Excerpt from: The Problem Solver

Ethan was inside, crouching and listening intently in a matter of seconds.  There was a scuffling of feet upstairs and a few struggling gasps.  Next came the sound of foot steps on stairs.  Ethan moved into the hallway and stood in the half light being thrown from the street as the gang came downstairs with George and Nancy in tow.

The unlikely group moved into the center of the living room.  Nancy was being held from behind, around the neck by an ugly looking punk with bad teeth and an even worse complexion.  George was being held with his arms pinned back. His head hung exhausted to his chest and his eyes were screwed up in pain.

Ethan had seen enough.  The anger and disgust in him had reached the boiling point.  To hell with caution, he thought.  He was flat-out mad and a good fight was the only medicine he knew that would knock down his fever.

He flipped the switch on the hall lamp.  The group turned as one, to see a lean, hard looking man with eyes that blazed with fury.  He was like no cop that they had ever seen before.  He wore a black T-shirt and blue jeans with a worn brown leather jacket zipped low.

“Ethan!” Mrs. Norris gasped.

“So, is that how bad things have gotten these days?”  Ethan let the question hang in the air.  “It takes four men to scare two elderly people out of bed at night?”  Ethan looked the group over with disgust.

The leader of the group recognized the man as the one who’d intervened before, and as the man who had followed them earlier that evening.  He pushed to the back of the pack with this realization, then clapped his hands together and said “Get him!”

Ethan quickly reached out for the hall lamp, scooped it up and smashed it against the first on-coming teen.  It exploded into an impressive display of broken porcelain and wires.  The room was plunged into near darkness again.  Ethan needed little light for this fight.  He was alone, with no worries of hitting an ally.  Only the light from the street lamps cast any illumination on the room now.

The trio of young men rushed at Ethan as a single mass, shoulder to shoulder.  Nancy watched as the man she’d known only as a friend of her niece, shifted gears into a brilliant, yet savage, fighting machine.  It was a sight she’d never witnessed before –– both terrifying and wonderful.  He moved among the mass of men as if he were fire.  Appearing, striking, disappearing, then re-appearing from the other side of the group, striking again.  He danced among them as if they were standing still.  His body jinking this way and that, striking with such deft movement he nearly made it look easy.  His blows landed with a loud snap that sounded like a wet towel being smacked against pavement.  There wasn’t so much brute power in his punches, just exacting precision and speed.

One by one the young men fell.  The biggest of the lot was sent head long into a glass china cabinet before collapsing to the floor.  The second met with a swift kick to his groin before being belted three times, right, left, right, to the face, and passing out cold.

The final young man had lost his nerve at this display.  The spark of fight had been beat out of him and he wanted no part of this man who’d appeared out of the darkness and proceeded to, single-handedly, beat his gang into submission.


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