The Mark

The scene could be played out in any of a number of cities on any given moonless night. Two men separated by several hundred yards are walking in the same direction. Both look like businessmen, dark suit, white shirt, red tie, and wingtip shoes.  Both are walking with the same degree of confidence and, while heading in the same direction, are looking forward to very different destinations.  

Waiting for them in the darkness between the rose-colored granite of the Parker Building and the stainless steel of Anchor Savings and Loan are two other men dressed in black jeans and dark hoodies.  A third man, the leader of this gang of muggers, is on the steps of the Parker Building camouflaged by homelessness. His job is to look out for cops and identify the marks that the other two should go after.  

As the first man nears the Parker Building the leader determines that he is a man of means, a worthy mark. After scrutinizing the street for threats he signals his team by speaking to the man as he passes. “Hey buddy, got any spare change?”  The well-dressed man completely ignores the request and continues striding towards home. As he passes the alley the two thugs jump out. One blocks his path while the other forces him into the darkness.  

“Ok friend let’s make this really simple.  Put everything you have in this Walmart bag and no one, meaning you, gets hurt.” The well-dressed man retrieves his wallet and drops it in the bag. “That’s it? well, let’s just be sure. Frisk him, Harry.”  It only takes a few moments for them to discover the man’s money clip and iPhone. “Ok friend, now get out of here.” The well-dressed man slowly backs out the alley and quickly returns to his route desiring two things, to put distance between him and the robbers and to find some way to contact the police.  

In the meantime, the second man is now only a few buildings away.  The leader of the muggers glances at their most recent victim and decides they have time for one more until the cops arrive.  Using the same setup as before, the leader says, “Hey buddy, got any spare change?” The second man pauses for a moment, retrieves a dollar bill from his pocket and hands it to the homeless man.  No other words are spoken.  When the second man reaches the alley the thugs again go into action.  Only this time they are met with laughter instead of obedience.  “Sorry fellows, I have nothing left. Search me if you want to.”  The one mugger called Harry quickly pats the second man down.  “He’s clean,” he mumbles.  Noticing that something has gone strange, the leader of the group walks up.  “Then why the fancy pants? Are you sure you ain’t holding out?”

Again the mark laughs, “I just picked these clothes up at the Goodwill, I have a job interview tomorrow. I need to look presentable instead of someone who is barely surviving. I pawned my Grandpa’s Nazi paratrooper knife to buy these clothes. That dollar that I gave you was my last one. Seeing as you are not really homeless think I could have that back?”  The leader shrugs and slaps the dollar back into the second man’s open hand.  Spying a patrol car turning their direction the gang quickly leaves. The second man puts the dollar back in his pocket and continues his walk towards home.

Inspired by: “The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, But the poor hears no rebuke.” (Proverbs 13:8, NASB95) 

Dale Heinold
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