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Diary of a teenage superhero

Rambo, John J

Jul 29, 2001
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Diary of a teenage superhero.


I’ve been training for over half a year now, and I’m starting to think that I’m never gonna be ready for this gig. Its funny, when I started, I was so….so sure of what I had to do. I’m not making much sense here, am I? I’ll start with the basics, my name’s Marty, I’m a student, I have a part-time job, and in my spare time I’m training to be a superhero. Not like Spider-Man or Batman standard superhero mind (heh, I can just see ol’ Spidey trying to web out to West Belfast, that’d be some sight, given that the highest building is about three storeys) , just….trying to do my bit to make the world, or at least my part of it, a bit safer. I suppose the best way for me to explain my reasons would be to start at the beginning…

I actually can’t remember the exact date, which is surprising, given that this is when the whole thing started. All I know for sure is that it was around mid January, and the only reason I know that is because I had university exams coming up. All told, it was a real ****ty night, dark, pissing rain and freezing gusts of wind. I’d been at a mate’s house up in Stranmillis Road, in the University area of town and was on my way home. Like I said, it was a dismal night weather wise and didn’t have enough taxi money, so I was walking the four and a half miles to my house. My shoulders were haunched, hands deep in pockets, and my monkey hat over my ears, trying desperately to retain some semblance of warmth within my layers of clothing when I heard a woman scream. I stopped walking, frozen in midstep. I imagine it looked quite comical, like a cute animal caught in the headlights of a mach truck. The woman screamed again. I remember thinking something along the lines of ‘so this is what a real scream sounds like’. Not that I’ve never heard a scream before, but you know how in movies they’re always so melodramatic. I was halfway between Malone Road and Lisburn Road, two busy main roads, but there are a number of side streets in between.
Now, this is where it gets a bit hazy, cause this is usually the part of the book (or movie) where the hero comes across a woman in distress, single-handedly beats seven shades of ****e out of her attacker(s) without breaking a sweat and then has her fall in love with him. By the end of the book (or movie) they’re shagging like rabbits. But this wasn’t a book (or movie). It was real, and it was happening right now.
After a third scream, I came to my senses and ran towards the general vicinity of the screamer. I got to the end of the street and peeked round the corner to see what appeared to be a woman being held down by one guy while another was unbuckling his belt. I almost crapped my pants right there. This was real, it was happening right in front of me. Two guys were about to rape a woman and I was terrified because I didn’t know what to do. Options raced through my head like lightening. Help her, Run away, Call the police….i had no clue what to.

I Just re-read that there, and I have to confess that yes, for a brief second I considered the option of simply turning around and walking away as if I’d seen nothing.

I got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. You know the one that everyone goes on about but can never properly describe? The sick feeling. Like a mishmash of fear, depression, terror, shock and adrenaline. I thought I’d felt like that once before, when my mum caught me reading a porn magazine back when I was about 15, but this feeling was a hundred times more intense. I almost did it. Almost decided to play it safe and back away. Out of sight, out of mind so to speak. The guy who was holding the girl down had his back to me, while the other was slightly turned away. The guy unbuckling his belt now had his jeans halfway pulled down. The woman had been trying to back away, and I could see her face in the cast of the overhead streetlight. I heard her mumble ‘No, no, no…’ over and over, like she was trying, not only to convince her would-be rapists to leave her alone, but also as if she was denying the very fact of the event itself. There were tears streaming down her face, and I saw properly that she couldn’t have been more then 20 or so. This was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s girlfriend. I thought of my own girlfriend, and something in me just snapped. Cliché I know, but any fear I had simply vanished. Not drained away, not faded. Vanished. Poof! As if it had never existed.
I don’t know why, but I pulled my hat down so that it was almost covering my eyes and kept my head low, so that my face was in shadow. I darted forward pretty much before I knew what I was doing and kicked semi-naked guy from behind, right between the legs. Before he could crumple to the ground, I pivoted and kicked the other guy in the face, snapping his head back. He fell onto his back and I kicked him in the side. I was about to kick him again, when I realised he was out cold. The first guy was bent double, holding his groin, so he didn’t see me swing back to give him the mother of all uppercuts. He slumped to the ground, still holding his crotch. The whole thing must have taken about 3 or 4 seconds. I breathed heavily, my breath ragged and shaky, relief setting in. To tell you the truth, up until that night, I’d never been in a real fight before.
The woman was still lying on the ground, eyes closed and sniffling softly. I held out my hand and squeaked – George McFly style - ‘Are you ok?’ Yeah. Real smooth. The girl opened her eyes and looked at the two limp forms on the ground then up at me, taking it all in. I coughed to clear my throat, then lowered my voice slightly. ‘Miss, are you alright?’ She nodded, and took my hand. She pulled herself up, but avoided looking at me directly. When she got to her feet, she turned and ran away. She was gone round the corner so fast, a bystander would have sworn it was me who tried to rape her. I stepped back, slightly put out, but elation was beginning to creep in. Like I said, I’ve never been in a real fight before, save sparring matches at my local ju-jitsu club, so this (although I had surprise and blind luck on my side) was one hell of a first victory. I turned round and looked down at the two guys, savouring my feat. It was almost a minute before I realised that I recognised the one who was half naked. His name was Gerard, and he was my best friend. I turned and ran.

