It was late and the night had fallen already when Ryan went home and parked his scooter near his place, a tall, dull concrete apartment building like so many others, here in the Projects. There was not a soul around. The Projects were a strange neighborhood: at places it was almost impossible to sleep because of the sound of people quarreling or partying, and at others, the eerie silence would make one believe he was in some Silent Hill ghost town. Ryan had barely parked his bike when he startled at the sound of a deep, growling, bestial voice calling him from behind:
“H'llo Ryan. Good night, isn't it?”
He turned to face a man dressed in black, wearing engineer boots, a leather bomber jacket, and a motorcycle helmet. He was holding a baseball bat in his gloved hands. “Who the hell are you?” the boy asked.
“I'm starting to get famous around... wanna make a guess?”
Ryan started to feel twitchy, but he tried hard not to show it. Of course he had guessed. “You... you're that vigilante guy, right? Like Batman or some shit?”
“That's right. And we need to talk.”
“What about? I... I didn't hurt anyone!”
“No, but you contributed to it.”
“What the f...”
His sentence ended abruptly in a yell of suffering as he collapsed, his leg struck by the baseball bat. He cuddled up on the ground, screaming like a tortured soul.
“What a drama queen!” the vigilante teased. “That hit was just strong enough to leave a big bruise, I didn't break your leg! But I might, if you don't feel like talking. Ryan Palmer, sixteen years old, a low-level drug pusher, selling your crap to whoever wants to buy... even the other kids. Bad, bad boy.”
“So what?” Ryan groaned. “You're here to judge me and punish me?”
“If I was here for that you'd be in an intensive care unit already!” the vigilante roared. “No, I'm here because I need information. I've been hanging out a lot near the clubs, lately. Men go to these places to have fun and meet some chicks, they end up drinking and doing drugs, and then they fight each others, or they assault the women, and it's up to me to calm all that scum down. But lately they've been getting more and more violent, and I found out there was that new drug on the market, they call it Angel Dust, and it's making them insane. So I thought the best course of action was first to take Angel Dust out of the streets, and I did some digging: the scientific name for the substance is phenylcyclohexylpiperidine, an awfully long name often shortened as PCP. Now that's some nasty shit, here, boy. It feels awesome when you take it, but it quickly causes some nasty effects such as hallucinations, schizophrenia... permanent brain damage... did you know about that when you started selling it?”
“I don't sell PCP.”
“Really? Then you won't mind me looking into your bag, will you?”
“No, wait!” But the boy's protest was cut short by a solid kick to the ribs.
“And stop whining already!” the vigilante said. “Now...” he took the bag, flipped it open, and quickly found a ziploc bag containing a powder like crushed glass. “This looks like PCP to me, boy. Who supplies you?”
“Oh you can't? What a shame... tell me, it's a really neat scooter you have here, looks brand new... oops!”
With a swing of his bat, he knocked off the rear view mirror.
“What are you doing?” Ryan protested.
“Maybe you didn't understand the first time. I asked you who your supplier was?”
“And I told you I can't tell! They're powerful people, man, they're gonna kill me!”
“And I can show you worse than death! I can make you feel pain in a way you will wish you were dead! Now...” he knelt down at the boy's level, his helmet very close to his face. “You're gonna tell me all I need to know, and I'll take care of everything, all you will have to do then is do your homework, be nice to your mom, and not touch drugs ever again. Or, you won't tell me anything and I swear you will take all your meals with a straw for the next twenty years of your life. Am I making myself clear?”