by Martin Maenza
The last performance for the week in this particular town was completed, and everyone assisted with the breakdowns as usual. Oliver Queen was doing his share when Freeman Scott approached him.
“Say, Ozzie, got a minute?” Freeman asked.
Ollie was coiling some rope. “Kind of busy right now, kid,” he said. “Don’t you have stuff you need to be tending to?”
“It can keep,” Freeman replied. “You kind of cut me off the other night. I was hoping we could finish our conversation. I think you’d get a lot out of it.”
Ollie was trying not to lose his patience. After all, it was bad enough he had to continue with the charade and put up with this kind of lifestyle. He missed the comforts of his place back in Star City. He especially missed Dinah. Heck, even going a few rounds with Katar Hol on social issues looked good right about now. But this Scott guy had been hovering around him ever since he hooked up with Stock’s Shows; he was relentless.
“So, how about it?” Freeman asked. “Can we talk more in private?”
Ollie exploded. “No! For the last time, no!”
Most of the people in the tent area turned at the outburst. Two of the larger roustabouts had been following the conversation between the two. Chuck turned to Dave and gave him a silent throw of his neck. Dave nodded and took off across the way to alert Mr. Stock.
Chuck turned back to watch the two men further. When they left to carry some equipment to one of the supply cars, Chuck followed them. Along the way, he grabbed a piece of metal pipe and carried it along at his side, just in case.
As Chuck arrived at the supply car, there wasn’t anyone else in sight except Ozzie Kingsley and Freeman Scott. Again, Kingsley was arguing with Scott. It was time to put an end to the conversation permanently. The large man snuck up behind the two unnoticed, raised the pipe, and brought it down hard on the back of Kingsley’s skull.
Oliver Queen finally regained consciousness, and he was startled by his surroundings as he awoke. It appeared to be one of the train’s box cars, and the train was moving. He tried to rise from the floor, only to realize that his hands and feet had been tied together with some very strong rope.
“Don’t try to escape,” said the voice of Clyde Stock as he stepped from the shadows. “That’s just a waste of effort.” The man looked down upon Ollie with a concerned look on his face.
“What’s going on here?” Ollie asked. “Who attacked me from behind and tied me up?”
Stock bent down and smacked him across the face. “Shut up! You ask a lot of questions, you and your friend! I don’t take kindly to people who are nosy, especially in my business!”
It was then that Oliver Queen realized that Freeman Scott was there, too, also tied up. “Whatever you’ve got planned,” Ollie said defiantly, “you won’t get away with it.”
Stock laughed. “Really? Who’s gonna stop me? You two? I doubt that.” Stock gestured to the closed door. Dave and Chuck, the roustabouts, appeared from the shadows and moved over to open the heavy metal door. As they did so, bright morning light and air rushed into the car. The train was moving at a good clip; the telephone poles and landscape rushed by at a blurring rate.
“So you’re gonna throw us off the train,” Ollie said plainly. “How unoriginal.” He tried to work at the ropes binding his hands, but the rope wasn’t about to budge.
Stock smiled. “Normally, this isn’t how I like to handle things, but I’m not at all comfortable with you two around,” he said. “Oh, you might survive if I just had you tossed out of the train anywhere. We can’t have that. Luckily, there’s a large trestle in the mountains that we’ll be passing over in a few moments. If the drop isn’t enough to kill you, you’ll end up drowning in the river at the bottom! It’s a perfect place to unload unwanted garbage.”
Chuck and Dave went for Freeman Scott first. One took his legs while the other held the bound man about the shoulders. “You won’t get away with this,” Scott said as he squirmed a bit. The two men merely laughed as they moved him toward the open car door.
The sound of the train on the rails changed slightly as the cars began to cross the great trestle. “On three,” Chuck said to Dave as they began to swing the body. “One, two, three.”
On the last count, both men let go. Freeman Scott’s body launched out the door and dropped immediately down out of sight. “No!” screamed Oliver Queen. He didn’t like the man much but felt responsible for the predicament both men were in. He swore to himself that he would avenge Freeman Scott’s death, assuming of course he somehow survived himself.
Chuck and Dave then grabbed the bound blond man. “End of the line for you, Mr. Kingsley. Bet you would kill for one of your knives right about now.” Stock sneered. “Toss ‘im!”
As Oliver Queen’s body sailed out the open door of the train car, the wind was the first thing to sting his face. He tried to keep his eyes open as he struggled unsuccessfully with his bonds. If I’m going to die this way, I’d like to see it coming, he thought.
As his body plummeted down, it was hard for him not to think about the events of his life. Fate had a strange way of throwing him curveballs. First falling overboard from that ship in the South Seas, only to end up on the deserted Starfish Island where he had to learn how to hunt to survive. That led to him becoming Green Arrow. And then how he had lost his entire fortune, leading him to claw his way back from financial ruin. He also thought of how Dinah had come into his life from another Earth, and how the two fell in love.
Finally, Ollie thought of Roy Harper, and about how the young man had managed to overcome so many obstacles in his young life. From heroine addiction to being a single parent, Roy was a shining example of perseverance and courage. Ollie regretted not telling Roy often enough how proud he was of him.
In a way, Ollie regretted, too, the fact that he had yet to leave a legacy of his own behind. He and Dinah occasionally talked about settling down and starting a family, but they hadn’t acted upon it yet. Sure, there was Roy, but he was more of a much younger brother to Ollie than a son. He wondered, again, if perhaps the Connor Hawke they had met from the future could in fact be out there somewhere. He’d never know. The ropes still held his hands tight. There was no way he’d be able to save himself at the last moment. A tear began to form in his eye.
