Forgive me Matty for I have sinned.
It has been five days since my last confession.
Gah! Who am I kidding!? I’m so excited! I got this weird half-cryptic email last week and didn’t pay it any mind. I intended to write about it just as soon as I got a chance but you know how hectic things have been with that new project at work. It’s kind of funny but I’m actually as busy as I’ve been pretending to be since they hired me. Haha! Shhh…don’t tell anyone!
So I got this email from some guy who calls himself “Spirit.”
It was an invitation to work with other “heroes” he’s gathering in a group called “The Tomorrow Legion.” Sounds crazy right? And why the heck would he want me? I have been leaving a little breadcrumb trail in my travels but it’s nothing serious, y’know? Just to see who bites. Well anyway he has this ominous sounding tag-line: One hero alone in this town isn’t going to be able to make much difference, if at all, and will be quickly overpowered by the overwhelming criminal elements. Apparently he has seen it happen more times than he can count. That’s kind of depressing. We hero-types need to stick together!
(Hazel makes a mocking fist-pump in the air)
He went on to say: But these same individuals working with each other as a team can do so much more good than any of them ever dared dream. Whoa Matty, isn’t that refreshingly optimistic? He thinks I have a unique combination of talents and abilities and he feels very strongly that The Tomorrow Legion and the city itself could benefit from my joining with them. He even teased me with a little tidbit about a group of practicing mystics — holding the information hostage until I agreed to join. Hah! Imagine that! And I thought I was the only one in these here parts. The Shadowboards have been surprisingly quiet. I should have figured that I was missing something. I’ve only been here for six months and I still have so much to learn…
So what’s a girl to do? Of course I wrote him back:
Thank you for your interest in me as a recruit for the Tomorrow Legion. I “think” I’ve heard of you guys but I’m an infomaniac who keeps a very low profile. While your offer interests me I’d prefer a face-to-face before committing. I don’t know how you found me but I’m sure you’ll divulge as much when pressed. I’ve been cyber-diving lately into some shady areas and purposefully leaving a trace for the right person. Are you him?
Thanks for reaching out to me but Email is best left for frivolous communication. If this isn’t some kind of prank I’ll meet you for coffee — my treat. I work in Saratoba at a software firm that will remain nameless. My affiliation with them shouldn’t interfere if we can reach an accord. Let’s meet after work this week…say, Wednesday near the old Dream Garden. There’s a coffee shop by the on-ramp to the 109 that gets a lot of foot-traffic. Public, well-lit, and quiet. It should afford us the opportunity we need to see if this arrangement is gonna work.
Short, sweet, and to-the-point. Guess what, Matty? It worked! I did a little digging on him just to make sure he was legit and he was. He had these dark sunglasses and this covert air about him that practically oozed “super-hero!” It was pretty kewl. You know I’m always a good judge of character — see aura and sense evil notwithstanding — and he gave me some good vibes. Here’s how it went:
He showed up for the meeting in street clothes. He was tall but not overly so – about six foot even. His dark hair was cut short and simple. He wore dark sunglasses but seemed to see me right through them. He picked me out right away and came over to the table.
“Hazel,” he confidently asserted as he held his hand out to me, “It’s a pleasure to meet you in person.”
I was like, “Whoa!” y’know, like who’s this guy all tall dark and furtive in the coffee shop? Clearly, not his usual element. I was a little nervous, y’know…inside, and he was kinda cute too.
I stood up when he approached and composed myself even as I took measure of the man. Is this “the” Spirit she had heard of? The one who had supposedly emailed her? I took his offered hand gingerly and we exchanged grips. His was firm but not forceful.
I had my hair up that day. It was the usual dark mix somewhere between brown, black, and red — held at bay by a simple cord; I’m such a simple kind of girl. I can tell the first time someone looks into my eyes they are reading me — even without see aura. You know my eyes are a murky gray-green swirl of indistinct colors; it really catches people’s attention and it’s like they’re wondering whether or not they can trust me. I could feel our gazes lock even from behind his dark glasses. This was a man on a mission.
