In moments, the fight was underway. The spirit of gang unity personified in Kelsey’s Bar was put into operation as members of half a dozen different gangs piled on Hawk together. He was the enemy, not each other. Fists swung away, feet kicked, and bottles, pool cues, and other impromptu weapons were swung.
“I should do something!” the young Viper seated next to the disguised Dove said, inside hoping he could keep out of it.
“No, stay here!” Dove said, putting a hand on his arm. “That costumed clown will get what’s coming to him, barging in here! Besides, we were talking. You were going to tell me something interesting, remember?” Dove purred the last sentence in a breathy voice. The young Viper swallowed, smiled, silently praised God for his good luck, and began to relate a story.
“Jive turkey!” a young Skull said, smashing a pool cue over Hawk’s skull.
“That’s jive Hawk!” the Titan returned, driving a fist into the Skull’s face.
“Son of a GKK!” another gang-banger began, swinging a broken bottle. His epithet was cut off by Hawk’s elbow ramming into his stomach.
Two gang-bangers, wearing the colors of the Blood Eagles, stood a bit back from the battle. One of them had a gun out, aiming it at the melee. He was hesitant to fire.
“Man, what you waitin’ for?” the one without the gun demanded. “Shoot!”
“I might hit one of the other guys!” the marksman complained.
“So what?” his friend asked. “None of ours in there, man; we’re the only two Eagles in here tonight! Now shoot, mother!”
But before the young Eagle could pull the trigger, the gun was snatched from his hand by something moving too fast to see. The two Eagles followed its flight and saw an emerald arrow embedded in the wall, the gun hanging from it by the trigger guard.
“Oh, man,” the first Eagle whispered in fear.
“Having a party and didn’t invite me?” Green Arrow asked. “Tsk, tsk, tsk!” The two Eagles went down before the assault of twin green-gloved fists.
“Green Arrow?” Hawk demanded as he slammed a Skull down onto the pool table. “What are you doing here? You following me or something?”
“Get over yourself, kid!” Green Arrow shot back as he drove a fist into a Pit Viper’s jaw. “You probably just had the same idea I had, that somebody here might know something!”
“Well, does it look like I need your help?” Hawk asked, ducking a swing from a pool cue and driving a fist into a stomach.
“You want an honest answer?” Green Arrow countered, grabbing a pair of ears and driving his knee up into a chin.
“Funny man,” Hawk responded, driving a right cross into an offending nose. “You must wow them at the Communist Party meetings!”
“Are we back on that, Junior?” Green Arrow asked, driving his elbow into a gang-banger who had been trying to sneak up behind him. “Look, let’s agree to leave politics and religion out of it, and just attack each other personally, OK?”
“Fine with me, Grampa,” Hawk said, snatching a metal trash can away from a gang- banger who had been about to hit him with it, and bringing it down over the gang- banger’s head instead. “Can I make jokes about your beard?”
“If I can about your beak,” Green Arrow countered, delivering a flat-handed karate blow to an opponent’s windpipe.
“Fair enough,” Hawk agreed, watching a gang-banger collapse to the floor. “Look, for ten minutes, let’s stop attacking each other and get what we came for: information.”
“That’s fine with me,” Green Arrow said, massaging his right knuckles. “There’s just one problem.”
“What’s that?” Hawk asked.
Green Arrow spread his hands, taking in the bar with unconscious gang-bangers all over the floor and booths, and one sprawled across the pool table. “Who are we gonna get information from? We’ve knocked everyone out!”
Hawk was silent for a moment, taking it all in. “Aw, man! See what happens when I get distracted? What are we gonna do now?”
“Let me make a suggestion,” a familiar feminine voice called from the bar. The two heroes’ heads turned in her direction, and did double-takes.
“Is that–?” Green Arrow asked.
“Dove?” Hawk gasped.
“The same,” Dove said, pulling off her red wig to reveal the shorter platinum-blonde hair. “And my friend, here, is just itching to tell us all about the firebombings.”
The young gang-banger stared at the two heroes with stark terror on his face.
“Do tell,” Green Arrow said as he and Hawk slowly advanced on the youngster.
“A-and that’s all I know! Really! I swear! No! Don’t–!” The terrified young gang-banger tied securely to the bar post screamed as Green Arrow let the barbed-tip arrow he had drawn to his ear fly. The arrow flew straight and true, striking the cocktail olive balanced atop the gangster’s head without even grazing his scalp.