I sprinted full out for a good five minutes, not really caring where I was going, just…running. Shortness of breath eventually got the better of me and I stopped at a bench just outside a chemists. I sunk to the ground and lowered my head between my knees, clasping my hands behind me head. This wasn’t happening. Gerard was my friend! I thought of last week, we’d been downtown clubbing and a girl standing beside us had been rejecting some other fella all night. Eventually he got quite nasty about it and Gerard stepped in and said ‘I think you’re finished with her.’ The fella tried to square up to Gerard, but Gerard just calmly looked at him, and the guy backed off. Gerard grinned at me and turned to the girl. ‘I think you’ll be alright now. Ok?’ She smiled in relief at him, that was that. I thought of that night, then of what I had just seen. That wasn’t Gerard back there. It couldn’t be, he wasn’t like that. Hell, he’s the ladies man out of out little group of friends! It didn’t make sense for him to rape someone. But a voice inside me said, ‘It was Gerard, and you know it.’ I shook my head, it wasn’t, it couldn’t be! But it was, and I did know it. I’d seen it with my own eyes.
After an age of sitting there on the ground, I stumbled to my feet and went to a pay phone and dialled 999. When the operator came on, I remember exactly what I said, not so much of the words, but because of how hollow…defeated they sounded. ‘Police. There’s been an attempted rape. Corner of Park Street and Sandy Avenue.’ Then I hung up and ran home.

The days after that were a blur. The girl came forward and told the police what had happened. It actually made the papers, you might remember reading about it. Something about rape cases in university area escalating. The police had picked up Gerard and his friend but had let them go that night. But when the girl came forward, they were rearrested and the girl picked them out of line-ups.
All I could think about was how I could have been so wrong. I thought I’d known Gerard. We’d been friends since primary school and knew virtually all there was to know about each other. It was that that got me to thinking some more. How can any of us truly know everything about someone else? In fact, how can any of us truly know everything about ourselves? For the next few weeks, I became very introspective, pondering things like this, brooding and withdrawn. Any time someone asked what was wrong, I just grinned and said I had a tough university course. Even that made me think. The fact that it was so easy for someone else to believe whatever lie you spin them, as long as it sounds plausible. I’m sorry, I’m rambling here, trying to describe what my thoughts were back then, because maybe you’ll understand what I did next. Suffice to say, I felt betrayed. But also, I blamed myself, for not knowing that Gerard was like that. Had I been a better judge of character, I might have been able to prevent Gerard from doing what he was going to do.

After a while of this introspection, brooding and general depression, I came to a decision – something had to be done.

Well, its been a while since I wrote in this. Last time I wrote I was still pretty….unsure…I guess would be the correct word to use. Unsure of me, unsure of what I was doing, unsure of pretty much everything. As things stand now, I’m slightly les unsure. Let me bring you up to speed so far. Things seem to be coming together vis-à-vis my ‘awakening’ almost a year ago. Christ – has it actually been that long? In that time I’ve been training pretty much non-stop. I’m now stronger, faster (no, I’m not the bionic man) and like I said, slightly more sure of myself than I was this time last year.

My training regime consists of going to the gym most days and doing a split training routine with heavy weights. Evenings, I attend various martial arts classes. I am now fairly proficient in Ju-Jitsu, Karate, and Kung Fu. I also go to rock-climbing classes, more for strength and endurance training that anything.

I’ve been reading ****loads too. I was always an avid reader, but before it was usually science fiction, horror, fantasy or thereabouts. Now I’ve been reading everything I can about psychology, chemistry, etc. Anything that will increase my overall knowledge. I read the newspapers a hell of a lot more now as well. Not the ****ty tabloids like the Mirror or the Sun, but actual real newspapers. I attended a seminar by Derren Brown a while back. He’s the guy on channel 4 who can practically read other people’s minds and tell what they are thinking just by looking at them. I took a hell of a lot of notes during that seminar, trying to get as much info as possible. I even tried to speak to him afterwards, but no dice. As it is, I practiced the techniques he suggested and I think I’m getting pretty good at reading body language, facial expressions and the rest. He also gave techniques for increasing ones memory capacity, and I’ve gotta say, they work big time. I could read a newspaper cover to cover and come away knowing the finer details of each article. Not just knowing them, but retaining them in my mind.

Ok, this all sounds a bit weird so far, but basically what I’m saying is that I am now smarter, stronger and more capable than this time a year ago. Its funny, this time last year, I wouldn’t have been able to name two politicians. Now I can name them all, (in every major country) as well as their spouses, children, and what they’ve been up to in recent months. I can recite the periodic table and give properties of each element, as well as what happens when elements are combined. I can now bench-press 250 lbs quite easily, and I can tell what a person is thinking about just by watching them for a few minutes.

So what else has happened? Well, I’m now single again. I got dumped rather harshly about a month ago due to the fact that I was becoming taciturn, morose and uncommunicative. And here I thought women went wild for the strong silent type. To be honest, it didn’t really bother me anyway, the relationship was going nowhere, and I couldn’t really talk to her anyway.

All this training (both physical and mental) has had an unforeseen maturing effect on me as well. Whereas before I would have been the life of the party, I now prefer to sit and listen, and observe. The result being that I’m not invited to as much parties anymore. I get the impression that people who knew me before now think that I’m depressed or something. Again though, I find myself not really caring, I’ve already been betrayed once by a friend, better that it doesn’t happen again. Having said all that though, I’m still a mess inside. I just……I just don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. There are times when it seems as though a pause button is pressed and I’m able to step back and ask myself just what the hell am I doing? Fortunately, those times are becoming less and less frequent.

