Alexis Hoffman
Justice Served

........We weren’t all that drunk, if you want to know the real story. I mean, we’d been drinking and all, that’s totally true, but only for a little while. Shaun said we should go mall-ratting because we hadn’t done that in a long time. I called “not driving” right away because I’m a pretty bad driver, to tell the truth. One time I was pulled over for weaving and I hadn’t even been drinking, so I didn’t think it’d be too smart to drive after a couple of shots. Geoff didn’t want to drive either, because he was turning eighteen the next day and knew he’d be completely screwed if he got a D.U.I. Shaun said he didn’t mind driving because he wasn’t feeling even a little drunk. Shaun drinks all the time, so it takes a lot before he feels drunk.
........We took Geoff’s car because it has the best stereo and anyway, his car was blocking Shaun’s. Geoff lives on this crazy road with about a million sharp turns and little hills, so Shaun kept messing with us, pretending to lose control of the car all over the place. I guess he got bored with that because after a while he stopped, which is a good thing because Geoff was about to bust a nut. That kid is a total bitch when it comes to his car, I swear.
........About a mile from the mall and everything was cool until some asshole in a white Mitsubishi Eclipse cut us off. Of all the things that piss the three of us off when we’re in cars, getting cut off is the worst. Shaun’s a pretty furious guy, in general, and I’m not much better after a few drinks, so we were raging all over the place—calling the guy all kinds of names.
........“What the fuck is this assfucker doing? Die you stupid fuck!”
........“Pull right out, stupid shit. I wanted to total a car today. I really did, you dickless sack of piss. ”
........“Fucking asshole. He should be assaulted everyday for the rest of his fucking life.”
........We were pulling up to a red light when that schmuck cut us off, too. What the hell was the point of that? There wasn’t even anyone behind us, for shit’s sake. He couldn’t’ve waited five more seconds? It was really a shitty thing to do. It really was.
........So, we were there in the car, livid, screaming, waiting for the light to turn so we could play some mind games with this bastard, and when the light finally turned green (after about six-hundred years), that son of a bitch went and turned into the parking lot of the Dunkin’ Donuts about two feet away.
........Well, that pissed us off even more. I mean, not only did this guy cut us off at a red light when there wasn’t even anyone behind us, but he did it to get to a place that was two goddamn feet away.
........“That’s it,” Shaun said. “This son of a bitch is going down. No one that rude should get away with it. People like that asshole right there are the reason this whole world is going to shit. Fuck him.”
........“Fuck yeah,” I said. “I bet that bastard cuts people off every day. Like, seven or eight times a day. I bet he does it on purpose, too.”
........“Hey guys,” Geoff started to say.
........“We’re serving justice,” Shaun said. “We’ll fuck him up in the name of everyone else he cut off.”
........Shaun could be really over-dramatic.
........When you think about, we really were doing the right thing. People are always doing stuff like cutting you off at a traffic light and feeling justified about it.
........Geoff was cowering in the back like a little bitch. That kid has no balls even under normal circumstances, but he was all scared of getting in trouble what with turning eighteen the next day. It made sense, though. I was only seventeen so I didn’t care about anything like that. Shaun was almost nineteen but he never worried about getting in trouble.
........Shaun cut the wheel so hard it just about landed Geoff and me in the emergency room, and we followed the guy into the parking lot. The car bottomed out like hell because the parking lot is full of potholes the size of Canada and that nearly sent Geoff into hysterics.
........“Jesus Christ, Shaun! My dad’ll kick my ass if you fuck up even one goddamn hubcap on this car. I swear, I just got the goddamn thing fixed and if you kill it I’ll cut your balls off and send them to your mother. Swear to fucking God….” He kept muttering about his dad and kicking Shaun’s ass, but I wasn’t really listening.
........Shaun knocked the car into park and threw his door open. He didn’t even bother to cut the ignition. The guy was almost at the door for Dunkin’ Donuts and if we were going to say something, we’d have to do it before he went in. We could’ve waited for him to come back outside, but the last time we did something like that the guy dumped his hot coffee on our laps and it hurt like hell.
........“Hey fucker!” Shaun yelled.
