“Excuse me, could you stop pushing?”. Emma, 67, was upset because two tattooed men standing in front of her in line at the supermarket were brushing against her body.
Harold was behind her and thought the guys had mistakenly touched his wife, but he was wrong.
The thugs chuckled, throwing nasty comments at Emma, and ended up aggressively shoving her.
“Hey, stop disrespecting my wife,” he charged fiercely at the men. “Show some respect-didn’t your parents teach you to respect your elders?”
One of the guys burst out laughing, taunting Harold relentlessly.
“Look how defensive this old man gets, buddy!” he sneered.
“Boo! We’re scared to death of you, Grandpa! What are you going to do, hit us with your cane?!”.
“I’ll show you what I can do!”.
Harold grabbed the guy by the neck and twisted his arm, making him squeal and wince in pain.
“Back in my day, people with neck tattoos were considered useless idiots? Little has changed since then! I guess I’ll have to teach you some respect the hard way, kid.”
The surrounding crowd was stunned by Harold’s audacity. Suddenly, the thug pulled a Bowie knife from his leather jacket, and chaos broke out. Everyone backed away.
“Hunter, what are you doing? People are watching…we’ll get in trouble. Put it away,” the other guy yelled.
He, fortunately, intervened, and Harold let go of Hunter’s collar.
“YOU’LL PAY FOR THIS, OLD MAN! I’m not letting you get away!” said Hunter as he spat on the ground.
Then he and his partner fled the scene.
On the way home, Emma was worried about the incident at the store, but Harold comforted her, assuring her that they would not cross paths with the thugs again.
That evening, the elderly couple enjoyed a romantic candlelit dinner, as they did every Saturday, and Emma kissed Harold goodnight before snuggling comfortably in bed.
But Harold couldn’t sleep, as the grocery store incident kept replaying in his mind in fragments. He decided to read a book to distract himself, but suddenly he heard a loud bang coming from outside.
Harold thought it was strange because there were no immediate neighbors, and it sounded like someone was dragging a heavy object just outside his bedroom window.
He glanced at the clock on the nightstand and saw that it was half past three. He pulled his robe closer and quietly got out of bed, careful not to wake Emma.
Harold went downstairs to see what was going on when a Molotov cocktail came crashing through the window, causing a fiery explosion in the kitchen.
Harold’s body shuddered as he looked out of the kitchen at the shattered window. Outside, he saw several masked men, and then another series of crude bombs came through the window, relentlessly, without pause.
“God, what’s going on, oh, oh, God!”
Harold’s forehead was sweating as he panicked, wondering what to do, how to stop the fire.
Just then, he saw the guys leaving, but one of them took off his mask and Harold recognized him. Hunter smiled wickedly as he disappeared through the door.
Harold coughed as flames spread to every corner of the room. He ran upstairs and returned with a surprised Emma cradled in his arms.
“Emma, honey, are you okay?” he asked, laying her down on the grass as they walked out the back door.
” Need an ambulance,” Harold sobbed, dialing 911. “Please hurry. My wife… She’s having a heart attack.”
After transporting Emma to the hospital, Harold rushed to the police station to file a complaint against the thugs.
“They dared to break into my property to kill my wife and me!” he shouted at the sheriff’s deputy.
The officer immediately contacted the control room and requested the recordings from the security cameras in the store and nearby streets, but, unfortunately, none of the cameras were working.
“I suggest you stop wasting our time, sir. We can’t file a complaint without evidence,” the sheriff said, motioning for him to leave.
Harold noticed an emblem-like tattoo on the policeman’s hand.
“But… there’s got to be something you can do, officer!” he pleaded, but all his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Harold left the police station and returned to his car, determined to visit Emma. As he was buckling his seat belt, his phone rang.
“Mr. Martinez, we’re sorry…,” the voice on the other end of the line informed Harold that Emma had passed away.
The older man ended the call in silence. He could not muster the courage to see the pale face of his beloved under an ugly white sheet.
He remained in his car, staring into the void when, suddenly, he saw the sheriff crossing the street. The officer looked around before getting into a car, and Harold’s eyes widened like saucers when he saw the driver’s face.
“Hunter? That guy who killed my Emma?” wondered Harold angrily as he started his car and began to follow the sheriff’s vehicle.
After what seemed like an eternity, the SUV swerved into the woods outside of town and as the vehicle came to a stop, Harold saw the sheriff get out of the car along with other thugs.
