Hawk’s anger had not abated when he returned to the suite at the Star City Hilton. Unconsciously, he slammed the door behind him.
“Well!” a feminine voice responded. “What was that for?”
Hawk faced the woman who had spoken, a slender brunette in her early thirties, severely dressed in a tailored business suit. “Sorry, Miss Lyons,” he said. “I didn’t mean to slam the door. I’m just… well, I’m mad, that’s all.”
“Mad? At what?” another female voice asked. This belonged to Jane Foley, the writer whom Hawk had volunteered to protect. She was quite attractive, in her late twenties, with long blonde hair. It was said that she used her good looks to get attention and gain a forum for her political opinions. She never denied it.
“Oh, I had a run-in with Green Arrow,” Hawk said. “He gets my goat, talking down to me like I was a snot-nosed kid! He didn’t exactly throw roses at you, either, Miss Foley.”
Foley laughed that off. “I didn’t expect Star City’s notoriously liberal crime-fighter to be one of my fans,” she said. “Still, I’m told he gets the job done.”
“Well, yeah,” Hawk admitted, recalling watching the non-powered Green Arrow helping the old man from the burning building. “He doesn’t have to be so confrontational about it! I mean, I’m a guest in his city! And I’ve earned his respect!”
“Did you put out the fire?” Miss Lyons asked. She was Jane Foley’s business manager, arranging all her media bookings, such as the book-signing tour she was currently on.
“Well, yeah,” Hawk said. “Turns out it was deliberately set. Possibly a hate crime. The target was a jewelry store owned by a Jewish man. He thinks it was done because he’s Jewish.”
“They always think that,” Lyons said dismissively. “Like as not, he did it himself for the insurance.”
Hawk found that a little hard to swallow, but said nothing. “Anyway, I promised the old man I’d look into it while we’re in town. I hope you don’t mind that, Miss Foley.”
“You don’t trust Green Arrow to find the arsonist?” Foley asked, raising an eyebrow. “I mean, I appreciate your volunteering your services as my bodyguard without pay. Obviously, since I’m not paying your salary, I can’t dictate your moves. But you are supposed to be guarding me, not playing super-hero in a city that already has one.”
“Jane, there could be a media angle here,” Lyons interrupted. “If Hawk does find the arsonist, and beats the city’s own hero to it — the city’s own liberal hero — think of the publicity it would give your tour.”
“That’s true,” Foley said, stroking her chin thoughtfully. “Very well, Hawk, see what you can do. Just make sure you’re on hand for my public appearances.”
Hawk could scarcely believe what he was hearing. They were actually considering the publicity angle of the firebombing and his involvement in the investigation. “Uh, sure, Miss Foley, I’ll be there,” he said.
“Hello, Bosk? Green Arrow here,” Ollie Queen said into the phone, cradled between shoulder and ear as he made a sandwich. “Just wanted to apologize for running out like that.”
“Oh, please, I understand!” the young politician responded. “I’d have been upset if you hadn’t left to take care of the fire! I heard about it on the news, too; a jewelry store, right?”
“Right,” Ollie replied as he spread mustard across roast beef. “Possibly a hate crime, too; something I’ll want to look into deeper.”
“Well, if you need to cancel any of the personal appearances we’ve lined up, I certainly understand,” Bosk said.
“I’ll try not to,” Ollie said, placing the top slice of bread on the sandwich. “But I appreciate that.”
“Didn’t I hear there was another super-hero on the scene?” Bosk asked.
“Kid named Hawk,” Ollie confirmed. “Used to be a Titan. My old partner Speedy worked with him a few times. Not a bad kid, but misguided, if you know what I mean. You know why he’s in town? He’s doing bodyguard duty for Jane Foley!”
“Really,” Bosk chuckled. “She’s not a bad writer, you know. I mean, I certainly don’t agree with what she says, but she phrases it well.”
“You’ve read her book, huh?” Ollie asked as he cut his sandwich diagonally in half.
“It’s best to know your enemy,” Bosk said. “She really has no idea what she’s talking about. Of course, she couldn’t possibly, having been born into all that money.”
“Money?” Ollie asked. “What, you mean Foley Manufacturing? She’s related to those Foleys?”
“Yup,” Bosk confirmed. “Never had to work a day in her life. So how could she possibly understand the problems facing the common man today?”
“Beats me,” Ollie said, although, having been born into money himself, he said it with ashes in his mouth.
“So he’s her bodyguard?” Bosk asked. “Well, I kind of know how she feels. Tell you the truth, I’m counting on your presence in my campaign scaring off some of the nut-cases who’d like me out of the way. You know nothing makes a drug lord madder than a politician discussing drug legalization.”
“True,” Ollie said. “Bosk, I’ve gotta go. I want to run down a lead on this arson case. I’ll do my best to be at the speech Wednesday night, OK?”
“OK, Green Arrow, and thanks again,” Bosk said. Ollie hung up the phone, but let his sandwich stay untouched. He had a lot of thinking to do.
