Narrator: Having filled Jo in the night before, I felt a smidge more confident about the day when I woke up. I checked with Jared to see if Dean was on duty, and I found he was. I didn’t think I could handle the drama if he saw me with Tim. I had said though that we weren’t officially back on yet, but regardless, I wasn’t sure if Dean would handle himself well enough. I didn’t have a plan, other than going on a first date with a nice, normal guy. I hadn’t really had that in a decade, and I want to see what it’s like. Especially considering that by the end of the night, I could be dead and the city could be plunged into darkness.
I took the subway from my apartment. The early september sun and gentle breeze combined for almost perfect weather, like the calm before a category 2 tropical storm. I was dressed casually, in black jeans and a red waistcoat with black pinstripes overtop of a Fatally Yours band t-shirt. Sitting on the subway car, I looked around and watched the inhabitants. A Latina businesswoman in her mid 30s wearing a white pantsuit smiled as she looked at her phone, seeing a text from her parents, saying how proud they were of her. A 5 year old boy missing one or two of his front teeth and his sister wearing pigtails and pink overalls laughed and danced around the rail, playing a game of their own invention, while their parents looks on, the husband with his arm around his wife, looks of deep tenderness. Across from them, 3 people sat hand in hand smiling at the children playing, one who looked male, one who looked female, and one genderqueer individual. On the other end of a car, a few young people of varying colors were practicing acrobatic dance feats, cheering each other on, and high-fiving. Near the youth, an elderly Jewish man and his wife sat hand in hand, smiling at the exuberance of the young people and remembering back to their youth, when they met on this very train. They were on their way to visit their grandkids and have a picnic at the same park I was going to.
As I watched the people, I thought about my problems, but found that I was smiling. No matter how crazy life gets, no matter how much danger exists in this world at night, the inhabitants of New Ark City loved each other. For every ignorant criminal, there were 50 to 100 wonderful people with open hearts. And that’s why I fight for this city. That’s what I’m fighting for. I’m fighting to keep our hearts open, to keep hoping, to keep appreciating the beauty in the world. There was magic on this subway train. There was equality on this train. And it made me feel proud to be a citizen of New Ark City. I am proud to be a guardian for these people, even if they didn’t know it. I placed my hand over my birthmark, realizing that this is what my parents stood for. And I knew they would sacrifice everything to keep it safe. And so would I.
I smiled as we reached out stop. I dropped $150 into the hat of the young performers who shouted thank you at me. I let the Jewish couple get off before me, for which they said, “Thank you, young man.” I nodded, and made my way to the escalator, the music from a cello player on the platform filling my ear.
I checked my watch. It was 2:28pm. I walked toward the northern Strength and Valor statue that was made up of various legendary heroes. There was a Norse valkyrie, a Indian Chieftess, an Amazonian warrior queen, an Irish 16th century Pirate queen. Notable figures were the Yoruban warrior Goddess Oya, Queen Boudica, Hua Mulan, and Nafanua of Samoa. On the other side of the park, there was a corresponding Strength and Valor statue made up of men. When I was growing up, they told us that, while the rest of the country was bickering about whether women and black people should be allowed to vote, we were honoring the great mosaic of America. I know my great grandparents were instrumental in this, and that we served as an example for the rest of the country. Both sets of statues made me feel proud of my heritage on all sides. This freedom is also what we stand for, but it also showed people who were willing to fight in the name of freedom. But the part I liked most is that there are 4 smaller iron statues in front of the other statues. They are a young boy and young girl, no more than 7, looking at the heroes of the past, absorbing their message, and taking in their strength. We are to be examples for our young people. I had to remember that there were probably children who look up to RedWing. I could not let them down. I owed it to them to make SURE I didn’t let them down.
While I was standing next to the statue of the children looking at heroes, I heard a gentle cough behind me, and I turned around and there he was. Tim stood there, dressed a slight bit less casual than I was. He wore a mint green button down with rolled up tabbed sleeves and gold buttons, black slim-cut trousers, and his dark green rimmed small rectangular glasses. His medium short black hair was the kind of purposefully messy that takes a trip to a very talented artist at an upscale salon. I couldn’t shut off the detective part of my brain, which noticed that his hair had recently been cut, and that he’d been biting his nails on his left hand. The guy was nervous and it made him 20 times more adorable and attractive. I let a smile fill my face.
