Saturday, September 30, 2017

Incredible Comics #17

The riverfront Goebel Building was ready for its grand opening. It’s lower floor, looking out over the street was to be filled with half a dozen commercial businesses. The next several floors were to be a casino, the only part of the building that was open and ready to use at the moment. After that, was office spaces. A few of those were occupied and Alderman Lucius Goebel, who had commissioned and built the skyscraper, had his company’s office and campaign headquarters in it. The next six stories was a hotel, the first in the neighborhood. Nobody spent a night along the harbor unless they absolutely had to. This building was going to change that. Above that were residential units for the wealthy elite. A couple had been purchased by Lucius’ friends but they hadn’t moved in and the residences were still bare.

Everybody who was anybody was at the opening gala for the casino. Numerous news outlets were there along with all the aldermans of Golden City, many business owners and other upper crusts. Even the mayor was there. For the Golden City Herald, Gail Porter was there to take photos and get a write-up for it in the social section. It was going to be her first written assignment for the Herald so even though it was just a simple society piece, it was a big deal that could lead to other thing. She took pictures of attendees milling about and talking. She figured that this might get a full page spread so out of a hundred or so she’d take, maybe six would be used.

The party had been going for almost an hour when Lucius Goebel showed up. He immediately began shaking hands with everyone around him. With women, he would take their hand gently in his and give them a fake peck on the cheek. Gail hated all this fake appreciation. She hated things like this that glorified money. Maybe she’d think differently if she had any money.

A man came out of the kitchen and Lucius quickly made a bee-line to him. Gail followed and got a couple of pictures of Lucius and the man shaking hands. “Who’s that?” Gail leaned in and asked someone near her that looked important.

“I don’t know. He came out of the kitchen. Maybe the caterer,” the person responded.

“The caterer?” Gail exclaimed. “Lucius seemed really anxious to shake his hand,” Gail took another picture.

A couple hours passed. Dinner had been served and Lucius stood up and walked over to a podium. “Ladies and gentlemen. Fellow Golden Citians. I thank you for being here tonight. I am pleased and honored that you are here to witness and be a part of the revitalization of Ward 7. As you all know, I’ve been alderman of this ward for seven years and have been working with the city to take this neighborhood back from crime and poverty. We have demolished half a dozen abandoned or terribly dilapidated buildings. The building this casino and hotel and office space are in once had a derelict warehouse. It housed hundreds of homeless people and was used to traffic children. When it collapsed, it nearly killed hundreds of people. I bought the ruins of that warehouse to create a beacon of hope for the neighborhood.”


“It’s only the beginning but an important one. I can only do so much as an alderman. But I want to be able to do to the whole city what I want to do to this neighborhood. With that, I am announcing my intention to run for mayor. Sorry, Mr. Mayor,” Lucius smiled with his teeth at the current mayor, Donald James. The audience laughed. Mayor James blushed slightly, smiled back at Lucius, and waved to the crowd. “Tonight, the casino is open to all of you. All money that the house wins will be donated to two local charities--The Golden City Rescue Mission and the Willow Street Women and Children Service Center--so this is the one and only time you want the house to win.”

Laughter, and then louder applause.

People began getting up and heading to the casino. Gail followed with her camera. For almost two hours, everything was fine. People were having fun and more than willing to let the casino take their money. Gail learned that Lucius filled the remaining empty space in his building. It was a really good night for Lucius Goebel.

The man stood in the robotic suit on a rooftop across from the casino. This was going to be an easy job. The jet boots he wore would fly him over to the casino, he’d break through the window and begin shooting, wounding several people including Lucius Goebel but killing Mayor James. Then he flies back out the window and ditches the suit. The suit would be unidentifiable and not be traced back to the manufacturer, himself, or the boss.

He took a deep breath and stepped off the roof. The jet boots ignited and he flew gracefully toward the casino. He came through the window, shattering the glass. In the confusion, he found Lucius and Mayor James. He began shooting into the crowd but taking care to hit Lucius in the arm and Mayor James in the head. He missed Mayor James, hitting his shoulder.

“I should’ve known you were up to no good and stopped you before this,” Time Man came up behind the man and pulled his arm up, keeping him from aiming into the crowd.

“No,” the man bellowed. He wasn’t sure if this suit could stand up to what he heard Time Man could do and he didn’t want to find out. Get away from him and get out.

“Who are you?” Time Man asked, crushing the arm gun built into the suit.

“I was hired,” he answered and tried to get away from Time Man. His attempt failed and Time Man crushed the chest shield on the suit. It sparked and smoked.

“By who?” Time Man clutched the suit’s helmet. The man felt as though once he gave up a name, Time Man would rip his head off. He remained silent. The helmet was ripped off of the suit an thrown down. Police had started coming up to the casino. The man knew he was done. Few recognized him. Gail recognized him as the strange man who shook Lucius’ hand earlier in the night. “Who are you?”

The man inhaled deeply then exhaled. If he was going down then Lucius was going with him. “Rance Brookings. I was hired by Lucius Goebel to assassinate the mayor.”

“Lies from a criminal,” Lucius said. “I’ve never laid eyes on this man before.”

“You met him earlier tonight,” Gail spoke up. “I have a picture,” she held up her camera.

Everyone looked at Lucius.

“Until we get this sorted out, you should come with us,” one of the policemen said, putting his hand on Lucius’ shoulder.

“Get your hands off me,” Lucius demanded. “I, and several others, require medical attention.”

“We’ll take care of that. Come with us, sir.”

Lucius refused to move.

“I’d go with them,” Time Man said, standing taller than Lucius with his arms crossed.

Lucius then went with the police.

Gail’s story didn’t make the society page. Her pictures and her write-up about the night appeared on the front page along with several of her photos and Lucius Goebel’s mugshot. She had also been promoted with a pay raise. She sat at her new desk in the bullpen of the Herald and smiled. It was a really good night for Gail Porter, reporter and photographer.