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 strawberry 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.

     I want to marry her right now, not because I'm afraid of getting cold feet or anything like that, but because I know that she's my future, the next step in my life, and I want to get going. Having Susan around has made me realize how lonely I've truly been, and how right we are together.

     There's probably a lot of folks I know who'd think nothing about us just living together, but it never occurs to me-this lady, this relationship deserves much, MUCH better than that.

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.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 28

     There aren't a lot of tall buildings in Alsace, so I sometimes find myself coming here, to the hospital parking garage; I've been doing it for a while, when I've wanted someplace quiet and removed to think.

     Since I can fly now, getting up here is even easier.
I know what Wish wanted to ask me-it wasn't so much what this feels like as it was what I've done, since becoming Nightwitch.

     If I've killed.

     He was a cop for years, and I know he's used deadly force twice, so I know it isn't that sort of question, but it still feels intrusive, not that I'd tell him that, because I don't mind him knowing about me....besides, the answer (so far) is "no"....God grant it stay that way.

     If the answer had been "yes", he'd no doubt want to talk about it, to "make sure that I was okay", and I dunno what that'd be like. I'd rather just see how it goes, if it does happen.

     I can see his house from here, near the tracks and the river, and I picture him sleeping; I once peeked in on him while out patrolling, and saw him sprawled on his back in Dagwood pajamas, Dougie draped atop his head, both snoring.

     Part of me wants to be there, with him, for the closeness, the love-but not yet. I believe in marriage, and so does he; he's never even made a move on me, or even acted as if that were some kind of burden-I love him even more for that. He seems to be okay with me being Legion, as if the only important thing is me, not anything about me, except for my faith.

     Some guys, I wouldn't have believed that about, but with Wish, it seems a fundamental part of him, and who we are. It's like we've been friends for years, and were destined to be together.

     If he were to ask me, right now, I'd say "yes" without hesitation. I know, though, he'll take his time doing it, because he'd feel it proper not to rush.  

     The dawn's breaking....I guess I'll head home. Father, thank You for an uneventful night, and for guiding me through, as I serve my neighbors....and You. 

     In His name, Amen.

    

Monday, July 15, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 27

     Friday night is movie night for me, it's even more fun with Susan there. We choose a film, generally commenting on it all the way through, me, her, and Dougie, who doesn't care what we watch as long as he gets his share of popcorn.

     This particular night, it's one of my favorites,20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; this was the first DVD I ever bought, and I've seen it a dozen times this way, not to mention how many times on VHS, on tv, and at the theater. As it turns out, Susan loves this film too, although she's only seen it twice, on the Disney Channel.

     We're huddled together on the sofa, the bowl of popcorn in my lap, Dougie in hers, and the stalwart crew of the Nautilus is locked in the famous battle with the giant squid.The next thing I know, the remote's in Susan's hand, and the film is on "pause".

     "Wish", she says," why don't you just ask me?"
Now, to be honest, I know what she's talking about....there's only one elephant in this living room.
But, I decide to be an Irish butt-head about it, and answer, "What are you talking about? Ask you what?"

     She lifts Dougie off her lap (to muttered feline complaints), and stands in front of me, hands on hips, an expression of amused exasperation on her face, which goes well with the freckles which pop out when she's emotional. "About THIS, about what's happened..."

     "I've got a more important question to ask," says I, "How do you feel about me?"
The freckles got even more prominent, as did her smile, "I love you, and I know that you love me. Is that the answer you wanted?"

     "You can't imagine how much." I tell her, my smile getting wider, too."Next question; has 'what happened' changed how you feel about me?"

     "Bring your face here," Susan says, and I stand, our faces inches apart. Without warning, her right comes up, and gives me a light, open-handed crack on the cheek.

      "Don't talk like that....Mama smack you."
I don't need a house to fall on me; I look down, and Dougie's looking up at me with his patented "Don't-be-an-ass" expressionon his furry features.

     I take her in my arms, and hold her, for what seems like years, while "Top of the World" by the Carpenters loops in my head. The questions will wait....if they get asked at all.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 26

                                                                  OMAHA

     Dear Lord....what have I done? I came downtown to pay a bill, that's all, just a quick Saturday errand, not this....

     I never thought this would happen. They said he was only seventeen, the same age as my
sister's oldest, and I killed him. He's laying there on the steps, tucked in a body bag, just dead.

     I was walking over to the corner, to get an Orange Julius, when I heard someone yell, "This for KENNY, muthaf____!" I turned, and there was a man about twenty feet from me, poinitng a gun at someone beyond me. Strictly by reflex, I raised my hand, and fired an energy burst, catching him in the chest-in broad daylight, it was almost invisible. The blast knocked him backwards, and down....he was dead when he hit the pavement.

     People were looking around, but not straight at me, so I figured no one knew I'd done it; we can use our abilities without Changing. A few were walking forward, toward the gunman, and I joined them, the ardrenaline rush fading. I was horrified by what I saw.

    This was no "gunman"....it was a young man, still in his teens, eyes staring sightlessly at the overcast sky, a grimace of pain on his features, and a hole the size of an orange burned through his windbreaker, his shirt, and deep into his flesh. 

     I felt sick, and angry, at myself for not doing something else-I'm fast enough that I could've blocked his shot, or collared him without harming him. I accepted the fact that I 'm sanctioned to use deadly force in certain circumstances, but I can't bring myself to believe  that this was one.

     Dear Lord, what do I do?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 25

     Did'ya ever notice, that sometimes, your own reactions to things suprise you? You might think, hypothetically, that something might make you angry, say, but it doesn't, and you wonder what's up with that.

      I'm getting a little ahead of myself, here....
I hadn't been out with Susan in about three weeks; we saw each other in church, but we hadn't gotten together socially in a bit. Well, last Sunday, she came up to me after services, and after a bit of conversation, she offered to cook me dinner at her place that evening, about six-ish. My Ma didn't raise her oldest boy to be a fool, so there was no way I was going to turn this down. This was seconded by Pastor Mike and his missus, who had a gleam in her eye that told me that she probably had been doing a bit of social engineering on the sly.

     I got to her apartment about four-thirty, as the plan was for me to help her in the kitchen. There was a nice roasting chicken sitting in a pan, and after letting me in, Susan went back to peeling potatoes, which would be sliced and roasted-she set me to snapping beans.

     As she sliced the spuds, I saw the knife she was holding slip, and slice deeply into her finger. To my astonishment, the cut closed itself,  without time even to bleed! Susan seemed to not even feel it.

     I was calm....I knew what it meant, and that she hadn't told me about the obvious change in her, but I was calm, not angry, or shocked, just....curious.

