It’s been a while. And things had reached a new normal… until last night.
I got home late from the office (I’m renting a space at Co-Co, which is quite nice) and no sooner had a closed my door than a woman dressed like some demon from Faust steps out of the kitchen and hits me in the face. The next bit is a little hazy. I know she went on some sort of rant for a long time and a lot of it had to do with Mason.
Almost on cue (I take that back – it was on cue), Mason stepped out of his room. Not blonde, lanky Mason. Wolfman-Mason.
In the ensuing battle that took place in and around our mudroom, the only casualty was my shoes that got trampled and clawed up. Mason prevailed (of course) and demon-woman ran out. There was an awkward moment of silence between Mason and I. Then he started to say, “You’re probably wondering what I’m doing here…”
“I know it’s you, Mason.”
“Oh. In that case, just a second.”
He went back into his room and emerged a few minutes later in human form.
Sitting with whiskeys at the table, Mason apologized. “Sorry. I try to not bring work home with me, but you know…”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I got a separate computer to do work on, but I bring it with me everywhere, so it sort of defeats the purpose. I know how it is.”
That was meant to be sarcastic, but Mason just nodded. He looked down at his drink and muttered, “It goes without saying that you can’t tell anyone about this.”
“You just said it.”
“What?” He looked up.
“You just said, ‘It goes without saying’ but then you… oh, never-the-fuck-mind,” I said.
We both toasted to nothing. Mason said, “How long have you known?’
“Oh, since the week I met you.”
“It’s a good disguise, really,” I said, seeing how depressed he looked. “I’m just very perceptive. I have to be. Freelancer, you know.”
“You’re just being kind. I wonder who else knows.”
Probably everyone, I thought. Instead, I cleared my throat and said, “So, why super heroism?”
“Why nonprofit communications?” he replied.
“Pays the bills and lets me feel good about myself. But you’ve gotta admit that being a masked vigilante begs more questions.”
“I don’t see it that way.” He sipped his drink. For a moment, he seemed to consider, then said, “When I was fifteen, I was bitten by a werewolf. I knew then that for the rest of my life, people would think I was a monster. So I decided to become a hero.”
“That’s as good of a reason as I’ve ever heard,” I said.
We talked for a while longer about the weather and how this winter has been unrelenting. It made commuting and patrolling horrible. There was a girl in his life now, and she’s coming over for dinner next week. We talked about hobbies we could take up, but didn’t have the time for. Then we got a refill and played Go. It was the longest conversation we’d had in months and I realized that I’d missed talking with him.
It occurs to me that I’m lucky by comparison. I never had to choose between good and evil, and if you have a gift (or curse) like Mason’s and all the other thousands of vigilantes and villains out there, I guess that’s a choice you have to make.
Sometimes I wonder how much choice I do have, though, what with America’s economic mobility disappearing. And I’m not exactly an impulsive person. By disposition, I am where I always expected to be: struggling to get by, just like everyone else.
How about this weather? It’s fucking cold.