No Good Deed

Written by Brian Newman

If I were ever suddenly In Charge Of Things, there is one immediate change I would make in the existence of the world. I would cancel that unwritten law that demands that no good deed go unpunished. Good people deserve that little break. The current unfairness is maddening.

I love coffee and I love reading. So I often end up, late at night, in a coffee shop, enjoying both those treats of life. The late nights are the best times, as you don't often get interrupted by fools. It is truly rare for anyone, anywhere to be enjoying a book without some illiterate idiot starting to pester the reader. Because they have a total inability to read they assume others must be rescued from that activity. So, late nights are best.

A member of a rather famous motorcycle gang told me one time that late night coffee shops were the most dangerous places on earth. He said they contain nothing but disappointed drunks, mad that the world. Well, I have seen, and heard, my share of drunks. But usually trouble left me alone, and I was grateful for that. Trouble, however, never leaves anyone alone forever.

It started as a peaceful night. I had a large coffee, double cream, no sugar, and a great book. I was at my usual location, sitting at my usual table. The place was semi-crowded, the early morning newspaper delivery people were awaiting the papers, but soon they would be off. Then the door opened, and in walked Trouble. You could size those two up right away. Loud, boorish, dishevelled. They wanted coffee and, of course, they had no money. The night worker there was a rather elegant and mature lady. I don't know the circumstances of her life that lead her to that spot. But she was the type to take pride in whatever she did, and to work to make things better. "No money? No coffee." Those two immediately started to approach the customers sitting there. "How about buying us a coffee? And give us some smokes?" The lady working cut them off. "Don't bother theses people", she said. "Leave." Trouble, when dealt with firmness, often obeys orders. But the two only went outside into the parking lot. To await incoming customers. And, as their courage grew, to make faces at those inside. When they started emptying out a garbage can, and throwing trash at the front windows, the worker called the police.

The police were actually fairly fast. And one of those two had some sort of warrant out, and was quickly carted away. His now lonesome buddy was ignored, and simply walked away. He had no where to go, and I guess he missed his friend. How could he rejoin his friend in jail? Why, I guess he would have to do something to be arrested!

I had my face in my book. So I did not see him come back into the coffee shop. I did look up as the lady working went over to him, and told him to leave. He slapped the lady across her face. I guess I was closest. I was up, out of my seat, and in his face almost instantly. He was standing in front of the door and I gave him such a push that he went flying and landed outside on his back. The contact must have stunned him. He just lay there. Two other customers were beside me now. "Shall we hold him?" someone asked me. "All I know is that he is not coming back in." was my reply. The police were back quickly. The lady had called them. They took the idiot away, and they came in to get the witnesses to describe the assault. I gave a statement, like the others. And forgot about it. It was nothing brave, or remarkable. Just helping out a lady.

The revenge of the universe happened several months later. A strange official looking envelope coming with the usual bills. A Summons to Court. I was a witness in the assault trial against that loser. At nine in the morning on a workday. As a late night reader, I don't get up at nine. In fact, this would be like an ordinary Joe getting a Summons to be in Court at three in the morning! The coffee shop was all abuzz that night with news of the trial. Some were even boasting about going. Worse, there seemed no way I could get out of it. Not going could well mean the police would come looking for me!

I found another coffee shop. I wanted to hear, or see, nothing about this upcoming case. In spite of the potential problems, I decided not to go. If I wake up, at that time, which I never did, I would go. Otherwise, forget about it.

Oddly, and this is incredibly odd, I did wake up that Court day. I sleepily got downtown, stumbled in to the right Courtroom, and waited, with throngs of others, for the misery to be over. I accidentally sat next to that same loser. Somehow, in a suit, and with a hair cut, I did not recognize him. I only realized who he was by overhearing his lawyers comments.

The fool decided, at the last minute, to plead guilty. And to accept sentencing later, in conjunction with another assault case he was also charged with. It was a total waste of time for myself, the other witnesses, and the lady who had been struck. She came over to thank me for being there, and asked if she could buy me lunch. I was in such a hurry to leave I said yes. I got my car, paid the overpriced parking fee and drove to our lunch spot. In the first good break of my day, I found a parking spot close by. Inside, I was not hungry for lunch. So I had a coffee. We chatted, she was grateful. And glad it was over. I did not tell her how uncomfortable it was to be there, how accidental it was, and how I now knew I would never involve myself with such situations again. She deserved her feelings of triumph. The only negative thing I said was that the both of us were no doubt paying the Legal Aid bill for that fool's lawyer.

She kissed me on the cheek as we left. She said she hoped to see me soon. I had found a new late night-spot. I was not going to return. To me, she was bad luck.

When I got back to my car, there was a fresh parking ticket.