Friday, July 08, 2005

When Karma Fails, Call for Rob

Terry Floyd, book department supervisor and asshole extraordinaire, was on break in the break room, meditating on how he had just publicly reamed out a worker right in front of customers in aisle seven: "Hey, Flash, don't put those books on the shelf like that! Flash, you hear me? Hey chief! Listen up! You stupid or something? Don't put the books on the shelf like that! Flash, you got wax in your ears? You stupid?"

Rob arrived in the year 1996 in the break room right behind Terry Floyd. Terry noticed a shadow suddenly cast in front of him, as if of a man standing behind his back. Terry Floyd turned around: "Oh, hey chief, you new here?"

Rob glared at the supervisor, then spoke in a deep bass voice. "Terry Floyd, I am here to Judge you for your crimes against humanity. Too long have you brutalized and mistreated your workers. Your evildoing comes to a stop now. No longer will you browbeat and humiliate workers in front of customers, as you did not ten minutes ago..."

"Oh, hey, I don't know what you're talking about, I've never done any such thing..."

Rob interrupted in a voice so loud that the walls of the room literally vibrated: "Stop lying! Your evil is manifest!" Suddenly a scene was projected on the wall of the break room, as if by an unseen movie projector: "Hey, Flash, don't put those books on the shelf like that! Flash, you hear me? Hey chief! Listen up! You stupid or something?..."

Terry fidgeted nervously. "Oh, well, chief, I didn't mean anything by it. I don't do anything like that often, anyhow..."

Again Rob interrupted in a 90-decibel roar: "Stop lying! You have behaved like that routinely toward your workers, day in and day out, for years now. Brutalizing them, abusing them, chewing them out for doing things the way you told them to do it 20 minutes ago, instead of doing it the new way you just made up in your head two seconds ago... Your habitual evil behavior has made this workplace a living hell for dozens of people. I am here to tell you that your wrongdoing is at an end."

Now Terry tried to assert his authority. "Look, I don't have to listen to crap like this..." Terry turned to leave the break room, only to discover that there was no longer any doorway out of the room.

There was no door. Where there had been a door, there was now only a blank, unbroken expanse of wall.

"Hey, chief! You let me out of here..."

"No." Rob stared grimly into the supervisor's eyes. "Your petty reign of terror is at an end. You have enough oxygen in this room for about half an hour. It would take jackhammers to break into this room, and just in case, I have now fortified the walls, ceiling, and floor with three-inch-thick steel plate. Good-bye, Terry Floyd. In the time left to you, you will experience personally the pain and the suffering you have inflicted on your employees."

Suddenly Terry Floyd screamed and howled like a cornered wild animal, as every psychological defense and means of self-deception was stripped away from him, and he experienced for himself, first-hand, what he had been inflicting on his workers all these years. The asshole of a supervisor sank to his knees in the sealed-off break room, screaming at the top of his lungs, as Rob disappeared into thin air.

* * * * * * * *

The four high school bullies sat on the swings in the public park. They were smirking at two younger boys, brothers, who were playing on a nearby teeter-totter. The two younger boys were wearing identical Batman T-shirts.

One of the bullies, clearly the ringleader, called out in a mocking voice: "Will the real Batman please stand up?"

His three lackeys laughed at this. The two younger boys ignored him. The bully called out even louder: "Will the real Batman please stand up?"

Again the lackeys chortled. This time, the younger boys glanced over, unable to conceal their unease. Smelling fear, the bully got up off the swing and began sauntering over toward the teeter-totters. "I said, will the real Batman please stand up?"

Rob arrived in the year 1967 behind an oak tree in the park. He rewound the time sequence 20 seconds so he could replay it in its entirety from the beginning.

Now the bully was laughing out loud. His three companions got up and began following him, striding slowly in the direction of the teeter-totters.

Rob felt of the timestream. In every possible future, this disgusting bully would only go on to more of the same. Time to intervene...

"Hey Batman! Hey Batman!" the bully called out in a mocking singsong.

Then, all of a sudden, with a loud crack like cannonfire, the bully's head exploded. Brains and blood and shards of bone sprayed all over. The headless body wobbled and collapsed to the ground, blood gouting in spurts out of the severed neck.

The two brothers on the teeter-totter laughed at the sudden display of Cosmic Justice. Rob stepped out of the shadows into full daylight. "Don't worry, you guys. That bully will never bother anyone again."

Rob turned to the three slackers, and glowered. "Let your friend's fate be a warning to you. The time when bullies were tolerated is coming to an end. I have Judged him. Now get out of here, and change your ways, before I Judge you."

Then Rob vanished in broad daylight. One instant he was there, the next he was gone.

* * * * * * * *

Rob arrived in the year 2008 on the front steps of the public school. He walked in the front door, and into the school office. He announced to the secretary, "I've come to see the Principal."

The secretary looked up from her desk. "I'm sorry, you'll need to make an appointment if you want to see Mr. Hanford."

"I don't make appointments." Rob strode past the flustered secretary toward the closed door to the Principal's office.

Rob reached out and, with his bare hands, he tore the door right off its hinges.

Rob cast the door aside, and walked into the office to confront the Principal: Mr. Hanford, who was sitting behind his desk, looked up in surprise.

