The Negative Man: City of Chaos (Chapter 8)

Let’s just keep this train rolling…

The Negative Man Cover

Chapter 8 –

Saturday Morning; Oceanside Café

 

The breeze off the Pacific Ocean felt good. There weren’t many people out yet this early on Saturday, so I could enjoy the one good thing about this time of day.  Darla Bannister, the owner of the Oceanside Café, would make me specialty egg sandwiches with so few customers around.

The egg, filled with peppers, onions, and cheese, was sitting on a sesame bagel, covered with bacon and another piece of cheddar cheese. As I was enjoying this heaven on earth, “As good as last time?”

Darla was one of my best friends, maybe only friend if we’re being honest. I didn’t really socialize much.  The older lady had taken a shine to me when I first arrived to Pacific Station and used her café as my favorite study hangout.  Between the egg sandwiches and the coffee, there was no better place.  “Excellent as always!”

Her red/grey hair shined in the morning sun. I would bets lots of DL’s money she was quite the man killer back in the day.  “I don’t go to all this trouble for just anyone you know?  Plus I think you earned a second sandwich after what you did yesterday.”

“Oh, you heard about that did you?”

“It was all over the news Jericho! One would have to be under a rock not to know what happened!”  She gave me an almost motherly glance.  “Plus what that woman said about you, it was really wonderful to hear.”

I had no idea what she was talking about. “Come again?”

“Channel 11 interviewed a Heather Adams, I think that was the name. She said how brave you were in the face of everything.”  She grabbed a remote from her apron.  “I recorded it; here let me turn it on.”

I’d been watching the news on Channel 7, that’s why I missed it. Sure enough Heather was talking to a reporter later in the evening, detailing the attack.  Then she got to me.  “My co-worker, Jericho Staley, he tried to reach into his pocket and grab his phone to call the police.  One of the gunmen noticed and I thought for sure he was going to die.  But his quick thinking and cool wit kept us all alive.”

The interview ended there and went back to the station. The lady newscaster finished up with, “Powerful stuff from today’s robbery at Pacific National.  Bank officials have yet to release what items were taken along with the stolen cash…”  Darla turned it off and put back on the morning sports show.

“You could’ve been killed!”

I was on my last big mouthful of my breakfast sandwich, so I really couldn’t respond too well. I tried to muffle out a rebuttal, but it fell on deaf ears.  Darla just shook her head and headed back inside to the kitchen.  Secretly I was hoping it was to make that second sandwich she had mentioned.

I took a sip of coffee and opened up my email on my phone. I was going through them when I heard a chair close being dragged against the concrete below.  Looking up, Heather Adams was in front of me and taking a seat.  With a sly grin, (or at least I hoped so), “Stalking me now?”

With a serious look, she brushed off my joke. “The Negative Man was there yesterday!  At the bank!”

Why was she yelling so early in the morning? “I know.  I saw what happened on the news last night.”

Grasping my hands with hers, “Then you should be taking this so much more seriously!”

“I take it very seriously, but I also know the city is in good hands with The Dark Lion and Massacre,” I had to fight back my cringe with that lie, “out there. This is superhero stuff, well above my pay grade.”  It really was.  DL owed me a raise…

The tension started to disappear and a small smile formed. “Yeah, I guess you have a point.  But knowing he was so close, it just has me on edge.”  I hadn’t noticed the paper in her hand, probably due to the tight white work out shirt she was wearing.  Setting it on the table, “Did you see this morning’s headline?”

I picked it up and right there in big, bold words ‘City of Chaos’ was front and center. Underneath was a picture of the hysteria outside the bank.  The story detailed the heist and at the bottom in a small picture caption was a fuzzy photo of Hearts.  You could see the sack of cash in one hand and a small box in the other.

The headline reminded me of my conversation with DL the previous night. “Maybe you and the paper are right.  Maybe not enough people, like me, are taking this as seriously as we should.”

“What’s with the sudden change?”

DL’s words were itching the back of my skull. “It’s obvious The Aces have put the city back on edge again.  What if it gets worse before it gets better?”

She took the paper back. “I hope The Dark Lion doesn’t let it come to that.”

“It’s almost as if he needs to declare war on The Aces.”

The door to the café opened and Darla came out with two sandwiches in hand. We stopped talking about this sad and depressing topic as she approached.  Her eyes lit up at the sight of Heather.  “You’re the girl from the interview!”  Heather nodded.  “It’s about damn time Jericho brought a date with him here!”