     We got all the ingredients cooking, and sat at the kitchen table, where she could keep an eye on everything. We sipped iced mocha, talking about the service, and stuff during the week, when I realized it was time....

     "So", said I, ...."when were you going to tell me?"
The look on her face told me she'd considered playing cute, but decided, I guess, I deserved better. "Actually, I was going to tell you tonight, after I'd stuffed you full of  my mother's roast chicken, potatoes, beans, and German chocolate cake, but it's a little late for that, Wish. I'm sorry...."

     "It's not too late-smells like the chicken's almost done....we can talk during dinner."
When I said that, she smiled, a happy, relieved smile, and I did, too.

     There's an old song that says, "It's time to bring this ship into the shore, and throw away the oars forever".
I'd been fighting that feeling for weeks, being afraid of making a mistake, of losing again, until I found out this secret about her, and realized it didn't matter to me, not the secret itself, not the not-telling me part, there was no way I was going to walk away from here lonely, or let her ache over a mistake that cost her happiness.

     The story she'd told the police, and me, was pretty much the truth, except for one detail; OmegaSon didn't leave right after killing Ernesto, and Susan didn't immediately call the police. What she did was ask OS how to become a  Legion member, more specifically, could someone just ask to become one. By then, dinner was on the dining room table.

     As we tucked into the meal, I asked her what OmegaSon did, when she asked if she could just sign up, as it were.

     "He sat down on a car fender, near me, and said, 'As far as I know, there's no rule against it. If I may, why do you want to join?' "

     "I told him, 'That call was a little close....but it's not just that. I'm sick of people getting away with doing hideous things to other people. Ever since I was robbed a few months ago, I've been wanting to somehow be a part of this, but I didn't know how.' "

      "How did....what did he do", I said.
Susan said, "He took my hands in his, and I began to feel a warmth, a tingling warmth, coursing through my body. It wasn't painful, but pleasant.
The next thing I knew, it was as if I...went somewhere, for an instant, it's hard to explain, but when it was over, I was different."

     "When you cut yourself earlier, could you feel it?"  "Not pain, just the pressure of the knife; I'd hoped you hadn't seen anything."

     There was a silence, heading toward awkward, and I didn't want that, 'cause it might make her think that I felt differently about her, so I asked, "How do you look, I mean, when you change?" She got up from her chair, walked over to the corner near the china cabinet, and with a smile, said, "Like THIS...."
She closed her eyes, and in a second, she was different. I can't really describe exactly how she changed; it was sorta like when someone morphs in a movie, but not quite....like I said, it's hard to describe.

     What she changed into, is not.
She became taller, by almost six inches, and her hair got longer, redder, hanging to her waist, Irish-wild. Her green eyes shone fire, and her skin became pale, like milk. If anything, she just got about ten times more alluiring.

     Her clothing changed, into a form-fitting black dress, with a short skirt, and black tights, blending into black slippers. Around her neck hung a firey green jewel, on a moon-silver chain.

     The word, "breathtaking" doesn't quite describe the effect.
When she's "on duty", as it were, she calls herself Nightwitch, a name she "borrowed from an old friend" .I never got around to asking her who.

     We talked around the subject most important-how this would affect the growing relationship we had.
It wasn't until later that I realized why....we didn't need to.  We both had been lonely for a long time, and were pretty much certain that the magic wouldn't come again. Still, the Lord will give us the desires of our hearts, if we are faithful to Him, and for me, there really wasn't much of earth worth being all that involved with.

     I drove home that night, still breathing in the scent of her hair.

    

    

Thursday, June 20, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 24

     As winter turns to spring, the Legion Of Night remains a topic of controversy. The average man on the street, by and large, applauds them, while the leftist crowd cries, "Fascists!".Law enforcement seems to accept them as a part of the job, which for them really hasen't changed all that much-cops, non-flying, non-bulletproof, still put their lives on the line daily, as first responders have done for years.

     Gradually, a rumbling is heard from the nation's capital....at first, mainly from the more liberal lights on the Hill, then echoed by moderates-the Legion, if it indeed is made up of "our neighbors", as the phrase went, had to reveal their everyday identities to the government, and to the public. The Department of Homeland Security took up the task, calling for Legion members to register at their nearest Federal office, and for those who might know the identities of members to report them to DHS.

     The Legion's response....was no response, presumably as no one had the means to force them to do anything. Media pundits from every stripe debated the silence, but it took a man who'd created comic books for seventy years to explain it.

     "You don't need some yutz from Harvard to explain it", he said, while guesting on a morning talk show, "any kid with a comic book rolled up in his back pocket could tell you-these men and women have families, loved ones, who don't share their abilities, and who'd be at risk if the Legion members' real names were known. Besides, what does the Government need with this information, except perhaps to try to put a hammerlock on these folks?"

     "And what's this crap about children informing on their parents? We fought a WAR or two over dangerous nonsense like that, and I caution everyone watching this to tell DHS to mind their own damn business!"

     Public opinion shifted even further in the Legion's favor, once this quote hit the Internet. When polled, people called the government "extortionists", and suggested physically impossible things DHS could do to itself, and the music to do it by.

     That evening, tv screens across the nation went white once again, then cleared, to show the Legion commmander.

     "We are grateful to you, and we pledge to live up to your confidence in us. Rest easy."

Monday, June 10, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 23

                                                         WHEELING
      I REALLY  need to learn how to control my temper....
Well, they're both dead, and I can't un-do that. Besides, they deserved it, the way they both treated Serina, the beatings, the emotional abuse, the....I need to get my mind off of that, before I go completely ballistic.

     The poor girl was never healthy to begin with, fetal alcohol syndrome we figured at the Agency, what with Sherry and Richie's histories; at fidteen, she looks about twelve, twitchy, and nervous, not to mention diabetic. Her so-called stepfather couldn't keep his hands off her, in more ways than one, and Sherry swore the girl was lying, trying to get back at her for her real father leaving. The mother won custody, her lawyer citing the biological father's criminal record, i.e. one count of possession for sale marijuana back in 1978, Rob never even served time....I still wonder what really happened there.

     I TRIED....interviews, investigations, finally, a hearing that I was sure would place Serina with her dad's family, and put those trolls behind bars.

     Imagine my suprise, when the Agency withdrew its complaint, and the judge returned Serina to her home.

     I was in my apartment, consoling myself, wishing I could comfort her, when I heard her scream, in my mind-I Changed, and flew to her window. That ....animal was in her room, naked, tearing at her clothes, slapping her, cursing her for "gettin' them in trouble."

     The rest was a blur....the next thing I knew, Richie and Sherry were broken, bloody things strewn on the floor, and Serina was curled up jn the corner of her bed, staring at me. 

     "Serina, honey, it's me, it's Lisa", I said to her, as I Changed back; my appearance as Bloodrose can be frightening.

