He had a full head of hair as recently as four months ago.
They hide in the back, he thought. One mirror wasn’t enough and he didn’t have a hand mirror to hold up behind. This is how it had started. He couldn’t see and so he felt and then it was four months later.
A flicker at a time, each instance increasingly paralyzing, until the phrase in his head was all he could see.
Now, still of mind but heaving in the bathroom sink, his face slowly cinched into view. The left side with a gold, etched earring. A ladybug-sized, star tattoo by his right eye. Crooked teeth in three, separate places. Tanned head, close but not clean, shaven.
He kept the water running in the sink as he gripped the basin’s sides. They felt sandy with dirt. It was a church basement, after all - the Sunday School playroom vacant but adjacent.
Someone would come and someone would find him here, and soon. It didn’t matter. The meeting had started and he was the reason and he was the problem.
This was how they all started, though, wasn’t it? One common goal regardless of the methods.
Yet it’s not your decision to make.
There’s the hope for redemption.
What of you, then?
Oh, then the words, though. Eden-level snaky bitches, those words.
He felt for the back of his head. Felt a rippling, a roping, and scratched. The words subsided at least long enough for him to stand upright in front of the mirror.
What of me, then, he thought. He had wanted to fight. To use that pinch of rage at the side of his brain against those who deserved it. So was the motto of a vigilante and as such seemed the perfect fit. When they began to enforce the rules, he felt wary. He already knew he had gone too far the first time. By the third, the words were stuck in a loop, wedged somewhere between his earring and the end of time.
The verdict would be unsurprising. When they asked him at the last meeting what he had to say, the words spoke for him. Tumbled out of their perch and slid right out of his mouth.
They had gasped.
This is not what we do.
WWBD, What Would Batman Do, he could see it written on the stall behind him now. A code of ethics loosely applied across the board but applied as strong as skin glue in particular cases. This case.
If but he could stay in this bathroom…the running water, the grimy sink walls, the one florescent light blinking just enough to make him wonder about an eye twitch, the too-short wooden doors made for children of God…children who were taught about good and bad. See, there was a line.
They hide in the back, he thought as he ran a hand up the bottom of his skull. Smooth skin between patchy scabs and all he could feel were waves of eels whispering those words. He couldn’t see and so he felt and then it was four months later. With the faucet in a steady cascade, he shouted into the void of such a holy mess,
I WANT TO KILL BAD PEOPLE.
And then, the other words, the words of the others, three, six, maybe 10 times,