Sixty-eight degrees. That’s good; this Kevlar doesn’t breathe.
The moon is full. I won’t miss anything in the shadows.
No wind. Even better. The smell of the sewage treatment plant across the river won’t distract me.
It’s the perfect night for the people of this city to be out and about.
It’s the perfect night for them, too.
It’s the perfect night for me.
It doesn’t take long. Three of them. They’ve been swarming around the outside of that bar for the better part of forty-five minutes. They don’t talk to each other much, but they stick close to one another.
They aren’t here to drink. They cautiously eye every direction, ensuring they won’t be watched when the show starts.
They don’t look up, though. All the surrounding windows are dark. Who would be crazy enough to watch them from a fire escape?
Four AM arrives like Pavlov’s bell. People emerge from their night life to haltingly return to a world that cares nothing for them.
These people would be on their own, if it weren’t for me.
A police siren dopplers its way past the alley. The three don’t react. The police are only interested in punks who steal things of value.
A woman exits the bar. She sways as she makes her way for the parking lot. It’s like they smell blood in the water and move with purpose.
They say something to her. I don’t hear them. I don’t care what they have to say.
I don’t wait for them to make their first move. I jump up on the railing, inhale sharply, and then let gravity do the rest. I wouldn’t dare use anything to slow my fall. I want it to hurt when I hit the pavement. I want it to make me mad.
I grit my teeth to beat back the shock of the landing. They’re startled by my entrance for long enough that the woman moves along. Good for her.
Angry that their catch slipped their trap, they form up again and move toward me. I’m already on my feet. I approach them. My stun gun leads the way.
The fight is over in less than a minute.
I hear the crack first, and I only now realize that one of them dislocated my shoulder. It only begins there. Flashes of agony brighter than anything I’ve ever imagined give way to bruised aches announcing their permanent residency.
Thinking me dead—and I see where they might think that—they move on like a pack of hyenas to their next meal. I try to give chase, but each slight movement sends wave of nausea and bolts of pain through every inch of my consciousness.
The last thought I have before consciousness slips away is this: Maybe a YouTube video entitled “How to be a Night Vigilante” wasn’t enough training.
It doesn’t matter. I’ll heal. I’ll do better next time. Maybe I should take up whittling instead.