* * *
“Whom did you talk to?” Andy asked spinning on his chair to face Massey and Joaquin. Behind him, his computer screen showed repeats of the Major Globe speech. Every outlet wanted to be in on what appeared to be an historical event. The view counter kept increasing – thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions – it didn’t seem to slow or stop everyone was addicted.
“No one,” the detective answered cursing under his breath at the private number Anne had called him from. He had to find her on his own terms; he couldn’t let her play him again. His memories were of the wasteful time he spent with her in that bar on a lonely night. He cursed himself for not learning how to use the smartphone while it was gathering dust in his drawer that his daughter, Denisha, had given him for his birthday. He needed to do a call trace without having to involve the tech guys at the station. He eyed Andy from the corner of his eye; if he could, he would avoid asking him as well.
The fewer people that knew about his conversation with Anne the better, he thought with a conviction that not only protected his job, but possibly his life.
“Sure sounded important,” Andy insisted. “Did this person say anything about why Doctor Globe is doing all this?” Andy asked his throat dry again.
Before Massey could answer, Joaquin raised his voice. “Hey, how come I’m still Hero Two?”
Andy turned to face Joaquin; the thoughts in his head were obvious on his face. Massey almost agreed with Andy’s unspoken thought: Joaquin still looked like a street thug even under the shirt, pants and tie façade.
Andy’s neck tensed and he tilted his head as if he were listening to a voice on the phone. Whatever it was that he was hearing, he didn’t care for it. He grimaced, and it was time for Massey to diffuse the situation before the two escalated.
“Now’s not the time for that Joaquin,” Massey said still angrily staring at his phone. He would periodically press the small pictures on the screen hoping he could work it. Icons, he reminded himself. He felt silly for not knowing the most basic tenets of the technology.
“I discovered you second to Kristof,” Andy said disregarding Massey’s incessant grumbling over his smartphone, and attempts to steer the conversation away from difficult topics. “You were harder to trace than he was, at first that is. I had you pinned down as a villain. Still do.” Andy’s eyes glimmered.
“What the fuck man, Kristof was the whack job, not me!”
“You did murder some people while you were,” Andy raised his fingers into air quotes, “exploring your power.”
Joaquin frowned and leaned toward Andy.
“Hey, I’m not judging. ‘Lest not ye be judged’ and all that. By the way, it was fascinating to learn about how you operate.”
“That’s enough of that, both of you,” Massey warned again putting his smartphone aside with a sigh.
Andy leaned closer to Joaquin. “That’s the thing Joaquin, you really shouldn’t be offended. Villains, heroes, vigilantes, it’s all just labels people put on someone to give other people justification or punishment for their acts. It’s never only crime, nor ever only justice. They’re just lies we tell each other to make us feel better instead of the ugly truth.”
Joaquin raised his hands in surrender. “You’re fucking weird, homeboy. You know that?”
Andy pulled back his quivering upper lip. “I’m perfectly fine.”
The frustration in Massey’s voice was evident when he yelled, “I said, ‘that’s enough,’ you two.”
Both Andy and Joaquin stared at Massey.
“Is everything alright Detective?” Andy inquired, a smirk forming at the corners of his lips.
Massey straightened his tie and gestured to Joaquin to follow him. He didn’t have time now for Andy Kitz. Whoever he was and whatever he wanted could wait for discovery.
“Come on Joaquin, we’re leaving.”
Joaquin raised himself from the chair shaking his head. At the door, Massey turned to Andy. “I hope you realize Mister Kitz that what you have set up here is illegal, and I can have it taken apart in no time at all. You could end up having to whistle code into a telephone if you get me drift. I’m letting you off with just a small, friendly warning. We’ll be in touch soon.”
Andy put on his best smile. “Thank you, detective.” To Massey, it looked more like a grimace, so he decided that his message had been received loud and clear.
Massey let loose one more of his interrogation glares in Andy’s direction and started to leave. His hand rested on the doorknob for only a moment when the live news feed started again.
“We have just received news that there has been an apparent ‘supers’ attack near Madison Park. Our correspondent, Nick Hunt, is currently traveling to the location, and we’ll check with him as soon as he arrives.”
Massey turned around and faced the illuminated screen. He felt lightheaded, and a slowly increasing throbbing sensation settled itself at his temples. He was afraid that if he kept rubbing them, they would bruise. He focused on the news anchors, their voices building tension in his chest.
“Some of our viewers out there have been tweeting us photos and videos from Madison Park, but we can’t currently confirm anything so stay tuned and follow us on Facebook and Twitter at Q-13Network and @ChannelQ13. We are awaiting commentary from the Seattle Police Department. At this point, the authorities have only advised us that people shouldn’t approach Madison Park and be sure that they are at safe distance from it. Authorities are asking that any witnesses with photographic or video evidence to contact the Seattle Police Department right away. The contact information for the Seattle Police Department is available on our website at Q dash thirteen network dot com.”
Andy opened another screen running parallel to the newsfeed. It was a vertical video shot by someone with shaky hands. The quality was crap, but Massey could see something blue evaporate from the ground in the distance and could hear the person filming it muttering, “shit, shit, shit.” Someone next to him was yelling something incoherent. It was evident that that individual was terrified. Massey was also aware of another noise, this one persistent and loud. His hand numbly reached for his phone, and he put it to his ear meeting the breaking wail of ambulances and police sirens.
“Yes. Yes, I’m aware, I see it. A few minutes. I’m on my way.”
Next: Hot and Cold