The concept of justice is the theme of the song prompt “Beer for my Horses.” The songwriter romanticizes the style of justice made famous in the Old West–the noose. My story explores another form: vigilante justice. I decided to set the story in the context of this week’s news to give it a contemporary flavor. I found the perfect villain that everyone loves to hate. His own bad behavior and cavalier attitude toward his victims makes him perfect for the villain character in the story. The old man character takes matters into his own hands to set things right.
This little shortie is less than 400 words. The names have been changed to protect the guilty, and to cover my ass.
by Fay Moore (c) 2012
The old man shuts the top on his notebook computer. He removes his glasses and sets them on the lamp table next to his easy chair. The glasses rest atop a pile of account statements and letters. He leans his head against the chair back and closes his eyes. The words he just read are re-playing in his head.
Internet columnist Ben Protess reports, “After 10 months of stitching together evidence on the demise of MF Global, investigators conclude that chaos and porous risk controls at the firm, rather than fraud, allowed the money to disappear.”
The octogenarian pinches the bridge at the top of his nose, eyes still shut.
More words echo:
“A criminal investigation into the collapse of the brokerage firm MF Global regarding the disappearance of $1.6 billion in customer money is entering the final stages. No charges are expected to be filed against any top executives.”
The paper statements on the lamp stand show the accounting of deposits made by the old man into an MF Global investment account. The letters mixed in with the statements describe the loss of the man’s money because his brokerage firm gambled on Greek debt instruments with customers’ money. The firm’s actions wiped out the old man’s account. Another letter promises to repay a portion of the loss at pennies on the dollar. However, repayment is contingent on court approval. The case is tied up in bankruptcy court and may be for months or years to come.
But worse to the old man than his loss, worse than Johann Corsini and his cronies skating on criminal charges, are the last words the man reads before taking off his glasses. The words say to the old man that there will be more victims. A leopard can’t change his spots.
“Mr. Corsini, in a bid to rebuild his image and engage his passion for trading, is weighing whether to start a hedge fund, according to people with knowledge of his plans.”
These are the words that prompt the man to place a call. He listens to the ringing before someone picks up on the other end.
“Do it,” says the old man.
“Now. I want to see it on tonight’s news.”
He ends the call and leans back in his chair again, eyes closed. He is imagining the news broadcaster’s announcement:
“Johann Corsini is dead, shot today by an unidentified gunman while he and his wife were vacationing in France.”