movie theaters would be provided with adequate to robust security detail if deemed necessary. As I read those articles, I just had to raise my eyebrows. Then, the lightbulb in my mind quickly illuminated and I instantly recalled the violent incident which occurred during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The assailant set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience killing twelve civilians in the process. A tragic moment.

And yet, 7 years later, the release of Joker not only brought back those horrific memories but also planted a dose of fear in the minds of many. But why Joker? A plethora of violent films have been released to the public in the past 7 years and I can’t think of one who forced cities to mobilize police officers to monitor selected movie theaters screening Joker. What is it about this character that has so many people frightened? After all, he’s just a comic book character, right?

Well, before we get to answer the questions above, here’s my abbreviated experience going to and returning from seeing Joker.

It’s noon on a Friday. I pull into the parking lot of the movie where I reside. Sorry, can’t say the name. (Now that would be foolish). However; I won’t leave you hanging and will sprinkle in a very important detail. I live in one of the safest cities on the eastern coast. It’s so safe you could leave your car open at night and wake up the next morning to find your belongings still intact. Now back to the story. I pull into the lot and the first thing I see is a police vehicle. Mind you, I’m a frequent movie goer to that specific theater and I’ve never seen a police vehicle outside of that theater. I walk into the movie theater and there she is pacing back and forth in full uniform. “Man, this is serious!” – I said to myself going into the theater. I get my ticket, walk into the showing room and noticed no more than 15 people. I sit and voila, the movie begins. Truthfully speaking, from the beginning of the movie to the end, I felt quite uncomfortable. So much so it gave me a slight headache. But, oddly enough, the uncomfortable feeling was not negative. On the contrary, it was a positive experience. A positive experience which propelled me to think. (Maybe a little too much) The narrative set forth and displayed to the audience that Friday afternoon was a brilliant masterpiece.  A time piece depicting the rapid degeneration of a man who was once abused a child. A man who’s mentally unstable and desperately looked to find comfort in the happiness of others. Instead, he was ridiculed and tormented to the brink of no return. In the process, this man commits a string of murders and realizes that his happiness and tranquility lies solely within that morbid lifestyle. Coincidentally, he unintentionally births a movement. A movement not bred by rebellion but of pure anarchy, hence becoming the prince of crime and Batman’s greatest foe.

So, what is it about this character that has so many people frightened? – I previously asked. After all, he’s just a comic book character, right?

In my opinion, I wholeheartedly believe this fear comes from the fact that this could indeed play out in today’s society. “Are you saying someone could become the joker in real life? What are you smoking? I’m out!” – You say. Before you storm out, look closely at the gem and analyze the fragment within.  Mental illness has plagued our society for so long. In the past it was brush off as nothing but a phase. In modern society, after countless of violent incidences, strides are being made to better understand the intricacies of the human brain. Yet, as the movie narrated, for those who do not have access to decent health care, they can’t and may never receive the proper treatment or medication to cure them or soothe their mental afflictions. And when left uncheck, awful repercussions soon follow.

A man or a woman with similar mental afflictions as the Joker may not start a rebellion or an uprising based solely on anarchy as shown in the movie (doubt anyone would even have the courage or energy to leave their homes nowadays if something of the sort did occur) but he or she may be pushed to the brink of committing horrific acts similar to the Aurora theater or the Sandy Hook shooting.

When Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane created Joker, I have no idea if their intentions were to spread the awareness of mental illness in our society. 68 years later, the character not only withstood the test of time, it served as a well needed reboot for the failing DCEU and a wakeup call for all of us to take mental illness very seriously.

Now with that said, will I be watching Joker a second time? No. I loved it the first time. I will be listening to the epic score repeatedly on my way to work. But, I will not be watching it a second time. In my eyes, it is a truly tragic story meant for one viewing only. That’s just my opinion however; don’t let me rain on your parade. “After all, life is nothing but a comedy.” – Joker.

On a side note: It would be such a bold move and frankly quite amazing for Warner Bros to set their new Batman film in this universe. A time piece story for Batman would be epic.

