“Thank you, James! I never would have managed without you!” insisted Mrs. Coleman.
“You are quite welcome. Do call again if ever you need something.” I replied with a smile before stepping into the elevator to leave her floor.
Mrs. Coleman had purchased a new painting and hired Best Friend For Hire to aid in displaying it. Mila used a scan of the room from my initial visit to take measurements and fabricate an airtight display system to match the condo’s aesthetics after sending a simulation to Mrs. Coleman. I merely had to install it.
Now I had an hour until my next job for a “new client”. I sighed wondering what Maxine wanted. She was hiring me through one of her employees this time. Well, the man’s company was a subsidiary of a company where she sat on the board of directors, so there was a small chance that this wasn’t Maxine’s doing, though I wholeheartedly agreed with Mila’s assessment that Maxine was probably involved.
I found myself sighing again as I walked. Being engaged felt all the more real to me now that I had given Alma a ring. The wedding seemed at once too soon and too far away. I was nervous, despite being certain I wanted to marry her. We had yet to thoroughly discuss the details of what we wanted married life to be, or at least I felt there was more to discuss. In addition to worrying over what marriage was going to mean for us, I still was worrying over Dejon.
I hired Dejon yesterday, despite my remaining doubts about his character. Working for me, I’d likely know if he did something truly evil with his ability. If I sent him away now, he’d probably be using his powers to stay afloat, given his need of a job. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t consider how his actions would affect others if that were the case, possibly the very thing which troubled me about him. A lack of solid moral values could be very dangerous with a gift like his.
Furthermore, I felt behind in my studies again. There never seemed to be enough time to read all that I would want to read, even with Aaliyah and Carl helping me cheat a bit. If I really wasn’t aging, did it really hurt to give me a few extra years of study? I found myself smirking at the thought of it. Even I realized that would be suspicious to those in my household. No one questioned how quickly I learned these days, but everyone was perfectly aware of what my schedule was like. There was only so much I could fit into my day, and I had some very intelligent friends who would surely see something amiss if I suddenly knew far too much.
Despite what I’d like to believe, I knew I wouldn’t be willing to study too much without breaks. I’d miss my friends. I’d miss Alma. I’d want to visit my parents again. I already went too long between visits at times. At least they visited the house often enough that I saw them more than I otherwise would. I smiled to myself as I considered again how my parents didn’t seem ready for me to be married. How long would Alma and I wait before having children? I believed she wanted children… What would they even be like?
I rounded a corner and found a couple police cars with their lights flashing. Glancing around, I guessed that the man in the back of one of the cars was apprehended after attempting to rob the pawn shop where one of the officers was asking questions. Hearing someone walking toward me, I looked over and saw Officer Tracy out of uniform.
“James Michael Somerset III. Were you here for this one?” he asked.
“No. I just finished helping Mrs. Coleman with her painting back that way.” I replied, pointing toward her house.
“Hear anything new about Calamity?” he inquired.
“Calamity?” I questioned.
Nodding, he said, “Oh yeah. The city apparently has a vigilante using that as her name. Strange choice if you ask me.”
“I agree. Sounds ominous.” I told him.
“It does. It does. This is the second… no, third time you just happened to be walking by a crime scene after she appeared.” he informed me.
“She? I thought this umm… Calamity, was it?” I asked, waiting for him to nod. “Was a he.”
“No. Calamity is definitely a she. Hard to miss in that new suit she has. White hair from what we’ve been told.” he stated.
“White hair? Not a wig?” I questioned.
He laughed and said, “Would you believe people claim to have seen part of her head shot off? Well, not recently. Lately, they’ve claimed she’s bulletproof. Whatever the case, she has to have some expensive tech to survive some of the things she’s supposedly been through.”
“I bet she would.” I admitted, knowing that she was using some very state-of-the-art technology.
“I also noticed that you have an employee with white hair. Portentia, I believe her name was. Unusual name. Your website says she’s deaf though.” he told me.
“She was born deaf from what I was told. Very friendly girl. Would you like to meet her?” I suggested.
“I would. I really would, but I’m afraid I can’t. People might believe I’m investigating into your business.” he told me.
“That might look bad if my business was associated with criminal activity, but I’ll gladly help law enforcement where I can.” I assured him.
Portentia really seemed to be making a large difference in the city, and I did help her a little not that long ago.
He smirked and said, “Funny. Would you believe I was called immediately by my boss’ boss right after I ran your plates that day we met? He directly ordered me not to investigate you and informed me that investigating into your business was considered investigating you.”
“You’re a detective now, aren’t you. Sorry. I had been wondering why you weren’t in uniform. Congratulations on the promotion.” I told him.
“Thank you.” he replied, frowning.
“Though I find what you just told me somewhat surprising, I can’t claim any knowledge as to why he would tell you that. Perhaps there could be some sort of international problem considering that a foreign dignitary resides in my home.” I suggested.