     She became very still, and I thought she was going to scream, or dash out of the room. Instead, she looked at me, and said, "You came....you said you'd protect me, and you came!"

     This wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but as I said, I couldn't un-do it. 

     "Lisa...." "Yes, Serina?" "Can you show me how to do that?"
Well, she's a bit young, but the rules don't mention an age limit....besides, what better way to insure no one hurts her again?

Friday, June 7, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 3

     When I got to Bill and Bud's, the lunch crowd had taken over. I asked the girl at the register for Lieutenant Davis, and she pointed to the rear; Tony was holding down a booth., seated next to a young man who had "banger" written all over him. He scooted away from me as I sat down.

     "Easy, Jerry....this is the guy I was telling you about," Tony said to the boy, "Jerry....helps me out, from time to time",  which probably meant that Jerry was an informant. "Jerry's with the Tenth Avenue Kings; you remember them, Wish?" I sure did, considering one of their lieutenants came close to putting an extra hole in my head-one more reason to move to Cleveland. They'd been a major force on the drug scene since the Eighties, task forces or not.

     We ordered, and tied into our lunches. After a while, Tony spoke. "Jerry called me last night, scared," he said, nudging the young man, "Tell Wish what you told me."

     Jerry said, "Last night, I was headed up Phillips, goin' past Jenny's Place, when this weird lookin' dude comes walkin' towards me, dressed all in black, with no tan to speak of, lookin' all pale and creepy. I was gonna walk around him, when he steps right in front of me, and calls me by name.
 
     'Jerry Micelli', dude says, 'tell your friends the Kings that they have twenty-four hours to stop selling drugs and terrorizing decent citizens, or face the wrath of the Legion of Night' This kinda pisses me off, so I go to shove the creep back, but it's like shovin' a wall.

     "Dude grabs me by the arm, and I can feel the heat of his touch through my shirtsleeve. I couldn't jerk away from him, and punchin' on him did no good, either. He lets go of me, and says, 'Tell them!' real loud, then....he just disappears, like smoke. I took off, before he changed his mind, and came back, or somethin'."

     I'm not sure what to make of this; it isn't Tony's style, to joke about something like this, but....
Then, I look at Tony, and Jerry....they're not joking.

     Like he's reading my mind, Tony says, "Jerry....show Wish your arm." Jerry rolls up the right sleeve of his t-shirt, and there, seared an angry red into the flesh, is a handprint, like a brand. An icy finger starts to trace the nape of my neck, like when I'd have to go after a skel in an abandoned building at night.

     To Jerry, I says, "what are the Kings planning to do?" "Nuthin'", he says, "they think they can handle these guys, but they can do it without me-I'm gonna go see my cousins in Florida , tonight."

     "You do that," Tony tells him, "and keep outta the mess down there; they're all over."
Jerry leaves, and Tony and I get to talking about the general opinion on this. The rank-and-file don't know exactly what to make of it, and the brass are, as usual, taking a "wait and see" attitude, which makes sense-the next move belongs to the Legion.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 22

     My stereo is playing "I think You Know", off the TODD album, Dougie is curled up in his spot on the couch, and I'm just relaxing, thanking God for music, and quiet times. So much has happened in the past few months, some of which I'm still trying to wrap my head around.

     I pop out to the kitchen, and dish up a bowl of Chocolate Marshmallow ice cream-Alsace Dairy is one of the few places that still makes it, and it tastes the same as it did when I was having some along with "Ghoulardi" when I was eight.

     I don't live in the past, although I'm a sucker for the "things were simpler" school of thought at times. Being a grown person is hard, especially when there's so much behind you. I don't believe that dead folks come back as ghosts, but they WILL haunt you, in their own way. The song, "A Dream Goes On Forever", makes me think of my mother, and how cool it was that she not only liked it, she GOT it. Ma's presence is here with me, along with  Mack D, who turned me onto Todd so long ago.

     I wonder what they'd think of all this....the Legion, Susan- they both adored Linda; in fact, I met her at one of Mack's gigs , when we were still in high school-and just everything in the last twenty-some years....Mack's been gone twenty-five years, Ma  twenty-two.

     Dougie's caught a whiff of my ice cream, and he's intrigued....he won't eat it because it's so  cold, but we have to go through this each time. "Here", I say, holding the bowl out to him. He sniffs it, touches his nose to it, recoils as if horrified, glares at me as if I've played a mean trick on him, and stalks into the kitchen, to bury his sorrows in kibble, I guess.

     Cats....still, for the past five years, the old brawler's been a close friend, and I respect his right to be idiosyncratic. I'll pick him up a donut middle from Larry's later on, when I go to get a dozen assorted for me. I finish my ice cream, and carry the bowl out to the sink.

     The orange glow from the steel mill shines in my kitchen window, as it has since before I was born. I'm so glad I never sold this house- I grew up in it, and it was a great place to heal after losing Linda. Almost everywhere I go is someplace I've known since childhood, and I'm blessed to be able to live here, among friends, and familiar surroundings. First Baptist was Mike's father's church, and we were in Sunday School together as kids, going to school at Leach Elementary, Wadworth Junior High, and General Duke High .
Every day, I see faces I've greeted since I was old enough to walk along a street holding my mother's hand, and my favorite pears grow on the big tree in my backyard, as they always have.

     The world changes, strangely, in fact, but Lord, you've given me a little piece of stability, a place to rest, and give thanks. I stand at the window, watching the cars arching over the Henderson Drive Bridge, and thank You once again.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 21

     Finally, the weather's geting warmer....it's actually warm enough for basketball, although the cold doesn't stop some people.  So, last Saturday Tony and I got together for some ball at his place. There we were, sitting in lawn chairs upside the house,  drinking Arnold Palmers, watching his two boys and their friends play in the lot next door-there's been  hoops there for as long as I can remember, and the city kinda-sorta keeps it clear. There's a regular park a few blocks away, but why walk that far?

     Tony's been telling me that some officers resent the official policy on the Legion; leave them alone. We've come to the conclusion that it makes sense, under the circumstances. They've confined their activities to stopping criminal activity, and rescuing people in danger, and have yet to harm any civilians or first responders.Besides, what can you do to them?  True, they haven't eliminated crime, but that's not likely to happen, human nature being what it is.

     Tony says, "I'm still not sure what I think-I'm not gonna lose any sleep over the creeps they've taken out, but at the same time, all we've got is THEIR word on their intentions. What if even one or two of them goes bad?"

     "I kinda think they've got that covered," I say "I'm not entirely sure why, but I trust them. I wish it weren't necessary, but how else do you deal with the worst of the worst? The Bible allows  for the taking of life when innocent life has been taken, and there's nothing that says it has to be done by an official body".