Jordan: “Well, hello there, Tim.”
Tim: “Hey, Jordan. So… How about this weather we are having, right?”
Narrator: He said not quite meeting my gaze. He seemed hesitant to take a step forward. He reminded me of my first date with Dean all those years ago, when I was just this nervous. I adored that memory, but it also made it clear something that would be necessary for this date to work. I’d have to be very direct, be reassuring and take a bit of a lead.
Jordan: “Come closer, bud. I’m not going to bite.”
Narrator: He blushed, and stepped forward, but stopped.
Jordan: “Come on, even closer than that.”
Narrator: His eyes finally met mine. There was a definite spark between us, and he slowly stepped forward. When he was within arms reach of me, I reached for his waist with my left arm and pulled him toward me for the kind of one-armed embrace that preludes a kiss. He tensed and his right hand placed itself on my chest keeping a tiny amount of distance. With my right hand, i turned his face so his left cheek was facing me. I kissed him on the cheek, and whispered into his ear.
Jordan: “Hey, there’s nothing to be nervous about.”
Narrator: I felt his body relax and melt into my hand a little, his hand squeezing my chest lightly.
Narrator: He brought his head back a little to meet my eyes, letting my fingers stroke his cheek lightly.
Tim: “But… how d’you know that you like me already? We’ve never really had a conversation before.”
Narrator: I took in his face for a second, and registered how soft and glossy his lip looked.
Jordan: “Well, I’m a detective. I notice things. I’ve noticed how you look at me anytime you see me. I noticed how you change style when you know I’ll be around. Yes, I do like that scent by the way, it makes you smell like fresh blueberries, amber and smooth mint. I’ve noticed you years ago, and now I plan on getting to know you in an actual meaningful way. Besides, we’ve had a few friends in common, and all of them have told me great things.”
Narrator: I decided to not include the part where Johanna insisted on doing a background check when I broke it off with Dean months ago in a failed attempt to get me to start dating again.
Jordan: “It’s been awhile since I’ve been on a first date, but I kinda want to take care of the most stressful parts first, if you don’t mind.”
Narrator: Tim raised an eyebrow.
Tim: “Stressful? What d’you mea-”
Narrator: He didn’t finish his sentence, because his lips were suddenly occupied. I had leaned forward, removing the space between our lips. I was very correct: his lips were soft like the petals of the sakura flower, and tasted like sweet rainier cherries straight from an organic cherry tree, but spicy like aji dulce.
The kiss lasted for about 10 seconds before we let ourselves part. My right ear felt a prickle, and I looked in that direction, to see that a little boy wearing one of those hats with the spinning fan on top, probably no more than 8 years old, was looking at us wide-eyed, holding an ice cream cone. I looked back at Tim, and we both laughed. The little boy kept looking at us, but while he looked at us, he dropped the cone on the ground on accident. I looked around to see if anyone else was nearby, like a parent, and I saw an ice cream cart about 400 feet from where we were standing. I didn’t see anyone, but I did see the little boy was about to cry. I turned to face him, removing my left hand from the small of Tim’s back, instead interlaced my fingers with his right hand. Tim kneeled down, and I put the hand Tim was holding on Tim’s shoulder.
Tim: “Hey there.”
Narrator: He was starting to sniffle, doing that thing where children breathe really heavily before sobbing.
Tim: “What kind of ice cream was that?”
Casey: “Cookies and Kweem.”
Narrator: She pronounced all of her R and L’s as W’s. I felt like my heart melt like the ice cream on the sidewalk.
Tim: “Ooo, that’s a really good flavor. Is it your favorite?”
Narrator: I noticed Tim was putting on an excited voice, and his face matched perfectly.
Casey: “Yeah, my bestest most favowite ice cweam fwavor, except for bubble gum fwavor, that’s my super bestest most favorite.”