The Game We Play- A Short Story

It’s the year 2018

The court room has no more than twelve participants out in the stands. Small chatters run rampant as the jury mulls over their decision. Meanwhile, located to the left of the room sits the defendant with his lawyer. A middle aged man, skinny in stature with pale skin and short spiky hair. Sporting formal attire, the defendant sits with his right leg crossed over to his left.  Every so often, he turns around and gazes at another young man sitting in the crowd. His expression towards the young man is nothing short of disappointment. To the right sits the plaintiff with enough physical bruises that would cause the faintest of hearts to skip a few beats. A swollen upper lip and lower lip, a black eye accompanied by small patches of unhealed bruises all over.

“Shall the defendant and plaintiff please rise.” announces the bailiff. 

Both parties did as instructed.

“Members of the Jury, have you reached a verdict?” asks the District Judge. The Jury spokesman stands up and replies: “Yes, your honor. We have. Your honor, the members of this jury find the defendant GUILTY!”. Upon hearing that statement, lips were sealed and salivas were swallowed all around the room. 

The judge in turn takes very little time and announces: “Mr. Kettleman. You were found guilty on a charge of 3rd degree aggravated assault. You will be sentenced to one year with possibility of early parole if said parole conditions are met.” After hammering down his final verdict, the judge proceeds to adjourn the court. 

Without a fuss, Mr. Kettleman accepts his faith and allows himself to be escorted out of the courtroom. Halfway through the aisle, he once again stares at the young man sitting in the crowd. “You’re gonna be alright.” the young man sympathetically expresses to Mr. Kettleman. Deep down however; that sympathy might have been masked to hide something veritably dark. 

Mr. Kettleman does not speak and makes his exit while mentally preparing for his one year sentence. 

Later that night, somewhere deep inside an underground facility 

The District Judge sits at a round table in the company of others in his domain and many others with pay grades higher than the mind dares to count. Their weekly meeting carries on as usual until its abruptly interrupted by a messenger. “ Sir, someone’s here to see you.” the messenger relays to the District Judge. A bit flustered by the interruption, the District Judge politely excuses himself off the table. “Gentlemen, will you excuse me.” announces the Judge. He makes his way out of the securely guarded double doors. He heads down the hallway and takes the elevator up to the garage. There, a man awaits him. The Judge greets him and says: “What do you have for me?”

The man in turn replies as he hands the Judge a yellow sealed rectangular envelope: “From Mr. Kettleman. $250,000 in advance for said conditions. An additional $250,000 will be delivered to you upon Mr. Kettleman’s release.” 

“Inform your client that from now on, the advances have doubled.” says the District Judge as he returns to the elevator.

Half a year later

Zan, a tall and light skinned young adult walks out of his vehicle. Lacking confidence due to a deformity in his eyes, his unsteady hand wobbles a bit as he uses the key to lock the doors to his vehicle. Out in an abandoned parking lot, Zan stands near his car as he awaits for his long anticipated meeting with one of the biggest names in his town. A meeting with The Pin! Following a few minutes, a luxurious white Bentley with tinted windows slowly drives into the lot. Zan immediately fixes his posture upright and takes in a deep breath. The white Bentley comes to a full stop, parked parallel to Zan’s outdated and worn out red Buick. The driver’s door to the Bentley springs open and a man steps out. Obesed and quite short, the man propels himself out of the vehicle onto his two feet.

“Mr. Pin. How are you?” greets Zan as he analyzes the lack of breathing room left by Mr. Pin’s tight blue suit. 

“Zan! My son. Good to see you!” excitingly replies Mr. Pin as he walks towards Zan with open arms. Mr. Pin then pauses and takes a quick look at Zan. Ensuing a quick warm manly hug, Mr. Pin says: “Come, come meet my family. My daughter is so excited to see you.” 

