Where are you tonight, Evil?
The Dairy Queen hamburgers I ate for dinner have made me gassy, so I sit inside Vengeance, a black 1996 Honda Accord, watching the parking lot and stinking up the dark. When I finish patrol, I will drive around Olympia for an hour with the windows cracked to air her out. During the day, Vengeance becomes just another car, which my mother uses to drive to work at my father’s veterinary practice. My parents are old enough to retire, and when I finish grad school (one semester), I intend to find sufficient daytime employment to expedite this and move to my own apartment or house.
Men and women go out of the GameStop–mostly looking for PS5s, I’d say– and I wait for the boy to get off his shift. He’s the one. He’ll be next. He’ll disappear and reappear in the local news, followed by a memorial Facebook page erected by his mother or girlfriend.
Brayden Harris, seventeen years old, blond, a senior at Avanti High School. Even if you’re young and fit like Brayden, the striker for the ACS soccer team, it doesn’t matter if there’s a pistol in your face. I believe Evil carries a pistol, a small-caliber, like a .22.
I check the cartridges in my pistol, my father’s .32 revolver whom I’ve named “Wing,”–as in “Wing Man”–and sure enough, he’s still loaded. I’ve never fired Wing–I know the law, and the law doesn’t protect me unless it’s clean self-defense, and certainly not if I’ve provoked the situation. Still, only a fool goes on patrol without a sidekick. Loners are reckless children, that type of silly man-child (or woman-child) obsessed with comic books.
It’s 8:47, and Brayden gets off at nine. His truck, a white 2021 Ford F-150, is in the parking lot. He always works on Thursday nights and
- I’m positive that it is his truck because I’ve recorded his license plate.
- All the other boys that Evil has captured have disappeared on weekday evenings between their work shifts and midnight.
Evil will strike tonight.
However, he won’t succeed tonight: Hawkeyed Henry is here. (That’s a stupid name Henry. Why haven’t you changed it yet?)
The problems with “Hawkeyed Henry” are
- There’s already a Hawkeye–he was created by Stan Lee (as a villain, no less) in 1964. He’s famously portrayed by actor Jeremy Renner in the MCU movies.
- On May 24, 1991 (my seventh birthday), a film entitled Hudson Hawk, starring Bruce Willis as the titular anti-hero (unrelated to the Marvel Comics character), was released to mediocre box-office reception and critical contempt. It holds a score of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve contributed to the Wikipedia page seven times. Hawkeyed Henry must be taken seriously, and it’s too easy to dismiss and/or mock the concept of the real-world superhero without allowing the media these easy associations.
- Additionally, there is a poorly received 2015 Russian/American action movie called Hardcore Henry which I barely consider worth mentioning.
Brayden is walking out of the store with his usual swagger. Oh, to be young and cocksure again. Wing and I calculate that Evil will wait for Brayden near his (Brayden’s) truck or will possibly attempt to intercept him during the short walk from storefront to truck.
I am poised and ready to interrupt this interception.
I am not Evil. I am confident of this. I’ve painstakingly accounted for my whereabouts on the nights that each of the other boys went missing. You can’t trick me so easily, Evil. I’m immune to your mind games while wearing my helmet.
The single witness account describes Evil as a “tall, heavyset Caucasian male.” I might loosely meet that description in poor lighting, but I am neither tall nor particularly “heavyset.” I am of Italian-American descent, which would, I guess, qualify me in most people’s minds as Caucasian–
Someone’s approaching Brayden in the parking lot. I’m out of Vengeance and walking. My hand is on Wing, who’s tucked into the waistband of my pants, and–
Abort mission. Brayden is greeting a group of fellow teenagers, one black and two Caucasian. I head back for Vengeance, retracing my path through the parking lot.
“Hey man, they’re closing,” shouts one of the teenagers. It’s Brayden, I believe. He’s addressing me and must be referring to the GameStop since it’s the only store still open in this strip mall.
I hear the group of boys laughing. “Are you wearing a cape, dude?” One of them yells after me. “Is that a mask?”
Actually, it is not a “mask.” It is a helmet with tactical implants. It is bulletproof, like my chest plate. These cost me over 4,000 dollars to design and build. I do not respond, only walk toward Vengeance.
“He’s dressed like Batman,” another boy says. It could be the same boy, actually. It’s difficult to tell in the helmet. I will concede that the helmet does compromise my hearing and peripheral vision in some scenarios.
Once inside Vengeance, I replace Wing in his home in the glovebox, and avoid eye contact with the boys while exiting the parking lot, content that Brayden Harris will be safe from Evil for one more night, at least.
My duty to this city is fulfilled and I will finish patrol content that Hawkeyed Henry has completed his mission. For tonight, at least.
Travis Flatt is an epileptic teacher and actor living in Nashville, Tennessee. He enjoys dogs and Shakespeare. His stories appear in Bridge Eight, Fauxmoir, Terror House, and many other publications.