Kyle Toulouse, "The Plight of the Benevolent Man"
This is a story about vengeance; the sort of vengeance that will consume one whole if not taken lightly; the sort of vengeance that will transform the personality of even someone who would die for others. This man’s name is Eugene. Eugene had everything in his adult life. His parents died when he was young, and he had an older brother, but he died when Gene was young and did not remember his name or what he was like. His childhood was unhappy, but then he was raised by an orphanage, and he grew to be a successful man with a wife and two children, a comfortable middle-class home with fancy furniture and plates, a well-paying job, you name it. He was not the wealthiest person in Paris, but he lived in comfort. The years grew tougher and tougher as great famine, disease, and unemployment came about and the people were either living on the streets or dropping like flies. Not to mention that France was on the brink of a worker’s revolution, where the people had protested against worker rights and were gunned down by the government. These were dark times for not only Eugene and his family, but for all of France, for this was the year of 1848.
Our “hero” of this story could not have predicted what would happen on this very day. Every morning, he eats breakfast with his family. He always ate last because he is the cook and he made sure they are well-fed before he ate for himself. He loves to look over to see them sitting at the table, ready to eat. His wife, Victoria, his son, Samuel, and his daughter, Francesca, were all very happy. It pleased Eugene to hear the laughter, see the smiles, and the peace for the entire family. It was like a fantastic dream. The food was cooked and ready to be eaten. As he began to serve his family breakfast, three men barged in through the door, armed with knives and swords, and murdered Eugene’s wife and children in cold blood. He was in complete shock, and was stunned as he watched it all happen. He did not recognize any of the men, but they all wore a uniform. They looked as if they were higher ranking officers of the guard. One wore red, one wore blue, and the last wore grey. The three men looked at Eugene after committing this atrocity, and let him live. “He’s harmless.” The one wearing red said. The other ones made hand signals to leave, and then they walked out the door as if nothing happened. Eugene went to his wife and kids, sobbing the most he ever had in his life. He cried out in pain, then said, “My dear Victoria… my boy Samuel… my beautiful Francesca… What have I done to deserve this?”
The grieving father and husband could not sleep at all that night. His family was still in the dining room. He had felt nothing but discomfort in his own home, after it was defiled by the three men. He got up, took the bodies outside, grabbed a shovel, and buried them. It took hours, and those were the most painful hours of his life. “Why couldn’t they take me instead? I would die for each and every one of them” he said to himself. He couldn’t stand being in his own house; it brought him too much grief. So he left. He took a bag with him, and in that bag was a handful of his clothes, some food to last him a few days, and he wore his most prized possession: his wedding ring. It was a simple gold ring, but it was the only thing he had left to remind him of his wife. He was not able to wear his ring because of his job, where he worked in the factory. He was one of the supervisors, but it was still dangerous for him to wear his ring as it was a potential hazard.
It was morning when he left, and he did not have a destination. After what’s happened to his family, he didn’t have any place to call home, like many others in France. He would rather be without a home than live in the very house in which he watched his family die. He walked by the factory where he worked, watching his coworkers clock in and prepare for the long day ahead. Work was never an issue for Eugene, he had always complied with his supervisors and completed his work the way he should have. His coworkers were not happy, though, with the harsh treatment by the employers, and the many of them getting sick with Cholera, typhoid, typhus and tuberculosis. Maybe it was better that Eugene stayed away from his work at this time.
He walked for hours aimlessly down the streets of Paris, walking by what seemed to be hundreds of poor and homeless people, beggars as well. He finally got tired and sat down for a while, and that’s when he met Jack. Jack was an interesting fellow, barely the age to be called a man, but he looked like he has been taking care of himself in the streets most of his life. He crept up to Gene, who was a bit uncomfortable around this stranger. “You don’t look like you belong in this dump. What’s your name?” asked Jack. “My name is Eugene. I don’t belong here… but I don’t have any other place to go.” He replied. “Now why might that be, Gene?” asked Jack. “My family was murdered by guard officers. They just stormed into my home and killed them, then left. We didn’t even do anything to deserve a fate like that.” Jack listened as Gene explained more of his story, and he had an unusual interest in his situation. “You haven’t heard, have you? Those very three men, and others, have been killing for years. They’ve been trying to quell a revolution. But their ‘solution’ is only making the situation worse. They killed my family, too. Left me to live with what I witnessed. Do I miss them? Of course I do. I had to teach myself how to live out here and survive, and I had no one to look up to as a role model except thieves and killers. But they did teach me one thing that you don’t know. And I’m going to teach it to you.” Gene looked up at Jack, and asked, “What are you going to teach me?” Jack smiles and says, “The art of vengeance.”
