Dark Angel; Malachi.
And with that the room fills with a brilliant, prismatic radiance and the Lady of the Underworld is no longer upon Midgard.
Recalling both her promise to McCoy and her last meeting with the local guardsman, Ravdna deigns that it would be wise to pen the latest news for Patsy's consumption. Continuing on the other note she does so and when she finishes the Valkyrie shimmers as if seen through desert heat.
Dialing Hank's number she says "I'm sorry I didn't tell you that first night...I thought I was going crazy more than anything else..."
"It's ok, Patsy. I'll do whatever I can to help."
"Well...we might have a lead. How do you feel about chasing down some escaped vikings with me?"
After significant prodding Patsy and Hank arrive near the holding cell the Asgardians escaped from earlier in the day.
Scratching her head she says, "So...err...now what? I guess we look for some trail or something? Ask around...see if people saw which why they were headed?"
Patsy and Hank have a harder time avoiding looking suspicious than they do following the trail of destruction left by the two Asgardians. They literally ripped they way from the holding area, apparently smashed a couple of cars judging by the bits and pieces still left on the street, crossed the street, crashed right through a bakery, and into the alley beyond.
In the alley, there is a police barricade set up around an open manhole. The manhole cover itself is nowhere to be scene. It seems rather obvious that the trail ends here, and that the two warriors entered the absolutely extensive tunnel system under NYC.
Sam Stern seems to be having a harder time than the other Avengers. Homeless, jobless, aware that his teammates may think is going insane. With nowhere else to go and not having enough money for a hotel, Sam heads back to the diner he was in when he first heard about the trouble brewing in Birmingham. It is fairly busy.
After being seated and ordering some coffee and a sandwich, Sam settles back to think. He doesn't particularly relish the idea of sleeping in the park again.
Stern stared at the egg salad sandwich. He hated egg salad. It was the cheapest item on the menu and he was hungry. When was the last time he'd eaten? He couldn't remember. He couldn't remember a lot of things. He felt angry, sad, but frustrated more than anything else. He wanted to scream out to the heavens, but he didn't know what he feared more: hearing or not hearing an answer.
"Sam? That you? Where the hell ya been?"
Looking over towards the entrance, Sam sees a familiar face. It's Rhonda Kelley, his boss's secretary, in the company of a rough-looking young man in a longshoreman's coat and cap.
"Hello, Miss Kelley," Stern replied. Such a pretty girl to be running around with the likes of this guy, he thought. "How are you?" He forced a smile on to his face. Stern nodded to the man accompanying her.
He nods back. "I'll grab us a table, babe," he says.
"Yeah, sure," she replies. Then, turning back Sam. "Mr. Johnson's been tryin to get in touch with ya. We been worried, what with you not comin to work and not answering at home."
Sam looked at his shoes. "I, uh, had to go visit my grandfather. He, uh, was sick." Stern was grossly uncomfortable lying to the young woman. "Sorry I didn't let you know anything, it was, uh, sudden."
A sharp pang of hunger bounced around the inside of Stern's stomach. His coffee was getting cold, he wondered how long he could milk his stay in the diner and the thought of spending the night outside infuriated him. He had no one to blame but himself. He smiled, but inwardly sighed.
Stern couldn't bring himself to ask about his job. He knew there was no hope of getting it back with the way he just up and vanished. "I'll, uh, let you get back to your date. Thanks for saying 'hi'."
"Yeah, sure," the secretary says, smiling. "Give Mr. Johnson a call tomorrow morning. Or better yet, stop by the office. I know he's been anxious to get you on the job. That must be some rep you've come in with, huh?" She laughs, a gentle, musical sound. "Well, you have a nice night. See ya tomorrow."
And with that, she turns on her heel and half skips over to her date, sliding into the booth next him.
The next morning, Sam Stern follows the young lady's advice and goes by to see his boss, Mr. Johnson. Johnson, an elderly, heavy set man who worked his way up the ladder from laborer to labor manager, seems genuinely pleased to see Stern.
"We were worried about ya," he begins. "You came to us highly recommended. A lot of the boys round here think that you got this job cause people wanted to keep you quiet after the accident, but I don't buy that. I know a hard worker when I see one."
Stern explains about his "grandfather" and the family emergency that unexpectedly pulled him out of town. Johnson nods, waving his cigar.
"Yeah, yeah," he says. "I unnerstan all bout family, Sam. I like to think my business if a family. You don't ferget that, you hear? You gotta a problem what needs takin care of, you let me know. I'll have payroll sort out your check. Consider a good faith gesture, and you get your butt to work tomorrow. We got a lot of freight to move."
Sam Wilson returns home to find all the lights are on. Walking into the Youth Center, above which he lives in a small apartment, Sam sees dozens of familiar faces. Neighbors mostly. But he also sees stalking towards him his sister, Sarah, and her two boys, Jody and Jim.
"Sam Wilson, how dare you just run off like that," Sarah demands, pulling Sam into a hug. "We just got a call from Poppa. Says he's doing fine. The kids and I are going to fly down tomorrow to see him."
"I'm sorry, Sarah. I just got back from Birmingham. He's fine, sent me home saying there wasn't much else I could do there and to get back to work." Looking around at all the people, "So, why's everyone here?"
In response to Sam's question about why all the company, Sarah, his sister replies, "We weren't sure how long you were going to gone, so the lot of us pitched in to keep the place open. After all, just because you leave town doesn't mean Harlem shuts down."
"Thank you, all of you. I'm glad of the help. Now, I'm going to head up stairs and try to get cleaned up and sleep some. I'll see most of you tomorrow, I expect." And with that he turns to head upstairs, pausing to speak privately with his sister.
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© 2000 Mark L. Chance et al