Monday, February 27, 2006


To be at the forefront of a movement only means that you will one day be trampled on by your successors. At your heels, the pack is closing in. They have no choice but to go forward, ever forward, and to one day overtake you. This is not intended to be a threat, and this is not simple pessimism - it is only the truth. It is just the way of things.

The leader of an endless race, there is no doubt that you will one day grow tired. Shortly thereafter, you will fall victim to the imperfection of the human condition, and you will collapse in a heap upon the ground. Those running immediately behind you will be the most likely to stop and help you up, but, mindful of their own positions, will chose to leap over you instead and keep on running. A new leader will immerge. A leader every bit as strong as you once were. A leader every bit as wise. A leader every bit as human.

Only after the race is long over, a very distant memory, and the scavengers have had their way, will your battered and ransacked remains be found.

"Oh yeah - remember him?" your discoverer will ask his colleagues.

"Vaguely," the others will mutter, while self-consciously glancing around at one another.

"What do you suppose he did?" one bold man will ask of no-one in particular.

"It's hard to say," another will venture forth in a practice of avoidance. "Perhaps something, perhaps nothing at all."

All will nod very sagely with furrowed brows. They'll scribble words in their little notepads.


No-one knife fights anymore; there's probably a reason for that.

All I can see is my opponent, and even then my vision is limited to his eyes, and the occasional silver flash of a blade. He's little more than a shadow hustling before me, darting this way and that. The fear. I'm running on nothing but the fear, and the faint hope that this bastard is as scared as I am.

I'm crouched low to the ground, and our feet scramble on gravel as we both vie for the better position. How does something like this begin? How do we decide who strikes first? The cool of my knife, heavy in my hand, keeps me grounded. Tight on the grip, I couldn't get any closer to the pommel. A Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife - I was told it was the best.


I purchased the blade from a fence in London, an old man who gave me his word through the steel bars of his dark, tiny office - little more than a rat hole in an alley.

"Best in the world," he said, holding up the weapon for me to see. "Designed after the daggers of Shanghai street fighters, and intended for use by British commandos."

Rendered speechless by its beauty, I was in love.

"Double-edged blade, you hold it like so," he said, while gripping the knife upside down and making a vicious stabbing motion through the air. "Lightweight, and slim, it fits nicely between the bones right here," he said, patting his ribs with his free hand.

I smiled. I'm sure I was smiling.

"But," the old man continued, "I'm sure you know how it works. I'm certain I don't have to go into detail with someone like you."

Nod. My heart was thumping.

"You'd be surprised," he said, "how many kids I get coming in here thinking that having the best knife will make them the best fighter." Raspy chuckle. "I always sell to them anyway," he shrugged. "I figure I'm doing a service to the underground by letting these imbeciles exterminate each other."

"I couldn’t agree with you more. And it really is a thing of beauty - I'll take it," I said, slipping a wad of dirty money under the smudged window.


The old heart beats quick now. It really pounds. Breathing heavy, I can feel the moisture collecting in my beard. Where are my boys at? Someone's got to be packing. Soon, someone will pull his nine and end this foolishness. Sweat is beginning to trickle into my eye, and I go to brush it away. Soon there-

Lightning quick movement. There's a strong grip on the sleeve of my leather jacket.

Someone shrieks. I think it's me.

I'm pulled, yanked forward. Spun around. Lost.

Suddenly I feel something in my chest that shouldn't be there. Where's the pain? A twisting inside of me. A wrenching. On the ground now, pockets being rifled.

Is this really how it happens? I slowly, feebly, reach out along the ground and my fingers are met with the thick warm of my blood. Where the hell is the pain? Slick fingers find my blade. There's a laugh as it's kicked away.



To be at the forefront of a movement only meant that I would one day be trampled on by my successors. At my heels, the pack was closing in - and I had no idea, no way of knowing. In a race of any kind, it's so tough to look behind you without losing momentum. And the others, your competitors, they have no choice but to go forward, ever forward, and to one day overtake you. This is not so much a threat as it is a warning. And not so much a warning as it is the transmission of simple information, the truth. It's just the way of things.

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