Sunday, February 18, 2018

Supercomics #10

Kansapolis, Kansas, the largest city in the country with a population of about 11 million people, was a highly modern city with thousands of buildings touching the sky. A city this big shouldn’t exist in what was originally considered The Great American Desert but here it was. Kansapolis was founded with many other Kansas cities in 1855, one year after Kansas opened for settlement. For years, Kansapolis struggled to grow because of the surrounding town of Topeka, the state capital, and Tecumseh. The town stayed stagnant through the Civil War until 1877 when Theodore Nolan moved his textile company from New York City to Kansapolis.

People though Nolan was crazy for moving his thriving business halfway across the country to a town of barely 200 people in Kansas. He showed critics by making his company even bigger and helping make Kansapolis into a massive metropolis within 20 years. In the 1890s, he spearheaded a project to widen the Kansas River from Kansas City to Junction City.

It was a huge job, destroying hundreds of feet on either side of the river to make it possible to make the river more navigable. Dozens of smaller cities were destroyed but the wider river helped the larger cities to grow even more. Kansapolis doubled in population from about 52,000 to 106,000. Shortly after the turn of the century, Kansapolis dwarfed surrounding cities such as Topeka, Lawrence, and both Kansas Cities. All cross-country railroads went through Kansapolis.

After World War II, thousands moved to Kansapolis and the surrounding cities. Tecumseh had long since been buried by an expanding Kansapolis. Topeka, while still the capital, had been relegated to a suburb but still a popular place to live. Numerous other suburbs surrounded Kansapolis.

Kansapolis had about two dozen neighborhoods. The one that Matthew Coffin was sent to was The Northeast, known locally as The Struggle. It was his last mission for Dmitri before he left the team. After this mission, he was free to do what he wanted.

His mission was to investigate a man named Wardell Moten, better known by the name War. War had a monopoly on drugs and crime in The Northeast. Nothing happened without War knowing about it and until now Kansapolis just let it happen but his drugs and crime were spilling over into other neighborhoods. Matthew was to clean up the neighborhood and stop War.

Matthew was set up in a small apartment building. It was advertised as furnished but only had a ratty couch, a kitchen table, and a bed that gave the couch a run for its money. Matthew just had a box of stuff to give the illusion of truly moving in. As Matthew unlocked the door, his neighbor came out of his apartment.

“Oh, hey. New neighbor. LaRonn Crisp,” he held out his hand. Matthew eyed him. Styled hair, thick glasses, he was wearing a shirt for the Sunflower State Trailblazers, to local professional basketball team. Matthew saw no evidence of LaRonn doing or selling drugs.

Matthew took the hand extended to him. “Matthew Coffin.”

“Good to meet you, Matthew. Welcome to the building.”

“Thank you. Is it pretty quiet here?”

“For the most part. The people before you were noisy. It was a couple and she was a prostitute so they constantly had people coming and going--no pun intended--and she was loud,” LaRonn said.

Matthew smirked. “Well, I’ll be quiet.”

“Cool. I have to get to work. I’ll see you around.”

LaRonn headed downstairs and Matthew went into his apartment. He sat the box on the table and went to the window. From his third floor apartment, Matthew could see the surrounding neighborhood but the tall buildings downtown could be seen against the horizon. He looked down to see people of the neighborhood doing what normal people did. He had seen this before. He wondered why people who seemed to be such hard workers struggled to pull themselves out of poverty.

Matthew went out in the afternoon after school. The streets of the neighborhood were more crowded with the kids not in school. Most kids had congregated into parks or blacktops to play basketball. It was a warm day with slight overcast so a good day to be outside.

Matthew stopped at one of the blacktops to watch some teens play basketball. He watched for quite awhile, impressed with their skill but noticing they needed a coach to help them work together. One kids on one of the teams was clearly the star. No matter what, the ball would go to him. Most of the time, he made the basket but the times he missed, he could’ve easily passed to someone who was open and they could’ve made it.

“You a scout?” one of the boys walked up to Matthew.

“What? No. I’m not a scout. Do I look like one?”

“Maybe. You are dressed nicer than most people we see,” the boy said.

“Thank you,” Matthew laughed. “If I were a scout, I would be looking at this group. Great potential here.”


