David took one large step down off the car and into the cavern hallway his train rested in. Cicada-Man had already glided across the cement block they stood on, to the opening glass doors and escalator, with tightening calves. It took David shivering, small steps to keep up.
Bright and open food shops within had already been overtaken by the time David caught up to his leader on the stairway. “We got time,” he panted.
“There’s something you should see.”
The natural beams pouring in the station tickled David’s icy skin. He had to stop once they opened the doors, but Cicada-Man was already in a sprint to the fence across from them.
The strongest piercing ray of the peeking sun shot past and colored the gray blocks below it. Each wetted window reflected the pink streaks floating amongst the deep blue above. With one foot on a cement slab and both crusted hands around his knee, Cicada-Man stood far above the twisting, trashy river below him with large breaths, oblivious to the hovering black cars on the bridge to his right. Just as silently, a pigeon flock’s wings brought dusty air to David’s nose. The armored man bowed his head.
Half a minute later, David stepped up to the costumed man, who immediately straightened himself and began digging through his pouches.
“Now, you know that we must still do good even when evil’s presence is hidden.” He unearthed a wad of sandwich bags (a lump of green, brown, pink, and scribbled paper) and placed half in David’s unknowing palm. ‘Give this to any beggar who asks and any person in need.”
David stood blankly as an orange-vested kid ran past, then finally stammered, “You- I thought you didn’t have any sandwiches when we met.”
“I know. At noon, you will return to my dwelling, and we will make more.” He quickly let out a half-laugh and added, “Not the most exciting duty to you, perhaps, but one equally noble. Now let us be off!”
With that, the duo began their silent quest down the sonorous streets of Chicago.
At around the sun’s highest point, David had counted ten grateful street veterans with knotted hair, two wondering couples that smelled of gasoline and wanted a picture, five buskers, and seven passerbys that whispered to a friends and grinned when they past. His throat was a sponge. They still had some sandwich wads left, even though David’s employer refused to deny any plead for another. Cicada-Man tapped David’s shoulder and pointed for the first time that day; between them and brisk pedestrians on the street was a limp line of yellow tape crossing a broken 7-11 window.
David brought a swift foot in the abode moments later. A man with a furry whale of a mustache shouted with a gentleman gesturing past his lazy eye, a cop with a taped-on eyebrow motioning his hands down at both of them. Across the cascading, dimly bright bags was a policewoman with willowing and short black hair, taking a sooty makeup brush to the speckled countertop to the rhythm of the soft beat fading from the store’s corners. Cicada-Man’s boots squeaked as he approached her.
“Good afternoon, Officer Boipelo.”
She turned to face him, splotches of red crawling from the sides of her eyes. David could see what looked like a burnt water balloon next to a package of unfilled ones, right by where she put down the equally browned brush. “Oh hey.”
“Before I begin, I would like to introduce you to my new partner. David Tolkien, meet Officer Boipelo of the Chicago Police Department.”
David withdrew his gaze from the black orb above to give a small wave. Seconds later, he forced his near-numb feet to the front and accepted the woman’s bone-cracking handshake.
“Nice to meet you.” She turned to Cicada-Man, “I’d like to talk alone with him, if that’s ok. You can look around.”
Cicada-Man gave a small nod while drifting towards the shards underneath the hot window’s remains.
David alternated between looking up to and looking down at the policewoman. “So you’re Concerned Citizen’s sidekick now, right?”
“He wants to be called Cicada-Man now.”
She kept on tapping her fingers on the smudged counter in rhythm. With a soft smile, she muttered, “Clever. Doesn’t want to be known as one thing for too long.”
“I think he just likes it.”
“Sure. Now I need to talk to you about a couple of things.”
David stopped slouching.
“First of all, Concerned Citi- Cicadaman is only doing this because he’s acting within the law. And if you’re doing the whole vigilante-thing too, you’re held to the same standard. How much has he taught you?”
David sputtered out some ‘well’s and ‘ummm’s before Boipelo sighed heavily and David bit his lip. “Ok, has he talked to you about citizen’s arrests?”
“Alright, this part is very important. Let’s say you see something, a mugging. It’s gotta be serious, not an ordinance violation or whatnot. You’re going to need a probable cause. Keep in mind what actions you’re seeing, and any physical evidence that supports your suspicions. I’d tell most people that most important is if the perpetrator is armed, but your friend doesn’t seem to care.”
David glanced back to see Cicada-Man with the two witnesses, stammering out demands to calm down. The other cop was glaring with creased eyebrows at him and Boipelo, so he quickly turned back.
“So you go up to the guy and you tell him he’s under arrest, and you tell him why you’re making it. That’s very important. With that, you can apprehend the subject with as little force as possible. You go overboard on that, and both you and your friend’s adventures are over. Do you have a cell phone?”
David tightened his joints and nodded.
“Good. We’ve let your friend bring two thugs to the station yesterday since he claims not to have one. Next time, you call us. If you try to drag him over, he might claim false imprisonment. Is this all clear?”
“So if he has no cell phone, how’d you bring in all his other crooks?”
David covered his dry lips soon afterwards.
“I’m sorry, sorry, I just remembered he said people would run away from him.”
“… that’s… well, I was about to say that when he did get into fights, he wouldn’t win them. He’d just outlast them until someone else called us to the scene.”
“Huh. So yesterday, who did he tell you was the victim of that ‘assault and battery’?”
Boipelo looked past David. “So how well trained are you? You don’t look- do you know a martial art or something?”
“No. Who was the victim?”
“…he was.” She put a bony hand on David’s shoulder. “Someone told those thugs to go after him. David, maybe you shouldn’t be here.”
Cicada-Man backed away from the simmering truce now held between the three others and rejoined his companion. “What have we found?”
“It’s a good one, from what I’ve overheard.”
“I don’t mean to intrude,, but it should be your duty to calm the arguing suspects.”
She sighed, “I’d argue back. Someone’s lying back there.”
Once David leaned in, she continued, “The camera shows someone tossing a cinderblock through the window at 3:28 this morning. The cashier,” she motioned to the curly grey hair mustache man, “claims it was an athletic male, about 6 foot 1, clean flowing hair and a peppermint breath-“
“It was also black, if I recall correctly.”
“Yes, thanks. The other guy says it was a petite woman, 5 foot 6, with red hair and fair skin. All they can agree on is a bracelet with a blinking navy-blue light and tattered clothing.”
“So what did the camera say?” asked David.
Boipelo’s drumming gingers marched on, with her thumb tightly gripping the counter. “It was a tall man, all right, but head was shaved. He had a weeping bird tattoo and beady eyes.”
“Go on,” Cicada-Man stated.
“He was a Hispanic-“
“Describe it differently, if you may. Don’t just say what you’d put in a report.”
“She looked down at her splotched boots for a few minutes. “It’s – well, I’d assume he looked furious, out-of-control. He was- he was quite handsome, now that I think of him- he was shivering and alone, and… made me worry if I’d ever have to do that.”
Cicada-Man adjusted his ruby goggles with thick gloves. “Thank you for your time once more, Officer.” He turned to David. “Walk with me. We may have solved this mystery already.”