Survivor: A City of Heroes novel


Chapter 12 - "Recruit"

"First things first...." Linuial had stated firmly, sending Jon Smith into the bathroom to shower and shave.

She sent Maggot Man on his way, with instructions to pass on hugs to his widow and son on her behalf. It had taken him over a year to find them again, after he had fought his way out of his premature grave, and he now spent as many hours with them as he could, not knowing when the next moment would be his last on earth.

Linuial began sorting through the trash, stuffing the vast majority of it into some plastic garbage bags she found in a pantry, making a pile of filthy clothes on the bed. She used some of the refuse to sweep together the broken mirror glass, swept it into a container, and dumped it into a bag, then pushed the empty frame against the wall. By the time Jon opened the bathroom door, towel clutched around himself, most of the debris had been bagged and deposited in the hallway, and she was wadding the dirty clothing inside the sheets that she pulled loose from the mattress.

"Is there a laundry in your building?" she asked him.

" the basement....." He glanced around the room, his eyes first widening, then narrowing. "Hey! I didn't tell you you could mess with stuff...."

"It's all right, John, I only picked up what was obviously garbage, that, and your clothes. I haven't disturbed anything else."

"Look, if I need a maid, I'll call for one....." he growled.

She smiled at him. "It appears that other than the garbage and clothes, you are really a very neat housekeeper." She frowned. "How long has this been going on, John? Two weeks?"

".....none of your" He stomped across the room to the nightstand, pulled open an empty drawer, stared into it, slammed it shut, seated himself on the naked mattress, still clutching the towel around his hips with one hand.

"I paid attention to what I was picking up, John. Dirty clothes, empty take-out containers, and whiskey bottles. And nothing else. Everything else is neatly put away. And the broken mirror, which I now understand. You haven't left your apartment for two weeks, have you? You order food on your cell phone and have it delivered. Where has the whiskey been coming from? Is there a liquor store nearby that delivers?"

He jumped up. "I told you, it's none of your business!" he shouted.

"John......if you found someone like this.....would you walk away?"

His shoulders slumped, his head dropped. Slowly his knees buckled, and he slid into a sitting posture on the floor.

"I didn't think so...." the blonde woman said quietly. She walked over to him, sat down on the floor in front of him.

"We both know that you can't keep this up," she continued. "You have to at least call your boss, now. You can tell him you've been sick or were called out of town.....but you have to at least call him. You don't want me to do it for you, I can tell that.

"You've had two weeks to grieve, John. And you will continue grieving. But you also have to go back to your life. It's just what we all have to do. Unless you want to become a charity case.....or kill yourself. DO you want to kill yourself?"

He took a long time to answer. She waited patiently. ""

"......was that the only copy of your picture, John?"

He took even longer to answer, obviously struggling with himself. "" he finally forced out.

"May I see a copy? Please?"

She thought he was going to refuse....but he finally got up, began rifling through the papers still piled on top of the tiny table, came up with a piece of paper, walked across the room and handed it to her without looking at it.

She studied the image. With the lights turned on, the window open, Jon shaved, she began to see the resemblances....the shape of his left eye, the shape of his mouth, his nose. "You're right, John, I certainly understand why you are grieving. You have lost so much." She stood, put the drawing on the nightstand.

"Is this the first time you've ever mourned your loss, John?"

"I don't need your pity."

"I know you don't. You've suffered a devastating loss, John, and everyone needs to grieve, to feel angry, to ask 'why me', or they can't move on, get on with their life. People who don't mourn get stuck, emotionally." She moved to the bed, started to pick up the sheets folded around the clothes.

"Leave it...." Jon snarled.

She looked at him hard. "If I do, will you take them to the laundry? Now?"

He struggled with that one, finally replied, ".....yes...."

"All right, then. I'll leave it for you." She dropped her grip, turned and walked to the table. Pushing the remaining papers around, she selected one, picked up the infamous pencil. "I'm leaving you my cell phone number, John. Call your boss, do the laundry. If you want to start drinking again, you can. But I recommend against it. I have cleaned the alcohol out of your system, and removed the remaining poisoning so that you are not currently suffering a hangover. If you start drinking again, you'll be back in the same situation.....drink to forget, wake up, remember and have a hangover to boot, drink again to make the pain go away. If you keep it up, it is possible to poison death. If you really are not looking to destroy yourself.....don't start down that path."

"Keep your number...." he growled. "....I don't need a babysitter."

She smiled. "Perhaps not, but that's not why I'm leaving it."

"Why then....?" he managed to look completely uninterested.

"Starfire is my group, John. I'm recruiting currently. Once I have a chance to see you on better days, I might consider asking you if you would like to join." She smiled at the startled look he shot her. "If you have any interest, that is?"

He opened his mouth, closed it. Finally, "....why? Why, after you've seen this?"

"Let's just say I'm an empath, and I have a feel for people, and leave it at that, shall we?" she smiled.


Copyright, November 26, 2012