“Your fiancée.” he stated. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you. For someone who isn’t investigating me, you’re very well informed.” I told him.
Shrugging, he said, “Your wedding is a big event. I heard that the mayor and even the governor are going to be attending.”
“I honestly haven’t seen the guest list, but I would imagine it’s quite extensive.” I replied, wondering how much Detective Tracy actually knew.
“You obviously don’t have to answer, but do you know sign language, James?” he asked.
“Yes. Several forms, actually. With someone who is deaf working for me, I felt obligated to learn. If you ever run into Portentia, don’t worry. She can read lips just fine. Make sure she’s facing you when you’re speaking though. She has a tendency to turn her head when you’re saying something she doesn’t want to hear.” I admitted, not wanting to have him feel I was withholding anything.
“Sorry if I’m keeping you from anything, but I appreciate your time, Mr. Somerset.” he told me, holding out his hand.
I shook it and said, “No trouble. With an hour between jobs, I thought a nice walk would be a good way to kill some time. I might have to call a taxi if I take too much longer.”
“Would you want a ride? I don’t have a DB5 like yours, but my car still runs.” he offered.
“I wouldn’t want to trouble you.” I replied.
“No trouble, not after I took up your time. I’m the green one just up the street.” he insisted, starting to walk as he spoke.
“There are green taxis around.” I teased.
He smiled and led me to his car. Noticing a folder on the passenger seat, he said, “Let me get that out of your way.”
I read enough snippets of the pages when the folder flopped open from being raised that I was certain the entire thing was devoted to researching Portentia. The picture of her at the convention we attended probably confirmed his suspicions about her, but he didn’t have a way to approach her as long as long as she worked for me. I wondered if I had Alma or Aaliyah to thank for that bit of protection.
After getting the address and driving a little ways, Detective Tracy said, “Sorry if I might have seemed a little suspicious of your employee, James. The Calamity thing is a bit of a thorn in our side. She’s a criminal, breaking the law, we’re required to catch her, but she’s also busted a large number of cases open for us. The amount of evidence left for us at some of the crime scenes is staggering. Full videos of crimes in action on microSD cards sitting on top of pictures. There are even printed reports at times connecting the dots easily enough for kindergarteners.”
“That sounds incredible. I’m a little concerned though. If you do pin her down eventually, how are you supposed to bring her in if she’s capable of taking on large groups who don’t play by a rulebook?” I inquired, ignoring the vibration in my pocket. If he caught a glance at my phone’s screen when the wrong message was up, he’d certainly have more questions.
“Can I get your word that you won’t mention this?” he asked.
“Of course. Confidentiality is in my contract.” I informed him.
He laughed and said, “I can imagine, given the people you rub shoulders with. No one even organizes the evidence we have on her. It’s just a bunch of reports from witnesses. She’s officially a myth, since few of the reports sound remotely credible.”
“Even though she’s been seen multiple times?” I asked. “That sounds hard to believe.” I insisted, though I knew he wasn’t lying.
“Fighting crime is tough. Even the people we protect are against us half the time. Having someone actually working to help us doesn’t make any of us prone to bringing her in.” he admitted.
“So what are you after?” I inquired.
He shrugged again before saying, “I’d like to meet her and understand how she does it. Collecting the evidence as she does might revolutionize police work.”
I nodded and kept myself from frowning. I doubt anyone would be pleased to find out how much Mila spies on the city. If the government had a clue how much she spies on countries, they’d want to possess her.
“Here we are. I’ve got a new card if you want one, just in case you hear something.” he told me.
“Sure. Thanks for the ride!” I told him, shaking his hand once more. As I did, I felt my phone vibrate again, so I pulled it out as I got out of the car.
“Marvelous Max is heading toward you. Calamity is also on her way as well.” wrote Mila.
“Is something wrong?” asked Detective Tracy, leaning to look at me.
“Just looks like my day is going to be even busier. Thanks again.” I told him with a wave.
Barely a few steps away, I frowned, hearing the faint sounds of familiar thrusters. I considered running, but there were a large number of people around, and Tracy knew who I was. What was Maxine playing at? Was she really coming straight to me? If so, why? Not wanting to seem unusual in front of the detective, I walked to the most open area I could, pretending to read my phone as I did. If Maxine was coming to me, I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.
I glanced up and caught sight of Maxine descending straight for me with some sort of cylinder held in her arms. Causing her engines to fail would be relatively easy, but preventing her from crashing into anything or anyone without things seeming unnatural wouldn’t. I waited and wondered.
She flipped around and slowed her descent barely twenty feet from the ground, still landing hard near me. Then she grabbed me with one of the giant machine’s hands, pushed me into the metal cylinder, and launched back into the air just as cylinder closed. Surprisingly, the cylinder was very well padded. I could hear the sound of air coming into it. I did not look forward to explaining this to Detective Tracy if we ever crossed paths again.