Thursday, September 4, 2014

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 35

     Another peaceful night in Alsace, just made for enjoying the park.  I remember when the city opened Margaret A. Hopewell Park, and how it almost immediately became a haven for drug deals and mugging.  I knew the woman the park was named after, fondly, and it bugged me no end to see the place turned into a sewer.

     So, when I became Dark Fire, I took a personal interest in the place.
Right now, I'm sitting on a bench, under a streetlight, in full uniform-showing the flag, you could say. Sometimes, my wife, who has the codename Bloodgem, patrols with me; tonight, she's in her civvies, visiting her mother in Cleveland. When she's here, we spoon like a happily married couple (which we are), while keeping an eye on things. If we're needed elsewhere, we know.

      The Gianinis, Aldo and Lucreza, walk past holding hands, something they've been doing for the past sixty years. When I was a kid, I'd stop in their candy store for Milky Way bars, chocolate sodas, and comic books-I still do, although everything costs a lot more now. Sometimes, I'm in my regulars, sometimes in my work duds, depending on the time; The Chocolate Drop stays open until midnight, just as it always has. When I was a kid, they were Mr. Aldo and Ma'am to everyone, and they still are.

     They smile and wave as they pass....I suspect they know my right name, but they've never let on.

     Two teenagers are coming from the opposite way, a boy and a girl, also holding hands, but laughing like....well, teenagers. The girl smiles shyly as they go by, the boy gives me that upward "s'up" jerk of the head, showing acknowledgement and respect, and I respond the same. It's a wee bit after curfew, but he's gonna get her home safe.

     It's coming up on one in the morning, and the park  officially closed at eleven. I'll be here for another couple hours, stop off at Annie's for a chocolate crème donut and some coffee, and schlep on home to the missus. Through the quiet, the night sounds of central Alsace come to me, the faint roar and hiss from the steel mill, the horn announcing the drawbridge at the mouth of the river opening for a ship,  a freight train passing, clickety-clacking its way west, a nocturne for an appreciative local boy.

     This is what I always wanted, to be someone who gave something that mattered to those around him, and the good Lord has blessed me.

     A familiar sound, impossible to describe, catches my attention from behind me- it's Barb,having just phased in in full Bloodgem regalia, her sandy-brown skin contrasting with her flame blue eyes and pale blonde hair. Even in "on duty" mode, she's still the same gorgeous lady who stole my heart back in high school.

     Perhaps we'll take in a sunrise together...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 34

       I'm in love with an angel....an avenging angel. I knew that Susan was a Legion member, I'd even seen her as Nightwitch, but I'd never really thought about what that meant; she was  my fiance. 

      She IS my fiance. Boy, women can sure suprise you.

   Last Tuesday night,  I went out on a ride-along with one of the APD's veterans, O'Dougal, a guy I'd known since I was a rookie.Officially, I'm not allowed to do that, but sometimes, rules get bent. Jimmy showed me the ropes, and kept me straight when it was really tempting to grab a little somethin' on the side, or get a wee bit too proactive on some jerk in the street.. By the book,, he should have retired about five years ago, but who's gonna kick him out?

     Anyhow, we get a "shots fired" call from a South End address, a housing project where some folks still love turnin' the joint out regularly,  and we rolled to the scene. As got out of the cruiser, a guy came running out of the front door, aiming a pistol at me. Just as I was sure I'd be standing in front of my Lord and Saviour shortly, a blue bolt shot from above, blasting the gunman, killing him instantly.

     Nightwitch landed in front of us, her right hand still smoking from the release of energy, an image of deadly beauty. She didn't speak, but simply rose back into the night skies, leaving a message in my mind, "Your place....later." She was out of sight faster than you could count to three.

     "Later" was about a little after midnight; I was still awake, shook by my close call, and by what else I'd seen. Dougie was in his usual spot on the sofa, asleep, when she knocked on my door. I called out, "Come in", and the door opened, and Susan  walked in, lovely, and....vulnerable, like a little girl not sure if she's lost. Dougie got up, to re-settle on her lap after she'd sat down.

     Silence....a long silence. I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn't know how to say it. I'd used deadly force myself , twice in fact, but this was different. It wasn't  about her not being "official", but just the nearness of it all. That hand, which had struck down the gunman, had caressed my cheek, stroked my cat, gestured in conversations with me, belonged to the woman I loved.

     It wasn't really even about all that, as much as it was to explain to her that it was okay. Yes, I was a litle unsettled by it, yes, I'd need to wrap my head around it, but  this was Susan, someone I'd already pledged myself to in my heart, and I could tell she was wondering if this changed things.