I think I’m almost ready to go out and……I dunno, do my thing I suppose. There was a girl raped in my part of the town over the weekend there. The area she was in is about a five minute walk from my house. I could have stopped it if I’d been there. If I’d known. It’s almost time.

Hmmm, just less than a month since my last entry. One day i'll maybe write in this every day.

Things aren't going to well. I've been training harder, longer and more intensely than ever, but i still have this impression that i'm not ready. I've avoided writing in this. I guess because i knew that once i wrote, i would have to come clean about why i haven't been going out. ....I'm afraid.

No, not just afrid, scared ****less. I don't even know if i know what i'm doing anymore. Sometimes i think i should just pack it in and go join the police or something. Be a doctor, a fireman, i dunno.

And yet.... theres also a part of me saying that this is the only way, and then ... there is no fear. I don't even know what it is exactly that i'm afraid of. Is it of failing? If so, then i should never have started training. Maybe i'm afraid to get hurt. Could that be it? I don't know. I don't think so. I don't know if i can do this.

I don't know.

(early morning)

Disregard everything i said in the last entry.

I was out tonight. I didn't mean to go out, but a friend (one of the few i had left) phoned to see if i wanted to go out for a drink. I said yeah more out of self pity than anything, i just wanted to stop being so down, so i figured maybe a night out (sans booze of course) might help me perk up a bit. Funny, my friends still think i drink like a fish when in fact i've been stone cold sober for about a year now. Theres been a few moments when i've had to pretend that i'm drunk, or that i'm drinking - and let me tell you, its a lot harder to convince people than Bruce Wayne makes it look.

Anyway, like i said, we went out and went to a bar near his house called the eg. A real student bar, so i was jusr aiming to have a bit of a laugh (even though i don't find many things funny these days) and enjoy myself.

Anyuway, i'm digressing. The night in the eg was pretty much as i expected. i.e. the crowd i was with all getting plastered and staggering home for a house party while i slipped off. I hadn't intended to go walkabout, but i found myself wandering the streets aimlessly. The weather was (and still is outside)pretty miserable, and I remember thinking that it seemed familiar. Amazing that i didn't make the connection til just now that it was almost the exact same as last year. Anyway, i ended up circling back to the eg, mainly to find myself a taxi and go home and call it a night. I was approaching the eg from behind, in a street called Chlorine Gardens, when i heard a bit of a scuffle ahead of me. You know what i mean. A muffled grunt, not too loud, but just the right side of plaintitive for me to vault over the garden wall i'd been passing. Straight away, i heard the padding of footsteps running past me, back the way i had come. The guy's breathing was raggedy. Terrified. I wasn't doing much better myself. A shout came from the direction he'd come from from,
'Get back here you f--k!!' Another set of feet ran past me, quickly followed by two more. Three guys after one. There was no thought involved, i jumped back into the street and ran after them.

I didn't catch up with them although it would've been easy to do so. Instead, i kept pace, gaining on them ever so slightly. They chased their would-be victim up chlorine gardens, to where it elbow bends to the left. On the right hand side of the road there, there are steps leading to the university library and the chasee veered for them. I almost shouted at him not to, i knew he wouldn't make it. The two slower guys didn't appear to be all that fit (although they did look like big muscle-bound freaks) but the first one was almost on top of the littler guy. The head honcho caught up with the little guy at the top of the steps and grabbed him by the collar, pulling him over to the library entrance. I saw him punching the little guy a few times in the face, then the stomach while the other two caught up.

There are bushes either side of the steps to the library, and i decided to sneak through them rather than attack these guys head on. As i got closer, I heard the head guy say to the little fella something about money and mobile phone as the other two held on either side of the little guy so he couldn't get away. I've seen muggings before. Hell, i've even ben a victim before when i was in Barcelona during my tour-de-spain with a couple of friends a few years back. but there are muggings and there are muggings. This was looking to be particularly nasty. The little fella (and he was indeed quite diminutive) was bleeding all down his face and over his jacket. I could see why the trio had singled him out, not only was he very slight, but he just....i dunno, looked the part of the victim. Thick glasses, nerdish demeanour - real Peter Parker lookalike. He was crying too. Probably a fresher out for a few beers with his mates, not looking for trouble.

That really pissed me off. The fact that there are always ****wits who want to start trouble. As i emerged from the bushes, the head pulled a switchblade out of his pocket. I blanched. Not from fear you understand - that had been replaced by sheer rage moments before - but from the pure inhumanness of it. There was no point in stabbing the little guy! (pun not intended by the way).

I walked out silently and, still unnoticed by the quartet, walked over to the head honcho with the knife. Just after one of his cronies spotted me, but before he said anything, i high-kicked at the guys hand, and sent the knife flying. He turned and lunged for me without pause. He was fast. But not as fast as me. I pivoted on my right foot, letting him sail right past me and down the steps with a little nudge from me to help him on his way. The crony on the left i downed with a snap kick with my left leg to his kidney, and the crony on the right i sent flying with a roundhouse kick straight to the solar plexus. The time it takes you to read that sentance is probably about how long it took for me to take out all three of them. About three seconds. In fact, it was over so fast i was almost disappointed. Almost. More than anything i was releived that it had gone so smoothly. I had reacted and relied purely on technique and it had been almost as if i'd done nothing at all. I wasn't even sweating. The little guy looked dumbly at the two lying beside him, them walked over and peered down the steps at the ringleader. Then he turned to me with this huge ****-eating grin on his face like it was christmas, easter and his birthday all rolled into one and i swear, it was the most amazing feeling ever. 'YEE--AAAhhhAAAAA!!!!!!' he howled down at the ringleader who was also out for the count. 'You like that you dumb ****ing animal!!?' he crowed, turning back to scream down the steps in disgust. Then he, i dunno, sorta sagged and bent over, sobbing. I thought for a second that i'd been too late, and that maybe the head honcho had been able to stab him somehow without me seeing it, but the little fella straightened up again and looked at me, this time in amazement. 'How did you...?' he broke off, indicating the three guys. 'I've never seen anything like that in all my life!' He pulled out his mobile phone and dialled (the cops i assume). As soon as i saw the phone, i pulled a fast fade, i don't even think the little fella saw me leave until he looked round again, but by then, i was just part of the shadows.

