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The drive to Boston to Gotham was a delight. It was true that Knox still drove the same rather abused car he did when he got rich, but it was the kind of car where the person in the front passenger seat could still sit close to her lover while he drove. (Seat belt laws are still a few years ahead of Knox's day.) Racing down the open highway (which wasn't that open in New England, but no matter) with Raps at his side was a dream come true.

Indeed, the time they spent in Boston almost made him forget he had a reason to be there. He wasn't a tourist. And the visits to the historical sites and the dinners in the seafood places and the room with a view of the city at night were just diversions. Very, very enjoyable and welcome diversions.

So it was with a bit of effort that Knox left Rapunzel to do some shopping on her own and made his way to the waterfront. And it took a bit more effort to find the pier he wanted. He knew that Boston was laid out in ways that boggle the mind, but to end up on Storrow Drive four times? And what was with that giant inflated milk bottle?

In time, though, he found the docks he wanted and parked (illegally) a block away. The sounds of ship traffic and the smell of fish and seawater and the infamous Boston harbor reached him a block before he got to the pier. It reminded him of Gotham.

Knox had left the black leather coat in the hotel, wearing a nondescript windbreaker and his fedora, hoping he wouldn't stick out. He crept by longshoremen and found the office he was looking for.

"You Jorgenson?" A stocky middle-aged man with sandy hair slowly turning gray looked up from his desk.

"Who's asking?" He had a faint Swedish accent.

"Alex Knox. I called earlier."

"The reporter from Gotham. You wanted to talk about the guy with no face."

"That's me." He moved into the dingy office. On sunny days, it wouldn't be so bad, but there was a fog rolling into the city. "So you saw him?"

"Yeah. Why do you care? It was just a guy in a fight."

"In a faceless mask."

"So?"

"The world is changing, Mister Jorgenson. Men in masks are news."

"Men in silly costumes like that Bat-fellow in your town are news. This guy--"

"Let me be the judge, bud. Tell me about him?"

"OK." At this point Knox reached into his coat and pulled out a bottle of 15 year old whiskey. "You gotta know, we got drug traffic here. The cops and the DEA know and all, but it's not like anyone really can do much without being here all the time. We don't like it, but the Irish mob never makes things easy."

"Nope. But this mask...?"

"It was late at night. Or early morning, just before dawn. I was in early, covering for McNulty, and there's a commotion. I look out the window and see four or five toughs duking it out with him.

"You saw his face first?"

"Not really. I saw his coat first. A trenchcoat, a bit large, a strange shade of blue. Same for his hat. The toughs tried to shoot him, but the coat was...I dunno, like that batguy's cape. They kept missing, and he kept pressing the fight."

"And did he bring any of them down?"

"That was the funny thing. They were freaked by the mask - I finally saw it. No face at all, but a mask since his voice sounded a bit funny - but he wasn't really able to put any of them down. He fought like a guy with some training - I boxed in the service, so I know about that. But he didn't really have skill, like he learned the ideas and not the finer points."

"So not really much of a hero."

"Hell no. The thugs got away, the drugs were moved later, and he limped off. Though there was one funny thing."

"Just one? With a guy in a mask?"

"Anyone could wear a mask. Like I say, it's not interesting. But...well, there seemed to be a lot of fog around him. But it wasn't foggy. It was pretty clear in fact. I could see the Tobin Bridge. But he was fogged in."

"Like he had a fog machine or a smoke pellet?"

"Yeah. Didn't really think about it till later, though."

"And what about the calling card?"

Jorgenson looked puzzled. "Huh?"

"The cops found a card with a question mark on it."

"Well, then they found it. I didn't see it."

Knox finished jotting down the last of his notes. There wasn't much new here. The papers had the details right, though if Jorgenson was the only witness they spoke to, the details would have to be the same. He wondered if there were anything more to ask, but it didn't seem likely.

"OK, I think that's it. Thanks for your time."

"Thanks for the whiskey."

Knox looked around the docks for a bit. There was nothing that added to the story. He wondered if it would make any sense to do a stakeout of the docks till No-Face returned, but even if he were local, he cooldn't see it helping. He returned to his car.
______

The last time Knox was in Boston, he was looking into the robberies at the Gardner Museum. And he ran into an old rival. He really didn't like turning to Vic Sage for info. Sage was an arrogant cuss. And a TV reporter (though rather hoemly for TV with a nose that had been broken on at least three occasions, the story went). And he never picked up the tab.

But Sage eventually gave Knox something every time they talked. And with that in mind, Knox met his rival at a small bar near Channel 8's studios.

"You know, I have a phone, Knox."

"I like to see where things happen."

"You like to see the docks? Knox, you need to get out more." The two shook hands and took two seats at the bar.

"I like to follow the costumes. It's the next big thing."

"Really now? I didn't know you swung that way?" It was the level of repartee Knox expected from Sage. But he didn't feel like returning the favor.

"I know about the waterfront fight. Got any other leads or rumors or anything?

"About the man without a face? He shows up here and there. Has been for a couple of months. Usually in dark alleys and the like. Stopping muggings. This was his first jump to something bigger."

"Any clue about who he is?"

"Any clue who Batman is?"

"Fair enough, Sage. But what about the calling card?"

"That was new, too."

"You don't sound like you're really following this."

"Knox, it's not a big deal. It's some guy in a good mask. No powers. No real gimmick. It's not worth anyone's time. I cannot for the life of me figure out why you think it is."

"Because this is the wave of the future. The heroes and the villains are spreading. Right now he seems like nothing, but for all you know, he's Boston's Batman." Knox didn't care for Sage's smirk at this.

"It's a fad, nothing more."

"What about the Flash, or the Atom?"

"Urban legends. Heck, I don't even really believe in your Bat." Now Knox was starting to feel unwelcome. Sage hadn't changed a bit.

"I've seen him. Half of Gotham has."

"I mean, he's all smoke and mirrors. A guy in a silly who hasn't done a thing for his city...for your city."

It would have been rude to punch Sage, so Knox just drank his beer faster. "Vic, you are useless, you know that?"

"I try." And with that, Sage left, his drink barely touched.

Driving back to the hotel, Knox had no idea what that was about. For a second, he suspected that Sage was hiding something. Did Sage have a scoop waiting? It was possible, but somehow that didn't seem likely.

It didn't matter. Knox didn't really have a lot more than he did at the start of the day. But he was satisfied that there was something afoot here. Another piece of a larger puzzle, no doubt. One he would asseuble later.

But not until after he caught up with Raps for lunch.

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November 2011

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