Tim: “Oh wow those are both super great. Hey, I tell you what, how about we go over there to the ice cream cart and get you a new ice cream? Is that where you got yours before?”
Narrator: The tears welling up in the little boy’s eyes seem to vanish, and he nodded his head vigorously.
Tim: “Alrighty! Come on. And I’ll show you a special trick to make sure you won’t drop your cone again.”
Narrator: The 3 of us walked over, both of us holding one of the little boy’s hands. We got to the cart, and Tim ordered 2 scoops, 1 cookies and cream and 1 bubblegum, and the paletero put the scoops into a little dish, added rainbow sprinkles and put a cone on top of the cookies and cream. Tim also asked for a single scoop of butter pecan, and I ordered a scoop of his special flavor of the day: green tea ice cream. Tim handed the little dish to the boy with a spoon.
Tim: “See, if you eat it like this, you still get the cone, there’s no mess, it’s really hard to drop AND best of all, they totally give you more sprinkles.”
Narrator: The little boy clapped his hands excitedly before taking the ice cream and using the spoon to eat it. I said thank you to the paletero, handed him a $50 bill and told him to keep the change. The paletero who looked a little bit like a 1930’s Mexican monopoly man with a perfect handlebar mustache, said “bless you, thank you, sir.” The boy looked up at Tim.
Casey: “Thank you Mister.”
Tim: “Hey, no problem, lil one. You can call me Tim, and my friend there is Jordan. What’s your name?”
Casey: “I’m Casey, Mister Tim.”
Tim: “Well, it’s great to meet you, Mister Casey. How about you sit with us on this bench and eat for a bit?”
Narrator: He smiled and nodded and sat in between us on a bench.
Jordan: “Who did you come to the park with today, Casey?”
Narrator: His face looked sad and confused for a second.
Casey: “I came here with my big sister. She got me the ice cream and told me to sit at the statue and wait til she got back.”
Jordan: “Ah, I see. And what’s her name?”
Casey: “Her name is Renata, but everyone calls her Rena. Except for me. I call her Big Sis.”
Jordan: “Well, that’s a great name for her. Do you know where she went?”
Narrator: The boy visibly flinched, and my heart lurched. I know those signs. He looked like if I asked him any more about this he might cry, but he answered
Casey: “I don’t know, she was with her boyfriend, but she wouldn’t tell me where they were going.”
Tim: “Okay. Well, you can stay with us and we’ll keep you company until she gets back, okay?”
Narrator: Tim looked up at me, and shot me a look as if to ask me if that was okay.
Jordan: “Yeah, you can stay with us if you like, Casey.”
Narrator: I smiled at Tim, and he smiled back at me. I could see any of the nerves he’d been feeling about our date was gone. He was a natural nurturer with kids.
Tim: “Yeah, we can go to the duck pond and feed the little ducklings. How’s that sound?”
Narrator: Tim’s voice sounded excited, filled with the kind of youthful exuberance that children responded to.
Casey: “That sounds okay I guess… But I’m not supposed to go anywhere with strangers.”
Tim: “That’s very true, and I’m glad you know that. That rule will keep you safe. I’ll tell you what, Mister Casey, we won’t go any farther than the statue over there.“And when we are done with our ice cream, Jordan and I’ll tell you all about the amazing women on that statue. Sound good?”
Narrator: He smiled a big smile. We looked after Casey for almost 2 hours. There was a cart with stuffed animals nearby, and I got him a stuffed green unicorn. He hugged it tightly as we told him the story of Hua Mulan, the Amazons, and a made up story about a little prince on an island who saved the day. He laughed and laughed when Tim and I would act out the story. I was in awe of Tim. He had a true gift. In all my life, I’ve never seen anyone be this good with children. He made a scared little girl feel perfectly safe, and in doing so, he made me feel safe. I felt my heart swell a little, and realized that this hour had been a better first date than I could ever have planned.