To summarise, my first official victory as a teenage superhero happened tonight. I feel great. I feel born again. I feel ....sure.
Originally posted by Rambo, John J
Cheers Ryoko. :) Glad you like it.
Sure did....

....(you know, not many people would be brave enough to put thir diary on the internet ;) )
Originally posted by Ryoko
Sure did....

....(you know, not many people would be brave enough to put thir diary on the internet ;) )

Well you know, not everyone is a teenage superhero. ;)

Glad you like it. Anyone else have any constructive criticism?
That was cool. Iv'e never read anything like that. A superhero diary man thats freaking brilliant. BUt i hate you, cause you thought of it first!:mad:
j/k. Thats was dam goood but one thing. He's a teenage superhero but yet no parents? no siblings? were's the family?
Originally posted by B-bot
That was cool. Iv'e never read anything like that. A superhero diary man thats freaking brilliant. BUt i hate you, cause you thought of it first!:mad:
j/k. Thats was dam goood but one thing. He's a teenage superhero but yet no parents? no siblings? were's the family?

Wait til the next instalment...;)
16th December 2002

I've been thinking lately a lot about what i'm doing. I've been going out nightly since the second of December. In that time i've helped exactly 17 people. Some of them have been thankful, most are in shock, or scared. Again, the exhilaration i feel having saved someone (is that cliche or what?) is indescribable, and its at those moment when i feel completely sure and certain that what i'm doing is the right thing. But its times like now, when i think, and reflect, that i feel most unsure.

Lately (like right now) I've been thinking because i don't know what good i'm doing exactly. I've helped 17 people, but thats been due to nothing more than me being in the right place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time. Whatever. Fact is, i've just been lucky. How many more have there been who i could've helped had i been better informed? At the minute i just go out and go to the busiest bars around the city centre or university area, depending what day of the week it is. I hang around nearby til they empty and most people go home. Most but not all. There's generally the few that stick around just itching to find someone, anyone to victimise.

Christ. I'm typing this, and i know that this isn't the thing thats bothering me. I'm trying to help people. I'm trying to stop other people get hurt, get stabbed, raped, or god knows what. But where do i draw the line? Who do i choose to help and who not to help? Do i choose? Can I? I don't think so. At least, i don't think that i have the right to choose one person over anyone else. If one person is in trouble, or in pain, or whatever, for whatever reason, then its my duty to help that person. At least, thats what i told myself when i started, and its what i tell myself now. But what about people who aren't being attacked at night? What about people who just suffer because life has dealt them a real ****ty hand? The homeless? The jobless? Depressed people?

Maybe its just cause of the time of year it is that i feel....like this. I just feel like i could be doing more. That i should be doing more. Or perhaps doing things differently. Which brings me slowly (but surely and ever so relentlessly) to the heart of whats bothering me.

Like i said, i go out just about every night now. My family (i.e. my parents - to whom i have to answer as to my whereabouts at any given moment) i tell that i am going out with friends from Uni. Or from work, or with someone i haven't seen in a while. I tell them that i'm going out to a bar, club, whatever. I've been doing that every night for the past month. Maybe you can begin to appreciate my problem. For me to be able to go out every night of the week (almost) means that my parents now think that i'm becoming this raging alcoholic student, with no direction and no purpose. A layabout, content to do as little as possible, and - as my dad so eloquently put it when he gave me a stern lecture on the nature of responsibility (like i don't read enough Spider-man) 'You drift through life like a spoiled child'(He was going to to say 'spoiled ****', but my dad's never been one for profanity - don't know what happened to me).

Now, myself and my dad have never seen eye to eye, we've never been close, but to think that he has this unspeakably low opinion of me is killing me inside. The worst part is, i can't tell him, i can't tell anyone what i do. So for all intents and purposes, i am just another student bum, out for a good time, plenty of beers and nothing else. My mum was part of the 'discussion' and even now, i can still see vividly the expression of pure disappointment on her face. It was bad enough when they thought i was depressed, but now its just.....horrible.

And from that, i began to think about how much I was hurting them. And that wasn't a happy thought. Like i said, i want to help people who need help, i want to ease suffering. But what about the suffering i inflict on others? My parents? Family? Is that not the same? Or worse? I don't know what to do. I know that by going out at nights i help people, strangers,and when i do, i feel incredible; but i also increase suffering in others, my family, loved ones, people who deserve better, and that feeling is equally just as bad. I can't tell them what i do at night, nor can i continue the charade of being a 24-7 party animal. And stopping what i'm doing isn't an option. If i hadn't been doing what i've been doing, 17 people would have died.

Maybe i should move out.
I love this story.

