Thursday, September 4, 2014

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 3, 2014

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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