J. D. Klueber
For all those who suffered by the hands of my personal Moriarity, my private Sauron.
"One is punished most for one's virtues."
- Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Silence. Green-gray paint cracking about the badly abused stairwell. Tension filled my body like a hanging man's final desperate need for air. Two punks had me trapped in a school stairway, and they didn't look pleased with me. They had no reason to be: I had managed to foil them at every turn, to pull them into my web as surely as Holmes pulled Prof. Moriarity, except that I had the brains, and they only brawns and numbers.
I thought back, in those moments to the first time I had encountered the older one. Freshman year... sixth- no seventh period. Elizabeth had introduced me to her boyfriend in science class. I wasn't overly impressed, but for the sake of my friendship with the girl, I managed to be friendly. My impression of him declined as the weeks wore on, then months, and finally a half a year. Then Stacey, another old friend, had wanted to talk to me...
She had made out with this punk.
Okaaaay. And your point, other than your apparent lack of taste?
I assumed that Elizabeth had broken up with him, and I inquired to her about this, with that slant. She knew nothing of what I was talking about. She questioned, him, and he wormed his way out of it. Another week passed, when Amanda wanted to talk to me.
She too had recently made out with him.
Perhaps I should have ignored it, but I did not. He wriggled out of my trap again, but eventually, Elizabeth ended up listening to me at the beginning of the next year, and dumped him flat. Finally.
Months passed, me spreading the word on this fellow, and him denying it, when Stacey once again came to me with a problem. The asshole had claimed to have had sex with her and was spreading rumors to this effect around the school.
Had he been at any other school, he wouldn't have survived intact. However, my resistance movement was feeble, and he escaped yet again. He had done but one good thing in his slug-ishness. He had paved the way for a Paladin to arise.
I had always idolized the Arthurian ideal: the Paladin. The Paladin represented the epitome of good in a time when men were hung as werewolves, and innocents burned at the stake as witches. He represented pure good, standing up for what he knew to be right, defending those who could not defend themselves, at all costs. That is the ideal I sought. The one I still seek. I try to be there for all my friends. I cannot stand by and watch a wrong be committed, even- especially if I am the one doing it. You see, I hadn't lost my idealism then. Let me tell you a little secret: I don't think I have yet. I hope I never do.
My first target as the righter of wrongs was this bastard that had hurt so many of my friends. I had woven my own web around his lair of deceit, and drawn tight the noose about his social neck(ing). Payment for my offense was coming soon. I had told every one of his prospective date/lovers of his actions, my list of transgressions growing weekly. I had ruined his social prospects, and he hadn't changed. I was about to be made to pay for my knighthood.
My mind sought the present reality again, swimming up from the memories, like a diver trapped under polar ice. Unfortunately, the situation hadn't changed. The punk had brought his little brother with him to exact payment from my body. This made me feel a bit better about my physical prowess, in that I required TWO people larger than me to be bested in a fight. The larger one moved in for the kill, the smaller blocking my only escape...
The silence was broken by a violent outburst, after which silence reigned again. Perhaps if I had stuck with Tae-Kwon-Do a bit longer, the physical outcome would have been different. I might not have had to pay for my spurs. I might have even walked away unscathed, rather than with a broken arm, fractured skull, and bruised ribs. The end result would have been the same however. See, the paint was still cracked and grey-green, the stairwell still badly abused. Nothing had been altered by the physical conflict. Except for an illusion. The illusion that a Paladin can exist today. The illusion that one person can right all the wrongs he comes in contact with. That I can be the lone salmon swimming against the current on a straight and narrow course, while the rest of the fish are content to drift with the flow, like leaves in a hurricane. I simply haven't the strength to be perfect. Or to try, for much longer.