I mean, that it would be for a Real Life Super-hero.
31st December, 2002

I wondered how long it would take the media to twig on to my 'nocturnal activities' and give me a name. Now i know - exactly 27 days. I was pretty busy over the Christmas period, surprisingly, actually, i thought that it would a rather quite time of year - season of goodwill and all that. Last night, i was (god i hate to use this word) patrolling downtown ( to be more accurate, the University area, i don't go into the city centre much, there are more than enough CCTV cameras there to watch over people) and i'd just stopped a gang of thugs mugging a couple of would-be victims, a boyfriend and girlfriend, probably walking home after a night out. Now when i say stopped, all i did was scale over 12 ft high railings and vault down so that i landed between the gang and the victims ( i like to make an entrance) whereupon the gang (there were four of them) took one look at me, turned, and ran.

If only all my nights were like that. However, i was about to pull my usual fast fade routine when the girl said
'Its you? isn't it?'

I backed away, keeping my head low and face hidden, trying to find some shadows in the stark glare of the orange street lamps. I said nothing. The girl persisted, 'Its you! I know about you, you saved my friend when she was out on friday two weeks ago.'

I took another step back, sunk my head even lower. I should have ran. The longer i stayed, the more the couple would remember about me, but something held me there. I needed to know what was being said about me. If nothing more than for confirmation from an external source that i actually am doing some good.

The girl continued, 'It was outside Vico's, you stopped her ex-boyfriend beating her up?'

I still said nothing, although i remembered the incident quite well. One of my few forays into the city centre, a guy was hitting his girlfriend outside a club (beating her up quite badly now that i think about it - in fact, she was brought to hospital with extensive internal injuries - as was her boyfriend after my intervention) but like i said, there really are too many cameras there for me to operate efficiently.

'You were dressed all in black, like you are now?' She prompted. She stepped closer, trying to get a better look at me. Incidentally, i have no real costume or uniform. I wear loose black pants and a black long sleeve t-shirt. No mask. If its cold enough, sometimes i wear a monkey hat. I'm cursing myself for not wearing one last night. My hair is quite long, not long hippy, ponytail long, but longish. And spiky. Truth be told, it looks like adult Gohan from Dragonball Z. How sad is that?

But i'm getting off the point. The girl was no more than a few feet away from me, fortunately, i'd found enough of a shadow underneath a tall hedge and some of my hair had flopped over my face so that she couldn't see much of my features. I didn't mean to say anything, but she was getting way to close for comfort. The guy was just standing there, gawking, trying to get a good look as well.

I whispered hoarsely 'Behind you'. She looked, and turned back to me, but by then, i was brushing past her, on her right hand side, keeping her between me and her boyfriend so that he couldn't see me properly. As i passed, i whispered into her ear (and i swear, i have no idea what i was thinking) 'I hope your friend gets better.' Then i turned the corner, hopped over a wall, and was away. Last thing i heard was her calling for me to stop, and then, (unexpectedly) a thank you.

The whole way home, i was again ecstatic at how the night had gone, but also annoyed with myself for remaining so long. Still, it is nice to know that what i do is appreciated. Overall, it had been a good night.

Until i woke up this morning.

Irish News, front page: Mysterious Man in Black rescues couple from assault.

Local radio stations have been having call in sessions all day about the 'mystery saviour' who dresses in black and who has been seen no less than 12 times in the last month. Funnily enough, i'm actually wondering what took them so long. Guess i shouldn't have lingered for so long last night after all. So there we have it, my new superhero name.

The Man in Black.
Originally posted by Scruffie
Man in Black? Cool... but what is a monkey hat?

they're just plain woollen hats that can be rolled up or rolled down over your face depending on how you like to look. As to why they're called monkey hats, i have no idea...
I just call them Wooly Hats.

Um, who exactly calls them Monkey hats anyway?
11th January 2003

You know what i hate most about this? (By this, i mean my double life) The fact that it really is, in every sense of the word a double life. Its like i've totally compartmentalised every and any aspect of my life. There is one group of people who see one aspect or part of me (my family and friends) and out there, at night, there are people who see a completely different person.

I hate this.

Well no, i don't, not really. I just wish that the double life didn't make things so complicated. I have practically no social life now at all. I've had to blow off family and friends at the last minute numerable times, and on top of that, i have to lie constantly to them. I've never had a problem with telling a few white lies now and again, but this....this is unreal. I have to fabricate an entire portion of my life, just to get by in the other portion. I feel like a kid who tells his parents that he's sleeping in his friends house, while telling his friend that hes not allowed to come over so that he can go out with someone else unknown to either the parents or the friend. Does that make sense?

Whats particularly worrying is how easily the lies and deceit come to me. The lecture i went to (that one by Derren Brown) included a session about lying. Basically, the bottom line was that in order to lie convincingly, you have to beleive the lie yourself. And thats pretty much what i have to do. I have to be so convincing in my lies so as to actually beleive myself that the bull**** i'm spoting actually happened. Like i said, its not the worst thing in the world, it just.....i dunno, saddens me really to see how easily duplicitous i can be.

I have no-one to talk to, no-one to share my problems with cause, lets face it, i don't really have 'normal' problems. This bothers me slightly more than i thought it would. I always considered myself to be a bit of a loner anyway, even when i was out with a crowd of mates, but actually not having anyone to talk to at all about anything is just.....unnatural.

Anyway, on a slightly more upbeat level, the 'Man in Black' struck again last night. The Man in Black. Fantastic. I love that name. It reminds me of the opening sentence of Stephen Kings Dark Tower series. Heh, i actually have an honest to god, bona-fide superhero name! How cool is that?

