“Throw out everything you believe in.” It’s the kind of thing I’m likely to whisper to you in the dark. Assuming we’re ever in the dark together. However we got there, know that I’m an antihero.
noun an·ti·he·ro \ˈan-tē-ˌhē-(ˌ)rō, ˈan-ˌtī-, -ˌhir-(ˌ)ō\
: a main character in a book, play, movie, etc., who does not have the usual good qualities that are expected in a hero
I’d fail miserably as a hero. My heart beats right the hell out of my chest when I’m faced with direct danger. My stoic’s poker face is good at hiding that fact. But I’m not running towards the bullets. I’m shooting back from behind solid cover, hopefully with vastly superior technology. Or, more likely, running away so the heroes can go in and get killed eliminating the threat.
You can only extract wisdom from a traumatic situation if it doesn’t kill you or fuck you up so bad you can’t function normally in society after the situation ends.
Speaking of which.
When I was about six years old, I observed a group of neighborhood kids holding down an unlucky child, for reasons I’ll never know. They forced his mouth open and made him eat donkey shit out of a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket. He was screaming and crying. But it was five on one, so he was going to eat that pie. Chalk it up to cruelty. Imagine he violated one of the group’s mores. Maybe he stole another one of the group’s prize possessions.
I could have intervened. I had my bow and arrows that day. I was part of an untouchable caste. A white kid in Haiti. There would have been only minor repercussions if I had attacked.
I know, because I tried it once, on a different day, with a different group of kids. I got scolded by the yard boy, and he didn’t tell my parents I shot a kid in the leg with an arrow. He even got the arrow back for me. A hero doesn’t shoot a kid in the leg with an arrow and then not remember why he did it as an adult.
It’s weird. What I remember.
I remember making a vow to fight to the death before I let someone hold me down and force me to eat donkey shit. You’d have to bash me unconscious before that would be a possibility.
I like the idea of justice, but it seems to be a shifting target. One person’s idea of justice is another person’s abomination.
When I was working as a contractor in Afghanistan we drove around every day in our armor trucks pretending to be brave, and every now and then proving that maybe some of us were. But most of us were just bored. Which is why some of the idiots I worked with found it fun to see how many locals they could knock off bicycles using the side mirrors of our vehicles.
It was easy to get away with shit like that. Chaos in the streets of Kabul is an understatement. I didn’t like it when it happened, but I remembered that I was the kid who shot someone with an arrow and still couldn’t be sure why. Except people change.
I like the idea of justice, even if I’m not always sure what it is supposed to be shaped like. With all that malleability, and the fact that I’m not a hero, I usually watch quietly. Usually.
When my buddy decided he was going to play the mirror game, and knocked an old man right off the side of the road and into a bus, I told him if he ever did it again I was reporting him up the chain of command.
Then I told him if we ever got stuck in the middle of a riot because of his recklessness, I was going to put the first bullet in his head.
He didn’t do it again. And I wasn’t a hero.
He just pissed me off because a) the old man wasn’t doing anything to him and b) he put my life in danger. Afghanistan is a motherfucking volatile place and I had no plans to die there because someone wanted to bip people in the back with their mirrors just to see if they could get away with it.
- Neither 100% good nor 100% evil
- Fated to cause grief to individuals, the community, or oneself
- Do not need to die at close of the story, resolution is often uncertain
- Can act as a vigilante, even against oneself
- Act according to their own set of rules and values
- May have tragedy in their life
- May have a tragic personal flaw
- Lack true identity or are disillusioned with life
- This does not define them as a villain
- Their actions are often merely reactions to events
- Usually not motivated to act for or against anyone
- They fight present circumstances, not fate
Sounds like a person I am.
One day, I’ll tell you about the time I played with fire. Or the trigger pulling game.