Note: This is a work in progress.
The alarm on Gavin’s clock-radio blared for five minutes before he stirred enough to turn it off. He sat up in bed with whatever willpower he could muster at 7:05 in the morning, the grip of sleep still latched onto him. Is it too much to be able to sleep on my day off he asked himself while he clumsily groped around for the remote on his bed. After finally finding it, he took it into his hand and turned on the TV as he remembered the reason why he was up so early; his sister – Carys – was coming into Manhattan today and he promised to meet her for an early lunch. It’s not wise to stand her up or cancel last minute with that temper of hers.
Gavin rubbed the cold out of his eyes as his right forearm began to throb in pain. He opened his eyes, only to see a long, mysterious bruise running diagonally along his appendage. He stared at it for a moment before exclaiming out loud, “Dammit, not again!”
The young man in his early 30’s jumped out of bed and faced the long mirror he recently purchased to examine his body, the same routine he followed since the phenomena began. He drowned out the news as he looked in the mirror to see the damage: Along with the new bruise on his right forearm he also noticed fresh bruises along his left shoulder and thigh. He also examined the stitched cut along his left collarbone – a week old with no memory as to it or any of the injuries occurred – and older bruising all over his body. Ever since he began to wake up with injuries three weeks ago, he had documented each wound he has discovered each day.
He continued to look at himself in the mirror as a range of emotions came over him. He was first and foremost fearful as to what was happening to him, because he had no explanations as to why they were occurring. He wanted to know what this was this all a part of. Was he becoming mentally unbalanced? Did some trauma happen that no one told him of?
His thoughts turned from fear to interest into this mystery. The injuries seem to be related to altercations each time. Was he fighting someone each time? How could he in his sleep unless he was, in fact, becoming mentally unstable?
Finally, after all the questions spun through his head in search for an answer he reached the last of his thoughts; frustration. For three weeks he had not found one shred of evidence that told him why he kept waking up with these injuries. No one was able to give him a reasonable explanation; not his friends nor his neighbors. He had also noticed that he was in much better shape he ever was in – a plus in this mystery – but nothing told him why he woke up every morning more tired than the day before with new injuries each time.
His loft was in a reclaimed factory in Williamsburg near the border with Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant, with high ceilings and white painted walls. The row of windows let in a lot of light during the day and heat during the winter. Near the center of the room along the windows was a drafting table covered in a thin layer of dust, with numerous books stacked ranging in subjects from set and stage design to fashion and costume design. At the center of the table – the only thing that seemed to be disturbed in the last few weeks – was a 3-subject notebook with a pen hooked to the spiral.
Gavin went to the drafting table and removed the pen from the binding, clicking it to reveal the pen tip. He flipped through the pages of the book and quickly glanced at the notes he made on the injuries he awoke to for the last three weeks. He looked at the dates; confirming the fact that there have been injuries over most of his body, save for his head and feet. He found the first blank page in the notebook and began his day; he first drew a silhouette of a human body then proceeded to document the injuries he discovered, his thoughts and any other notes he may find useful to help him figure this all out. After he finished he continued with the rest of his daily routine, which consisted of push-ups, sit-ups, eating some breakfast, washing up then getting dressed for the day.
Gavin swiped his MetroCard and entered onto the platform for the Manhattan bound M train. The station shared many qualities with other subway stops in New York: Dimly lit, uncomfortably warm and grimy. Rats scurried along the corners near the rails, looking for food while the city natives on the platform pay them no mind. He remembered the first time his uncle and aunt came to visit him. A smirk crept across his face when he thought of the reaction by his aunt when she saw the rodents move along the track level.
On the opposite platform was a woman around his age who was slim and fairly beautiful, with pale skin, red hair and thick rimmed glasses. She wore a cream colored flowy shirt with skinny jeans and a pair of red Tom’s that matched her lipstick. She had slim fingers resting on top of a hardcover book that was on her lap. Normally, he wouldn’t have noticed her, except for two facts: She looked vaguely familiar – as if he knew her somehow – and that she was staring at him. No, more like watching me. They looked at each other across the tracks, not breaking gaze. He finally smiled and said loud enough for her to hear “You know, if you like what you see you could take a picture.”
