Monday, October 17, 2016

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 39





                                                    MINNEAPOLIS


     I think he really thought he'd gotten away with it....
After all, he had money on his side, his spotless public image, a name that everyone knew, a face everyone recognized, especially those he'd hurt.


     He looks so....nothing, lying there in the snow,  as naked and voiceless as the girls and women he'd abused for so long, hiding behind privilege. Maybe it was wrong, but I hauled him out of his warm bed, and made him strip, so he'd have an idea of what his victims felt, the vulnerability, the cold-


     The terror.
He begged, he offered money, he even threatened; what would these mean to me? So many had been too afraid, ashamed to speak out, for far too long.


     He never recognized me....of course, I look quite different from the last time he saw me, when I was the one crying, begging, pleading.


     MONSTER....your day is done, and my seal is seared across your face, the face you'd make me kiss after you'd rape me. I blow you a kiss, and say those hated words, the ones you killed my kitty over, because I wouldn't say them, the words you threatened to hurt Mommy over, if I didn't say them, night after night after night....


     "G'night, Daddy."

Monday, September 19, 2016

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 38

      It's about seven thirty on a Saturday morning, and I'd planned on sleeping in for at least another hour. Instead, I'm awakened by my wife, loudly protesting to my second favorite bedmate.

     "DOUGIE! Would you PLEASE....I can't BREATHE with you up there-SCAT!"
Susan is still trying to  get used to sleeping with fifteen pounds of cat hogging the pillow. It's no use trying to get him to stop-I certainly couldn't after five years. Putting him out the door is even worse, 'cause he'll sit outside the door, yowling and scratching until you let him back in. I guess he does have certain rights, having been, well, the House Cat, but still....

     Susan finally picks him up and semi-dumps him on the floor next to the bed. The injured party, his dignity offended, runs to the door, glaring over his shoulder at us, since we're still in bed, and it's obviously breakfast time. Since we've now got room, I take the time to gaze at my bride of a month and change. She's giving me that pleased, flattered, "what-are-you-looking-at" look that I've missed so much. I feel like I'm in junior high, and the tongue-tying girl who sits in the first row has told me yes, she'll go to the dance with me, in front of EVERYONE.

      What can I say? I got the girl, again.
My phone rings....it's my friend, Dr. Lewis Smith, wanting to know if me and Susan want to devour steaks with him and his missus later today.

     Silly question, that.

Friday, September 25, 2015

                            THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 37

                                                        TOPEKA


     There's a cool breeze up here on the roof, not really the place you'd expect the Police Commissioner to be after midnight....still, I'd been waiting for this meeting, for months, and this is the only way she'd see me. You'd think being her father would buy me some consideration.

     Maybe that's exactly what this is.

     I haven't seen Joanie since her mother's funeral, after a bomb meant for me went off with the wrong person at the wheel-Sara. Thirty-one years together gone in a flash of heat and noise, leaving a hole in my heart, and a nineteen year  old child learning the fine art of resentment. Joanie was definitely her mother's daughter, a blessing after three miscarriages, trying, failing, separating, coming together again. Sara didn't blame me, nothing like that, but my job, the hours, the things you can't share with the ones you love, kept pushing them closer together, and me further away. I love my daughter, but I can't understand the choice she made; those people, the Legion, are outlaws, no matter what  public opinion might say. We raised her to respect the law, not ignore it as if it didn't matter at all.

     Suddenly, she's right in front of me, black hair, pale skin, firey green eyes glaring at me just as they did when they were ocean-blue, and we buried her mother. She's wrapped in black, like the night itself, She's taller, I guess because of the Change, and feral-looking, like some sort of nocturnal predator.

     I can't stand the silence hanging between us. "Joanie"- "My name is Luna!" she hurls back at me, "Don't you CALL me that name!" The silence again, broken only by the sounds of traffic  below, and those eyes, like a challenge to....what? Apologize? Take the blame?


     It's my turn to be angry. "You asked me to meet you here, remember? What do you want? To throw this-" I say, pointing a finger at her, how she looks, "in my face, like I made you choose this?
Why? Why this?"


     "For her", she says, softer, still angry, but softer. "No one could do anything....you couldn't do anything. Those animals were still walking the streets while my mother rotted in the ground, and the law mumbled about 'no proof, no evidence'. Everyone knew Dag Roland made it happen, he practically told you in court that he was going to get you- but he missed, didn't he? Well, I didn't!"


