There's a sound coming from downstairs, and then it's silent. A moment later you hear the unmistakable creak of your front door opening and closing. Your heart starts to beat faster and you ask yourself, Who the hell is that?

You take a deep breath and try to steady your nerves as you slowly reach for the 9mm you keep in the drawer next to your bed. You sigh with relief when your fingers find it, and you pull it out and quickly clutch it to your chest. The heft is reassuring. You sit still and try to take stock of the situation.

Footsteps approach from the hallway, coming towards your room. I'm not the only one with keys, you realize. It could be a family member or a friend. It could be a murderer, too. But you wait a bit longer, not wanting to make a terrible mistake.

Your bedroom door opens in the darkness to reveal a formless silhouette. "Freeze!" you shout, holding the gun out at arms length as all the cop movies you've ever seen race through your mind. "I've got a gun!"

The figure freezes for a moment, and then flips on the light. You blink a few times and then sit there astonished. You don't know who the intruder is, but he's standing there in your bedroom doorway with a gun in one hand and an empty sack in the other, smiling.

"Who are you?" you ask, incredulous at the invasion of your home and the jaunty manner of the unknown man who is now pointing a gun at you.

"Robber," he says, looking around. "Where do you keep the good stuff?"

"What? Look, you're not getting anything, now put your gun down," you say, trying to sound as serious as possible.

"Of course," he responds. "I'll be happy to. After you. Would you mind filling my sack here up with any jewelry or cash you having lying around?"

Just then you hear the sirens outside and the sound of dozens of feet bursting into the house downstairs. "The cops are here," you tell the robber.

He shrugs and puts his gun in his pocket just as the first officer arrives. "I called them myself," he whispers to you conspiratorially from across the room.

The cop pushes the robber into the room and points his gun at you; "Drop it!" he commands, and you do. "Alright, what's going on here?"

The robber begins, "This guy pulled a gun on me, that's why I called you."

"Is that right?" the officer asks, turning towards you.

You're nearly speechless but you nod. "He broke into my house! He pulled a gun on me! Look at him, he's a robber. He's got a sack to carry off all my stuff!"

The officer looks back and forth between the two of you. "Well, I don't really see the need for violence," he says, and picks your gun up off the floor. "It seems like we should be able to reach an amiable and mutually beneficial resolution."

The robber nods sagely, but you exclaim "What are you talking about?! Aren't you going to arrest this guy?"

The officer gets a pained look on his face for a moment, but it clears. "Look, it's easy to get all confounded trying to figure out who started what and whose 'fault' things are, but let's not get bogged down. How about this: give the robber half a sack of valuables and then he'll be on his way."

The robber smiles agreeably. "Naturally," he says, "a half-sack would be quite sufficient. There's really no need for this to get out of hand."

"That's absurd! He'll just want another half-sack tomorrow!" you tell them both, and they look quite surprised by your reaction.

"We need to find a compromise - " the robber begins.

"... a process that will result in solution that's agreeable to both parties..." the officer starts explaining to you.

"No! No! Listen, I'm not giving anything to this robber under any circumstances!" you shout over them until they fall silent.

The officer sighs. "Try to understand his perspective. No? Very well. Look, I'll let you guys sort it out yourselves and come back tomorrow."

The robber nods and waves to the officer as he leaves. Once the cars pull away from the front of your house he smiles again before pulling the gun from his pocket and turning off the lights.



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