|It is a well known and accepted universal fact that to steal a man’s camera is one of the worst crimes imaginable, particularly if it is taken whilst on holiday. To bring some sort of closure to Snapper 3 (which is particularly hard to do, since I don’t know if he is alive or dead but what I do know is that he isn’t coming back) I have constructed a largely fictionalised account of its last day in respect of his memory. Some characters have assumed aliases to avoid litigation.
It was a hot, smog filled day in Santiago, typical of the time of year. Tourists swelled the streets like the skin of an anaconda after a meal of swamp badgers. Carlos “wheels” Santos and Santos “the magician” Carlos walked out into the bustling streets and began the day’s thievery. They were a two man team. Carlos would make the distraction while Santos did the snatch; such was his speed and light fingered panache that he was referred to in almost mystic lore by the criminal underworld as the Magician, and he was inclined to bestow the same name upon himself. Yes, he was good there was no mistaking that. It would be unfair to reveal the exact nature of the robbery, but clearly it wasn’t magic. Rather it was the result of years of practice and inflicted misery on other. After The Magician did his trick, he would then pass the bag or wallet to Carlos who would be waiting on a moped. The theft would occur in less than five seconds and by ten seconds both bandits would be weaving through the traffic, loot in hand. The only thing that would rise above the noise of the traffic was the two men’s laughter, for they loved what they did. Of course, in the beginning their crimes had been born out of necessity, for it is this that is the mother to all great and terrible deeds. But they had grown to like it, much as a shark may sometimes grow to love the taste of human flesh and the process of the kill, even though the meat itself serves it little benefit.
Santos was sat on the back of the bike as Carlos drove quickly through the tightly packed streets. He was rifling though the bag that he had just stolen. Inside was a camera, whose name was Snapper 3 to his owners, but to these punks it was just another foolish tourist’s memory encased in a prison from which there was no parole. “Camera!” he yelled in to Carlos’s ear. The two men screamed in laugher. “Any good photos on it?” Replied Carlos, craning his neck to the side to catch a look. Santos flicked through idly. “A couple’s holiday shots. Here they are on a mountain, now they’re drinking wine, now on a glacier. Ha ha, we’re so clever for stealing this, not only have we taken their camera; we’ve also taken their memory. I like the girl!” He passed the camera to Carlos, who inspected it, his lizard like tongue flicking across his lips. “Yes, we’ll get her printed out and stick it on the seat of our moped so we can both ride her!” The two men howled in laughter once more.
At this very moment, Button the tourist had realised that the crime had taken place, but such was the magician’s skill he was simply baffled. The only rational thought in his mind is that whoever was responsible would pay, in this life or the next. To take a man’s camera is a violation that can only beget immense suffering. And so it was that at that second a curse fell upon the two smug bandits.
Santos was looking at a picture of Button. He had barely noticed the man in the restaurant, for his eyes were fixed only on the prize. The two people were insignificant, merely a fence for the fox to crawl under to get to the coup. “Yes,” said Santos, in a sneer. “I will print him out and stick him on the toilet seat so you and I can do to him every day what we have just done!”
“What’s that?” asked Carlos, tilting his head once more.
Santos sighed, for they were both very stupid but Carlos in particular, which is why he just drove the bike. “Well obviously, we’ll sh... watch that truck!!!!”
Carlos looked quickly to his front to see a truck heading right for them. He swerved, missing it by inches, but the truck also veered and wasn’t so lucky, hitting over a telegraph pole. Electrical wires began stabbing and coiling up across the street like wild asps. Both the bandits saw the damage they had caused and the narrow escape they had and laughed. Such was the vigour of their malice that they failed to see the pothole in the ground. The bike pitched into it, catapulting both men through the air. Carlos the driver was hurled towards an iron fence outside a church. He was impaled in several places and screamed out in agony. As the pain shuddered through his body in waves, he saw the lose cables spitting at him and one struck the fence. Thousands of volts stung his body and he dies an agonising death, his last thought was utter regret at stealing this particular bag, for had he not done so he may have lived long enough to change his ways and put some good back into the world. But for Carlos it was all over.