“Thank you for coming, Green Arrow,” the middle-aged man said as he wrung the archer’s gloved hand. “We of the community truly appreciate what you’ve done for us — for the entire city — over the years.”
“My pleasure, Mr. Weinrib,” Green Arrow said. An impromptu meeting had been called of Star City’s Jewish merchants. It was being held in the back room of Saul Weinrib’s store, the King of Diamonds, the largest jewelry store on jeweler’s row. Kurt Figenbaum, the victim of the previous night’s firebombing, was present, as was just about every Jewish merchant in the city. “I want you to know, I swear that I’m going to do everything I can to find the ones who torched Mr. Figenbaum’s store. It’s a good idea, calling this meeting.”
“I think so,” Weinrib said. “Everyone’s emotions are running high after last night. True, we don’t know for sure that last night was in fact a hate crime, but all the same it’s a good thing to have discussion, exchange of ideas, keep folks from running off half- cocked. God knows what some people would do otherwise; maybe burn down the Mundts’ bookstore, even.”
“Yeah,” Green Arrow said, frowning. Otto and Sylvia Mundt were an old German couple who had lived in Star City since just before World War Two; the archer saw Weinrib’s point. An anti-Semitic attack could easily inspire an anti-Teutonic attack in retaliation. He suspected the Arab grocery on Walnut Street was no safer.
“Not too late, am I?” a young voice asked from the doorway. Green Arrow whirled on his heel and did a double-take.
“Hawk!” he said. “What are you doing here? The arcade is two blocks over. You need some quarters?”
“Hey, drop it, big shot,” Hawk snapped. “I’m here for the same reason as you, to put a stop to the violence.”
“I invited Mr. Hawk, the same as you,” Weinrib said. “Kurt told me about his actions last night, and that he had mentioned that he was in town with Jane Foley’s party. So I called her suite at the hotel and asked him to attend.”
“I’m surprised you got past Foley,” Green Arrow said. “Or did you speak with a Long Island accent?”
“Oh, funny,” Hawk said. “At least he wasn’t trying to talk to your guy; he’d have had to pretend to be high!”
Green Arrow gave Hawk a stare that could have melted an engine block. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“I found out about that guy you’re stumping for, Bosh, or what’s his name,” Hawk said. “Wants to give the entire city away to the criminals, do away with law enforcement! And you gave me a hard time for protecting Jane Foley? Man, you’ve got nerve!”
“Oh, you ignorant little snot-nose!” Green Arrow shot back. “You’ve got it all wrong, as usual! Noah Bosk is as law-and-order as anyone else! Just because he thinks some laws should be changed–”
“Oh, right, no drug crime if drugs are legal, is that it?” Hawk said. “Maybe everything should be legal, then there’d be no crime!”
“Gentlemen,” Weinrib said loudly, “could we please do away with the bickering for a moment? We’re here to discuss what happened last night, not open a political forum.”
“Last night? We all know what happened last night!” one of the merchants piped up. “Some neo-Nazi tried to turn Kurt’s store into the ovens of Dachau!”
“Lennie, please!” Weinrib pleaded. “We don’t know for sure–”
“Don’t we?” another merchant demanded. “Have you told Green Arrow about the letters?”
“What letters?!” Green Arrow and Hawk exclaimed, in harmony.
Weinrib turned to the two heroes, making deprecating gestures with his hands. “A few of the merchants here… Kurt included, yes… have gotten letters lately — anonymous letters, hate letters. It’s nothing new! Lennie, how many have you gotten over the years?”
“Lots,” Lennie admitted. “But I never got a firebomb through the window right after! Sure, most of us laughed it off at the time. A couple of us called the police and were told that they could do nothing, that no actual threat had been made, that it was probably just kids making a prank. But then this happens! This is no prank! This is an anschluss, right here in Star City!”
“This changes things,” Green Arrow said sternly. “At least, it puts a different focus on my investigation. I’m inclined to agree, gentlemen, that you’ve been targeted by an individual or group who hates Jews.”
“Oy, like that narrows it down,” one merchant said in an effort to keep his sense of humor.
“I’ll find ’em,” Hawk promised. “If I have to bust every head from here to Gotham City, I’ll find the ones who’re doing this!”
“Did any of you gentlemen bring one of those letters with you tonight?” Green Arrow asked. “It might have clues that–”
The archer was interrupted by a loud crash of breaking glass. Without a word, he darted out to the front of the store, Hawk hot on his heels. Weinrib and a couple of others followed.
“God!” Weinrib cried out, pointing. “A bomb!” It was true. A cylindrical metal object had been thrown through his display window and now rested on his carpet. All recalled Figenbaum’s words, that he had heard the crash moments before the explosion.
In one fluid motion, Green Arrow drew, notched, and fired an arrow at the bomb. The arrowhead exploded in a glob of chemical foam, engulfing the firebomb. The foam quickly hardened around the bomb, muffling it.
“Stay back,” Green Arrow advised. “That bomb could still blow, even through the foam shell!”