Now Rob raised his right arm and pointed straight at the Principal, speaking in a bass voice so loud that the glass windowpanes behind the Principal literally cracked. "Reginald Hanford, I have come to Judge you. What is this I hear about you expelling a third-grader for the rest of the year, because she brought a plastic picnic knife to school for show-and-tell?"

The Principal chuckled, like a man who thinks he can jolly the Fates by wearing a suit and tie and faking a bland exterior. "I'm sorry, but our school system has instituted a policy of zero tolerance for any and all weapons. I'm afraid for legal reasons I can't really discuss the case beyond that..."

Rob roared in righteous fury, like an uncaged lion: "Genuine weapons, yes, that I could see; but a dull, blunt-ended plastic picnic knife, brought to school with perfectly innocent intent??! Don't hide behind your loathsome 'legalities' with me, Reginald Hanford! Zero tolerance is an abomination upon the face of the earth! And you, Mr. Hanford, are a willing tool of the system!"

The Principal drummed his fingers nervously on the desktop, and glanced aside. "Oh, well..."

Rob pounded his fist on the Principal's desk, and things went flying off the desktop in every which direction. "And this will go down permanently on the girl's school record, expelled for a weapons offense... Tell me, too, Mr. Hanford, about the first-grader expelled from your school for pointing his index finger at someone and saying 'Bang!' Tell me about the fourth-grader with the unexpungeable 'weapons offense' of shooting a rubber band across the room! Tell me about the so-called drug offense of a junior high student who had a headache and brought an aspirin to school in her bag lunch. Tell me about the innocent lives you have damaged..."

Mr. Hanford looked up. "I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave. The police have already been called."

"No, Reginald Hanford, don't think you can hide behind your respectability, your social position, your authority, your sang-froid, and your neatly tailored suit. You have willingly and gladly made yourself an accomplice in the evils of zero tolerance, and you are an evil man..."

At this, Mr. Hanford laughed out loud, but uneasily.

"...You are an evil man, and you are a blot on the escutcheon of humanity! You will not be suffered to continue your evildoing any longer! Mine is the power to access any and all school or legal records, written or electronic..."

Rob held out his hand, and suddenly like a conjuror's trick, several file folders appeared in his hand out of nowhere.

"These are the school records of some of the innocent students whose lives you have derailed." Rob threw the file folders down in front of the Principal. "But mine is also the power to correct the record. Look at them!"

Mr. Hanford's face turned white. He opened a folder, and was terrified to see the writing on the page changing and being altered before his very eyes. Then the folders suddenly disappeared off his desk.

Rob spoke softly, almost quietly: "Now, Reginald Hanford, it is time for me to Judge you."

Rob reached forth, and with a single hand, he picked up the Principal's 200-pound steel desk and flung it across the room. The desk caromed off the walls, scattering books and bookshelves as it shattered the plywood paneling.

The Principal looked up at Rob, pale as a ghost. "Who... who are you to judge me?"

Rob looked straight into the man's eyes. "Who am I to Judge you? Reginald Hanford, you vile piece of scum, I am the voice that laughs in the morning. I am the avenger of innocents wronged. I am the righteous hand that removes the thumb of evil from the balance-pan of Justice. I am the fury that burns against all bullies and oppressors. Reginald Hanford... I have been deputized as the Left Hand of God."

With that, Rob reached forth and effortlessly tore Mr. Hanford's left arm off. The Principal screamed. Then Rob tore the malefactor's legs off at the knees. "I'd say you should make a comeback as Darth Vader, Mr. Hanford. By your shameless embrace of zero tolerance, you've certainly gone over to the Dark Side of the Force. But unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi, I won't make that mistake..."

Rob clenched his fist and punched Mr. Hanford's heart out, right back through his spine, right through the back of the office chair. Blood sprayed everywhere.

When Rob walked out the front doors of the school, he found not only the police but also the National Guard waiting for him. But with them he had no quarrel; he walked calmly through their midst, as they opened fire on him. The bullets just bounced off Rob. They fired at him with bazookas, and he just laughed. Finally the tank fired at him, at point-blank range.

Rob wasn't even fazed; once, on the coast of Iceland in the year 2143, they tried to stop Rob by dropping an atomic bomb on him. It didn't work. Why then fear pea shooters like these?

Rob walked away unscathed through the streets of the city.

* * * * * * * *

In the Corridors of Justice, beyond space and time, Rob ran into Kathy. "So, how was your day?"

Kathy said, "I traveled back to 1712. Took out a two-bit tyrant in the Trans-Caucasus. And you?"

"Oh, just taking care of a few notorious bullies. What's on your list for tomorrow?"

"Mid 21st century. Deal with some activists who advocate involuntary organ donation. How about you?"

"The year 2403. Up against genetically modified post-humans."

"You take care! Those post-humans, they've got power."

"Nothing like the power that is mine." Rob looked pensive. "So many innocents to liberate, so many evildoers to put down. And so many quislings who blithely go along with evil, as long as they can color it respectable, or generate sympathy for the devil! When will Judgment Day ever come..."

"It's coming soon enough, Rob. They're gearing up. Meanwhile, it's up to us Left Hands to Judge the world in Geburah. Same as it's been, ever since the shattering of the vessels. But don't you fret, Judgment Day will come."

"Can't come soon enough to suit me."



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