I've been pretty much doing the same thing over and over, going out 'patrolling' (ggrrr!) staying mainly around the University area and saving people from getting beaten up, or worse. Its been pretty awkward recently, what with newspapers and radio stations staging muggings so that they can catch me in action. Idiots. Like i haven't memorised the face of every single journalist in the country. So far, i've been trying to keep pretty low key, putting wannabe hoods down quickly then getting the hell outta dodge before anyone (either the victim or the hoods) know whats going on. There's still been a few newspaper stories though. In fact, i think i instigated a (rather heated) radio debate on the rights and wrongs of vigilantisim.

I've been thinking about maybe getting a weapon of some sort. Not just a weapon. An arsenal. (of sorts). Time maybe to step things up a notch. Really put the fear of god into those who are thinking of hurting someone else.
23 January 2003

Agh.... forget about that last entry, i was just givin' off a wee bit. Maybe i'm depressed. Gotta admit though, it would be pretty handy if i could lug about a whole arsenal with me at night. I could probably take perps out a whole lot quicker with a weapon than just my bare hands. (I'd probably end up causing them a lot more damage too, so i'll most likely forego that option)

It just feels like at the minute, i just can't get enough done, no matter how hard i try. I mean, take for instance the other night (18th) i was out, it was a wet, windy night (are there any other kinds here in NI i wonder) and all told, pretty productive. I prevented a few people from being attacked and i did it quite quickly and efficiently - quick in and out. (I've been trying to keep a low profile after the whole media thing. Its not been as active the past week, but i don't particularly relish the fact that there are people actively trying to find out who i am.)
Anyway, nothing of much consequence happened and i went home feeling pretty satisfied with how the night had gone. Woke up the next day to headlines about 'youth stabbed outside club', 'Couple injured in bar fight' ...etc. Worst thing was the one about the guy (16 years old too! No more than a kid!) stabbed outside the club. The club was 'the parlour', and i'd been around that area all night and i didn't even know it had happened til the next day! Whats more, is that the kid was dressed all in black. I feel really guilty. Was this my fault? I just.....i think that maybe i'm not being as smart about this whole thing as i could be. I thought it was great that i was doing the whole 'superhero' vigilante thing, but it just feels like no matter what i do it'll never be enough.

At the minute i go after street thugs, the garden-variety type ****ers who think that beating the crap out of someone is a real fun way to spend the night, but lately i've been considering taking things up a notch. Its no secret that organised crime is rife in the city, we've all sorts of groups here just dying (literally in some cases) for a piece of the action. Corruption, extortion, bribery, people turning a blind eye, i hear about this sort of ****e every single day, and it just sickens me that theres never anything done about it. I wouldn't even be doing anything myself, but its just, at least this way i might be doing more good (potentially) than i would otherwise.

I've also been (slowly) rebuilding some semblance of a social life again. Go me. Frankly, doing nothing else but going out and, well,basically busting a few heads for lack of a better phrase, night after night was really beginning to get me down. I've been out a couple of times in the last week, and to be honest, both times i had a really great time. I wasn't drinking (still teetotal) but i didn't realise just how much i'd missed just going out and having a laugh with a few mates. Both nights were good craic, but it's Funny, i actually felt guilty about not being out on the streets, so both times i went patrolling afterwards. As well as that, i just couldn't help but check out and analyse every. single. person. in. the. club. Essentially, what i mean is similar to scouting for chicks, but in this case, i was scouting for potential, well... threats. I just couldn't help it!

In any case, i did have a good time both nights, despite distractions, and it was good to act like my old self again. Thing is,....it was just an act. I can act like my old self, hell, i can even have fun doing it, but its not me anymore. And i know that. For example, i got chattin' to some bird and was busy being my old cocky, ball-busting self (my usual routine when i used to chat up girls) but all the while, i just wasn't really into it. I was too busy observing the rest of the bar, scanning for ********s..... and spotting the lies she was telling me. I've gotten pretty good at that, just...observing people and their expressions and body language. This girl was telling me about her travels around Australia and New Zealand and all through it, i knew she was talking pure crap. I guess ignorance really is bliss sometimes. However, its good to know that i can still revert to my old self as an act when i need to. In fact, i'm thinking i might do that more often, to stop myself from going insane if for nothing else. Anyway, off out now to see if i can get something done tonight.
17th Feb 2003

Again its been a while since i wrote in this. Not that i've avoided it or anything, i've just been pretty busy with uni and things, but more on that later.
I've kinda got something planned for later on tonight. I've been working on this for a couple of weeks now and tonight is when its all going to either work out and help a lot of people....or get me killed. I don't want to say too much about it at the minute save for the fact that i'm absolutely ****ting myself. This is way more ambitious than just targeting low level street hoods. This...... this is big.

Confused? I'll bet you are. Don't worry, all will be explained when (if?) i come back.
21 feb 2003

Ok, well.... Monday night went pretty much according to plan, and by that i mean i didn't end up getting myself killed. Unfortunately i did end up with a number of injuries.

Injury number 1: Two cracked ribs.

Injury number 2: Dislocated knuckle on my right hand

Injury number 3: Knife gash on my left shoulder.

Injury number 4: Concussion

I am in a ****load of pain.

