The Tangled Web of B.L.O.G.
For Whom the Hammer Falls
Smoke curled up from his cigarette, drifting between intermittent snowflakes. There was peace to be found in bad habits; they soothed the nerves, calmed the storm–
“Shivering shins and quivering buns, Winged One, it’s freakin’ cold out here!” Shattering the serenity of the night like a discordant lightning bolt, Talon burst out of the door behind him.
Saber smothered a chuckle in her gloved hand. Super-Jay glimpsed something murderous in the Falcon’s glare and dashed behind his partner. The other two agents backed away, still giggling about Falcon’s buns, leaving him to deal with his sidekick.
Ah, he might hope to wipe clean the weeks of this assignment and begin anew, like an author staring at a blank page of possibilities to create. And yet, would he wipe away the memory of meeting this irritating, clueless bit of froth? She failed at whatever she tried – truly remedial in her skills – yet somehow managed to succeed. She had, after all, found Lady O’s jacket last week and was now enabling the team to enter the dormitory. Perhaps she was his blank page – a clean slate to teach and train. He cocked his head and graced her with a warm smile.
“Good evening, Talon.”
He received a puzzled look, most likely because he rarely greeted her so kindly. She reached up and pressed her palm against his forehead. “Hunh, no fever. M’okay, so Kid Jade’s cover got blown, so she can’t sneak you guys into the dorm. That’s me and Emma’s job.”
“Emma and I,” the Falcon absently corrected. Then, her former statement registered. “Who revealed Jade’s status as a fully trained agent to the trainees?”
Talon’s cheeks attained a color close to the shade of her bright red leotard. “I maybe, sorta, kinda, was telling Emma that Jade let me wear her jacket the other night. Kid’s cool that way! And maybe Thing One mighta heard me and he told Thing Two and she told everybody else!”
Falcon swung his fists behind him and clenched them against his back. It wouldn’t help to slap his silly sidekick; he suspected one of her powers was an inability to feel much pain. Between Talon and the Things, he often wondered why B.L.O.G.’s boss continued to believe there were any secrets regarding the agency. Fortunately, the city loved having a branch of super-agents available; it certainly cut costs in the public service venues.
Of course, Falcon had warned Marvin that the Things had the potential to be dangerous. Alien twins with teleportation and shape-shifting powers needed discipline and training in one of the shielded rooms beneath B.L.O.G. HQ. A pity Marvin thought their antics “cute” and housed them in the trainee dorm with the other remedial agents.
Talon tugged timidly on his cape. “Sorry, Falcon, I’ll try better. So, listen, use the password and we’ll go inside. I’m freezing my,” she glanced down at her flat chest, “bitsy toes out here.”
“Yep. I hope you remember it, cause my noodle’s numb! Ya gotta use the password or Emma won’t let us back in!” She peered furtively at the door.
Then again, Falcon thought, perhaps losing his memory of the past weeks would be a boon. He hoped he would have no memory of the remedial agents’ secret password. “You couldn’t just hold the door open?”
Talon blinked. “But we’re on a mission; gotta make it impossible an’ all!” Guilt flashed across her face and she admitted, “It slipped. My fingers are frozen fish sticks!”
Yes, having a blank page in his memory was definitely looking far more desirable. “Fine, we do it your way, impossible child.” He stalked over to the door. Two knocks, rattle the knob, two kicks, and a baleful brown eye glared at him from the peephole.
“Password,” a girl’s growling voice demanded.
With a sigh, Falcon said, “Xerxes the Xenophobe arrives from Xanadu.”
“Yolanda the Yodeling Yenta greets you. Enter.” The door swung open and Falcon motioned for the others to precede him as he held onto it.
Saber giggled softly as she walked past him. “What are they going to do when they finish the alphabet?” she whispered. “Start reciting strings of numbers?”
“Not. Another. Word. Woman.”
She had the audacity to quip, “Are your buns quivering, dear winged one?” as she hurried up the back stairs.
He pinched the bridge of his nose when Super-Jay murmured, “Maybe the Z password will be Zero the Zebra Zings along?”
The speedster then laughed and clapped Falcon on the shoulder. “Relax, man, we’ll find the thief and be gone. You’ll never have to memorize another ridiculous password. How difficult will it be? They’re in the remedial program and we are the elite corps, can’t hide anything from us. In fifteen minutes, we’ll be back at the Mayhem Club tossing down brewskis and laughing through our tears at this little drama of life.”
“All clear!” Talon sang out.
Her roommate shushed her. “Secret, remember? I have duct tape and a hammer and know how to use them.” Falcon studied the girl as she stared out into the snow. A couple of years older than Talon, dressed in black biker’s leathers, she frowned and slammed the door shut. So much for being sneaky.
She turned to him, the hammer in her hand swinging ominously. “Where is he?”
The demand caught him off guard. “That’s everyone. The rest of the elite agents are busy tonight.”
One steel-toed combat boot hit the door and left a deep dent in the metal. Falcon’s eyebrow quirked up at her strength. He had just been witness to this remedial’s super power and he had to admit he was a tiny bit impressed. His frown returned at her next words. “Busy, yeah, right, I know who he’s busy with. Won’t give me the time of day, but he’ll jump anything else with a vag–gack, why do I bother? All dressed up for that no good spy…I hope Lady O or Kid or Island Bitc-Bronze – whoever! – breaks his pelvis.” Falcon hid a smile and followed the infuriated girl upstairs. Perhaps Wayne Bonn had made a mistake by rejecting this female. Super-strength and a hammer boded ill doings for the Brit.
