Is there justice in the gutter? All depends on who defines it. And how.
Justice by Jack Strange
My trial comes up next week and I could be facing a life sentence. My son’s dead worried about it, but I’m not. I can’t wait to see that bastard Sykes in court testifying against me, telling the world what I did to him. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when it’s over and he realises what I’ve done.
I’m a retired businessman. I shouldn’t have got drawn into committing a crime at my age, but when my grandson died, I had no choice. He was only four years old.
The wife was in bits, and as for my son, Alan, and my daughter-in-law, Beth, they’ll never get over it.
Have you ever seen a child’s coffin? They’re so tiny. It breaks your heart, it really does.
It was how little Eddie died that got to me as much as anything.
He was riding his tricycle when a truck came up the road and took the corner too tight. The rear wheel mounted the pavement and ran over my little Eddie. He banged his head when he fell and never recovered.
People who saw the accident said the driver – Harry Sykes - laughed when he realised what he’d done.
He got prosecuted for it, and said he was sorry, but it was just an act. He might’ve pulled the wool over the judge’s eyes, but not mine. I knew he was saying it just to get off – and it worked.
The prosecution charged Sykes with causing death by careless driving. It should’ve been murder, if you ask me.
It was his first offence, so he got a suspended sentence and walked out of court a free man.
What kind of justice is that?
He ought to have been banged up for years.
So I decided to do something about it.
I had a word with the wife. We agreed I should take the law into my own hands.
But I didn’t discuss it with my son. He wouldn’t have understood. Alan is a very different person to me. I’ve had to claw my way up from the gutter to get on in life, and he’s had all the privileges you can get from day one.
When he was growing up, I put an expensive roof over his head, made sure he had good food to eat, and paid for him to have the best education going. He went to university and became a successful lawyer. He doesn’t know anything about the sacrifices I’ve had to make on his behalf. I gave up everything for my family, including a few scruples along the way.
Once I’d decided to do something about Eddie’s death, I went out and bought a gun. A .38 snub nose revolver, a real Saturday night special.
Then I confronted Sykes in the street. He was with his girlfriend. He was a right coward. He grabbed her and used her as a shield.
I stuck my arm straight out with the gun in it and walked up close to him.
“Be a man,” I said, holding it against his temple.
But he cowered like a frightened little girl, got to his knees, and begged for mercy.
“Please, I don’t know why you’re doing this, let me live,” he said.
“It’s for my grandson, Eddie. The little boy you killed. Remember him?”
I crouched down, put the muzzle to his thigh, and pulled the trigger.
There was a deafening noise as the gun went off.
The bullet shattered his thighbone.
When I pulled the gun away there was a big hole in the side of his leg with wisps of smoke coming out of it.
His girlfriend screamed and he screamed even louder.
“Serves you right you cunt,” I told him.
I turned to his girlfriend.
“Sorry about that, love,” I said. “I didn’t mean to drag you into this, but I had no choice. If he was half a man, he wouldn’t have used you as a shield, and you wouldn’t have had to see this. You ought to finish with him. You’ve seen what he’s like. He’s no good.”
I put the gun in my waistband and walked away.
It wasn’t long before the coppers came round to my gaff and arrested me.
They charged me with causing Grievous Bodily Harm. The sentence for that is almost as bad as that for murder. So in some ways, I might as well have killed Sykes. But I wanted him to live, to feel the pain I felt.
I didn’t deny the charge. How could I? I did it in broad daylight on the high street. Lots of people saw me, and it was recorded on video.
It’s been hard on my son, of course.
“Dad, how could you?” he said. “Why did you take the law into your own hands? You should know better than that. You used to be a respected businessman. I’ve lost Eddie, and now I’m going to lose you. You’ll be locked up for this.”
“Sorry, son,” I said. “Don’t worry. I’ll get a good brief. He’ll get me off.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s an open and shut case. You’ll get sent down for years.”
“Suppose you’re right,” I said.
But I knew he wasn’t.
You see, my line of business was extortion and racketeering. I was very good at it.
And by the time my mates get through with the jury, they’ll be awarding me a medal, never mind letting me off.