Tag by Michael J. Shuler Sr.

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SUMMARY: Even the Smallest Mistake Can Change a Man, and Sometimes a World. The World of Taggers Is the Dark, Mysterious World of Superheros. Fortunately, its Also Our World.


"What is it?" Lieutenant Anderson asked as he approached a black man sitting on the
curb, and a uniformed white male officer bending over him. The officer was writing in a small
spiral notebook. Anderson looked around the area for clues to a crime, such as a car, broken
glass, shell casings, or blood. The area was dirty, but clean of evidence.
"It's a simple robbery," the uniform said, scratching his face with the back of his pen.
"The watch officer left already. I don't know why they called you, Lieutenant."
Anderson looked around the brightly-lit store area. The store was the last business in a
dying neighborhood. It's biggest seller was probably wine. It was an oasis of light, in a world of
darkness and decay. It was the perfect place for a crime. The vacant eyes of broken windows
reflected some of the store's light from across the street in a huge abandoned warehouse. Next to
that were an old clothing manufacturer and an ancient theater which had been closed for a
century. These created a backdrop for stripped cars, trash, and sleeping homeless, littering the
streets and doorways. The only things moving were blowing paper and rats. This area of North
Chicago was a cemetery after 2:00 a.m..
"The Watch Officer called me, said it was my field of expertise. Where's the crime?"
Anderson raised his hands.
"Here," he pointed at the black man sitting on the curb. The man raised his eyes, then
flinched and looked away.
"What crime?" Anderson asked suspiciously.
"A 211. This man was robbed of something just over $3,500 dollars, he estimates."
"Three and a half grand?" Anderson scoffed. "Do you work here at the store?"
"No man, I work at the car wash."
"And you're telling me you made $3,500 drying cars at the car wash?" Anderson asked
"Yeah, I just cashed my paycheck," he said, looking down and swallowing quickly. "The
dude came out of the darkness and beat me half to death with a stick."
"A stick or a staff?" Anderson asked in dawning comprehension. "Was he a Tagger?"
"He could have been," the man admitted in a small voice.
"He's wasting your time, officer. There's no crime here," Anderson said, turning away.
"But Lieutenant . . . "
"There is no crime here," Lieutenant Anderson repeated. "Taggers only rob criminals.
This man is probably a drug dealer. The Tagger should have killed his stupid butt. Get out of
here before I call him back," Anderson yelled. The man looked around at the surrounding
darkness and ran. His footsteps disappeared into the blackness of the night.
"Hey, Lieutenant, what the hell?" the patrol officer asked. "That's not procedure."
"A Tagger, officer, he was attacked by a Tagger. Taggers only rob criminals. He was
lucky. Sometimes they beat them half to death before they rob them. They rob them and give
the money to the poor, like Robin Hood. Taggers live like the scum of the Earth, impoverished
and celibate.

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