This is my spot, see?
Been that way for near on thirty standards now, ever since that old drunken Bothan woman finally had the decency to die. She was a waste of good space and air, is what I'm sayin'. Wasn't no loss when she finally kicked it. Had to chase a few o' the pretenders to the throne outta here at first, a couple with the business end o' a 'shiv, if you know what I mean, but it's mine now and everybody knows it.
So it's my spot and it's a good one too. Right across from the high and mighty Jedi Temple. I get all them tourists coming by to take holos of the place or the gawkers hoping for a looksee o' one o' them Jedi. Ones from the Inner and Mid Rim are mostly suckers - they'll give money to anybody who sticks out a hand. 'Cept for the Coruscanti people, o' course. If they bother to look at you it's only to find out where to aim the kick. The Outer Rim people are harder to sucker in to giving a couple o' credits - they've seen too much. I don't bother with 'em if I see 'em - too much trouble 'cause usually they're packing a vibroshiv or three. Them people know how to use those things even better'n me.
Anyhow, where I stand, I don't see too many Coruscanti or Outer Rim people. The only Coruscanti who come near the big old ugly Temple - a waste of space if you ask me - are them snooty Senate types, and they use the private door 'round the back. As for those Outer Rim types, ain't many of 'em got the credits to be tourists, so I rarely sees the likes o' them. And it's only when somethin' special's happenin' and they wants to make a big deal out o' it any o' them Jedi use the big main entrance.
Like that time a few years ago. I was standin' in my usual place, havin' a real good day - only mid-morning and already more credits than I usually get in a month. Couldn't figure out why the crowds were so big, but I ain't one to look a gift nerf in the mouth. Anyhow, 'round about midday I finally figured out what was goin' on. One of them Senate aircar groups started comin' down outta the sky, and the crowd got real quiet like. As the cars got closer, a few started pointin' and whisperin' and I heard words and names I ain't never heard before: Sithkiller, Naboo, Obi-Wan.
So's with the rest o' the crowd, I watched those aircars come down. Even forgot about askin' for credits. I dunno, but that crowd somehow creeped me out, makin' me think I was about to see somethin' important, somethin' even more 'portant than credits.
They finally landed, and everyone 'round me shut up. Hatches opened, and people got out. I looked the group over - nothin' special, a bunch of dressed up loudmouths who somehow get to decide the rules o' the galaxy, a bunch o' the people they get to run around for 'em, and then a few o' the Jedi. The little green guy got out, followed by a big tough lookin' black guy - wouldn't wanna mess with him in a dark alley - and he was followed by Ben and some kid. A bunch o' them media types came after out of some o' the other cars.
I blinked. Ben? O' course I knew he was a Jedi - kinda hard to miss in them robes - but I'd never figured him to be in one o' these spectacles. He'd never bothered to give me any credits, though. Mind you, I get the feelin' that them Jedi don't get too many chips to rub together so's they can't give out no charity. Anyhow, I never held it against 'im.
I'd known Ben from when he was a youngster. He was always hard to miss - always being yelled by those teachers o' theirs to "slow down and stay with the group" when he was out with a bunch o' them. He'd smacked right into me once, almost fallin' over in the process. I caught him - damn my soft heart - and looked down into the kid's face. Shouldn't'a done that, but hell, what was I supposed to do? The kid grinned up at me and I found myself askin' what his name was, while I was tryin' to tell myself it didn't matter. The kid said "Ben" and then one o' the Jedi came to get him. She told him to apologise and he did, and then ran off.
But he looked back and waved as he left. And he always came by when he could to say hi. Ain't too many people bother t'remember me.
So I kept my eye on him when I could, and I watched that kid grow up. Him and that Master o' his, Qui-Gon was pretty nice, considerin' they's government dogs and all. Suppose it ain't their fault, at that - heard somewheres that Jedi kids are taken away when theys is babies. Ain't no way to get recruits, you ask me.
He turned into a nice kid - a good lookin' kid too. Always thought it was a good thing he weren't on the streets. A kid looks like that has one option and one option only, and it ain't a pretty life. Even me wouldn't wish it on anyone.
But he was a good kid, quick to smile, funny. Always nice to me and he never gave me that look - the one says "I pity you, you poor creature" that some o' them society people give you like you's some sort of dog. I liked him for that - he acted like I was a real person. This sounds cheesy and if you's repeats it I'll deny it as I'm chokin' the life outta you, but he has this light in his eyes that says he's got lots to offer, that there's somethin' special about 'im. I ain't a person for words, so's I can't explain it better than that. He's special, is all. Even I know that.
Anyhow, I looked around for that big Master o' his that was always wanderin' around in front o' him but I didn't see 'im anywheres. That's weird - they always move together, like they's got somethin' chainin' them together. For him not to be in the middle of that show weren't normal.
