Hawk clenched his fists and prepared to swing. Green Arrow tensed his muscles, ready to respond.
“Boys!” a feminine voice called from above. “Don’t make me put you in time-out!”
“Huh?!” Green Arrow exclaimed, looking up.
“Aw, no!” Hawk moaned, not looking up. He recognized that voice.
Green Arrow watched as a lithe female figure in blue and white somersaulted down from the roof of a low building, landing perfectly on her feet next to the two male heroes.
“This is a fine thing to find!” Dove scolded. “I expect Hawk to act like a cross between a spoiled baby and a brain-dead Rambo, shooting his mouth off and ready to throw a punch at the drop of a hat! But I didn’t expect that from an older, more experienced hero like you, Green Arrow!”
“Yeah? Then you don’t know me, lady,” Green Arrow said. “We haven’t met, but from the costume, I gather you’re the new Dove?”
“That’s me all over,” Dove said. “I knew Hawk here was in Star City on his book tour, and when I heard on the news what was happening, I figured I’d better come down and lend a hand.”
“Good thing, too,” Green Arrow said. “I was about to hand your boyfriend his head.”
“Oh, right!” Hawk snarled. “You’re just lucky she showed up to stop me from putting you in the rest home a couple of weeks early, Grandpa!”
“Keep it up, Junior Birdman, and your babysitter here won’t keep you from getting what’s coming to you,” Green Arrow said menacingly.
“Boys, that is enough!” Dove shouted. “Nothing is going to get done if you two keep at each other’s throats like this! There’s more important things to do than throw threats and punches and try to prove who’s the bigger man!”
Green Arrow and Hawk stared at each other silently for a moment, then both looked away.
“Yeah, well, it’s obvious we’re not gonna be able to work together on this thing,” Green Arrow said. “So, if you two birdies will excuse me, I’ve got work to do.” With that, Green Arrow left.
“You’re something, Hank, you know that?” Dove said after Green Arrow was gone. “I can’t leave you alone without you getting into some kind of trouble, can I?”
“Me?” Hawk demanded. “Why do you assume it was my fault? You weren’t even here; you don’t know what went on!”
“I’m not saying Green Arrow wasn’t acting just as immaturely,” Dove said. “But I’m sure you gave as good as you got, didn’t you?”
“Aw, look, he was the one who–”
“I don’t care who started it; I’m finishing it right now!” Dove said sternly. Then she put a hand to her forehead and muttered, “Dear God, I’ve swallowed my mother.” Shaking her head to clear her senses, Dove then turned on her teammate. “Now, suppose you tell me what’s going on here. With the attack, I mean. And stick to the facts; no embellishments, no Green-Arrow-did-this or Green-Arrow-said-that. OK?”
“OK,” Hawk said with a sigh, and began to relate the events for Dove.
“Yes, that’s right; we want ten minutes on the six o’clock news,” the harried young man said into the telephone receiver. “Don’t insult me by offering me the eleven o’clock! We both know the senior citizens are the biggest voting demographic, and they’ve all gone to bed by then! What? Five minutes? Now you’re telling jokes! We couldn’t possibly do it in less than nine! Six? Eight! OK, OK, seven. But before the weather; half the people turn off right after that. OK. Thanks. ‘Bye.” The young man hung up the phone, then turned his head and did a double-take to see the emerald-clad figure standing before him.
“Nice job, Brad,” Green Arrow said admiringly.
“Green Arrow!” Brad Fields, Noah Bosk’s campaign manager, said in surprise. “Wow, it’s always a pleasure, but I wasn’t expecting you here at campaign headquarters. Not today, anyway. What can I do for you? Afraid Noah’s out at the moment.”
“That’s OK. I was just coming by to see you,” the archer said. “I’m afraid I’ll need to cancel my public appearance commitments for the foreseeable future. Just until I catch the nuts who’re firebombing jeweler’s row.”
“Oh, yeah, that!” Fields said, a touch of excitement in his voice. “I have to tell you, G.A., it couldn’t have happened at a better time!”
Green Arrow raised an eyebrow. “Said what?”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong,” Fields said, patting the air with his hands. “I certainly don’t approve of such actions — of course not! But, politically, it happened at the right time for us to take advantage of it.”
“Take adv — how so?” Green Arrow asked, struggling to keep the indignance out of his voice.
“Well, come on,” Fields said. “What’s our opponent’s top criticism of Noah? That he’d be soft on crime, right? Well, if this is happening on his watch, he can’t really point that finger, can he? How can he paint himself as the law and order candidate, keeping Star City’s streets safe, if kindly old mom and pop merchants are getting bombs chucked through their windows? And with that argument invalidated, maybe we can concentrate on the issues. Noah can–”
“Brad, I can’t believe I’m hearing this!” Green Arrow interrupted. “I signed on with Noah’s campaign because I thought he had the right ideas, that he was a different kind of politician! And now you’re actually talking about profiting from this… this atrocity?”
“Green Arrow,” Fields said calmly, as if explaining something simple to a child, “this isn’t small-time local politics, not really. It’s not like that time you supported your pal Ollie Queen for mayor. Noah sees the state senatorship as a stepping stone. He wants to go all the way to the Oval Office, where he can make some really big changes! But to do that, he has to win. He can’t do that by playing nice-nice all the time. I think Humphrey Bogart said it best: when you work in a sewer, you have to wear overalls.”
Green Arrow sat for a moment, thinking silently. “Well, thanks, Fields. You just reminded me of something.”
“What’s that?” Fields asked.
“Why I normally stay out of politics.” Green Arrow rose and turned to walk out of the headquarters building.