“Who said ‘but’? I didn’t say ‘but’.”

“There’s always a but after a comment like that.”

Matthew laughed again. “You’re relying too much on one player. The object isn’t to get the ball to him,” the other boys were now gathering around Matthew. “Don’t get me wrong, ninety percent of the time that’s good strategy but there’s a reason basketball is a team sport and not one-on-one or two-on-two.”

Matthew showed them several plays he remembered from high school and college. He explained what he saw and how to fix it then let the boys play. He saw improvement and each team scored more points on average and more players got to make points. Matthew continued watching until a little girl came running into the blacktop area. “Leon, Mom wants to know when you’re coming home.”

Leon, the good player that Matthew first noticed, rolled his eyes and sighed. “Probably about six thirty. I have an errand to run,” he answered.

“What errand?” the girl asked.

“None of your business, Kamani,” Leon said. “Tell Mom six thirty. I’ll see you then.”

“Okay,” Kamani bounced off back toward the street.

“I’ll see you around, kids,” Matthew turned and gave a slight wave and headed out. “Keep practicing. Hopefully I’ll be able to see a shoe with your name on it.”

They continued playing. “What do you have to do?” one of the boys asked Leon.

“I have to see a guy about a thing,” Leon answered. “It’s nothing.”

“You’re not going to screw this up again are you?” a man asked Leon as he handed him a bag.

“No. No, of course not,” Leon replied. “Everything will go smoothly tonight. I promise.”

“Good. See to it that it does. This is a big drop so there should be no screw ups.”

“I know. I promise,” Leon nervously agreed.

Later, Leon arrived at an apartment building with the bag over his shoulder. He walked all the way up the stairs to the top floor. Bums and burn-outs were littered throughout the seemingly abandoned building but people lived here. Leon knocked on a door in a specific pattern and he heard a muffled ‘Come on’ from the other side.

He walked in and saw several guns pointed at him. He tried not to show how scared he was. “I have the stuff. From Badu.”

A man made a motion with his fingers and the guns lowered. “You messed up on your last delivery, didn’t you?” the man asked.

“I’m still here,” Leon shrugged. The men all walked over to a table and Leon sat the stuff on the table. “It’s all there, I double checked it.”

“I’m sure you did,” the man smiled. He was known as Fang. It was a stupid name but he called himself that because of his gold canine teeth on either side of his top incisors. His real name was Reign Morris which was probably why he went by a nickname. “I still need to check, of course.”

“Of course,” Leon invited.

Fang opened the bag and began looking, happy with what was inside and with Leon. “Nice,” he breathed.

The window shattered and America tumbled into the room. He quickly took out the two closest goons and used one of them as a shield when another started shooting at him. He threw the dead and bloody body at the three gang members.

Leon shuffled away from the fray. “No, no, no,” he said then turned and ran out of the apartment.

America ignored him and went after Fang. “One down,” he growled.

“You’ve got the wrong guy,” Fang pleaded. “You don’t want me. You want War. Wardell Moten. He’s the one that supplies the stuff. I just distribute it.”

“I want all of you. You are all cancer,” America said. “Those teeth look stupid,” he said and hit Fang twice in the mouth.

“War is mad,” Cyncere said. “He thinks that masked guy followed you. You should’ve been paying attention better. Now, a fifth of the stuff isn’t on the street which means War isn’t getting that money.”

“He got paid for the delivery,” Leon argued. “He has money.”

“War gets a percentage of the sales, too, not just money for supplying it.”

Leon sighed heavily. “This isn’t good.”

“Maybe you should leave. Hide somewhere for a bit until War gets his dealers sorted out,” Cyncere suggested.

“Where am I supposed to go? All my family lives here and I have no money to even stay at a hotel on the other side of the city,” Leon said.

“Just hide out at a friend’s house,” Cyncere shrugged.

“I can’t put my friends at risk,” Leon said. “Maybe if I just lay low--go to school, come home--things will cool down.”

“Leon,” Kamani began knocking on his bedroom door. “Mommy says you need to take me to the park.”

Leon sighed and rolled his eyes.

“It’ll be fine. We’ll play some ball,” Cyncere clapped Leon on the back.