........The guy stopped for a second and turned around. He paused, like he didn’t know if we were talking to him. He wasn’t a very old guy, probably thirty or so. He seemed really cheesy, though. He had on faded jeans. The cheesiest guys always wear faded jeans for some reason. It’s like a uniform. They must be standard issue at J. Crew or something. And he was wearing a buttoned-up flannel shirt. He probably never managed to move on after he graduated college and Kurt Cobain killed himself. He looked trapped in that time, but also like he was probably a loser even when all that stuff was cool. He looked like the kind of guy who would wear the tee shirt of the band he was seeing to their concert just to make the other people there think he was the band’s biggest fan. It’s hard to explain. He just looked like he’d be That Guy.
........So the guy turned around and said, “What?” He said it like he was trying to sound like a bad ass. “What?” Like he was too cool to listen to us. Then he made this sort of open-arm-shrug movement. It looked pretty belligerent and that was all it took to get Shaun going.
........He rushed the guy and punched him square in the head. The guy seemed taken aback. He just stood there and watched Shaun run up and hit him. He didn’t even try to dodge. I guess he just expected us to give him a verbal lashing. That’s probably all I would’ve done, but Shaun isn’t too articulate. I’m not either. I’m just really scared of getting hurt, usually.
........Shaun was shaking out his arm. One time he told me that I should always keep a roll of quarters around so I could hold onto them if I had to punch someone. He said doing that keeps your fingers from bending back and getting sore. Plus, it’s supposed to really hurt the other guy. I tried to keep a roll of quarters around for a while after that, but I always ended up spending them in vending machines. Anyway, he didn’t have any quarters with him, so I guess his hand hurt after he punched the guy, because there he was shaking his arm out, not paying any attention.
........And there was the guy, steadying himself before he punched Shaun right in the gut. That knocked the wind out of him and there’s no way he could’ve fought back right away. I was obligated to jump in. I came at the guy, sort of running although there wasn’t enough time to build up any speed. I laid one on him pretty hard, a sort of chop-slap thing to the back of his neck. That got him away from Shaun for a minute. Before the guy had time to react I tackled him at the knees and brought him down to the ground. I learned the move back when I played peewee football. You can bring down anyone, even huge guys, if you tackle them at the knees.
........Once I had the guy on the ground I sort of dragged him over to the side of the building so no one would see us. Shaun staggered over and stomped on the guy’s hands. That was a pretty great idea, because as long as Shaun stayed on his hands I had free shots at the guy’s face. I never really learned how to throw a good punch, to be honest. I mostly just figured it out by playing a lot of “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out” on Nintendo when I was younger. Still, it’s easy to beat on a guy when you have unlimited open shots at his face.
........I just kept throwing fists as hard as I could. I went for his jaw. First one side, then the other. I went for his nose. I did what I think was an uppercut, swung up to hit the bottom of his chin. Holy shit. I mean, all of a sudden there was all this power and I had it. I just owned the guy. He was captive. Every blow delivered the message: This is what you get when you mess with us. I had utter control over him. The kind of control you can’t have over your selfish, asshole friends or your selfish, asshole parents. The kind of control no one has ever had before or since. He was mine to fix, to retrain, redesign. When I was finished I’d re-launch him, unveil him to the world. He’d be the new, improved Driver 2.0, programmed not to cut people off or be a schmuck. I had that power and it was incredible.
........But it still made my knuckles feel like shit.
........I guess I was pretty high on adrenaline, because I was really hammering the guy. I didn’t even notice Geoff get out of the car and run into the woods to hide. He told me later he was afraid the cops were going to show up, especially since it was a Dunkin’ Donuts and all. Anyway, I was going pretty crazy, punching every way I could, until I realized the guy wasn’t moving anymore. I don’t know when he went unconscious at all, but I swear, once I realized he was limp I stopped hitting him.
........I looked at his face. I’d been looking at it the whole time, obviously, but this time I seriously looked. His face was completely wasted. It was hard to see a lot of details because he was pretty bloodied up, but it scared the hell out of me. There I was on the chest of a guy whose face was more or less shattered. By me.
........My hands were bloody, too, and sore. And shaking. Shaking? What the hell? Two seconds ago I was an idol, now…shaking? Get it together, asshole.
Was he dead?
........It was hard to breathe. Short, dry, scratchy breaths crowded down my throat. Shit.
