Summary: The year is 1966. A stakeout gets boring, so Walter-as-Rorschach and Dan end up
It’s the summer of ‘66, and the heat is becoming ungodly. Nite Owl is grateful for the Owlsuit's built-in cooling device, yet he wonders how Rorschach (who is fully dressed in the nightly trenchcoat-and-business suit ensemble, with only the scarf missing) manages to stand this hellish weather.
They’ve both been hiding around the docks for almost two hours, and Tommy “Sugarlips” Obertelli (a go-to hitman from the Lower East Side) hasn’t showed.
Rorschach is beginning to suspect that someone tipped Obertelli off.
Dan hasn’t really been paying attention for the last ten or twenty minutes, and frankly he really gave up believing they were going to catch and question Mr. Obertelli even before they got to the docks. Dan's developing a bit of an intuition for these things. Admittedly, Rorschach has a similar sixth-sense when it comes to this city's scumbags, but he always ends up trying anyway. Sometimes the persistence pays off, sometimes it doesn't.
Absent-mindedly, Dan preens the lint and dirt out of his cape while he hums the refrain of “Summer in the City”. Out of the blue (even taking himself by surprise) he asks, “What kind of music do you listen to, Rorschach?”
It takes Rorschach a moment to process this. Finally: “What?”
Dan really should have known better— Rorschach usually gets in a sour mood when stakeouts end up being a waste of time like tonight. Nonetheless, Dan manages to pretend to be somewhat nonchalant about it all. He shrugs, “Just wondering. You know, just thought I’d ask to kill some time.”
“ . . . I don’t see how this is relevant.”
“Well, it’s not relevant. But— ” He shrugs again, feeling incredibly stupid. Rorschach had a great knack for making him feel incredibly stupid sometimes (often). “I just figured maybe you had a favorite band, or something.”
There is a long pause.
Just as Dan thinks the conversation has ended, Rorschach says, “I don’t have any patience for today’s music. It’s just pandering to the so-called enlightened junkies, misguided youth who don’t know any better, and reckless hippies who run around with no clothes on.”
Even though they’ve been working together for almost a year, Dan was still naïve enough to think he could hold a normal conversation with a man who wears a latex bag over his head, while Dan himself was dressed up as a gigantic bird.
“I can’t say that I agree.” Dan is surprised that he even got a response, so he relishes this, “I mean, I like the music that’s coming out today — and I’m not a junkie or a hippie, am I?”
No, I’m just a normal guy. A normal, perfectly well-adjusted guy who dresses up in a spandex owl suit and shoots $10,000 lasers at pimps in Brooklyn.
Rorschach possibly gives him a cautionary look, but it's always hard to tell for sure. (The mask shifts into what looks like two symmetrical hands touching, then the pattern briefly morphs into a nebulous mass before violently ripping apart into smaller globules of black ink). The mask fascinates Dan in an oddly nauseating way. He wonders what material it’s made out of — and why Rorschach’s even wearing it, why they’ve both saved each others’ necks dozens of times and spent hours upon hours working together yet Dan has absolutely no idea who this guy really is . . .
And thinking about all these unsolved mysteries, Dan continues, “You weren’t a victim of Beatlemania? Man, when I first heard them in concert, I couldn’t believe it. Girls were going wild — and, you know, these guys are just plain goofy-looking, which gives the rest of us a little hope, I guess. And, I mean, sure, there might have been some people on drugs, but that wasn’t the point. It was just wholesome fun, mostly. ”
Making a face (two black spikes crashing into each other, bending into sharp angles), Rorschach took out his research files on Obertelli and silently started looking them over.
“You’ve gotta roll with the times, Rorschach.” Dan paused, “And not just with the new music. I sympathize with the kids these days, advocating free speech and civil rights – ”
Rorschach glanced up from the Obertelli file, “Most of these ‘free spirited’ kids come from stable middle-class backgrounds. They're ungrateful. Privileged. Pampered. Never endured poverty, or segregation, or any of the things they rally against. They can afford to waste their life, and their parents’ finances, on social causes that only appeal to their juvenile sensibilities because of shock value. Their bizarre and depraved lifestyles barely hide the fact that they could only care less.”
“Bizarre and depraved lifestyles” says the wacko wearing a psychedelic sock over his face. . . And what’s he driving at with “wasting their parents’ finances”, anyway?
There is an extremely long pause.
Deciding that the conversation has reached its inevitable nadir, Dan brings out Archie. It's usless hanging around here for much longer.
There is no voice of protest from Rorschach, as he seems to have also abandoned hope of catching Obertelli — after all, there will be other nights, other opportunities. It’s just a matter of time.
Later that night, Rorschach lingers around the Owl’s Nest a little longer than usual. Just as he walks down the dark exit tunnel, Rorschach tells Dan offhandedly, “To answer your question from earlier tonight. . . I sometimes enjoy Edward MacDowell's musical work.”
“Huh? — Oh. Hey, that's pretty cool, man.” Dan says, lamely. But there's this odd feeling of fascination . . . The feeling reminds Dan of the times he would leave out dead mice for the owls near his parents’ summer home — some owls would come right up to him (or, they’d swoop down to where he’d put the food, at least) — and although Dan would feel a vague discomfort when their strong talons ripped the mouse-flesh to reddish sinewy shreds, he mostly just felt amazed that he won the birds' trust.
Dan smiles in triumph as his partner disappears into the darkness.