The build up to Monday night began almost three weeks ago, i'd been out at a local shop buying a few odds and ends for my mum (milk, cigarettes etc) on (surprise) a monday (the third of feb), and it was pretty late. I'd actually been planning to go on out afterwards and do a bit of patrolling. However, it was just after 11pm, and i was lucky enough to convince the owner to let me in just before she closed up for the night - amazing what a bit of sweet talking will do to a woman in her late 60's. As i walked to the back of the shop - (incidentally, the shop in question is the spar on the main andersonstown road) - i heard the jangle of the bell over the door. I assumed another customer had also managed to persuade the owner to let them in for a last minute purchase, but after i got the carton of milk from the fridge at the back and was about to make my way up to the front i stopped. Not too sure why exactly, it just felt...wierd - like the atmosphere in the shop had changed. There are three ceiling height aisles that extend from the front to the back of the shop, first aisle has cereals, breads, hardware etc, second aisle has tinned food, bottles, frozen food etc, and the third aisle has all cosmetic products - shampoo, etc. At the back, the aisle which runs perpendicular to these three aisles is the butcher counter and dairy cabinets, which was where i was, and which is how i wasn't noticed.

Anyway, i stopped and hid at the back end of the aisle on the right (as you come in the front door) which is also the aisle where the cash register is. I peeked round to see two guys in balaclavas towering (and i do mean towering, these guys were huge!) over the old lady. She was cowering down behind the counter, this look of pure fear on her face. One of the guys held a hurley stick in his hand, the other didn't appear to have anything in his hands, one of which was held out towards the old woman. Just as i was gearing myself to make a move, the old lady handed over a huge wad of cash and the two fellas took off. I was still going to go for them, but as they left, the old lady just, kinda keeled over and collapsed on the counter. I walked over to her to see if she was ok. Even typing that i know how stupid it sounds, obviously she wasn't ok, but i can't really think of another phrase for it. Anyway, She'd fainted but came around after a few minutes. She initially thought i was one of the same guys and it tok a few more minutes for me to convince her otherwise. In between her tears and sobs, she was able to tell me the story of what was happening. Turned out that that these two guys were part of a larger gang that targeted small family-run shops and businesses in this part of the town for 'protection' money. And it also turned out that this had been going on for a number of years.
'Why don't any of you go to the police?' i asked.

Strange, i don't normally think much about how others feel, (in fact i don't think that i'm very good at emoting with other people)but she looked so lost and afraid that i almost began crying myself. She didn't answer, just sat there sobbing and twisting an old hankerchief around in her hands. I asked a few more questions to see if there was anything else she could tell me about the hoods, but she couldn't, or wouldn't, tell me anything more. As i left, the last thing she said was
'don't call the police'.

She needn't have worried, i wasn't going to. I went straight home and started working on a plan.

I spent the following week learning all i could about the shops in the area. History, owners, that sort of thing. I didn't realise til then that all the signs were there that this sort of thing had been occuring regularly. Almost every small shop in the area had changed hands at least twice in the past five years. I called in to the spar a couple of times during the week to see how the old lady was getting on, but other than a polite smile, she didn't acknowledge me at all or let on that she knew me.

The following monday at around half ten, i took my dads car out and parked across the road from the spar, at the gates to the football pitch behind the leisure centre. Although there had been a few people around at about quarter to, at 11, the entire road seemed deserted. I waited there, keeping myself down behind the wheel. As the lights began to get turned out in the spar, two shadows, one carrying a hurley stick emerged from a small alleyway beside the shop. They went in to the shop and came out a few minutes later. They didn't run, but walked quite quickly back up the alley. I got out of the car and was about to jog after them when i heard a car starting, and two beams of light appeared from the alley. I jumped back into my car and started the engine. The car (a blue ford focus - pretty common) pulled out and drove down the Andersonstown Road towards the Falls Road. I tailed behind, and was led to a house up in the Whiterock area. The house was the proverbial 'diamond in the rough.' A large detached house, isolated, the owners obviously very well off in a residential neighbourhood of small, cramped terraced houses. The two guys got out of the car, one of them laughing at something the other had said and went in. I went home, pissed as hell, i'd seen enough.

The next week consisted mainly of me training my ass off harder than i ever have this past year. I hadn't really come up with an effective plan yet to deal with what was happening, matter of fact, i was still having trouble beleiving that racketeering actually happened in this part of the world. Thats the sort of thing you see in The A-Team or something. I mean, i'm not that naive, i was faintly aware that this sort of thing probably happened in belfast, but for it to be happening right under my own nose was something of a wake up call. All week i kept thinking about how strange it was that no-one noticed what went on, week after week. Or perhaps people had noticed but decided to remain uninvolved. Thoughts like that strengthened my resolve that I would do something.

The next Monday (4 days ago) i got my 'uniform' on and took the car out at about 10, saying that i was going to the cinema. I drove to the estate behind the spar and parked. Then walked out to the back garden of one of the houses backing on to the spar and climbed on to the garden wall, then the roof of the spar itself. I looked down at the small patch of wasteland behind the spar and saw the ford focus sitting there. The interior light was on, and i could hear music coming from the radio. At almost 11 exactly, the doors opened and two guys got out and walked round the front. Bingo.

I traversed the roof and looked down as they entered. I swallowed nervously, my heart beating high in my chest - crunch time.

