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...