........We were way off to the side and no one else was in the parking lot and no one could really see us from inside Dunkin’ Donuts, but that didn’t mean much. If I got caught it probably wouldn’t matter than I was only seventeen because they try you as an adult for things like murder. Maybe it would just be manslaughter…it was an accident after all. Shaun would testify to that, probably. If he testified at all. I bet he’d just let me take the fall for it, though. Maybe I could cut a deal and blame it on him—it was his fault, really. He brought us to the Dunkin’ Donuts in the first place. The cops in town already didn’t like him. I felt bad thinking that, though. Shaun was sort of an asshole, but I didn’t want him to go to prison or anything.
........What if the guy was married? What if he didn’t cut people off all the time? I mean, maybe he was just messing around with the radio and didn’t see us. Maybe he was a really responsible driver the rest of the time. What if he was in the Mafia? If they ever found out it was Shaun and me that killed him, they’d put a hit on us. Stuff like that happens around here. I wished I were a bigger wuss, like Geoff. He wouldn’t get in any trouble from this. He wouldn’t go to jail. What if this guy was days away from curing cancer? I’d be the guy who killed the guy who would’ve cured cancer. If the guy was dead I’d have to kill myself. Even if he wasn’t about to cure cancer, he was probably an okay guy. Even though he seemed pretty cheesy. Some people love cheesy guys. I’d feel way too bad not to kill myself if the guy was dead. I really didn’t want to die, though. I didn’t want to go to jail either. I started thinking about that movie, A Clockwork Orange. What if they brainwashed me in prison? And then, after I got out, what if all my friends kicked my ass and I ended up at the guy’s wife’s house or something? Then I’d really have to kill myself, just like the kid in the movie tried to do. He lived and all, but still….
........I kept thinking like that, but all at once. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to think a million different things at once.
........I didn’t even get to finish thinking because Shaun said, “Fuck. Is he dead? Scott, I swear if you fucking killed the guy you’re in deep shit…fuck. Is he? Is he dead?”
........I stood up and sort of poked at the guy’s side with my foot.
........“I think he groaned,” Shaun said.
........I pressed on his stomach with the sole of my shoe.
........“Are you sure?” I asked.
........“I think so. Take his goddamn pulse.”
........“No, you take it. My hands are all dirty. It’ll leave finger prints.”
........Shaun grabbed the guy’s wrist.
........“It’s beating,” he said.
........“For real?”
........The guy sort of convulsed. Shit. Death throes? Probably signs of life, right?
That was good enough for Shaun and me. We bolted to the car. The keys were still in the ignition, but Geoff was long gone. We decided to go to the mall like we planned. I could clean up in the bathroom there and it was close enough that Geoff could walk and meet us. Plus, we’d be able to blend in. If we didn’t find Geoff in the mall, we’d come back to the Dunkin’ Donuts to look for him. Of course, we hoped he’d come to the mall. It didn’t seem like a good idea to come back to that place anytime soon. We’d left the guy way off to the side, but it was only a matter of time until someone found him and called the cops. Well, that’s what Shaun said, anyway.
........“Should we call 911 or anything?” I asked after we pulled out of the parking lot.
........“No way. They’d trace it.”
........“What about from a pay phone at the mall?”
........“Asshole, then they’d come find us at the mall,” he said.
........“How? They wouldn’t even know who to look for,” I said.
........He grabbed my arm. “Look at your fucking knuckles. You’d get caught in ten minutes, shithead.”
........“Think he’s dead?”
........Shaun snorted. “Who gives a shit?”
........He sat there grinning shamelessly and drumming on the steering wheel. He hadn’t shaved in a while. It really made him look like scumbag, but he didn’t have a mark on him. I figured he’d probably end up with some bruises on his gut tomorrow, but nothing major. No blood on his clothes, not even from the other guy. Hell, he didn’t even have dirt under his goddamn fingernails.
........I sort of stared at my hands. They looked pretty disgusting. Maybe they were broken. Oozing and torn up and covered in blood. Just like the other guy’s face. Not as bad, though. I swear if you saw his face you’d have been sick for a week. Open wounds, parts sort of caving in, crooked nose. You couldn’t even see his eyes after a few hits; the rest of his face just swallowed them up. He had just shaved. You could tell. His face was slippery and cologne-y at first.
A cop car went by at about a thousand miles an hour on the other side of the road, sirens loud as hell and everything. Shaun laughed and tried to get my eye, the stupid prick.
........I clenched my hand into a fist, even though it hurt like hell, and I wished I had a roll of quarters.