She was elected, and the next few weeks felt like a dream. Her endless questioning about the identity of her guardian angel kept bugging her and cast a shadow over her happiness, though. She didn't hear from him again after the incident. He was gone as quickly as he came. First, Tommy who had tainted her reputation, and then Cass who had bullied her... like every wrong done to her had been righted, but why? And by whom? Was it a boy who liked her? She found the idea of a mysterious lover ready to defend her honor so romantic, she had butterflies in her stomach every time she thought about it, but not knowing his identity was killing her. Was it Billy? No, she thought, he looked so frail, in his oversized hoodie, it couldn't possibly... unless he was faking it... Peter Parker and Clark Kent looked frail too, didn't they? Or was it Quentin Mayfair? She wished it was, Quentin was so cute!
And then, stories like that began to spread throughout the city. Tales began to spread, about a mysterious guy who popped out of nowhere, at night, to set things right. Tales like that couple of students who got mugged one night as they came out of a bar by three drunk men, and suddenly this guy in black showed up and beat the hell out of the muggers, too fast for them to see his face. Or like that woman, in the Projects, who was beaten by her boyfriend, until a guy in black jumped on the boyfriend in the parking lot, and whacked him with his own motorcycle helmet. First, there were two, and three, and four, and then after a few weeks there were about a dozen similar tales. Was there like a gang of people out to deliver street justice? Or was it all the work of a single guy, a lone vigilante? The cops scorned the vigilante theory, and insisted that all those cases were unrelated. But it got people talking. A generation raised on superhero movies grew infatuated with the idea of having their own vigilante. The “New Havenport Batman” made for a compelling story. A nice urban legend. Until this November night, when it stopped being a legend.
On this November night, the television was on in that cozy apartment on the second floor of an old brick building in the center, where Billy Brewster was having dinner with his family. The television was also on in that crummy third floor apartment in the projects where Danielle Cassidy was smoking a cigarette, a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed quickly before Mom came home from work. The television was also on in that pretty suburban house where Sally Lomax was hosting a sleepover with two of her friends, eating pizza. And at 6:41 that night, as these three kids were in front of their television, they all saw it. Not only them but Tommy DaSilva saw it too. As well as Clara Clarkson. Melvin Graham. Quentin Mayfair. All the kids around saw it, and were all in shock, because they all knew her, and they all thought such things would never happen to people they know:
Short black hair, brown eyes
Last seen wearing jeans, red Converses and a blue blouse
Witnesses saw her get into a brown Buick Sport Wagon with no license plates at 5:25 tonight
Call 911 for any information
The alert message came along with a picture of a smiling, bright-eyed, baby-faced Asian girl, the face the kids would see everyday at school. It was Debbie. Debbie who wouldn't do anything to attract attention, let alone make enemies. Debbie who did well in class, enjoyed tennis, was nice and polite, and was virtually unnoticed by the popular kids. That Debbie. Now they noticed her. Everyone did. That Debbie. Missing.