Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Common Good

By Puck T. Smith

Scene: A city street. A woman in a business suit is standing at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change as light traffic crosses the intersection. Diagonally across the intersection a destitute homeless man is huddled in a disheveled pile of filthy blankets. The are a few other people walking in the area. As she waits a large sedan pulls to the curb nearby. A well dressed man get out of the back seat and approaches her as another man sits at the wheel. 

Well dressed man, approaching the woman: Excuse me, miss.

The woman, looking up at him: Yes?

Well dressed man: Do you see that poor man over there?

Woman: Yes.

Well dressed man: It's a shame.

Woman, moving to cross the street as the light changes: I suppose it is.

Well dressed man, entering the crosswalk with her: Something should be done to help him.

Woman: It is very sad.

Well dressed man: Indeed. To think a society as rich as ours would have people in such wretched conditions.

Woman: Yes, it does say something about us.

Well dressed man, as they step up on the onto the curb from the crosswalk: I glad to hear you say so. I represent an organization dedicated to addressing the problems like these that plague society and we need your help.

Woman: I don't understand.

Well dressed man: Well, we have an important program to improve the situation, but it requires a great deal of money to implement and administer.

Woman: Well, if your asking me for a contribution I'm afraid I just don't have any money to spare.

Well dressed man: Miss, I need $100 from you.

Woman: Well, I don't have it so please excuse me.

She turns to walk away, but the man steps into her path.

Well dressed man: Miss, give me $100.

Woman: I told you, I don't have it. Now get out of my way.

Well dressed man, continuing to block her way: Miss if you don't have the money on you I will be happy to give you a ride to your bank to make a withdrawal. It's for a good cause.

The woman tries to dodge around him, but the car the man had gotten out of pulled up to the curb beside them. The driver opens the rear passenger door from the inside and the man begins to manhandle her into the car. The struggle for a moment and then the man pulls out a large pistol, points it at her face and cocks it. 

Well dressed man: Why are you making this so difficult. Don't resist. Do you hate poor people or something?

The woman screams. A few people nearby look up, but do nothing as he pushes her into car, slams the
slams shut as the car speeds off. The woman is a state near shock. 

Well dressed man: You should not resist, it will only make it worse. Why do you not want to help your fellow man? Have you no compassion?

Woman, with anger and fear in her voice: Where are you taking me?

Well dressed man: To your bank to make a withdrawal.

Woman, with an expression of panic on her face: How do you know what bank I use? Who are you?

Well dressed man: We know a great deal about you. As to who I am, it is not important. Our organization does not draw attention to individual members. Who we are is not important. All we asked it that we judged by our actions and results.

Woman: This is wrong, you have no right to do this to me.

Well dressed man: Miss, it is not a matter of rights, I have the authority.

Woman: What authority?

Well dressed man: I was appointed by the organization's Executive Committee who were duly elected by the members and supporters of our organization. Our General Assembly has authorized them to collect money for the poor and the have given me the responsibility to execute their decision.

Woman: But I had no part in that. I'm not part of your organization and I'm certainly not a supporter.

Well dressed man: Miss, because you have chosen not to participate does not relieve you of your obligations as outlined in the General Assembly's by-laws. Perhaps you'd care to change your mind, pay your share and become a part of the process.

The woman looks at him, speechless. 

After a few minutes, the car pulls over to the curb in front of a branch of the woman's bank. He opens the door and steps to the curb with his pistol still drawn. A few people nearby watch curiously, but none approach. He motions her to get out of the car. She slowly steps out and stands by the car. He motions with the pistol toward the entrance to the bank. Suddenly she kicked him in the crotch with all her might. He doubles over and she runs down the street. 

Well dressed man, raising his pistol, even as he is still bent over: Stop! Don't make me shoot!

She continues running. He steadies his aim and fires the pistol. The bullet hits the woman in the middle of her back. It explodes out the front of her chest in an eruption of blood and tissue. She falls face forward to the ground, dead instantly. 

Well dressed man, pulling himself upright: It's her fault, she made me do it. She should not have resisted the common good.

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