Mr. Pin walks to the passenger seat and opens the front door. A woman walks out of the passenger seat. A bit older she is with wrinkles to show but not enough to come to the conclusion that she was beyond fifty. The shining jewels around her neck and ears definitely complemented her light blue outfit. “This is my wife.” points out Mr. Pin. With nothing else to say, not even a few words of compliment or encouragement, he resumes his tour and proceeds to open the back passenger door.  Out came an invigorating and stunning young woman. The white dress and pearls around her neck has Zan jaw drop in utter suspense. Noticing his reaction, Mr. Pin carries on and gently grabs her by the elbow. Unexpectedly, he greets his daughter with a light and quick passionate kiss to the lip. Zan does not find any kind of joy in seeing such an interaction between Mr. Pin and his daughter. Feeling belittled, he suddenly becomes tense. 

Mr. Pin walks the young woman over and says: “Zan. Meet my daughter, Angel! She’s my precious jewel. I trust that you will treat her like the rare diamond that she is. This merger is progress. Not just for you both, but for both of our families. And if you ever need anything, I mean anything, you know where to find me.” 

“Of course.” replies Zan. 

“By the way, how’s your father?” asks Mr. Pin.

“Never been better.” replies Zan.

“Tell him we’ll be seeing each other soon. We’ve got lots to discuss. Great things are on the horizon. Great things! I send him my regards.” adds Mr. Pin as he returns to his white Bentley and dries off leaving his daughter in the company of Zan. 

One month later

Blood spills all over. It continuously drips as it finds its way between the cracks of the ceramic floor.  

Mr. Kettleman stands firmly over his victim with a bat at hand. He’s breath seems heavy and his heart beats at an abnormal rate. He swings once more with enough force to break any firm bones. Realizing he might have pushed the limits with his punishment, he takes a step back and swings the bat to the farthest corner of the room. “I will no longer take the blame or serve anymore jail sentences for your reckless behavior. From now on, you will own responsibility for all of your hideous messes. Now get up!” Mr. Kettleman demands.

The victim does not respond. Mr. Kettleman demands once more: “ Dammit! Get up! Get up Zan!”

Not a sound. 

“Zan! This isn’t the time for your foolishness.” adds Mr. Kettleman. He leans over to grab his son and realizes he had just created his worst nightmare. He immediately breaks down mentally. Tears swim out of his tear ducts faster than he can control them. He wipes his eyes and in the process stains his face with the blood of his son. “ZAN! ZAN! WAKE UP!” yells Mr. Kettleman. He cries and cries. “ZAN! I WAS JUST TRYING TO TEACH YOU A LESSON! GET UP!” 

Nothing Mr Kettleman had to say would bring his son back.

Two Weeks Later

Sporting formal attire, the defendant sits with his head down.  Every so often, he turns around and gazes at an empty seat in the crowd. His expression is nothing short of regret and sadness.

“Members of the Jury, have you reached a verdict?” asks the District Judge. The Jury spokesman stands up and says: “Yes, your honor. We have. Your honor, the members of this jury find the defendant GUILTY!”

The judge in turn takes very little time and announces: “Mr. Kettleman. You were found guilty on one charge of 3rd degree aggravated assault and first degree murder. You will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.” After hammering down his final verdict, the judge proceeds to adjourn the court.

Somewhere out in the 50th floor of a penthouse

“Was it all worth it?” asks the woman as she watches the news unfold detailing Mr. Kettleman’s trial.

“Yes it was. I don’t blame you for being blind to the bigger picture. You’re so small minded.” answers Mr. Pin as he sits as his large glass desk overlooking the city behind him. 

“The boy beat our daughter pin! Angel is now paralyzed from the waist down. How could you say it was worth it? How could you say such a thing!” the woman adds before breaking into tears.

Mr. Pin stands up from his leather chair, walks over to the glass window, places both hands in his pockets and expresses: “ With one trojan horse, I was able to take his entire kingdom.” Mr. Pin pauses, takes a deep breath, smiles and ends with: “Now I own 75% of downtown. It’s the game we play. The game we play.”