Mystery and Crime Fiction posted October 29, 2017


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A mugging.

Returning Zero

by Thomas Bowling


“Where to next, Jimbo?”

“Can we get ice cream?”

“You bet. Ice cream coming up.”

“I like it when we do a men's night out,” the boy said.

“Yep, just two guys palling around,” his father answered. “The ice cream shop's just up the street. Let's walk.”

Three men stepped out of the shadows. One stood in front of the man and his son. Two came up behind them. “You know the drill, buddy. Give me your wallet.” Jim's father hesitated. “Come on, hand it over. Don't make me get rough.”

“Okay. Here, just let us go.”

“What's the hurry? The wallet's nice and fat, just the way I like it. Give me the ring and that watch.”

Raphael looked the watch over. “Hey, this is pretty nice. Is it real or a fake?”

“It's real. Please take it and leave.”


“Did you guys hear that? I'm not robbing him. He asked me to take it.”

Raphael opened the wallet and pulled out the driver's license. “How about a car, Gary? You got any wheels?”

Gary pulled the keys out of his pocket and handed them to the mugger.

“It's the silver Mercedes down the street.”

“Can I have it, too?”

“Yes,” Gary snarled. “Now go.”

“I'll say when I go. You're in no position to give orders.”

Raphael stepped to Jimbo and tussled his hair.

“Don't touch my son!”

Raphael punched the boy's father, knocking him to the ground. Jimbo spread out on top of his father. “Stop hitting my dad!”

“Another order giver.” Raphael drew his hand back to swat the boy, as he did his Marine Corps tattoo came into view. Jimbo looked at it.

“Were you in the Army?”

“I was in the Marines.”

“Thank you for your service.”

“What? What's that mean?”

“My dad told me that when I see a serviceman, I should thank him for what he did for our country.”

“Your old man taught you that? He's a pretty smart guy.”

Raphael turned around. He looked down and kicked the ground. “Give him back his stuff.”

“Why?” one of the muggers asked.

“Because it's not ours. Give it to him.”

“But Raphael . . .”

“Shut up. I said give him his stuff!”

“Okay, Raphael. Whatever you say. What's wrong with you tonight? Did the kid get to you?”

“Don't you get it? I feel like less than zero.”

The three muggers walked away. One of them a changed man.



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© Copyright 2017. Thomas Bowling All rights reserved.
Thomas Bowling has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.