As soon as the door closed behind them, i dropped myself over the edge, swinging as i did so, kicking through the door. The second i was through the door, the two guys spun round, the one directly in front of me holding the hurley stick. He wasted no time and swung in an arc that, had it connected any higher would probably have broken my collar bones. As it was, i jumped back slightly and the hurl hit me broadside across the chest. Intensely painful, i don't recommend it. I recovered and threw a punch to his kidneys which i then followed with a haymaker of a punch to his temple. Fortunately, it hurt him more than me, and he fell. Meantime, the other guy had pulled out a knife and swung it towards me. I dodged to the right, but raised my left shoulder and the knife cut through. He advanced, pressing the advantage, swiping at me with the knife. From the way he swung i could tell that he had experience using it, and for the first time it occured to me that i might actually lose. I stumbled back, holding my bloody shoulder and ducking and dodging to avoid another stab wound. He struck again and again, forcing me back towards the door. Seizing the opportunity, he picked up the hurley stick and began swinging at me with both weapons. It was just my bad luck that the hurley connected first. I was keeping an eye on the knife when he struck me across the head with the hurl. I've never felt anything so painful in all my life. I dropped to one knee, everything a blur. I was seeing double, triple and i had this almost overwhelming urge to puke. It was over. It was then that i looked up and saw the old lady standing pressed against the wall, her expression one of abject terror. Amazingly, that image did wonders to bring things back into focus. I staggered to my feet and gave the guy a small snap kick to the inside of his left thigh, just to delay him for a moment, then i launched myself at him with a flying kick. I was lucky. The kick sent him sailing into the wall behind him, right beside the old doll, and i leapt towards him, swinging both fists with eveything i could muster. I hit him again and again until my hands began to throb with pain. I stopped, and he dropped to the ground alongside his buddy. I staggered to the counter, blood dripping on the floor, and dropped a slip of paper with the address of the house in Whiterock on to it. I said to the old woman 'Do yourself a favour and call the police.' I really wanted to say something grandiose, inspirational. Something that would make a great quote for a Tuesday newspaper headline, but i was just in too much pain to care much about anything apart from getting home. Then i lurched to the door and left. I made it to a phone box and called the police anyway myself before stumbling to the car where i collapsed in agony. I actually think i blacked out for a few minutes outside the car. I got in and somehow drove myself home. Fortunately everyone was in bed so no-one witnessed my pathetic attempt at dressing my stab wound. I crawled to bed and was unconscious within seconds.

I somehow made it to uni the next day, but left early and went to hospital complaining of a sore chest. Subsequent X-ray showed that i had two fractured ribs. I lied and said i'd probably been in a fight at a bar the previous night. I was bandaged, given advice on how to look after myself and also given a stern lecture on drunken brawling by one of the nurses. I've spent the rest of the week trying to avoid physical contact with anyone so that i don't wince in agony any time someone touches me. I've also been getting dizzy spells, although they're not as frequent now as at the start of the week. Two knuckles in my right hand feel as though they've been dislocated, and i'm having trouble taking notes in class. Its agonising to even type this. To top it all off, there appears to be a girl in my class who has decided that i for some reason represent everything that is wrong with men in general and has made no concessions in letting others know it as well. I can only hope that next week will get better.

On the plus side, the Man in Black has been attributed with the exposing of a 'protection racket' in west Belfast. Go me.
22 Feb 2003

I feel like ****. Every move i make is accompanied by pain. Mainly my chest and hand. My shoulder seems to be healing nicely though, guess i did a better job of dressing it than i thought.

I probably didn't convey this very well in my last entry ( i was tired and in immense pain), but the media and newspapers (especially local ones) are going ballistic for the man in black. Everywhere i've looked recently there have been posters and slogans about me. You know the billboards hung outside shops with newspaper headlines? Pretty much all of them have been about me. Every. Single. day. This. Week.

Needless to say, my injuries have prevented me from going out this week at all, so i'm hoping this will die down eventually -although i won't deny that there is a part of me that gets a kick out of seeing stuff like this. My only real regret is that i don't have anyone to talk to about this. Things would be so much easier if i could confide in someone. But i can't. For one thing, i seriously doubt that anyone would understand why i do it. **** it, i don't even really know why i do it myself. They'd probably just think i was a nutball psycho or something, who gets his kicks from beating the crap out of people. Arse.

So what else has been going on with me? Hmmm, not a lot really. I've been hard at work developing my old ****y personality. To be honest, it helps me fit in a bit better wherever i am. Uni, work or whatever. Just basically me being a ****y, arrogant sod, taking the piss outta people and cracking jokes left, right and centre. One of the reasons i can do it so well is probably because i'm just putting it on. If it was for real, i don't think i'd be half as good at it. I think maybe thats why this girl outta my class hates me so much.

Interesting, i never really realised til now how much that bugs me. Shes obviously got this preconceived notion of what i'm like. Well, i suppose thats not really fair to her. It isn't preconceived. Shes got this notion that i'm a jerk because thats pretty much how i act. Although to be to equally fair to me, its not as though i single her out or anything. During the week there, myself and a few guys from the class came across her alone in the studio reading a paper article about - surprise surprise, - myself. As i approached (just to walk past her) she looked up, smirked and said something along the lines of 'At least there's a real man out helping people. Not an arrogant ******** like you.' I responded in kind by grabbing my crotch and saying 'I've got you're real man right here!' Then took the piss out of her by calling her (among other things) a hopeless romantic, mills and boon reading, naive, pathetic little girl. Christ, even thinking about it now, i did overdo it slightly as she left in tears.

In my more reflective moments, i feel horrible for acting like that, but i console myself with the thought that that persona isn't really me - and i was in crippling pain at the time as well, so i was in a bit of a snit anyway. I still felt pretty bad about it, but she seemed to have recovered by thursday when she set about trying to publically humiliate me. Unfortunately for her, it didn't work. I was more concerned with how my shoulder and chest were than to be bothered about people laughing at me.
But she still irks me.

And i'm still in a lot of pain.

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