Because real life is so much freakier than fiction...

There's something about Christmas tunes croaking out of overworked shopping centre speakers that really inspires me. Mostly to source a high-velocity rifle and start picking off all the bastards that never say "thank you" when the door is held open for them. Or those hairy-knuckled sons-of-bitches who barge past on their way to whatever Neanderthal shoppingfest they're currently on. Or those bloody women with double buggies and a fag dangling out of the side of their mouths who're making it their life's work to break as many people's shins as possible. Or... pretty much everyone, why not just say it: I am mostly become an Christmas grouch.

But at least I'm only occasionally exposed to the horror of Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody*, the poor sods who work in the shops are subjected to it all day, every day. Maybe that's why they have that unmistakeable 'Four more days till my ArmaLite AR30-10 arrives (second class post from Lithuania), then all you bastards are dead!' look in their eyes. I was in buying something today and the poor sods behind the till had been inflicted not only with a CD of Cloying Christmas Musak, but also a wind-up music box thing that produced a tinkly and oh-so-irritating version of Good King Wenceslas every time a sadistic customer cranked the handle. Seriously - I've read the FBI's profiling handbooks, that's the quickest way you can turn a perfectly normal person into a serial killer: Slade in one ear, clinkity-clankity carols in the other. Never mind 'Going Postal' I think it's time people worried about 'Going Retail'.

And I have to wonder if that's what's behind one of the most audacious robberies I've ever heard of.

Now it has to be said that we crime writers (and write-ists) spend a lot of our time dreaming up horrible things people can do to one another. It's our job (or at least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it). But even in my darkest, marmalade-induced dreams, I would never have come up with this.

Go ahead, click on the link and take a quick read, I'll wait.

...

...

Can you believe it? They stole his leg. Let me repeat that: THEY STOLE HIS LEG! from beneath the knee, so I suppose it could have been worse - they could have had the whole thing from the hip down, but still: THEY STOLE HIS LEG! Who the hell steals somebody's leg?

Can you imagine the pre-crime planning meeting, where they give each other nicknames so they can't be identified? ("Why do I have to be Mr Brown, that's like Mr Shit") And then the topic of the actual crime comes up:

"What we gonna blag? Bank? Post office? Drug shipment?"
"Nah, we're gonna blag some bloke's leg."
Pause.
"You what?"
"A bloke's leg."
"Bloke's leg?"
"Yeah. We're gonna blag a bloke's magic leg."
"Oh, it's a magic leg! Why didn't you say so, I was beginning to think you was mental, like. Magic leg. Wow ... Where we going to fence that?"


Now it's not like me to make fun of someone who's obviously been the victim of a horrific attack, but WTHAJ?** They got him drunk? How weaseled would you have be to not notice someone was hacking off your leg?

"Local people believed they could be healed of spiritual and physical problems if they touched his leg.

They also believed in Mr Kondaiah's predictions of the future"


Well, sorry to kick a man when he's down (and even if he was up he's clearly in no position to kick back - he'd fall over), but if he could really predict the future, don't you think he'd have stuck to diet Coke that night? Or maybe just not gone out drinking with them in the first place? Of course, maybe the spirits he channels are evil, devious bastards and their idea of fun was telling him, "If you go out with these men, you'll get legless..."

One is also struck by the bitter irony of the fact they took the leg with magical healing powers. Presumably, if they'd got the other one by mistake, he'd have been able to heal his missing limb with the other one.

The most chilling aspect is that last line though:

"But it is difficult to say that this was the only motive. It could also be a case of a revenge attack."

What would someone have to do to you so you'd steal half their leg to get your own back?

* Never mind Saddam Bloody Hussein, Slade should be invaded for producing what is unarguably a Weapon of Mass Irritation.
** What The Hairy-Arsed Jesus?

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