Santos got to his feet and brushed himself down. By some lucky star he was unhurt! He looked over at his friend and listened to the last death cries slip from his lips. There was no honour amongst thieves, so he went over and took off his dead partner’s watch, a Rolex they had stolen months before. Then he realised that he still had the camera in his hand. He grinned to himself. “Not a total waste of a day!” he laughed, menacingly. “Well, I suppose I’ll go and nick some more stuff!” Looking down at the camera he saw that the photo had changed and it was another shot of Button, this time smiling. Santos froze for there was something knowing in that smile, something that reached to Santos’s very core. As a shudder went through him, he was suddenly yanked off his feet.
In blind panic he realised that another lorry had a piece of rope that had got loose and was dragging behind it. To his terror it was now wrapped around Santos’s legs and he was being pulled over the street. The concrete was flaying the skin off him, slowly and terribly. He screamed in pain but no one came to help. The torment went on for hours, until they were heading into the mountains. Finally, the driver stopped to stretch his legs. He did not notice the bloodied piece of flesh lying behind the truck. Santos was still alive but in terrible pain. But he was alive and it looked like he would miraculously be saved. Surely the driver will see me now? He thought. He even managed a smile. “That’s why I’m the magician!”
Suddenly he started to move, and as he did so he caught the driver’s eye, stood on the road. In a terrible moment, he realised that the driver had left the handbrake off and now the truck was heading for the cliff. The driver was a good man and saw Santos and tried to save him before the truck. Unfortunately he was carrying a bottle of whisky and when he reached him he tripped and the bottle fell out of his jacket, smashing against the magician’s face. He yelled out in such pain that the driver was startled and spat the cigarette out of his mouth. Santos, the nasty bandit, lit up in flames. As the screams filled the driver’s ears, he tried to stop the truck. It reached the edge and for a moment looked like it would stop. Santos had rolled off the side of the cliff in severe pain, and was now suspended against the sharp rock face, his agony at being burned alive, heightened as he bashed repeatedly against the rock. At this moment he realised that he was still gripping the camera. Through the flames and his screams of pain, he found himself looking once more in to the grinning face of the man he had stolen from. As his eyes were pierced, he looked up in a dreadful moment and saw the truck falling down on him. He fell to the ground, breaking his bones, and managed one last scream as the truck landed on top of him turning him into puree.
Carlos and Santos woke up in a white room. Everywhere was white, and such was the brilliance of it, they were both spellbound. “Where are we?” They both asked in unison.
“Heaven.” Replied a deep and calming voice.
“Heaven!” the bandits said in unison. “But we’re thieves, how did we manage that?”
“The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Replied the voice.
The two bandits high fived each other and began whooping and cheering, for now all their dreadful injuries that had been inflicted on them in their mortal form were healed. Already they were both wondering what wonderful things they would be able to steal from here. “So are you God?” They asked.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” the voice jeered. “He doesn’t mix with the likes of you! No, you see heaven can only be heaven if all the good pious people here remember what it is to be bad. It helps them remain pious and also feel rather chuffed and smug with themselves, which is one of the more exhilarating sensations of being good. So, I run the prison here and have an arrangement with the other place. Every thousand years he sends me a couple of scum bags and we punish you every day so we can all rejoice at how bad you are and how good we are.”
The two men felt their souls beginning to tremble. “So you’re going to punish us for eternity?” asked Carlos with a trembling lip.
“No, you idiot,” said Santos, “He just told us it was for a thousand years.” Suddenly it dawned on both bandits their terrible predicament, but their punishment commenced swiftly. They were both given a delicious meal and they were very hungry. Before they could eat the food it was taken away. Then the two men at least were glad that they had clothes on since it was very cold in their cell, but their clothes were stolen and they shook with cold. Then they were both given a damn good thrashing by any one pious who wished to lash out at these evil doers and receive special favours from God, and if their beatings were particularly severe they may even get invited to dine at God’s table. And so it went on, the same routine, day after day, much like the thieves’ routine, for a thousand years.
Meanwhile, back on earth, the camera lay on a rock, somehow undamaged by the flames and death. The photo of the grinning man on the screen, as if satisfied, faded away, and Snapper 3 left the world gracefully and avenged.