William: Good evening, sir. If it is not too much to ask, might I trouble you for your billfold?
Thomas: An equally good evening to you, sir. Unfortunately, I must decline your request, as my present financial situation is such that I am unable to part with my purse without suffering significant hardship.
William: Oh, pardon me. In my haste I forgot to produce this dagger, which I had brought along as inducement to you to part with your belongings. As you will see, it is lengthy and sharp, quite capable of inflicting death or at least a grave wound with only the slightest effort. With this display, I now repeat my previous request for your wallet, with renewed vigor, emphasizing as far as decorum permits my willingness to use the aforementioned weapon for its intended function.
Thomas: The presence of your cutlery does modify my view of the situation somewhat, especially in light of the fact that the paltry sum in my possession would not merit the risk of death in its defense, and indeed would scarcely warrant a serious scratch.
William: This is especially so because, even were you to so defend yourself, you would still end up with the wound and I with the purse.
Thomas: Indeed, the very fact of my impecunious circumstances and lack of wherewithal is what impelled me to take to the streets this evening with the intent of engaging in the same activity as your honored self, relieving others of their funds for my own use, as I am going to do with you.
William: Point of etiquette, sir. Have you so far forgotten yourself as to ignore the fact that my request was made first, and more significantly, at knife-point? While it may seem crude to call it to your attention, you are at a relative disadvantage in this transaction.
Thomas: Well-put, and the fault is entirely mine that in the warmth of our conversation and my admiration of your fine dagger, I neglected to mention that I have this pistol. It is a 9 millimeter model, of Italian manufacture, and quite capable of inflicting mortal wounds upon you if you insist, rather than delivering your purse to me as required.
William: I see. But despite the presence of the pistol, there remains the fact that I sought to rob you first.
Thomas: Quite so, good fellow, and I am not unaware of that priority. However, it is commonly accepted among all of us who engage in street-thuggery that a firearm takes priority over a knife in almost all circumstances, due to the greater range, speed and power of the weapon. Indeed, except where the pistol is known by the one to whom it is presented to be without load or otherwise non-functioning, a knife or similar utensil is always expected to yield to the firearm, even when the bearer of the knife was first in time.
(Whereupon, Charles steps quietly and unseen behind Thomas, holding a large blue revolver.)
William: Alas, you are correct, and in this circumstance I would ordinarily be required to deliver to you my own treasure and permit you to escape with yours. Anticipating, however, that I might encounter some resistance, and being a cautious sort, I have invited my assistant to join me in this evening’s activities, and he is even now positioned at your rear with a revolver. While it is not so fine a piece as your own, which shall also soon be mine, his is an excellent Colt .38, fully loaded and pointed in your direction. Thus, as you see, we are now two men, one gun and one dagger, against your one man with one gun, thus not only restoring my temporal priority but more than leveling the field with regard to armaments and numbers. Now, if you please, the wallet. If it is indeed as sparsely filled as you attest, I fear that my investment of time here is scarcely more productive than engaging in manual labor in some dreary enterprise.
Thomas: You make a convincing argument, and I commend you for your prudence in preparation. Would that I had such an assistant. However, in order to assure myself that this supposed gentleman with a .38 is not a mere bagatelle, proper diligence requires that I verify his presence so as not to be considered a great fool in permitting one man with a knife and a clever ruse to relieve me of both my billfold and my Beretta.
(Whereupon, Thomas looks back, and upon verifying the presence of Charles, swiftly shoots him through the right eye socket, thus ending his life and most of his significance to the tale.)
Thomas: I regret the necessity of taking that drastic step, but the fellow seemed somewhat inattentive to the vigilance necessary to one who engages in thuggery with an armed victim, so it appeared to be an appropriate measure under the circumstances. This was especially so because, as I believe I have mentioned more than once, my present financial situation would make it most inconvenient to deliver not only my present wealth but my means of procuring more. However, I extend my condolences on the loss of your associate.
William: Thank you for your graciousness. He was my brother, and well-aware of the risks inherent in our common chosen trade. Indeed, it seems more aware of that than of the imperative to maintain his finger on the trigger and shoot first rather than being shot.
Thomas: Indeed a serious misjudgment on his part.
William: Yes, and his ineptitude has now placed me in an unfortunate position.
Thomas: Quite correct, for now we are back to my auto versus your poor knife, and I shall relieve you of your treasure, and your knife, and that Colt which remains in the grip of your recently deceased sibling. While generally I frown on stealing from the dead, in this situation were I to leave the unfired Colt readily available to you, I would run the very real risk that you would retrieve it and shoot me in the back as I depart, something I very much wish to avoid. The only other option would be for me to shoot you as well, an act that would gain me nothing and cost you dearly, and I quite suppose you would prefer me to take the revolver rather than your life.
William: You understand my preferences very well, and I thank you for your consideration.
Thomas: Now, back to the subject at hand, kindly pass me your wallet, for I am in haste.
(At which point a car with two policemen pulls to the curb, both policemen exit their conveyance, and level their own service weapons at Thomas and William).
Policeman 1: What is going on here?
Thomas: Why, officer it is well that you have arrived! We are in such a state. My friend and I were here, discussing the affairs of the day, when the gentleman you see supine before you, a known cutpurse, accosted us and sought to rob us of our means!
William: It is true! Were it not that my associate here was armed with a pistol of his own, this street-thug might well have slaughtered us both! Fortunately, his quick thinking saved the day and we remain to tell the sordid tale.
Thomas: I do not deserve all the credit. This fine gent distracted the blackguard’s attention enough that I was able to get off a shot before the fiend was able to dispatch us both to another realm. Most upsetting!
Policeman 2: (Inspecting the deceased): He does have a gun, and appears to be a thief.
Policeman 1: All right, gentlemen, we may need to contact you later for further details. Thank you for your service to the city.
Thomas: (To William) Sir, I bid you good evening. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, albeit under these unfortunate circumstances, and I trust we shall have an opportunity to continue our conversation on another evening.
William: Likewise. I hope that when we meet again, I arrive better equipped to engage you. Good evening to you.