L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 152, December 17, 2001
NOW THAT'S JUST MEAN!
The Mean Wittow Kid
by L. Neil Smith
Exclusive to TLE
Once upon a time, in a rather ordinary neighborhood that might otherwise have been clean, sunny, and pleasant, there lived a Mean Wittow Kid.
The Mean Wittow Kid -- who wasn't that little; he'd just started out that way, and people kept calling him that by force of habit -- was hated and feared by everyone in the neighborhood, even grownups. He stole lunch money from other children, twisted their arms, gave them Indian burns, and generally made their lives a misery. He threw rocks through their parents' windows and let air out of their tires when they weren't looking. He poured lighter fluid over cats and set them on fire. He poked at dogs with sticks and kicked them whenever he could.
He usually got away with all of this because his family was very rich and extremely powerful, and whoever they couldn't bribe to "forget" what had happened, they intimidated into silence. The Mean Wittow Kid only had one friend -- not a friend, really, but a slimy little toady everybody called "Teebee". Teebee's family didn't have any money or power, but when he hung out with the Mean Wittow Kid, Teebee felt like he did.
One day, an especially mangy stray dog, a dog almost as mean as the Mean Wittow Kid, bit the Mean Wittow Kid on the backside and ran away before the Mean Wittow Kid and Teebee could catch it. While it mightn't have made much sense to anybody else, the Mean Wittow Kid knew exactly what to do. He and Teebee went straight to the squalid home of the smallest, weakest, and poorest kid in the neighborhood, and proceeded to beat the tar out of him.
"But why are you doing this to me?" the smallest, weakest, and poorest kid in the neighborhood wailed as the Mean Wittow Kid's blows rained down on his head and Teebee kicked him in the shins. "What have I done to deserve what you're doing to me?"
"A stray dog bit me," answered the Mean Wittow Kid without losing a beat. "I know that he ran into your yard. If you don't turn him over to me right away, then you're giving him a place to hide and you're as guilty as he is."
"As guilty as he is," echoed Teebee. "As guilty as he is!"
"How do you know that he ran into my yard?" asked the smallest, weakest, and poorest kid in the neighborhood. A number of passersby had begun to gather on the sidewalk outside the yard and were listening.
"I just know!" answered the Mean Wittow Kid, at which some of the onlookers snickered. Teebee turned and gave them a scowl, which only made them snicker more.
"But how do you know?" sobbed the smallest, weakest, and poorest kid in the neighborhood, hoping that some of the gawkers outside the fence would help him. Teebee was stamping on each of his toes in turn while the Mean Wittow Kid held him.
The Mean Wittow Kid paused momentarily in his beating of the smallest, weakest, and poorest kid in the neighborhood, narrowed his eyes and and half-whispered, "I can't tell you -- it's a secret!"
"A secret! A secret!" Teebee repeated as he danced around the pair. "It's a secret!"
"And when we finish with you," the Mean Wittow Kid snarled at the smallest, weakest, and poorest kid in the neighborhood, "we're going over to your neighbor's house and beat him up, too!"
Whereupon the people of the neighborhood seized the Mean Wittow Kid and Teebee, dragged them off, and hanged them, side by side, from the nearest lamppost until they were dead, dead, dead.
The moral of this story is ... well, there isn't any moral to this story, really. In fact, it's an immoral story, which is why it's being told. True, if you kick enough stray dogs, sooner or later, one of them is going to bite you on the backside. But anybody with any intelligence, even a Mean Wittow Kid or someone like Teebee should be able to figure that out.
And if you blame anybody for it but yourself, sooner or later, that's going to come back and bite you, too, like it did the Mean Wittow Kid. The sad part is that no matter how much you deserve it, after it's done, it will never be a clean, sunny, and pleasant neighborhood, for anybody, ever again.
So if you aren't a Mean Wittow Kid right now, for heaven's sake, don't start, And if you are a Mean Wittow Kid, then cut it out immediately.
The whole neighborhood is watching.