This City

Moving day had arrived and Dan was reluctantly walking up to attic. He and Laurie were finally moving to the house by the lake they had talked about for so long, retiring from retiring so to speak. Laurie had been after him to toss out some old boxes in the attic insisting they wouldn't be going to the new house if she had her way and since she does, Dan must do something about them.

He had been putting the clean-up off for too long and today seemed as good a day as any to work on his reluctant chore. Laurie was out for the day, putting flowers on the memorial to honor everyone whose lives were lost that day everything changed but Dan suspected she was also mourning the loss of Jon as well.

He tugged at the rope attached to the trap door of the attic silently wishing the string would break so he could put the clean-up off again. But it didn't and he pulls down the door unfurls the stairs and climbs up into the stifling hot attic. Hunching over to avoid hitting his head on the overhead beams he makes his way to the back of the room where the boxes Laurie wants him to "do something with" are. He finds the boxes easily enough. Two were in surprisingly good shape after having been up here for the better part of 20 years. One had broken apart slit open like a piƱata. Its paper contents oozing onto the floor looking to escape the confines of their cardboard prison, Dan decides to tackle this box first.

He sits on the floor with the box between his legs and starts to pick through the papers. Most are old news clippings of the old gang, a few with Ozymandias that Dan quickly stuffs into a plastic garbage bag that he brought up with him. He makes swift work of the first box emptying most of the contents into the garbage bag, he picks up the box to move the broken husk into the trash as well but realizes there still something in it. He frowns and shakes the box. He moves the flap at the bottom out of the way, a tan well-worn leather bound journal sits at the bottom. Dan is confused, he doesn't remember ever keeping a journal, writing notes just wasn't his speed. He picks the book up and a piece of paper floats out.

Destroy this.

The note makes little sense until Dan flips it and sees the unmistakable mark of Rorschach. When did he leave this? Most likely one of the thousands of he had broken into his old house back in the city. Dan decides to grant the notes wishes and tosses the journal into the garbage bag after the rest of the trash he's thrown away that day.

He finishes the other boxes without further surprises and leaves the attic. When Laurie comes back home he lets her know she no longer has to worry about the boxes, he's taken care of them. He doesn't mention the journal he found. He tries to remove it from his mind but it continues to crawl back. Curiosity killed the preverbal cat and it's working its magic on Dan as well.

Later, that night as Laurie lays sleeping curled up next to him, he cannot stop himself. Dan goes down into the alley where he put the garbage, he rips the bag open without hesitation and finds the broken book. It is now slightly wet and some of the ink has run. His brow furrows, what did he put in the bag that would have gotten the pages wet?

He walks back into the house and sits at the dining room table. He doesn't think he can open it. Although the loss of his friend happened years ago the pain is still fresh in his mind. He pauses for only a moment contemplating his next move, he opens the journal and reads.

March 25, 1978

This city is dead, it just doesn't know it yet. It gets up every morning, puts away its' drug dealers, whores, hippies and junkies, just to put on corrupt politicians, business men doing back room deals, bankers getting away with stealing millions. When the man stealing for food can't get more than 5 feet without getting shot down, the rich and powerful steal lively hoods, homes and farms and no one bats an eye.

The city moves forward because it's too stupid to fall down. I want to take a gun and put it down, beat it until in no longer moves, push it over the edge. But I know, no matter what I do, it will still move forward, still try to claim life, still breath.

Two cops who have a reputation and not the good kind are sitting in coffee shop laughing. I hear them guffaw as the recount a story of the black hooker who showed up at the precinct last night telling of a man who kidnapped and tortured her. The cops chock it up to a stupid whore beat up by an equally worthless pimp but something about it doesn't sit right with me and I need to investigate further. I question the cops, it only takes breaking the nose of one and the knee of the other to get the information I need, easy.

