The Dart

The tattooed man leaned out from the shadows of the alley. He could see where the workers were setting up the podium and stands. The news reported that there would be a record turn out of for the Mayor’s announcement. It was the announcement that was a big secret. The tattooed man had an idea, but he had a job to do.

As the tattooed man  blended back into the shadows, he looked at the top of the building he leaned against. “This will be the spot,” he said in a low voice then nodded to no one.

The sound of a struggle grabbed his attention.  Diagonally across the street a dark clad youth dragged a business dressed young woman into dark spot between two buildings.

The tattooed man pulled out a large pistol and stepped back.  He thumbed a button on the side, viewed the green LED, aimed, then squeezed the trigger.  The projectile exited the muzzle, cleared the distance, then connected with the young thug’s forehead.  The thug’s head rocked back, smacking into the cement wall of the unmoving building.  The dark clad youth lost consciousness and dropped, leaving the young woman to wonder what happened.  Gathering her faculties, she ran from the scene.

“Hopefully no cops with that,” the man said and exited his hiding spot.  A sideways glance told him the dart he fired dissolved into mist.  Concealing his weapon in the flowing folds of his long coat, the tattooed man walked away.

The tattooed man walked several blocks, turned left, crossed the street, then walked several more blocks.  He spotted a middle-aged man dashing up to a parked Jaguar, the tattooed man paused in his walk.  The middle-aged man smashed the driver’s side window of the high end luxury car and opened the door.  The tattooed man let out a long breath and glanced about.

In the blink of an eye his specialized weapon was in his hand.  He squeezed the grip, thumbed the button twice, and aimed over the blue LED on the sights.  The projectile zipped over to the robber and made a puffing sound.  Thick, white foam encased the robber from knees to feet and held him in place on the luxury car door.  Caught unaware the robber jerked, but did nothing more than draw attention to himself. Several people pulled cell phones out and took pictures or videos. A few even called the police.

The tattooed man holstered his device and whistled to himself as he continued on his way.  By the time he rounded the corner, a policemen had pulled up and were interrogating the robber.

“That will clear up easy enough,” the tattooed man said as he hit shaded area.

The tattooed man stopped at a café and nibbled on a sandwich and sipped his drink.  When his plate was cleared, he glanced at his watch and departed.  His journey would complete the circuit he had started earlier and bring him back to the first alley.

Several paces into the dark passageway, he scaled up the wall and strolled over the roof.  Reaching the low wall around the ledge, he sat with his back against the wall.  After a glance at his watch, he closed his eyes and dozed off.

The triple beeping noise from his watch, woke the tattooed man with a jolt.  Rubbing his face, he looked around, then shifted to his knees. The sound of applause pulled his head to the crowd surrounding the podium.  He saw signs that read Re-Elect Jasper for Mayor.  There were even a few for advertisers and contributors.

Smacking his lips, the tattooed man scanned the crowd, then the neighboring rooftops.  To his left, two buildings over, he spotted another head poking up over a low wall. Protruding from under the chin was a long thin object.  The tattooed man recognized this for what it was.  An assassin.

The tattooed man aimed his customized weapon at the assassin, thumbed the side button turning the LED green, and squeezed the trigger.  Before his eye could finish blinking, the head disappeared from the wall and the thin object with it.

“He should know better,” the tattooed man muttered.

Redirecting his piercing eyes to the crowd in the stands across the street, the tattooed man zeroed in on the person walking to the podium.

Over the loudspeakers came, “And now, my friend and yours.  His Honor Christopher Davis.”  The sound of the announcer bounced from wall to wall of the surrounding buildings.  A man, passed middle age, stepped up to the stage and approached the podium.  He waved, smiled and shook hands.  He straightened his jacket and shirt sleeves before grabbing the podium edges.

Leaning in the microphone, Christopher Davis said, “Ladies and gentlemen.”

The tattooed man aimed his weapon.  He did not thumb the side button and noted the red LED light below the sights.

Christopher’s amplified voice rang out, “I would like to take this time to announce,” he paused for a breath and to build excitement.

The projectile traveled the distance to the target.  Connection was made when Christopher inhaled to complete his sentence.  This sentence would never be completed.

The tattooed man muttered as he moved to the backside of the building he shot from, “If they could see what I see, I would be a hero.  Instead, I am treated like a villain.  So be it.”

A woman in the wings dropped to the floor and several people around her screamed. Christopher looked at the commotion. Several police officers swarmed the podium and moved Christopher through the crowd with their weapons drawn. After several yards, they shoved him into a sedan and sped away.

