Hell’s Kitchen is the lie at the heart of the American Dream.
That’s how it feels to me, sometimes. I want to believe-I DO believe-that for everyone who lives here, there’s a measure of truth and hope and justice that they can just reach out and hold in their grasp. Natasha sneers at my optimism. She draws the curtains and points to the hooker working in my alley, the junkie sleeping on my doorstep. She doesn’t say anything, but I know what she’s thinking. “Where’s their hope? Where’s their justice? All I see is that they have more truth than they can deal with.”
Poor Natasha. We were partners, and more. But she never understood me. Child of the Cold War espionage world, mistrust was part of the air she breathed. I know she thought I was naïve.
I’m the way I am out by personal choice. As Matt Murdock, sightless lawyer, I’ve defended criminals I KNEW were guilty. And because I’m good at my job, many of them got off to commit more outrages against humanity. I’d fight and claw and tear and dance to win their freedom, because the law is the law. They must be defended. But it’s hard. I’ve made it a rule that no one I care about will ever know HOW hard. It would eat at me, if that was the sum total of my life.
And so, sometimes, I’m Daredevil.
Daredevil believes in justice, too.
Someone said New York is the city that never sleeps – another lie.
It sleeps, and the great rumbling of its slumber is the garbage collector, the homeless family, the night watchman. I hear it all. Night, day, it makes no difference to me, except that at night, there are far fewer distractions. Less sound cluttering the aural landscape.
I turn slightly from the man who had been directly in front of me. It’s always best to present a smaller target when dealing with Bullseye, the homicidal psychotic with the flawless aim. I’d call his accuracy a gift from God if I could forget for a moment the trail of bodies he always manages to leave in his wake.
He’s personally killed the two women I loved most in my life. Not entirely for vengeance-mostly because…because he COULD.
We’re on a tenement rooftop in my own neighborhood. Bullseye’s appearances always have the feeling of inevitability about them. He’s there, and it’s as though no time has elapsed since I last saw him.
I take him in, with my enhanced senses. He’s lost between five and six pounds. Staying hungry for tonight, no doubt. I can smell his excitement. Tonight’s the night he plans to kill me, I imagine.
I hear the thirty pieces of gravel beneath his left foot shift slightly, and that’s all the warning I’ll get.
DAREDEVIL: You missed, Bullseye.
BULLSEYE: Aw, you know better’n that, Hornhead. That little ol’ knife wasn’t meant to hit you. We have all night. Why rush it? Got some things to talk about, in fact.
DAREDEVIL: I’m taking you in, Bullseye.
Wish I felt that confident. The truth is, I never walk away from a fight with him without hospital time. I hit him, he cuts me. I kick him, he punctures me.
BULLSEYE: Yeah, yeah. You know, DD, this neighborhood is picking up. You see that big Costco they got a couple blocks over now? NICE. I mean, parking’s a bitch, but the SAVINGS…!
He leaps at me– a feint, of course I handspring over an abandoned workbench.
BULLSEYE: Seriously. I mean, sometimes, you end up buying more stuff than you really need, but if you break it down, it’s a lot of dough. I bought this huge jar of pickles, and…
I block his punch. Again, he’s just warming up.
BULLSEYE: Yeah, and I see ol’ Clinton’s getting a new Red Lobster. Heh. “Clinton.” Kinda funny that the other name for Hell’s Kitchen would be the President’s name, huh? Haw! Say, you ever order those blackened catfish skewers they have there? We should go sometime.
DAREDEVIL: What are you getting at, Bullseye? I assume you didn’t come here for chit-chat.
BULLSEYE: Well, now, see…that’s where you’re dead wrong, Daredevil. Look, does it always have to be fighting with us? I mean, can’t we just sit and talk for a minute, sort of get to know each other?
Ignoring his own words, he leaps behind a pigeon coop. In his hands, anything is a weapon, as I find out when he grazes my head with a small piece of dowling from the outside of the coop.
DAREDEVIL: “Get to know each other?” Are you INSANE? You murdered my girlfriend! TWICE!
BULLSEYE: Jesus. I KNEW you were going to bring that up. Good God, it’s like you can’t let these things GO. Look, if we’re ever going to open up a real dialogue…
Thinking quickly, the world’s most dangerous assassin makes use of the weapons at hand, and begins throwing pigeons at me.
DAREDEVIL: Enough nonsense, Bullseye. You’ve screwed up my life, and now you’re going to jail.
I dodge the first pigeon, but the second pigeon hits me right in the solar plexus. Painful for me, fatal for the pigeon. This is a dangerous city. But I have no time to mourn.
