Graduation: Part 23

I didn’t stop trying to fix the arm, but it would be hard to imagine a worse week to try to fix it than my last week of high school ever.

I didn’t get back to working on things on Monday night because the whole family got talking. With Grandpa and Grandma Klein visiting from Minnesota, that happened easily. Grandpa had taught cultural anthropology at the University of Minnesota, worked for the U.N. in the 1960’s, and had friends all over the world.

They’d just come back from Spain where he’d presented a paper even though he was mostly retired.

After supper, the whole family went to the beach to take a walk along Lake Michigan, and by the time I had a chance to get away, it was after ten, and I didn’t want to.

Tuesday turned out worse.

I caught up with Vaughn and Cassie on the way out of school. We stood on the lawn in front of the school, talking while kids caught buses or crossed the street to the parking lot for their cars.

“I’m riding with Vaughn because my Mom’s got her car,” Cassie said. “She’s back from D.C.”

I knew better than to ask what she had been doing in Washington.

Turning his head away from “appreciating” some of the girls going past, Vaughn said, “I can drop you off, but we’re going to go watch Sean and Justice Fist practice.”

“Seriously? Why?”

“He asked me, and Cassie decided to come along. Buddy system, you know.”

I did. Lee had been trying to drill that one into our heads. Don’t go into potential danger alone.

“Well, if you can drop me off, that would be great –”

I didn’t get to finish because Sean walked up and told Vaughn, “If anything happens at practice, just run, get into your car, and drive away. Don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine.”

Vaughn tilted his head back to look up at Sean. “What’s going to happen?”

“I’m not going to tell you here, but it’ll be big afterward.”

Next to him, and more bulked up than I remembered, Dayton said, “Just keep your eyes open.”

On Sean’s other side, Jody said, “We’re going to show those cocksuckers how –”

Dayton reached around Sean’s back, and gave Jody a push. “Shut up. Not here.”

Jody said, “You shut up.”

After they left, Vaughn and Cassie dropped me off at HQ, and I went down to work on the Rocket suit.

I didn’t get to.

First, I noticed an email from Isaac Lim that I should call him to talk about what happened on Sunday night. I’d decided to try to leave a voicemail or something, but just as I began to call, Vaughn’s name appeared on the computer screen.

I clicked the mouse, and took the call, sending it to the big screen in the main room because I was there, and I could.

A blurry shot of a football field filled the screen. Past the bleachers on the other side of the field, a old, brick factory stretched to match its size.

I’d never seen the place before.

People stood on the field, but they weren’t wearing football uniforms, of course. They wore Justice Fist uniforms.

I recognized everybody — Sean, Jody, and Dayton, from school, and from our fight. Sydney, Sean’s younger sister, wore a green and white uniform much like his, but stood a little bit back from the group. Shannon, the Solid Grounds’ barista, and her cousin Julie talked with Camille, Sydney’s half-sister.

I wondered if either of them knew it. Probably not. It would be hard to get it from looks alone. Camille had light brown skin and dark hair, both a little lighter than her mom’s.

With Sean and Sydney both being blond and light-skinned, even seeing them all together, I didn’t immediately think about the many small resemblances.

Just off to the left of the main group, Lucas stood talking to the four people on the field who weren’t wearing Justice Fist uniforms. They wore bulky black jackets, and pants that could pass for SWAT team uniforms in some places. Unlike most SWAT teams, they wore masks.

I guessed the tallest of them had to be Ray, the woman was Gina (if that was her real name), and I didn’t remember the name of the other guy. I wondered who the fourth person might be. The murderer of the original Power, possibly?

Vaughn’s voice came over the speakers. “Nick, we’re at the practice.”

“You’re on speakerphone,” Cassie said. “So no secrets.”

“I’ll show you around,” Vaughn said, and panned across the field.

They weren’t the only ones there. Groups of students sat together laughing and talking. The view changed, moving from the bleachers to their right, including the field, and then the bleachers to the left. More clumps of students as well as a few grownups. Sean’s dad sat next to Assistant Principal Sledge. Several sheets of metal leaned next to the railing.

“Their practices are open to everybody?”

“I guess,” Vaughn said. “Everybody knows who they are, so why not?”

“I don’t know. Enemies?”

“Whatever,” Cassie said. “It doesn’t hurt us.”

She had a point.

Amid the background talking, Sean’s dad shouted, “Sydney, over here!”

Vaughn pointed the phone’s camera to follow her as she walked to the edge of the field.

“What?”

“Take the metal, or you’re useless to everybody.”

“Useless? Thanks a lot.”

She reached out her hand and the metal disappeared, coating her skin, but not her uniform or hair.

Comparing it to when her father had done the same thing in Vaughn’s uncle’s office, I thought she had manipulated the metal more quickly, and she’d done something new. She’d created metal lenses over her eyes. Had she changed the molecular structure, making the metal transparent, or merely made it thin? I would have had to test it to know, and I doubted anyone would be willing to get me a sample.

“Alright, everybody,” said one of the men in black uniforms, “time to get rolling. We’ve got a lot to cover today.”

Sean turned away from Dayton and Jody, and said, “I don’ t think so. We’re sending you back to jail.”

15 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 23”

  1. The very first line of the post, “I didn’t stop trying to fix it, but…” is sort of confusing because of the pronoun referring to outside the chapter. Gives a bit of a “Wait, fix what?”-feeling.

  2. “After they left, Vaughn and Cassie dropped me off at HQ, and went down to work on the Rocket suit.” is missing the word “I” between and as well as went. So it should be “After they left, Vaughn and Cassie dropped me off at HQ, and I went down to work on the Rocket suit.”

  3. Oh, um… Well…
    Sure justice probably does demand that you put the assassins behind bars, but on a football field, surrounded by innocent (and not so innocent bystanders)… Sounds like a real recipe for disaster.
    Besides the fact that there’s a good chance they’ll get creamed. This could hurt.

  4. I wonder if they expect their fathers just to sit by an watch?
    And whose side will each take?

    They still haven’t gotten far in planning and preparation, have they?

  5. Hey Jim, nicely done. This was my first genuine “Oh $#!%” moment.

    Oh, and I’d drop the second ‘just’ from this line sentence:

    “They’d just come back from Spain where he’d just presented a paper even though he was mostly retired.”

    Hg

  6. Justice Fist is like the companion characters in Doctor Who. They’re not villains, but their stupidity and constant getting into trouble gives the main character an obstacle to overcome.

  7. does sean keep getting stupider? “lets get a crowd together then take down dagerous assassins, the the world will love us!” what an idiot…

  8. “Man, that escalated fast.”

    “Yeah, that really got out of hand.”

    “Brick killed a guy.”

    — I just watched Anchorman for the 38th time and that dialogue seems to suit what’s about to happen next. Sean is so stupid, I sometimes wonder how long it will be before Natural Selection removes him from the gene pool.

  9. But I don’t think this is Sean’s idea…. After all, his dad made sure Sydney had her “armor” on. Wonder how she’d work as a harpoon.

  10. If that’s the case, then I hope someone in that idiotic family remembered to give Ray and the Executioners (a decent name for a band, by the way) some fake power juice.

  11. you said:
    I didn’t stop trying to fix the arm, but a worse week to try than my last week of high school ever would be hard to imagine

    I suggest:
    I didn’t stop trying to fix the arm, but it would be hard to imagine a worse week to try to fix it than my last week of high school ever.

    What you wrote was correct, but I think this rephrase would be easier to read and understand.

  12. I agree. Thanks. You might be amused to find how many times I catch the exactly same kind of stuff before it appears. I appear to have some kind of problem with the the order of phrases.

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