The Reporter

Darn dreary rain. The world-weary, jaded crime reporter sits in the front seat of his car watching rain drops splatter on his windshield. Does he wait, with his press pass in the band of his fedora, his camera in the pocket of his trench coat, his certified hard-boiled crime reporter credentials right next to his passport, does he wait with all of this for the last plane in from Casablanca? Nay, he waits for the debutantes' planning committee, the junior league or something equally pointless to come out of a reception.

The gossip columnist should be here covering this dinner reception. But she's away on holiday, and Paul from sports "pinch hit" for her last night. So, tonight it's my turn. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I don't care if the Mayor, the Commissioner, and local captains of industry are here in this upscale, but not exclusive, residential neighborhood. There's still nothing here worth the time of this reporter, this world-weary, jaded cynic. Hey! Wait a minute; that is the Commissioner's car. There is something here worth my time. Let's hook up Mr. Telephoto lens and see what we can see.

I scan the cars parked on the street in front of the brownstone, copying down the license plates into my padd. I place the headset around my left ear and ask the padd to get me O'Kelly at the paper. I continue scribbling down plates while the padd connects me. It knows my scribbling well and translates all the plate numbers into neat san serif capitals. "Hey, lady, it'sh me, y'shee."

"Oh, Thompson, it's you isn't it?"

"Yeah, shee."

"What is it with you and that Al Capone/ Dick Tracy gangster bit?"

"Ya know ya loves it, Baby."

"Yeah, actually, I don't hate it."

"I got shome platesh for ya, Hon. I'm shendin''em to ya right now, shee." I keyed a couple of icons with my stylus and my padd began to transfer the plate numbers to O'Kelly's padd

"I'll run them for you in a bit. I'm on important intrepid reporter business right now."

"Tanks, Hon. You're a doll. HOLY CRAP!" Something catches my eye up near the roof and shocks me right out of character.

"What have you got out there, Jack?"

"Some guys in black with automatic weapons and ski masks pulled over their faces. They're dancing up the fire escapes, pirouetting and twirling their arms like they're drunk, stoned or nuts. Or worse yet, they may be all three."

Okay, now it's officially worth my time. "Seriously, Carrie, I need a favour."

"I'd do anything for you, Jackie. You know that."

"Find out which SWAT team is on duty tonight."

"Aren't you the one with connections at One Police Plaza?"

"Yeah, that's me, the world-weary, jaded crime reporter and all that."

"So, why are you asking me to..."

"In case I forget or get distracted. Gotta, go." I rang off. And told my padd to call a cop I trusted to handle this right: Captain Carlisle.

"This is the Carlisles' refrigerator, the answering machine ran off with the toaster, so leave a message and I'll write it down and stick it to myself with one of those little magnet thingees. Beeeep!"

"Carlisle, pick up the phone! It's Thompson, and have I got one for you! I'm serious, man. Pick up."

"It's me Jack. I just get such a kick out of listening to you go off like that. What's up?"

"Are you out on the town with your lovely wife?"

"No, we're enjoying a quiet evening at home. The kids are out on a sleep over. We've cooked dinner together and eaten. We've been talking for two hours."

"I hate to pass you one on your night off with your wife, but you're the one I trust to handle it."

"Why didn't you just call 9-1-1 like a normal concerned citizen?"

"Because I can't remember the number and besides, I have you on speed dial, it would be like two extra key punches to dial 9-1-1 and you know how lazy a jaded, world weary crime reporter can be."

"No. I want the real reason, because dinner and dessert are long over and my darling wife is standing in the door way holding a spray can of whipped cream in one hand a bowl of cherries in the other and right now she's mouthing who…on…earth…is…that…on…the…phone."

"Oh, man well hurry up. Cause I've got I've got three certifiable nutcases breaking and entering at corner of 123d Street and Maple."

"So?"

"So? So, I'm vamping while O'Kelly down at the paper ran the plates for me. "They're heavily armed, and highly stoned nutcases."

"And what makes this my problem?"

Here come the makes on the license plates, right up on the screen of my padd. Carrie's the best. "They're breaking into the brownstone where the Commissioner, the Mayor, and some local barons of industry are having dinner. And I don't know which SWAT Team is on duty tonight, but if it's Kragen's Commandos, you and I both know that this isn't going to end well."

"It's not the Commissioner, Jack. She's out of town at a forensics convention with the director of the Crime Lab. It's her family."

"You mean the kids, too?"

"And the Mayor's wife and kids are there, too, along with everyone else's."

"Oh man. Carlisle, you've got to get your team over here and take care of this. And find out which SWAT team is on duty tonight."

"I'll be there."

I rang off and told my padd to get me get me Police Dispatch. "Yeah, hi, it's Jack Thompson calling for Sergeant Merkel. Thanks."

"Merkel."

"Hey man. Quick question for you..."I said. "Which SWAT team is on duty tonight?"

"Team Two is on watch. Kragen's Commandos, why?"

"Don't you read my columns in the paper?"

"Jaaack! What's going on out there?"

"Not to worry, Sergeant. There's nobody here but us chickens. And keep Kragen and his jackbooted Shock Troops out of it as long as you can, okay?"

"Tell me what it is, John Charles Thompson."

"Even my mother doesn't call me that. Read my column tomorrow. Goodbye."

I called O'Kelly again. When she answered, I gushed out like fast flowing river, not letting her get a word in edgewise. "Look, Carrie, don't deny it. I know you ran with the Bat for the last several months. What kind of a reporter would I be if I didn't know that?"

"Bruce is dead. You covered his funeral. I was there. Why don't you just call the cops."

"I did. I called Tommy Carlisle. But he might have to call in the SWAT Team and Kragen's Commandos are on duty tonight."

"I know."

"So, you call one of Them for me: The Amazon, the Space Cop, the Fast guy, the Canary."

"Don't you know their Code Names?"

"I guess; I can't think of them now, besides there're copyright issues to contend with."

"Oh, right copyright issues on a phone call, what do you think this is, the Truman Show?"

"Look, can you get in touch with one of them, or not?"

"They're all out of town. Way out of town. I think I heard Parker was around...I'll work on it."

"Parker? Who Parker? Spider-Man is a cartoon character, O'Kelly. What are you talking about?"

"One of Mr. Wayne's protégés. Parker. I don't know the rest of his name. But he's good: Helicopter pilot, three urban combat tours in the Terrorism War, plenty of hostage rescues. He's solid U.S. Army Special Forces, not some crazy Delta loon. And he's your damn cousin. You know his name."

"Oh, that Parker, I wasn't sure which one you meant. Thanks O'Kelly, remember I'm buying your first martini when you turn twenty-one.

"Shaken, not stirred."

"Alright, get to it. I've got cop cars pulling up here."