Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Date with White Owl

Lincoln Plaza stands eight blocks to the East of Fountain Square; a refuge of green amidst the skyscrapers and traffic. A small park, consisting of a war memorial with the names of the young men Queen City sent out to die in the American Civil War and every subsequent war thereafter. The army maintains a small garrison;who's job in part, is to guard the tomb of the unknowns maintained here.

Generally its a quiet place, but as I flew by I saw a firefight happening. One soldier lay on the ground, and several street hoods and radicals with guns were storming the monument, shouting “End the Wars!”

“Normally, I'd agree with this sentiment,” I said, diving into the fracas. “But there are better ways to protest!”

“Holy crap! It's White Owl!” I heard, followed by the chattering of an automatic rifle. The bullets bounced from my chest as I heard the leader shout, “Kill her!”

“We're trying to, but the bullets are bouncing off her!” I kept swooping in and out as I saw the honor guard rallying for the counter attack. In the distance I could hear the sounds of QCPD's sirens indicating more backup was on the way. The radicals' attention was focused on me, and that gave the honor guard the chance they needed.

“Look out! The army guys are attacking too!”

As the sergeant in charge of the counter attack threw a tear gas canister into the unruly group, I slipped my nose filters into place. I could hear the coughing and wailing of the terror group as they tried to fight back against the superior Army force. I dove in, kicking guns and knocking out the resistance, making it easier for the Army and the Police to wrap up the battle.

Behind me, I heard the racking of an AK 47 as a thug drew a bead on me. “No one can stop the Society for Human Peace, White Owl, not even you!” I jumped closer, then kicked his gun away. Whirling, I punched his jaw, knocking him out.

“I may not be able to stop the whole SHP, but I can stop YOU, friend.” The two remaining gunmen surrendered, rather than take their lumps, so I was grateful it was over so quickly and without a loss of life.

“Nice work, White Owl,” said Captain Winslow, as his men took custody of the prisoners. “It would have been a whole lot messier without you.”

“What about the guard?” I asked.

“It was a flesh wound. He was treated and released, should be fine.”

I nodded. That's terrific Captain...but weren't there six SHP?”

The army lieutenant nodded. “She's right. We counted six targets.”

The SHP who had his jaw thumped by me laughed. “Damn straight. Our leader man made his getaway. I'll lay odds you won't find him or our next target before it's too late!”

One of his buddies laughed and said, “Yeah, sixteen to one odds.”

“Shut up you moron!”

The police led the terrorists away, and I stood in deep thought, contemplating the cryptic message that had been delivered. I was so intent, that I didn't hear the footsteps behind me. A soft voice said, “Ummmm, excuse me, Ms White Owl?”

Whirling I saw a medium built soldier, in an MP uniform. He had dark hair, cute brown eyes and glasses and a cute little dimple in his chin. “Oh yes? Sergeant is it?”

“I guess you don't remember me, White Owl. My name is Chris Smith. I um well I helped out when you were in Oklahoma City stopping the Doctor Solar.”

A dark memory flashed in my brain, but I remembered this heroic MP. “Oh yes, of course! I recognize you now. What can I do for you?” He seemed fidgety and nervous, almost shy.

“Er..Nothing much really. I umm, I just wanted to...I just wanted to say you were great tonight. It was a pleasure to see you in action.'re so brave and...”

I could see the sweat rolling on his brow and his hands were twitching with all sorts of fear. Still I stood quietly, encouraging him on with my continued interest.

Sergeant Smith's voice dropped to just above a whisper“And I just wanted...wanted to ask...Iwantedtoaskifyouwoudgooutwithme!”

A look of shock crossed my face. “What? What did you say? Did you just ask me for a date?!”

“Well er...yeah. I mean..I could understand if you said no. I mean you're a very busy person and all...and I'm just a soldier and...”

