Threatening Violence

street car

© Yinglan

It had been a long time since Eddie played tourist, especially in San Francisco. He’d lived here a long time ago when you didn’t have to be a wealthy tech worker to afford a place in the City. Eddie got off the Number Four cable car at the Market-Powell turnaround intending to take BART back to the East Bay where his sister still lived.

As he stepped down to the street, over a dozen kids, probably gangbangers, surrounded the car and started pushing people around. “Wallets, jewelry, the usual stuff and right now.”

Eddie was astonished at how docile everyone was, including the car operator.

“Drop dead,” Eddie growled at the nearest punk. The kid pulled a knife but twenty years in the Marines made it impossible for one person to take the older man down.

“Get lost or I’ll slice him.” Everyone turned to see the middle-aged man holding the kid’s knife at his throat. The gangsters fled and several would be victims called 911 asking the cops to arrest Eddie for assault.

I wrote this in response to the FFfAW Challenge-Week of May 30, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long, with 150 being the ideal. My word count is 173.

My story was inspired by a couple of news items I’d read recently: Mob of teens drag woman off Muni bus, rob her in San Francisco and Teens Commandeer BART Train in Violent Takeover Robbery of Passengers.

I lived in the Bay Area for seven years, including in San Francisco (late 1970s, early ’80s) and am astonished that crime there has gotten this bad. I used the photo plus these news reports as my inspiration. No, maybe one person resisting might not have stopped these crimes, but people could at least try. Of course, as in the case of the BART crime, if 50 or 60 criminals are involved, they’d be hard to stop.

I did add a spin making the witnesses more afraid of Eddie than the robbers because he was the most threatening figure. Sometimes in our modern western world, people confuse heroes for villains and vice versa.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to

34 thoughts on “Threatening Violence

  1. So sad that people misunderstood Eddie’s intentions. I admire his good sense and courage , nonetheless. Very nice story .


  2. I can’t help but think that this happens more than we know. People misinterpreting someone’s intentions. Poor Eddie was just trying to stop the gangbangers! Great story James!


  3. What does that mean, James, whether in response to my post (as it was directly after my post and indented like a response) or not in response to my post? You said:

    In the case of my story, I was directly referencing real crimes.

    I ask because my link was about a response to real crime.
    [And I thought your story was flash fiction, btw.]


  4. That article goes on for quite a while after a large advertisement and interspersed with more ads:
    Meanwhile, new details surfaced Sunday about Christian.

    He allegedly started a fight with a woman at a MAX station the day before the deadly altercation, officials said. KGW reported that Christian threw a plastic bottle at a black woman, who in turn sprayed him with mace.

    Portland police were aware of the altercation and seeking video of the incident.

    More details also emerged ……


      • Yeah, I didn’t share the link to a “What We Know About the Suspect” article I read a few days ago, nor a direct link to the fella spouting his patriotism in court, the supposed defense of freedom; not that it would be wrong to show his delusion. I was focusing on the similarity to the opening fiction.

        The “getting it wrong” theme.
        (Not by anyone there at the scene.)

        And the so-recent involvement of a knife.


  5. I also liked that two of the heroes (so half of them), or good “Samaritans,” in the news I referred to were (past) Army soldiers. [The “villain” was not.] All four (heroes) were people who tried.


  6. Great story! It’s amazing how helpful some people can be, only to be let down by ungrateful people! But, there will always be people like that and hopefully….there will always be people like Eddie!


  7. I just saw yesterday that there are over 3,000 arrests in Japan each year for “groping” on trains. And many other people run away from police (sometimes getting hit by trains, thus not arrested). Plus, of course (and as they have documented), not all incidents are reported. Seems like it’d be a good idea to get some mace if ever one were going to travel on mass transit pretty much anywhere.


    • I hear that’s quite a problem in urban Japan, on the other hand, my daughter lived in Japan near Tokyo for eleven months when she was in high school and never had a problem with that.


  8. I know someone who lived in Japan on a student exchange program who had no trouble and has only very positive memories. (I don’t know if she ever went on a train or did so with any regularity.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.