Wednesday, February 09, 2011

To catch a thief

It felt like he'd just done it moments ago, but he flicked his wrist and took another hard look at his watch again. The Seiko that had been infinitely reliable all these years just reconfirmed what he already knew, that time didn't move that much faster the more he checked on it. In fact, it seemed as though it moved a lot slower.

'Time to get a new watch', he muttered under his breath.

The foam-lined interior of the car was silent. The radio was off, and the only sounds were coming from the vehicles beside him. It gave him a moment of peace as he planned his next move. It wouldn't be easy, nothing ever is, but his training taught him to visualize, strategize, and implement the tactics he already knew and rigorously trained for.

Somebody was about to have the worst day of their life, they just didn't know it yet.

The iPad was mounted on the center console of the vehicle, and the blinking dot provided information in real time. He had been tracking it for almost 2 hours now, looking at the dot move progressively from one point to another, trying to gauge a pattern of some sort. By now he was closing in on it, but it stopped moving. That can be either a good thing, or a really bad one.

The air smelled like the sea breeze mixed with the stench of rotting lumber, as the sun began to set some distance away. The gravel under his boots made a crunching noise every time he took a step, but was drowned out somewhat by the sound of the waves at sea. It was somewhat isolated, with the occasional hired laborer loading supplies into the little motorized boats that ferries to and from the nearby islands.

By now he had already closed in on the target, some 50 metres away, but he wasn't quite sure which as he saw two men, in their youths huddled over with their backs towards him. He placed his iPad back into his backpack, zipped it up and unholstered his Surefire Defender flashlight in one smooth motion, thumb on the tailcap switch as he inched slowly towards them, utilizing every available cover he could as he progressed forward.

The youths hadn't noticed him yet, seemingly engrossed in their own world. He decided that he needed some form of confirmation as he took out his phone and hit the redial button.

This time the phone rang, and that was all he needed to know.

'Hey fellas', his voice a gruff monotone from the lack of sleep and general displeasure at the entire event. That startled the youths as they jumped in alarm. 'Put the phone down, and everybody goes home. Walk away now'. They were just kids, he thought to himself. Barely in their 20s, a look of mischief suddenly crept across their faces as they retorted, 'Or what, Grandpa, you're going to arrest us?' One of them fumbled in their pockets and pulled out a switchblade as he casually walked towards him, the tip of the knife pointed at him the whole time.

By now they were less than 3 feet away, one was armed, the other still had his phone in his hand, unaware, unbothered by the drama unfolding. He looked straight into the eyes of the knife wielder, there was nothing there. No remorse, nor regret - at least not yet, he thought to himself. It felt like a good half hour has passed but it had only been 5 seconds.

'What do you think you can do now, Grandpa?' he said, trying to be more forceful since he hadn't received a response.

'I can't arrest you, I'm not the police'. In that split second he brought up his flashlight as a brilliant white beam flashed into the perpetrator, his other hand grabbing the wrist that held the knife, and swung the flashlight with the crenelated bezel into his throat. The sharp pain forced him to release the knife as he finished him off with an elbow to the side of his head as he watched him fall to the ground, grimacing in pain.

As he turned to look at the other youth, he saw fear. 'Look, just take it back, alright?' as he handed the phone over. He took it from him and placed it in his back pocket, but not letting the perpetrator's hand go. 'You like to steal other people's stuff, don't you now?' he grabbed his thumb and twisted it in an awkward position that his entire arm was now behind his back. 'Look, you got what you came here for, leave me alone!' he pleaded.

'Next time you try this shit again, I will hunt you down, you understand? Wherever you are, I will find you, I will break your legs, you will never see daylight again, do you understand?'

At that point he could hear the sound of snapping tendons, like a raw piece of chicken when you've twisted it past it's natural axis of motion. That was met with an uncomfortable, and if he didn't notice wrongly, a somewhat girly scream. 'I guess that means yes', he said in a calm and almost composed tone, as he thought about chuckling although that didn't seem right.

By now the night traffic had already cleared and it was a nice quiet drive home. He peered over at the passenger seat. iPad and iPhone, together again.

*Find iPhone is now available at the AppStore for the iPad
*Fictional story, attempt at your own risk.