At lunch, Billy Brewster ate with his friends, who remarked he seemed to be elsewhere these days. He reassured them, saying it was the midterms that stressed him out a bit. Christmas was in three weeks, and they still had a whole lot of exams before the holidays. But the reality was that he kept thinking about Sally, more and more since they first started talking. They had grown increasingly closer as Billy became her confident, with whom she could talk freely about her obsession with the vigilante guy. But that was about it. He wished she had lunch with him, but she never did, for as class president, she always had something to do, someone to meet, and she got to eat with the popular kids. What could he expect, after all, they became friends at a time when she was in distress and he was here for her, and now that everything was back to normal, he should consider himself lucky she still talked to him.
She wanted to meet him this day, after lunch, and he went to their meeting place, the chemistry room. Mr Compton, the chemistry teacher, was an archetype of a mad scientist, always looking like he was in a different universe, and the kids liked him because of his comically clumsy and forgetful nature. Despite all the warnings he got from the headmaster, he would often forget to lock the chemistry room at lunch break, and he would even sometimes leave his products scattered around his desk. Billy and Sally had chosen this place to meet when they had something to discuss, because it was a quiet place withdrawn from everyone else, and where Cass wouldn't come to smoke.
He waited alone for a while, when she finally came in and closed the door behind her.
“Sorry I'm late,” she said, breathless. “Gosh it's crazy being president, everyone wants to talk to me about their problems... if I had known it was so much work...”
“You're doing a great job at it, Sal.”
“Why, thank you!”
“So... you wanted to talk about something?”
“Yes, here...” she sat beside him and spread a large sheet of paper on the table. A map of the city, with a number of dots drawn with a red marker pen, and lines in blue connecting these dots. “This,” she explained to her puzzled friend, “is a map of all the places in the city where the vigilante was spotted. I counted, and since the first reports, he was involved in nineteen cases all over the city. He was mostly reported stopping drunk fights outside bars and defending people from getting mugged, and of course there was the Keats Case.”
“You did that map yourself?” Billy was astonished. “But, how can you be sure that guy even exists?”
“I think Debbie's story doesn't really leave room for a doubt.”
A month before, Leonard Keats' arrest had shaken the whole city. Debbie's description of her savior as a man in a biker outfit with a black helmet was published in the paper and fascinated readers, and all the previous reports of a man with the same description stopping fights and saving people at night popped back and hit the news again. To the journalists, the “New Havenport Batman” was treated as an urban legend before, but the Keats Case confirmed his existence, even though the skeptics still argued, claiming for example that the girl was in shock when she was found, and she may have been hallucinating. Debbie hadn't come back to school since that night, she was to be home-schooled for the rest of the year. After such an ordeal, it was understandable.
“I don't know,” Billy said, “are we even sure it's all the same person? Come to think of it, his costume is quite plain, just a bomber jacket and a helmet, and he appears in a lot of different neighborhoods, what if there was one guy who prevented a crime one day while dressed like that, and everyone got all excited with it and some people started doing the same?”
“Why are you being so doubtful, suddenly?”
He sighed. “I had an argument with my father about it yesterday. He's pretty pissed by the whole thing, and claims it's just a craze made up by the media about some random events with no links between them.”
“What does your father know about it?” She replied snidely, hurt by this questioning of her convictions.
“He's a cop, remember?”
“Oh yeah, sorry... I know I might take it too seriously, it's just... it's very important for me, you know?”
“Yes, I do. But are you sure it's the same guy who saved your campaign back then?”
“Of course! Who else could it be? That's why I need to meet him. I need to know why he did this for me, and if it's someone I know... well, I just want to know.”
He took a deep breath. “Okay, so what did you want to show me?”