The First Casualty is Innocence

Blind rage; reliance on pure instinct. It had kept me alive through two tours in Iraq but could only be tragically misapplied here.

As soon as I felt the pickpocket’s fingers going for my wallet, I had my weapon out and aimed. Thank god I hesitated before firing. Calming down, I took my first real look at the would-be thief. Eyes wide and full of tears, staring down the barrel of my pistol. An unmistakable growing wet patch on the front of his torn jeans. Fuck, he couldn’t be more than 14. What the hell was I about to do?

I eased back on the trigger and thumbed the safety on, my arms shaking now. “Jesus Christ, kid, go home. Get out of here.”

“I… I ain’t got no home. My momma says she’ll kill me if she ever sees me around. I got nothing.”

What kind of a fucked up world had I been fighting for? Freedom? Democracy? The hell did any of it matter when faced with this sort of reality.

I gave the kid all my cash, and tossed the gun in a dumpster. Otherwise I knew I’d only be tempted to use it on myself.

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