We were teaching her how to sing one of our favorite Disney songs when her sister, Renata, showed up, a burly looking older guy just behind her. My detective’s eye saw everything in that exact moment. I saw that this was a 17-year-old girl. I saw the makeup on her eye, the handmarks on the arm, the bruise that was only barely hidden by her shirt, which looked as though it hadn’t been cleaned for at least 10 days. I saw in his eyes the look of annoyance he had that they were even there, and I smelled the tobacco and booze that was practically wafting off of him. On sight of that guy, Casey hugged Tim’s legs. The poor thing was terrified.
Ren: “There you are, Casey. I thought I told you to stay put. I’m sorry; was he bothering y’all?”
Tim: “Oh god, not at all. He’s been an absolute delight. We got ice cream, we got a unicorn, it was really great fun.”
Narrator: Ren went up to Casey and gave him a big hug.
Ren: “Really, thank you so much for watching him. I was worried sick.”
Kevin: [slurring] “Ugh, I told you... leave the brat at home. He’s bad for business.”
Ren: “Stop it, Kevin. Don’t make a scene...”
Kevin: “Stop what? What, am I going to make a scene? Am I embarrassing you? In front of these assholes?”“Well, I don’t give a fuck if you’re embarrassed.”
Narrator: That was all I needed to make the proper steps. I’d turned my phone on in my hand and had surreptitiously taken a few photos of Ren’s bruises and was recording Kevin’s drunken public tirade. I stepped in front of Ren and Casey, and Tim instinctively covered Casey’s ears.
Jordan: “Hey, buddy, I’m gonna have to ask you to chill out and watch your mouth in front of Casey. This is a public park.”
Kevin: [mocking] “Hey buddy, I’m gonna have to ask you to mind your own fucking business.” Ren, get the brat and come on, before I knock this guy out.”
Jordan: “No, Stay put, Ren.”“Sir, you are drunk in public and disturbing the peace. I’m only gonna ask you one more time to calm down and walk away.”
Kevin: “What the fuck is your problem, man? Who the fuck are you even?”
Narrator: Kevin was white and in his mid 30s. As he got up in my face, I could now smell his fondness for cheap whiskey. Gross.
Jordan: “Tim, please take Ren and Casey somewhere else than here, while I have a... conversation with this gentleman.”
Narrator: My voice stayed level and calm, and Tim obliged. I waited til Ren and Casey turned the corner, before lowering my voice so only Kevin could hear me.
Jordan: “Wanna know what my problem is, mate? My problem is with abusive drunk perverts like you who prey on children. A.K.A my problem, is you, jackass.”
Kevin: “You don’t know shit, fucker. She’s just a druggie and a cheap whore.”
Narrator: I contemplated slapping him, but decided to wait a few seconds before that.
Jordan: “And what does that make you? Her pimp or a john? I would not be surprised if the only action you could get is if you paid some underage girl with no other choice. You’re a sick pervert and a bastard, and I’m going to enjoy seeing you go to jail.”
Narrator: He tried to punch me in the face, but I caught his hand, twisted it, and drove my fist into his solar plexus. He buckled in half unable to breathe. I grabbed his other wrist and pulled them both behind him together. I pulled out the handcuffs I always keep in my tiny camera bag for just this kind of occasion. I cuffed his hands behind his back. I pulled out my phone and dialed my old buddy who I knew did park security.
Jordan: “Not your brightest move, was that? Fighting a public figure and a detective. Bad move. Kevin, I’m making a citizen’s arrest. Park security will be here in 2 minutes. Then the NACPD will be here. I will testify to what I’ve witnessed and observed from your behavior, and you’ll be in jail for a long time.”
Narrator: The cops came and took him away, and when they drove off, Tim, Ren and Casey ran back over to me.
Jordan: “Are you two alright?”
Narrator: Ren nodded, and I noticed tears in her eyes.
Ren: “I don’t know how to thank you…”
Narrator: I held up my hand.
Jordan: “Hey, you don’t have to thank me, just promise me that you will, when the time comes, testify to the court about all your injuries.”
Ren: Sure, but… where are we supposed to go now? We… We were living with him and now we don’t have a place to go.”
Jordan: Ah, yes, right, “Hold for one moment.”
Narrator: I reached into my pocket and sent 2 texts. I got the reply from both in a moment.