On the roof, the tattooed man stared at a handheld digital display. An image of a news post flashed across the screen. Remaining population of Earth the 100,000 threshold of survival. The image morphed and became fuzzy. It was replaced with Mars orbital space station fully functioning. The tattooed man thumbed the article and the text was displayed. The smile spread across the tattooed man’s face.

“Who would have thought that an intern working at this level would have sparked an international incident that would destroy the planet.” Placing his digital device back inside his jacket and holstering his specialty weapon, the man tapped a button on his belt buckle. A chime sounded and the man disappeared.

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Song & Dance

Ricky Hammer struggled to get off the bus. Ricky rolled his eyes at the sign that directed people to exit at the rear of the bus. Jumping over the gutter, then squeezing past the small throng, Ricky moved down the sidewalk. The digital clock in Electrix Electronic Supply showed he had forty-five minutes to get to work. His cheeks tightened and he bobbed his head. His legs adjusted and a strut formed, carrying him along the sidewalk.

Ricky did a double take to the left, the the right. Two people on either side were in step with him. Complete with head bob. He shook his head to dismiss it.

At the crosswalk, Ricky stopped and fished out his smartphone. A quick flourish, and his head was filled one of his favorites from his playlist. He tapped his hand on his leg, and bobbed his head in time with the rhythm. It wasn’t unusual for a crosswalk to get crowded. It was unusual for eight other people to be bobbing their head and tapping their hands on their leg in unison. Especially to unheard music.

The walk indicator flashed across the street, and the guitar solo kicked in from Ricky’s music. He positioned his hands and air guitared through the cross walk. The other people, danced, shimied, shuffled, and other maneuvers acorss the cross walk. Ricky stopped what he was doing, and stabbed his phone, stopping the music. He cleared his throat and his head, then walked on. Everyone that was dancing moments ago, stopped what they were doing and went about their normal activities as if nothing happened.

Ricky yanked the door open on Julio’s Convenience store.

######

Owen Rodgers exited the front door of his building. He saluted the doorman and walked down the sidewalk. His lips tightened, then vibrated from his humming. The rhythm was that of the song that was coursing through his head.

The sidewalk became congested as he turned a corner. The song he was humming was heard in his hears, though not loud. An Asian woman was sounding out the base line, a man in a suit had the drum section going with his mouth, and the backup guitar sound was coming from a young kid. Owen kept going with his humming, but glanced at his other band mates.

The small group dispersed as the people went their separate ways, but Owen kept the song going.

Owen was slowed to a stop by waiting for a cross walk. The last song he was humming had since left him. Since he had passed two mounted officers, {Officer Krupke} was at the top of his head, which then put it on his lips as he whistled. Several people in every direction, picked the tune up. Within a few bars, words were belted out and backing vocals added. Owen smiled and enjoyed the song. People walking by stopped and snapped their fingers or tapped their foot along with the song. The light changed and the group hit the final chorus as they crossed the street.

The song ended and everyone diverted to their original course.

Owen dashed forward, catching the door to Julio’s Convenience store before it closed.

######

The door closed behind Owen and he darted towards the energy drink area. Selecting his normal large can, he moved to the cash register. It felt like he just shifted feet, but then he shifted back, then back again. Was that a shuffle step?

Ricky fixed a coffee and grabbed a danish. He flipped his debit card as he walked to the cash register. He caught himself muttering, “I feel pretty. Oh, so pretty.” A quick shake of his head and it went away. Was that from Westside Story?

The front door flew open, knocking the person going out onto her backside. In walked five tough looking individuals. They all wore the same color t-shirt, light blue, and jeans that sagged below their waists. One had on a ball cap and another had tattoos on his face.

Two of the thugs walked back to the beer cooler. A loud noise was heard, and both guys carried several cases to the front.

A third went to the sandwich area and pulled several sandwiches out of the fridge and piled them into a box.

“I don’t wan any trouble, but you are gonna have ta pay for dose.” The dark skinned, older man behind the counter shook his finger at the three remaining up front.

“Angel, pay the man.” The thug in the ball cap poked a finger at the store clerk. The gangster with tattoos strutted to the counter, reached across and snagged the old man. A quick smack, then the old man’s head was smashed into the counter.

The man in the cap pointed at Owen and Ricky. “You two. Turn out yer pockets.”

“When you’re a jet, you’re a jet all the way.” Ricky’s lips trembled as he muttered the first words to come to his brain.

“From your first cigarette, to your last dyin’ day.” Tattoo face turned to face Ricky and Owen, snapping his fingers.

