They hide their true identities behind elaborate masks and costumes, patrolling the streets of downtown Salt Lake City in groups of two and three. People react to them in various ways: Older folks tend to ignore them. Drunken young adults want to pose with them for photos. Teenagers tend to hiss, growl and shout in their general direction, while children walk right up to them and ask what they are doing. Despite the masks and secret identities, they’re completely open about their purpose.
“Inferno,” one of the newest members of the group, is unfazed by the evening chill. He passes by a group of teens. One of them shouts: “Halloween’s not over!” Inferno winces, rolls his eyes, and responds, in the bored tone of someone who’s tired of hearing the same joke over and over again, “Nope, it’s not.” A girl of about 14 breaks from the mass of tittering boys and bravely approaches Inferno. He’s wearing a red hood and tunic, thigh-high pleather boots, and a matching black pleather mask that covers his eyes and nose. She breaks the awkward silence: “Can I ask about your costume?”
Inferno nods, unconsciously touches his red goatee and answers: “I’m part of the Black Monday Society.”
The girl cocks her head. “The Black Monday Society?”
“Yeah,” Inferno begins, a little more comfortable now, getting into a well-worn groove, “We just walk around, you know, patrol the streets.”
“Like Citizens on Patrol?” adds the girl, invoking the title of the fourth Police Academy movie. Her friends seem to get the reference and break into laughter.
Inferno brightens. “Yeah. “Citizens on patrol.”
“Cool!” says the girl, and despite the fact that her male friends are still hanging back—way back—and giggling, she seems to be genuinely happy about the idea. Inferno smiles and hands her a business card.
“We have a Website,” he says. “Look us up, it’ll tell you more about what we do. That’s pretty much what it’s about. It’s a lot of fun.”
“OK,” she says, waving goodbye with the card and running back to her friends, “Have fun!”
“You, too,” Inferno says. “Bye.”
And then he goes back to patrolling the streets, keeping his eye out for danger, wherever it lurks.