Only problem is with the information I get. The hooker is from Harlem. There are a lot of issues with Harlem, the biggest, the Zods. The Negros formed their own vigilante group and much like me they still operate in certain circumstances, typically when someone finds themselves on their side of town. They act more in the way of a gang preferring to relieve tourists who accidently take a wrong turn, of their cash. They pay kickbacks to the cops from the numbers racket they also run and are pretty much left alone. Cops stay away from Hell's Kitchen and Harlem. But I need information and will get it.

The Zods took their name from the zodiac chart. I don't know if there are actually 12 of them but I've had dealings with the Pieces and the Gemini's. They epitomize cheap costumed hero. My only real concern is with the Sagittarius, I've heard rumors his bow is deathly accurate and he doesn't hesitate to use it, maiming anyone who crosses his path the wrong way. I'll have to watch myself. I briefly contemplate calling Daniel but he's retired. Sitting, growing fatter, lazier, no longer has the stomach to put away the filth in the city chooses instead to ignore them, bury head in sand hoping they will go away.

Getting to Harlem takes longer than expect or want. I encountered street after street of bedlam and mayhem. I'm getting tired of the filth and the "victims", something needs to be done, something bigger than just me. I'm finally on 102nd St. there's a house fire, seems like the 20th this year so I cut through an alley, I hear noise from behind me. I turn and 3 men have closed off the mouth of the alley. They have cheap moth eaten fur around the collars of the jackets haloing around their heads, their afros teased high around their faces, bleached a horrible tan color, attempting to make manes as a means of intimidation the results instead is asinine and it turns an already grotesque figure into something comical.

I'm perplexed as to how they expect to be taken seriously looking as ridiculous as they do.

"You look lost honky?" The tallest says. I look down and a length of chain extends from his hands.

"You need directions?" This one has a pipe. The last one doesn't get a chance for a snappy comment and I don't get the opportunity to see what he brought to the party. But they should have brought more men if they are looking to stop me. I reach my hand out and grab the flimsy metal of a garbage can top when there is a whistling sound and chainman starts screaming. The tail of an arrow sticks out of his thigh. He grabs it tries to pull, screams louder and drops to his knees.

My other two chaperons look up nervously searching the sky for the source of what interrupted them.

"Look Sag, we don't". Pipeman is cut off an arrow embeds itself through the large poof of hair around his head. His skin is not pierced but it is evident that the arrow hadn't missed its mark. The two standing grab their incapacitated friend and hobble quickly out of the alley. When they are gone I hear something drop next to me. I wait not completely positive what the archer's game is.

"What are you doing here Rorschach?" The voice is definitely female, which surprises me a little. When she steps into my sight I'm surprised again. The Sagittarius is not the man I was expecting, it she's a woman, not more than a girl. But you can never tell with them can you, it's not easy to guess their age. She barely comes up to my shoulders and the bow she wields is taller than she is. Her skin is a smooth deep brown, almost the color of warm chocolate, or baby shit. She of course has the typical female costume, long thigh high boots, hot pants so short and tight as to leave nothing to the imagination. The shirt she wears has one open flowing sleeve while the other is wrapped tightly around her arm by some type of leather strap. This one has drawn an arrow which she pointed directly in my face.

"I'm looking for a woman." I explain, trying to judge if I'm in any real danger and trying to figure a plan to get away from her.

"You don't strike me the type who's into the dark meat, white bread."

"Not that kind," I tell her but have to rephrase because I am in fact looking for that kind.

"I heard a rumor that a hooker was beat-up, kept in a basement and tortured, cops didn't believe her, I was looking for the full story." She slowly lowers the bow but keeps it drawn just the same.

"Why?"

"Something about it rings true. Wanted to hear it for myself."

"Try to keep up." The arrow disappears up the billowy sleeve, the bow she slings across her chest, then, with surprising speed, she scales the fire escape on the building and disappears to the roof. I was able to keep up but I think she tries to lose me on more than one instance.

We end up on the roof of a dilapidated tenement. I just avoid a whole in the roof she fails to warn me about, disappointment ripe on her face that I didn't fall in. She opens the roof access door and she disappears into the darkness. It occurs to me she might be luring me into a trap. I am right and wrong.