He had stopped and parked right next to a deserted bus stop, in one of the darkest parts of Darrell Avenue. All around him rose dark blocks of concrete, invading the night sky and casting their shadows on the road and on the puny trees and bushes planted at their feet for good measure. The night was darker in the Projects than anywhere else. He was smoking, his screen raised to reach his mouth, when he saw the guy arrive. Quickly, he threw his cigarette and lowered the screen.
"Yo, man," the guy said. Young black guy, looked friendly. Too bad. "What'cha doin' around?"
"Night walk," the vigilante replied with a coarse voice. "You?"
"Bizness, man. Want some stuff?"
"Man, I got everything you need."
"With greetings from Mr Jones?"
The guy startled. "What?"
"Word on the street is there's a guy called Jones, heading a massive PCP operation in town. Is that who you sell for?"
"Man, dunno what you're talking about, you shouldn't..."
The guy couldn't finish before the vigilante swiftly grabbed him by the collar and pushed him against a glass panel of the bus stop, so brutally that the panel shattered to a million pieces as the dealer flew through before hitting the ground, his groan of pain covered by the deafening noise of glass breaking. He felt sharp pains all over his bodies. Bleeding on his arms, and on his head. He was cut by the glass. Shit... he was trying to recover when his aggressor put a heavy boot on his torso, preventing him from getting up, and looked down to him. His voice had changed from a quiet, coarse tone to a threatening growl:
"I beat the info out of a colleague of yours! After I broke a few ribs of his, he blurted out the name, Jones. Couldn't tell me more, said I should ask you. Told me where and when to find you. Now tell me about this Jones guy. Who is he? Where is he? How does his operation work?"
"Oh, shit, you're that guy," said the dealer, terrified. "Listen man, I dunno anything, I'm just in it for a quick buck! I met my girl, you know, and we did it without protection, man. Now I got a wife and a five-month-old son to feed!”
“If you want to see them again, you better start talking!”
“Okay! Okay! Heard the name before... they're a big thing, like a Mexican cartel or some shit, and the big boss... never met the guy, all I know is that some of his guys call him Bronco Jones. That's all I know! A guy called Wayne sells me the stuff wholesale. Meets me once a month at Mama's Tapas, on Blythe Ave. Dunno anything else, I'm just a retailer!"
The vigilante moved his foot and offered his hand to help the dealer up. He seemed less aggressive now. As the dealer was back on his feet, he noticed that, quite strangely, the black-clad dude appeared shorter than him, but there emanated from him some sort of raw violence that more than made up for his size.
"You told me enough already," he said. "We'll keep in touch. And... sorry about the cuts, but you should get yourself a better line of work. It's not a way to raise a kid."
"Sure, man," he said as he watched him straddle a Honda motorcycle. "Hey, wait! You want to take out Jones's gang? Why that?"
"Tired of bullshit. I've wasted too much time punishing petty criminals. It's time someone took care of what's really poisoning the city."
"Man, you did good job with that girl, that... Deborah chick. But going up against Jones? Man, it's suicide!"
"We'll see about that."
Sally was walking on, growing increasingly anxious as the night went by, when her blood froze at a sound coming from near. The sound of a motorcycle. Then she saw, ahead of her, a bus stop with one of its glass panels shattered in a million pieces, a man standing nearby, looking lost, and the flash of the headlight of the motorcycle as the rider turned round and headed in her direction. She stopped walking and all her muscles tensed, like paralyzed, as she gazed upon the bike. It slowed down and came to a halt in the middle of the road, at her level. She couldn't believe her eyes. The man matched the description of the vigilante perfectly. Could it be? Could it really be? He glanced at her, or at least she thought he did, because she couldn't see his face, and without uttering a single word, he kicked the first gear and rode on. Returning to her senses, Sally called out, telling him to wait, to come back, but he was already far gone. Her heart beat so fast she had difficulties to breathe. When she was sure he wouldn't come back, she rushed towards the bus stop, towards the man. He was a young black man who looked like he was in shock, and he was busy wiping the blood that had leaked from several cuts on his hands and face with a handkerchief. She was in such a state of excitement she had difficulties to articulate.
“Sir! Sir! That man with the bike... it was...”
“Yeah, girl, it was the vigilante.”
“Really? It really was! That's awesome!”
“Yeah, at least you're excited to have met him,” he said somberly.
“What did he want?”
“Nothing important. Should go home, sweetie, this neighborhood ain't a good place for a pretty rich white girl. Need a ride? My car's just over there.”
“Wait a minute,” she said with a movement of recoil, “if the vigilante did that to you, then you're a criminal, aren't you? Does that mean you're gonna kidnap me or worse?”
He snickered. “I know I'm not a choir boy, but I'm just a drug pusher, not a rapist, don't worry. Besides, I got a wife and a kid waiting for me home. Come on, let's say that will be my good deed for the night.”
And he did actually drive her home safely.