She returned the smile and responded with “There is nothing that I haven’t seen before.”
“Now that hurts… I’m not like any man you know” Gavin retorted, returning her smile. She likes to play hard to get he thought. I like her already.
She smiled as she sat there motionless, not responding in a shift of body language or posture; nothing to denote any interest in him. “Don’t you have a girlfriend?”
Gavin was taken aback by her comment. How does she know? He and Kara had been dating for over a year, yet over the last few weeks their relationship began to show visible signs of strain. He did not know why it was occurring, finding it being yet another piece of the puzzle that he was sure was connected to the injuries.
Before Gavin could ask her a question, his train into Manhattan was pulling into the station. Before the train pulled passed him and block their line of sight, the red-head smiled flirtatiously and blew him a kiss. The head of the train rushed passed him, stopping fully when it reached the end of the platform before it opened its doors. Gavin quickly stepped into the train car and looked out the window to the opposite platform, seeing no sign of the red-headed girl. It was as if she had vanished in thin air.
Carys had waited 10 minutes for her brother when he came through the door of the diner. The eatery had the same character it had when it opened its doors in the 1960’s: Various shades of browns colored the interior, accented with aluminum and mirrors. The brick wall where the booths were placed was decorated with various photos of various people, from family to famous people who visited the diner. The crowd was light considering its proximity to Times Square, but that would change in less than an hour. Carys always chose this time to have lunch when she was in Manhattan; whether her brother agreed to it was rather apparent with the numerous delays and cancellations in the past.
“10 minutes… That’s a new record for you” Carys said to her brother with a smirk.
“Sorry sis” he replied, “the M train was moving slowly when it crossed the East River.” He then leaned down and kissed her cheek hello.
“Uh huh… always a story with you.”
“Hey, I do work on Broadway, remember” Gavin retorted, smiling devilishly as he sat across from his sister.
“Yeah, as a set builder and a grip” she replied before sipping her tea. A waitress arrived at their table and with a perky attitude, and took Gavin’s order which consisted of coffee and a hearty breakfast of eggs, hash browns and sausages. Even though Carys was a successful accountant living in Greenwich and getting married to a lawyer next year, she still looked up to her older brother. He struggled to make ends meet while going to school for design, but he still did it on his own with very little help. He would borrow a couple of hundred dollars here and there from her, but he would always pay it back on his own. Normally he would look gaunt with raccoon eyes due to being constantly on the go with the distinct smell of tobacco emanating from him and his clothes. Today he looked – and smelled – different, though.
“You look good, Gav. You don’t look like you usually do.”
“Like you’re strung out.”
Gavin responded sarcastically to his sisters’ comment with “Gee, thanks mom.”
“I’m trying to give you a compliment! You look in better shape than the last time I saw you. And you don’t reek of cigarettes. Did you quit?”
The comment took Gavin by surprised. He looked at her weirdly before frantically checked his coat pockets. He found his pack of cigarettes and lighter, and then stared at them as if he didn’t know what they were. It was a weird experience; especially for Gavin the creative person. Finally, he decided to stuff them into his coat pocket and replied “I guess I did.”
Carys noticed Gavin’s response and became concerned. “Are you okay? Did you hit your head or something? You know what those head injuries did to Uncle…”
Gavin interrupted his sister in mid-sentence with his disarming smile while replying “I’m fine, Car. I just haven’t wanted a cigarette in weeks is all.”
“So you did quit.”
“I guess that’s what you can call it. Sure.”
Not knowing what was going on with her brother, Carys decided to not pursue the line of questioning any further. She decided to change topic with “So, how is Kara? How are your classes? Work?”
Gavin examined his sister for a moment as his coffee came, as if he was thinking of what to say. “School is fine, though I haven’t been able to go for a couple weeks due to a new production coming into town. They want to make Tony season, so they are rushing production.”
“I see. What about Kara? Last time I saw you, you and her were talking about moving in together and maybe having kids. Am I on my way to being an aunt?”
