The Real Man In Blue

The old tobacco store had gone out of business just a year ago, the victim of heavy taxes. A man in blue stood back in the darkness of its doorway, looking out. He’d been there for a couple of hours, waiting patiently. Finally, across the street the man in the red cap came ambling along, whistling an old Frank Sinatra song. He was an older man, a little heavy, and by his tattered pants and jacket and his worn-out shoes you could tell he was far, very far, from well-to-do. And yet, he was cheerful and apparently enjoying the feel of the bright sun on his face.

At the stationer’s shop he stopped, looked around, and said a few words to a man walking by. The man replied, but kept on walking. Another man in a dirty baseball cap walked along, heard the words, smiled, and reached into his pocket, where resided his lone quarter. The man in blue tensed slightly as he saw the gleaming quarter change hands. Then the red-capped man drew a cigarette out of his pocket and put it into the other man’s hand. The man in blue leaped out of the darkness and shouted, “Hold it right there! You, in the red cap, up against the wall with your hands behind your back!”

The man looked at him, astonished, and said, “I haven’t done anything wrong.” The thug in blue advanced angrily, reaching a hand to the man’s shoulder in order to turn him to the wall. The red-cap’s fist, powered by the strength and passion of moral rightness, answered swift, implacable, surging into the thug’s mid-section, just below the ribs. All breath left him. He doubled over and collapsed on the sidewalk, his mouth working, perhaps trying to say “I can’t breathe”, yet emitting no sound. But the red-capped man seemed to understand and bent down and gave the thug mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Then, as the thug lays breathing, but only half-conscious, the red-capped man rose, walked around the corner, turned his cap inside-out to blue, crossed to an alley and disappeared.

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