The Vigilante

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A troubled man does the only thing he can to hold onto his sanity.

Submitted: February 23, 2010

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Submitted: February 23, 2010

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The Vigilante
 
I'm driving right now. I like driving. It helps me think.
 
Most of the time.
 
But I'm not thinking right now. Right now is not the time to think. Right now is the time to drive.
 
Every night. When I should be sleeping. But right now is not the time to sleep. Right now is the time to drive.
 
I drive until I find who I'm looking for. Who am I looking for? I dont know. Not until I find them.
 
How do I know when Ive found them? Easy. When I see someone else who should be sleeping.
 
But isnt.
 
Because now is not the time to sleep for them. And as long as its not the time to sleep for them, it cant be the time to sleep for me.
 
Sometimes I find them. Those are good nights. Those are nights I don't feel.
 
I don't feel good. Nothing can make me feel good. Ever. But I don't feel bad either.
 
All other moments of the night I feel bad.
 
Not bad.
 
Something indescribably worse than bad. I feel something so terribly . . . sick, that I cant do anything.
 
Nothing.
 
Except drive. And search.
 
I cant think when I feel this way. Thinking means contemplation. Contemplation leads to memories.
 
Memories I cant relive. Not tonight.
 
Not any night.
 
So I don't think. I drive. And I search.
 
Then there are nights I don't find who I'm looking for.
 
Those are very bad nights.
 
Who am I? What kind of person leads this life?
 
No one. No one leads this life. I don't exist.
 
I am a mask. A memory. When the mask is taken off I cease to exist. I become someone else.
 
I become nothing.
 
Nothing but a memory and a mask. A figurative piece of cloth. And I disappear.
 
Until the night.
 
The night calls for me, and I answer. When the mask is put on, the person who existed before no longer exists.
 
And I am reborn.
 
I don't have a name. The person who existed before me had a name, but I don't.
 
I have a word, a reference, a meaningless marriage of vowels and consonants used to define me in the vaguest of ways.
 
But this word can not begin to describe me. This word, carelessly applied by unknown tongues seeks to generalize me, marginalize me. I am so much more than this word, this description. But they dont know that. This word doesn't know me.
 
No one knows me.
 
Because I do not exist.
 
Only in the night
 
The night is when I drive. And when I search. There are nights when that is all I do.
 
Those nights are . . . unpleasant. But bearable.
 
I am not aware of nights when I do not drive, and search. Because on those nights I do not exist.
 
But those nights do not happen often. And I know, when I am born again after a night like that, I know it was far far worse than unpleasant.
 
There are few nights when I don't exist now.
 
I have never seen the day. The day doesn't call to me. I'm not needed in the day.
 
I'm needed in the night. The night calls to me.
 
I'm needed in the darkness.
 
Then there are nights when I do more than drive, and search.
 
Those are good nights. Those are very good nights.
Those are nights when I find who I'm looking for.
 
I find those who should be sleeping.
 
But aren't.
 
Those are very good nights.
 
Tonight is one of those nights. Ive been driving.
 
And searching.
 
Like every night.
 
Tonight I found who I'm looking for. Tonight, I found who I was looking for in a Laundromat.
 
It wasn't hard to spot. The people I go looking for dont bother with subtlety.
 
Most of the time.
 
Sometimes I can find a lot of people at once. These people are subtle. Their lives, and their livelihoods depend on them being subtle.
 
But they aren't subtle enough for me.
 
No one is.
 
 Those are the ones that no one else will touch, the ones who are kept free by beurocracy and technicalities. I don't look for those ones often though, it takes a lot of thinking to find them.
 
I cant remember which family it was last time. It made the papers. They all blend together after awhile though.
 
Blend into the night.
 
Just another night.
 
But the one I find in the laundromat isn't subtle. Thats how I can spot him without having to think first.
 
I like these ones. They make it easy for me. They let me delay thinking.
 
I don't like thinking, most of the time.
 
When I can focus, when I know what I need to be thinking about, and I can block myself off from thinking of other things. Then I like thinking.
 
