act four: saviors and traitors
Picture a scene. A scene of blacks and whites, no true gray for the in-between. Picture rain, a torrential downpour from the heavens above. Picture a splash of crimson that breaks the colorless scene, mixing with the raindrops that patter across a cold cement ground. Picture a man, long trenchcoat carried by his shoulders and covering his body, an old fedora hat covering his head. There is smoke traveling up his side, a heated revolver still smoldering from its deathstrike moments prior.
Picture Dominic Pericolo. A detective in New Lemmetview City's Western Bureau of Investigation. The city streets are as long as they are dangerous, and the rain covers it all like a thick blanket, piercing the shadows the run along its sides. He is standing silently over a fallen corpse, its arm reaching up to the bloody hole in its chest. Despite death, the body continues to push blood through the wound, draining whatever life may be left in the shell of a man below the detective.
Picture me. Picture a killer. Picture a man fighting for justice.
Picture me speaking. Picture me saying, "The shadow vigilante strikes again." Picture the headlines in the newspaper the next morning, another criminal's reign in New Lemmetview City, taken down by an unknown killer targeting only the lowest of scum left in this city of ours. Picture me being that vigilante. Picture me knowing the law, but breaking it for the betterment of a city I truly love.
If you can picture all of that, you can picture my newfound life. The blood of the slain criminal below me spreads with the falling rain, forcing me to take a step back, to avoid the bloodspatter across my pantlegs and coat. I cover my eyes in shadows as I pull my hat lower, a grim smirk upon my face. The man was useful, a link to a case I was pursuing on a traitor in the New Lemmetview City Police Department. Some smug young punk called Carmine Vestieri, a busted druglord who had the balls to play cop for a few months. He was on the run, looking to bring the force down with some intel he had on them from his months on the inside.
With the right intel, he could bring this fair city of ours down into a level of chaos, shredding all hope we have of a brighter future, of a better tomorrow. The city is weaping, this falling rain represents nothing more than her tears from the brutal rape she's suffered at the hands of men like Carmine, of the irresponsible actions of the scattered rats like the late Drew Graham, all of them focused on themselves, none on the life of the city they try to lay claim to.
I'm not the only rogue out there seeking justice, though... but I am the only one it seems to be taking truly effective action. The smoldering revolver at my side and the fallen scumbag at my feet is a testament to the effectiveness of my methods... another dealer off the streets and another avenue clear for kids to feel safe in when they play, for couples to feel protected in as they take a nightly walk. Death seemed to be the only real weapon to use against these stubborn drug-addicted bastards populating the streets, and I'd learned to be a hell of a marksman with death.
I leave the scene of justice delivered to rendezvous with a contact of mine, a fellow detective on the New Lemmetview City beat. He's an old friend, a man by the name of Christopher Champion... one of the few hailed forces of good from the glory days of old. Retired for awhile, felt like he'd done all there was to do in our city... felt like things would only get better thereafter. Hell, I felt the same way for some time... figured I'd join him, start a family with my wife, enjoy the retirement and watch our former city prosper.
We were both wrong, of course... only reason we'd be back in the first place. From mass numbers of drug dealers to serial killers and rapists... this city turned to shit when we left, and even though I was the first of us to come back to the force, I wasn't going to be able to clean up the mess left over all on my own.
I'd need some backup to pull off something like that... and that's what Champion's going to bring to me. It's his first night back on the streets and the guy's already got big plans, and me? I've got big plans of my own... I've got a plan to put some lead between the teeth of a roaring lion, and shut the fucker up once and for all.
I close my eyes to a vision of Drew Graham in his dying moments, to his voice as he sputtered out the intel I needed to track his partner down. He'd trusted me, stupid little shit... thought if he spilled some info he'd get off scotch free and not be left to rot in a prison cell. Never thought a guy like me, a detective for the people, the shining star of New Lemmetview City... would pull a trigger on a guy like him. Some lowly sewer rat working the streets like a common whore, selling drugs instead of sex and reporting back to the lion at the top of his food chain.
"F-f-fifth Avenue... he'll b-be t-there..." the little rat stuttered, hoping his words would open a hole in the wall to scamper into, a safe haven from the ravenous housecat that had hunted him down, "T-thinks I'm coming f-for a d-drop off... twelve o'clock, he... h-he's got a few guys with him."
"That all?" I'd asked, toying with the gun in my hands impatiently. Graham was looking up at me with eyes wide like an animal caught in a set of headlights, staring death in the face and hoping, just hoping the car would roll on over and the tires wouldn't hit. Hoping they'd be small enough to fit under the rampaging box of death hurtling headlong at them, that they'd not be caught in the treads and drug under.
"Y-yeah..." he was back to stuttering, but there was a nervous smile on his face, he was slowly pushing himself up from his position on his back in the dark alley, where the flood from the rain soaked his clothes through to the skin, "S-so... does t-this mean we're g-g-good? I c-can go now...?"
His arms were shaking; no, actually... his whole body was shaking. Premature relief was flowing into his features, that feeling that everything was going to be okay, that feeling that a person gets when they've looked death in the eye and thinks they're actually going to make it out okay. For a moment, he was almost at peace.
The shaking stopped. The peace had left him, replaced by a cold fear that trickled through his body. Suddenly he was frozen, the trembling realization that this housecat wasn't letting him scamper free tonight crashing upon him with all the weight of a wasted life reaching its end. For a moment, his lip quivvered, trying to push out a weak "Please..." before those words were silenced by an even greater sound.
And he fell. Drew Graham fell to create a small pool of his own lifeblood on the pavement, the rain above never ceasing in its assault. The city lived on. The people lived on, knowing they would be safe from him. In the end, his death would be seen as a worthy sacrifice.
Just as Carmine Vestieri's own.
Christopher Champion stood in the distance, his body pressed against a light post, head hung low in thought. He was waiting, waiting for my arrival... waiting for the information exchange awaiting us both. Waiting to go do his part to save our city... and waiting for me to go and do my own.
The grin never left my face as I approached.