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Long story short 

Back when I was a smoker, I remember saying that I'd kill for a cigarette.

It was just an expression, of course. The only killer in the room was my Marlboro Red.

So I was fascinated to hear the story of Iggy and Romaine, two young Colorado Springs men who put huge dents in each other's lives — all because of a stupid cigarette.

OK, maybe not all because of the cigarette. But that's what started it.

Over the course of a year, Iggy would lose sight in one of his eyes, Romaine would survive a stab wound that left him with permanent nerve damage, and both would face the frightful prospect of spending decades in prison.

I'm going to be honest with you: This tragic tale (told in our cover story) first interested me for its oddity more than anything.

But upon meeting these two guys, and recognizing the ironic similarities within their lives, eventually I was bombarded with bigger questions.

What's fair? Is it ever OK to seek your own justice? And perhaps the most insidious: How many near-misses do we all have in our personal lives?

How many minor run-ins could have turned on some unlucky pivot and landed hard on everything we hold dear?

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