     "What about, 'Vengeance is Mine; I will repay', saith the Lord?" "That's exactly what it's talking about, revenge, not stopping dangerous people before they harm anyone else."

     The talk swings over to Susan's adventure the other day; Tony had recieved a call from a friend on the Toledo force, asking questions about her-basically, her story didn't sound right to him, either. He said she wasn't suspected of anything, just that something didn't read right, like she was leaving something out.

     Maybe she knows who the Legion member is, " I said, "and was nervous that they might ask."
"Maybe, but why would they ask?", Tony says. "I don't know how it would change anything if they knew.
 Also, I don't think she'd tell them if she did know, al things considered....I wouldn't."


     "So....how are you two getting along?", he says to me. I start to speak, but I feel that sappy, schoolboy grin spread across my face, and it  must've been al the answer he needed, because he starts laughing, shaking his head.

    "Bruh, you got it bad....congradulations. You think she feels the same?"

     And so on.

    

Thursday, May 23, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 20

                                                                                                        BOSTON

The full moon, my namesake, shines like a ghost light over the city, casting her radiance over the treetops.
My quarry sits in one of those trees, unaware that I'm hovering silently just above him; he's intent on the hunt, while being hunted.

I notice the cold, but don't really feel it-it's been cold all week, but the hunt goes on, regardless. I chose this profession, and I love the fact that people can feel safer with us out here, even though the hours suck, sometimes. It seems like forever since I sat and watched a bad sci-fi flick on DVD at three am, like I used to, or sat on my deck in the dark, listening to Rundgren through my phones, sipping an ice-cold Old English. 

     Really, nothing stops me, but somehow, I'd rather be out here, looking for those in need.
Speaking of which, my prey seems to be in a spot of difficulty-time to act.

     I drop down through the upper branches, grabbing the would-be predator before he can react, holding him at arm's length as we rise-he can't cut me, but Anna's been complainuing about being more careful of my costumes, 'cause she has to repair them; I suck with a needle and thread. 

     He squirms, and spits, to no avail....he's not getting away.
He calms down, as he sees the little girl on the sidewalk below, smiling up at us.
We settle to the pavement, and  Lashonda reaches out for her kitty.

     Third time this month Tiger has gotten out, and climbed this same tree, after birds, I guess; the thing is, he's not as good at getting down as getting up, so I check for him and 'Shonda while I'm on patrol. Besides, her mother bakes righteous chocolate chip cookies, and keeps lots of cold milk on hand-growing kids, y'know.

Who says being a Legion member has no perks?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 19

    A whole week, and I don't hear from Susan, I don't see her, and I'm starting to get worried-I'm sure that I'd hear if something had happened to her, but still....

      Just then, the phone rings, and-IT'S HER! She wants to take me to the movies later, unless, of course, I've got plans....

     Plans....me?
Anyway, we go to the Dreamland, catch a double feature, and stop off at Sutter's for a phosphate; she wants to tell me something.

     I had a close call, Wish", she tells me, her eyes evading mine, like I was going to judge her for something, "my ex-husband was released from prison two weeks ago, and I wasn't told, or I missed the call somehow, I don't know

     I reached over and took her hand, not sure how she'd react-it just seemed the thing to do. She didn't pull away, but kinda flexed her fingers in mine, like "thank you". "I went back to Toledo, to see my sister-she'd been sick, and I wanted to check on her. I didn't know that Ernesto had come back there after his release.

     "He must've seen me in the old neighborhood, and followed me, because he was in the parking lot of the restaurant when I came out, with a gun-he wanted to force me to drive him somewhere, and I don't  want to think about what came next.

     "He started toward me, when this beam, like blue light, struck him between the eyes....he just crumpled to the ground, dead, a smoldering spot on his forehead. A Legion member, a man who called himself OmegaSon, landed in front of me, and asked me if I was all right. I was a bit shaken up, but otherwise okay, so he left. I called the police on my cell, and left before they arrived"

     "Are you sure you're okay?" "Sure," she said, a smile finally breaking out on her face, weak, but there.
"That's twice I've met these people, in just a few months-it's not the sort of thing you'd expect."

     The rest of the evening was great, or would've been, except for one thing....something just didn't read right. I didn't know what, and I didn't think that Susan was exactly lying to me, but there waa feeling that something was missing, and I wasn't sure if we were far enough in our relationship to ask her about it. I asked the Lord to giude me in this, thanking Him that I even had a relationship to worry about.

     Dougie came in about then, carrying a mouse-I thought he'd gotten over that"carrying his end" phase long ago-and dropped it in front of me, looking up like he expected me to eat it.

     "Had dinner, man," I said, pointing to a Vitelli's box on the table; Dougie gratefully accepted a half slice of pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom, room temp, and fell to, leaving me to ponder "what's up?"

Thursday, May 16, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 18

                                                                                OY!

  What am I, sixteen? I'm mooncalfing over some woman, seventeen years younger than me, after knowing her just a couple of months, and I'm acting like I want to carry her books home for her.

     (Do kids still DO that?)
Dougie loves her to pieces-but then, she's always bringing him stuff, meatballs from Pinelli's, that sorta thing, but she brings me stuff, too....she smiles at me, and calls me "Wish" in this voice that's like Karen Carpenter by way of Crystal Gayle.

     She sat next to me in church yesterday, and Pastor Mike could've stood up there and done the Stock Market reports in High Vulcan, and I never would've noticed. Her hand kept lightly touching mine, and I kept forgetting to breathe....

     I thought I was too old for this, too....WIDOWERED for this; Linda was my great love, and when she died, I had no plans to look elsewhere. After the grieving period, I never really felt alone....or so I thought.

     Susan owns a piece of me, a piece I never even knew was missing.
Y' wanna hear funny? I think Linda's up There, checking this out....and smiling.
Tony keeps talking about "the goofy grin on your face", and his missus giggles every time she sees me.
My place seems empty when she's not here-she hasn't spent the night, or anything like that, we play by the Rules-but she's visited here, and we've been out to dinner, walked in the park a few times, and went to church.

     I don't want to screw this up, because I've got something I haven't had in a long time, not since Linda; I think I'm in love.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 17

                                         CLEVELAND


                                           From my perch atop Tower City, I can see the whole  of Downtown, just like the peregrines who nest up here. Like them, I'm hunting, making sure the folks below have a safe, fun night. The night air is crisp, and brisk, the wind coming off the lake, about fifteen miles per hour, temp's around forty or so....Goddard's right, as usual. 

     Aha....one of our juvies is going to try cracking into a car on Euclid. I launch from the dome, and swoop down on his sorry tuchus, snatching the tire iron out of his hand-hopefully, that'll be enough to keep him home at night; he's wearing out his LeBrons getting away from here.

