Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Revenge Therapy

Revenge Therapy

The Count of Monte Cristo can be called the ultimate revenge story and it has sold well for centuries.

Revenge stories always work.


Have you ever been in a long line at a store? You wait patiently, checking your watch/cell phone, just waiting...and waiting. You look up to see five people in front of You reach the front of the line and then whoops.

The cashier turns off the helping sign and it's on to the next line for more...


Eventually you either set your items down and leave or you may go as far as to hurl the items in air. You might even try to run out of the store WITH the items. Either way, there is plenty of cause for chaos at this point.

But that's just for starters.

Let's say you have a relationship that goes fine at first but the significant other takes steps to cut things off with no real reason. Not too bad. We've all been there.

However let's say that things go much further before the other decides this is not for them. Let's say an engagement. Now they've met your relatives and friends and you can see your future and have a good idea of where you're going and then they just drop the ball out of nowhere and call everything off.


Time to erase the plans you had.

Hold on.

Let's say you are married to this person. A few months down the road after vows have been exchanged before your friends and family, NOW the ball drops. You thought you had everything in order but no.

Just kidding.

You have to go through the painful process of divorce which consumes plenty of your time and money which most of us never have enough of.

Let's step it up a bit.

You have been married for five years. You and your partner are the proud parents of two children. NOW everything is in order and your daily routines are how you want them to be. Nothing could be better than being content on your choices and where you're headed.

And then the ball drops.

Ah, man.

Are you kidding me?

Now you have to go through a divorce which with children involved will be messy to say the least. You have to explain to them why mommy and daddy don't want to be together anymore and on and on. Then there's custody and visitations and all those lovely things.



But why stop there?

Let's say that your partner has decided to do more than drop the ball on you that they don't want to be together anymore. Let's say they are planning on murdering you.

Now on the one hand, if they planned on killing you and they pulled it off, well, end of story.

However if you figured out their plans, now we have a good story going. Let's say you manage to get away from them and cannot prove their intentions. The law would help but the law has to have proof.

Still the former partner hounds you and hassles you and still tries to find a way to do you in and you know all about it. Along with all the other stresses in your daily life like work, paying bills and keeping up with the kids, you have this threat looming over you.


There are restraining orders and lots of legal ways to keep an enemy at bay but well they don't always protect you. You know it's coming but you don't know when and where. Let's say now that the ex-partner acquires full custody of the kids.

And you are left with nothing.

All the planning out and working and struggling has left you alone with nothing to show for it besides two children whose minds will be twisted by whatever their psychopathic parent is filling their innocent little heads with.

Are you ready for revenge yet?

All too often in our normal lives, we incur difficulties as the result of another and many times, we wish in our darkest moments that we could make that person go away.

I believe revenge stories hone in on that desire some of us have and while they may be focusing on our darker elements simply for entertainment I do believe that maybe living out our revenge fantasies through a work of fiction is much better than actually carrying out any sort of plan ourselves.

So here's to revenge fiction and how therapeutic it can be!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Crossing the Line

Jack Little is a story about Will Hodge- a jewelry store owner in Memphis, TN who loses his business because he falls for a conman's game. However he gets the chance to get his store back and then some. He not only takes back his own merchandise but also merchandise from the conman's other victims.


Not the worse crime in the world.

However by taking what is not his he opens up a door into taking more than what it is. He is opening up the door to stealing. And yes. Caught or not, stealing is a crime and not justifiable for the most part. We all agree it is not moral to take from somebody else.

Yet I wonder how many of us would have made the same decision?

I cannot swear that I would not. After all getting his own merchandise back could be seen as a crime by many. The hardcore law abiding person would have called the police without a second thought. Yet, what would have happened?

Most likely the police would have confiscated the merchandise and locked it away in an evidence room. Sure. Will might get it back eventually but bill collectors don't wait around to be paid. He needed the money right then and there. So taking it back himself is something I would most certainly take advantage of. I believe in God and would feel like the lord had blessed me in spite of the conman's efforts at my downfall. I see nothing immoral about reclaiming your own property.