Gavin examined her in the weird way again and, after a pause, he looked down while replying “… don’t know what’s going on with her. She seems to be mad at me for something.”
“But… you don’t know what?”
Gavin shook his head.
“Have you asked her why?”
Visibly irritated, Gavin sternly replied “Can we stop talking about this, please?”
Carys really did not know what to think at this point. Normally, her brother was normally social and nice, always willing to answer and ask questions about her life. He was always interested in what a person had to say and genuinely cared. Today, he was the exact opposite for some reason. She finally found herself saying “I’m just worried, Gav. I’m you sister for God’s sake!”
“But you’re not mom, so drop it.”
Carys was taken aback by her brother’s response. She never wanted to sound like their mother, yet she concerned and even frightened for him. After a moment of awkward silence he looked at her, visibly upset with himself for lashing out at her. “I’m sorry, sis. A lot of things are happening lately that I have no answers to. I don’t even know how to explain it to myself.”
Carys felt equally guilty for prying too much. She kept thinking to herself there is something wrong with him, yet felt bad for pressing her brother for answers. Her eyes glanced down and noticed that his bandaged forearm was exposed. She reached over and placed her hand over the bandage and asked “What did you do to your arm?” The slightest touch of her finger tips made Gavin wince and pull his arm away slightly.
“It’s nothing, just a bruise. I banged into something at work is all.” He then quickly pulled his sleeve down and changed the subject. “So, how is Mr. Carys Stewart doing?”
Carys laughed at the corny, yet amusingly carefully worded question. “Danny is fine. He has been put in charge for a huge patent case. He couldn’t talk about it much, but he is defending a large Japanese firm against an infringement lawsuit.”
“Wow… Now there’s a way to be intriguing and completely vague at the same time, sis” Gavin replied in a sarcastic tone, boyish smile on his face.
Carys laughed at his brothers comment and retorted, “Sorry, bro. I have been sworn to secrecy by punishment of no honeymoon in Hawaii. Besides, a girl always has to have secrets to keep.” She smiled cattishly afterwards.
“But of course!”
“Oh don’t worry, you’ll hear it on the news soon enough.”
The waitress brought their food to the table, placing each plate in front of them. Carys – who order just before her brother arrived – had a chicken club sandwich with fries while Gavin received his eggs, hash browns and sausages along with a few pieces of buttered toast. Both thanked the waitress before beginning to eat. A couple minutes passed before Carys asked brother a question that without any reason, interested Gavin greatly.
“Speaking of news earlier… what do you think of that news about this vigilante?”
Gavin perked up and looked at his sister, a piece of toast in his mouth. “What vigilante?”
“You live in the most active city in the world, and you didn’t hear about this?”
“Sorry, I’ve been busy.”
“Carys sighed and shook her head. “Uh huh… Doing what, living under a rock? He has been, like, the biggest topic trend on social media and all over the net.”
“Sorry, this is the first I’ve heard of this.”
Carys was shocked that her brother had not heard of this news, but obliged him none the less. “They are calling him ‘The Hawk’ because of the mask he wears. He started a few weeks ago, going after petty crime. The last couple nights he took out a Russian mob drug den and a protection racket ring being ran by the remnants of the Gambino crime family. Are you sure this is the first time you’re hearing about this?”
“I’m sure” Gavin affirmed with a hint of concern in his voice. Carys picked up on this and began to wonder what was going on with her brother again. What is he not telling me? Gavin then cracked a smile and added “That is just ridiculous. A vigilante running around the streets like in the comic books.”
Carys looked at him and the siblings laughed together when she saw an alert pop up on her smartphone. She looked down and saw the time, throwing her into a slight panic. “Crap” she exclaimed, “I’m going to be late for my appointment downtown!”
Gavin smiled and replied “I’ll escort you, then” before proceeding to gorge his food.
Carys and Gavin reached the local subway stop and took out their MetroCards as they walked down the stairs. They joked and laughed about various topics as they descended, Carys being careful while wearing heels.