The noise at the top of the stairs startled him. The door to the common room was open and many young voices were lifted in song: “Happy Belated Birthday to you! Happy –”
Doctor Guppa eased the door shut, a grin on her face as she placed a finger against her lips. “Hi, Falcon,” she whispered, “I brought The Things down from my lab and gathered up the rest of the trainees. I have them all in there, throwing an impromptu belated birthday party. Of course, we don’t know exactly when The Things were born; I do believe Marvin mentioned he found them floating over the dark side of the moon…Anyway, the dorm’s bedrooms are empty, you’re free to search without interruption.” A look of worry crossed her sweet face. “They’re all really nice kids. I hope none of them is the culprit.”
“Have no fear, dear lady,” he intoned in his most heroic voice to ease her concern, “we have no intention of harming the young one, merely invoking a bit of discipline. After all, the jacket was returned.”
“It was?” Emma asked. He had forgotten she was beside him in the hall.
“Yes. Talon found it in the ladies room at the Merry Mayhem.”
“Oh, she did, did she?” Emma muttered. “Come on, everyone split up. We’ll check the rooms down this corridor.”
Falcon had no time to wonder at the heated rage in Emma’s tone – perhaps she just found it unbelievable that Talon could have succeeded at something. After searching a few rooms and coming up empty, he asked the brunette, “Why are you in the remedial program? You’ve been very thorough and seem well trained.”
Emma shot him her usual glare. “Anger issues.” She picked up her hammer. “Let’s go find the other agents. We’ve got nothing here.”
It had been much longer than Super-Jay’s optimistic fifteen minutes. Falcon was tired and his friend’s suggestion to interrogate every trainee separately was not a welcome idea. Saber yawned. “Jay, I’m willing to help in any way, but it’s getting late. We’ll interview them tomorrow.”
Talon bounced up on her toes. “No! The trail grows colder every day! Even now, Doc Guppa and Island Bronze are in danger, for they now have jackets, too! We must seize the evil-doer and end the stealing spree!”
Falcon tried to calm his sidekick. “Your hyperbole is unnecessary. It’s only a jacket.”
“Hidey-hole in the necessary is indeed where I found Lady O’s jacket! She was lucky it was stolen, now I can take her off my list of evil-doers!”
Jay started to correct her and Falcon just shook his head. “Never mind. Once she starts, you’ll be at it all night. I agree with Saber – we’ll save the interviews for another day.”
Emma shoved her hammer through her belt. “Fine. Get out now, I’ll lock up behind you.” She stomped back downstairs. Talon nattered at the other two agents as they obediently followed. “Dontcha wanna stay for the rest of The Things’ birthday party?! I know we aren’t allowed alcohol, but some of us like to pretend. We’re gonna do that play – To Beer or Not to Beer!”
Saber laughed. “Trainees butchering Hamlet? Um, no thanks!”
Talon’s face fell into a pout and she flounced back up to the party. As he turned, thinking to reassure her, Falcon glimpsed a torn piece of paper fluttering to the floor from Emma’s back pocket. The tough girl was back to glaring out at the night, watching the older agents leave. She didn’t see him pick the scrap of paper up.
Back at the Merry Mayhem, Jay sprang for the beer, regaling Saber with stories of his travels abroad. Falcon enjoyed a cold beer, drawing faces in the dewy condensation of the glasses. He remembered Emma’s note and pulled it from his pocket. For a second, he was staring at a blank page, and then, with a chuckle and a soft murmur, “Only had a couple of glasses, wake up, old man,” he turned it over.
The page had been torn in half, the letters written in an angry scrawl:
My love is blind and has no hope,
He whom I love is such a dope.
I always get my man,
In any way I can.
He hangs up on all my calls,
Ask not for whom the hammer falls,
My heart bleeds, why can’t he see?
The hammer falls on thee.
For each lover he takes,
My heart further breaks.
Each one will pay, but
Not by the hammer’s way.
“Silly piece of drivel,” Super-Jay drawled, leaning over his shoulder.
Falcon jerked and the paper drifted from his fingers. “Jay, give a man a heart attack, why don’t you?!”
Jay grinned. “Aw, this’ll help you; got more beer.” He left the fresh glass next to the empties and trotted back over to the bar. “Who has the next round?”
A familiar accented voice croaked, “I do, my good man. In fact, I’ll spring for the next three rounds. Keep them coming.” Bonn gingerly sat in the chair opposite the Falcon, and wincing, muttered to himself, “Bad choice of words.”
Saber called out, “Gee, James, you look like you were ridden hard and put away wet! Anything I can do to help?” She laughed when Double-Aught-Naught merely groaned and thumped his head on the table. Falcon chuckled, his spirits rising at the thought of teasing the supposedly unflappable Bonn all night.
Bonn retrieved Emma’s ugly little poem, his eyes widening. “Ah, Falcon? Where did you get this?”
He explained the fruitless trip to the remedial agents’ dorm. Bonn grew more alert when Falcon revealed who the paper belonged to. He tugged the torn matching bottom half from his own pocket. “I found this last week, haven’t had a chance to read it yet, been busy, you see. It fell out of the stolen jacket.”
They leaned forward and read the other half of the poem:
That I reserve only for him.
The women get truth serum.
Guppa’s Syrup of Truth,
Smeared in a spot most uncouth.
Absorbed by their skin,
From the jacket they’re in,
The effect will wear off, I suppose,
But not until they’ve exposed,
Every body he’s ever been in!
“Well, damn, I do believe we’ve found our culprit!” Falcon crowed. “Back to the dorms, team, Emma is our thief!”
Bonn quickly pulled out his trans-cross-receiver phone pen. “Hello, Guppa, my dear? Is there an antidote for your Syrup of Truth Serum?”