“Wanna bet?” Hawk asked, sprinting like a football player. Without even breaking stride, he scooped up the foam shell containing the bomb, and his momentum carried him through the display window, shattering it. Green Arrow watched as the young hero found an old-fashioned metal trash can, tore the lid off, stuffed the foam-encrusted bomb inside, and slammed the lid tightly down.
“Hope Oscar’s not home,” the young hero quipped to himself. He turned his head to look at Green Arrow. “That was a reference to Sesame Street,” he explained. “It’s a kids’ TV show that–”
“I get it, I get it!” Green Arrow snapped. Everyone was silent for two minutes, three, four. Finally, Green Arrow broke the silence. “Nothing. My foam must have drenched the firing mechanism.”
“Or else it was a dud to begin with,” Hawk offered. Green Arrow shrugged slightly, admitting the possibility.
The merchants were silent, until one thin old man spoke up. “My brother, twenty years ago he moved to Florida,” the old man said. “Opened up a bait and tackle store. Makes a decent living, got two cars, kids in college. Every year he invites me to join him in the business, and every year I tell him no, Fyvush, I love the jewelry business. But I’m telling you, this is the year I become a Florida bait and tackle executive!”
“Now, let’s not anybody go off half-cocked,” Green Arrow said. “There’s no need for anybody to pull up stakes!”
“For you, that’s easy to say,” Figenbaum challenged. “Your windows they’re not throwing bombs through!”
“Lord knows, I’d leave tomorrow,” Lennie moaned, “but I’d lose everything I’ve worked so hard to build!”
“Nobody is going to lose anything,” Weinrib swore, with dedication in his voice. “I give you all my word as the leader of the association, nobody will suffer by this! Anyone who worries that they will, come see me!”
“Wow,” Hawk said in admiration. “Now there’s a stand-up guy.”
“Saul’s a good boy,” Figenbaum said. “I knew his poppa, started this store from nothing. Did OK, but Saul took it over, made it the biggest store on jeweler’s row. In business, a wizard.”
“Gentlemen, Mr. Weinrib, I suggest you call the police about this incident,” Green Arrow said. “I’m going to get busy, find the ones who threw that bomb. I’ll be in touch.” With that, the archer turned to leave.
“Me, too,” Hawk added, and left as well. When he stepped into the cool night air, he found Green Arrow waiting for him.
“That was pretty good, back there,” Green Arrow admitted. “The way you snatched up that bomb, I mean. I gotta admit you get the job done.”
“Yeah, well, you weren’t too bad yourself,” Hawk said. “You had that arrow on it faster than I could blink! I thought Speedy was fast, but hey, you taught him!”
“I didn’t teach him archery, not at first,” Green Arrow said. “Fella named Brave Bow did that. (*) Taught him right, too. Now, look, we both seem to want the same thing here; namely, these hate-crimes stopped.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The World’s Worst Archer,” Adventure Comics #262 (July, 1959).]
“Got that right,” Hawk admitted.
“So maybe we can work together after all. If you’re willing.”
“You’ve got a plan, I’m listening.”
“I do,” Green Arrow said. “You’ve already got a foot in Jane Foley’s camp. Maybe you could keep your ears open, see if you hear anything interesting.”
Hawk did a double-take. “Huh? Jane Foley? What are you talking about?”
“Well, come on, her biggest fans are the kind of people who’d do this,” Green Arrow said. “The folks who think America belongs to white Christians alone, that the Constitution wasn’t written for anyone else. Her being in town may have emboldened some of them. I’m not saying she’s in on it, not necessarily, but maybe she’s gotten some enthusiastic fan mail, met somebody at a book signing who said something–”
“You’re nuts!” Hawk exploded. “Man, why did I think even for a minute that you were an OK guy? Blaming this on Jane, because she says what everybody else is too spineless to say! And you’re a fine one to talk! If anyone’s responsible for this, it’s probably your boy, Bosk!”
“Bosk?!” Green Arrow erupted. “And you call me nuts! How do you figure Bosk is responsible for this?”
“His attitude toward law enforcement,” Hawk shot back. “He wants to soften the laws, let crooks off the hook. If I were a crook in this town, with someone like him ready to take over, I’d feel pretty safe throwing bombs through windows, too!”
“Junior, you are one messed-up puppy,” Green Arrow spat. “Siding with a homophobic white supremacist like Frau Foley, and badmouthing someone with the guts to try and change things for the better in America, a country where change is a four-letter word! Typical of you to throw your lot in with the bunch who think with their fists, who want to let the loudest loudmouth do their thinking for them! You’re nothing but a coward!”
Hawk was silent for a moment. Then he took two steps forward, until there was barely a handspan between himself and Green Arrow, and looked the archer levelly in the eyes.
“For two cents,” he said menacingly, “I’d knock that beard right off your face.”
Without taking his eyes from Hawk’s, Green Arrow reached into his pocket and withdrew a coin. He held it up for Hawk to see what it was — a nickel — then tossed it on the ground at the young hero’s feet.
“Keep the change,” he hissed through clenched teeth.