The lecture that the three had attended that evening had been mercifully short. As students at the Northside university they were required to attend such extracurricular soiree’s for if nothing els, but form alone suggesting an education in progress. The fact that it meant traversing the city at night being part of the fiction of a civil society that in current times had leached away into the the ever-present possibility of random encounters with violent bands of ethnics that did not abide by those implicit rules of civility in offering immediate violence if found to be unmonitored. The city had installed a plethora of camera based systems in conjunction with neighborhood audio detectors. But to those in danger of assault from parties unknown and mostly ignored by a city administration tasked with keeping a steady influx of undocumented immigrants from the hotspots of the world, the incidents of conflict went generally unreported in their ‘gun free’ mental paradise. The only ones that went about in fear were the default population who were tasked with the dilemma of avoiding unexpected physically abusive or possible lethal rendezvous with belligerent parties officially politically unidentifiable. For one of the three, Billy, it was a matter of showing up with a pistol that he had somehow absconded from sources unknown. The unit was a make and model that had a heavier capacity of nine millimeter rounds that made it somewhat hard to conceal in the average pocket so he had brought along a small case. When entering a secure space the gates of which were electronically monitored he would stash the small satchel just outside someplace where the odds suggested that it would not be easily discovered. His friend and his friend’s older brother seemed never the wiser being ever focused on their personal smart phones or the random passage of young girls of their own ages. But Billy had been struck almost literally by a different reality.
An unforeseen set of circumstance transacted in broad daylight where one young ghetto tough acted out upon the supposed safety of a public rail car physically accosting the passengers of which that day he had happened to be one. The inconvenience of his skin color in political terms branding him as possibly ‘easy prey’ to this ‘ghetto ranger’ as quietly backed up by two nearby smoking companies. The paucity of a small folding knife buried under keys and a wallet to awkward a viable possibility of deterrent if caught up in a physical struggle. His fellow riders paralyzed in a form of solitary indifference unwilling to help him or themselves. All save one rider who at the last second before things were about to go bad shoved his hand towards the inner coat pocket demonstrably fending the butt of a big dark automatic at the ready. That sight of an unexpected possibility of mortally dangerous push back by what was considered a victim turning the situation around for these would be perpetrators making them retreat from their former actors in their dramatically duplicitous aggressive play so overly obvious in its ultimate intent. The three slithering off like a dark cloud as the train arrived at the next stop. The magic of the heated situation being that the man’s fellow passengers settled back into their own exclusive realities fenced off from acknowledging that one among them was fully prepared to defend themselves no matter the civil penalty at all costs. The atmosphere of danger now diffused to a lower degree by the reveal of no other equally hostile actors possessed by anything beyond a conscious lack of resolve to stare mindlessly at their respective messaging of the latest inboxes emails within the safe harbor of a communal electronic mentally shut universe. Billy was both relieved and substantially impressed. The law of this new jungle had been demonstrated in part. The only law offering security in this uneven society would be dealt solely by one’s self based not upon fear of the censure of possible legal penalties but by the expedience of preparing one’s self for the eventuality of its violation. The young man’s unexpected artfulness left much to one’s speculation how he came to be currently ‘packing’?
During the colder months Billy had the benefit of a jacket to help conceal his sidearm. But when the weather turned warm he was tasked with travel that occasioned the necessity of his small over worn small leather valise. An unexpected incident earlier the same night on this present outing with his two friends had him transferring his invisible tool to a pant’s pocket. The potentials of an encounter with a gang of four toughs that seemed to dog the trio going completely unnoticed by his two accompanying innocents who seemed oblivious to the fact that predators were going about the business of stalking them. Waling at the back of his own small entourage he had made a back directed pantomime of stealthily drawing his automatic in a manner to catch the attention of the followers silhouetted immediately just behind. Billy was so caught up with mentally monitoring the sound of footsteps behind him that his small empty valise dropped tot he ground behind him and was duly snapped up by the shadowy ruffians as possibly affording tribute for the privilege of crossing their turf. The well-lit commercial boulevard ahead had the young man awkwardly finding the purchase of his own pants pocket to imperfectly shelter the gun. He pulled at the immediate proximate of his jumper to help camouflage the bulge making sure avoid directly focusing his attention on the problem. They were heading home and had several blocks left before arriving at the domicile of the two brothers. Billy was thus tasked with continuing to accompany them to maintain the limelight of the conventionally of the fiction that the experience of this night was nothing out of the ordinary. He managed to grab a small newsprint flyer and hold it in a manner that shielded the physical presence of his civil indiscretion wondering with each step how he would stay ahead of the unexpected potentials for discovery. Society’s fiction of general social normality casting him as a possible offender while tacitly ignoring the real combatants and alienating him as possibly planned someplace remote and higher up by those who saw his kind as a greater menace for their temerity to buck a system that put this same undocumented ‘lawbreaker’ at risk as a possible felon.
Billy was invited in for a time by his friends and managed to transfer his heavy load to a lesser expected hiding place under a chair cushion in the hallways by several slight of hand and eye maneuvers. Playing dumb and mentally vacant while his mind raced like some ancient handheld calculator plotting and examining each future strategy of route and physical move on his own way home. Irony of ironies some fifteen minutes later when he mentioned that he would soon have to be home to get some rest for an upcoming morning class, and one of his hosts expressed some concern at Billy ranging about in the dark alone. Those that had effectively been sheep for the slaughter a mere hour in the past were now demonstrating concern in the safety of their own domicile. Using the flyer as a wrapper he once more transferred his weapon to his person after polite declaration of the use of the bathroom and left without ceremony for his own personal gauntlet of the possible unexpected awaiting him in the dark of night. Alone he felt freer and with no small irony cast more in the role of the hunter than the prize. Life was changed for him now as his sociability now was slowly ebbing as a necessity of maintaining an ongoing sense of the circumspect in all his outside dealings. A certain building resentment at the larger social order that spewed fictions of their faux beneficence while simultaneously violating the public trust with larger global initiatives to conspicuously water down the dominance by numbers of the majority with fragmentary elements of hostile cultures from other lands. The hypocrisy of it all goading Billy to a resolve to take further steps beyond merely minding his own to resist.