There was a power outage, and a quarter-moon, so the streets were blanketed in a dense black haze. Hootie decided that since it was a perfect mugging environment downtown, he would set forth and find the man who shot him.
Hootie had no weapon at home, so he put a paring knife into his jacket pocket, more for confidence than any practical defense. Was he afraid? Yes. Was he brave to take to the streets while in fear of his assailant? Yes. Had he just smoked a joint? Yes.
His eyes got used to the darkness quite quickly. Not many people were out, all the storefronts were dead and black, and the side streets were lit by sparse, thin moonlight and a panoply of distant stars. He passed at least three people walking their dogs, miserable and silent, picking up poop from the pavement in supermarket plastic bags. He met one of the nurses from the hospital, who told Hootie that he walked a few laps around town after his evening shift, because it helped him sleep.
There were others, surprisingly to Hootie. The only club in town was closed, but several people still congregated outside the the darkened entrance. Hootie walked by, ignoring a very hot young woman in a pencil skirt and sequinned tank top. Hootie was sure she noticed him as he walked past, but he had other things on his mind.
He had two small scars on his butt, one where the bullet went in, and the other where the bullet exited. While it was true that his current girlfriend found his ass intriguing, in damp weather it was uncomfortable to sit down. Not only that, but he had to endure jokes about being shot in his buttocks, as if it was somehow demeaning, or worse, as if he’d been shot running away like a coward. Hootie was proving, right this moment, that he was no coward.
What would Hootie do when he confronted the man who shot him? He wasn’t exactly sure, except that he would bring the mugger to justice. Since the man had a gun, Hootie would have to surprise him, somehow. And even though Vince DeMarco lay dead, the mugger hadn’t fatally shot Hootie. So the man might be big and ruthless, as Hootie had told the police, but he still had a weakness, at least as far as Hootie was concerned. Hootie would distract him, possibly wound him, and call the police on his cell phone.
Near the old brewery, Hootie spotted a man in black approaching him on the street. It had just stopped raining, so what thin moonlight there was, was reflected on the pavement. This could be the one, Hootie thought. He felt his pockets. Paring knife, check. Cell phone, check. He ducked into the recessed doorway of an abandoned shop.
He heard the footsteps approaching, and tensed. The man stopped walking just before he reached Hootie, pressed hard against a damp brick wall.
“Hello?” said a voice.
It was Leep the Creep, that weird guy that Hootie met at his brother’s wedding; strange, socially inept, maybe even a bit mentally slow. It wasn’t odd that Leep was wandering around late at night. Leep was a creep, and creeps did creepy things.
Leep was a lot smaller than the man Hootie remembered had attacked him, or he might have even suspected Leep of criminal behaviour.
“What’s up, Leep?” Leep was wearing a black down jacket in April. Really?
“What are you doing?” asked Leep. “I saw you duck into the doorway.”
“I’m er, Just walking around,” Hootie said. “Seen anyone?”
“Just you,” said Leep.
“Uh huh,” said Hootie. “You should get on home, what are you doing walking around?”
“I couldn’t sleep,” said Leep. “I thought I’d walk to the 7-11 and get a hoagie.”
“Yeah, you should get on home.”
“I think I’m ok,” said Leep. “But thanks.” Leep pulled up the nylon hood of his jacket, put his hands in his pockets, and walked on.
Hootie patrolled the streets without incident until he got hungry, then went home and made ramen noodle soup.