“When you’re a Jet,if the spit hits the fan.” A thug from the back dropped his cases and his feet shuffled a few steps.

“You got brothers around, you’re a family man!” Ballcap wearing thug snapped his fingers and got in step with the other one.

Owen lowered his hands and leaned into Ricky. “I did the singing, where did the dancing come from?”

Ricky licked his lips and glanced at Owen. “It started happening this mornning. I guess it is me.”

All five thugs formed into a dancing V, snapping fingers and shuffling feet. In unison, the thugs harmonized their voices. “You’re never alone, you’re never disconnected! You’re home with your own: When company’s expected, You’re well protected!” They stepped, pivoted, and spun in time with each other.

The old man behind the counter clapped a hand on the counter keeping perfect time with the singing group. In his other hand, he had a cordless phone. “Yes, a robbery. That’s them singing. They are dancing, too. Yes, please hurry.”

“Then you are set with a capital J, which you’ll never forget till they cart you away. When you’re a Jet, you stay a Jet!”

A horse could be seen through the glass door. The uniformed officer threw open the door and slid into an offensive stance with firearm out. “POLICE! FREEZE!”

Owen and Ricky jerked their heads to the cop. Owne whisperedd, “Stop it.”

“Done.”

In unison, all five of the thugs fell to the floor, face down, arms and legs spread out.

The officer grabbed for his radio and called for back up. It wasn’t long before another mounted officer arrived, and they began cuffing the hoods.

“Wait! They were singing The Jet song. The one from Westside Story?” The second officer cuffed a thug, while he spoke.

“Yeah! Weirdest thing I ever saw.” The first officer held the door and pulled a thug with him.

“I am putting that on YouTube.” The store clerk moved for the laptop behind the counter.

Owen and Ricky had already given statements and paid for their merchandise.

“Shit, I’m late for work.” Ricky turned towards his new friend. “Number.”

Owen said it outloud.

Barbers

Kevin finished buttoning his vest as he dashed through the door.

“You’re late!” Harold’s mouth turned down and his brows lowered. “Vince is scheduled in ten minutes.”

“I know. I got this.” Kevin check the layout around the sink and shifted a few items. He unlocked his drawer and turned on his power strip. “Thank you, whoever started the towel heater.”

“That was Jenna. She wants to work here and was on time.” Harold closed the ledger and turned on the televisions. “Where is Toby?”

“I don’t know.” Kevin swept the area around his chair. With a deft foot, he poked the vacuum port open, directed the dust and debris towards it, then poked it closed again.

Toby limped in through the front door. “When is my first appointment?”

Harold moved his finger down the computer screen. “Eleven thirty. Just over a half hour from now.”

“Good, I have time.” Toby hobbled to his sink and organized it.

“Jenna turned on the towel heater.” Kevin unfolded a cape.

“Oh, wow! I guess we owe her.” Toby looked up from organizing his station.

“Yeah, tell me about it.”

The door opened and in walked a man in his late twenties. “Vince! Glad to see you.” The smile on Harold’s face showed teeth and touched his eyes. “Kevin is ready for you in chair one. Can I get you something to drink? Cigar?”

The young man smiled and declined the offers. He slid into the chair in front of Kevin, then described what he wanted done to his hair.

Kevin combed Vince’s hair. Stabbing pain shot over his side and spread to his shoulder. Kevin halted his arm in mid stroke, hissing air in over his tight mouth. Squeezing his eyes for a second, Kevin adjusted his position and continued combing.

Toby slowed what he was doing, catching the facial contortion Kevin made. He’s hurt. That’s odd. Keven isn’t much of an athlete. Sure he rides a bike, but it can’t be that kind of strenuous.

Toby check on the towels. There were plenty in the heater, but they would need more before the day was up. Pausing at the edge of the raised platform, he slowly lowered himself to the floor and limped towards the supply closet.

OK, what happened to Toby? He’s limping. Kevin continued cutting Vince’s hair, but kept an eye on Toby’s unusual gait from the supply room.

Kevin stretched once as he laid Vince back for the rinse. The pain jerked his arm back when it came time to towel Vince’s hair. The fake smile snapped into place when the chair raised. “A quick comb with some gel and you are all done.”

Ales sat in Toby’s chair, going through the same routine. Toby flexed a few times and squeezed the chair as he moved around it.

Kevin glanced at Toby through the mirror. Is that a bruise on his neck?