     Personally, I prefer it when it works out this way-no one gets hurt, and that's one face that doesn't come wafting up in my dreams; I hate keeping my husband awake with my tossing and turning. 

     As long as I'm up, I might as well take a patrol....I'm not the only one of us out here, but I really dig flying, and any excuse is fine with me. I soar over the Rock Hall, then head southeast, planning to do Euclid and playhouse Square. I high-five Nightfang, who's headed to the West Side, drop low enough at the Square to shout hello to Michael Stanley, who's just coming off-shift at WNCX. For fun, I fly in formation with SkyFox 8, so they can get a shot of me for the eleven o'clock newscast.

     I barrel-roll north to Superior, flying just above the underpass at East 55th, turning  my flight into a slow spiral over Hough. It's really a slow night, the cold keeping folks in. Also, some of the bad guys have gotten the message, I think.

     I fly fast over Sowell's place, or at least where the house once stood- the vibes still rise out of the ground there, like the wails of the murdered women....I shudder, and wish we'd come along sooner.
To cleanse myself, I zoom out over Mother Erie, bathing in the cold caress of her winds, loving the lights, like the galaxy inverted, upon her water and her shore. The sleepy lights of my hometown are to the west, a pale fraction of its glory days, when steel, cars, and ships were made there.

     A quick snap-roll and dive, and I'm across the Cuyahoga and over Detroit Avenue, headed for the Happy Dog, a shot of Kilbeggan, and some Celtic tunes, for a wee break.

     I spend my nights like this, stopping crime, helping those in need of help, and in general trippin' off the whole scene. As a native NorthCoaster, I love being able to make a difference here in my adopted home.

     My name is Dreamboat Annie, and my heart is in Cleveland.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 16

     I seem to keep running into Susan Maddock, at the store, at traffic lights, she even came to my church last week; seems she and Pastor Mike's wife, Debbie, work together, and she invited her to services.

     Not that I mind....I really enjoy talking to her, and I want to get to know her better. I know she's been married once, to a psycho she divorced after he went up on felony assault charges,  and that shehas a sister in Toledo. This, I got from Debbie-matchmake much?-but that's okay.

     Take last Friday....I decided to head to Miz Susie's for lunch, rather than fight with Dougie over a sandwich; I'd bring him back something, anyhow. I pull into the lot, and just as I'm about to dock, this bright red Mini-Cooper darts into the slot I'd picked....the nerve! There's another space about two down, so I park my deuce and a quarter there, and clamber out, bent on reminding this jerk about a little thing called manners.

     The Coop's door pops open, and out comes Susan, in a dress just the right shade of green, scarlet hair tied back in a ponytail (hooray for ponytails!) with a  big white daisy pin holding it together, and she's laughing herself silly..

      "Wish", she says, giggling under the words,  "I'm sorry, but the look on your face...." by this time, I was grinning like a schoolboy, ninety percent of which was just being near her- I can only imagine what Dougie would have to say.  I suddenly felt all gangly, and awkward, like I was at the Sixth Grade dance again, and I was trying to work up the nerve to ask Bobbi Smith to dance, which never happened. Rather than stand there gawking like a tourist, I decide to speak.

     I ask her, "Taking a lunch break?" "Nope, she says, "I've got the day off. I was headed to the craft store next door, but lunch sounds pretty good, about now.....how is this place?"

    Thank you, Jesus, for openings.... "Well, if you're into soul food, which is mainly just comfort food, it's the best in town. Besides, I'm treating, if you don't mind."

     "I should mind", She says in a faux- Yiddish accent, "a free lunch....heaven forfend!"

     Next thing you know, we're at a center table drinking iced tea, and watching Miz Susie and Co. work their magic. We shared a basket of wings, fries, and rolls, licking the grease off our fingers and laughing at each other's comments.  I noticed Eula, Suzie's oldest, tap her younger sister, Yolanda, on the shoulder, pointing at us, both of them laughing good-naturedly.

     Miz Suzie herself ankled over to our table, a smile spread across her chocolate features.
"Everything good here?" she said, a twinkle in her eye making me suspect she was talking about more than the food.  We let her know with full-mouthed noises of appreciation.

     "Wish", says Miz Suzie, "who's your good-looking friend? You ain't brought a lady in here since Linda".
I introduced Susan, and the two of them shook hands in that easy way women have with each other, that says they like the company.

     "Lemme tell ya", Miz Suzie said to Susan, "That's the first real smile I've seen on that high-yaller face in  ages....you must be good for him.

     "And you," she says to me, "you behave yourself, or I'll spank you like when you were stealin' my pop bottles, and bringin' 'em in to cash, when I had my store, you got that, Wishgood?"

     Like I'm gonna argue. Besides, I had a mouthful of chicken at the time.

     That evening, while I'm sitting watching an old monster movie on DVD, my phone rings-it's her.
"Wish," she starts out, I just wanted to tell you, I had a great time this afternoon, and I....I wanted to let you know that....I'd enjoy seeing you again. THERE! I said it!"

     She clicks off, and I'm standing there, reciever in hand, heart pouinding like a triphammer, both thrilled and scared by what just happened. If she'd have walked in the door right then, I would've plotzed, and probably been in need of oxygen.

     This wasn't lust, this was realizing that a woman who has captivated me from Day One wants to spend more time with me, the second-hand ex-cop who's already worn out his Golden Buckeye discount card.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 15


CHICAGO


     Outside, the Hawk howls down the darkened corridors of the street, like a lost soul seeking the doorway to Oblivion. Here, inside Tailchaser's, it's crowded, hot and loud, louder than the night wind.

     I'm at the bar, facing the mirror, watching a man moving through the dense crowd , hunting.
He hunts here regularly, here and at the other downtown meatracks, looking for womem lonely enough to lake a walk with a stranger....the last walk they ever take.

     The cops know he's out here, but not who he is, or what he looks like-plus, they're looking for the wrong sort of man; because he targets Caucasian women, they're assuming he's white, when actually, he's multi-racial.

     Like a reef shark, he cruises the length of the bar, scanning for that hint of vulnerability that signals prey. He doesn't look like a threat, rather like someone's slightly older brother, safe.

     What he doesn't know is, he's being hunted....by me.
I send a faint ping in his direction, just enough to get his attention on a subconcious level-he'll think that he chose to look my way just then. As he takes a step in my direction, I look in the mirror, catch his gaze, and rapidly look away, as if I'm afraid of drawing attention to myself, even though I'm dying to be noticed.

     What he sees is a petite woman, in her mid-twenties, white, cute but not beautiful, shyly trying her wings in the big, bad city-his favorite meal, and he's got his favorite utensils in his van.