BULLSEYE: All right, all right. Whatever. I KNEW it was going to be like this, but Doctor Keller said I had to try. Okay. Just a second and we can fight to the death, all right? **sigh** My heart’s really not in this tonight. Is it okay if I just wound you real bad and go home?
It was then that he threw the razor-edged condom wrapper at me…I dodged, almost by accident. I brought out my billy-club…using it against Bullseye was always an iffy proposition, since he could use it against me every bit as effectively as I could use it against HIM.
BULLSEYE: See, Dr. Keller’s my shrink. Nice guy, you’d like him. It turns out I have a fear of intimacy. You believe that shit? Me!
He throws a vicious spinning side-kick, but that’s my game and he knows it. I block, and he takes a solid knee to his gut.
BULLSEYE: Wooof! Jesus! Good one! You really caught me there, huh? I’m really more of a long-range guy. Anyway, don’t laugh, okay? Dr. Keller says that you and I are connected, see? He says our costumes are just blatant sexual iconography. He says I’m wearing a bullseye cause I’m receptive, inside–it’s like a message, you know? ..And you’re wearing the tight red thing with horns because you thing guilt is sexy! I mean, thisGUY, DD! He just friggin’ blew my MIND with this stuff!
DAREDEVIL: What what what? I think guilt is…what? You’re making this up!
Bullseye takes advantage of my momentary confusion, drops to the litter-strewn tenement roof, and finds a nearly-full bottle of suntan lotion. Before I can react, the bottle’s coconut-y aroma is all over my shoulder. Another inch and it would have been my heart. I can’t let my guard down for a moment.
BULLSEYE (holding his hand over his heart): No, from my mouth to God’s ears, it’s true! He says the reason I’m always killing your girlfriends is that I’m jealous! I mean, it makes so much SENSE! Come on, give a guy a chance, won’t ya?
DAREDEVIL: But that’s…I mean…I don’t…
BULLSEYE: Yeah, friggin’ rocks your world, don’ it? Dr. Keller says the reason I’m always trying to stab you is because I’m afraid of my feelings for you! He says it’s CLASSIC psycho-sexualism! Hey, it’s dark out here, but are you blushing? AWWW!!!
Again, I try to muster my determination to attack, but Bullseye’s words sting and befuddle me. I pay for my inattention with a deadly half-eaten corndog to the temple. Stunned, I wonder if my number is up.
DAREDEVIL: No! I mean, of COURSE not! Listen, Bullseye, this is all very flattering, I guess, but…well, I’m not gay!
BULLSEYE (claps hands): ME, TOO! I mean, I never thought I was, either! But Dr. Keller was really just POSITIVE, and he’s SMART!
Bullseye ducks behind a chimney, and the rushing sound of a 34AA bra whizzing by my head wakes me from my reverie. FOCUS, Matt! That bra nearly had my name on it!
DAREDEVIL (Puts hands over his ears): Good Lord, I can’t even block out your voice when I WANT to!
BULLSEYE: Hey, look. I know it ain’t easy to hear, at first. But listen, be honest now…have you ever had a successful long-term relationship with a woman?
DAREDEVIL: Oh, my GOD!
Ping! Ping! Ping! Tiny bits of dried, chewed gum (Teaberry, Big Red, and some sort of Bubble Yum flavor, by the scent) come flying at me, tearing at my costume and leaving bloody trails in my flesh.
BULLSEYE: That’s what I figured. It’s almost like I did you a favor! See, you and me are a lot alike. We just manifested our denial in different ways. You went out straight-bashing, and I poked people with forks and stuff. Look, I’ll stop trying to kill you, even, okay?
DAREDEVIL: I…I don’t know what to…I…
BULLSEYE: Listen, hey, we don’t need to rush things, you know. I’m used to broads, too, but this guy really knows his stuff. Hey, I forgot! I brought you some flowers!
DAREDEVIL: I smelled them, over there, behind the chimney.
BULLSEYE: Damn, forgot about them senses of yours! Heh. It’s the…
DAREDEVIL: … the FTD Super-Friendship bouquet. I know. Carnations, Daisies, and Baby’s Breath.
BULLSEYE: Right. Well, I suppose you already know I also bought you…
DAREVEVIL: …A two-pound box of very, very good chocolates; assorted nuts and crèmes.
BULLSEYE: Right, well, I didn’t know what you liked. (Pouting…)
DAREDEVIL: What’s wrong NOW?
BULLSEYE: Well, it’s just that…I mean, couldn’t you at least have ACTED surprised about the gifts?
…They say nothing grows in Hell’s Kitchen. That the soil is poisoned with blood, that the sun doesn’t shine through the despair that hangs over the neighborhood. They say that there are evil men everywhere, here-cruel men with no hope of redemption.
I say, everyone deserves truth, and hope, and justice.
Nice ass, though.