A short and stout man in his 40’s who was balding and wore glasses rushed down the stairs behind them, knocking into Carys. As Gavin caught his sister from toppling forward, the man blew past them without any apology. He even exclaimed rudely “Out of my way” as Gavin checked on his younger sibling.
“Yeah. I’m fine. What a rude motherfucker” Carys exclaimed, smoothing out her clothing.
“Typical Jersey people” Gavin replied as he smiled boyishly. Carys couldn’t help but to laugh at her brothers comment as they continued down the stairs.
They reached the turn styles to see that there was only one operational on this side of the station; the other being worked on by MTA technicians. An elderly woman was having issues with her MetroCard on the working turn style, which caused Mr. Jersey to be visibly irate. He lost what little patience he had as he gritted his teeth, yelling at the woman “Come on, Grandma! I have a train to catch!” The woman was rattled by his bluster, attempting the card repeatedly.
Gavin noticed Mr. Jersey subtle telegraphed movements as if they were as loud as shouting in his ear – something he noticed had never happened before – that he was going to pull the elderly woman to the side and rush through. He became angry at Mr. Jersey’s actions and walked instinctively towards the man as he yelled “Hey, asshole! You can be patient like the rest of us!”
Carys was puzzled by her brother’s behavior, not wanting to draw any attention to Mr. Jersey’s actions. She reached out for him in futility as she claimed “Gavin, don’t make a scene!”
Mr. Jersey was outraged by someone confronting him in such a harsh manner. He angrily responded, motioning his breakfast sausage sized right index finger to point at Gavin. “Excuse me, but who the fuck are…” was all that Mr. Jersey was able to manage before finding himself facing the floor kneeling, his right hand and arm twisted behind his back with pain surging through his extremity. The bones in his hand and wrist popped, torqued to the point of being broken as his shoulder made a sick crunching sound that indicated that it was dislocated. He cried out in pain as Gavin held him in that position.
Carys made her way to Gavin and pleaded with him to stop. “Please, Gavin, that’s enough! He’s learned his lesson!”
Gavin did not let go of Mr. Jersey, keeping him in that position as the man cried out “Someone help me! This guy is fucking nuts!”
“I’ll let you go if you apologize to the woman. Do it!”
“Are you stupid? I’ll have your ass in so much trouble…”
Gavin torqued Mr. Jersey’s arm tighter, hearing more popping as the man cried out more. “Do it!”
In a final cry of pain Mr. Jersey finally caved into Gavin’s demands. “Fine! I’m sorry, lady!”
After the man uttered the apology, Gavin released Mr. Jersey as two NYPD officers came down into the station. At the first sight of the two officers, Mr. Jersey stared at him while favoring shoulder, yelling “Arrest that man! He assaulted me!” The two officers looked at each other before one of them walked up to Gavin to ask him questions with Carys by his side.
The officer – who was a sinewy muscled young man in his 20’s by the name of Torres written on it – began his questioning of Gavin with “Is this true, sir?”
Gavin simply, and calmly answered “Yes, officer.”
Officer Torres was taken aback by Gavin’s answer, yet continued with “Why did you assault this man?”
“He was about to push aside and cause harm this elderly woman just to get to his train. He was being belligerent and causing problems. When I verbally confronted him, he turned and I took his actions as he was going to hit me. I was defending myself.”
Carys interjected, adding to Gavin’s claim. “He is telling the truth, officer. He shoved us aside in the stairwell in a hurry to get to the train.”
The elderly woman made her way to the three visibly shaken from the experience. She defended Gavin by adding “That man over there was yelling at me… I was having trouble with my MetroCard. This fine, young man here stopped him from causing me bodily harm.”
Officer Torres looked at Gavin and sized him up to see if there was any hint of lying. All he could tell, however, was simply a man who got involved and helped an old lady. The officer finally said “So, you think you’re a hero, like the vigilante?”
“No, officer” Gavin replied, “just a concerned Samaritan and good citizen.”
Torres nodded, taking Gavin’s calmness as being smug and holier-than-though. Despite this, the officer let Gavin off with a warning and told him to call the police next time before he walked over to his partner who was with Mr. Jersey. Noticing that Gavin was not arrested, the balding man was furious at the lack of his perception of justice and yelled at the officer to express this.
