Sunday, September 07, 2014

Free Samples

We all love free samples so for today, here are some excerpts that will be appearing in different sections when WTS returns. Included are excerpts from upcoming posts in Capt. Brian's Whiz Bang, The Corner of 16th & Massachusetts, Liberty, Thursday Comics and Adventure. Keep in mind that these are unfinished and unedited so they may ultimately look different when they are eventually published.

The first day, they passed the collection plate. I didn't know what the hell it was and I just stared at it and the roughly five-to-ten dollars in change in the basket. The teacher then asked if I had any offerings (or something like that) and I said no. Saying that was a mistake as the boys then made fun of me for being poor which made the girls giggle. To be fair, I was poor but we could afford fifty cents to throw in a basket. When I got home I talked to my Mom about it and she promised that she would send money with me the rest of the class. No one ever told me what the money was for.
"What? A buck every Sunday keeps me out of Eternal Damnation? Now I can become
the town mattress."
When I went back the next day, the collection plate was passed again. My mom had given me fifty or seventy-five cents in various coin denominations to give so I happily dropped the money in the plate and went about my day. I believe my milk was stolen and I was pushed into the grass. As the week progressed, I was done. I decided on my last day that I wasn't going to give them the money my mom had given me. When the plate came to me, I just passed it on. The teacher then said "Don't you have anything?" I said no and looked away. Then one of the boys that had been messing with me all week says loudly "Yes, he does! It's in his pocket!" Sure, I was keeping the money but I told no one about it. How did he know and what if I didn't have any money? The teacher stared angrily at me until I dropped the money in the basket. I don't think I was ever more happy to see my mom pick me up from someplace until a babysitter I had fed me a bowl of bread in milk for breakfast one morning.

Superintendent George Hoskinson was awakened by the screams of two elderly men in the basement. George rushed to fight the flames while his wife went to a nearby farm to call the fire department. By the time the fire department arrived, flames had already engulfed the building. Hoskinson and six other employees were able to rescue the 26 residents. Eight residents burned to death in the fire. Mr. Hoskinson said that he helped one inmate out twice but she returned to the building and died in the flames. Another man, 69-years-old, was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with both legs fractured having either fell or jumped from a second story window.

The fire could clearly be seen from Lawrence and later that day, Coronor C.B. Ramsey assembled a jury to visit the ruins of the home to gather evidence and to remove the remains of the deceased. With the help of the Red Cross, inmates were cared for at the Community Building at 11th & Vermont Streets until arrangements could be made for their care. Fire Chief Paul Ingels surmised that the fire started in a fusebox. County Commissioners also announced the next day that a small farmhouse would be built southwest of the poor farm ruins using salvageable material from the gutted building. The county sold the livestock and equipment and finally the land in 1946.
The farmhouse currently located on former Poor Farm land. Photo by Dale Nimz, 2013.
The standard show set for a Zoe Bleak performance was usually something with fire, the disappearing audience member and then a levitation act. Intermixed was simple stuff like card tricks, humor and flirtatious come-ons from Zoe. The only thing Zoe didn’t purposely mess up with the levitation act which always received a standing ovation. The other tricks were constantly screwed up by dropping cards, fires not lighting and other things that could easily be fixed. The crux of all of her shows was the levitation and her skimpy clothes.

Tonight was a night like any other. Zoe made it seem like she was a novice magician until the levitation trick all while making sure the men count the freckles on her cleavage. Zoe wasn’t a novice but a third generation magician. Her grandfather was a superhero and her father was a highly respected doctor. After her father was murdered, her grandfather raised her until he died when Zoe was 18. She always felt guilty about not using her magic for good like her male role models but she had resigned herself to knowing that she was nothing like them.

After the show, Zoe waited until everyone had left and the lights to the club were turned off before she left. Zoe threw on her trench coat and began walking west for about five blocks until she reached Cottage Grove Avenue then headed north. The streets and sidewalks were deserted which she expected since it was almost two-thirty in the morning. Vanessa would most likely be in bed. She lost herself in the thought of Vanessa and didn’t see the two pairs of arms reached out from an alleyway and grabbing her, one hand covering her mouth so she couldn’t scream—not that anyone would hear her to help her anyway.

She was dragged into one of the abandoned, burned-out houses she had been walking by and thrown on the floor. “She’s even dressed like a whore,” one of them cackled “so we don’t even need to tear her clothes off.”

Zoe smirked as she eyed her two abductors. “What are you doing?”

“We’re just going to have a little fun,” the other said and got down close to Zoe. He grabbed her face with his hand and held her close to him. He pushed her down on the floor. Zoe didn’t struggle as the man began unbuckling his pants. She looked straight into his eyes and it took a couple seconds for him to notice. He tried to avert his eyes from hers but couldn’t. “What?”

Broken nose,” Zoe said and a soft crack came from the man’s face. He yelled in pain and rolled off of Zoe.

“What the hell?” the other said and began reaching for a gun that was shoved in his pants.

Zoe met the man’s eyes and spoke, “Stop,” and the man froze where he was. Zoe stood up and looked at her would-be rapists. “This could’ve been much worse,” she said. “Neither of you better attempt this ever again. I can make you disappear and trust me, you wouldn’t like it.”