“What? Hey, Green Arrow, wait! You’re still going to support Noah, aren’t you? I mean, the speeches? The photo ops? Green Arrow!”
At the door, the archer paused and looked over his shoulder. “By the way,” he said to the frenzied young campaign manager. “It was James Cagney who said that, not Bogart.”
Fields made a face. “Are you sure?”
“Never Steal Anything Small, 1956,” Green Arrow said, then continued out the door.
“No way!” Hawk snarled. “You’re as nuts as he is!”
“Look, Hank,” Dove said sternly, like a fifth-grade teacher who had caught a boy cheating on a pop quiz, “I know your pride is important to you, but it’s got to take a back seat here! This is Green Arrow’s city; he knows its ins and outs, and we don’t! If we’re going to find the arsonists, we’ll need that kind of knowledge! You can’t solve every problem by walking in and busting heads, especially if you don’t know which heads to bust! Now I want you to apologize to Green Arrow, put your differences aside, and–”
“Nuts to that!” Hawk spat. “I told you once that you weren’t my brother, Dawn, and you’re not my mother, either! I don’t need anybody telling me how to be a super-hero — not Green Arrow, not Robin the Boy Wonder, and certainly not you! Now lay off!” Before Dove could answer, Hawk was off and running into the night. It burned him, hearing those words from Dawn, especially because they sounded so much like something Don would have said in the same situation. But Hawk was sick and tired of being told how he should act, even when he knew he was out of line.
Hawk didn’t stop until he reached Jane Foley’s hotel suite. He planned to tell her what Green Arrow had said, how he had almost accused her of collaborating with the arsonists. She might even sue the archer for defamation. That would show him. Hawk was so full of righteous anger, he burst through the front door of the suite without bothering to knock.
“Miss Foley!” he called out when he saw no one in the suite’s living room. “Miss Foley, are you here? Wait until you hear this!”
“Hawk?” a voice came through the closed bedroom door. “Hawk, is that you?” It was the voice of Jane Foley.
“Yeah, it’s me,” Hawk said, striding toward the door. He was so enraged by his confrontations with Green Arrow and Dove, he pushed open the door and entered the bedroom without thinking. “I’ve got to tell–”
What Hawk saw stopped him dead in his tracks. Jane Foley was in bed, the sheet pulled up to her breasts, covering her nakedness. In bed with her, glasses missing and hair rumpled, was Patricia Lyons, her business manager.
Hawk stood staring gape-mouthed for a moment. The two women stared back at him, Lyons closed-mouthed, her silent expression almost daring Hawk to say something. Foley seemed less confident, less indignant, perhaps more ashamed by Hawk’s discovery. She, too, was silent.
Finally, Hawk turned on his heel and marched out of the bedroom, kept marching across the living room to the front door.
“Well, dammit, why did you think I hated gays so much?!” he heard Foley screech behind him, just before he slammed the door on his way out.
“Louie! Six more beers over here!” a young tough in a leather jacket called out.
“Comin’ up, Arnie,” the middle-aged man behind the bar replied. He sighed to himself, wondering how Kelsey’s Bar had come to this. He had opened the place when he had returned from active service in Korea. The neighborhood had been different then. Over the years it had deteriorated, newer areas drawing families away, poorer, less respectable elements moving in. Now, Kelsey’s Bar was considered the one neutral area in all of Star City for the street gang element. Where any gang-banger, wearing any colors, could go for a beer or a game of pool. The city’s gang leaders were smart; they realized a place like that was needed, if they weren’t going to waste their time fighting each other over nothing. With a guy like Green Arrow in town, they couldn’t afford that.
“Let me have another beer,” a beautiful young woman seated at the bar said, setting down her empty mug. She was dressed in no particular gang colors, just tight black jeans and black leather jacket. She had long, flowing hair the color of fire, and long fingernails lacquered a glossy black. Several of the gang members figured her for a townie, a spoiled kid from the suburbs out slumming, trying to pick up some action that mommy and daddy wouldn’t approve of. None had approached her yet. One decided it was about time.
“That’s not really a lady’s drink, beer,” a young hood wearing the colors of the Pit Vipers said, easing backward onto the barstool next to hers.
She turned and stared him defiantly in the face. “It’s an American drink,” she said evenly. “You got a problem with that?”
“Oh, hey, no,” the young Viper said, holding up his hands palms out. “No, no, you’re right. It’s what real Americans drink. And we’re all real Americans, here.”
“Even them?” the girl asked, indicating the Asian members of the Red Ronin with her chin.
“Well, no, not them,” the Viper admitted. “Hey, the boss says this is neutral; any gang can come here. I had my way, I’d kick ’em all out. Them, too,” he said, pointing with his beer bottle to a group of black youths, the Skulls, shooting pool.
“You sound like my kind of American, tiger,” the girl said with a grin. “I mean, Christ, when did we start letting all these foreigners in, anyway? All those guys up on Mount Rushmore — they’re white, right?”
“You bet,” the Viper said. He took another pull at his beer. “So… you’re all for clearing out the un-Americans, huh?”
“Every damn one of ’em,” she agreed, lifting her mug to her face.
“Well,” the Viper said, “let me tell you something…”
Suddenly, the front door burst open with a loud bang. A muscular form in red and white stood there, pointing an authoritative finger at the bar’s patrons.
“OK!” Hawk growled. “Somebody here knows something about the firebombings on Jeweler’s Row! And somebody’s gonna tell me all about it!”
“Says who, Tinkerbell?” one of the Skulls challenged, taking a firmer grip on his pool cue. Hawk’s snarl split into a feral grin. “Come closer and ask that, Nancy.”
Oh, no, Hawk, you idiot! Dove said to herself, but kept her face under her red wig from betraying her thoughts.