But I cant do that. Most of the time.
 
Only once Ive found who I'm looking for.
 
Then thinking is kind of nice.
 
Not nice.
 
Bearable.
 
The one in the Laundromat isn't a challenge. Thats disappointing. And also good.
 
I like a challenge. But a challenge requires me to think more.
 
The more I think, the more the danger of me losing track of these thoughts becomes. If I lose track, if I lose my focus, my thoughts can wander. Wander on to other things.
 
Dangerous things.
 
And when that happens, it can get . . . unpleasant.
 
But I don't have to worry about that tonight. Because the one in the Laundromat isn't a challenge.
 
He isn't subtle. He doesn't think he needs to be. Quick job, in and out.
 
But I'm here. And he didn't count on that.
 
In and out.
 
The one from last night wasn't a challenge either. Not physically. Not for me.
 
But it was dangerous.
 
I saw the one from last night in an alley. He wasn't alone.
 
They're never alone.
 
He was alone.
 
But someone else was there too. An innocent.
 
I wondered why she wasn't sleeping. No I didn't.
 
Because I don't think. I don't wonder.
 
The one from before wondered why she wasn't sleeping. Not then. He doesn't have the power to wonder or think while I am in control. But tonight, when I was reborn, I became aware of the thoughts he had had during the day. These thoughts were irrelevant. It is not our place to speculate on the actions of the innocent.
 
Or the guilty.
 
I do not speculate on the actions of the guilty. I do not wonder why they act, I only react.
 
He sometimes wonders, and I scoff at him when I become aware of these wondering s. But I let them pass.
 
He needs them. And I need him.
 
As he needs me.
 
Last night I found the one I was looking for in an alley. There was a woman with him. She didn't want to be there.
 
She wanted to be somewhere else. Anywhere else. Away from him and what he was doing to her.
 
What he was trying to do to her.
 
What he was about to do to her.
 
Maybe she wanted to be asleep.
 
I wanted to be asleep.
 
I always want to be asleep.
 
Ive never known what its like to be asleep. Ive never known peace. I only know existence. And non-existence.
 
At night, when the mask goes on, I exist.
 
When the mask comes off, I no longer exist.
 
There is no peace. There is only what is bearable.
 
When I exist, when I'm driving or searching or reacting, it is bearable.
 
When I am thinking, too much, it is unbearable.
 
When I do not exist, it is . . . unpleasant.
 
Last night wasn't a challenge. Last night was easy.
 
I like a challenge, but I didn't have to think. It wasn't dangerous.
 
Not at first.
 
I stopped the car. I opened the door and I walked into the alley.
 
I raised the gun. I aimed.
 
And I stopped.
 
He didn't.
 
He would never stop. He couldn't. He was as sick as I was.
 
I'm not sick.
 
I cant be sick.
 
I don't exist.
 
The woman was already afraid. Understandable. She was already breaking. I understand the mind. Better than most. I have two after all. No I don't.
 
I have no mind.
 
I don't exist.
 
What would it do? The pressure of the act being forced upon her, the fear already burning within her. Then the crack of a gunshot. No. No crack. The silencer was on.
 
Even worse.
 
Right now, she knew what was happening. However horrible it may have been, she knew what was happening. The unknown can be worse than the known. I could have shot him in the head. That's what I normally do. She was shorter than him. The bullet would push through his skull and go right over her head. He had his back to me. Thats what would happen.
 
That's what would happen.
 
And then specks of blood would splash across her face. Followed immediately by a gush, a river of her attackers blood. Showering over her face. Then he would fall into her.
 
Then she would scream.
 
Then she would break.
 
Then she would break, and she would not be fixed.
 