My mind didn't hear the rest of it. I was contemplating all the romantic overtures Athena Nikos received, from fellow archeologists, to potential donors to the odd children who toured the museum. But this was the first time anyone ever asked for a date with White Owl. And who knew..maybe it could be fun. “All right Sergeant Smith, you're on.” I said with a smile.

The worried man had almost convinced himself that I was going to turn him down. “...,so if you don't want to I'll understand, and HUNH?! Did you just say yes? You mean you WILL? Wow that's great! Where should I pick you up?'”

I suddenly realized I didn't want to give away too much of my personal life, so I said, “Why don't we meet somewhere. Say Fountain Square tonight at eight?”

Chris's eyes twinkled. “You bet.”

I arrived at Fountain Square, and Chris stood to one side, with something in his hand. I flew in and landed next to him. He took my hand smiling. “Right on time, Sergeant...I mean Chris,” I said.

“And I brought you a little something, White Owl,” he said, proffering the box at me. “Can I call you Owl?”

“Of course you can,” I replied. “Oooh a corsage! How nice of you.”

“I hope you like it, I picked it to go with your costume.”

“It's lovely,” I said graciously. “And a little silly,” I thought to myself as Chris' shaking hands pinned it to the Nu Silk. “But what are you going to do?”

I drew a deep breath and asked, “So, where are we going?”

“I know a terrific little Italian place in the theater district. No one should bother us there,” he said. He gallantly opened the door to his sports coupe and away we drove.

Of course we weren't left alone. Thirty minutes after arriving, I was still signing autographs and smiling.

“I certainly didn't expect this to happen,” moaned Chris.

“Its one of the pitfalls of celebrity, I said. “You're expected to sign autographs wherever you go.” I looked at one picture in the evening paper as it was pressed next to me.

“That was a terrific thing you did today, White Owl,” said the older gentleman as I signed it for him. I thanked him but couldn't shake the memory of the SHP man's comment about the next target. The answer way fuzzy at the edges of my mind, but I couldn't make it click.

I signed the last autograph and thanked the waiters for offering us some peace then turned to Chris and said, “Finally...let's eat.”

I took a bite though, and frowned, “Oh..Nothing worse than cold chicken parmigiana.”

“Oh God I'm so sorry,” said Chris. “Wait, I'll have the waiter bring you something else.”

“No, really it's all right. I wasn't all that hungry tonight anyway.” My mind kept hacking away at the Sixteen to one odds. It had to mean something. I almost missed Chris' next sentence.

“Do you like to dance?” he asked. “I know a nice club near here and they have a fantastic band.”

“Sounds dreamy,” I said, flashing him a smile.

We walked into the High Note, and I saw it was a popular place with a lot of the local soldiers. They eyed Chris and me as we entered, then I gave Chris my arm as we started a nice slow dance. Chris was light on his feet, and he led with an easy grace. We danced formals, some more modern dances too. Finally, one of the soldiers got up and came toward us. His name tag said Dekker.

“Hey Smith! You finally got a date with White Owl? White Owl my Aunt Fanny! She's not the real one!” A strong smell of alcohol was on his breath.

“Yes she is,” said Chris, gently. “No go away and leave us alone.”

The soldier pulled Chris from me. “You can't fool me. I'm cutting in, and I'm guessing that's Margie Tanner under that mask.” He held me by one arm and his other reached for my face.

“Only one way to find out,” he said. “That you under there Margie?” My hand snapped up and caught his wrist. With a swift flip and a bit of enhanced strength, Sergeant Dekker flew across the dance floor.

“No soldier, I'm NOT Margie Tanner, and you can keep your hands to yourself.”

Dekker sat on the floor holding his spinning head. “Maybe you ARE the real White Owl,” he muttered.

Chris caught my hand and led me toward the door. “Come on Owl, I think we'd better leave.” I followed him quietly out to his car.

“Man, this night is turning into a real disaster, Owl. It seems everywhere we go, we run into people who react to your costume. If only there were someplace where there weren't any people around.” Chris was driving down Riverside Drive and I was looking up at the several bridges spanning the Ohio.

