Wednesday, November 21, 2018
EIGHTEEN: INTERLUDE TWO - SHADOW FOX SEES THE LIGHT
GERALD FARNSWORTH III, ALSO known as the Shadow Fox, knelt in the mouth of the alley, invisible among the shadows, and watched silently as a woman in a bright yellow evening gown strode boldly down Queen Street. He’d spotted her from the top of the old Kent building. He’d not even had to use his binoculars to see her, that dress cut through the night like a flare.
It was clear from the way she walked that she was more than a bit inebriated, which explained why she’d be out in this part of town, at this time of night, and wearing a dress that would draw every predator to her like moths to a flame. So he’d decided to shadow her.
There was a time, not too long ago, when your average citizen could walk anywhere in Garrison—day or night—and feel safe, thanks to Captain Might.
But no more.
Gerald shook his head in disgust. It had been almost two years now, but he still found it hard to believe that Peter had gone through with his asinine plan.
Captain Might had retired.
It just didn’t seem real. It certainly made work more difficult for Gerald and his contemporaries. Once the criminal element had gotten used to the idea that Captain Might was really gone, well... They’d gone had themselves a field day. And it’s yet to end.
The lemon-clad woman didn’t get all that far before she was noticed by the filth that made their home in East Garrison. Three men who found an opportunity—the girl —and seized upon it. He’d seen it all before.
The three were members of a local gang known as the Down Boys. All three of them looked as if they had stepped out of a music video. Gerald, as ancient as his fellow Mighties thought him to be, knew that their style of dress and their long, teased hair was currently in fashion. He also knew that the style had been influenced by that rock-n-roll music with the loud, squealing guitars and the legions of kids banging their heads like a bunch of idiots. Regardless of what was popular, he thought they looked like girls and couldn’t for the life of him understand why they hated their parents so much.
Gerald studied each of the three in turn as they surrounded their victim. He always preferred, when possible, to size up his opponents before leaping into the fray. The more you knew, the better for you.
“Where you going, Rock Queen,” Down Boy Number One called out as the three followed. He had jet black hair that had to have had at least six bottles of hair spray on it to get it to defy gravity the way it did. He wore ripped up jeans and a leather jacket over a neon green t-shirt. The leather was white and Gerald decided on that fact alone that this guy would go down first.
Down Boy Numbers Two and Three were twins and wore more brightly colored spandex than an aerobics class.
The girl, to her credit, didn’t answer. She kept moving on down the sidewalk, bringing her pursuers straight to the alley where Gerald lay in wait.
The White Leather Idiot reached out and took the girl by the arm, halting her progress. “I’m talking to you, Sweetness,” he said.
The Spandex Twins laughed.
Gerald watched as the girl, tears in her eyes, turned to her captors.
“Look at what we have here, Razz?” White Leather said, looking down at the girl.
All of these guys had names like Razzle, Finn, or Kizzy. Gerald wondered once again what their parents could have done to deserve such shame.
“Rock Queen,” one of the Spandex Twins said from behind the girl.
“Whatchoo doing out here, Rock Queen?” the other said.
The three walked in circles around her.
“Yeah, baby. Don’t you know that it ain’t safe out here after dark?” It was one of the Spandex Twins again, Gerald couldn’t tell the two apart.
“Dark?” White Leather said. “It ain’t safe to be out here any time.”
“We’re gonna have to look after you, Rock Queen,” said one of the twins. “Keep you safe.” His smile said something else entirely.
Gerald rolled his eyes and would have sighed if he wasn’t trying to stay hidden. It all just seemed so cliché. A woman alone at night in the wrong part of town, three men with nothing else on their collective minds than getting a few cheap thrills off of the poor, helpless woman... it was just all so Movie of the Week to him. Yet here it was, happening right in front of him.
“You boys keep an eye out,” White Leather said. Then he took hold of the girl by her wrist, and pulled her toward the very alley in which Gerald had hidden himself, concealed within the shadows.
All three of the hooligans laughed.
The girl struggled and screamed, tears streaming down her face.
Gerald moved further back into the shadows and waited.
“Don’t worry, sweetness,” White Leather said as he got her into the alley. “We ain’t gonna hurt you or nothing. You just gotta pay the toll for walking our streets. You got any cash on you or what?”
The girl reached out and raked her fingernails across the punk’s face. He screamed and pushed her away from him.
Gerald smile. The girl wasn’t helpless after all. But still, it was three against one.
The White Leather Idiot touched at his face gingerly, his probing fingers finding blood.
“You’re gonna pay for that, Sweetness,” he said. “This could have gone easy. Now it’s going to hurt.” He reached out and pushed her to the ground.
She fell hard on her bottom, the wind whooshing out of her lungs.
“I’m giving you another choice, Sweetness,” White Leather said, looking down on the girl. “I’m going to hurt you, that’s a foregone conclusion by this point. You do what I say from here on out, then I’m only gonna hurt you a little. Got me?”
The twins snickered from behind him.
Gerald had seen enough. He pulled a set of three steel balls from a pouch on his belt. Each ball was the size of a quarter and weighed about five ounces each. With his other hand, he pulled a small black capsule, like something you’d take for a cold, from another pouch. He threw the three balls at White Leather, aiming for his head. The instant they left his hand, he transferred the capsule from the one hand to the other and threw it to the ground at the mouth of the alley.
The three steel balls struck White Leather on the temple and he dropped like a man who’d just been hit in the head by three solid steel balls.
The black capsule then broke apart on the pavement at the mouth of the alley and great clouds of smoke escaped, rolling forth like a curtain. White Leather began to stir. Gerald leaped upon him and went to work.
The other two could see nothing through the wall of smoke and backed away warily as their companion began to scream. Gerald could have taken this leather clad idiot down in an instant, a simple taser would have done it, but the Shadow Fox had a reputation to maintain, and he wasn’t about to disappoint.
From experience, Gerald knew that he’d have twenty good seconds in this wind before the smoke would begin to dissipate. That was more than enough time to make a point.
He was like a surgeon, breaking bones cleanly, incapacitating the gang member without doing too much lasting damage. Sure, the guy would walk with a limp for the rest of his life, but he’d walk, which was more than could be said of the girl had White Leather and the twins finished with her.
Gerald had timed his take-down so that he was bent over White Leather—his cape spread out around them like the wings of a demon—as the smoke dissolved. Such theatrics would typically freeze the others in their place, so overcome by fear they wouldn’t be able to move. Gerald would then turn from his victim and direct his gaze upon the others. At that point, they would run. Bolos to the legs would stop them, and then gravity would do the rest.
Yet, as the smoke cleared and Gerald began his turn, a loud crack sounded and something punched him in his side, just below the ribs. He was knocked sideways off of White Leather, away from the other two long-haired hoods. Pain lanced through him, and as he tumbled, he noticed something in the hand of one of the twins.
Then he was down and they were on top of him, kicking and punching. He tried to lash out, tried to grab hold of something or at least shield himself, but he couldn’t make anything work.
Damn you, Peter, he thought as the blackness took him.
But then, as his vision blurred, and the darkness set in, a light appeared all around him.
He smiled, contentment coming at last as he gave himself over to the light.