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  • Earle Levenstein

Bravery; Action, No Plan.



A door flies open; someone storms in; shouting; maybe waving a weapon. People told to freeze; not to move; they're shaking with fear; hearts beating wildly; some crying; threat of death.

One person suddenly moves; charges.

The act itself; a shock; jaw-dropping.

A violent fight begins; shouts; screams; bodies crashing to the floor; a weapon firing; and maybe now, another person unfreezes and joins the battle. Maybe not. But the episode ends; one way or the other. Uncertain; but finished.

Hopefully, help arrives; order restored; interviews; reports written; descriptions of the action; who did what; and everyone points to the one person who moved first; universally described as heroic; brave; fearless; willing to risk death. If not for that person, who knows what might have happened?

Incredible; in that there's really no way of knowing who'll make the move. Everyone else, frozen in fear. No screening process; no I.D. card; no X on the forehead. In fact there might very well be a couple of bigger, stronger-looking characters; the ones we'd pick out as probable. Certainly not that ordinary person in the corner or sitting down or standing up and in no way distinguishable from the rest.

There's also, for the most part, no time lapse. It's spontaneous.

Bad guy. Threat. Action.

Not a considered, carefully thought out plan; and the individual has no history of bravery. No different in the military than in civilian life. Every soldier's wearing the same uniform. One gets the medal.

The conclusion has to be that this is an integral piece of the inner structure; physical; mental; just one little difference; a quirk; a left turn rather than a right and obscured by the millions of connections in our brains; our bodies; our senses. One speck; unknown; sitting; armed; alert; waiting; silent; for a lifetime; until that millisecond when the signal flashes and the body instantly explodes into action.

No thought process; no consideration; weighing of options. No hesitation. Just, Go!

Immediate interviews are always pretty much the same: I had to; or, Someone had to. But never; I've been preparing for this all my life.

Finally; if we ever have the bad luck to find ourselves in a really tight spot; life-threatening; no escape; just pray someone will step in. Tough to know who.

Maybe that guy over there having a laugh with the lady next in line; or that really big kid over there; rippling muscles; tattooed arms; or the clerk talking to the middle-aged lady with the loaded cart.

I mean, problem is; there's no way of knowing.

Even if we could invite all these brave lifesavers together for a great big party and heard their life stories; and took pictures and blood samples and checked and rechecked; we'd find…nothing.

Just a bunch of people. Same as we'd see anywhere.

So anyway; bottom line? Me? I'm at a restaurant; supermarket; whatever; I try not to think about some possible nutjob attack and guns and threats and screams and all that stuff.

But I have to acknowledge—totally unsurprising to anyone who knows me—I do have an active imagination and so I scan the place; and weirdly, I skip over all the central-casting-type heroes; too obvious; and I look for the one person I'd be willing to wager everyone and his brother would agree is absolutely the least likely individual who would ever leap up and save anyone from anything.

And —you guessed it—that's my choice.

I mean, zillion-to-one, it's fantasy casting.

But much more interesting than the usual suspects.

Right?

Of course.


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