I loved my grandmother. She taught me everything. But I cannot deny that she was a hard woman.
Sitting on the promenade of a beachfront hotel, leaning back in a chair I stole from a nearby bistro, smoking just the worse cigarettes (every time I think that things can’t get worse I find some even cheaper crappier smokes) I thought about what my grandmother would say. We never discussed murder in detail. For some reason it didn’t come up.
I’m pretty sure what she would say is that if you feel like you need to take the life of another human being, if you’re sure, that if you’re going to set those actions in motion that are going to take a person off the earth – that you should at least be there to see it. If you’re not going to do it yourself, if you’re going to lay that burden on someone else, you have see the results. I think that’s what she would have said. You can’t pass responsibility to someone else, that’s a very dangerous precedent to set, makes things too easy. As Shane said in the movie Shane, killing is a brand, even if it’s justified. Something like that.
Based on that, I was thinking that it wouldn’t be okay to send Blue and Martialla to kill this guy while I sat under our home/tarp and tried not to think about it. But the idea of standing there and watching a man die makes me queasy. We’re talking about cold-blooded murder. I don’t even like thinking about the two guys that I might have killed fighting. I soothe myself with the sweet lie that they could be okay, that maybe they pulled through and learned the error of their wicked ways. But even if they didn’t, I was just defending myself. It’s amazing what you can justify when you paint yourself as the victim. They attacked me, so of course I hurt them.
Since I couldn’t stomach the idea of murder, I thought “well that probably means you shouldn’t do it then eh?” but then I thought about that poor girl. I don’t know if I “talked her down”, maybe she wasn’t going to jump anyway, but I feel for her. How can I help her? It’s backwards how having super powers makes you feel powerless. Before, I would have been bothered by a situation like this of course, but I wouldn’t have thought I could do anything about it so I would have just gone about my day. But now I’m a superwoman! So I feel like I should be able to do something.
It’s like a trick. Or a trap. Or a joke. It’s something. It’s like if every time Superman caught a woman falling out of a plane a guy popped up and told him “Hey while you were doing that an earthquake in Chile killed a thousand people, where were you?” Whatever you can do, it’s not enough. I was struggling with this issue, by which I mean I was turning the same thoughts over and over in my head and accomplishing nothing, when a fellow in a jaunty red and white helmet scooted up to me on a Solo Electra scooter. It was none other than my old pal Alcazar.
He grinned “Isn’t it though? I can get this baby up to thirty kilometers an hour. You’re a difficult woman to find Miss Ela.”
“Well I’m technically homeless so that’s probably true. You should come over to the tarp some time for a fondue party. I made a new very interesting friend since we last talked. How long ago was that? Three years?”
“Like two months. Seven weeks really. I need your help.”
I covered my face “Jesus was it really that recently, that feels so long ago.”
He eyed my pile of cigarette ash next to my chair “Yes, you’re clearly working very hard here.”
“Do you want to hire me to sing at your cousin’s wedding? Fifty bucks and all the hot dogs I can eat and you got yourself a deal. I won’t sing ‘At Last’ though, I love Etta James but that song has been sung at too many weddings, it’s lost all meaning it has!”
He looked at me closely “Are you high right now? Let me see your eyes.”
“I wish. What can I do for you, my Caribbean friend?”
“Remember how I told you that I’m not in the CIA? Well I’m really not in the CIA. But I’m sometimes involved in things. In that . . . in that area. Intelligence I mean. I’m working on an operation that requires a certain ability and my guy isn’t available.”
“Because he’s dead. It’s nothing to do with this though, he was killed for something else, the op is solid. I need someone with enhanced strength and I saw from your file that you’re plenty strong enough to do the job. You do this for me and I’ll get you out of here.”
“I thought you said you couldn’t do that.”
“No, what I said is that I wouldn’t do that because the Shadow Lords would kill me if I did.”
I raised an eyebrow “And now?”
“And now I’m willing to risk it. This is a matter of critical national importance.”
“By way of payment, would you also be willing to take on a former sex worker as your assistant?”
“Sure, as long as she doesn’t mind not getting paid.”
I blew out a long plume of smoke “I should probably check with Blue on this, I’m starting to lose track of all the balls we’re juggling. We have a pimp to kill, we need to raid Baron Illyana’s island, we need to kill Mr.X, I’ve got that thing with the Shadow Lords, there’s a lot going on.”
He squinted “You mean Baron Iorgu? That’s actually where I need you to go.”
“What a fun coincidence. In that case I’m in, now what’s the status on those hot dogs?”