A Little Knowledge

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"A Little Knowledge" was originally published in Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.1 No.3.


A man, Andrew "Eyes" Eisenstein, running along the rooftops at night through Chesler talks to himself--or the reader--about the greatness of the city as well as about the opportunities that can arise for individuals willing and able to keep their eyes open for ways to help themselves.

As Eyes catches his breath, the shadow of a hero (who turns out to be Jack-in-the-Box) is cast on the building behind him. Eyes nears the edge of a building and manages to spot the hero in an alley as he removes his costume and dons civilian clothing.

It slowly dawns on Eyes that he just saw the face of Jack-in-the-Box. A number of scenarios run through his mind as possible opportunities he could experience. At first, the scenarios are fantasies where he has power and money (even walking around with Jack's costume as a scarf).

Eyes hesitates sharing this information with his criminal colleagues at the Craig Avenue Bar & Grill, as he begins imagining their cutting him out of the deal and making use of his information for fame and fortune, leaving him destitute.

Just then, Jack-in-the-Box bursts through the bar window. Terrified that the hero is after him--even though Jack asks the bar's inhabitants about the Middleman's activities--Eyes flees out the back, escaping to his apartment.

The next day, while on a walk, Eyes happens to pass by the residence of Channel 3 news anchor Tamra Dixon and her husband Zachary Johnson. Recognizing both Jack-in-the-Box and Dixon, Eyes asks for Tamra's autograph, made out to "Jack Bachsinger." Eyes immediately regrets that decision, as he believes he's tipped off Johnson to the fact that _he_ knows Jack-in-the-box's identity.

A new scenario run through Eyes' mind about the information he possesses, centering on torture at the hands of Jack-in-the-Box, who punishes Eyes for seeing "too much."

Later, while working for the Middleman, Eyes again attempts to escape when Jack-in-the-Box arrives to disrupt the illicit activity. This time, his escape is unsuccessful: Eyes is sprayed with an adhesive confetti and left stuck to a railing. He nearly dislocates his shoulder but manages to free himself from his bonds, slipping out of his jacket.

Imagining yet another scenario where Eyes takes his knowledge to the Deacon, Eyes fears that he would never survive--either beaten savagely by the Deacon's lieutenants who want to share the information themselves or killed on the Deacon's order to prevent anyone else learning that valuable information.

As he processes this fear and tries to think of what to do, Eyes recalls the first time he ever saw Jack-in-the-Box: he was a child, and his mother told him that "he's helping us all -- he's a friend." Then, he is frightened by the shadow of a hero moving nearby, whom he assumes is Jack-in-the-Box finally locating him--but it turns out instead to be Quarrel, who appears to be entirely oblivious to or unconcerned by Eyes.

Finally, Eyes decides to take a bus and leave the city for Anchorage, choosing peace rather than a life of continuous fear that he and his secret be discovered.



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