[Welcome back, folks! Here is the promised second chapter for this week! I apologize already for the offensive language in this episode, but Adam is a very passionate little feller, and he says exactly what he thinks. You don’t have to like him or his ideology, but he will eventually find his way into Sharkey’s orbit, so we’re going to need to get to know him! Like always, if you haven’t read the early chapters, you can find them HERE! Now, let’s get medieval! (Sort of.) —RFY]
Adam Douglas climbed to the top of the ladder, pushed open the trap door, and crawled into the tree house.
“Why is Ashley fucking Holmes sitting in a lawn chair in my backyard?” Adam asked the half dozen boys lounging about on the floor. Philip Basil turned red then said, sheepishly, “She’s got a case for us, but I told her she couldn’t come up. She had to wait.”
Adam’s jaw worked, but after a few seconds he nodded, then proceeded through the sea of legs and sneakers towards a wooden crate at the northern edge of the tree house that served as a podium. He sat on the floor behind the crate, pushed open a hinged panel in the crate, and drew out his most prized possession: a 1960’s outlaw biker helmet that someone had epoxied a pair of bull horns to. He’d spotted this treasure in a pawn shop a few months ago and begged his Mom to buy it for him. It had cost a great deal—three weeks of not getting into any trouble, two dozen dish washing sessions, a B+ on a math test, and even being polite to the stupid neighbors (whenever his Mom was around), but she had eventually agreed that he’d earned it. Within two days of actually getting the helmet, Adam dropped it in an alley and broke about half of one of the horns off, but he painted the broken part dark red and decided he liked the helmet even better after the accident. It looked like he’d seen a lot of action in that helmet—which was only partially true. He’s seen a lot of movies while wearing it, and in his mind that counted.
The helmet, of course, was way too big, but he put it on reverentially anyway, and clicked the strap under his chin that almost held it in place, then he picked up the wooden sword that always sat next to the podium and tapped the floor three times.
“I hereby call this meeting of the Knights of 58th Street to order!” Adam said and smiled.
“Roll call!” he yelled. “Charles?” A short, red haired kid with a crooked smile raised his hand. “Jason? Freddy? Mikey?” Three more hands went up. “Phil—you’re here. Where’s Luke?”
“Grounded again,” Charles said, chuckling and shaking his head.
“Stupid shit-head. What did he… No, never mind. Oliver? Yeah. Klaus?” Adam scanned the tree house. “No Klaus?”
“Haven’t seen him,” Charles shrugged.
“That’s two for Klaus. One more and he’s out,” Adam said, marking a note on his sheet. “And I’m here. Okay. Freddy, can you recap the minutes from last time?”
Freddy pulled a tiny notebook out of his coat pocket and flipped a few pages. “Um, Charlie and Jason were going to check out a haunted garage on 51st.”
“Pair of owls in the rafters,” Charles snorted.
“Bummer,” Adam said.
“Next,” Freddy continued, “Oliver was going to keep an eye on the new goblin market on the corner of Springer and 59th.”
“It seems legit to me,” Oliver said, standing up. He was fairly new to the group, and clearly nervous.
“Did you check the alley behind the store?” Adam asked.
“Well, I looked down it a couple times,” Oliver said, twisting his fingers and rocking on his heels, “but I didn’t…”
“Shit, man, if you’re too scared to scout an alley, you’re in the wrong group,” Charles said.
“No, no! It’s not that. I had my little brother with me both times, and he was scared.” Oliver’s brother, Zach, was only six, four years younger than him.
“Jesus Christ! You took a kid on official Knights business!?” Adam yelled. He squatted down behind the podium and fished around inside the hatch, then stood back up holding a wrinkled, stained, photocopied booklet, stapled along the left edge, that said, “The Knights of 58th Street – Bylaws.”
“That was a rookie mistake, Oliver,” Adam said, holding out the booklet. “Take this. Read it. Memorize it if you have to. It was my mistake for sending a new guy on a case without prepping him first. When you got this read, bring it back to me.”
“Yeah, yeah, sure!” Oliver said, shuffling up to the podium. He was happy to be getting a second chance.
“Meanwhile, Charlie, why don’t you and Jason dig around at the market,” Adam said.
“Got it,” Charles said. Jason nodded.
Freddy wrote a few notes in his book, flipped back a couple of pages, then said, “That’s about it for last week.”
“All right,” Adam said, smacking his wooden sword on the floor. “New business!”
Michael raised his hand. He was tall for a ten year old, and his long arm stuck up way over the other boys’ heads.
“Michael,” Adam called, pointing to his hand, and giving him the floor.
“I vote that we let Jamie Canning into the group,” he said.
“GOD DAMMIT, Mikey! We’ve talked about this! I don’t care how much you’re in love, there are no girls allowed in TKo58! Who ever heard of a female knight?”
“Mulan?” Phil said, sheepishly.
“A Disney film!? Are you shitting me!” Adam’s eyes burned with loathing. Charlie laughed.
“But listen,” Michael said, “she’s super smart, she’s not afraid of anything in the world, and her Dad was an exterminator back in L.A. before she and her Mom moved here. They still have most of his old equipment.”
“I don’t care if she’s got a sword that can make the Devil shoot sparks out of his ass! There are no girls allowed in the Knights!” Adam pointed his sword at Michael. His helmet started to slide sideways off the top of his head. He caught it and set it up right again, then cinched the strap a bit tighter.
“Adam, if she’s got access to REAL monster exterminator equipment, we could really use it,” Charles said. His tone was uncharacteristically reasonable.
“NO GIRLS IN THE GOD DAMNED KNIGHTS!! It’s in the fucking bylaws! End of story! If you want to be distracted by some chick while you work, go start your own monster hunting group, but THIS group is going to stay focused and alive! Got it?” Adam said this through clenched teeth, and he gave the entire group the Evil Eye, just to be certain he’d made his point clearly. He nodded to himself, order restored, and settled back behind the podium. “Next order of business?” Adam said.
“Umm,” Philip said, raising his hand.
“What now, Mulan?” Adam said, gritting his teeth.
“Ashley has a case,” Philip said. “Something’s been eating the stray cats in her neighborhood, and now whatever it is has killed her cat, Mitsy. She found her in the alley behind her garage.”
“Nice!” Adam said, standing up. “Let’s go talk to the bitch!” He banged his sword on the floor and officially ended the meeting.
[Like I said above, Adam is a nasty piece of work, but his monster hunting group will eventually take us directly into the HEART OF THE DARKNESS that’s encroaching on Broken Ankle Point—and I’m sure you’ll all want to hitch along for THAT ride! Hopefully, I’ll have another chapter for you next week!!! —RFY]
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)
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