Almost to the stairs, he heard the familiar metallic rattle of Davie's door snapping tight against its chain lock. "Yo! Yo, white dude?" Davie called out behind him. "Batman!"
He turned just enough to see Davie's nose poking out through his cracked-open door. He acknowledged him with the same reverse nod the young man used earlier.
"Come here a sec. I want to ask you somethin'," Davie said. His 'ask' sounded like 'ax,' and the rest of his words flowed together like a southern drawl at New York speed.
Wayne glanced over his shoulder at the stairs. The police were almost certainly on their way, and he had to be long gone before they arrived. Davie chose a hell of a time to become neighborly.
"I'm in kind of a hurry..."
The door slammed shut, but Davie hadn't given up. Wayne heard the chain slide, and then Davie stepped into the hall. "It's just a damn question, dude. Why you acting like I'm tryin' to borrow money, or talk about Jesus?" Davie looked bigger without a door blocking most of his body. He wore a wife-beater tee shirt that showed off his tattoos and chiseled muscles. The burn scar on his face took up some real estate on his left arm, too. He wore black work boots, and stuck his hand in the pocket of baggy jeans that probably cost more than a month's salary at Wayne's hospital job.
"'Nam. Sixty-nine," he said, noticing Wayne's interest in his scars. "Fuckin' napalm, yo."
"I didn't mean to stare," Wayne got out before he started to laugh. This kid's father couldn't have been old enough to fight in Vietnam.
"Whatever. Now, can I ask you somethin'?"
Wayne stepped closer and Davie's expression switched from offended to curious. "Why they call you Batman?"
"Are you kidding? Is that what you wanted to ask? Why they call me Batman?"
Another man appeared in the doorway, bigger and probably in his mid-twenties. He made no effort to hide the .44 pistol in his hand. "What's the problem, Wonder bread?" He didn't raise his gravelly voice, but he caught Davie off-guard.
"Dammit!" Davie yelled. "Quit sneakin' up on mother fuckers. You tryin' to get got? Get your dumb ass back in there."
The older guy made a face, but did as he was told, closing the door behind him.
Davie shook his head and made a noise like leaking tire. "Tsh. Stupid looks like a fuckin' genius next to him. He's alright, though. He got heart."
"Wayne," Wayne said. "That's why Frank calls me Batman."
"Wayne?" Davie asked with a shrug.
"Batman's name is Bruce Wayne. My name is Wayne." He wondered if anyone could have said that without sounding like a rabid comic book nerd. "I have to go, Davie. My pizza's getting cold." He turned towards the stairs, but stopped and look back, ticking off names on his fingers. "Gills. Boogie. Tiny Jim. And you're Davie? I don't get it. Why don't you have an Indian name?"
"I don't know about no Indian name, but mine ain't really Davie. My grams went nuts 'fore she died; you know how old people do. She thought I was my pops, so she called me Davie. I don't know if it was his real name either, but it stuck with me. So, now that we had our fuckin' Oprah moment, and everybody knows everybody's business, would you be a good neighbor and hand this to Gills on your way out?" He pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket and held it out.
Wayne eyed the paper like it was a viper, trying to think of a reason not to do favors for a drug dealer.
"Relax, Wayne. You got some trust issues. We neighbors, alright? It don't say 'shoot this motherfucker.' Read it, if you want."
Wayne took the note and stuffed it in his pocket. "I wouldn't be easy to shoot, anyway. I'm Batman, remember?"
"Right. One more thing," Davie said. He peeled three bills from a thick roll of cash and held them out to Wayne. "It's my bad if your pizza's cold, so its on me. Unless you're trying to offend a motherfucker, you best take it."
Sirens sounded in the distance. They were no different from the sirens that usually serenaded this part of the city, but Wayne had a feeling they were for him. "Thanks," he said, taking the money. It was quicker than arguing about it.
Three doors down, Handsome Frank stepped into the hall. "What's going on, Bats? That dealer bothering you?"
"Wha'd you say, Tubby?" Davie shouted. "You best mind your fat fucking business."
With no warning, the sand erupted. Wayne's head spun, and he couldn't focus. His heart beat faster as Frank shouted unkind words, and Davie's dumb friend with the hand canon joined the party.
Davie shouted back while a third man shoved his way into the hall from Davie's apartment, pointing a shotgun at Wayne. Faster than had ever happened before, the pressure behind his eyes forced his lids closed, and the blackness took him.
YOU ARE READING
An ex-con plagued with frequent blackouts and newly discovered super-powers tries to fill the gaps in his memory, searching for clues to the identity of the brutal killer stalking his family. But his nemesis looks exactly like him, has powers of his...