Jason:

Leon and me go way back. I was still an officer on the streets when we first met. He was just a kid with grand ideas about being a hero and saving the world. I told him he shoulda stayed a cop but he didn't listen; and now he's gone bonkers and still doing his job. If I was still a cop I wouldn't get it. And it scares me that I get it, because it means that I could go bonkers too.

I met Leon back in the city when I was still patrolling some pretty mean streets. It was midnight or so when I heard the sound of clanging. It was the sound that old and emplty metallic trashcans made when they hit the concrete. Way too much noise for an alley cat. I sprinted toward the commotion, rounded the corner of a building and stopped cold. A hulk of a man was pointing a gun at a young lady up against the alley wall. The silver glint of his weapon reflected off the dim yellow light. He really didn't need the gun to be intimidating.

He seemed to be around seven feet tall and four feet wide shoulder-to-shoulder. The shadows in the alley wrapped around him and only made him appear larger. He also had that hungry look in his eyes; the kind that ignored the handbag that the woman was desperately offering and drilled holes through the lady's dress. He was at that moment distracted by the clanging, looking away from the woman in annoyance. I think I yelled "Freeze!" or something else equally useless as I pulled my own pistol. The man only considered the command for a split second.

He spun in slow-motion with his finger on the trigger. Fire you moron and aim high. I fired three times. All that training at the academy came back to me in that moment. Fire in succession, cluster your shots; one in the head, two in the upper chest. The hulk fell in slow-motion as well. And I swear to you I felt the ground shake when he finally slammed into it.

I must have stood there like an idiot for a little too long because the lady let out a small cough. She had sank down and curled herself protectively into a ball as soon as the gun had pointed away from her face. She must have recovered from the intial shock now and looked at me expectantly. He's dead right? So stop standing in your shooting stance and put your weapon away. Idiot!

I must have fumbled with my weapon or relaxed my tension in an awkward fashion because the young lady snickered at me as she held up hand to cover a tiny grin. I then realized that it wouldn't be worth much to act cool or suave so I decided to march over slowly with large jerky motions and a silly expression plastered on my face. The effect was immediate. She leaned back and burst out laughing. She then quickly tried to recover her composure by covering her smile with one hand, but her eyes betrayed amusement.

When I got close I dropped to one knee to make myself small. "Are you ok?"

She nodded timidly.

"My name is Officer Jason Kite. What's yours?"

"Kate."

"What do you have there Kate?" I gestured to her other hand, the one clutching something in her purse. She slowly removed her hand and unclentched. It was a small, high-grade mace can. And I stared at awe at the object for some time. That particular model had been outlawed because the chemicals could cause permanent damage to the retina. I let out a low whistle.

It was then that I felt cold steel against the back of my head. Gun barrel. The voice that spoke next wasn't the hulk, but a new one. He asked a simple question. "Good cop or bad cop?"

Kate answered for me. "Good cop... I can tell."

The gun barrel pulled back and I jerked my head around. This was how I met Leon. Jet-black hair and a pair of deep set dark-brown eyes stared back at me. The alley had gone strangely quiet and I guessed that he was behind the creation of the clanging noise. He wore all black and his lean figure was accentuated by the tight-fitting shirt. I decided to return his greeting with a question. "Friend or Foe?"

He smiled. "Friend, Officer Jason Kite, if you decide to ignore the mace and tell no one that you met me." Leon then dropped the gun next to its original owner, the fallen hulk. He wore black gloves and I knew there would be no trace on the gun that he discarded. Vigilante.

"I didn't catch your name."

Leon smiled again as he helped the lady to her feet. "That's because I didn't give it to you. Which means, Officer Jason Kite, I have an advantage at this point in time." He then gave me a strange look before vanishing into the neon glow of the city with a lady under one arm.


Leon gave me that same look as he stepped away from our mystery lady in red and approached. It was a look that I have come to understand as meaning: I have found something intriguing. "Ok, Leon. What is it?"

"Where is her blood-red purse?"

"How can you be sure she had a purse?", I asked.

"Men have pockets. Women have purses."

"Ok lets say that she did have a purse. The killer probably took it and dumped it. It could be anywhere."

Leon smiled. "Not anywhere. Do you have a topographic map?"

"Yeah. Why? What are you thinking?"

"I've got a hunch."