Something similar had happened once. A long time ago, at least it seemed like a long time ago.
Maybe it hadnt been so long, time is a difficult thing for a thing like me to grasp.
Taken.
Something had been taken.
Taken from me.
Stolen.
Not from me. Nothing can be stolen from me. Nothing can be taken away from me.
I dont exist.
But the one before, he has a life.
Things can be taken from him.
Things can be stolen from him.
And they were.
So long ago.
I shouldnt be thinking about them. I shouldnt be reliving these memories.
They arent mine. Not mine to relive.
I took them. Just like I took the body and the gun and the car and the mind.
They're all his, the one who came before, but I take them. I dont steal them. No one steals anything from him. Not anymore. But I borrow them.
Only in the night.
Only in the night.
It was night when they were taken. It was night when they were stolen.
He used to sleep through the night, back then, him and -
No.
Stop.
 
I was thinking. I was feeling.
 
Compassion. I was thinking too much.
 
Far, far too much.
Compassion. Compassion is dangerous. Compassion leads to contemplation. Contemplation leads to memories, memories I cant relive.
 
Not tonight.
 
Not any night.
So I stopped thinking. I stopped at the last conclusion that I had come to. I could not shoot him in the head.
 
So I shot him in the leg.
 
I shot him in the leg, and he yelled in pain and crumpled to the ground.
 
I yelled to the woman to run away. And she did.
 
And once she was gone, I shot him in the head.
 
Then I got back in my car and I started driving.
 
And I felt nothing.
 
Tonight wont be as complicated. Tonight will be easy.
 
The one in the laundromat isn't subtle. I see him right away.
 
His car is parked beside the curb, drivers door wide open, engine still running.
 
He expects it to be easy. In and out.
 
But he doesn't count on me.
 
He doesn't count on me.
 
I drive, I search, I react. If necessary, I think.
 
It's easy for me.
 
This is all I know.
 
I don't know anything.
 
I do not exist.
 
This wont be a challenge. I wont have to think tonight. I drove, I searched. I found who I was looking for, and now I will react to his action. He has already acted.
 
I stop the car.
 
I roll down the window.
 
He is directly in front of the door of the laundromat. He faces the service desk. He brandishes a knife at someone behind the desk. Something else lays on the ground in a pool of its own blood.
 
The knife is bloodied.
 
I react.
 
I shoot him in the head.
 
He falls down.
 
A woman screams from behind the counter.
 
Lights come on in buildings around me.
 
I drive away. And I feel nothing.
 
Fifteen minutes later I'm home. I'm not home. I don't have a home.
 
I don't exist.
 
I park the car in the communal parking lot. This is as far as I go. The one who came before has an apartment in this building. After he takes control he will walk inside, hang up his jacket, and go to sleep.
 
He needs his sleep after all. Its been a long night. And he has a busy day tomorrow.
 
I don't sleep. I don't exist.
 
He has a life. He has a name. I know it, of course. I am a part of him.
 
I am not a part of him.
 
I don't exist.
 
I don't have a name. I have a word. I don't care for it. I didn't choose it. He didn't choose it.
 
Others chose it.
 
I didn't choose it.
 
I don't have a home. My home is the night. The night calls for me. When the night calls, I come.
 
When the darkness calls, I come.
 
I drive. I search. I react.
 
Sometimes I think.
 
I don't like thinking. Its dangerous. Thinking leads to contemplation. Contemplation leads to memories.
 
Memories that don't belong to me.
 
Nothing belongs to me.
 
I don't exist.
 
The memories are his. I glimpsed them once.
 
I cant remember. Not again. I don't want to.
 
He has a life. The life, the body, the car, the gun, the mind, are all his.
 
I just borrow them. Only at night.
 
He needs me. He would be insane if not for me.
 
He is not insane, because I am insane for him.
 
I need him. I could not exist if not for him.
 
Only at night.
 
That's all I want.
 
I do not exist.
 
I do not exist.
 
It can be . . . unpleasant.
 
But bearable.
 
I exist.
 
They have a word for me. I don't much like it.
 
They call me a vigilante.
 
But I'm so much more than that. So much more.
 
I am not more than that.
 
I do not exist.
 
I take off the mask.
 
I do not exist.
 
 
 
 
 


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