17. The Robber or The Image, Part 2

There is an image that extends from another (and a problem may be that in all images images extend).

A robber, for example, has just leapt into the path of a man and a woman on the sidewalk. The robber says, “Give us your money.”

He’s with three of his criminal pals, boys all, who, after leaping into the path of the pedestrians, might just as well have said, “Got you,” or “We eat raw animal intestine,” or “Welcome to our fair city.”

The robber has some fluency of language. His fluency is not the fluency of academic study but a fluency of present conditions. He thinks in instances as short as lightning strikes but also understands how the world might be weeks ahead. He uses the word “us” to utter to the ears of his companions that he’s “among” them and is a part of them; he’s telling the plasma of struggle to come that he intends to share the booty, even though he told Ronnie, who’s his younger brother, that since he’s the one who has to do the actual confrontation, Ronnie will concede to the notion that he deserves less, even though Ronnie may have no idea what his older bother means by “us” and doesn’t care. He, Ronnie, never even heard the order.

In this first case, “us” is not really intended for the victims but for the robber’s companions, directed away from the man with sunglasses and his woman companion. Then again, the robber may intend, in his way of thinking, “us” as a crude method of persuasion: “us” is likely to be more intimidating, as the man with the sunglasses may not have taken “Give me” as seriously. He, a utilitarian, might respond this way: “Well, if it’s just you who wants the money, then I’m not giving you jack shit.”

As this is the story of an image we can switch from the brother to Ronnie as he is a part of the image of his brother, the robber. He’s an organ, albeit subsidiary, inside the common system, sharing blood and oxygen, sharing space and, importantly, time.

Yes, Ronnie hears nothing. Ronnie’s watching the man whom they’ve chosen to rob and all Ronnie can think of is running and running swiftly and would his brother please be correct about what he’d said just moment before, which was:

“I’ll make sure you don’t die.”

Ronnie doesn’t know what to do, really. The guy with the sun glasses looks like he might, in a moment, unbind his muscles and leap at them like Jackie Chan or yank an AK-47 out of his leather jacket and blast the lot of them or haul out a long knife and start swiping at the thick veins of their necks like a wheat farmer.

No one moves. No one moves because this is not an image that moves. It’s an image in between movement, a still shot with implications of past and future, a potent force of momentum, a cross section of breath or breathing. The point, for Ronnie, for his brother, for the man with the sunglasses, and for the woman who is behind the man and who happens to be staring at the back of the man with the sunglasses’ head, is that hours before, when decisions were made, when the eyes fluttered dreams away like hands do flocks of butterflies, is that now has become perpetual and can thus be pulled apart, like the insides of a fish.

Ronnie watches. Above him are the words “I’ll make sure you don’t die” and “Give us your money,” which could just as well have been, “Let’s head to the courts for a game” or “California here we come, right back where we started from.”

But let’s not forget the robber, who is listening to himself say “Give us your money” over and over again. He’s already forgotten what he’d told Ronnie just a few moments before, which he actually never said and will never say and will, thus, actually never forget. He doesn’t know that Ronnie, in an instance of a future that will never come, can never come, will run, as will the other two companions (it’s not that they distrust the robber; it’s not that they didn’t believe him; it’s that they distrust fate, which they know the robber can’t control).

The robber doesn’t know that what will never actually happen, but may simply be implied, Ronnie and the two other young thugs dashing back into the shadows, will be his secret undoing, and that maybe the man in the sunglasses knows this, feels this, understands this. All the man in the sunglasses has to do is hold on for a few moments, a few moments that will last as long as paper and ink, and the robber will turn and find, to his disappointment, that Ronnie and the gang will have disappeared leaving him to face an expert in Kung Fu, or an AK-47, or a long knife alone.

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