“Hand me a towel, Kev?” Toby held out a hand and noticed the hairless hand of Keven when a hot towel was passed. A quick check showed hair on the other one. Fire does that! No. No way.

“Harold, do you want a fresh brew?” Kevin walked to the keg tap. Flipping a mug from the rack, he tipped it under the spigot.

“Nah. Help yourself.” Harold handed the receipt to Vince.

The mug in Kevin’s hand frosted a he poured beer into it. He shot a glance at Toby, who had a pile of steaming shave cream in his hand. Over Toby’s shoulder, he noticed the aerosol can of shave cream on the counter. Hold on. Toby didn’t use the warmer on that. Kevin darted his eyes to the common shave area. The shave cream warmer wasn’t even plugged in.

Kevin looked at his hairless hand as he gulped a mouthful of beer. Then he eyed Toby.

Toby pumped the barber chair once, then held the lever in place. The chair lowered, letting Alex stand. “All done.” Toby pulled his pant leg up so he could glance at the dark path of skin. Moving his leg, he noticed Kevin and the frosted glass.

When did we get…We don’t have frosted glasses.

Alex went to Harold to pay his bill.

“We are free for twenty minutes, you two.”

Harold glanced up in time to see the door close, and two bodies flash past the window.

Amazonia

The tall woman deflected the basketball sized fist and stepped in with a counter punch to the gut of her opponent. The large, dark, well-muscled man folded over the rock hard fist. Spittle flew from his mouth while his eyes bulged. Amazonia followed up with a hammer fist between the man’s shoulder blades, putting him flat on the pavement.

“Wow!” Kent Abercrombie, dressed as Blue Avenger, approached the tall woman hero. “Excellent take down.” He stood back as the woman straightened.

“By the grace of Apollo and Athena, I was able to defeat the brute.” Amazonia touched her forehead then waved to the heavens. She then walked to the damaged building and moved the rubble to the side.

“Look, Amazonia. How about we get together after this. Say over coffee?” Kent moved debris and righted a car.

Amazonia stopped clearing rubble. “Blue Avenger, are you asking me out on a date?”

Kent smiled as he looked her in the eyes. “Not a date. Coffee. It’s not really a date.”

The tall muscular woman put her hands on her hips. “So then other members of our team will be there?”

“I hope not,” muttered Kent as he looked at the ground. “Well, they are welcomed, but they may be busy.”

“So it would just be  you and me?” Amazonia cocked a hip and tilted her head.

“Uh…Yes. Yes, it would.” Kent’s eyes sparkled, and he smiled his award-winning smile that had appeared in so many grocery checkout stand publications around the world.

“From what I understand of your language, that is a date.”

“Fine. It’s a date.” Kent rolled his eyes. “Is that a yes?”

“No. It is not a yes.” The flat eyes, thin lips, grinding jaw showing on Amazonia’s face removed all doubt about the finality of this answer.

“Why not? Do you know how many women would kill to be in your place?”

“Then ask them. You are not my type.” Amazonia went back to clearing rubble and debris.

“What do you mean, not your type?” Kent held his hands out and shrugged his shoulders. “I am fit, strong, and I eat healthy. Besides, we work well together.”

“Those are not reasons to pair off. Besides, you are not my type. It wouldn’t last.” Amazonia pushed two demolished pick-up trucks together, then pulled a cab to the same pile.

“You don’t know that.”

Amazonia paused and looked Kent in the eyes. With a flat expression on her face, she said, “You are correct and I apologize for jumping to a conclusion. It is rude of me to assume you are an ass.”

“Thank you.” Kent moved some ruined streetlights and dumpsters to the same pile Amazonia started. I am going to let the ass comment go. I am making headway and don’t want to blow it.

“How are you two doing?” A smaller woman with wings hovered over to where Kent and Amazonia worked. “Everything cleaned up here?”

“Yeah. We got this area cleared.” Kent waved at the flying woman. “Are the other teams done? Is it safe for the construction crews to take over Silverwing?”

“Yes. I think it is. Good eye, Blue Avenger.” Silverwing talked to someone on her radio.

Kent turned to continue his talk with Amazonia. He found the tall woman staring at Silverwing. Kent noticed that Amazonia was absently running a hand through her long hair and brushing dust from her uniform. Amazonia’s face flushed for an instant when she made eye contact with the other flying hero.

Kent shook his head. Figures.

“Thats it team. We are out of here,” Silverwing said over the radio for all team members to hear. She waved at Kent and Amazonia then flew off.

“Blue Avenger.” Amazonia reached for Kent’s shoulder. “How well do you know Silverwing?”