Harold silently followed the men as they slipped through the bushes and was dumbfounded to see a huge warehouse. He then noticed two vans outside the building in one of which gang members were loading crates of guns.
“Cornell’s Emporium,” read the logo on the vans.
And Harold put his hands to his mouth in shock when he saw the policeman shaking hands with Mr. Cornell, whose face appeared on the logos. The mobsters and Mr. Cornell were together!
Harold shakily pulled out his cell phone and began recording as he listened to their conversation.
“Good work, guys,” Hunter said after turning to his men. “The cargo is ready for shipment.”
Seeing the vans preparing to leave, Harold decided to follow. The two vans separated at the intersection and Harold quickly followed one of them.
After an hour-long chase, the van stopped at Cornell’s Emporium, a well-known chain of fashion boutiques.
Harold waited discreetly in his car until the thugs were out of sight. Then he pulled out his cell phone and approached the van, determined to put the thugs behind bars for suspected gun-running.
But Harold was surprised when he opened the unsecured door of the van.
“What, just clothes? But I saw ammunition with my own eyes.”
“Looks like you’re not getting your revenge tonight, old man!”.
Just then, a hoarse voice startled Harold from behind. When he turned around, he saw Mr. Cornell, accompanied by the thugs, including Hunter.
“Let me explain, old man,” Mr. Cornell sneered, grabbing Harold’s collar. “They’re for my benefit tomorrow. The homeless will be singing my praises in front of the cameras at the fair, assuring my victory in the mayoral election! Did you think you could ruin my plan or that we wouldn’t notice you spying on us?”
Harold tried to wriggle free, but he was no match for the bulky bully.
“Looks like you have a talent for filming too, Mr. Cornell!”. Hunter snatched the phone from Harold and crushed it under his boot.
Before the old man could react, he felt a sharp blow to the back of his head, and everything went black for him.
When he opened his eyes, Harold realized he was in a basement. His head was throbbing as he looked around, trying to find a way out. The door wouldn’t budge, but he heard noises and looked out the window to see the mobsters loading more boxes into the van.
“Whatever it takes, the main shipment has to get to Virginia in two days. It’s a million-dollar business.” Harold overheard the conversation and came up with an idea.
He set fire to a stack of old cardboard boxes and, within seconds, the fire alarm went off throughout the building, unlocking all the doors. Chaos broke out in the emporium as people shopping for clothes rushed for safety, thinking a fire had broken out in the building.
“Cornell and his men will now know what this ‘old man’ is capable of.” Harold frowned as he escaped from the basement and disappeared into the night.
The next morning, hundreds of people gathered to see the wealthy Mr. Cornell and receive donations from the benefit he had organized. When Mr. Cornell took the stage to deliver his speech, all eyes were on him.
“It is an honor to serve the people of our city,” Mr. Cornell began as the crowd listened enthusiastically. “My father once said, ‘Give back to the society that helped you grow up…that sculpted your success,’ and here I am…. to honor my late father’s words.”
Cornell pointed to the van.
“Today, on behalf of the Cornell Emporium, we will be distributing new clothes and shoes to all of you! Hunter, my son, please open the van door and do the honors.”
When Hunter opened the van, guns, grenades and explosives came out of the boxes. People panicked and someone called the police. Within minutes police patrols and K-9 squads arrived, and Mr. Cornell was startled when they charged toward him in handcuffs.
“Now you’re talking!” Harold dusted off his hands as he watched Mr. Cornell and his men being shoved into the patrol cars.
Satisfied that he had avenged his wrongdoers, Harold turned to leave when a sudden tap on his shoulder stopped him.
“Mr. Martinez, FBI Agent Carl,” an agent said. “You need to report to our office tomorrow.”
Harold was sitting in the FBI office the next morning when Agent Carl walked in.
“Ah, Mr. Martinez! I wanted to thank you first, but there’s a question that’s been bothering me since yesterday,” Agent Carl broke Harold’s silence. How did the van with the guns get to the Goodwill?”
Harold smiled and produced his business card.
“Tow Truck Driver, H. Martinez?” Agent Carl exclaimed when he saw the words on it.
“Once I figured out the location of the two vans, all I had to do was swap them out with my truck,” Harold replied with a smile.
When Harold left the office that day, he bought a bouquet of Emma’s favorite white roses and headed to the cemetery to spend some time with his beloved wife.