At the park, Leon and Cyncere played basketball with no incidence. Kamani was playing in the sand box near the entrance to the park. As they played, a car drove by, windows went down and four gun barrels poked out and began firing. Everyone in the vicinity scattered and screamed. The car then screeched off. Leon and Cyncere got up off the ground.

“Kamani!” Leon shouted and ran to his sister who had been clipped by one of the bullets. “No-no-no-no-no,” he grabbed and cradled her.

Matthew happened to be walking down the sidewalk and saw what happened. He turned to chase after the car but only got a couple of steps before he heard Leon in the park. Matthew then ran to the park and saw Leon holding Kamani. “Call an ambulance,” Matthew said.

“She’ll be dead before any first responder gets here,” Cyncere sneered. “You’d be better off picking her up and running her to the hospital on foot.”

“Then that’s what I’ll do,” Matthew pulled his shirt off, revealing his America suit. The two boys looked in awe at it. America carefully picked up Kamani. He bullet had grazed her head but she was losing blood. “Get to the hospital as soon as you can. She’ll be fine,” America gave a slight smile then began running as fast as he could.

After taking Kamani to the hospital, America spent the rest of the day finding out where War was hiding himself while also taking out his various drug agents. War was obviously in one of five locations but not everyone knew where those locations were and War usually changed where he went everyday. When America finally found out where War was hiding out, his hotel room at the Hotel Dawson, the nicest hotel in the neighborhood, he quickly made his way over and made his way to the penthouse room at the top of the hotel.

When America went in, War was sitting behind a desk in the massive room. “Will the girl be alright?” he asked, barely glancing at America.

“Yes. Not that you care,” America replied.

War seemed hurt by that. “Of course I care. What happened was sloppy. It makes me look bad and now I have to work to regain what trust and respect I may have lost,” War explained. “But maybe this unfortunate accident will make Mr. Wakes be less sloppy himself.”

“So you only care from a business standpoint,” America said. “I think it’s time that someone shut down your operation.”

“Someone else will just take my place and in the meantime there will be chaos and instability even deadlier than what’s happening now.”

“Not if I can help it,” America said.

“You don’t think I’d go down without a fight do you?” War stood up slowly from the desk. Two men with guns suddenly appeared from around the corner. The two men began firing at America.

America barely dodged the bullets. One hit him in the shoulder and another hit him in the hip. He landed on the desk, grabbed the lamp and threw it at one of the men, hitting him on the hand. Acting quickly, the other man opened fire again but America was ready and dodged the bullets which hit the other man in the chest and neck. As America landed, he punched the man still standing as hard as he could. America could feel the man’s jaw splinter through his skin. America then grabbed the gun, jerked it out of his hand, and twisted his arm until he heard a crack.

War had run away. There was only one door that led out of the penthouse so America followed that one out and into a hallway. As he ran, from another small hallway, a fist came out and struck America. He stumbled and fell against the wall. War came out charging, trying to keep the upper hand and keep America at bay. War got in a few good hits to the ears, eyes, nose, and jaw before America got him in the throat. War stumbled giving America the time needed to jump to his feet and wage his own attack on War. He repeatedly went for the face. Blood from War’s mouth and nose poured out and splattered on the walls and floor of the hallway.

War’s face was broken and bloody and barely recognizable. “Are you done?” America asked.

War opened his mouth as if to say something or even scream but instead collapsed to the floor. America carried War’s body from the hotel to the police station eleven blocks in Downtown Kansapolis. America was silent, gave each officer a hard look then walked out of the building and back to the Northeast.

The Northeast had become more of a home over the last month. Matthew got more furniture and opened a recreation center that not only taught kids basketball, volleyball, boxing, and numerous other sports but also offered therapeutic services similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Kids and teens were free to talk or not talk. Matthew worked to focus the kids’ attention and anger on a sport. It worked on some, not all.

Matthew had also became a concrete presence in Leon and Kamani’s lives, becoming a mentor and friend to their mother. He also became friends to his neighbor, LaRonn. Crime and drugs were still a problem--War was right, without him chaos reigned but America did what he could to keep the peace. It was going to be a long, hard road but it was a road that Matthew felt he needed.