Uncommon valor yields all-too-common response

In the corner of his eye, through the windows and glass doors, Bruns could see police cruisers arriving on side streets. Two officers came through the front door, hands to their guns. Then, seeing the kid and the huddle of customers, some with their hands raised, and believing they faced a possible hostage situation, the officers took cover. Bruns heard one of them say, apparently into his radio, "He's got a knife or a gun, we don't know which."

The kid turned and banged on the office door again.

In the next instant he turned to look at the police at the front door.

In the next instant, Rob Bruns, 50 years old, had his arms around the kid. He heaved his chest against the kid's back and pushed him through the swinging doors and across the linoleum floor, slammed him against the coffee bar and turned him around. They were face to face now. With his left hand, Bruns grabbed the kid's right wrist and squeezed. He felt a popping pain in his shoulder. The knife was near his face. Blood was on his hand.

"Get off of me! Get off of me!" the kid shouted.

Bruns heard himself utter a profane grunt that reminded him, in an odd flash, "of the way Al Pacino talked in one of my favorite movies, 'Scent Of A Woman.'"

He turned the kid sideways and kneed him in the groin. He pushed with all his might and rammed him into shelves of bottled soda. The teen crumbled. The knife slid across the floor. Cops came through the door. Guns drawn. Deed done. Elapsed time: Between five and 10 minutes since Rob Bruns had walked into the store.

His nephew, a city paramedic named Brad Bruns, happened to be the one who took care of the inch-long cut on Rob Bruns' left thumb. A police officer took a report and spelled his name wrong in it. The man in the business suit never spoke a word to Rob Bruns. Neither did the grandmother. Neither did the woman who'd come into the store after him. They all seemed to have scattered quickly. They all seemed to have moved on. Just like that.

Bruns was tired and sore. In a little while, he went back to work, and later realized that no one had made much of a fuss of about his deed. No one had said, "Thanks."

Bruns likes the 7-Eleven. He went back there the next morning. He was offered a free doughnut and all the Coke he could drink. He took the doughnut.

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