Wendell Leiter was no stranger to the finer places in Atlantic City. In his time, he’d trolled the high roller tables and VIP lounges; made deals in glitzy ballrooms and four star restaurants, and slept in top tier suites.
Finding himself in the Veracruz private dining room of the Twoflower was like a shark finding itself in saltwater. But this time, he was drawing no comfort from it.
It was the morning after his near-death experience and first meeting with Anansi. The stiflingly charismatic man hadn’t filled them in any further, only handed each of them his card and inviting them to breakfast at the Twoflower the next morning.
Presenting the card at the front desk got him swiftly escorted into an elevator and up to the private dining room, where a buffet style breakfast was laid out before a banks of windows offering a panoramic view of the city.
But when the valet left him, Wendell found himself alone with Susan Polanski, the woman who, less than twenty-four hours earlier, had been willing to kill him for one hundred grand.
She sat at the finely set table in the middle of the room, positioned so that she was facing … Continue reading
Terrell King was waiting in the Twoflower’s lounge when Anansi decided to make his appearance at eleven in the morning. From the three thoroughly rifled courtesy newspapers and two empty cups from the coffee machine at the end of the continental breakfast bar, he’d expected Anansi much earlier than this.
“I’m glad you took me up on my offer.” The Spider greeted him like an old friend.
“Just tell me where we’re going and what we’re doing.” Terrell said tersely.
Anansi ignored the open hostility and breezed past him to get a cup of coffee of his own. “We’ll be going across town to the Bridges Tower.” As he explained, he added two sugars and five creams. “As for what we’re doing? We’re stopping a murder.”
It was said with such a casual flippancy that Terrell almost missed it completely. And once he grasped what was just said, he wished he had missed it. He crossed the space between them with urgency and grasped the other man by the arm. “What the hell did you just say?”
Every calm, even as the jostling of his arm sent a spatter of boiling hot coffee across his arm, Anansi smiled wanly. “I … Continue reading
Two hours later and his waitress was staring.
Anansi looked up from his food laden table and smiled at her. She tried desperately to look as if she hadn’t been staring. He just took a sip of his ice water and tried to decide what to eat next.
It had taken ten trips, twelve plates, five soup bowls and an additional bowl made from a tortilla, but a proper sampling of all the food on the Twoflower hotel’s All You Can Eat Buffet lay in a spread before him.
All in all, it was a mixed bag. The salad limited the actual greens to lettuce that wasn’t nearly crisp enough, the white beans were in desperate need of salt, and the barbecue pork was unfortunately bland. On the other hand, the mashed potatoes were fluffy and buttery, the macaroni and cheese (three kinds!) were delicious, the sliced beef was juicy, and the chicken nuggets were a new and exciting take on poultry that he wished to investigate in depth.
For his fourth plate, he scooped some roasted potatoes on top of cooked spinach alongside an ear of corn, and a turkey leg. He also pulled the tortilla bowl, filled with … Continue reading
St. Louis, MO
The doctor on call met the EMTs at the door as the patient was wheeled in; a black man in his late thirties, wearing obvious second hand clothes. He was mumbling to himself and his eyes refused to focus when checked with a pen light.
As the one EMT gave the doctor the run down of what the diagnostics on the ambulance could tell, the other spoke to the the sheriff’s deputy who had followed them from the scene.
“I know him.” He explained to her, his face a portrait of displeasure. “I volunteer a the soup kitchen not far from where you found him. That’s Robert Butcher. He’s… sort of a leader among the local homeless. Works with the social workers, tells them who needs the most help, who needs medicine, that sort of thing.”
The deputy didn’t seem much bothered by this, maintaining a look of merely professional courtesy. “The homeless like to set up camp on the roofs in the summer, think that’s why he was up there?”
“Only abandoned buildings.” The EMT said, missing her general lack of empathy. “They don’t trespass, Robert the least of all.”
This was written down in the … Continue reading
Chapter the Sixth; In Which Other Home Lives Are Revealed.
Urban was changing from her costume into her work clothes on the roof of her building while casting a wary eye at the building across the street from her. It was several stories taller than hers, and with windows looking out from every room.
Some day that building would be bought up by someone, And once that happened, it was only a matter of time before some tenant there opened their shades and got an eyeful. She really needed somewhere else to change and to store her gear.
At that thought, she stowed her neatly folded costume in the carefully hollowed out corner of the roof and replaced the tile and tar paper that covered it. A quick scuff of her foot smoothed the gravel back over that, rendering the hiding place invisible.
It wasn’t the best hiding place, but with Melinda living with her full time now, the apartment was out of the question. Unless of course, she wanted to explain to her daughter why mommy had a trunk full of military surplus.
That was probably coming, but hopefully not anytime soon.
She took her time to stretch and … Continue reading
Chapter the Fifth; In Which The Title is Non-descriptive.