     That angry silence again, and no answer to why I'm here. Why does it have to be like this? I don't care who she's become, she's still my daughter, my only child, and all I have left of Sara.  I turn to leave, and I hear a sound, like a tinkling rush of wind behind me. As I turn, I see Luna transforming, not into Joanie, but someone much like her.


  "Dad", her voice echoes in my head, "don't hate me; I just couldn't stand them getting away with it, killing Mom, wanting to kill you. I don't hate you....I hate the fact that your hands are tied.


     "Ours aren't; we're not your enemies." Her voice reaches my ears this time, plaintive, and sad. " I-I miss you, but I can't be who I was. I didn't stay away just because of that, but because I thought it might make things harder for you."


     "Not seeing you makes it harder. I still have lasagna for Sunday dinner, not as good as your mother's, but I make it okay. "


     Before she fades away completely, I see a smile. This is Thursday; better go shopping tomorrow.


    

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 36



     You'd think that Dougie would have better things to do than watch me fress.
Susan was just here, talking a mile a minute about the wedding, the guests, her dress, the whole ding, and I'm a quivering icicle inside, and trying hard not to show it.

     I've BEEN through this before, and I love this woman, and I want to spend the rest of my life here with her, so what's with the internal cold sweats? Not to mention, having this facacta cat giving me looks like I'm in need of a bib....

     Maybe I'm just used to being alone.  Nope, that's not it....I'm lonely, and I'd rather not be. Dougie, good dude that he is, just isn't the same.

     Truth is, I'm afraid; not of her, or what she can do, but of what effect this might have on us, and our relationship. This is kinda why I never actively pursued relationships with other cops-there's just so many things that work on you when you're in that business, and being Legion looks like it'd be like that, in stereo.

     I've seen cop marriages break up because one of the folks involved couldn't understand what it's like to do that kind of job, along with being glad (in a way) that the spouse didn't get what it was about; why would you want your mate to know some of that? Even when they do, like if you're involved with someone who's in the Biz, there's stresses, stuff regular people don't face, usually.

     This has been taken to the Throne in prayer, but no answer yet. At least, nothing loud and clear. A lot of times, that means that I already know the answer, but I'm overthinking the question, something Susan's pointed out to me before. Come to think of it, my mother used to point that out to me, too.

     I realize I'm about to do something totally juvenile, but totally appropriate- I call Pastor Mike, and ask him to meet me at my house in an hour. Then, I send out a call to someone who I know is listening; sure enough, she materializes in my living room, in costume, with her friend Spark in tow, and they're both doing that schoolgirl whispering and pointing thing. I'm not sure, but I think they know what I'm up to. Sue is glowing, and not just from her Nightwitch persona. In an instant, they both Change, and I realize that Spark is the little pixie that dips my ice cream at Faroh's, something-Sextella, I think.

     "It's Jessie," she says, revealing that mental-mojo gift she's shown before....I guess they all have it. I went to school with Jessie's dad, and watched as he was carried to rest at Rose Of Sharon Gardens, about a dozen years ago....damn cancer.

     "Now you've gone and done it", says Susan, walking across the room to me, taking my hand, beaming like Cinderella when the slipper fit, "Mike's on his way, and Jess and I aren't gonna let you get away."

     "You've probably got time to change-no; this is who I'm marrying," she says, running her finger lovingly down the front of my Ghoulardi t-shirt, "and this is how I want you."

     Dougie is rolling back and forth on the floor, as if to show he's dressed for the occasion. Sue bends down and picks him up, holding him like a bouquet- I hope she's not gonna toss him at anyone.
She's dressed in white, albeit a white knee-length skirt and a WMMS Buzzard Nuclear Army t-shirt- I never COULD find one, although she maybe went E-Bay. Her gorgeous red hair is twined in a long braid, wrapped around her brow like a crown. As always, the sight of her makes me tingle.

     This is DEFINITELY the right move. No licence, but marriage is between a man, a woman, and God....Caesar has nothing at all to do with it. Our Pastor will be here in a moment, and counting Jessie and Dougie, we've got two witnesses.

     Mike is knocking, and I let him in....it's showtime.
    

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.