EYE FOR AN EYE
By Steve Hutchinson
Let the bastards come now, he thought, just let them come! This time he’d be ready for them, and he was. He had his crossbow in hand, a long hunting knife on his leather belt, and a vicious-looking machete on the low coffee-table near the large front window through which he had a fair view of the path leading up to the house. The house was in darkness except for a single light in the hall, it was a ploy. It was obvious to him that no experienced burglar would go for a place in complete darkness in case the owner was upstairs in bed. But a single, solitary light in an otherwise darkened house was usually a sign that the place was empty and that was what he wanted them to think. Twice he’d been done over. The first time he’d let it go, thinking the police might catch the thief. But they hadn’t. The thief had left no fingerprints, no clues, nothing. That was their excuse and he’d accepted it. The second time the police virtually told him there was no real chance of catching the man unless they spotted him wandering down the road with a diamond tiara in one hand and a silver candlestick in the other! He’d been brought up to believe in right and wrong. But today? Well, no one gave a damn. No one wanted to work for a living if they could make money by stealing or pimping. Kids were brought up on violence it was in the cinema, on the streets, on television. It was everywhere guns, knives, you name it! If he tried to speak out against it would get him nowhere, and he was likely to be accused of discrimination, discrimination against the blacks, the whites, teenagers, the unemployed, the unemployable. They all had rights these days, there were Gay Rights, Prisoners Rights, Feminist Rights. About the only people who had no real rights were the guys like himself. Those who worked for a living, paid their income tax, council tax, corporation tax and all the other bloody taxes and got nothing for it. This was his home and not some medieval fortress. His home had been defiled his privacy had shattered. His wife Jess had almost had a nervous breakdown, imagining those bastards in her house, walking on her carpets, wandering in her bedroom, touching her clothes. She couldn’t cope with it, it preyed on her mind so much that she was developing a phobia about going out and meeting people. She’d even stopped inviting her best friends into her home. He’d become suspicious too, suspicious of any strange face he encountered near his home, especially if that face belonged to some arrogant T-shirted home boy he found wandering about the area, eyeing the expensive cars and sizing up the elegant houses. He wanted to beat the hell out of them — but he’d no proof; no justifiable cause in the eyes of the Law. If he did resort to violence then the Law would come down on him like a ton of bricks and he’d probably land in jail, at least that’s what his lawyer told him. He’d spent a few years in the army teaching men how to look after themselves, teaching them self-defence, how to put the boot in before they did it to you. He knew there was no time for hesitation, no time for waiting to see if someone would come to your help, he had to act first and worry about the niceties later. From a kneeling position he carefully raised his head so that his eyes were on a level with the bottom of the window. He’d blackened his face — like the old army days — and wore a dark tracksuit and trainers. He couldn’t help feeling the sort of tense excitement he’d experienced on patrol in the army; watching, waiting, scared about being ambushed yet wanting something to happen so he could get a crack at the enemy. He hadn’t realised how much he’d missed that feeling, it was a kind of frightened ecstasy, it was morepotent than sex, it was more exhilarating than any dangerous sport. It was man against man, beast against beast, the law of the jungle, it was to kill or be killed. He took a deep breath, feeling the blood pounding in his heart and his head. Calm down, he told himself, everything was ready, checked out, just like he’d been taught in the army. It was simply a question of waiting. Moments later he sensed rather than saw something. The large mock orange hedge prevented him from seeing the first few metres of the path leading up to the house, but he was sure someone or something was there. He tensed, waiting, straining all his senses. A long, quiet minute passed; then another and another. Would an intruder come through the front gate, he asked himself? Of course not he’d be in full view, with no cover and no protection. The back way made more sense and was a lot easier, it was simply over the fence from the adjoining golf course, keeping close to the trees until he reached the rear of the house. Yes, that’ was it, the crafty bastard’s going for the windows at the back! Slowly he slid on his stomach across the lounge carpet, then along the polished wooden floor of the hallway, and through to the lounge-room with its large patio windows overlooking the now-darkened garden. He half-expected to see a sinister, black figure outlined against the windows, trying to prise open the patio door. But there was no one. Still lying on his stomach, keeping perfectly quiet , he let his eyes become accustomed to the partly moonlit night outside. He could make out the dark shadows of trees against a slightly lighter background; the garden chair left on the lawn by his wife; the slight shimmering of water as the soft moonlight flickered on the deserted swimming pool. Like the fox trailing the unsuspecting rabbit, he waited. His army training taught him patience and absolute silence. The patience of the hunter; the silence of the dead. Then he saw him, he was just beyond the swimming pool. A tallish figure, standing very still, he was listening, deciding. Got you, you bastard, he thought as he loaded the crossbow with great care and precision, he unlocked the patio door and, from his prone position, gently pushed it open to allow a good sighting of the intruder. He’d done it before, as a soldier, killing silently to avoid rousing the enemy, getting the prey in his sights then gently, almost sensuously, squeezing the trigger on the crossbow or the revolver or the automatic rifle. Take your time he told himself, don’t rush it, take a deep breath and One.. Two… Three…Now! As his prey moved slowly passed the silent pool, the bolt from the crossbow thudded into the man’s chest, tearing muscle and skin and throwing him backwards into the lukewarm water. The marksman had lost none of his skill and none of the animal pleasure that came from this primitive instinct of revenge. He lay there in complete silence, bewildered by the thought of what he had just done. He had broken even! Just when they thought they had got the better of him he had pulled out the big guns, and like having a royal flush in poker, he blown them right out of water. They sirens wailed in the background like a dying giraffe, but still he lay there it ecstasy with the feeling of victory. He might face ten years in prison. He might lose everything thing he owned, but is his mind he had won. AN EYE FOR AN EYE!