As Darla dropped the sandwiches in front of us, Heather was flabbergasted. “This thing is huge!”

“This is his second one.” Darla shook her head.  “I don’t know where he puts them.”

I patted my stomach. “High metabolism I guess.  I must burn off a lot of calories somehow.”

Darla mumbled something that sounded awfully close to being a computer nerd joke as she walked back inside. More customers were starting to show up as it got closer to nine a.m.

I could tell Heather wanted to go back to the whole villain topic, but I changed it before she could. Spring training was in the air and it turned out both of us were passionate about baseball.  Contrary to DL’s skeptical nature at my baseball analogy, I liked the game a lot.  Well, I liked the hotdogs, the beer, and the atmosphere the games brought in.  As a transplant, I’d quickly given up my team from back east and became a diehard Pacific Station Flash fan.  Heather, the lucky dog, was a season ticket holder.

“My ex got them for us a few years back, but then I found him cheating on me. I left and took the tickets with me.”

Who in their right mind would cheat on her? “I don’t blame you.  You could probably sell the other one and make some pretty good cash in the process.”

She gave me a weird look. “Sell it?  I was really hoping to give it to someone who enjoyed baseball as much as I did.  Someone who was more, worthy, of my attentions…”

“That’s really cool of you! Hopefully you find someone before the opener.  Isn’t in a few weeks?”

She slapped her hand on her forehead. “My God you’re stupid.  Cute, but definitely stupid.”  Then it hit me like a freight train.  “Jericho, I want you to go with me.”

“Oh… well then… I’d love to!”

“See was that so hard?” I shook my head no.  “Well as much fun, and frustrating as this has been, I have a lot to catch up on from yesterday.  I’m heading over to Wonder-Tech for a bit.  Call you later?”

“That’d be great!” She got up and I couldn’t help notice how the black yoga pants she had on hugged her every curve so nicely.  She caught me staring at her ass and winked.  Flipping her sunglasses on, she headed off down the street towards her car.  Someone pinch me, hot girls like that aren’t supposed to be interested in guys like me.

I couldn’t dwell on that fact, I had a lot to get done too. I paid the bill and gave Darla a quick wave on the way out.  I stopped by my car and grabbed my tablet and sunglasses.  The glare of the sun was really getting to me again.  With my equipment in hand, I headed down to my little hidden alcove that overlooked the beach.  The city provided free Wi-Fi and I enjoyed people watching as I worked.

With my tablet, I could securely access the Wonder-Tech mainframe remotely. I’d built a firewall set up to make sure no one could infiltrate, even over an unsecured network like the city’s Wi-Fi.  With this in hand, I could work from where ever I wanted.

While I was doing a quick inventory on DL’s equipment, a large shadow overtook me. “Is this spot taken?”

Looking up, I saw the wide frame of PJ Douglas, aka Massacre. “No, it’s just me this morning.”

The large man sat down. He was wearing a blue and orange jogging suit and sweating profusely.  I’ve never dealt with Massacre outside of my interaction on the vigilante side.  He pulled off his sunglasses, his eyes bloodshot.  “We need to speak Jericho, confidentially.”

I didn’t like this. “What’s wrong?”

He pulled out his phone and handed it to me. “Play the current message.”

I did as I was told and fired it up. The voice on the other end was chilling.

‘Massacre, we know who you are. If you don’t turn yourself in and give us the identity of The Dark Lion by midnight on Saturday, your family’s lives will be forfeit.  Make the right decision and call this number back.  When you hear the click, just ask for Spades.’

-Jeremy

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About Jeremy Croston

I'm a comic loving, soccer playing, devoted husband who has a writing addiction. I can be found at Orlando Solar Bear hockey games, at the local sports bar cheering on my teams from Philly (go Flyers!), and being led astray by my schnauzer, JJ. Check out my Amazon page at www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston to see my collections. Feel free to friend me on Facebook too at www.facebook.com/jcroston2 (there is another one of me out there apparently). Outside of writing, I work in business development and am considered an expert in all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to talking to you soon!
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One Response to The Negative Man: City of Chaos (Chapter 8)

  1. Pingback: The Negative Man: City of Chaos – Easy reference to all the chapters | 5 Good Minutes

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