Rooftop Reflection by D. C. Golightly
by D. C. Golightly
Here’s the thing I don’t understand: what’s the point of being a criminal in this city?
Maybe I need to explain that better. As the former sidekick to a certain dark figure of the night, when I was garbed in bright colors to attract attention, I can accept the fact that people didn’t find me that intimidating. I said ridiculous things, made a spectacle of myself, and provided an easy target to crooks. I lost count of how many times I was captured to draw out my more brooding partner.
I was called Mockingbird, and I took pride in making a mockery of cowardly criminals. My boss, the enigmatic Gargoyle, claims that before he stuck to the shadows that he was the original Mockingbird. His plan when he was a teenager, back when he had an innocent and naïve view on criminals, was to draw attention away from potential victims. It worked, until a great tragedy overcame him and he hung up the bird outfit in favor of something a little more favorable for striking fear into his enemies.
I was recruited by the Gargoyle and made his apprentice, the new Mockingbird. I was the closest thing to a juxtaposition that he could have. Standing side by side against maniacs like the Ringleader, Professor Mortal, the Faceless Clowns, Velvet Lace…let’s just say all the scariness came from him and not me. I was the back-up; the sidekick. I’m okay with that. I’ve outgrown a lot of the harbored resentment and antagonistic behavior.
After our falling out I hung up the birdie costume and made a new name for myself. I’m called the Outlaw now, and I’m a blend of his methods with my charismatics. I’ll slink in the shadows as long as I need to, but when it comes to fighting, I much prefer to do it out in the open with a smirk on my face.
As the Outlaw I’m my own man, standing on a rooftop just like this one, watching some random scumbag try to boost a car just like he is now. Earlier tonight I took down a mugger, a rapist, another carjacker, followed a lead on a corrupt member of the police department, and now I’m here, watching this idiot pretend he’s as smooth as silk. This city never sleeps.
I stalk the shadows like most people in my profession do, which means the criminals I prey upon usually only catch sight of my outline in the dark before I punch their lights out. It’s how the Gargoyle did it, and it’s the best method I can think of. The mugger saw the whites of my eyes against my brooding silhouette and thought I actually was the Gargoyle. So did the rapist and the carjacker.
The Gargoyle always repeated something every night for the first week I was Mockingbird: criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot. Nine times out of ten all you have to do is show up and they’ll be freaked out enough to stand down. There’s something about the shadows that play tricks on your mind, especially if you’re a little paranoid to begin with. You wouldn’t believe the reputation the Gargoyle has in the underworld. None of the rumors you hear do it justice; you have to see it for yourself. Just the thought of the Gargoyle keeps some of these guys from unleashing their demons into the night.
His reputation always preceded him. Always. I don’t do this for the glory, far from it. I do it because I don’t really know anything else. Nearly since birth I’ve walked the high wire, balancing carefully lest I fall prematurely. For the majority of my life I’ve been slugging it out with creeps like the Undying Flame and Marcus Macabre.
This is what I do. This is my job.
So, finally I make my point: why bother being a criminal in this city?
Take the carjacker beneath me for instance. I know I’ve seen him before, probably in one of the hundreds of mug shots I’ve glanced over throughout the years. If I recognize the face that doesn’t bode well for whomever it is I’m watching. He’s probably a repeat offender, meaning he’s more than aware of what will happen to him if one of the city’s protectors catches up with him. Is that worth boosting a Ford Explorer?
Our city has one of the highest crime rates in the country, but the most amount of spandex-wearing, cape-flapping, roof-hopping vigilantes per square mile. You’d have to be insane to want to boost a car in this town, especially near midnight, in the slums. You’re practically begging to be caught.
And maybe that’s the answer. Maybe those superstitious cowards like the challenge. Maybe they’re all crazy enough to think they can take on a legendary reputation. They might as well be fighting the shadows themselves.
The Gargoyle was the first, and bruised ego aside, we’re all playing off of his foundation. Even me. That’s why it doesn’t bother me when I drop down into a dark alley and the purse snatcher’s eyes widen as his lips whisper, “It’s him…”
Still, just once I wouldn’t mind if they said my name.
The drop line rockets out of the spring-loaded grappler silently, planting its tip into the brick wall across the parking lot. I test the tautness, making sure that when I swing down and nail this creep I won’t fall flat on my rear. My girlfriend would have a field day with that scenario.
It may not pay to be a criminal in this city, but being one of its silent protectors is a great way to pass the time. I can’t wait to see this moron’s face light up when he turns around and sees my silhouette.
Hopefully this time he’ll think I’m me and not him.
* * * * THE END * * * *
Copyright D. C. Golightly 2015