In my head, I tried to reconstruct the crime. Lucas was strong, invulnerable, and shot lightning. He had the exact same powers as his and Vaughn’s grandfather, the original Red Lightning. I couldn’t think of a way for him to steal the ring quietly, and without shattering the glass.
Shannon controlled darkness. Unless her ability to control darkness also allowed her to control light, I couldn’t think of a way for her to get at the ring. If it did, she could have melted the metal, but I doubted she could get past the glass either.
Besides, both Shannon and Lucas were nice. I’d never seen any reason they’d want to steal a magic ring. They’d seemed happy enough to be out of the hero business.
Julie? Even before she’d gotten powers, she’d shared a picture of Haley and I with a lot of people in both of our schools along with snarky commentary. That just made her a jerk, however. On the other hand, her power was to use her voice to command people. In theory, she could have commanded Lucas to pick up the bulletproof glass, and commanded Shannon to melt the metal circle by making a laser.
I wasn’t convinced she could have done it without anyone noticing, but who could know that for sure?
So I had one person with the means, but the motive? I had no idea. Plus, if I wanted to be thorough, I shouldn’t stop with Julie. I needed to consider Camille and Sydney as well as our team, but I didn’t. Instead, I decided to share my thoughts with everyone else.
Jaclyn shook her head. “I wasn’t with Shannon and Julie all night, but I did talk with them a lot, and I don’t remember any time where she could have done that. I think we would have noticed a laser or a lightning bolt in any case.”
“Even if no one else did, I would have,” Vaughn said. “Besides Lucas was hitting on Rachel all night, he didn’t have time.”
“He was?” I hadn’t noticed. I’d seen them talking a couple times. Had she mentioned that her last relationship hadn’t been with a guy? It seemed like the kind of thing he might want to know. On the other hand, she’d told me it was an experiment, and it hadn’t ended well, so…
It was none of my business anyway.
“Well, yeah,” Vaughn said. “He barely left her alone, but not in a stalker-ish way. He was actually pretty smooth. You saw them leave together, right?”
I mentally digested that.
Vaughn grinned. “You didn’t notice at all, did you? Too busy with your harem.”
“Harem?” Haley said. “Sydney and Camille are my friends.”
“And they’re both hot,” Vaughn said. “Camille’s smoking hot, and Sydney’s on her way. Give her a couple years. I thought about coming over there a couple different times, but it never quite seemed natural.”
Haley’s mouth tightened. “Could you stay away from Sydney? Her dad just died, and Sean’s being a total ass to her. I’m worried she could make a big mistake.”
“You’re worried I’ll be the mistake?”
“No. She’s really fragile right now. Dating anybody would be a mistake. Vaughn, she was close enough that when her dad got shot, some of his blood got on her clothes. And her mom’s not doing well either. Getting her to let Sydney come was awful. She kept on asking how old everybody was, and if there was going to be drinking, and if any parents would be around and what number she could call to check on us… I wanted to scream. Right now, she trusts me. I don’t want anyone to mess that up.”
“You think I’ll mess that up?”
“No, it’s okay. I get psycho moms. I’ve got one of my own.”
He didn’t sound angry to me, but he still sighed. Haley glanced at me. Was she looking for approval? Forgiveness? I wasn’t sure.
Jaclyn cleared her throat. “Hey, everybody. I think we need to focus on Evil Beatnik. We need to find out what he can do, and what he wants to do. Well, unless Nick knows.”
I shook my head. “I don’t.”
“Then we’d better start checking the old League’s files.”
“Tonight?” I asked. Haley and I had talked about doing something afterward, and even if we hadn’t, sleep sounded better than digging through file cabinets in the middle of the night.
“Yes, tonight. The sooner the better. What if we can still catch him?”
And so, that’s how we ended up staying awake till two in the morning. Haley and Vaughn dug through the file cabinets. We had handwritten records starting in the early 1950’s up through the early 80’s plus a few post-retirement missions that I’d never heard of until Vaughn started shouting about them.
I delved into the computer version of the records. Grandpa had started transferring the records to text files, but he’d never finished. Still, he’d put in a lot of records, and I could search all of them at once. Plus, I checked online, in the FBI’s records, and emailed Isaac Lim.
I’d have called him, but I didn’t want to take the risk that he might answer his phone. Email put off telling to him in person that we’d accidentally released a malevolent magical entity.
Slightly before two, Jaclyn, Vaughn and Haley carried files back to the computer table, and sat down.
“I called my grandfather,” Jaclyn said.
“This late?” Haley leaned on the table, holding her head up with her hand.
“He was up. He likes to joke that staying up late is his other superpower.”
“Alright,” I said, “so what did he say about Evil Beatnik?”
“Well, not much at first. He said he hadn’t even liked normal beatniks. To him, they seemed like a bunch of middle class white kids who wanted to be black, or whatever they imagined blacks were like. They’d see him at the bus stop, and ask if he knew where to buy marijauna. He didn’t. He was using the G.I. Bill to train as a civil engineer.”
“Yeah,” Vaughn said, “I never imagined civil engineers as big partiers. Did he ever say anything about Evil Beatnik? Because your grandpa was the guy who wrote most of the reports on him.”
“It was hard to make him stop. I should have asked him about this stuff years ago, and recorded it… Did the reports say that Evil Beatnik was a spirit of chaos?”