The crowds got louder and started pointin' and I realised theys was pointin' at Ben. Those words I ain't heard before - Sithkiller, Naboo, Obi-Wan - started bein' whispered louder as the crowd got more excited. I watched as Ben looked 'round at 'em and frowned so's a big crease showed up on his forehead. That's when I saw it. That light I mentioned? It was gone, and there was somethin' else there. Like I said, I ain't a person for words, but if I had to put a word on it, the somethin' that was there was death. It weren't pretty, and I found myself makin' a sign against evil my momma taught me long long years ago. It weren't somethin' I'd done since I'd found her with a 'shiv in her back courtesy o' some loser man she brought home. That's when I started learnin' how to use a 'shiv myself. He weren't about to take my momma from me and live.
But anyhow, I made that sign, knowin' somethin' awful had happened, just from the look on Ben's face, even at that distance. He turned around to the kid that was followin' 'im, and that's the first time I took a good look at the runt. Like I said, I don't see many Outer Rimmers, but I know 'em when I see 'em. That kid was an Outer Rimmer - I'd stake my spot on it. He was wearin' the clothes of a Jedi, but in such a way that he looked like he didn't know how to wear 'em, y'know what I mean? He was tryin' to look six ways at once, somethin' Outer Rimmers who ain't never seen a proper city always do. Something was just plain wrong. He was wrong. I made that sign again.
They moved up the big staircase out front o' the Temple, the crowd watchin' their every step. At the top, one of them big Republic dogs put a hand on Ben's arm and stopped 'im, and I could tell Ben weren't too fussy on it. Somethin' was said, and they turned to look back at the crowd. The Republic dog smiled the way I figure a shark smiles before it catches up with dinner, while Ben looked like he was goin' t'be sick and the kid didn't know what to do. Them media types though loved it - lights like you wouldn't believe went off as a load o' holos were took. Finally, Ben had enough, I guess - he shook off the arm that shark had put around his shoulder and disappeared into the Temple, draggin' the kid after 'im. The crowd gave this funny sound - like they were happy and sad he'd gone, all at once. Don't ask me how I knew it was 'cause of Ben and no one else there - I just know. Anyhow, once they went into the Temple, the crowds started to leave, and I went back to cleanin' up on the credits. But I couldn't get it out o' my thick head that somethin' had happened.
So that night, I went down to my favourite cantina. It's on the lower lower levels, stuck between a nasty shop for Twi'leks, and a shop where you can sell your last bit o' whatever to get the credits for your last death stick. It's that kinda level, but the cantina is somehow still nice - there's only maybe six or seven 'shiv fights a week instead of a couple or four every night. Plus, they have a holo hook up. I forced the bartender to switch it to the news, even though he didn't wanna do it - bad for business, he said. I almost started one of those 'shiv fights myself that night. He changed it quick enough to make me happy.
The news was still full of it, even after a coupla days. The fight on Naboo, some silly little world that had no idea how to defend itself against someone bigger'n it and that counted on others to do it for 'em. Sure, in the end, they'd done it themselfs, but if they'd been more like me, they'd'a known how to protect themselves right from the start, and those idiot Trade Federation passuks wouldn't'a had a chance from the beginning. Instead, they forced the Jedi to come and get themselfs killed.
Or at least one o' them. I understood that look on Ben's - or Obi-Wan I knew now - face after watchin' the news. It was the same look I figure I had after I found my momma. And it turns out we took out their killers in the same way, more or less. I woulda never thought that a Jedi and me coulda had a lot in common. Guess I was wrong.
Anyhow, in those years since, that Outer Rimmer - Anakin - still ain't figured out how to wear them Jedi clothes, although he hides it better now. I still think there's somethin' wrong there - but I can't tell what it is, which is pretty damn irritatin'. I make that sign whenever I see that kid.
I told Ben - could never think o' him as Obi-Wan - the next time I saw 'im that I understood. Looked 'im straight in the eye and said I understood. That's it, nothin' else. But I know he understood me, if you get my meanin'. He was bein' treated like a big hero because that thing was some sorta enemy, and don't get me wrong, it was. Even I knew that. But I know that he killed it not because he was thinkin' it was an enemy, but because he had a personal stake in the matter. Don't mean a thing that he's a Jedi, protector o' peace and all that. Some things are more important. Killin' that thing himself was one of 'em.
Anyhow, he ain't never lost that look that he came home with. Like the kid, he hides it better now, but it's there. Maybe you have t'live through seeing your momma die to be able to see it, I dunno. That kid never seems to see it, that's for sure. Ben's still nice to me, still funny, but that light's gone. Ain't never gonna come back, neither. Every time I see 'im now, there's more lines to join the one on his forehead. It makes me sad for 'im - but don't tell anybody I said it, see? I got a reputation to maintain.
But it don't really have a whole lot to do with me. I'll just stand here on my spot, collectin' credits until the day the Temple or me is gone. Seein' all them tourists come by with their holocameras, hopin' to see a Jedi, thinkin' that their life is all fine and dandy. They don't know nothin', do they? I've had a lot of time to think about it - every time I see Ben, I believe it a little more.
That life on the streets I mentioned earlier? Maybe it ain't quite as bad as bein' a Jedi.
Original cover by FernWithy. HTML formatting copyright 2004 TheForce.Net LLC.