“Walk with me, Gene.” Jack said as they started to walk, “See, the first step to vengeance is accepting what your enemies have done.” Gene nods in agreement. “You have to accept what they’ve done, so that your anger or grief doesn’t cloud your judgment.” Gene then interrupts Jack and asks, “Judgment for what?” Jack gives Gene an unsurprised look, and answers, “You’re going to kill the very people who ruined your life. And I’m going to help you do it. The world needs them gone.” Gene’s facial expression turns from confused to a look of horror. “Kill them? I’m not a killer, Jack! My family is dead, and I can’t bring them back. Killing them isn’t going to change ANYTHING!” Jack does not hesitate to answer quickly after him, “Killing them won’t bring your family back. True. But you can avenge them. And killing them will change everything. Oh, yes. It will change you. I walked up to you not because I saw you sitting on the ground in the streets of the poor, but because I see fire within you. I see evil in you; I always have. I don’t care who you thought you were before your family died. You’re going to kill the officers. You don’t have a choice in this matter.” Gene has had enough. “I’m done with you. You hear me?! I don’t want anything to do with you or your shady business!” After Gene finished his shouting, Jack said, “You really don’t remember me, do you? But then again, how could you? It all happened when you were so young.” He looked around. Jack was nowhere to be found. It was as if he was never there.
Gene continued to walk around the streets of Paris when he noticed one of the guard officers; it was the one wearing red. He became very nervous and started panicking. He hid around the corner of a building where the officer couldn’t see him. Jack appeared next to Gene and says, “You coward. When are you ever going to face your demons?” Gene, startled, turned around and saw Jack. “How did you know where I was? Have you been spying on me?” Jack laughed and said, “No, you fool. I’ve been with you all along. I’m not a real person. Well, I was. I’m your brother, Gene.” Gene says, “Jack? No… It can’t be. You’re… dead. Get out of my head!” He started to sprint away, and caught the eye of the red uniform guard officer. “You can’t hide who you are destined to be, Gene.” Jack said as he follows him. The officer started to follow Gene with suspicion. Gene ran to an abandoned building with a weak wooden door, and kicked it open so he could hide. The inside appeared to be an old warehouse, with farming tools and old and rotten grains that were never used for anything. Gene noticed a pitchfork by the door, and hid behind a crate. “So you did see the pitchfork. You know what to do, Gene.” Jack whispered. The officer in red came into the warehouse, and shouted, “I know you’re in here. Come out from hiding and I won’t kill you.” Gene didn’t make a move or a sound. “It was wrong for me to let you live. I guess we all make mistakes.” The officer drew his sword as he began to look for Gene in the darkness. Gene stood up, snuck over to the pitchfork, and charged at the officer in red, screaming. The officer was impaled by the pitchfork, against the wall, and started to bleed heavily. Gene dropped the pitchfork, looked down at the bloody corpse of the officer who spared his life, and said to himself, “What have I just done?”
“I knew you had it in you. Only two more to go. But you’re going to have to learn how to kill before you even THINK of confronting the other two. It’s going to get tougher, you know.” Jack said. “I have no idea how and why I did what I just did, and you want me to do it AGAIN?” Gene asked. “Yes. And you’re going to get caught if you don’t learn how to kill fast. Start with this one. Hide the body.” Gene hid the body in the darkness. It is an abandoned warehouse, the perfect place for this.
Two weeks later, Gene could not get the thoughts out of his head. Jack, the thoughts of killing, and the thoughts of pure evil only grew stronger in his head. He had learned a bit of weaponry after practicing. His favorite is the bow and arrows. He had “taught” himself how to climb to the rooftops as a vantage point to shoot his targets, with the help of Jack, of course. Gene became an excellent shot. He hadn’t seen the grey or blue uniformed officers yet; but he was finally ready to face them.
“They’re all corrupt. All of the guards. The officers oversee them. They must go. Just like the rest of them.” Jack said to Gene as he opened fire to the guards patrolling the streets. The citizens, poor and wealthy, ran in fear of the unseen killer. The guards drop one by one from perfect shots. Hours later, Gene goes to the bodies to loot them. He finds a letter, and the letter says that there will be a meeting of the guards at the town hall at sunset. He discovered that only one of the officers will be overseeing the meeting, to his dismay. I’ll have to position myself for the kill, Gene thought.
