Rip something from your headlines.
"Give me what you got."
It might have been a two-dollar toy store revolver, hard plastic and as dangerous as the other side of a movie screen, for all the shock that didn't register on Jack's cold-numbed face at 3 a.m. that night—until, expecting with every fiber of his white-bread, middle-class being to hear the clack-clack-clack of a kiddie hammer, he felt the thick and unmistakable click of a chambered bullet send a current of white-hot fear down his spine.
Past shame and all control in an instant, he pissed himself.
"Wha—I ... I mean, wh-what do you—"
"This ain't a fucking joke, man," the gunman said, the barrel twitching left to right and up and down, not moving so much as dancing as Jack felt his stomach drop like a rock away from the frantic and alien beating of his heart. "Keys, man. Your fuckin' wallet. Give me it."
Keys. His car; it was just up the street, Jack remembered. They were in one hand, a book in the other—don't take the book, he prayed, not smirking, now, at a prayer—and they felt unfathomably heavy as he held them out, keyring still looped around his finger, toward the man, surrendering them with the uncontested will of his entire dumbstruck body and watching, not daring to hope.
Without another word, gun still staring between them, a free hand snatched the keys away. The weapon and its threat began to withdraw; the offering had been accepted. Slowly, step by backward step, the man retreated toward Jack's two-door Chevy—ten feet, now fifteen feet away. They jingled in his hand: house keys, car keys, work keys, drawer keys—
"It won't do you any good," Jack said.
The man stopped, and for the first time Jack noticed his eyes: big, brown, and blank, two unreflective smears under the thick lines of an angry brow, whites bulging as his shoulders shook.
"What?" he had said. Now he was shouting, "What did you say?" even as Jack, beyond disbelief, asked himself the same question.
"It won't do you any good," he repeated, staring straight ahead, oddly unfocused even as he felt the barrel and the man drew closer—ten feet, now five.
"Do you—do you realize what the fuck you're saying?" the eyes growled, now stained pale red and swelling bigger, the barrel bobbing up and down and nodding as Jack followed along, up and down.
"It won't do you any good, the keys or the car or any of it," as a hand grabbed the neck of his jacket and shoved him up against the frost-glazed window of a truck.
"It won't do you any good," he continued. "It won't do you any good—it won't do you any good because you're living like this. It won't do you any good—because it's not yours, it won't do you any good."
"I said shut up!" and the barrel was against his chest, its metal weight pressing through thick cotton and tapping at the point where Jack's heart had been beating.
"It won't. It won't do you any good," and clack-clack-clack three pumps jolted Jack as warmth flooded from his heart to the tips of his fingers. "It won't do you any good—it won't do you any good because it's no way to live, it won't do you any good."
To Members of the University Community:
The C— Police Department released the following information regarding a robbery and stolen vehicle.
A C— resident was walking home on W— Avenue, which runs from S— Road to J— Avenue, at approximately 3:00 a.m. today. The male victim stopped at his car to remove a piece of electronic equipment. After reaching into his car and retrieving the device, the victim turned around and encountered a handgun pointed at his face. The suspect, described as a male approximately 6 feet tall, responded, "give me what you got." The victim handed the suspect the keys to his black Volkswagen Jetta. The suspect then fled the scene with the car. The victim in this case was not injured, nor was he a student at the University.
This morning at approximately 7:30 a.m., the car was located and recovered, abandoned and on its side, on C— Trail. A passing motorist discovered the car and reported it to the area's 911 Communications Center.
Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call Crimestoppers...
University Police offer the following tips to help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of a similar crime.
- Walk with purpose and stay alert.
- Approach your car with the key in hand. Look around and inside the car before getting in.
- Park in well-lighted areas, near sidewalks or walkways. Avoid parking near dumpsters, woods, large vans or trucks, or anything else that limits your visibility.
- Never leave valuables in plain view, even when the car is locked. Put them out of sight in the trunk.
- Keep doors locked and windows rolled up, no matter how short the distance or how safe the area.
- Look around, especially at places where you slow down or stop, such as garages and parking lots, intersections, self-service gas stations and car washes, highway entry and exit ramps, and ATMs.
- When coming to a stop, leave enough room to maneuver around other cars, especially if you sense trouble and need to get away.
- Don't stop to assist a stranger whose car has broken down. Help instead by calling police for help.
- Always keep your car well maintained, and make sure you have plenty of gas.
- If you believe you are being followed, continue driving to the nearest police station.
If it happens to you:
- If you are threatened with a gun or other weapon, give up your car. Don't argue. Your life is worth more than a car.