Revenge and Retribution

in fiction •  last year

I am sitting here in the apartment of the man who didn't kill my wife, waiting to kill him.

The lights are out, and he's due back in about five minutes, just enough time for me to explain about three coincidences.

A little background...

After 9/11, I joined the Marine Corps. I've always felt a little bored by the pace of life, and the Corps suited me. I did one tour as an 0311, or infantry. I re-enlisted for a second tour as an MP, or military policeman (5811). I got out and went to college to get a degree in criminal justice; I went to a school with a large military community, a large officer presence, and I went there with the support of a few officers from my MP unit. It was expected that I would return to the Corps as an MP officer.

I messed things up with an old cliche...I knocked up an Admiral's daughter, and I didn't do the "right thing" by her. She was a fine woman to rattle the headboards with, but she was a whimpering and insipid fool; I could not see spending the rest of my life belting her in the mouth. She got an abortion, and I was out of that career.

But I had found I liked academics, so first I finished the bach, and then I got my doctorate. I also met and married my wife during this period.

The first two coincidences are intertwined. My dissertation was about the work I did in setting up a gang intelligence unit for my hometown's police department; this is my main area of research. My other primary research areas are the ethics of retributive justice, and the biological bases of psychopathy - mostly coming from the work of Robert Hare and Adrian Raines.

On May 23, 2022, a thrilling breakthrough in the treatment of psychopathic criminals was announced, a microchip that compensated for problems in the frontal lobe; these problems are the cause for a lack of human empathy that is the reason for psychopathic behavior. By installing these microchips into the subject's brains, a psychopath could be instantly "rehabilitated", and could function as a normal human. I spent all day in the office reading on on this thrilling discovery. Since I was supposed to pick up my wife at work, she ended up borrowing her boss's work Lexus to drive home.

On May 23, 2022, three juvenile gang members carjacked a Lexus, raping and murdering my wife in the process. The carjacking was the the primary goal of the the gang members, raping and killing my wife was an afterthought.

The gang members were tried as adults; two of them ended up going to prison, but the third, Ramon, was diagnosed as a psychopath. He was selected for microchip therapy. Ramon had been the one to escalate the carjacking into the terror my wife suffered. On December 14th of that year, the microchip was installed.

I followed up on the case. Ramon spent a lot of time in treatment for depression. The microchip did not erase the memory of what he had done, simply created the ability for him to feel remorse. Since he had no emotional experience in tamping down these feelings, Ramon became a sad mess. I understood all too well that psychopaths are able to manipulate their therapists for early release by reading and manipulating those therapists' feelings. The private eye that I hired to mark Ramon's movements reported that he spent all his time, other than headshrinker appointments, drinking and crying. Ramon was not the same man that murdered my wife.

Essentially, the retributive mode is revenge on the part of society AND the victim for the transgressor's violation. At it's most basic, it is "an eye for an eye" justice. It satisfies the justice needs of society, not the criminal.

Any given method of justice (retributive, incapacitative, deterrent, rehabilitative) can fit within multiple nodes. A prison term is incapacitative, or in other words keeps the criminal away from possible victims and prevents additional crime: while at the same time, prison is supposedly deterrent at the same time, or in other words gives the offender a reason not to do it again, or "scared straight". Rehabilitation has great press but only really works on juveniles, who may be "aging out" of delinquency in the first place.

Raines, at an ASC (American Society of Criminology) meeting long ago, had a great discussion about how the leading academics refused to consider that biology played a part in the origination of crime. Of course, those guys were the ones claiming that "poverty causes crime". That view of crime is espoused by "academics" like Cloward and Piven.

Now the people that don't like to punish criminals will tell you that the deterrent and the rehabilitative modes are the only..."efficient"...or moral...modes of preventing additional crime. These people are known as do-gooders.

I studied the retributive mode for several reasons, but the biggest reason is that I feel it is the most just.

Now I'm sitting here on Ramon's couch, waiting for him to get back from his shrink appointment, and I've got a shotgun loaded with PDX1, or what is known as "buck and ball". It's really just one big chunk of metal and three smaller chunks of metal, all waiting to explode out of the end of the gun.

And there is time to tell you about that third coincidence, The psychopathy expert I spoke of, Hare? He came up with a system of diagnosing psychopaths called the Psychopathy Checklist, or PCL. It's a 40 point test. If you get a score of 26, that indicates your subject is a psychopath.

On some suspicion of my own personality, I took the test at a seminar some time ago; I feigned that I was mimicking a psychopath, but I was really answering truthfully.

My score was a 27.

Now I can hear the key jiggling in the lock...looks like Ramon is home. Let me just raise the barrel to face level...

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Great storey

Great story, it reminded me of Malcolm. This would make a great screenplay for Black Mirror. Remember me if you ever write for it. UV'd and resteemed!

PS You misspelled psychology in your tag.



when I was writing this story in my head, I had a whole scene a la clockwork orange in my head where the gang beat up Ramon when he refused to go banging after the chip was installed

I forgot all about it when I sat down and typed the story ;>

It's probably better this way though, flows a little better.

Black Mirror, ehh. I'm not a Brit, but I have seen a couple and they are good. Maybe I'll do the screen write and submit it, if I can find where to do that.

Thanks for the comment and the idea!


I agree on the length and the flow of the story, and regards Black Mirror, it really is IMHO telegraphing the future. I would make the case that we as Steemians are already being reflected in, albeit in a primitive way, at least 2 of the episodes. Season 3 Episode 1 titled "Nosedive", and Season 1 Episode 2 "Fifteen Million Merits"

If you get a chance to check them out and see if you notice any parallels to Steemit.


I just cancelled Netflix, which did have Black Mirror; hopefully it's on Youtube or Amazon Prime as well.


The one thing that strikes me with the Black Mirror series is that it just seems so close around the corner. Even your story, 2022. Only 5 yrs from now. Thinking of the repercussions of the technology... Brave New World?

Great short story. Can't say which of you I like best, but I empathize with both. Gonna follow up? A Chapter 2? (Following for whatever comes next!)


nope, that was a one shot ;)

I empathized with the narrator, not so much with the gang member; although I recognize what a horrible situation he was in. From my view as a writer, I could kill him off as an act of mercy...which the narrator considered as a side-effect of the act of vengeance, and not really worthy of talking about.

I tend to think the retributive mode is the moral approach to justice myself.

Followed ya, Texan! Come and Take It!

Creepy dude. Don't kill anyone for reals! Pretty sweet horror story though.


LOL don't worry, I only got a 23 on a self-administered test...not QUITE there

but if I don't get enough upvotes, look out LOL