“Maybe we could walk along the Washington Bridge,” said Chris.

“Of course! That's it!” I said. “The Washington Bridge!”

“What? You mean you really want to walk it? I was only kidding!”

“No Chris. The Clue! They were talking about the bridge.

“What are you talking about Owl? I don't have any clue. What clue?”

“The clue Chris! The SHP guy said the odds were 16 to 1 that we couldn't find their next target in time. Don't you get it? They were in Lincoln Plaza this afternoon. Lincoln was the sixteenth president. They're going from 16 to 1; from Lincoln to Washington...”

“And that means the bridge!” said Chris. I felt the car accelerate and Chris's phenomenal reflexes took over, swinging the car through the deserted streets and angling up Main to the closed Washington Bridge.

John Roebling built the Washington Bridge as a predecessor to the more famous bridge in Brooklyn. But it was currently closed for renovation, and barricades prevented auto traffic. We pulled up in front of one of the barricades , and climbed out. Sprawled on the ground in behind the barricades were two Ace Security officers.

“We're too late. They're already here.” I said. Just at that moment, bullets flared the bridge.

“You're right White Owl, but this time you're not going to stop us. Now get back in that car and drive out. Or this bridge is going to explode into to the river.

Slowly moving back, I said, “Better do what he says, Chris.”

Buckling his seat belt, Chris said, “OK but I have an idea.” The car backed, turned, and trundled down Main. Two blocks away, Chris spun it around, revved the engine and raced back toward the bridge.

The car picked up speed and Chris said, “Get down Owl.” Bullets blasted away the windshield as the car stayed on approach to the guard shack.

WHAAAMMMM!!!! The car blasted into the guard shack, blocking the doorway with its nose. More SHP members raced out, unable to get out the door easily.

I swung open my door, slamming one SHP member in the crotch. He dropped his gun and lay moaning on the ground. On the other side, Chris did the same, slamming a punch into the belly of another SHP gang member. As Chris climbed out the rest of the way, he socked the man in the jaw and I had the pleasure of watching the SHP man sag to the ground.

“I got these guys Owl, you get the boss,” he said.

“I'm on it, “ I said. I flew over the wrecked guard shack and landed on the dark bridge. Pale work lights illuminated the walkways, and I glided slowly over them; peering through the grates to the catwalks below the bridge surface. A bright flash lit up the night and I dove after it. The SHP leader was working with a welding torch, attaching a bomb to one of the support pylons.

“Not tonight,” I said, sweeping in. The leader pivoted and fired his torch at me. I dove to one side, attempting to avoid the blue flame. I flew around the pylon, landing gently behind the leader.

“Ready to give up?” I said.

As he whipped around, the welding torch made contact with the flux and the bright light blinded me. Seizing his opportunity, the SHP man brought the torch down on my head. I groaned and staggered, then slipped on the catwalk. With a wild scramble I caught the hand rail and hung for dear life as I tried to clear my eyes.

“Oh how I'll relish this,” said the SHP leader. I heard him approach and felt the heat of the flame to my left as he heated the railing, attempting to cut through.

“So long, White Owl,” he gloated.

But his laughter was cut short, and I felt a powerful but gentle hand on mine. A moment later I was pulled back onto the platform, in Chris's warm, gentle embrace.

“You OK Owl?” asked Chris.

“Yeah, I am now,” I said. My eyes were starting to clear and I saw the angry flashing of the red and blue lights as the QCPD wrapped up the rest of the SHP.

We walked to the edge of the bridge and I saw a tow truck pulling away Chris's car. “Oh Chris! It was an excellent plan, but I'm afraid it didn't do much for your car.”

“Yeah,” he replied. “I should be able to get it fixed or replaced, but I'm afraid we're going to have to walk from here.”

“So?” I replied. “It's a nice night, the company is fine, and I know an all night chili place where we can get a private booth.” Together we walked into the moonlit night, arm in arm.

The End

(Based on a Batgirl Story from Detective Comics 483)

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