I hope I came off confident but I think I kinda stammered something like, “Thanks for humoring me. Can’t be too careful these days. The metal-detector at the door, the public-venue, your human exterior, your choice of coffee — they breathe reassurance into my reluctance to trust.” Then I pushed one of the two cups across the table toward him. “I said it was on me. I figure, a man like you — all business — black, and just a little sweet. I won’t be offended if you don’t drink it.”
He sat down across the table from me and got right down to brass tacks.
“Let me cut to the chase. I’ve assembled a team of superheroes to help protect the city and I think your talents would be an invaluable addition. What can I do to convince you to join?”
“Convince me?” I snorted (I was kinda LOLing inside but, remember, I’m a big girl now — all of 21 — I have to act like an adult if I wanna be treated like an adult. Gah! Fucking Gerhardt!) “What makes you think I need convincing?” I paused for a moment to let that sink in. This guy had me all wrong.
“First, thank you for the vote of confidence. If you think my talents would be an invaluable addition to your team then perhaps you don’t know enough about my ‘talents’.” I couldn’t stifle a giggle but I tried to maintain my business-woman exterior and gauge his reaction. "If you have nothing to hide then you won’t mind if I perform my own little litmus test. I want to cast a spell that reads “aura’s” — it will give me a little insight into your character. I will also cast a spell that allows me to sense strong evil intentions and motives. I can do so discreetly, right here, with no one the wiser. It would make me feel a whole lot more comfortable before I trust you with my digits. Apart from my magical aptitude, I’m not too shabby with a computer and I availed myself of a little background-check, credit-check, and the standard police files on a John Doe with the alias: Matt Lee River. Century Station can be a very rough place in my short but intense experience. Wouldn’t you agree?"
Matt said “Century Station is a rough place. That’s why I’m trying to form this team, so we can all work together to make it better. Your computer skills are impressive to have uncovered all that information about me. Go ahead and use your magic – I don’t mind.”
He checked out as squeaky-clean as his record — and I really scrutinized him while sitting there. I could tell that his sunglasses were actually a little more high-tech than they initially appeared. I could also see that he was watching my spell casting with curiosity and a little bit of fascination. It was kinda kewl.
When I felt comfortable I opened up:
“Everyone has a past. Mine is a bit more colorful than others. Nothing to get hung up on.” I grinned. “It makes me special. But I’m here out of necessity. I left behind a home, family, friends, and a life that no longer wanted me. They have this perception of me that is incongruous with my own self-assessment. I have…changed.” She stopped for a minute to let him digest that. “On the inside I’m still the same person but, on the outside, the skin-deep sometimes looks very different. My father espouses morals, honor, and a strict code of conduct. He taught and ingrained those values in me and I live my life according to their principles. Spirit…Matt…I have something to prove, and I have nothing left to lose. I’m the best kind of gal to have on your team. Seems to me you’re offering not just a chance to fight crime and be a hero. This looks like an opportunity for redemption. If I accept your offer I expect your other members — my teammates — to understand a few things about me, not the least of which is how I cherish my privacy. This isn’t about the limelight or the glory for me. My motives are too pure…too honest. I want to make a difference.”
Whew. I took a deep breath. I don’t know why I felt comfortable trusting him with even that little snippet. It felt really good to get that off my chest. Maybe it’s not so bad to know a few people in a new place.
As if on cue Matt said, “And with The Tomorrow Legion Hazel you’ll be able to do just that. Why don’t you swing by our headquarters over in Kilgore, on the other side of the 109 from Waingroh, and meet some of the others? A few of them live there, some of the others come and go as they can. We’re very flexible in that regard. You’d be able to see for yourself – few of the others are in this for the glory.”
As if that concluded matters he stood up to leave. “I hope to see you soon.”
I smiled, thanked him, and headed out just a minute after him — taking a moment to collect my thoughts and things before leaving.
Matty, I think this will be very interesting. Maybe I’ll stop their headquarters some time this week. I’ll keep you posted. Now, if I don’t get out of these work clothes and grab my duffel I’ll never make it to yoga on time — and you know how grumpy I can be if I miss my ayur-vedic stretching and meditation. Haha!