by Andrea Ruggirello
She was named for her eyes. Violet. They were peculiar eyes, a soft purple that perfectly mirrored the color of the flower. However, that was all she had in common with the soft, delicate plant.
Throughout the course of her life, she had learned to be tough, inside and out. Her skin had adapted itself to taking a daily beating, her muscles were strong and lean, ready to spring into action at any moment. And inside, she had accepted this as part of her life, part of who she had to be. She had no choice in the matter; that decision had been taken from her a long time ago.
She walked down the deserted street, these thoughts shut away at the back of her mind, for they did not matter at the moment. All that mattered was the tingling sensation on the back of her neck and the man that was following her.
She kept her pace steady but quick and did not look back. The wind whipped her long, dark hair all around her, her black jacket billowing behind her. She shifted her eyes from left to right, looking for a place to go.
Finally she spotted a small, dark side alley and headed for it, breaking into a run. She heard her pursuer also start to run and when she entered the alleyway and leaped up onto the fire escape of a nearby building, she managed to hide in the shadows only seconds before he came into view.
As he looked around wildly, she studied him, her violet eyes tracing every inch of his body. He was tall and lean but not too muscular. He did look spry, though, and more often than not, she found that that beat out strength. She also noted the worn condition of his brown leather jacket and formerly white tennis sneakers and his dark, unkempt hair. Clearly he was not there to sell her life insurance.
He moved around in a slow circle, eyeing every nook and crevice of the alley and just when he looked up, she sprang. She landed on her feet behind him and before he knew what had happened, a swift kick brought him to the ground and an ideally placed hand on the back of his neck pinned him there. She straddled his back, pressing the side of his face into the pavement.
“Wait, wait!” he protested, his voice muffled and strained.
“For what?” Violet demanded breathlessly.
“For an explanation! What do you do, just kill people without letting them explain themselves?”
“When they follow me for six blocks at night, yeah, usually.”
“Well maybe it’s time you changed your policy.” He sighed. “Listen I promise I’m not going to hurt you or run away. In fact the whole reason I was following you was so we could talk.”
“It’s funny, when people want to talk to someone, they usually... talk to them.”
“Well, I was nervous. You can’t fault me there. I thought if I tried to say anything to you, you’d... well, you’d do exactly what you did just now. I was trying to get up some nerve, come up with a strategy.”
Violet was intrigued despite herself. “And how do you know what I’m capable of?”
“The whole city knows what you’re capable of. And frankly they’re scared.” He winced. “Could you ease up just a little, huh?”
Violet loosened her grip on the back of his neck but kept the rest of him pinned.
He craned his neck, stretching so he could look at her. “Thanks. So what was I saying?”
“Why is everyone scared of me?”
“Right. Well wouldn’t you be if some mystery chick was going around killing a bunch of people?”
“They’re not people,” she said quietly. “They deserve to die.”
“Yeah, they’re criminals, but I don’t know about deserving to die. I mean you were just about to kill me for walking behind you.”
Violet was silent for a moment then stood up. The man scrambled to his feet quickly, dusting himself off. He stood his ground, though, his coffee-brown eyes staring directly into her purple ones. “Things like that... that’s for the justice system to decide, not you.”
“You think the cops would be able to catch half of the crooks I have?” She could sense the defensiveness creeping into her voice and shook off her self-doubt. She was doing the right thing. She was.
“They may not have your, ah, talents, but they’re fairly efficient.”
“Is that what you are? A cop?” She spat the word out with disgust.
“No. Well not really. We’re under the same people but I’m in a separate department. For dealing with... vigilantes and such.”
“I think the world could use a couple of vigilantes.”
The man cocked his head. “So do I. Which is why I want to work with you, not against you. Listen, we haven’t properly met. I’m Eli.” He hesitantly extended a hand.
She took it just as hesitantly. “Violet.”
He smiled. “You give yourself that name?”
“My mother gave me that name,” she replied hotly.
“Look if you just want to insult me then...” She started to turn away.
Eli shook his head. “No, no, of course not. I thought... look, I noticed a pattern in your cases. The criminals, the people you take down. Men. All of them. Rapists and murderers mostly. Some muggers, but I felt that it must have been justified somehow. I trusted your judgment and your purpose without even meeting you. Weird, huh? I’m not even sure why. Which is why I fought to get this case. I knew that I wanted to work with you. I believed in you.”
He cleared his throat. “Well we’ve been watching you for a while and the other guys wanted to just bring you in, you know, put you in jail and all that, no questions asked. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to give you a chance, see what you were all about. Plus, frankly I thought you were kind of hot.”
Violet looked away quickly but could not help but smile. It stretched her face in a way that felt strange and foreign but pleasant at the same time.
“Anyway, why don’t we go somewhere else to talk some more?” Eli asked. “This alley ain’t exactly cozy.”
Violet hesitated. She did not want to work with the police. She operated alone.
As if he could read her mind, Eli spoke. “We’re not going to try and make you become a cop or something. Really I just want talk to you. See if we can get on the same page, so at the very least we’re not working against each other.”
Violet thought for a long moment then decided Eli seemed harmless enough and nodded.
“Great!” Eli declared cheerfully. “I know a nice little coffee shop a couple of blocks away. Their coffeecake... well let’s just say I wouldn’t throw you in jail if you killed a guy for it.”
They both started to walk back towards the main road.
“So how’d you get into the crime-fighting business anyway?” he asked.
Violet’s breath caught in her throat. She felt the familiar boiling sensation in her stomach. No, she could not let it take control. Not now. “I... I just thought it was something I should do.” Swallow, breathe, stay calm.
“Oh come on, that can’t just be it. No one just decides to risk their neck every night for no reason. There has to be something.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said through gritted teeth.
“It would help though,” he pressed on, “in convincing my bosses to let you work with us. Or at least not put you in jail.” He glanced at her.
“If I don’t, innocent people will die.”
“Innocent people die every day. And not every crook you kill is a murderer.”
“That’s not what I meant...” She broke off, biting her lip. The effort to speak was costing her too much and she was having a hard time fighting the sensation that was building within her.
“Look, if it’s too personal...”
“It is.” She was breathing heavily now, her hands balled into fists.
“Okay, okay, I’ll back off. It’s just that they’ve been sympathetic in the past to certain cases. But you don’t want to share. That’s cool.”
Violet could not get the images out of her mind now. Opening the front door... the blood tracks in the hallway... the smashed furniture and shattered glass... the broken bleeding bodies, lying in their beds... not even her four-year old brother had been spared.
She stopped walking and closed her eyes, trying to gain control. The heat had spread through her entire body now and the familiar sensation of detachment was starting to overwhelm her. She still did not know why her body did this, nor could she control it. All she knew for sure was that she had not killed tonight and whatever it was that crawled beneath her skin was not satisfied.
“Are you okay?”
Violet knew Eli must be looking at her wondering what was going on. “Get away,” she said, her voice strained and barely audible.
She felt his hand on her arm and her eyes snapped open. She grabbed his hand, spun and kicked him in the face, his neck snapping with a loud crack that cut through the silent night. The heat receded from her body before he hit the ground. She stood there, staring at the young man who had only wanted to help her, now just a dead body like the many she had killed before him. But he was different. He was the first innocent one.
“You were wrong. Justice doesn’t prevail,” she whispered. “They never caught my father.” She turned and walked away, wondering yet again where he was and what he would think if he saw what she had become. “And they’ll never catch me.”
Copyright © 2010 by Andrea Ruggirello