Jordan: “Okay, you’ll be all set. I don’t know if you know me, Miss Renata, but I’m Jordan Redfield-Wade. The Redfield-Wade Collective has a shelter within a gated apartment complex that in monitored 24/7 by a security guard. I just contacted them. They will be expecting you later today.”
Ren: “But I can’t afford that… I don’t have a job right now.”
Jordan: “The shelter is free for survivors of domestic abuse. I’ll get you new clothes, on me. You won’t ever have to see that man again, so don’t worry about that. And a caseworker will stop by on monday to help find you a job, and getting childcare for Casey. Do y’all have anything you really need at Kevin’s place?”
Ren: “No not really…
Narrator: I gave her $100 bill, and held it in her hand.
Jordan: “Alright then. Here, take this.” “Once you get settled, get some groceries for a few days and let the caseworker know what you need, and we’ll make it happen. All I need you to do is promise me that you will take care of Casey.”
Narrator: She nodded, tears falling down her face.
Ren: “I promise. Thank you.”
Jordan: “Anytime, Renata. Here’s my card, and you call me if you need anything at all, okay? Doesn’t matter what time, day or night, I’ll be there to help you.”
Narrator: I gave her my card, and went over to Casey to give him a hug.
Jordan: “And you promise to be good to your big sissy, Mister Casey, okay?”
Casey: “I promise.”
Narrator: Casey hugged me back. A few minutes later, as the two young ones were making their way to the shelter in a cab, I turned to Tim. We both stood there for a minute looking at each other, and then we both started nervous laughing. We sat down at the bench, and I put my arm around his shoulders. He leaned his head against my shoulder. I chuckled.
Jordan: “I am impressed with you, Tim.”
Tim: “Impressed with me? You singlehandedly changed their lives just now. Why are you impressed with me?”
Jordan: “Mate, as much as I don’t like to admit or brag about it, I am a billionaire. This is just what my family does. Sure, I gave them a little bit of a financial boost and a connection to resources. But you did something so much more important. You made a little boy who’s home life undoubtedly is hellish, and you gave her an escape from that hell for a few hours. If you hadn’t cared enough to ask her about her ice cream cone, I would’ve never been able to help her. That was all you. And I’ll tell you what, it’s taught me more about you than I think you realize.”
Narrator: He shifted to look at me.
Tim: “What exactly has it taught you about me?”
Jordan: “The obvious things first then. So for starters, you are amazing with kids. You have good taste in ice cream. Your inner child is strong and healthy. You’re a natural storyteller, and a feminist. Less obvious things: you are the oldest child and their is a large gap in age from your siblings. Your mother was a teacher, which is why you studied education for your first 2 years of college but for financial reasons, you switched to business administration, as well as to appease your father with his traditional beliefs. One of your innermost held beliefs is that people are inherently good, and innocence and curiosity should be cherished and nurtured.”
Narrator: I met his gaze, and saw his eyes were wide, surprised.
Jordan: “I also can tell that you take great care of your skin and that you’ve never paid attention to any of the Sherlock Holmes media that has been around for almost a century.”.
Tim: “I’ve never read a book, or seen the movies.”
Jordan: “Then I know what you and I are doing for date 2.”
Narrator: I wiggled my left eyebrow suggestively and we both laughed. He chuckled.
Tim: “Oh? A second date, eh? Who said I wanted a second date?”
Jordan: “Your hand is on a part of my leg right now that indicates a romantic interest that is bordering on sexual attraction.”
Narrator: His face turned bright red, so I added,
Jordan: “And that feeling is 1000% mutual.”
Tim: <beat>“I just… I have to ask this. Why now?
Tim: “Why are you approaching me now? We’ve been running into each other for years. Why are you only talking to me now?”
Narrator: His eyebrows were slanted up in the center, which made him look sad, as though he were remembering past times where he, as brilliant and shining a soul as he is, had been played for a fool. I saw that look, and I felt guilty. I didn’t have a good answer for his question. Dean and I had just begun to speak again after 6 months to a year of not talking, and now here I was, making this romantic connection that I could’ve made over those months where I actually was alone. And in truth, I still loved Dean and I still wanted to be with him. I mean, it’s the 21st century, and consensual non-monogamy is definitely an option on the table, but was it really fair of me to try that right now? Especially given that, just like I had with Dean, there would be a very big secret between us. Plus, again, I could literally die this evening, so starting this now might be entirely pointless. Unless I didn’t have to keep it a secret. I let out a sigh, unsure of what I was going to say, but aware that I’d have to say something. I chose honesty.
