Sainsbury’s car park. There are three hooded guys chilling inside of a trolley bay, hiding from the rain, when I walk by, sheltered beneath my umbrella. They yell something at me. I flip them off and immediately regret it. One of them, his hoodie a bright purple, approaches. “You wanna go mate?”

The other two, donned in typical grey, begin to giggle. One says, “Watch out, he might attack with his umbrella! Could be a samurai.”

“Ooh, yeah! Or an elf!”

The one in purple smirks. “Don’t worry, I’m trained to deal with anything. Even deadly weapons.” Suddenly, the others stop laughing.

Is this guy for real? I raise my eyes to look into his and I see that he means business. “Finally. A worthy opponent,” I say, closing my umbrella and resting it upon my shoulder. The greys freeze. If a pin were to drop, you’d hear it.

“Hard man are you?” Mr Purple says.

“I’m warning you. I did Karate for three years.” I fall back into a defensive stance. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Whatever. I did Boxing for six years. So you ain’t gonna hurt me,” he retorts.

“That all? I studied ninjutsu for ten, mastered it and then got bored,” I shoot back. The three of them stumble backwards as if physically pushed. One of the greys even falls over onto his ass.

“Interesting. Well,” my purple-clad opponent begins, lowering his hood to reveal short hair, a round face and the beginnings of facial hair above his top lip, “I’ve practiced Judo for twenty years. And on Saturdays, I even do gun training.” He puts a hand inside of his pocket, as if to suggest that he’s concealing a weapon there, and steps even closer towards me.

I stumble backwards, wounded. How can he be so strong? So dangerous? Lost for words, I examine his face one more time as I fall to the ground. No. I can’t let it end here. Staring up into his youthful eyes, I create one last gambit. “You don’t yet look sixteen, let alone old enough to do have done twenty years of Judo.”

Pause. “Yeah,” one of the others agrees. “We’re only fourteen. Dickhead.”

“What? Ugh!” My opponent drops to his knees, stabbed in the back, as I shakily rise to my feet. “How…could you?” He gurgles and spits on the floor. Blood? “How…could…you?” He collapses on the ground, groans, stops breathing.

I sigh. Another pointless battle. Another needless casualty. I twirl my umbrella, re-open it over my head and saunter away. The other two start to argue about who is more qualified to do CPR on their comrade. From what I can hear as I exit, it sounds like they have years of medical training between them. Not as many years as me, though.

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