Eye For Eye
by Orson Scott Card
Eye for Eye was published in 1990 as a Tor double novel, along with "Tunesmith"
by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. It is currently out of print, although it is available as an audiobook.
Just talk, Mick. Tell us everything. We'll listen.
Well to start with I know I was doing terrible things. If you're a halfway decent
person, you don't go looking to kill people. Even if you can do it without touching
them. Even if you can do it so as nobody even guesses they was murdered, you
still got to try not to do it.
Who taught you that?
Nobody. I mean it wasn't in the books in the Baptist Sunday School -- they spent
all their time telling us not to lie or break the sabbath or drink liquor. Never did
mention killing. Near as I can figure, the Lord thought killing was pretty smart
sometimes, like when Samson done it with a donkey's jaw. A thousand guys dead,
but that was okay cause they was Philistines. And lighting foxes' tails on fire.
Samson was a sicko, but he still got his pages in the Bible.
I figure Jesus was about the only guy got much space in the Bible telling people
not to kill. And even then, there's that story about how the Lord struck down a guy
and his wife cause they held back on their offerings to the Christian church. Oh,
Lord, the TV preachers did go on about that. No, it wasn't cause I got religion that
I figured out not to kill people.
You know what I think it was? I think it was Vondel Cone's elbow. At the Baptist
Children's Home in Eden, North Carolina, we played basketball all the time. On a
bumpy dirt court, but we figured it was part of the game, never knowing which
way the ball would bounce. Those boys in the NBA, they play a sissy game on
that flat smooth floor.
We played basketball because there wasn't a lot else to do. Only thing they ever
had on TV was the preachers. We got it all cabled in -- Falwell from up in
Lynchburg, Jim and Tammy from Charlotte, Jimmy Swaggart looking hot, Ernest
Ainglee looking carpeted, Billy Graham looking like God's executive vice-president -- that was all our TV ever showed, so no wonder we lived on the
basketball court all year.
Anyway, Vondel Cone wasn't particularly tall and he wasn't particularly good at
shooting and on the court nobody was even halfway good at dribbling. But he had
elbows. Other guys, when they hit you it was an accident. But when Vondel's
elbow met up with your face, he like to pushed your nose out your ear. You can
bet we all learned real quick to give him room. He got to take all the shots and get
all the rebounds he wanted.
But we got even. We just didn't count his points. We'd call out the score, and any
basket he made it was like it never happened. He'd scream and he'd argue and
we'd all stand there and nod and agree so he wouldn't punch us out, and then as
soon as the next basket was made, we'd call out the score -- still not counting
Vondel's points. Drove that boy crazy. He screamed till his eyes bugged out, but
nobody ever counted his cheating points.
Vondel died of leukemia at the age of fourteen. You see, I never did like that boy.
But I learned something from him. I learned how unfair it was for somebody to get
his way just because he didn't care how much he hurt people. And when I finally
realized that I was just about the most hurtful person in the whole world, I knew
then and there that it just wasn't right. I mean, even in the Old Testament, Moses
said the punishment should fit the crime. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Even
Steven, that's what Old Peleg said before I killed him of prostate cancer. It was
when Peleg got took to the hospital that I left the Eden Baptist Children's Home.
Cause I wasn't Vondel. I did care how much I hurt folks.
But that doesn't have nothing to do with anything. I don't know what all you want
me to talk about.
Just talk, Mick. Tell us whatever you want.