When I Last Saw My Face

rorschach

Rorschach test card – no image credit available

Victor sighed in relief as he put on his face and looked in the mirror. Tucking it into the collar of his black turtleneck, he donned the dark brown fedora to complete the transformation. Dark brown trench coat, gray slacks, brown kid gloves, and Victor Montoya no longer existed. There was only his real identity and his real face. Rorschach opened the hidden door that led to the stairwell. Descending, he got to the tunnel and then exited the abandoned power substation to walk the night again.

#

He’s out there. I’ve been hunting him for weeks now. The fifth little girl disappeared just days ago. With any luck, I might find her still alive, not that luck and I have ever had much of a relationship.

His name is Reggie Manx. Yeah, like the cat, except I think of Manx more like a rat, one who should have stayed in the sewers instead of preying on children.

I’m closing in on the beaten up shack he took her to. Manx moves around a lot, which made it hard for me to get a bead on him at first. Then I discovered the pattern. He has only six or seven places he takes them to, and after they’re brutalized and killed, he moves the bodies to a neutral spot, but always within a three block radius.

Thinking of Manx, I can’t keep the visions of the others out of my mind. No, not the others like him, there are too many of them to keep track of. I mean the others like me, the other Rorschachs. Who was the first, the one to make the mask? Walter Kovacs? Yeah. I think that was his name, but like me, the name was just a cover, a mask. Our real face is the one I wear now, the cloth with the ink marks that constantly move. Scares the shit out of everyone. I like it, I like my face.

Kovacs died. So did Long, but who know when? Not all of them called themselves Rorschach. There was the Question and Mr. A, but they were all like me, dressed like me, thought like me. The cops would love to catch me, if they could. I have a body count they don’t like. 52 confirmed kills in the past two years, about one every two weeks.

Those idiots should be thanking me. I’ve taken more scum off the streets in two years than the whole force has in twenty, plus I’ve saved the state millions in court costs, and the money it takes to house and feed a bunch of cons.

There he is, just leaving. He doesn’t see me of course, and he won’t. Not until I’m ready to make him number 53.

I pick the lock and slip inside. Pretty dark. Better risk a penlight.

Oh shit. My luck’s holding about as you’d expect. The poor kid is dead. Rain Gonzalez, seven years, five months old, youngest child of Sierra Gonzalez, divorced from her deadbeat husband, working two jobs just to feed her brats, Rain turned up missing after school a week ago. She’ll never go home again.

Gotta douse the light. Key just hit the lock. I hide around a corner. He’s walking fast, confident. He thinks he’s alone. Carrying a body bag. Yeah. He just went out to get it. He’s ready to get rid of his latest victim. He doesn’t know it’s his last.

###

Victor wakes up, goes to the toilet, turns on the coffee, and then opens his laptop. Blackout curtains over all the windows make it impossible to tell if it’s day or night outside, but the computer says its Sunday, 2:41 pm.

“News, news, news. Yeah. Here it is. Good. Cops found the body bag in the alley where they expected it, but surprise, surprise, no little kid. Big, fat ugly rat Reggie Manx instead. Rorschach made the Manx write a note in his own blood telling where to find little Rain’s body, that is, with the only hand he could write with, the other being smashed to a pulp by a five-pound hammer.

“Cops say there wasn’t much left of Manx. Well, they don’t know who he is yet. Maybe a fingerprint survived, but good luck trying to match up his dental records after what he did to his face. Probably ID him using DNA. Tools are getting more complicated these days.

“They still have no idea whose doing this or even what he calls himself. Good. Victor had better go shopping. Groceries getting a little thin around here. Good thing the others left a stash. Kovacs and Long left instructions on how to access their offshore accounts, and Sage squirreled away a fortune in gold bullion in the tunnel. That means Victor doesn’t need his low-life stinking job anymore. He doesn’t need anyone, well that’s not quite true.

“He needs me, his real self, his real face. Victor Montoya needs Rorschach.”

I wrote this for Sunday Writing Prompt “Rorschach Test 3” hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. As always, the idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a poem, short story, or some other creative work.

I can’t think of Rorschach without thinking of the character who appeared in “The Watchmen” graphic novel and subsequent motion picture. There were actually two, although the late Steve Ditko created similar characters such as Question and Mr.A.

I’m just carrying on the legacy with the latest incarnation of an absolute moralist, cold-blooded, and mentally deranged vigilante.

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7 thoughts on “When I Last Saw My Face

  1. While I’ve never actually taken a Rorschach test, I was under the impression that the images were simple black-on-white “inkblots”, solely two-dimensional silhouettes, and not necessarily bilaterally symmetrical. The image above is of a quite three-dimensional object, with delicate shadings of grayscale, though it is certainly symmetrical. This image does remind me of a similar test that I did once take during a psychological evaluation for a security clearance, consisting of color images representing no certain interpretation but clearly designed to elicit revelatory subjective responses and interpretations for the evaluator to explore in subsequent conversation. Perhaps my definition of a Rorschach test is outdated, and the term is now applied to the same technique using more advanced and intricate imagery. Nonetheless, I can ratify your vision of the above image as a textured latex mask to be applied to one’s face as a disguise that suggests a quite different structure of bone and muscle than one’s own. Of course, I also see features that could render it as a very exotic moth or butterfly, or some sort of alien face (or costume mask) — and turning it upside down offered yet more creative possibilities.

    I’ve also never before heard of the DC Comics characters called Rorschach I and II, from which you drew the inspiration for your tale. Apparently you represented them suitably, though once again your story appears as merely an excerpt from a larger context.

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    • The actual Rorschach cards are more nuanced than most people imagine, although their exact images aren’t often published in order to maintain the integrity of the test.

      I’ve read the “Watchmen” graphic novel and seen the film (the graphic novel is better), and the original character is interesting, in a grim and deeply disturbed sort of way. I think as the social and political arena of the U.S. and western nations continues to become increasingly polarized, more people will become “Rorschach-like,” seeing the world as totally binary.

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