David sits in a window booth in a small, run-down diner, trying to eat a cold cut without throwing up. It’s not that the food is bad; he can’t tell if it is or not. Everything tastes like cardboard. The problem is that his doctors warned him he needed to stay in the hospital to recover, and his body is sparing no effort to tell him that they were right.
It’s mid-afternoon. There aren’t too many people in the diner, but the ones who are stare at him furtively when they think he doesn’t notice. He looks a mess: his entire face is a splotchy pattern of bruises, his hair is greasy and unwashed, he hasn’t shaved in days, his hands won’t stop shaking, and he can’t focus on anything for more than a few seconds without his vision blurring. His cane, a simple metal crook with a rubber tip at the end, sits on the table in front of him because he can’t get it to lean properly—he keeps knocking it over, and when he has to bend down to pick it up his ribs hurt like hell.
The good news is he doesn’t look like a cop. It’s not good to look like a cop in Morrisania—the cops in the local precinct have a reputation for corruption, not entirely undeserved, and they aren’t very welcome. Morrisania has become, unofficially, one of the safest towns in New York… and the people who keep it that way consider the local police part of the problem.
David grew up in the South Bronx, and moved back after he got out of the service and joined the NYPD. It’s changed a lot over the years—it’s a far cry from the desperate, arson-scarred, crime-ridden wasteland it was in the 70s—but it’s still not entirely safe. There are still dangerous parts, areas where people just don’t go if they can help it. For a long time, Morrisania was one of those areas. When he was a kid Morrisania was one of the “bad places” that you stayed away from at all costs.
It still has one of the highest crime rates in the city, but statistics can be deceptive. Vigilante justice is illegal, and it doesn’t matter to the city if it comes from armed citizens taking the law into their own hands or masked metahumans doing the same thing. The two groups who keep Morrisania safe are, technically, criminals. Anything they do to keep the peace is, statistically, criminal activity. But if the crime statistics were broken down, Morrisania would look very different: “Gang activity” is high, “destruction of property” is high… and every other type of crime is very, very low.