“How much longer will the people of Star City tolerate the dumping of toxic waste in the Carlton River that is going on at Monarch Chemicals? Let the company join the twentieth century and handle their waste according to law and common sense. End.”
Ollie Queen switched off his tape recorder and set it down. “Let’s see, that makes four columns about Monarch in the last two weeks. With any luck, someone will start taking a closer look at them.” It had taken a couple of months to get back in the writing groove, but by early 1986, Ollie’s column in the Star was once more the popular, if controversial, feature that it had been for two years. His current target, a large chemical plant on the Carlton River, was probably starting to feel the heat. “A few more like this, and I may just convince them to clean up their act without firing a single arrow.”
He was to find that he was quite mistaken in that assumption.
A mid-morning phone call roused Oliver Queen from his sleep. His hand snaked out from under the sheets and found the bedside phone.
“Is this Oliver Queen?” The voice at the other end of the line was crisp, business-like.
“Speaking.” Ollie’s head appeared from under his pillow, blinking at the sunlight coming in the window.
“Mr. Queen, my name is Arthur Williams, from Crittenden, Williams, Cartairs, and Brooks.”
“The law firm.” All of a sudden, Ollie was wide awake. “Is this about Monarch Chemical?”
“In a way, yes–“ the voice on the line began.
“I’m sorry, the Star handles all lawsuits and complaints for my column. Do you need the number for their legal department?” After several complaints about his columns, Ollie had the telephone number memorized.
“Oh, this isn’t related to the paper. I need to meet with you — this morning, if possible.”
Ollie looked at the clock on the dresser. It showed 9:15 A.M. “How would eleven o’clock be for you? I can’t meet much before then.”
“Eleven would be fine. Can you meet at my office on twenty-second street?”
“Sure. I know the area. I’ll see you then, Arty.” Before the lawyer could respond, Ollie hung up the phone and sat up.
“Now, I wonder what the heck that’s all about?”
Oliver Queen looked up at the building housing the law firm of Crittenden, Williams, Carstairs, and Brooks. Situated in the heart of Star City, it was right across twenty-second street from the former headquarters of Queen Enterprises. Ollie turned to look up at the building he once owned, noting with a touch of sadness that the glass siding was still missing from parts of it. Yet another scar left by the Crisis.
A ride up the elevator and a brief wait in a reception area whose furnishing cost more than Ollie made in a year, then he was ushered into a small conference room. He sat down at one end of an oval table, flanked on either side by stern-looking men in nearly identical pinstripe suits.
“Mr. Queen, I’m glad you could meet with us on such short notice. I am Arthur Williams, and this is Mark Crittenden.” Handshakes were exchanged, and they all sat down.
“All right, gentlemen. I know that the higher-ups at Monarch can’t be too happy with me these days. So… what sort of deal have they told you to offer me to quiet down?” Ollie leaned back in the soft leather chair, hands clasped across his stomach.
“I’m afraid you’re mistaken, Mr. Queen. We don’t work for Monarch, per se. We represent the estate of Florence Littleton, the owner of Monarch.” Williams pulled some paperwork from a folder in front of him and passed it over. “Miss Littleton passed away last week, you see. She had been ill for several years, and had turned over the operation of the company to committee of managers. However, when she called me to her home to change her will, I was very surprised.”
“Really? And what does her will have to do with me?” Queen leaned forward to take the proffered document and started scanning it.
“When I got there, she was reading your column. She asked me if I was aware of the situation at the factory, and if it was as bad as you’d described.” The other partner nodded in agreement, and Arthur Williams indicated that he had confirmed Queen’s description of the Carlton River.
Now intrigued, Ollie shook his head. “OK, so the Miss Littleton didn’t know what was going on, and died before she could change anything. Does that mean I should stop telling the people about what’s happening there?”
“Hardly, Mr. Queen. Miss Littleton realized that she could do something about the pollution being produced at her factory. She decided to put someone in charge whom she trusted to solve the problem.”
“Well, that’s terrific. I’d like to meet this person, sound him out, maybe interview him and see what he plans to do. Who is it?”
Williams put down his copy of the document, which was a copy of Florence Littleton’s will. “I’m afraid you can’t exactly meet the new owner, Mr. Queen. Miss Littleton has handed the job of cleaning up Monarch Chemical to you. You are the new owner of the biggest polluter in Star City!”
For one of the few times in his life, Ollie was speechless.