[Editor’s Note – This column originally ran on the site on December 22, 2014.]
“Ladies and gentleman … ladies and gentleman,” Hans Gruber said to the terrified partygoers on the 30th floor of Nakatomi Tower.
Just moments before, Gruber and his men had burst out of the elevator firing machine guns and causing panic. In this moment, he was now attempting to explain the situation to them. Or, at least, give them the phony reason he had concocted to distract everyone from his actual plan.
But in this, his moment of glory, Hans himself was distracted. As he addressed the entire crowd, looking for CEO Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi, he kept watching a brunette woman in a tight red dress who was toward the back of the crowd.
The woman was Mia, a Nakatomi employee who had been invaluable as Gruber’s mole. She gave him company secrets and stole the blueprints for the entire building, including the vault, allowing Hans to plan his actual mission – a robbery.
Gruber had initially viewed their relationship as a mutually-beneficial business partnership. She had been paid handsomely for providing him intel. And originally, he thought that’s where it’d ended. But lately he wasn’t so sure. There were things she had said in their last few correspondences that seemed personal … flirty, even.
She had recently described the floors under construction as being “full of dark corners for doing dark deeds.” And when Hans asked if she’d be at the Nakatomi Christmas party when he and his men took everyone hostage, she said she’d be “hanging around the misletoe hoping to be kissed.”
And now, as most people cowered in fear of Gruber, Mia sat there with her legs spread ever-so-slightly, giving Hans what could only be described as “bedroom eyes.”
Mia was cute, but this was problematic for several reasons. For one thing, Hans’ plan was an intricate one and the last thing he needed was a distraction on his big night. He couldn’t afford a metaphorical fly in the ointment or a metaphorical monkey in the wrench. He needed his head to be clear.
Also, Hans was married to lovely Karen, his faithful wife and mother of his two kids. Even now, as Hans was holding up this tower in hopes of securing a future for his family, Karen was back in Germany at the Christmas pageant, watching their kids play Christmas lobsters.
He still loved Karen, though he had trouble showing it. Hans wasn’t terribly sentimental. The past 12 Christmases he had gotten her scarves. But he had wanted things to be different this year, which is why he had really listened to her and gotten her a Joni Mitchell compilation after Karen had confessed that Joni Mitchell had been a huge influence on her emotional development.
But it was another gift that had nearly caused a rift in their marriage. Before Gruber flew to America, he and Karen had been walking around a department store. While Karen was off looking at other presents, Hans found himself at the jewelry department eying a gold heart-shaped pendant.
He wanted to get the present for Mia. He told himself it was just a little token to show that he appreciated the espionage, but deep down he knew it was more. And Karen had come back too soon, nearly catching him purchasing it, which would have led to questions he couldn’t answer.
Little did he know, this moment aroused Karen’s suspicions and later that night she fished through his jacket pocket, finding a small white jewelry box wrapped in a red bow. Seeing him near the jewelry and accessories, she wondered if he had finally gotten her the gold Rolex watch she had been eying since their anniversary. She had mentioned it to Hans, but knew in her heart it was too lavish to actually hope for. But seeing the box she thought maybe, just maybe, he’d surprise her with it.
In the aftermath of the Nakatomi Tower heist, Karen Gruber would have many unanswered questions. She watched in disbelief as the news painted her husband as a mercenary and terrorist who had lead a carefully orchestrated attack that was foiled by an off-duty New York cop named John McClane.
Nakatomi Tower was in shambles. Its workers were shaken. And Hans Gruber was found dead after falling from the 30th story window.
Karen’s world was shattered. Who was this man she was married to? How was he capable of doing such a thing? She had believed he was on a business trip for the venture capital firm he claimed to work for.
Had she ever know him? Had he ever really loved her or were she and the kids simply camouflage?
Karen wondered these things for weeks, heartbroken. While she would never get answers to most of the questions, she did get an answer to one …
She found out more information about her husband’s last moments. As he hung out of window, he clutched the wrist of Holly Gennaro, McClane’s wife. He wrestled something free from her wrist before falling 30 stories to his death … a gold Rolex watch. The same watch she’d wanted for months.
Knowing his time on earth was coming to an end, his final act had apparently been to try to grab the gift his wife had her eye on. Even if it killed him.
He had really loved her.
She fired up some Joni Mitchell, poured herself a giant glass of wine and smiled softly to herself.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at email@example.com.