It was odd how two contradictory acts–smoking and exercising–could give one the “pass” for being “caught” in public without a mask on. On the one hand, you had the so-called vitality-increasing practice of pumping blood through your body more free-flowingly. On the other, you had the practice of restricting your blood flow. No matter which act you chose, however, both amounted to the same detrimental result in terms of opening one’s mouth wide to whatever invisible germ wanted to creep right in and infect your body, or, more to the point, be let out to infect others.
To Corinne, the egregious oversight on the part of the government in allowing these “exceptions” to the rule for being ticketed was becoming more vexing by the day. As she swerved out of the pathway of a runner breathing right into her face with his unabashed panting (how did runners not have more of a sense of shame about the way they looked?), sans any abandon, she wanted to scream. At almost the exact same instant, she had to swat away the visible smoke and invisible breath of someone standing on the sidewalk with a cigarette–his mask pulled down, hanging limply off his chin like a flaccid penis. She wanted to puke all over people like this, to show them some equitable act of foul disrespect for others.
What killed her the most, though, was all the bullshit the collective spouted about caring for one another–about how important it was to “be kind” when, everywhere you looked on the street, the actions of the “common man” revealed the extent of their contempt for one another. These were not people who wanted to “help each other out.” They were people who wanted to eradicate the other so as to diminish the competition required of basic survival on this Earth. The man who exhaled a plume of smoke right into the side of her cheek as she passed by was proof of that. Did she really need to tell him that he was double infecting with his mouth air and the secondhand smoke that issued from it? She was on the verge of doing just that when a police officer approached.
At last, she thought, some semblance of justice. But no, it turned out the officer swaggered right by, even giving a slight nod of approving recognition to the murderous smoker. When Corinne didn’t think she could become any more enraged with the behavior of the average person, the officer stopped to ask the man for a cigarette, at which time he took his mask off to let the man light it, breathing on one another in an unbelievable display of transmission. After the officer walked away, Corinne brought her attention briefly back to the crosswalk, which was about to switch to green. But in her bones, Corinne knew she would not be able to turn her back on this egregiousness without doing something. If not her, who?
So she took a deep breath, one that recycled back into her boca as a result of being trapped inside of her mask, and prepared for the fit of rage that was about to overtake her, transform her into a rabid version of herself…
What happened next, she couldn’t entirely say for sure–it was as though she blacked out (while seeing red) to perform the vigilante justice that no government official or long arm of the law would seem to. Instead, they preferred to oppress and strip the masses of their freedom in more useless ways–like ticketing them for drinking in public. Corinne absorbed the responsibilities of what should have been their job. To protect. Even when it meant protecting the people from themselves, from their own inherent selfishness.
The account of the events that transpired as triggered by the maskless running man and then the smoking man with the flaccid penis of a drooping mask could only be objectively retold from the ensuing eye witness accounts and news reports that followed. According to most, from the instant the crosswalk indicated “Go,” she was prompted to do just that–ripping the cigarette out of the man’s mouth, biting his nose off and tearing through the streets with it gripped in her maw like a cat with a bird or a mouse paraded as a trophy. A badge of “survival of the fittest” prowess. Or was it survival of the most savage? She reasoned it was more the latter, and that she had only stooped to the level of everyone around her as a means for her own preservation.
She dropped the detached nose only when she saw an oncoming female runner–apparently too “in the zone” to notice the blood pouring over Corinne’s lips. Or that she spit the nose out right in the path of said Running Woman, inhaling and exhaling with the bombast of a respirator. That is, until Corinne saw fit to wallop her bitch cunt face (maskless, of course) with her heavy tote bag. The hardware a.k.a. buckles on said bag ended up chipping the woman’s front tooth as she fell back like a tree being called “Timber!” on. Corinne let out a laugh of sheer delight. This is what had needed to be done all along. To make people understand the full weight of their actions. Their self-serving, egomaniacal actions. Everything feeding the ego–including the contradictory practices of exercising and smoking.
By the time the day was done, Corinne’s bloody rampage had not only put Beatrix Kiddo’s to shame, but had also been so successful that she seemed to have wiped out every runner and smoker formerly populating the usually burgeoning-with-them streets. The police were ineffectual in stopping her for so many hours–she was like a cheetah on steroids with her speed. It ultimately took use of a tranq gun to slow her down, and multiple officers to keep her pinned until the effect set in.
When she awoke in her cell, she felt lighter. As though she had removed the same boulder from her shoulders that Atlas had once carried. An orderly knocked on the window before opening the small square. She was horrified to see that he was without a mask, and smoking. “May I offer you a cigarette?” he “quipped.” Even in isolation, it appeared, there was no escape from the shitheads of the world. But Nurse Smoker didn’t know who he was tangoing with. Corinne lunged at him, using her teeth to hold his bottom lip in a lock that gave her time to swipe his key card and open the door that would release her back out to complete the rest of her work. It was clear to her now that they all had to be stopped. It was no longer just limited to smokers and runners. All breath needed to cease blowing anywhere near her.