He ran the file over and over in his head as he walked down the street toward the drugstore. Lost in thought, he had no perception of his surroundings.
And nighttime, on his street, had, over time, grown dangerous.
Not that he didn't know that. He did. But when he focused on a problem, he lost all awareness of what was going on around him.
A young punk stepped out of shadows in front of him brandishing a knife - Fergus knew, instantly, there would be someone trailing behind him, as well. The young man said, "Gimme your money", and Fergus, not breaking stride, planted the toe of his heavy show in the punk's groin just as the word "money" left his lips. His knife fell toward the ground but Fergus, continuing the same motion that caught the punk's groin, spun around to meet his second attacker, catching the knife in midair and presenting the punk's partner with the option of eating a knife or taking off. He didn't think about it very long, at all. He was gone before the punk finished collapsing to the sidewalk.
"Well now, my boy. Did that hurt? I imagine it did. I wear very heavy shoes. And those are steel toes. You see, I get a bit clumsy from time to time and I drop things on my feet, too, so the steel keeps me from hurting myself. Which is something you ought to study, too ... you know ... ways to stop hurting yourself."
The kid whimpered a bit.
"Well, I'm glad you agree. Now stand up, boy. Stand up."
Fergus reached down and grabbed the front of the kid's shirt and lifted him, one handed, to his feet. He handed him his knife.
"Now you take your little knife, there, and walk over to the sewer, in the street, and drop it down through that little hole in the cover, okay? And then come back here. And don't make me chase you. You won't be happy if I have to chase you."
The kid did as he was told and walked, hunched over a little, back to where Fergus stood.
"Now, son, you see that house down the street with the bay window? The one with the light in the window?"
"That's my house. It's where I live. This is my street. I know everyone that lives here - and you don't. If I ever see you on this street, again, I will break every bone in your body. Understand?"
The kid nodded.
"Okay. Walk with me down to the corner. I'll buy you an ice cream bar. And then, you leave."