This story first appeared in the anthology, Red: Several Marvelous, Sensational, Absurd, Visionary, Peculiar, Unthinkable, Wicked and Totally Untrue Stories, edited by Kris Goldsmith.
My death will be a spectacular one.
But it won’t be tonight.
So, looking down the barrel of the Colt double-action .44 magnum revolver did little to upset me. Actually, I was more worried about catching cold and that it was starting to drizzle. The alley smelled like a trash heap, too.
“This don’t concern you,” the man with the gun said.
“Normally, I’d agree with you. But—” I pointed to the shriveled heap of young kid, no more than, 22, 21, I’d say, lying on the ground behind him. “—I’d prefer it if you didn’t kill him.”
“I wasn’t gonna kill him.”
“Says the man with a gun.”
“That’s right. And that means you should just turn around and go on about your business.”
Behind him, the kid looked up at me. It was freezing out, but he had no more than a pair Seven for All Mankind jeans and a bright yellow tank top I’d seen the day before at Universal Gear, a boutique on 14th Street.
“Oh, okay, well sorry then. I guess I’ll just be leaving to let you rape and kill this guy. My mistake.”
For just a second, my response confused him. I only needed a second.
My life wasn’t always muggers and dark alleys. A year ago, I was just a bartender, happily serving drinks until 2 every morning at Cove, a great little neighborhood bar — greater if you were gay. Every night it filled with about 200 guys who crammed into a space way too small to comfortably hold them all. I suspected that’s what they liked so much about it.
I though, am straight. No one believes me when I tell them that and, most nights I wish it weren’t the case because I have this theory where it affected my tips. I mean, really. Take my coworker Geoffrey. We’re both over six feet, under 30, have all our hair and comparatively the same chiseled good looks, the same friendly smiles and the same general dispositions. I know that’s all not very modest of me to say, but I’m rounding to a point here: he always pulled in a good twenty percent over me in tips and it wasn’t because he was prettier.
Not that I was ever bitter about it.
Okay, I was a little bitter. But not anymore. Part of it is that, number one, Cove is gone and number two, I’ve found a new line work. I’m a superhero. I fight petty crime one douchebag at time, making the world safer for pedestrians.
Lame, I know. And yeah, the police have been using the term vigilante, but who cares what they say? My exploits here in DC have become legend. There’s no one I won’t take on, the bloggers say. Well, one blogger that I know of, but he’s very prolific so I count him as least two. He never actually comes out and says I’m crazy, but, if you read between the lines you catch the inference.
And before you pass judgment, I’m not crazy. Yes, there is an amount of insanity involved in my work, but I mean, it’s not like I wear a cape or a mask or have an English butler whom I keep locked in my mansion. I live in a three story walk-up just east of Dupont Circle and can’t even afford a cleaning lady. I didn’t make the decision about becoming a superhero lightly; I don’t choose career paths, especially absurd ones, all will-nilly. It was Geoffrey, actually, that pushed me into it. And so, here I am, in a dark alley, standing in the cold and rain, staring down a man with a gun who really thinks I should go on about my business.
That’s just not my style.