Stunner won the next hand on a full house; threes and eights. The bet wasn’t nearly enough for her to break even after a night of betting the limit and having more tells than a campfire story.
At least she was gracious about it. Go figure; she could spend the good end of an hour complaining or chastising us about every little aspect of heroism, but she loses money without a cross word.
Improv raked in all the cards and pushed the cards over to Urban, but she raised her hands and scooted away from the table. “Sorry, guys, but I think that’s it for me for tonight.”
I almost teased her about quitting while she was ahead. After all, she and Improv were the night’s big winners. But before I could, Improv grunted in agreement. “Yeah. Time to go.”
“And here I was going to try and raise the staked now they you’re all tired and lied with alcohol.” Owl, ever the good host laughed and got up, headed for the bar. As he did, he stretched, working out the kinks from sitting so long. “So. Same time next week?”
… Continue reading
Chapter the Fourth; In Which Barn Owl Does A Favor.
Owl passed the cards to me so I could deal while he went to grab another beer. He came back with one for Improv and Stunner too who had empties in front of them from their third and second beers respectively.
He took his seat just in time for me to start dealing. “Okay, so. This story doesn’t leave this place, got it? It’s just between the five of us.”
“You’re being pretty dramatic about this.” Urban laughed. “I thought this was going to be a funny story.”
“Way over dramatic.” I said. “It’s not even embarrassing, it’s just… cute.”
“Cute?” Asked Stunner.
“Yeah.” I said carefully. Her tone sounded incredulous for no apparent reason. “What about it?”
“Nothing.” She said, trying to sound innocent. “Just surprised to hear Mr. Super-cowboy talking about ‘cute’. Didn’t think it was manly enough for you.”
“Okay.” I finished dealing the cards and pointed at her. “First, I’m not a cowboy. Do you see a six-gun? Do you see spurs? Do you even see a lasso—which would be really useful if I knew how to use one—but I don’t because I’m not a cowboy.”
… Continue reading
Chapter the Third; In Which Improv Encounters Travelers From Out of Town.
There was a party going on on Broadway. The third big brouhaha of the month and probably the eighth since New Years. The Tricentennial encouraged people to take any excuse to party and run with it and the college kids around Morningside Heights could run with the best of them.
And it sounded like they were marathoning that night. Improv could hear whoops and the beat of the music from blocks away, in a man made valley of brownstones in the shadow of a towering student apartment building for the nearby college.
In addition to his armor, helm and goggles, he wore a long, wool coat with lots of pockets, not only for his various devices, but for the potentially useful pieces of scrap of hardware he picked up during patrol. And he carried the Big Stick over one shoulder.
It had started life as a baseball bat but now looked like a knobby club made out of curved ceramic tiles with a rounded steel cap. There was a row of pressure sensitive triggers in the handle.
It was near the end of his patrol, just a quick … Continue reading
Chapter the Second; In Which Urban Amazon Tells Her Tale.
It was nearly three o’clock and a sullen, warm rain was falling and pooling into rivulets that ran down every hard surface, making them treacherous. Aboard the boat, just putting in at a private mooring on the Hudson, the inexperienced crew were having a hard time on deck.
A miracle, or more likely, a large sum of money had gotten them past the coastguards stationed at the boat locks in the New York and New Jersey Oceanic Wall. The Wall, as it was simply called by, was a colossal ceramic levee built across the Narrows to help protect the harbor from rising ocean levels that, thanks to better regulations and technology weren’t going to come. The shortsighted, many of whom lived in the first places that would have flooded, were already calling it a waste of money.
Money had to be involved. The way the crew stumbled around without a sea-leg between them, grasping desperately for anything to keep themselves steady, anyone could tell these weren’t sailors. And a bunch of very-much-not-sailors manning a boat that was supposed to have come in all the way from the Bahamas was completely … Continue reading
Chapter the first; In Which Libations Lead to Boasting.
In the city of New York, I would assume there’s around four or five dozen folks who go out and, with the help of innate gifts, great skill, or a bit of weird science, try and make life in the Big Apple just a bit better under an assumed identity.
Writ large, the press calls us prelates; more and more often, the public just calls us heroes (whether they add ‘super’ or not depends largely on if they have a stick up their derriere.), and among ourselves? Well…
“Have you hear about the new weekender working the Bronx?” Asked Barn Owl as he passed me a bottle of beer. Like me and everyone else in the room, he was in full crime fighting gear; his golden bird mask with sharp, hooked beak that hid his face, a pair of wings constructed of whirring clockwork of some kind with ultra-lite ceramic feathers, and taloned gloves that same color of the mask. At night, it was bizarre and unnerving, In the full light in the room though, he looked… well, like a man in a bird mask.
Despite looking like a lost extra … Continue reading