Monday, March 30, 2020

The House of Catropolis

“Introducing…” Gabriel Godfrey pulled a sheet off of a small model of one of the neighborhoods in Catropolis. “Godfrey Plaza! A state-of-the-art living and working community in the heart of Downtown Catropolis. It will have hundreds of apartments and lofts, each one specifically geared to people’s unique needs. Each building will have storefronts where people can shop and buy things. There will also be spaces for large office complexes. People can live, work, and shop all in the same place. One hundred and sixty acres of a city within a city.”

The nine member city council and mayor nodded thoughtfully at the model. “This is a big project,” the mayor said. “You said it would be in the heart of downtown. Where downtown?”

“Bartle Farms,” Godfrey said.

“Bartle Farms?” a council member raised an eyebrow. “But it’s a working farm. It has the first house built in Catropolis. It’s a historic monument to the city founders. The house has stood for nearly 300 years.”

“My team and I have discussed moving the house. We’re considering options,” Godfrey sneered.

“I think the council and I are all on the same page, the house is an important part of Catropolis’ history. It needs to be saved and preserved. The current owner, Harold Odetts I think his name is, has owned the land for nearly fifty years. He’s willed the land to the city after he dies but his wishes are to keep the land as a park and preserve the house,” the mayor explained. “Would the city or yourself be buying the land from Mr. Odetts in order to start construction on the Plaza?”

“We have proffered money to Mr. Odetts,” Godfrey said. “He turned down the offer but we will continue to work with him.”

Godfrey packed up and left city hall with his team. “Sir, Mr. Odetts refused to sell the land to us. He said he’ll care for the land until he dies and then it goes to the city.”

“He’s a man in his 70s,” Godfrey said.

“He’s 74. He could live another twenty years.”

“He could also die much, much sooner,” Godfrey smiled.

Supercat flew lazily over Catropolis, heading toward the Daily Cat. So far, everything was running smoothly in the city. His ear twitched and he turned his attention to a branch of the Avenue City Bank. “Almost spoke too soon,” he sighed and floated down to the street and entered the bank. Three masked men were standing at the counter demanding money. Two were using guns to hold back the other patrons and employees while one was pointing their gun at a teller and yelling at her as she shoved money into a bag. One of the employees had pressed a silent alarm that Supercat had heard. Police sirens were faint several blocks away.

“Hurry up!” the one guy shouted. “Maybe I should just shoot you and do it myself!”

“That doesn’t seem very nice,” Supercat said behind him. “The lady is doing what she’s been told after all.”

Supercat had already grabbed the other guns from the two sidekicks and was now focusing his attention on the one doing the yelling. “Supercat? Who pressed the alarm button?”

In a split second, Supercat had taken the gun from the shouting man. “Are you done?” he asked.

The police arrived and arrested the bank robbers. Supercat flew back to the Daily Cat, going through an open window, and redressing as Lester Kat in a store room. From outside the room, Lester heard his editor, Purry Taylor, yelling. “Where is Kat? I’ve been looking everywhere for him!”

Lester popped out of the store room. “Hey, Purry, you need to see me?”

“Kat! What are you doing in there?” Purry shouted. “Oh, never mind. We got a call from Harold Odetts. He was offered half a billion dollars for Bartle Farms and turned it down. He wants to bring the offer and the history of the farm to people’s attention. It’s the first house in Catropolis, you know.”

“I’ll get right down there,” Lester waved and took off down the hallway.

Skyscrapers of 60, 80, 100, and 120 stories towered over Bartle Farm and the two-story wood and stone house on the corner of 7th & Madison. It was a quaint farmhouse, well-maintained for nearly 300 years but was showing signs of wear and tear in the paint and roof. Lester showed up at the house and saw Harold Odetts on the porch, sweeping dust and dirt off of the porch.

“Mr. Odetts, Lester Kat with the Daily Cat,” Lester introduced.

“Mr. Kat, glad to meet you,” they shook hands. “I heard you got an offer on this place.”

“Yeah. Half a billion dollars so Gabriel Godfrey can build a tribute to himself. I’m not selling this land and it goes to the city to be made a park when I die. It’s an important piece of Catropolis history and I intend to take care of it.”

“That’s very honorable, Mr. Odetts. What specifically has happened on this farm in its 300-year history?” Lester asked.

“When the original eighteen founders settled in Catropolis, they mostly huddled in dugouts, tents, or just slept on the ground on or around this claim. A year later, George Andrew Bartle cordoned off this 160 acres and began building a house—the stone part. The Bartles kept the farm running over the next four generations before selling the land to the Odetts. I’m the last of the Odetts and I have no heirs to pass this land onto so when I go, it goes to the city as a park.”

“That’s very honorable,” Lester’s ear twitched.



Lester moved just a couple inches to his right, blocking Mr. Odetts. The bullet went through Lester’s jacket and shirt and ricocheted off his back, going into the wood of the porch. “Mr. Odetts, you need to step back inside your house. I have to go deal with something real quick.”

“Okay, but I don’t see…” Lester closed the door and pulled open his shirt to reveal the red stylized S on his chest.

Supercat glanced at the numerous buildings where the bullet could’ve come from and saw someone on one of the roofs. He flew up grabbed the man, dangling him in the air.

“Who are you? What are you doing?”

“God…Godfrey. He paid me $100,000 if I killed that old man. I didn’t ask any questions,” the man stammered, constantly looking down at the street nearly 100 feet below him.

“Godfrey. Gabriel Godfrey?”

“Yeah.” Within a second, the man was back on the roof the building. He fell to his knees and breathed heavily.

Supercat was at Godfrey Tower within seconds as it was only a few blocks away. He floated outside Godfrey’s office window until someone finally noticed and pointed. Godfrey rolled his eyes and pressed a button and the window slid open.

“Supercat, is it? What brings this honor?”

“Harold Odetts,” Supercat said, floating into the office. “Someone just tried to assassinate him.”

“Pity. I assume they missed,” Godfrey said.

“Luckily,” Supercat said. “Why are you doing this? Why not just leave that land alone?”

“It’s a valuable piece of real estate. We’re the largest city in the Midwest and growing by the day. We need to encourage living and working and shopping in the city and Godfrey Plaza will do just that. I offered Odetts half a billion for the land and he turned me down. It’s a blow to my plans but I’ll get over it.”

“Get over it? You sent someone to kill him.”

“Prove it.”

“The man identified you.”

“The man owes thousands to a loan shark, has a gambling problem and no connection to me,” Godfrey said. “You couldn’t trace this to me even if I had done it.”

Supercat stood silent for a few seconds. “I’ll be keeping an eye on Mr. Odetts and the farm,” Supercat threatened. “You better hope you don’t make a mistake.” Supercat flew out the window and was gone in a flash.

Godfrey angrily stared out the window then pressed the button to close the window.   ▩

Supercat inspired by characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.