     It did-how couldn't it- but she still was the woman God had put into my life.

     I thought about Dougie's reaction to her. She'd been here both as Susan and as Nightwitch, and Dougie treated them both the same- as a friend with a warm lap and nice hands. Really, that made more sense than anything else. Also, I knew that our Lord still saw her as His child, flawed, but forgiven.

     I said nothing....I just opened my arms, and she rushed into them, crying, as was I, tears of release, of joy, of something nameless, but precious, and rare.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 33

                                                                SAN DIEGO
     I hear a scream, and whirl around, catching sight of a man, dressed in a dark jacket, racing away from an older woman, her purse dangling from his hand, a smug expression on his face....at last, some action!

     He's coming right towards me, not even noticing me standing there in the middle of the sidewalk; perhaps he's used to people not getting involved....oh well.

     As he gets close, he jukes to the right, to get around me. Much to his suprise, I drop him with a leg sweep, then drop myself, all three hundred forty pounds, right on his back-I don't get up until the cops arrive.

     Who needs superpowers? That was someone's momma....could'a been mine.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 32

     Well, he finally said it....took him long enough.
I'll  probably never tell him, but that's what this little breakfast was all about-like I told him, it had been on his face for a while, and I'd been waiting to hear it. Ever since I first met Wish, I was drawn to him, his gentleness, his humor, even his sadness....I could understand it. Even so, I knew he'd get the words stuck somewhere south of his Adam's apple, and he might take months to finally say them.

     That's part of his charm....he's such a shy little boy, in some ways.

     I've been married....my husband went to prison, and I divorced him while he was there, not so much because of that-I could live with that- but that he really didn't care about me, except as someone to dominate. I married him young, and I thought that's how the Bible said husbands were supposed to treat wives; he said so.

     One day, the Holy Spirit led me to read the Bible for myself, and I found out he'd fooled me-by then, he'd stopped going to church, was drunk a lot, and was getting into stuff with his brothers, selling dope, and like that. I dunno who called the cops on him, even though he swore it was me, but he was arrested, and got sent up.

     I really didn't want another man in my life, until I met Wish; I just knew he was the one. So far, I've come to the conclusion that God led me to him, him and that loveable cat. Dougie's rolling on the floor at my feet, looking up at me as if to say, "Welcome". 

     Wish is sitting on the sofa next to me, holding my hand, sorta caught up in the moment. We haven't yet set a date, but I think it's gonna be in the next six months or so.

     It'll be as formal as we can afford-the cat's already dressed for the occasion. I'm almost as in love with Dougie as I am with Wish....I've always loved cats, and this one is like an old tough guy with a heart of gold, like my Dad was.

     Dad; he tried to warn me about that jerk, but I wouldn't listen-I was so caught up in the thrill of a Romance With a Bad(Christian) Boy, and I was naive enough to believe that there could be such a thing. By the grace of God, I'm here to look back on it all.

     Dad would approve of Wish.....I wonder what he'd think of Nightwitch?

Monday, September 9, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 31

     It's Saturday, about eight-thirty in the morning; Dougie and I have been up for about an hour or so, and I'm contemplating breakfast, my furry roomate having already had his. There's not much in the fridge that looks good, and I'm not in the mood for cereal.

     As I'm considering going out to grab something, my phone rings, rather, it plays "Can't Fight This Feelin", by REO Speedwagon, which tells me it's Susan calling.

     Make what you will of the ringtone.

     "Wish", she says, "are you decent? I'm coming by there in an hour, with breakfast, and I'm not taking 'no' for an answer." She hangs up....I should argue with this? So, I wash, dry, scrape, and brush everything that needs attention, put on my favorite sweatpants, my Captain America t-shirt and sneakers, and am ready when my doorbell rings. Susan breezes in, carrying three plastic grocery bags, looking yummy herself in a dark green running suit, matching jogging shoes, and a ponytail....I become a fifty-seven year old seventh-grader, just looking at her.

     Pretty soon, there's great smells coming from my kitchen, and a honey-contralto voice singing "Both Sides Now" tickling my ears.  I've been told to take a seat in the dining room, and even Dougie's been ordered out of her way,which to my suprise he complied with; he's stretched out on the floor, nose pointing toward the kitchen like a compass needle, purring like a Rolls.

     In a few minutes, Susan comes out, and sets two places at the table, retreats back into the kitchen, then comes back out bearing my grandmother's serving platter,  laden with dishes of scrambled eggs, wisked full of butter and cheese, bacon, just so, English muffins, Smucker's strawbetrry preserves, cream cheese, butter, and fresh coffee, with sugar and cream.....I've died and gone to the Savoy.

