Daredevil: Man Without FearBy James Reeves
"Night Men"It was the middle of the summer season in New York, and the sun had turned the city into one large oven. The heat rose in waves across the cracked streets, the thick smell of tar and car fumes caked onto the city's body, and the juices of waste seeped into it's pores. Children laughed and played out by the open fire hydrants, old folks would toss and turn uncomfortably under their sweaty sheets, and young women would venture out onto the rooftops of apartments while their men were off at work. The summer had affected everyone in the city, while the heat had fermented it, and covered New York in another day of grime.
"This is Johnny D. and you're listening to KRS AM. We've got another five in a row of your favorite jazz classics, but first these news stories... It's a real scorcher out there, but we have a chance of thunder showers by early evening so don't forget your raincoat. Now back to Johnny D and your favorite jazz classics..."
Rebecca had spent the day on the roof of her apartment building soaking up the sun, and listening to jazz on her portable radio. She, like many other young people in New York, had found it necessary to venture out into the warm sticky air, and force herself to lie beneath the pounding sun for hours in order to darken her skin. Her brown hair had matted down against her sweaty forehead, and she pulled the thick air from her lungs in short gasps. Rebecca had never understood why she subjected herself to such punishment everyday. Some of the girls in her neighborhood used tanning lotion year round. She always knew when someone had been using lotion; their skin had an orange tint to it. Rebecca always thought it was funny to see orange colored people in the dead of winter. There would be a foot of snow on the ground, and people would be walking around the city, thinking they were fooling the world, with tans painted on themselves. The rest of New York had natural skin, tan during the summer and white during the winter. That's how Rebecca thought of it at least. So like the rest of the city, she would sit out on the rooftop everyday, exposing her delicate skin to the sun, her lungs to the thick putrid air, and her body to the hard, gritty gravel beneath her towel.
"That was Miles Davis. This next song goes out to Rebecca Steele. It's dedicated to her from her boyfriend. Here's Louis Armstrong with It's So Good..."
Rebecca smiled, and closed her eyes. Lewis had always known how to make her feel special. That's what she loved about him, his charm. He hadn't much else to offer. They lived in the worst part of New York, fondly named Hell's Kitchen by it's inhabitants, because Lewis decided to waste their money on alcohol. When he had alcohol, he beat her. She felt the bruises on her face. Sometimes he beat her real good, put bruises in places where people wouldn't look. He would stop, someday, Rebecca knew that Lewis was a good man. He could get help, and then they could get married. She wanted him to get help. She wanted to marry him. She loved him.
Lewis had been living in New York for five years. Without a college education, he was limited in his career choices. He had been working in Krueger's deli for six months, looking forward to the day he could quit. The place was a dump.
"Look at the bread, there are holes in it. I demand a refund!" "I'm sorry sir, we don't give refunds. I don't know what caused the holes, but I'm sure the sandwich is clean, and safe to eat." Lewis hated nosy customers. He knew what had caused the holes in the bread; the entire deli was infested with rats.
"Well tell you manager that you just lost another customer."
Lewis watched the angry customer storm out the door and onto the sidewalk where he was greeted by a slight drizzle. The rain had started. Lewis looked at his watch, ten till five, close enough. He hastily collected his belongs, and hurried out the door, hoping arrive home without being caught in the rain.
Rebecca felt raindrops against her body and face. She enjoyed the rain; it soothed her burnt skin. She believed that the rain cleansed the city, washed away its sins, yet New York was a city of sin, and she knew that as well. It began to rain harder and although she was content on the roof, she gathered her belongings, and went downstairs, back to her apartment to see Lewis when he arrived.
Lewis was no longer in a hurry to get home. He was now wandering the aisles of a liquor store, greedily clinging to a ten dollar bill he had taken from the register at the deli. He took a bottle of gin off of the shelf, inspected it, and brought it to a small Oriental man who stood behind the front counter. Lewis handed him the ten dollars, and ran from the store. He was ashamed to be buying alcohol, he knew he had a problem, but he promised himself that this would be the last time. He had been promising himself that for the last two years. Running into an alley, Lewis tore the bottle open, and drank the gin until he had to stop to breath. Rebecca hated it when he drank. He hated himself when he drank. He couldn't go home in this state, so he decided it would be better if he spent the night in the alley.
Rebecca sat on her balcony that night. She sat and watched over the city, her city, looking for Lewis. The streets were busy, even at night. The night people roamed them. Newspapers spoke of heroes, who wander the night fighting crime and upholding justice. Those heroes never ventured into Rebecca's neighborhood. Outside, on her street, drug dealers stood under streetlights, while bums slept on the sidewalks. Tonight was different, the storm had kept them away. The only sound on the streets was the soft patter of rain, a soft lullaby for the tired city.
Rebecca sorted through a leaflet of papers. She had received information about a drug detox clinic weeks earlier, but she never had the courage to show Lewis. Tonight was the night, it had gone on too long for Rebecca, she had to show him the papers. She knew that he loved her, and he would do anything for her. Lewis would go to the detox center, he had to. Rebecca closed her eyes, and listened to the soft rain. Tonight was the night.
The ambiance of Lewis' drunken sluber was broken by the sound of a thud. He shielded his eyes from the heavy rain that pounded the alley. A man dressed in deep crimson lay sprawled in the alley not more than ten feet away from him. Lewis pulled hiself to his feet and ran towards the fallen man.
"What happened? Do you need help?"
Questions poured from Lewis' lips. He touched the man's chest. His fingers sank into clouded blood. Lewis heard the sound of footsteps. The shape of another man, dressed in black, came into view. A moment later the man came fleeing down the alley. In a drunken stupor, Lewis stood and confronted the running man. He saw the man pull a gun from the darkness. The man raised the gun to his eyes and cocked it. He followed the path of the gun up to the man's face. The last thing he saw was a large white target on the man's forehead. He had seen this man in the papers before. He was a night man.
The bullet pierced the skin, and shattered the skull. Lewis felt the warm blood trickle from the hole in his forehead. It fell from his nose in little drips, just like the rain. He felt the lodged bullet pulsating inside of his brain. Then Lewis realized, that the man had hit him dead on, Bullseye.
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Copyright 2000 James Reeves
Daredevil (and other related characters appearing) and the
distinctive likenesses are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are
used WITHOUT permission.