“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
That, my friends, was a quote by Hunter S. Thompson, an American journalist, author, and founder of the gonzo journalism movement. The first time I heard of this quote, my blood froze a little from its coldness. Surely, stealing is wrong. Wouldn’t being caught and punished be well-deserved? But of course, this is life, and in life, there are exceptions.
Jerry never went to school and he didn’t know many quotes. In fact, he never had an authority figure to guide him through life. But he had always believed in something similar to what we were talking about. In this cruel, harsh world, men stole from each other. As long as they benefited from the stealing, little else mattered. No guilt was ever felt.
“I must take one thing. At least one thing.” That was the only rule Jerry had, as he moved swiftly down the narrow path.
Tonight, he held that rule even closer to his heart. His sick wife was waiting at home for him with their five young sons and daughters. With so many mouths to feed and a growling warmth in his own belly, he simply could not afford to come home empty-handed.
Jerry reached his destination. His dark beady eyes assessed his surroundings. Luckily, he had been to this area many times, and was quite familiar with it.
The place was dark and quiet. Assuming no one was around, Jerry stepped forward and sniffed the air. Each time, there was a different smell. In that moment, the aroma of delicious soup wafted into his nostrils. Divine. The soup here usually consisted of juicy chicken and a variety of vegetables, an absolute treat for the family! He spotted a pot, and was about to approach it when he heard a creak. As quick as a flash, he turned back and hid around the corner of the wall, out of sight.
Jerry analysed the situation he was in. He heard footsteps enter the next room. They were near, but not near enough to catch him. Still, it would probably be too dangerous for him to get any soup. Too much noise. He had to look for whatever else was available.
That was when he spotted it. A large piece of golden delicacy sat there, right before his eyes. It was too good to be true. It glistened, under the dim lighting and Jerry licked his lips in anticipation. Think of what fortune this could bring the family! It would last them an entire month!
It had been decided. He had to take the risk. Checking one last time to ensure that the coast was clear, Jerry sprung forward soundlessly and reached out as far as he could. The moment he picked up his new-found treasure, he immediately turned around to return home, when… SNAP!
The noise echoed through the room. It was hard to tell whether Jerry cried out or not. All that could be seen was that his body froze and he dropped the item from his grasp. Next, his body went into a spasm of pain. Panic struck his heart. What had happened?? Was he shot? Was there someone in the hiding after all this time? He couldn’t move at all.
He turned to take a final sorry look at his bloodied tail and hind leg, both now caught under the heavy metal mouse-trap, while the concept of bringing home the piece of cheese lay a million miles away from reality.