     I pick up on something amusing....he believes that God protects him from the police, and from us. Somehow, I think he's mistaken....

     He's standing behind me, and I slowly turn to face him, a timid smile on my face.
Perhaps I should've chosen the name Cuttlefish, instead of Resurrection Mary.
As we walk to the door, I decide to do things a bit differently....I'm gonna let this monster find out what all his toys feel like, before I'm done.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 14

     Around the world, people discuss, debate, even argue about the Legion of Night. As the days turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, one thing does become clear....

                                         THE LEGION IS HERE TO STAY.

     Law enforcment officials complain about "vigilante justuce", while a Cleveland cop thanks the midnight guardian who stopped a bullet meant for him.. Sociologists decry the alleged negative effect the Legion has on the inner city, as an East L.A. mother weeps tears of joy, holding her infant, safe, after she and her child were saved from a firey death by a flying woman in a black dress.

     A father, laid off and desperate, decides to rob the liquor store not far from his Dallas tenement, but is stopped by an eerie cowboy, black on a black steed, who snatches the gun from his hand with a glowing bullwhip, then hands him a paper bag with a thousand dollars in it, once belonging to a now-deceased drug dealer, telling him, "You get one shot at this-go feed your son."

     In St. Paul a pale Amazon embraces a tearful wife, crying with her- the water was too cold, and Firefly was too late to save her husband, who'd gone fishing on thin ice.

     An Omaha girl, who'd been saving her virtue for marriage, asks for and recieves the Touch, and rises, healed, potent, and resolved to mete out justice to the wicked. Her assailiant lies in  the alleyway near her,
lifeless, his face a smoking, handprinted ruin.

     They may not be The Answer, but they are a response, and as crime marches on, so does the Legion. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 13

     Sometimes, the more information you get, the muddier the situation.... I'm sitting in my living room, pondering what to do that evening. There's nothing playing nearby that I want to see, nothing on tv worth turning it on for, and my phone hasn't rung all day. Dougie's taking a snooze on the sofa across from me. So, I'm sitting in my ratty recliner, re-reading the file on the Legion, when there's a rapping on my front door. I start to get up when Dougie sits up, looks toward the door, and dashes toward it, chrr-upping like he's just won the 9 Lives Sweepstakes. He reaches the door, gives a loud
Ch-RUPPP!", and steps back, just as a petite, elfin woman in black walks THROUGH my door!

     I'm sorta blown back by this, but I manage to get out, "How'd you...."
"He invited me in," said the woman, gesturing at Dougie, who's gazing at her, purring like a '69 Charger at a stoplight, "and YOU-" she added, "wanted to talk to me....well, one of us, anyhow.
"My name is Spark, and I heard your thought a bit ago, and I thought it might be a gas to stop in, and have a bit of conversation,."

     She's cute, in a Wednesday Addams sorta way, dancer's form, about four foot nine,  black catsuit, slippers, gloves, and a sort of gauzy serape over her shoulders, Emily Dickinson face topped with silver pixie-cut hair, and a red and gold luna moth on a chain around her neck. She carried a strawberry aroma with her, like the natural perfumes girls wore when I was in high school, forty-some years ago.

     "Can I say something first", I ask. "Please do", is the reply.
"Okay....IN THE NAME OF CHRIST JESUS, BEGONE!"
She's still standing there, smiling at me. well, at least I know she's not a demon, which probably means the rest of them aren't, either.

     She strolls over to the sofa, and sits down in what generally is Dougie's spot. Rather than raising a fuss, he jumps into her lap, and starts head-butting and cheek-rubbing her madly, purring even louder, if you can imagine. Spark scratches him behind the ears, paying close attention to the scar behind his right ear he got in a fight when he was two....drives him crazy.

     "So, Mr. Wishgood, what do you want to know?"
"What are you, really?"
"Really, I'm a girl who got tired of the bad guys getting away with hurting people. I lost someone real close to me in a robbery, and I was going to  kill myself 'cause the creep got off, lack of evidence.
Someone came to me, that night, and offered me the chance to bring the killer to justice, and I said yes."

     "What happened? " "It's hard to describe", Spark says, "He placed the palm of his hand on my forehead, and I felt this incredible warmth, this, I don't know, , energy, flowing all through me, it hurt, it felt good, it took forever, it lasted just a second, all at the same time."
I ask, "When you change, does it happen automatically, like at sunset, or something?" "No," she says, with an even wider smile, and a shake of her head, "it's a conscious act. Actually, about the only thing that really changes is our appearance-I'm always bulletproof."

     "How does it work?"  "Mr. Wishgood, you've got a cellphone, right? Do you use it all the time? Do you know how IT works?" She had a point, I had to admit.

     I ask her, "I'm not really sure how to put this, but....have you....killed anyone?"
Spark dropped her gaze from my face, and her smile became sad. "I have, and I feel the same way that you did when you shot someone-I don't take pleasure in it, but it was necessary in each case. We know when someone won't stop feeding on the innocent, and we take them out." "No," she said, as I started to raise asnother question on the subject, "I really can't tell you more about how it works, and I'd rather not poke around in how it feels to kill...you understand."

     I did-I've got two bodies on my record, both righteous shootings, and I stil see their faces each night. Then, I don't think I'd really want to be the kind of person who wouldn't see them. A change of subject seemed to be in order.

     "Are you from around here, Spark?"
"That would be telling", the smile was back, "and I've got to go. Remember, though....we're here to help." she tickled Dougie under the chin, and slowly faded away, leaving the echo of a laugh and the faint scent of strawberry perfume in the air. Dougie, after dropping the six inches or so to the sofa cushion, ruffled his fur, and proceeded to wash, occasionally shooting glances at me.... like I had an answer.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 12

                                                         DETROIT

The church basement is full when I enter....I'm wearing a coat over my costume, so I'm not as noticable. I recognize a lot of the faces here, folks I've known since I was little. This always was a poor neighborhood, although it's gotten a lot worse in the past twenty-thirty years or so, with crack and the gangs. I'm glad I've got the chance to make a difference.

The Reverend Otis Jonlimb is in full swing,  using words to fan the people's fears, as always. This time, he's gonna get a little help, just to keep him honest for a change.

"The Legion is a tool of the white power structure", he bellows, "committing genocide on our young black men, cutting them down in their prime, under the excuse of 'taking back the streets for decent citizens '. Not long ago, they killed over a hundred of our young men, claiming they were a gang.

     "THEY don't see us as 'decent', and they never did- they've been trying to puit us back in chains ever since-"

     The blast I fire into the ceiling makes more noise than anything else, which was what I wanted; I've got their undivided attention. Briskly, I step to the podium, edging Reverend Jonlimb away from the mike. I drop my coat to the floor, so they can clearly see who, what I am.

     "Okay, let's get honest here. The Reverend," says me, pointing a glowing hand in his direction to back him off, "is up to his usual okey-doke. 
"By the way, my name is Sister Moon, and I'm from here, just like you. I played in the street in front of this church, went to Sunday School here, in fact, and I know what the Legion's doin' here, 'cause I'M probably the one doin' it in these parts!"  

     The audience is listening, whether out of fear or what, I'm not sure, but they're focused on what I'm saying.

     "Now, Shuck-and-Jive here", I say, gesturing at Jonlimb," is tryin' to keep the pot stirred, like he always does, but you're smarter than that. These streets are dangerous, and the police can't do much to change that, but we can, and we are. WE  gave the bsangers and crooks a fair chance to just go, and some of them did-the ones that stayed and kept doin' what they were doin'  got what their hands called for.

    
     "Did y'all notice nobody's seen Teddy the Creeper lately? What happened? I did- he ain't gonna be
 botherin' nobody's kids anymore. There's hardly any crack on the corners anymore, 'cause we told them, 'move it or lose it', and some of them listened.

     "Miz Jenkins", I pointed to an older woman near the middle of the gathering, "when I caught Ronnie bustin' in cars, did I kill him? Did I even turn him in to to the cops? No....I brought him home to you, and told him, in front of you, what to expect if he kept it up.

     "We're not an invading army, we're not out to wipe out anyone, we're not even 'THEM'-every Legion member, everywhere, is just like me, someone who's making a difference, and taking back the night for their loved ones and neighbors.

     "Oh, almost forgot....Reverend Jonlimb....that house over on Gratiot, that you own, the one with the teenage boys and girls sellin' booty?
If it's still open this time tomorrow, and you're still walkin' the streets free, I'm comin' for you, and my hand's gonna be all blue, just like this...."
 I say sweetly,  as I turn up the juice, and he skitters away, a dark stain forming on the front of his silk trousers.

     I smile at the crowd, and vanish in the blink of an eye. It's not until hours later that I remember I left my coat behind....nothing in the pockets, but it was a nice coat....Burberry, too.

     Damnit.
        

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 11

    
     It's a little after nine in the morning, and I'm sitting in the kitchen, trying to eat my breakfast, read the "CONFIDENTIAL" file that Tony copied for me,  and keep Dougie away from both of them-his breakfast is over by the sink, but he seems to want scrambled eggs and coffee instead. Also, he's always thought that any reading material brought into the house is either (a) something for him to play with, or (b) something that diverts attention from him; this morning, he seems playful, and his usual starving.

      Finally, I carry him to the back door, and plunk him outside....usually, he gets the hint, and goes to patrol the neighborhood, climbing back in through the bedroom window if it's open, or yowling outside it if it's closed.

     Finally.... I pour another cup of coffee, and open the file. There's not a lot there, and a lot of what is there is of the "we haven't a clue" variety.

     I skip the M.E.'s photos-breakfast, after all- and start reading a sheet devoted to the(observed) physical attributes of Legion members. Strength-wise, they seem to be about twenty times stronger than the average adult human, and evidently almost imposible to harm-bullets fired at them just hit, flatten, and drop to the ground, as if the kenetic energy was absorbed by the target. They can fly,  teleport, and project destructive energy from their hands. They've been seen to ignore fire, and aren't harmed by any of the things that traditionally work on creatures that look like them; they DO resemble vampires, after all, although there's no evidence of fangs. Stakes won't penetrate them (Someone actually TRIED this.... who?), crosses, holy water, silver, nothing, although they've yet to be exposed to sunlight. Tear gas has no effect, although they breathe. It's unknown whetgher or not they need to eat, or if they absorb cosmic rays, or something, no one sems to know yet.

     There have been confrontations between the Legion and police, although they refuse to retaliate against officers, or citizens who aren't breaking the law.. In one instance, an officer attempted to arrest a female Legion member....she allowed him to handcuff her, then she laughed, and vanished, leaving the cuffs to drop to the floor, still locked shut. Unofficially, the APD has taken a "hands off" stance with them, perhaps to keep from ti8cking one of them off, and causing someone to get hurt.

     Outside of what some might call, "wholesale murder", the Legion hasn't done anything illegal; their activities can be seen as "citizen's arrests",  although of a most unusual nature. They've even turned criminals over to the cops, or encouraged them to turn themselves in. Also, they've rescued people from accident scenes, burning buildings, and assaults.

     No one knows what to make of them, or what to do about it once they do. Me, I'm pretty sure they're not here to take over, or turn us into cattle, or anything else you might see on "The X-Files"....maybe they're here as a response to the violence and crime we see these days-they seem almost a wish-fullfilling action; no doubt a lot of people would like to go out and take on the bad guys. From what Darkside said, Legion members were crime victims themselves.

     One thing I AM sure of, is they're not angels; the Scriptures are clear on that, and this isn't the sort of thing angels do. Also, angels aren't people, and never were, where the Legion claims to be made up of what were once regular people.

     Of course, there's some who were angels, who rebelled against God's  rule, and got kicked out of heaven, who fool people by changing form. They would lie about who they were, and why they were here.
Thing is, other than, "we're here, deal with it", the Legion hasn't really said much about itself.

     They keep doing what they're doing....crime hasn't stopped, although it's gone down a bit. I'd like to meet one of them, sometime.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 10

    

     It's a cold, rainy night out on Gerstad Road,  seven miles outside of Alsace....Trina Boronsky opens her eyes. She'd lost control of her Santa Fe trying to make the turn at the Wister Sanctuary intersection, and the vehicle had rolled, winding up on its side partially down a slope, probably leading to the Carmine River. Trina was  stunned, though unhurt, but stuck in her seatbelt. She had no idea how far down the bottom of the ravine was, and her six year old daughter was crying from  her car seat in the rear.

     Suddenly, the SUV shifted, and Trina gasped in fear, thinking that they were about to plunge into the shallow water below them . Instead, the car began to gently roll upright, while moving slowly backward, until it came to a stop on the shoulder of the road.

     There was a gentle tapping at the window....Trina saw a man smiling in at her, a pale-faced
gentleman with brown, widow-peaked hair, cut close, and shining green eyes, dressed in a black suit and trench coat, with a wide-brimmed fedora, also black, cocked on his head. Trina rolled down the window.

     "Are you all right?", the man said to her, his voice very deep, but pleasant, even kind. "Yeah, I think so, but my daughter's crying in the back-"

     "Don't worry, 'Shade'll look at her," Trina noticed a slim, exotic looking woman, also garbed in black, opening the rear passenger door. "That's Nightshade, a friend of mine, and they call me Moonhawk. We came to help."

     "How'd you know-" "  I don't even know if I could explain, other than to say we know when we're needed. Do you hurt anywhere?"

     "I've got a bump on my head, from when we rolled over, but I think I'm okay; it's Megan I'm worried about."

      "I'm okay, Mommy....I was scared, but I'm okay", came a little voice from behind. Trina looked into the rear view mirror, and saw Megan, smiling, entranced by the glowing shapes  Nightshade was drawing in the air with her finger. She laughed along with the child as the shapes danced, as if to unheard music.

      In the distance, the sound of a siren drew closer. "That'll be the ambulance, " Moonhawk said,"I know you feel fine, but we'd like you to wait here, and let them examine you and Megan, okay? We're gonna head back into town."

     "Thank you, both of you," Trina said, "you may have saved our lives tonight."
"Ma'am, it's like Darkside said, when he was on tv; in addition to everything else, we're your neighbors, and we're just doing what neighbors do-look out for each other. . You two have a good night."

     "Bye, Megan," Nightshade said, waving to the little girl. They wafted skyward, and were soon lost against the stars, as the EMS vehicle pulled to a stop.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 9

     Later that afternoon, I get a call from Tony-his Captain won't allow me to come with him to interview the girl from the clubhouse, but he's got an eyewitness I might like to meet; they'll be at Bill and Bud's about seven.

     In the meantime, I straighten up the place a bit, feed Dougie, and sit down to read the paper-these days, it's delivered in the morning, but I rarely get around to reading it until about four, when it used to arrive. Over the years, the Northcoaster has become another McPaper clone, with see-Spot-run writing and a decided topspin to the left-I read it more out of habit than anything else.

     I finish the crossword, and notice the time....I've got just enough time to get to the restaurant and not be late. I scratch Dougie behind the ears, and walk out the door to my 1960 Country Sedan wagon, sending up a silent prayer of thanks when it starts once again.

     Tony's near the back again, this time sitting with a stunning young woman of thirty-five or so, with long, reddish-brown hair, cat-green eyes, and an impish smile as she shakes my hand....for a second, I'm sixteen again.

     "Susan Maddock", Tony introduces her, "this is Damon Wishgood, Wish for short; we were partners when he was on the force. "

     I realize she's still got my hand, and I haven't even tried to retrieve it; she releases it gently, and I swear her smile got wider as she met my gaze.

     Tony says, "Sue reported this last night, and I caught the case, since it deals with our resident vigilantes. Tell Wish what you told me.'

     "Well, I was just leaving the Elysium Theatre about eleven ", she said in a voice mixed of equal parts Southern honey and Midwest twang, "when this guy, about fifteen or so, comes barreling past me, almost knocking me down....he yanked my bag from my hand, and ran toward the corner.

     Just before he got there, this black....shape  swooped down on him, picking him up off the ground. I saw it was a man, a REAL tall man, about six-six or something, in black clothes, a cape, and long black hair, and a pale face-he looked like Lurch dressed up for Halloween."

     "He walked towards me, carrying my bag in one hand, and the kid in the other, as if neither one weighed not much of anything. I was petrified, 'cause I'd seen the broadcast the other night, and read about what happened to the Kings in the 'Coaster.

     "He handed me my bag, then set the boy on his feet, holding him by  his shoulder. The kid was shaking so bad, he might've fallen down otherwise. The spooky guy leans down into the boy's face, and says to him, in this Christopher Lee voice-
"DO YOU KNOW WHAT I AM?"
the kid nods his head, too scared to speak, I guess. Son of Ghoul leans even closer, and says in a voice that was sorta quiet, but hissing with menace,

     "Isn't tonight a SCHOOL night?"
 The kid nods even harder,  and the scary guy lets go his shoulder. The kid takes off like he's on jets, almost slamming into a light pole, and rounds the corner, out of sight.

     "Then....Super Ghoul turns and looks at me, his eyes burning bright green, and....smiles. He shrugs his shoulders, and says,

     "Who knows, it just might work!"
and takes off, straight up, and disappears into the night sky. I walked over to Annie's, had a double, then called the cops."

     This is getting stranger by the minute. Part of me is really glad I don't HAVE to deal with this, but another part is hooked straight through the curiousity.

     Then, there's Miss (Miss?) Maddock; my hand is still tingling.


    

Friday, April 19, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 8

           Pastor Mike and I agreed to meet at Miz Susie's for lunch; it's a storefront soul-food place downtown just off the main drag on Seventh Street. He's my pastor, and one of the on-call Chaplains for the A.P.D. We've known each other since first grade, and, in addition to saving souls, Mike still plays a mean set of drums, and can still slam the rock into the hole. His four kids are like the ones Linda and I never had, and I'm almost as much in love with his wife, Debbie, as he is-I introduced them after she and I discovered we were better as friends, just after high school. He led me to Christ, and he and his church took me in after Linda went Home.

     The lunch special was pan-fried pork chops, with sides, and we both ordered it enthusiastically, mine with green beans and mashed taters, and double corn on the cob for Mike. It came quickly, and we laid into our plates like good Baptists do, thanking Him for the food, Miz Susie, and a working set of taste buds.

     Over Mike's shoulder, I could see Miz Susie, all three hundred pounds of her, waltzing around the kitchen like Astaire squiring an invisible Rogers, stirring, turning, shaking skillets, tasting, and ruling over the eight daughters  who made up her kitchen / wait staff.

     We'd thoroughly demolished our lunches, and were on large portions of peach cobbler, a'la mode, and coffee when the conversation got serious.

     "So....what d'you think this is about?" "To be honest, Wish, I dunno; the Scriptures say that, when innocent blood is shed, it must be answered in blood, and despite what some say about that being "only Old Testament", Christ said He wasn't there to change a jot or tittle. I'm in favor of capital punishment, and I don't doubt that these people the Legion has killed have  bloody hands, but I can't help but wonder who-or what- they are, and what their agenda might be."

     "Do you think they're human?", says I.
Well", Mike says, "according to the one who made the tv broadcast, they are; you remember he mentioned that some of them, at least, had been crime victims themselves."

     "But....how can they do the things they do?"
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what you're really asking is, 'are they of God'? I don't have a clue. They may be something that the Lord is allowing, for His own purposes."

     "Y'know what gets me", I told him, "is the fact that they're like you and me during the day, at least they look like regular folks. One of them could be in the restaurant here with us, and we'd never know. "

     "Your point being....?" said Mike, smiling across the table at me, his Jamacian / Irish features beaming, "Don't forget, they are in need of a Saviour, just as we were. In fact, there's nothing that says that at least some of them might already be saved."

     I gulped down some of Miz Susie's excellent coffee, chewing on that.