“Nice shot,” Hawk said admiringly.
“I do all right,” Green Arrow said.
“So, do we believe Fonzie, here?” Hawk asked.
“I do,” Dove said. “He’s too scared to lie.”
“Got that right,” Green Arrow said. “Puts us back to square one, though.”
“Well, what did we expect, really?” Dove asked. “Hired thugs like this, they never know anything. It was dumb luck to find the ones who got hired to throw the bombs, but of course they don’t know who hired them!”
“Yeah,” Green Arrow said. “Takes stupidity to hate someone because of the way they were born, but that doesn’t mean the hater is stupid in all things. Smart enough to cover his tracks, it seems.”
“So, where do we go from here?” Hawk asked.
“Tell you where I’m goin’,” Green Arrow said. “Jeweler’s Row. Kid Brando over there said their gang hadn’t been hired to do any more bombings, but the big boss may have hired other muscle. I’m going to watch that street like a hawk. No offense.”
“None taken,” Hawk said. “I’m with you, if you can use another pair of eyes.”
Green Arrow looked at the brash young hero for a moment, then said, “It’s a big street. I can use the help.”
“Say, guys,” Dove said, “I think I have an angle that bears investigation.”
“What is it?” Hawk asked eagerly.
“I don’t want to say, not right away,” Dove said. “No sense stirring things up if I’m wrong. Let me check out a few things and get back to you, OK?”
“What?” Green Arrow said. “Hey, wait a minute, why play a lone hand here? If we–”
“Better let her go, Arrow,” Hawk said, resignedly. “When she gets an idea in her head, you can’t shift it with logic, reason, or dynamite.”
Green Arrow nodded. “Must be something about gals who fight crime dressed like birds makes ’em do that,” he said.
At least they’re not at each other’s throats, Dove thought as she left the bar.
Two hours later, Green Arrow was perched atop a low building at the south end of Jeweler’s Row. His keen eyes scanned the street up and down, watching for any movement. It was dark; the shops had all closed. He spotted one or two people moving about, but quick inspection showed them to be merchants, themselves watchful for any further intrusion.
“Green Arrow?” the archer’s Justice League communicator said into his ear. It was Hawk. The Justice League and Titans had, long ago, made it possible for members of both teams to contact each other on their individual communicators.
“What’s up?” Green Arrow responded.
“Nothing,” Hawk came back. “All quiet at the north end. How’s your way?”
“Same,” Green Arrow responded. He let a silent moment pass. “Say, kid, about before… you know, when this whole thing started… I guess I — well, I’m tryin’ to say I said some things I shouldn’t have.”
“Yeah,” Hawk replied after a moment. “Me, too, I guess. I mean, I was out of line.”
“We both were,” Green Arrow said. “We — wait a minute!”
“What is it?”
“Someone’s down there, on the street! They’re yelling something; I can’t quite make it out. It — hey! It’s my name! They’re trying to get my attention!”
“Maybe something’s happening somewhere — another attack!” Hawk offered.
“We’ll soon know,” Green Arrow said, and in a heartbeat he was on the street on the arrow-line he had rigged for fast descent in case of emergency. The caller turned out to be Lennie from the merchant’s meeting.
“Green Arrow! There you are!” he said excitedly.
“Here I am,” the archer acknowledged. “What is it? And how did you know I was up there, anyway?”
“Your friend, Dove, I think she said her name was!” Lennie said. “She called Avram at his store, said you and Hawk were here tonight, asked us to find you, give you a message! He’s passed the word to all the merchants; we’ve all been looking for you!”
“She did?” Green Arrow said excitedly. “What? What message?”
“Says she’s solved the case!” Lennie said. “Asked that you and Hawk meet her at eleven o’clock in the ruins of Kurt’s store!”
“It’s almost eleven now!” Green Arrow said. “Did you get that, Hawk?”
“I got it,” Hawk said. “I’ll meet you there!”
Green Arrow broke the connection. Hawk took just a moment to wonder why Dove hadn’t used her communicator, before he flung himself over the fire escape and hit the street running.
Almost simultaneously, Green Arrow and Hawk arrived at the charred, crumbling ruin that was once Elan Jewelers. They found Dove standing in the middle of the wreckage, waiting patiently.
“About time you guys got here,” she said.
“Well, we’re here,” Green Arrow said. “Now what’s this all about? You’ve solved the case?”
