by Joyce Melton


They call him Hoodwink. He's a big man who moves with that odd grace that some big men have; like an 800 pound gorilla, he seems to belong wherever he happens to be.

He wears a blue hood with one winking eye drawn like a cartoon in black ink. His other eye is uncovered. The hood conceals the rest of his face. Perhaps it hides armor or devices that let him see in the dark, see through walls, see into people's souls. Perhaps he wears the hood to fool everyone into thinking he can do those things.
The rest of his clothing is dark colors, black, gray, navy, brick, olive; it's hard to tell in the night away from any lights. He wears a thick wool sweater, gray perhaps, tucked  into leather pants that might be navy or olive. The pants and a leather vest he wears over the sweater have several pockets in which he keeps useful things. He wears black leather lace-up boots with peculiarly thin soles, like ballet shoes. Perhaps he dances on roof tops when he's not fighting crime.
Because that's what he does. Why would someone do that? Go out in the night and prowl around rooftops and alleys, watching the city sleep, waiting for something to happen. It doesn't seem reasonable, not a rational thing to do. But that's what he does. Not every night, he's not a psychopath.
But he's probably not normal by most definitions.
His nights begin when the bars close. Drunks in cars are criminals but they're not his problems, the cops can handle them better than he can. He watches for things that aren't the way they should be, people doing things they should not be doing. From the top of the wall behind a deserted mall, he watches a skinny kid with purple hair use a tool to jimmy the lock on a luxury sedan sitting alone in the nearly empty lot.
He doesn't do anything at first. Perhaps the car belongs to the boy, perhaps he has forgotten his keys. Don't lots of seventeen year olds in tattered jeans and message t-shirts with hardware in their faces own Infiniti sedans? No, probably not. 
The kid opens the door in much too short of time for any level of honest skill.
Hoodwink drops to the ground from the wall. The thin soles of his boots help him not to make a sound as he walks up behind the boy who has opened the car and is working on rifling the contents for valuables. He can't steal the car, the illegal electromagnetic device he used to disable the car alarm has also killed the electronic ignition. The car is dead meat until some mechanic billing $110 an hour with the right tools replaces its brain.
"What are you doing, Almorio?" Hoodwink asks in a quiet voice.
The boy yelps and bumps his head on the door frame getting out of the car. He bristles at the big man, "What's it look like I'm doing? Hood, you gonna be the death of me, scaring me like that."
Hoodwink puts a large hand in an armored glove against the boy's chest. He pushes, he shoves the boy backward. The kid stumbles, squawking.
"We had an arrangement," says Hoodwink.
"Yeah? You were going to leave me the fuck alone! That was the arrangement!"
Hoodwink shakes his masked head. "You can't be that stupid. I didn't turn you in to the cops when I caught you the last time because you're supposed to be keeping an eye out for me.'
"I been doing that!" says the boy. "I been watching some of the bigger guys, see what they do. You know, wiseguys, sell dope, crack, buy stolen stuff, that kind of thing. Yeah?"
"So what are you doing breaking into cars?"
Almorio, the boy, seems surprised. "That's what I do! You mean you wanted me to stop? How'm I gonna make a living?"
Hoodwink looms over him. "Almorio, do I look like I give a shit about you making a living?"
Almorio makes a move as if to break for it. Hoodwink backhands him into the side of the car. "Try that again, I'll break some ribs," says the man in the hood. "Now what have you heard?"
Almorio tells him. Hoodwink listens. It's a small piece of information but with other things he's learned from his other extra eyes, it's significant.
"Put the stuff you were trying to steal back and go home, Almorio. I catch you stealing again, I'll break your ankles," he says.
"Hey, no, this ain't gonna work, man," Almorio protests. "I gotta eat, I gotta pay rent. I can't get no job, I been arrested too many times. I gotta steal to live, man. You the Hood in the 'hood, but man, I gotta do what I gotta do."
"Go home, stay home tomorrow. Someone will call to offer you a job. You'll work for them in the daytime, work for me at night." Hoodwink stuffs two hundred dollar bills into Almorio's pants, like a big chicken hawk paying off a skinny boy hooker.
Almorio pulls the money out and looks at it. A card comes with it, a business card with a cartoon wink drawn on one side, a phone number written on the other. "You're one of my extra eyes now, Almorio. I'll take care of you. Memorize the phone number then tear up the card. Call me if you have something you think is worth telling me." The hooded man's voice seems to fade a bit at the end.
Almorio looks up but the big man is gone, as silently as he came.



Reminds me a lot of Batman. A very good short story, will you continue it? I think that it has potential, very much like your multi chapter story here, I just can't remember the title.
May Your Light Forever Shine

Nice Start...

...and an excellent job of setting the mood. As Stanman noted, Batman did indeed fall into this genre during at least one phase of his long history, but my first thought was of characters, costumed and otherwise, in old pulp and paperback fiction.

(Trivially, your ending those two consecutive early paragraphs with "perhaps" sentences bothered me a bit. That may be something I tend to overreact to, though mostly in nonfiction -- someone trying to demonstrate something by treating speculation as fact.)



Hoodwink is my creation but he does owe something to inspiration from many sources: pulp heroes like The Spider, The Green Hornet and The Shadow plus newspaper strips like The Phantom and Will Eisner's The Spirit, as well as Batman, Sandman, Daredevil and two little known Archie Comics characters, The Hood and The Hangman. Plus some small press comics like Predator, from the 70s and 80s back when I worked in comics.

As for the paragraphs ending with perhaps sentences, I was satirizing that very sort of nonfiction writing you dislike while using it to imply that there is a lot of speculation about Hoodwink and what he can do. In a world in which superheroes do exist, does Hoodwink have superpowers? Does he need them?

Thanks for the comment.

- Joyce

The Hood the 'Hood.

I must say he does reminds me of the old pulp heroes like the Spider and Shadow. A certain your mine but I take care of my responsibilities kind of attitude guy. Good stuff! I trust Almorio is smart enough not to get his ankles busted.



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