Jordan: “Look, Tim. If I’m being honest with you, I’ve wanted to ask you out since I first saw you in the council meeting that the Mayor had to attend. You were wearing a white vest over a light yellow shirt, and I remember thinking that you looked like a handsome daisy. I’ve noticed how you looked at me, and I felt like you saw me in a way most people don’t. A lot of people in the professional world... they look at me and I don’t know what they see really, but I can tell you it’s not my heart, my personality, what I stand for. But I felt like you really did see me. And until earlier this year, as you might know, I was with someone. And if I’m being honest, I don’t know what will happen with that. But the other day, when I saw you, something in me told me that I just needed to go for it, and that if I didn’t, I’d regret it... Fact of the matter is, I like you and you’re a really good person and I want to see where this goes. I want to get to know you, I want you to get to know me. I think we both deserve something positive in our lives, don’t you agree?”
Narrator: I couldn’t read his face for a minute. He looked away from me, resting his head back on my shoulder, and staring out at the park. He was silent for a few moments, before standing up and turning slightly to extend his hand to me.
Tim: “Come. Let’s walk. I have to tell you a story.”
Narrator: I reached for his hand, and I didn’t let go of it while we started walking. I interlaced my fingers with his and we walked hand in hand. He didn’t say anything for about 5 minutes, until we reached the duck pond. We sat down at the bench where people would throw bread toward the ducks.
Tim: “When I was in college, I met my first love. He was... well, he was a bit like you. He was wealthy, came from a well-known family and seemed like he was making moves in his career. He didn’t give me the time of day at first, until he needed something from me. At first, he just needed some help on a paper. He bought me dinner that night. Then he needed help with studying for exams. I stayed at his place that night. We started dating. He never... he never listened to what I had to say, or asked me any questions about who I was as a person.
The only time he ever asked me anything was if he needed help for something. But I was head over heels for him. So when he asked me to move in with him, and also to write his papers for him, so he could focus on working, I agreed, even though I had all of my papers to do as well. I was so busy doing things for him, I didn’t even realize that, well, he worked at a bank and there was no reason for him to be working at night the way he claimed to be. I got the first hint when I went into his email to send a paper to a professor of his, and I saw a message from someone named Ethan. It was titled, ‘More photos and a video from last night’. I didn’t have to open it to know what it could be. We hadn’t had sex for weeks. I’m not stupid, but I knew that I’d have to prove it for myself. So one night I followed him. He went to a seedy joint, with a back room that was separated by a red velvet curtain. When I got back there... I’ll never forget the writhing bodies, the video cameras trained on them. And weirdly, I’ll also never forget the couches they had in there. And I’ll never forget the look he gave me when he saw me standing in front of the curtain. He looked... Annoyed, almost angry. He didn’t even look remorseful. When he got home that night, I was packing my things. He asked what I was doing, and I told him I was leaving. He grabbed my arm and told me I wasn’t leaving. But I was going to leave, and I told him that again. That’s when he tried to hit me. He was drunk, so he missed, but he fell and hit his head on the edge of the bed. He was in a coma in the hospital for a month, and I would visit him every day. I’d moved back in with my parents, but I had to keep checking on him. I guess maybe I’d thought the traumatic brain injury might somehow change him for the better. It definitely didn’t. When he woke up, he took one look at me, and said, ‘You? Why are you even here?’ And I didn’t have an answer. I just got up, and I left. I was heartbroken for years after that. I thought I was so stupid for believing a guy like him could ever like me. Hell, even the last guy from the NACPD I was kind of seeing, or I guess really just sleeping with every so often, he called it off this a few days ago, said he was going back to his ex. And there I was, thrown out like so much useless garbage. Again. So, yeah, I guess you could say I don’t exactly trust easily. So when you said that you have someone right now, I don’t know that I can-”
Jordan: “I’m sorry to interrupt, but um... who exactly was the guy you were sleeping with? Like, what did he do at the station?”
