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OCTOBER 31, 7:04 pm.

Darkness has taken the city again. The vermin will be coming out, some in ritzy parties, some in filthy alleys, all pests. Extermination is too good for them. Killing them would make me the same as they are. Better to drag them kicking and screaming into the light of Justice. My pleasure.

An old woman is trying to get a newspaper out of the machine, but she has no money. I drop the fifty cents into the slot for her. They aren’t all bad, some are just destitute. It’s the guy prowling in the darkness by the corner of the three-story brick tenement that needs watching. Manny Ramirez is his name. He is waiting for the teenage girl to come back out of the building so he can shake her down for his “share” of what she charged her last customer.

Back atop the two-story on my side of the street, I see her shadow under the front door. She knows he is waiting for her, waiting to take the only income she has. I know she must come out; she has to try to make enough money to survive. He is a leech, and his attention sharpens as he hears the door begin open. She has resigned herself to face her tormentor. I sprint across the cable strung across the street to an adjacent building. The streetlights emit so much light downward that no one looking up can see anything. I time the rhythm of the swaying wire and use it to spring myself onto the roof. Childs play. I could have made it up two more floors if the building were that tall.

The alley, the leech easing up to the edge of the sidewalk where he knows she will emerge. He waits in the darkness where he knows she will seek cover, preparing his assault. The three-floor drop to the alley is maddeningly long; I want to be on the ground behind him sooner – it takes almost a second to finally land. He will not touch her. I wait, silently behind him. I have decided that he cannot sense my presence, and he cannot. It’s that simple. I wait for him to convict himself.

The door drags itself shut, one corner scraping the stoop as the tired old spring gives its all to do its duty. Manny straightens up, no longer leaning against the building. He is eager for the assault. Her frightened little soul is perceptible as she comes toward the sanctuary of the darkness, unaware of the impending assault. The leech’s right arm begins to reach for her, the assault has begun. He has convicted himself. I sidestep him, reach between his body and his arm and catch his right thumb in my left hand; I pull it behind his back and then up high behind his neck. He is about to try to yell. He will not succeed. She must never know of the danger. I thrust his skull sharply against the brick wall. Goodnight Ramirez. The assault is complete.

She emerges around the corner of the building and enters the darkness of the alley. She quietly watches the street for him, she expects him to emerge from somewhere, to look for her, to take what she has sacrificed herself to win. She sees no one. She braves the night, edging toward the street to search for her tormentor. Her foot strikes something. She peers down into the darkness, adjusting to the light and sees him, unconscious. She has no idea how long he has been this way, but she knows she is safe now. She also knows where he has stashed the money he has taken from her and a dozen others like her. She takes it. Good for her. That money will feed her and her invalid mother and pay all their bills for a month.

She begins to search him. I know what she is looking for, he carries the drugs she craves, the temporary escape she so desperately wants from her trap of a life. I cannot allow her to do that to herself. I shift my foot slightly to jostle the bottle next to me, just a small sound. It is enough. She runs headlong in the direction of the nearest subway, terror fueling her tired body. I watch her all the way to the station. 7:08pm. Run home. Stay home.

I find a cop. Ahead of him is a trash filled alley. Excellent; more trash is coming. Manny is an unwelcome burden and he needs to meet the light of Justice. Publicly. I prop Manny up against the wall of one of the buildings that line the alley.  As the cop approaches the alley, I give Manny a shove so that his body stumbles across a couple of full trash barrels and joins the contents, sprawling across the pavement.  It’s Halloween. Things go “bump” in the night.

The vermin need to know that the dark is no longer safe for them. I have taken the first step.  Soon, more of these animals will find themselves ambushed when they thought they were safe.  They will tell each other their stories.  They will begin to fear the dark.   They will understand.  The dark is now mine.