     After grace, we dig in....no doubt, Susan knows her way around a kitchen. Dougie is on the floor between us, wearing Starving Kitty Expression Number Six, and accepting bites of everything. Everything is wonderful, the food, the conversation, the company, which is probably why I said what I said.
     I had wanted to say it, thought about saying it for a bit, but not just then....I wanted to do it right, the knee-bending, all that, but it just escaped my lips, and....I proposed.

      Silence....three full beats.  They're both looking at me like I'm about to produce playing cards from my navel, when Susan starts....laughing. This was not the reaction I expected, by any means.
I decide I'd better say something.

     "Uh," I began,  "I didn't mean....that is-"
"You sweet man, do you know how relieved I am, you FINALLY said it? It's been on your face for weeks, and I've been hanging, wanting to hear it.. YES!"

     She comes to my side of the table, seats herself on my lap, and gives me the kiss of a lifetime...I dunno why I feel this, but I get the sense that Linda and my Ma are high-fiving in Heaven.

Friday, August 16, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 30

     The paper mentioned that there would be a silent, anti-Legion protest at Margaret Hopewell Park that evening, so, having nothing else on the agenda, I decided to go check it out; I thought about asking Susan to join me, but decided that'd be like asking my friend Abe Cohen to a Klan rally.
     I used to joke that Alsace was an Indian word meaning, "must be the water", a comment on some of our more colorful citizens. Even so, I was suprised and amused by the crowd assembled in front of the fountain, holding candles with little paper collars. It wasn't yet full dark, so I knew that this would go on for about an hour. Some folks held signs, saying, "LEGION SUCKS!", "FACISTS GO!", and the ever-popular "OCCUPY NOW!", appropos of nothing. There were about a hundred or so demonstrators, facing a larger amount of folks who came down to watch the free entertainment. APD officers were interspersed through the crowd, obviously not expecting any problems.

     As if by a signal, the demonstrators blew out their candles, set down their signs, and, linking arms, began singing-I'm not making this up- "Kum By Yah", swaying back and forth. The scene was moving, if sorta silly. I wondered who organized this spectacle, and if they had a sense of humor.

     Just as they reached the third chorus, music blared from the skies...."Shine Pt. 2", by Todd Rundgren. A bright blue streak flew down from the northern, overcast skies, pausing fifteen feet above the protestors-it was Nightwitch, glowing like a cross between Nemesis and Tinkerbell, air-dancing, ballet to katas to can-can, a smile beaming on her face. 

     Spark, Nightshade, Moonhawk, and other members of Team Alsace rocketed into the aerial fest, about twenty or so- not the whole contingent, which would be about sixty, but enough of them to light the sky, as they circled, dived, and dog-fought in mid-air.

     This was even better than ignoring the demonstrators....stealing the show, and in a way that reminded everyone of why the Legion was there-for those of us unable to fight back the darkness alone.

     As the song ended, the Legion members shot straight up, detonating brightly and loudly about a thousand feet up, to thunderous applause, even from some of the demonstrators.

     I felt a hand take mine....Susan stood beside me, still smiling. She kissed me on the cheek, and leaned her head on my shoulder, as we enjoyed the night breeze, and the company.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 29

     Almost a year ago, the Legion of Night made their first appearances to a populace tired of seeing "the bad guys" get away with terrorizing citizens. During that time, the current Administration held its silence, despite numerous questions on "the Presidential take" on the matter. However, as this particular Chief Executive was noted for nebulous answers, no one gave it much thought, until the night of the State of the Union address, at which time the incumbent liberal unloaded on the Legion, calling upon his "fellow Americans" to protest their presence (non-violently, of course) so that the Legion  would know that they were not wanted.

     The response from most of his "fellow Americans" was a loud horse-laugh, as it should be. However, the "kill-a-baby-for-lunch" bunch, his most solid constituency, decided that this was a good excuse to dress in their finest frippery, and practice their same-sex hand-holding skills in a public venue. January 28 was chosen as the date for the nationwide protest.

     On the appointed evening, thousands of communities small and large were treated to the spectacle of irate NPR subscribers marching, some even carrying pitchforks and torches, although the Austin crowd carried papier-mache replicas of same. There was singing, sign-carrying, chants of "No JUSTICE! No PEACE!" and "Occupy NOW", perhaps from some with more zeal than focus. In Los Angeles, euphoriated celebrities gave angst-ridden, near-coherent rants abourt fascism, climate change, and their latest film projects.

     For the Legion, it was business as usual....altogether, they stopped over two hundred muggings, several dozen rapes, and assisted with three births....none of which was deemed of interest by the regular media.