The Hero

Sam Burnett is pretty certain the protagonist is dead. I mean, there’s no way the hero could overcome impossible odds and triumph in the end, right?

I’m almost positive our hero is dead now.

Look, at this stage I’m ready to believe I’ve done my job. The hero — who so far has eluded our gunshots, hired assassins, and (admittedly mediocre) bomb-making attempts — is at this moment drowning in that frozen lake that he just jumped into while attempting to escape us.

I mean, you saw him hit the water right? The WATER! That guy is done for. Unless he can breathe underwater. Or he finds some way to get back to the surface. Which I’m pretty confident that he won’t be able to do. He’s probably tired from eluding all our other failed efforts to kill him.

What? You want to shoot some bullets into the place he fell just to make sure? What the fuck am I? Made of bullets? Or money? Have you sent the price of ammunition these days? Jesus, maybe if you’re in the Westside mob you could afford to drop a couple of magazines to make sure, but I didn’t become a mob boss through careless spending. I have a budget to keep to, you know. Sure, it might be fun for you to consistently miss the hero with automatic weapons while he hits you from 300 feet away with a shotgun, but I’m the one who has to take all that wasted ammunition into account in the monthly budget.

And stop tapping your watch at me. Yes, I know that we could wait around a couple of minutes to see if he’s drowned or frozen to death, but I’m not made of time. That’s just as bad as the bullets idea. I’m just trying to be a good mob boss here. I bet you want to see your son tonight. Plus there’s a Lakers game on. So fuck this guy right? He’s good as dead. And good as is good enough to me. Besides, it’s freezing out here.

You don’t want to disobey one of my orders. This isn’t like the Army, you know. I practice real disciplinary action. Didn’t you see me shoot that other white goon for disobeying a direct command earlier? Surely you know that I’m bitter and ruthless. But I think I have the right to be — after all, my country betrayed me after I served in the Navy SEALs for almost a decade.

Now that we’re talking about it, I actually served with the guy who just jumped into the lake. We served in one of those conflicts that people kind of know about but not enough to form a real opinion about. It was in Somalia. Or Ecuador. Anyway, long story short, I left him for dead in the street.

I think that whole betrayal of country and comrade thing is part of the reason why he’s mad at me. I mean, you’d be angry at a fellow henchman if he did something like that right? Is that the sort of thing that you could ever forgive someone for? Oh, also, on returning home I killed his family and framed him for their murder. Does that swing the table in anyone’s favor?

I remember he was a tough son of a bitch, but I’m sure that undying lust for revenge has gradually drained out of him and he’s perfectly content to float down to the bottom of the river. I mean, he nearly got revenge on me a couple minutes ago! That’s close enough right?

Besides, you were the guy who let him go in the first place. We had the perfect backdrop! A frozen lake in the middle of the night. He was in handcuffs and on his knees. God, it’s the kind of thing that I dream of. I suppose I could have killed him at any point during the preceding five minutes when I had him at gunpoint, but it gave me a chance to fill him in on my master plan. He’s the only person I can really talk to about it, I mean, I don’t think anyone else can really understand the lengths I went to. Whatever, I know it’s weird, but when you’re mob boss you can do what you want.

Now come on, do you want to see your kid or not? No, don’t look back. I’m almost positive that sound of something coming out from the water was a seal or something.

Sam Burnett is from Tasmania and writes about pop culture for The Mercury.