“And why go through the jeweler’s grapevine to contact us?” Hawk asked. “Where’s your Titans communicator?”
“Just be patient, boys,” Dove said. “Hang around, and you’ll see. Shouldn’t take long now.”
“What shouldn’t?” Green Arrow asked.
“This,” a gruff voice from the shadows growled. All three masked heads whirled to meet it.
“Right on time,” Dove quipped.
A man in a dark suit and hat, a dark cloth covering his face from the eyes down, stood in a shadowed corner of the wreckage, holding a pistol leveled at the three heroes.
“You’ve figured it out, have you, bird-girl?” the gunman asked. “Well, you won’t live to share your knowledge — any of you!”
Green Arrow and Hawk turned their heads to stare at each other.
“Is he kidding?” Hawk asked.
“Must be,” Green Arrow offered. “Nobody’s that dumb.”
“None of you move!” the gunman commanded. “Stay right where you are!”
“Oh, right, so you can shoot us?” Hawk asked. “Yeah, we’ll do that.” As they talked, Green Arrow had been moving slowly to the left, Hawk to the right. Dove stood her ground.
“I mean it!” the gunman cried, waving his pistol. “Stand still, or I–”
“Now!” Dove cried. Hawk lunged forward from a right angle, his legs propelled by the strength granted him by the mysterious voice. Green Arrow leaped as well, his powerful yet human muscles lagging a bit behind Hawk’s. The gunman fired reflexively, and Dove nimbly dodged the bullet, leaping high into the air and coming down gracefully in a somersault. Hawk tackled the gunman about the waist, and as they went down, Green Arrow grabbed the gun and wrenched it away, breaking the gunman’s trigger finger in the process.
“On your feet, you — you!” Hawk cried, hauling the gunman from the floor. The hat and mask had come off in the struggle.
“Thought so,” Dove said, folding her arms over her chest.
“Saul Weinrib!” Green Arrow exploded. “I don’t believe it! The leader of the merchants’ association!”
“B-but how? Why? I mean, his own store was attacked!” Hawk stammered.
“That bomb was fixed not to explode,” Dove explained. “He was counting on you two to deal with it, but he was never in any danger, even if you hadn’t. The police bomb tech confirmed that.”
“But… he swore to help the merchants!” Hawk pointed out. “Promised that none of them would lose anything!”
“Oh, sure, and you know how he kept his promise?” Dove asked. “By buying out the other merchants’ inventory at twenty-five cents on the dollar! So they could close down and retire or move to a safer area!”
“What?!” Hawk exclaimed.
“Sure, it all makes sense now,” Green Arrow said. “He created a climate wherein the Jewish merchants were terrified to stay, and yet nobody else would want to move in, either. So he could grab it all, and once he did, the bombings would mysteriously stop so as not to frighten away the customers!”
“This was all about money,” Hawk said, shaking his head. “But why did you invite me to your meeting? Weren’t you afraid I’d solve the case?”
“Kurt had told me about how you and Green Arrow had fought at the fire,” Weinrib explained bitterly. “I figured, if I could keep you two arguing, fighting each other, you’d stay off balance, be too focused on your own squabbles to uncover the truth about the bombings.”
“And it nearly worked, too,” Green Arrow said. He turned his gaze to Dove. “Except for a peacemaker on the scene.”
“How’d you figure it out, Dove?” Hawk asked.
“It was more of a hunch, really,” Dove explained. “I asked myself, who had the most to gain from all this? And when the police bomb tech confirmed that the bomb thrown through Weinrib’s window would never have gone off, I knew for sure. So I spread the word among the jewelers that I had solved it, knowing Weinrib would have to try to silence me.”
“Ballsy,” Green Arrow said, admiringly. “Dove, if you ever get tired of babysitting Hawky, here, the JLA’d love to have you!”
“Babysitting?!” Hawk exploded, his head snapping around in Green Arrow’s direction. “Why, you pompous old windbag! It’s a wonder the JLA isn’t tired of carrying your dead weight by now!”
“Dead weight!” Green Arrow hissed. “Careful, Junior — I’m liable to forget I’m a gentleman!”
“Gentleman!” Hawk snorted. “You can’t even spell the word!”
“Oh, really! That’s hilarious, coming from a neckless thug like you!”
Dove covered her ears with her hands. Well, the peace was nice while it lasted, she thought.