“You crazy bitch,” the man with the broken nose sobbed, blood pouring it.

“You should get your friend to the hospital so doctors can get that nose reset,” Zoe said, walking out of the building.

The Vagabond Bookstore was located halfway between 65th and Marquette Road along Cottage Grove. It was a decent looking two-story brick building with iron bars across the big front window and entryway. On the right side of the bookstore was a fenced in vacant lot and to the left, connected to the brick building, was a pink stone building that served as a church. It wasn’t a conventional church but a church that did its sermons through song. The sign on the building said that they were a family band and occasionally Zoe and Vanessa heard their rehearsals and sermons through the walls but they admitted that they were lucky to have them as neighbors.

Zoe unlocked the iron gates and the front door and went up the back stairs to the second floor where she and Vanessa lived. The stairs led into a living room which only had a couch, recliner a couple of coffee tables, side tables and an old Emerson TV from the 1980s on another table. Zoe walked down the hallway to the bedroom and walked in. Vanessa was sitting in bed, reading, with the lamp on her nightstand turned on.

“You didn’t have to wait up,” Zoe said and began taking off her stage clothes.

“I didn’t. I was just reading,” Vanessa said, slid a bookmark into her book and placed it on the nightstand. “How was the show?”

“The usual,” Zoe tossed her outfit onto the back of a chair and turned around to take off her bra. The bra wound up with the rest of the outfit and Zoe grabbed a white tank top and turned back to Vanessa. “I walked home which is why I’m later than usual.”

“Do you have a show tomorrow night?” Vanessa asked as Zoe got into bed with her.

“No. Why?”

“I was thinking we could go have dinner somewhere,” Vanessa smiled. “It’s been awhile since we’ve had a nice evening together.”

“I think we can do that,” Zoe leaned over and kissed Vanessa. “How about in the morning we go out and get coffee?”

“We’d have to open the store later.”

“It will be fine. The huge line of people we always have standing outside our business will understand,” Zoe rolled her eyes.

Vanessa giggled. “Okay,” they kissed again, more passionately this time and longer. Zoe held the back of Vanessa’s head and exhaled longingly. “Love you,” Vanessa rolled over and turned off the lamp.

“Love you, too,” Zoe wrapped her arm around Vanessa and hugged her.

Zoe never fell asleep before Vanessa. Zoe would lie awake typically for almost two hours. It was something she had dealt with since she was a kid and she never asked about it or attempted to use her magic to help her. She was unsure if it was because of her powers or if it was just her mind not shutting down but she had grown used to it and she finally fell asleep after only forty-five minutes tonight.

When you go through the library of titles DC Comics (and to an extent, Marvel Comics) have published in their nearly 80 years, there are a lot out there that seem oddly out of place. Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter, Major Bummer, Brother Power the Geek, Young Heroes in Love, just to name a few. Most of the time, these series come out for a reason (some genre was popular at the time, popular creative team, promotional tie-in) but sometimes it seems like they just exist because someone had incriminating photos or owed someone money.

Today's comic I am going to place in the "popular creative team" category. Gross Point was a series lasting fourteen issues from August 1997 until August 1998. The first issue was written by Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn with art by S.M. Taggart and Roger Landridge. That's a pretty good creative team for a series that may not last a year. Later issues would be written by Matt Wayne with art alternating from Joe Stanton to S.M. Taggart to Roger Landridge. This series had everything: rubber duck townhouses, a lighthouse in the middle of a landlocked state, elderly siamese hotel proprietors, boyfriends who turn into monsters when they get horny and random art by Rick Parker.

The series follows twin siblings Terri and Brian who have just moved to Gross Point (not the one spelled differently in Michigan as a constant blurb tells us in every issue) because their father has a new job at the Septum Corporation. The series deals with Brian and Terri trying to survive the town and school all while being surrounded by all the mutants and monsters you can cram into a comic book.

Gross Point isn't all that bad. There are some parts that are actually clever and I wonder if this series would've lasted longer if it had been written in a more serious tone. But we'll never know and this series is one of the forgotten from DC's "throw a series at the wall and see if it sticks" mentality of the mid-1990s.

Jack Compton stood on the platform underneath 73rd Street waiting for the train he and dozens of other people waited for everyday. At 7:16, the train came through the tunnel and pulled to a stop. The doors opened and a few people got off. Jack and the other passengers got on and at 7:18, the train took off back into the tunnel.

It was between 53rd and 54th Street when the train exploded bringing down the walls of the tunnel and the street above. Chaos ensued for the first hour after the explosion until police could cordon off that area of the city.

As the afternoon approached, huge spotlights were placed around the rubble. Teams began getting ready to drop down into the hole and begin digging through searching for bodies. In the rubble, someone struggled to climb out and stood on the wreckage of the tunnel, street and train. Jack’s clothes were torn and he was caked in blood and dust.

“Hello?” he shouted, albeit weakly. He saw a flash of light to his left. He turned and saw an illuminated rod laying among the rubble. Jack stumbled over and picked it up. He felt stronger when he held it and saw that he was levitating a couple inches in the air. “Whoa…” he whispered.

“I think I heard someone shout down here,” someone said from down the tunnel.

Knowing that he would be questioned, accused and probably arrested, he used the rod to fly in the opposite direction, back above the surface and back to his apartment.