However I cannot say I would have taken the rest.

I cannot say I would not have either.

In the best fiction one primary ingredient is desperation. Will Hodge feels that. His bills are piling up. His wife has just lost the only woman who was ever a parent to her. His son is away at college and we all know college costs money. He sees the business his father built up his whole life and passed on to Will who in turn dedicated his own life to running it, is going under. He is drowning.

So he take the rest of the merchandise. If we had the same worries(as many of us might have), we might go ahead and take a page from old Will's book. And while it is a crime, how big or bad of a crime is it?

Surely when a man kills a child rapist, he is a criminal for taking the law into his hands. However what if the child rapist would have hurt another child if he hadn't killed him? The man prevented others from being hurt. So while a crime, it is forgivable.

Is Will's crime forgivable?

I believe it is although I know if I were in the shoes of the other stores, I would not think so. The honorable thing to do would be to return their merchandise and if nothing else, do so anonymously. Either way you did not take what was not yours. You sleep well.

But of course Will gets plenty of sleep himself. Clearly he does not look at it as such a bad thing and obviously forgivable. As a reader, I think that I don't stand too much against him since the other stores were bigger and most likely had great insurance that came through anyway. So maybe in his shoes I would have done the same thing.

However this did open up the door for more stealing. Any criminal finds committing his crimes much easier the more he goes along. From here Will starts taking other things and he's pretty darn good at it. So here's the real question.

If he had not taken more than was his, would he have ended up stealing anything else at all?

In my opinion I don't think he would have. Despite his desperation, he would have found another way. Crossing that line changes a person forever.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What is it about Crime Fiction?

Why do you like to read crime fiction? Is it the suspense of wondering if the perpetrator will get caught? Can you see yourself in the same situation? Is it vicarious living through the characters?

I read crime fiction because I love the suspense it brings. I also read it because I believe we all have criminal tendencies somewhere inside of us.

Have you ever thought 'You know, the bank does not need all that money. There are lots of people who have money there who never earned it. They don't work as hard as I do for what I get and they get by without effort while I work hard every day. Why shouldn't I have a bigger piece of the pie?'

If you haven't I would say you are in the minority. The truth is the majority of us all consider committing a crime at some time in our lives. I know I have on many occasions. But of course the majority of us do not follow through with the idea. Most of us have morals and more importantly a tremendous fear of jail.

Prison time?

Oh just shoot me instead!

Yet we can all pick up a crime novel and read about criminals and the law enforcement officers who hunt them without any real solid risk to our involvement. Sure. There are crimes happening and the hunt is on but are we really involved? Will we be put in jail for reading?

As far as I know, we will not. I don't think any country supports that law just yet.

But you never know.

The point is that we love to go on a thrill ride with characters who have a lot to lose and a lot at stake. I know I do. We want our own lives to go as smoothly as possible. Yet in fiction we want to see characters put through the ringer. It's called identification. When we identify with a character it's like making a new friend. And who couldn't use more friends?

In the end I believe every person has the potential to be a criminal or at least think like one. Have you ever stolen a pen from work? Have ever been really clever and stolen it with full intentions and then told others you never meant to do that? Have you went even farther and acted shocked to discover the stolen object and burst into a mad frenzy of tears of shame?

We read about criminals and crime because a little part of us thinks that certain crime at times can be justified. A black and white world is wonderful to dream about but our world just is not that simple. Some laws are crazy to us and for good reason. However to break that law and be caught officially makes you a criminal. And we all are potential lawbreakers when it comes to certain laws.

However since most of us are not going to go as far as breaking the law we do enjoy reading about people who do. Oh yes. Even the nastiest murderers are fun to read about or they would not sell. If nothing else seeing them go down at the end is enjoyable as well. Those times when they do go down.

Are we all criminals?

On the record absolutely not.

Off the record, I think we all have a bit of mischief in us. Thank God for crime fiction. It saves a lot of money and time.

More time to read!!