Narrator: He looked at me strangely, but didn’t let go of my hand.
Tim: “He’s a detective.”
Narrator: My heart froze for a moment. Dean is the only gay man who was an actual detective in the NACPD. He moved up in ranks quickly when we collaborated in catching a serial killer who had just started acting in the city in 2015. So this was unequivocally Dean that Tim was talking about. Whoa. I flashed back to the night of the explosion, when Dean had told me he hadn’t been with anyone else while we weren’t together. Or is that what he said? No... No what he’d actually said was he hadn’t been with that ONE guy again. My mind was blown. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. It took a second or two to register that I was squeezing Tim’s hand. I opened one eye and looked at him. He had an eyebrow raised and was looking at me.
Jordan: “I... uh...”
Narrator: I started, but then I stopped. This is actually better than I could havehoped. It meant that I was more faithful to Dean during our split than he was, but there was no us at the time. But what this also meant is that, not only did Dean know Tim, but he clearly liked Tim and found him attractive. I smiled. It might be easier to swing a poly relationship than I thought.
Jordan: “Well, well well. Small city, ain’t it? Dean, eh?”
Tim: “You know, Dean?”
Jordan: Oh, I do. Very much so. I know him biblically even. I’m the ex he got back with.
Tim: Wait, what? Are you fucking serious? Is this some kind of joke?
Jordan: I am very serious, this is no joke.
Narrator: I turned away from him for a second. I couldn’t tell what I was feeling. I thought I felt angry, but why? Was I angry that, after I left him, he could be with someone else? In truth, I had nothing to really be mad about. But, while we are on the subject, I spent that lost year abstinent. If I had known we could just start sleeping with other people so soon after our serious relationship ended, I might have had a little more fun. Maybe? Okay, II probably wouldn’t have. There is no sense in asking “what if” anyway; the past is immutable to change, the only thing we can change is our perspective on it. I let out a sigh.
Jordan: Small world.
Narrator: There was a pause. Tim looked like he was about to say something. I kept a close eye on his face, and I think I saw what he was thinking. It wasn’t going to work out. I gave him a tiny smile and a shrug of my shoulders. Tim understood what that meant, and nodded.
Jordan: Well, then….
Tim: I think you should know something, Jordan. Dean and I… Dean, he…
Narrator: I raised an eyebrow.
Tim: [sigh] It was only ever physical, and he never spent the night. I guess we both just needed to feel something good for whatever the moment is. And now, looking back at it… He was never thinking about me. He was there, but he wasn’t… there. Do you know what I mean?
Jordan: Honestly, I think I do.
Tim: I guess it’s for the best that you forgave him for whatever he did before. <pause> But if I may ask… what did he do?
Jordan: [chuckle, sigh] He slept with someone else, but he… Well, he wasn’t himself at the time. I learned that recently, and that how we were able to fix it.
Narrator: A half smile came across Tim’s face.
Tim: Figures, right? Heh. Wow, this is heavy conversation for a first and last date.
Jordan: “I mean, I don’t think most people save the life of a child and his sister on a first date.”
Narrator: We laughed, and Tim nodded. I felt the beauty of this city around me again like I had earlier today. That’s when I remembered. I pulled back from Tim a little and placed my hands on his shoulders, forcing him to look me in the eyes.
Jordan: “Listen, Tim, there is something I have to tell you, but I need you to promise me 2 things when I do.”
Tim: “Okay... what is it?”
Jordan: “I need you to promise me that you 1) won’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you, and 2) that you will take your parents and your siblings and leave the city for a day or so.”
Narrator: He looked at me like I’d lost my entire blackass mind.
Tim: “What...? Why? Why would we leave?”
Jordan: “You’ll be in danger if you stay. The entire city is in danger. Just promise me first, okay? Promise me you’ll leave? You can stay at my family’s old summer home on Wellfleet. I can have a boat ready to take you in less than an hour. I just need you to promise me you and your family will be on the boat.”
