Thursday, November 29, 2007

Excerpt from Death on Mars

As I stared at the candle, I tried to come to a reason for the existence of crime. From a kabbalistic viewpoint, or at least one school of it, crime was merely the repaying of debts from past lives. I couldn’t imagine what I did to deserve being almost killed in a hull breach, or how the people of an entire colony could be guilty of something that would warrant repayment in the form of missing supplies. And what did the Director do in a past life that he deserved to have his head bashed in during this one? I wasn’t sure that I believed in the theory much, it sounded too much like the Eastern concept of karma. I have struggled with it for years.

Once back on Earth, I had been in a burger joint. You know the type of places where the goal is to get you in and out as quickly as possible. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been surprised about what happened; after all it was a bad neighborhood, being right next door to the parole office. I had brought my burger and drink, and one of the people in the next line asked me if I had a dollar to spare. I told him no, but he could have the loose change I just got back. We both drifted over to the pickup area. “Thanks, I just got out of jail,” the black man told me. I shrugged my shoulders and went back to reading the kabbalistic text that I was studying. The server called an order exactly like the one I ordered, and the black man said it was his. I wondered if he was lying. But I figured it was possible that he ordered the exact same thing; after all, I had paid absolutely no attention to what he had ordered. I waited, and learned that he had taken mine, for when the rest of the orders were handed out, there was only me waiting. The shlepper had stolen my burger. I offered to pay for another one; the server replaced my order, but told me to make sure that I spoke up the next time.

For many hours afterwards, I wondered what I did in a past life that the theft of a burger and drink, and a handful of change, could make right. In the end, I could think of nothing. Possibly, it was just a senseless event without any mystical meaning whatsoever.

And the breach and the murder of Director Robinson were probably also meaningless. God knows that I am not enlightened enough to came up with a spiritual reason for the events. I am not sure anyone could.

So barring any mystical revelation, I mediated on the possible mundane reasons for crime. Greed was obviously the sin behind the missing supplies; the breach was just a rather extreme way of covering it up.

If the Director’s death was tied into that, then I knew the motive for his murder. If it was an unconnected crime which I doubted, then there was all the emotional sins--envy, jealousy, lust, rage; it was a rather long list. I would have to check them out, but I was positive that the Director’s death tied into the breach and the missing supplies.

No comments: