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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 7

      I open the tent flap....the boys are still sleeping, which means they heard nothing....good.
I'd snatched Mr. Snyder from his tent, and carried him deep into the woods- they'll probably never find what I left of him.

     He didn't recognize me, but then I'm a lot older than I was when he brought me into these same woods, and used me for his sick pleasures, and I change a bit at night, these days.

     Snyder couldn't scream, because I'd seared his mouth shut before I got started. I brought along his bag of toys, too-he was probably just moments away from enticing one or the other of these boys into his tent, to spend a horrible night of pain, shame,  and secrets.

     No more-Snyder's roasted his last weenie.
The older boy, about eleven or so, opens his eyes, and says to me, "wh-who are you?"
"I am Raven", I tell him, as he takes in my black and red costume and cape, " and I'm here to take you home".

     "What about Mr. Snyder?", says the boy, whom I discover is named Trevor, "he drove us out here to camp overnight-" " Mr. Snyder is gone; he's not coming back," I say, "but I've got the keys to his car, and I'll drive you and your friend- "Stevie!" up pipes the smaller boy, awake and smiling at me; judging by his Avengers t-shirt, he's a Marvel fan. "Are you a super-hero?"

     "I....guess you could say that, " I reply, although I'm sure the police would have other names for me.

     "Isn't Raven a girl's name?", asks Trevor. "It can be, says I, "but in this case, it's my name".
"You guys, get your stuff together,  and we'll be on our way. We can stop for ice cream on the way back, if you want-we go right past Brenda's Creme Corner coming into town".

     The vote's unanimous, and twenty minutes later, we're rolling northeast toward Alsace, singing about bottles of beer on the wall.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 6

     In the movies, retired cops have a network of friends who get them into crime scenes, bring them files, evidence, and call them with information. For me, being a retired cop got me a seat in Tony's car, while he checked out the King's former headquarters 
     From what he told me,  I'm just fine with that.
"They were all dead", he said to me, his face ashen and sweaty, "some torn to pieces, some with holes blasted through their bodies, others burnt like weenies too long on the grill....never seen anything like this!"
He was buckling in as he said this, like he couldn't wait to get away from this place. "What....who could kill that many people like that?"

     "Those folks from the tv last night, " said me, "they said they were sending a message....looks like they did. The Legion of Night....sounds like something out of a comic book. Were there any witnesses?"

     "A girl, she was there partying with the Kings. She wasn't hurt, but she's hysterical, no wonder; she says two other girls who were there turned into vampires or something, and started whacking everyone in sight-she ran up a flight of stairs,  climbed out a second-story window and ran  until she was stopped by a blue-and-white responding to all the gunfire. She's at St. Peter's, up on 4-D, probably tranked up to her hairline; I almost wish you still drank, Wish-I could use the company."

     "Tony", I said, "what you need is to go home, hug your wife and kids, and get some sleep-Marge is probably already wondering what you're gonna be like when you roll in."

     "And what are you gonna do?" "What good Baptists always do-have a talk with my Pastor, and something to eat, preferably at the same time."

     "Tomorrow, she may be able to tell us more," said Tony, "I can probably square it for you to come along, if you want...."

     "Let me know if it's okay," I told him, "there's something about this that intrigues me, and creeps me out at the same time-yeah, I want to go."

     Inside, I'm praying, Lord, let me be of help, if I can; there must be a reason why I'm involved.
I headed home, to a silent apartment, and an allegedly starving cat.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 5

      It's past midnight, and Tenth Street is quiet, except
for the rundown building in the middle of the eighteen hundred block. The Pendragon Arms had been a nice-but-affordable address once, but over the years it gradually decayed, along with the neighborhood, until the Tenth Street Kings became the sole tenants.

     The residents around the Pendragon didn't know how  the lights and water stayed on, nor did they dare to ask- the Kings liked their privacy, and unless you were a member (or a customer) you weren't welcome.

     Inside, there was a party going on, moving in and out of various apartment spaces in the five story building, while drugs and young flesh were sold on the first floor. No one, not even the cops, sought to disturb the scene; there were too many Kings, and far too many guns. The gang numbered about fifty regulars, plus almost as many reserve members and wannabees, spoiling for something to do

     Rik-Rik and Cheeseburger were on the front stoop, guarding the entrance. No one got past them without an okay from the lieutenant slouched in a chair just behind them, a forty clutched in his hand, which he swigged from periodically. He knew the local crackheads by sight, and hotties were always welcome, like the two  hos that had just entered. Looking to party, and not too bad looking, one white, one black, about sixteen or so. He waved them in, reaching out to grab the rear of the snowball as she passed him.

     Two minutes later, the air was split by a scream of pain. The War Chief, Otis, came flying out of the door, howling in agony, a hand clamped over his smouldering crotch. Before he could cross the yard, a bolt of blue fire struck him between the shoulder blades, dropping him in the dirt, a smoking hole in his back.
 Gunfire erupted as the three Kings out in front raced into the building, to confront a scene of horror....

     The two girls were gone-in their places were two dark women, dressed in black, with burning eyes and pale faces, even the black one, long hair whipping as they moved swiftly, bringing death to all they faced.
The darker, ashen-faced one grabbed a banger by the neck, snapping it in one motion, while her paler companion fired a blue bolt of flame from her outstretched right hand, blasting a hole in the chest of a shotgun-toting King. Bullets tore their clothing, but had no effect on their flesh-it seemed to close right after the wound opened, the bullets just dropping to the ground. Young women ran from the carnage, unmolested by the two Valkyries, who left a swath of blood and burnt flesh in their wakes.

     Rik-Rik fell, his skull crushed by a pipe thrown by one of the women, and the lieutenant burst into flame, his entire body wreathed in blue fire almost instantly. Cheeseburger turned to run, but suddenly, the ashen-faced woman was between him and the door, her eyes riveted on his face, a feral smile stretching her lips, as she raised her hand, glowing palm extended ....

     Cheeseburger's last thought was "Momma!"

Monday, April 8, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 4

     It's evening, I've fed Dougie and myself, and I decide to relax in front of the tube-COZI is showing "Banacek", then "Castle" comes on another station.

     Just after the main credits start showing, my screen turns white, then another picture comes in; either it's the guy Jerry ran into, or a close relative. He's pale, with white hair down past the collar of his cape, or cloak, I should say....it's got a cresent collar, like Dracula's, it's black, and I've got the feeling it reaches to the floor.  What I can  see of the rest of his outfit is also black. 

     I click my remote, and he's on the next channel, too, and the next-this is starting to spook me a little. 
The camera tightens on his face, and he speaks, in a voice deep, and cold, like Lake Erie in November- 

     "I am called Darkside, I am the leader of  the Legion of Night, and I bring a message. 
For far too long, the predators of society have ruled, making decent citizens fear to walk the streets, and feel unsafe in their own homes....we are the solution. We are taking the streets back, and returning them to the citizens.

     "Those who live honest lives have nothing to fear from us, for we are your protectors. Those who serve the law also need not worry-we will not harm you, for you cannot harm, contain, or stop us. 

   "To those who feed upon the innocent, notice is served....If you persist in your ways, we will find you, and we will destroy you, as you've destroyed the peace and reassurance of the decent citizens of this nation. 

     "Every city of fifty thousand  or more has a Team assigned to it.. We live among you, until we are called into action. We each know what it is, to have the knife at our throats, the boot upon our necks, and we will be out there, in the darkness, making sure you are safe.

     Tomorrow, each host city will find a gift, a gesture of good faith, from the Legion, to demonstrate that we are who we claim, and will do what we say.  

     "Sleep well, for we are on watch."

     Just like that, he's gone, and the regualrly-scheduled program is on. I'm praying, because a chill just walked on heavy tiptoe down my spine.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 2

      It's Monday morning, eight am, and two things wake me up- my alarm, and Douglas, my cat, who for some strange reason likes to sack out on my head. When he was a kitten, it was cute, but at fifteen pounds, he can be a bit much.
     I carefully peel Dougie off of me, set him on the bed, and send up a prayer; Good morning, Lord. Thank you for watching over me as I slept. Dougie sits watching me impatiently, starving feline that he is, his tuxedo-colored fur twitching in spots.

     As he plows into his kibble, and my coffee is brewing, I stroll into the bathroom, and take that dreaded First Look-middle aged, overweight, salt and pepper hair, salt and pepper ancestry, Christian, widower, retired cop, Damon Allen Wishgood. The view's even worse after I put on my glasses

     I ask myself again why I came back to Alsace, after twenty-odd years on the Cleveland Police force, and I give myself the same answer, "It was easier, you yutz." It wasn't the shooting, the rehab, or the early retirement-it was Linda. We met in high school, married, and were each other's best friends for nearly thirty years. No children-my problem, not hers- but we carried each other over every threshhold we ran across, right up to the end.

     I know where she is, and I know I'll see her again, but I miss her now, and the Second District, all of Cleveland, was just too full of her. Cancer can kill so much more than just the patient, especially when it goes into hiding for a time, and lets you think everything's going to be fine. I was recovering from a bullet to the chest when we got the first diagnosis, months of prayer, chemo, remission, then the relapse....she was gone so quickly.

     They say your faith gets you through the tough times, and it does- but sometimes, you're barely skimming the wavetops.

     I'm okay....it took time, but I returned to our hometown, re-connected with a few buddies on the force here, and became valet to a fifteen pound tomcat in evening wear. We keep each other company, although he's yet to spring for dinner.

     As I'm sipping that first cup of crank-turner, thinking about going to fetch the morning paper at Garcia's,
my phone rings. Since Dougie is busy, I answer it.

     "Wish," says the voice at the other end, "can you meet me at Bill and Bud's for lunch? Something weird's going on...."

     "Tony, like what," I say to my former partner. We cruised in a blue and white for three years in North Alsace, before me and Linda moved to Cleveland (better opportunities, we thought). "is it those idiot bikers again...."

     "Nope, I wish it was that simple", says he, "just meet me there, and I'll tell you everything I know....see ya." I'm hearing dial tone.

     Lunch is three hours away, and my spidey-sense is tingling. I'll be there, no doubt. First things first....shower, shave, read a couple chapters of Romans (for Sunday School this week), walk the five blocks to Garcia's Market, grab the paper, a couple bagels, and some chicken for supper -thighs, which will wind up in the oven with some potatoes, walk back, stopping to talk to a couple old-timers in a blue and white who 're just rounding the corner by my house-I thank God for the fifty-lebenth time that I never sold, just let it out to rent- they say tyhat there's a strange vibe in the streets lately, and rumors of someone stalking the mooks that run at night, although no one seems to know exactly what's going on.

     Arriving home, I straighten up a bit when I get back. I don't believe in ghosts, but sometimes, if I let things go for too long, I feel like Linda's disappointed in me. She loved a neat house, and taught me how to appreciate one. I was never a slob, but I have a habit of letting things get cluttered; I've got CDs stacked by the player, rather than on the shelves, books left out on the seldom-used dining room table, and the bedroom looks like a fire sale went on.

     Dougie smells chicken, and is going through his Starving, Mistreated Feline routine, even though there's a half bowl of 9 Lives about four feet away. I shoo him  away from the package (as a young'un, he once ate an entire pound of hamburger from Gebheart's Kosher), and put the meat in the freezer. I look around the kitchen, with so  many things that say Linda, things I couldn't bear to get rid of, although everyone said I should.

     By now, it's after ten, so I throw some clothes in the washer; they'll be ready for the dryer before I leave for lunch. Sometimes, I miss being out in the field, working a case, but I recognize that I needed to get away, let myself grieve, let the Holy Spirit heal my wounded soul.

     Portrait of Damon Allen Wishgood, aka Wish, in his native habitat; the hits just keep on comin'.

    

Monday, April 1, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 1

     A cold wind blew down the brick-paved alley behind Collins Street, as Alsace prepared for another winter. Laketowns always got cold early, and the winters were often harsh, as harsh as some of the people who roamed the night-lit streets....

     J-Roll blew on his hands, wishing for the tenth time that he had gloves. "F__it", he said to himself, "buy me some gloves after I hit me a lick". His wiry body, shivering slightly even inside a jacket, was tense with anticipation, for J-Roll was a hunter, albeit a minor one, dashing out of dark corners to rob tourists and bar-hoppers with a gun and an attitude. He wanted money, and saw no reason that these Pill Hill slummers should have while he lacked. Since he was fourteen, he'd made his way on the streets, hustling, taking, robbing when it suited him.

     At the end of the alley, he saw a figure, silhouetted by the streetlight at the alley's mouth, walking toward his blind behind the Dumpster. "Showtime", he thought, settling his grip on the revolver, stepping forward as the man in the long....coat? came closer

     "GIVE IT UP, 'SCHOOL!", he hissed, thrusting the weapon into play.
Strangely, his quarry didn't react, at least, not in a normal way....no cringing, pleading, no fumbling for wallet or watch, just silence, and a calm posture.

     "J'you hear me, a__hole? I want what you got-"
J-roll thrust the muzzle of the gun toward his victim's face, angrily, his anger turning to fear as the shadowy figure, garbed with and cloaked in black, grabbed his weapon hand with unnatural speed and strength. Its other hand reached for his face, plastering itself over his features,
BURNING....

     Moments later, the silence of the night had returned to the alley. J-Roll, a smoldering handprint searing his skin to the bone lay lifeless, the prey of a far more potent hunter....

     The Legion Of Night had arrived; hunting season was open.