Suddenly, Ollie felt a sudden jerk. “Hey, perk up, buddy,” a familiar voice said. Ollie realized that a hand had grabbed him by the back of his belt, slowing his descent.
“What the–?!” Turning his head around, Oliver Queen was shocked by what he saw through his squinted eye. Like an angel or something, Freeman Scott was floating in the air, his left hand firmly holding Oliver’s belt. “You? You’re alive. It’s a miracle!”
Freeman Scott smiled back at the man. “Yes, indeed. Miracles are my specialty. Didn’t think you’d get rid of me that easily, did you?”
“But… how?” Ollie asked. “How are you flying?”
Freeman nodded toward his feet. “Aero-discs.”
“Arrow discs?” Ollie asked.
Freeman laughed. “That’s a good one. Aero as in aeronautical, not arrow, which you are used to.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh, I think you can drop the pretense now. It’s just you and me out here, Green Arrow.” Ollie’s jaw dropped at Freeman’s words. The dark-haired man smiled. “Oh, come now. The perfect aim, the distinct facial hair, the attitude. You may have fooled Stock and his like, but anyone in the business can recognize you even without the mask.”
“Not to sound ungrateful for the rescue and all, but who the hell are you?” Oliver Queen asked.
“I take it Batman never mentioned me to you? He and I worked together a few times in the past. I even met a few of your other JLA friends before. I’m actually Scott Free, but you probably know me better by the name of Mister Miracle.”
Ollie shook his head for a second as it started to click. “Mister Miracle, the escape artist? Yeah, I’ve heard of you. But what were you doing here, and undercover no less?”
“We can compare notes later,” Scott Free said. “Right now, I think we have a train to catch.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Oliver Queen said. “But first maybe you can untie me, and then we can make a quick detour. I’d like to be prepared better for a fight.”
The train that conveyed the Stock’s Shows arrived at the station, and the engine let forth a mighty burst of steam. For most of the passengers, it was just one more town and one more show. The door to Clyde Stock’s car opened, and he stepped out, followed by his two partners in crime. “Remember, keep it under your hats,” he instructed them as they stepped off the train.
“Can’t keep a secret once word gets out,” a voice said from behind him.
Clyde Stock whirled around to see two costumed figures standing there, arms crossed. One man wore a colorful costume of yellow, red, and green with a high-collared green cape. The other man was dressed entirely in green with a bow in his hand. “Wh-wh-what can…?” Stock stammered, trying to keep his composure. “That is, uh, is there something we can, uh, do for you gentlemen?”
“Yeah, there is,” Green Arrow said. “You can give yourselves up! You’re under arrest for murder and extortion.”
Stock freaked out. “Hold them off!” he said as he burst past Chuck and Dave. The man began to run down the platform.
“I’ll take the runner,” Green Arrow said. “You play with these two.” Mister Miracle nodded as the archer took off in pursuit.
Chuck and Dave rushed the costumed man. With smooth grace, the New God leaped into the air and avoided the grasping hands. “Really, boys, you’ll have to do better than that,” Mister Miracle laughed. Chuck spun around and charged again. The hero backed up to a light pole and waited; as Chuck got extremely close, he ducked out of the way. Chuck’s face slammed hard into the metal pole, and he slumped to the ground, unconscious.
Dave pulled a knife from his pocket and flicked it open menacingly. Mister Miracle smiled under his mask. “Oh, we get to use weapons?” he asked playfully. “Let me get mine.” He pulled forth from his costume a small cube about an inch in size. Dave began to laugh. Mister Miracle just shook his head. “Uh-uh. It’s not the size of the prize but the power inside.” From the multi-cube shot a thin blast of energy. The laser beam stung into Dave’s large hand, causing him to scream out in pain and drop the knife.
“Allow me to get that,” Mister Miracle said. He sprang forward, tumbled, and reached for the fallen knife. As he did so, he sprang into a handstand with his feet launching upward. The soles of his boots slammed into Dave’s jaw, knocking the roustabout backward. He hit the ground, hard.
Mister Miracle sprang back to his feet, looking back and forth at his fallen opponents. “What, show’s over already?” A few folks on the platform who had watched the melee suddenly began to applaud and cheer. Mister Miracle smiled. “Never tire of hearing that.” He began to take a bow. “Thank you, thank you. You’re too kind.”
Clyde Stock pushed people aside as he ran down the platform. His whole world was crashing down around him. All his plans, all that money, his show — all of it was about to be ruined if he didn’t get away. Why here? Why now? he thought in a panic.
He hopped down a few steps and rounded the corner that led to the street. He stopped suddenly in his tracks.
“Going somewhere, Stock?” Green Arrow said. He had an arrow cocked in his bow, aimed directly at the man.
“I-I…” Stock stammered.
“You think you can talk your way out of this, Stock?” the archer sneered. “I don’t think so. Guys like you that manipulate the system for their own benefit are sick, especially when you kill other people just so you can get rich from it! It’s the end of the line for you, buddy.”
Stock turned to run again.
“I said the show’s over,” Green Arrow stated, letting the arrow fly. As the shaft whizzed past the man’s feet, a bolo shot forth from the arrowhead and entangled Stock’s feet. Clyde Stock fell forward.
Green Arrow hurried over to the man and hoisted him into the air. He looked him dead in the face. “Don’t mess with me, scum-bag,” the hero said. “I’m not in the mood right now.”
Stock looked into the man’s eyes, then realized who he was facing. “You? You. It was you all along, wasn’t it?”
Green Arrow tossed him to the ground. “Greed blinded you, Stock. It corrupted your life and tripped you up in the end. Maybe you’ll learn something from this. You should have a long prison sentence to think about it.”