It was early when Kardiac closed and locked the skylight above his Lexington Wells’ apartment. He crossed the room, picked up the glasses from his coffee table, and swapped them for the goggles he’d been wearing. Pulling off his gauntlet and gloves, he flopped down on his sofa and reached over to press the button on his answering machine.
Two new messages. As the first message began to play, he heard a woman’s voice… one he hadn’t heard in a very long time. “Eddy…? It’s Deanna. I hope this is still your number… I know we haven’t really talked in a couple of years, but I… well, we need to. We need to talk soon.” He sat up from his slouch, eyes narrowing.
“Look… I’ll understand if you don’t get back to me, but it’s important… and it took a lot of convincing for me to make this call. So… please call me back. My number hasn’t changed. Eddy… I still lo–.”He pushed the fast forward button, jumping ahead to the next message.
“Edward Lane, this is Detective Angela Sheldahl of the Garrison City Police Department, Vice Division. I need you to contact me as soon as possible. My office number is 776-555-7000 extension 552, or if you call in the morning, my cell is 775-555-1319. This concerns a matter of some urgency. Thank you.”
“Detective Sheldahl,” Eddy said to himself, quizzically. “What does Andy’s partner want with me?”Despite his bewilderment, he grabbed the phone, walked into the kitchen, through some cold pizza into the microwave, and dialed the Detective’s cell number.
“Good morning,” came a voice from the other end of the line.
“Detective Sheldahl?” he asked, more as courtesy than question. “This is Eddy Lane.”
There was a beat of silence on the line, before she responded. “I was wondering when I’d hear from you.”
“What can I do for you?”
“There was an envelope placed into the Vice Squad mailbox last night,” she answered, flatly. “It was addressed to Kardiac, care of Detective Andrew Pope. I opened it, and I think we’d better meet… you’ll need to see this.”
Eddy’s eyes narrowed, and he had to fight back the instinctive urge to change his voice. “Why call me about this?”
“Because, unlike most of the police in this town, I’m not an idiot. You’re Detective Pope’s best friend. Andy is the only cop with a habit of running across Kardiac’s victims. You dropped out of the police academy after a near-electrocution incident that occurred while attempting to illegally avenge your murdered father. Your father, incidentally, was killed by a drug lord. The majority of Kardiac’s vigilante activities concern the drug trade. You’re the right body type, height, hair color… you have a beard, you wear prescription glasses, and the only picture I’ve seen of Kardiac includes facial distortion through his goggles of a type usually caused by prescription lenses. Need I go on?”
Eddy paused for a while, half-stunned, half-impressed. When he finally spoke again, it wasn’t with the voice of an artist. “Does this mean that I’m going to find myself under arrest?”
“As I said,” came the answer. “I’m not an idiot. For every law you’ve broken, you’ve brought at least a half-dozen traffickers or pushers off the street. I see no reason to use anything I know to prevent that, even if I don’t approve of the methods. Nice trick with the voice, by the way. Electrically-affecting the harmonics of your vocal chords?”
Eddy smirked. “Yes, as a matter of fact… and for the record, I like to call them ‘perps…’ not victims.”
“Tomayto, tomahto.” Eddy shook his head. He’d have to keep an eye on this one… but at least he knew Andy had good back-up. “Oh-nine-hundred, Garrison Court. It would probably be best if you dressed casually. The last thing you need is more publicity after two consecutive museum debacles.”
“9 a.m.,” he answered. “You bring the donuts.” He turned off the phone and checked the clock on the wall. He had enough time for two hours sleep, a quick shower, and a cross-town drive with a few seconds to spare. Stripping off the rest of his uniform, he headed to bed.
The phone woke him three minutes before his alarm was due to go off for the third time. “Yes?” he answered, a bit more harshly than he’d intended.
“Eddy?” asked a hesitant voice. “I’m sorry to call you again… I know I should have waited… but….” her voice faded off, and Eddy threw his head back into his pillow.
“What do you want, Anna?”
“I wasn’t going to call,” she said, quietly. “But Leland… I know you hate him, but he said I should….”
Eddy sighed heavily, and forced himself to sit up. “Look, I’ve got an important appointment this morning, so please stop with the dramatic pauses and get to the point.”
“I need to see you,” she said, after a brief pause.
“I really don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Please, Eddy,” she said, her voice actually pleading. “Have you really grown to hate me, too?”
Eddy paused. He didn’t know how to answer. Of course he didn’t hate her, but there was a lot of bad blood there… but still, that question hurt. “Of course I don’t, Anna… how could I? But you’ve got to admit, you’re the one who closed the door on our relationship.”
“And now I’m trying to open it again. It’s important. Please!”
Eddy sighed, pausing again before answering… remembering all they’d been through before things got rough. “Fine. Meet me for lunch at O’Malley’s, 11 o’clock.”
“Thank you!” she answered, sounding genuinely pleased. “I’ll buy.”
“Fine. But I’m on a tight schedule today.”
“I’ll try not to take up too much of your time.”
He sighed yet again. “Don’t worry about it,” he said after a beat. “You’re my sister… if I can’t make time for you, what kind of person would that make me?”