“What the fuck?! He almost breaks my arm and you’re letting him walk away?”
In an authoritative tone, the officer responded “That’s right, sir. Nothing happened here that wasn’t against the law. Just a misunderstanding between two men is all.”
Pointing at the police, Mr. Jersey retorted “Bullshit! He almost ripped off my arm!”
The officer began to lose patience with Mr. Jersey, and said sternly “Officer Torres!”
Torres snapped a response, “Yes, Sargent Williams?”
“Does this man appear to be physically bruised, cut, or have any other injuries at all that indicate an assault on this man?”
The focused stared at Mr. Jersey and said, “There you have it, sir. Nothing happened here other than your pride being hurt. Now, do us a favor and be a nice person in public? No one likes a dick. Have a good day. Torres?”
Torres nodded as he and his superior and both walked towards the turn styles, Mr. Jersey yelled at them. “I am going to file a complaint! Don’t you know who I am? I have well connected friends! I’ll have your badges!”
During Mr. Jerseys ranting, Carys and Gavin spoke with the elderly woman to see if she was okay. They helped her with her MetroCard and walked together to the platform as the train pulled into the station. Neither Gavin nor his sister saw Mr. Jersey enter onto the platform or even approach the train before the doors closed.
The siblings stayed with the elderly woman until they reached their stop at Fulton St. Her name was Maureen, 91 years old and had lived in Brooklyn all her life: First near Green Point then later in the Rockaways when she married her husband who has since passed away 10 years ago. Now she kept busy with routines that also made her spry for her age; today it was breakfast and a walk with some of her friends who lived in Hell’s Kitchen. She also brought up the vigilante with a mix of scorn – for breaking the law – and praise for being a guardian angel watching over the city. “I do not like his methods, but I am glad he watches over us!”
Gavin’s thoughts began to wander with the mention of the vigilante this morning. Why am I so interested in this topic all of a sudden he thought. I find myself disregarding it, but still thinking about the concept after Carys talked about him an hour ago. Why can’t I shake these thoughts?
As the train doors opened, Carys and Gavin said their goodbyes to Maureen, stepped onto the platform and walked towards the exit. As they reached street level, Carys finally broke the silence between them. “That was a really stupid, but brave thing you did Gav.”
“Stupid is my middle name as dad has stated many times.”
“Yeah, well, I think it was still brave. I didn’t even know you could move like that.”
Carys suddenly stops in front a building, shrugs and smiles at her older brother. “Well, this is my stop!”
They both hugged and kissed each other’s cheek as Gavin said to her, “Be good, sis.”
“You too. And stay out of trouble! Last thing I need is to come down to bail you out.”
Gavin gave his sister a boyish smirk and replied, “Don’t worry. You’ll be the first one I call.”
Carys smiled at her brother then remembered something. “And call Kara to make up with her! Or I swear, Gavin Stewart, I will come back down here and smack some sense into you!”
Gavin laughed and gave her a reassuring nod. “I will, I promise.”
They said their final goodbyes and parted ways just before the first wave of workers who took their lunch returned to work while the second wave came out. Gavin walked West towards the Freedom Tower to clear his head with everything; a lot had happened in the last couple of hours and he needed to put everything in perspective. He also needed to think of the upcoming conversation he was going to have with Kara. For weeks, he racked his brain as to why she could be mad at him but could never come up with a reason. And if he knew his sister, she has already interfered by texting Kara about him wanting to talk to her. Sure enough, a block north of the Freedom Tower – which shined like a miraculous beacon in the mid-day sun – his pocket began to vibrate. He took his phone from his right pocket and checked who sent the message. It was Kara who wrote:
Ur sis said U wanted 2 talk 2 me?
He smiled as he read the message. Just like clockwork, sis. Gavin replied:
I did. Want 2 meet up?
He waited at the corner of Fulton and Church for a moment before he received a response:
Cant 2day. Working in NJ til 8. Meet u at Starbucks at Union Sqr 2morow @4.
Gavin typed a response then walked up Church Street. A walk will do me good after this morning.