Tim: “Okay, okay, I promise. What is going on?”
Narrator: I sighed a sigh of relief and took a deep breath. This was it. This was the moment
Jordan: “I... Well, I’ve been working with the vigilante RedWing for a few weeks now. He and I discovered that there is a plot to possibly level a good part of the city. It’ll probably hit a huge part of Revenant Heights, College Center, Falcon Village... It’s big. And this plan is expected to be carried out tonight. RedWing will try and stop it, but I don’t want to take any chances. We were trying to figure out who was behind it, and honestly I’m not exactly sure, but I know that Mayor Fields is involved, and because of that, you might be in danger.”
Narrator: Well, it wasn’t entirely a lie, but I certainly didn’t give him the full truth.
Tim: “But that’s not... it’s not possible. Mayor Fields would never sign off on something like that.
Jordan: Oh no, he would. Think: Is there anything you know of that he signed off on in those neighborhoods? Anything underground?”
Narrator: Tim was racking his brain, looking for something, but this news was a lot for him to handle. Suddenly, his face went pale.
Tim: “Oh god... Oh no. Oh my god.” “T-the subway. He signed off on a subway line to be renovated and restored. It runs through College Center, ends in Revenant Heights and starts in Falcon Village.”
Jordan: Wait, “That doesn’t make sense, I was on that line today to get here.”
Tim: “No, it’s not that main line. It’s an older line. You were on the modern Green train line, but this is the old Green train line. It’s been out of service since the 70’s… He said he wanted to use that rail to provide more service to the poorer class out in Rev Heights.”
Narrator: I remembered back to our conversation, and how he hated RedWing for making people complacent by helping them. He would never build this kind of thing for access to services he didn’t think people deserved. I jumped up.
Jordan: “Shit.” Okay, Get your family to the docks, and get to dock L76 in an hour. Don’t worry about packing or anything, just get them to the dock. The SS WadeR, the company yacht, is there. I’ll call someone to take you out to Wellfleet.”
Tim: “My folks are out of town right now anyway. I’ll call them and make sure they stay wherever they are. But what about you?”
Jordan: “I’ll be fine. Okay, now go over to the docks. Quickly. We don’t have much time.”
Narrator: Tim gave me a longing look, and then took off, pulling out his phone and dialing for his family. I watched him go for a second before picking up my phone. I called Jared first.
Jordan: “Jared, hey. Listen, I need you to trust me on this one okay. We need to issue an evacuation order, mandatory, for 3 hours from now.”
Jared: “Uh, Jordan, what is this about? We can’t just-”
Jordan: “Dad, yes, we can, and we have to. I can have Jo broadcast the message. But we cannot tell the Mayor.”
Jared: “Jordan that’s impossible. We need his authorization to-”
Jordan: “DAD. I’M SERIOUS. He cannot know. He’s in on it. Jo will fill you in.”
Narrator: Jared paused, hearing the fear in my voice.
Jared: “O-okay. Roger. What is this about?”
Jordan: “Look, my guess? There are probably explosives in the old green line of the subway from the 70s, enough to level the entire city and kill everyone in the limits. Send the bomb unit down there ASAP. I think they will be going off... I don’t know when they are going off, but my educated guess is they will detonate 4 hours from now, at 8:21 pm on the dot.”
Jared: “Why then?”
Jordan: “That’s the exact time, 17 years ago, that my parent’s were murdered for a crime they didn’t commit.”
Narrator: I hung up the phone, and dialed Johanna. I started running toward out of the park and towards my office.
Johanna: “Yeah, Jordan?”
Jordan: “Jo, I figured it out. I need you to do a scan under the city, in the old Green Line subway.”
Johanna: “Is that where he’s...”
Jordan: “Yes, exactly. I need you to scan and report to your dad how many explosives and what kind they are. He’s gonna ask you to send out an evac notice due to... I don’t know, a harmful gas leak in the subway or something.”
Johanna: “Okay, I’ll send that out. Anything else?”
Jordan:“Yeah.” I said. “It’s time to assemble the Guardians.”