The sunset drew near. The guards were assembling at the town hall, just like the letter said. The officer began to speak. “We still haven’t heard from the captain of the guard. But don’t worry, I’m sure he is out there somewhere. That’s why we need to look for him. Each and every one of you are on patrol, and you will search everywhere to find him. I don’t care if you go into homes, we are going to bring home one of us!” The guards saluted to the officer and returned to their posts, readying for patrol duty. The officer in blue started walking away from the town hall, and that’s when an arrow flew straight through his back. Gene was hiding in the window cell of the town hall; the perfect spot for an undetected murder. He saw a woman wearing an elegant white dress standing over the corpse of the officer. She wasn’t afraid of what just happened. She just stood there quietly. Gene descended and walked to the woman, and saw a familiar face. “Victoria? Is that you?” Victoria had a disgusted look on her face when she said, “Gene. You were my everything. I loved you more than anything in the world. I would never have let this happen to you. I hate what you’ve become. You’re not the man I married and loved.” Tear drops fell from her eyes as she slowly faded away. Gene felt nothing but guilt. She’s right. He’d become a monster. Jack stood next to Gene and put his hand on his shoulder. “It’s all right. You wouldn’t have done all of this if they hadn’t killed her. You’d still be living your peachy life with your innocent family, living in more wealth than the poor could even dream of, almost as if the world’s problems didn’t even phase you.” Gene shook Jack off his shoulder. “Quit mocking me. Those guards made their decisions, and so did I.” Jack then changed the subject by pointing at the guard, “Check him. He might have something useful.” Gene inspects the fallen officer and finds a note. The note read, “You’ve fallen into a trap. I know what you did to the Captain. And I knew you were going to kill this one too. So predictable. You’re not going to get the ending you wanted…” The note wasn’t signed, and it didn’t say who the sender was, but Gene knew who it was. Not even a moment later, Gene felt a sword pushing against his neck from behind. “Any last words, guard killer?” It was the last officer, the one in grey. Gene dropped his weapons and surrendered. “The Captain shouldn’t have spared your life. You turned out to be more dangerous than all of those disgusting, ugly pigs you call a family.” Gene started to get angry. “Take. It. Back.” The last officer laughed and said, “Or what? You’ll kill me too? I don’t think so!” Gene grabbed the officer’s sword by the blade, yanked it out of his hands and tackled him. He punched him over and over, mercilessly and with all his strength. He then grabbed the knife from the guard’s belt and stabbed him in the chest. Gene was blinded by his own rage and vengeance. When he realized what he had done, he stood up and ran as far away as he could. He thought of his family, of the spirit of Victoria, knowing he failed them. When he finally stopped running, he took off his wedding ring and threw it. He didn’t deserve to wear it anymore. Sure enough, when he looks over his shoulder, Jack stands there next to him. He doesn’t say a word first this time. Gene said, “I’ve failed them. I have to live with what I’ve done. I avenged them, yes, but I was right. Killing the guards didn’t solve anything.” Jack answered back, “You don’t get a happy ending. You were a good man before they died, and now you’re a monster. A killer. Just like me.” Gene gave up at this point. “Just leave me alone, brother. You made me what I am. Go away. Never come back.” Jack said, “No, brother. It was you who avenged your family. It was you who killed all those guards. Not me. You revealed your true colors by impaling the red guard with a pitchfork, shooting the blue guard with an arrow, and stabbing the grey guard with a knife.”
Gene was left to wander the streets without a purpose. Without a family to come home to. Without a place he could call home. Without any personal belongings besides his clothes, now rags after his time spent on the streets. All he had left is the memory of who he once was.
Shuttlesworth, Kay. The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes. 2nd Edition. Frank Cass and Co. LTD, 1970.
“The French Worker and the Revolution of 1848" by Shane White." <http://www.uky.edu/~popkin/frenchworker/white.htm>. December 8, 2014. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2014.
"Diseases in Industrial Cities in the Industrial Revolution." <http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/diseases_industrial_revolution.htm> N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2014.
"1848." <https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255/la/1848.html> N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2014.
"Diseases in Industrial Cities in the Industrial Revolution."
 Shuttlesworth, Kay. The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes. 2nd edition. Frank Cass and Co. LTD, 1970. Page 8.
 Shuttlesworth, Kay. The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes. 2nd edition. Frank Cass and Co. LTD, 1970. Page 18.
 "Diseases in Industrial Cities in the Industrial Revolution."
 “The French Worker and the Revolution of 1848"