The Incredible Hulk: A Hulk grows in Brooklyn
Chapter 7: No stress, no worries…no anger.
Vincent rubbed Janna's hand until she cried herself to sleep. His sister felt into near hysterics when she found out that David was leaving the school. She always formed fast attachments. Vincent was very disappointed too. The older man had proved to be a strong, kind conscience for him and all he had done to repay him was nearly get him killed. He wished he had the chance to make it up to him and completely square things off. He wondered what sort of trouble David was in, considering he ducked the reporter. David's issues all seemed to point toward the green creature, but it was useless to speculate now. Vincent was going to do what he planned, and confront Sal Marino in his secret warehouse. He scribbled a note for Janna and left the hospital. There was still time to catch Virginia at the school. He pulled up to the garage and rushed inside. She was packing up her files for the evening.
"Ginge, I'm glad I caught ya, I need a very big favor."
Virginia looked up startled, and her heart went out to Vincent. He appeared distraught and unkempt. She locked the filing room and came around to the time clock.
"Sure, hon, what is it?"
"I need you to go to the hospital and stay with Janna for a little while. I have something I need to do for…work." He pleaded.
Virginia gazed at him solemnly, but didn't quite believe him. "Okay, I'll stay with her. How long will you be? Where will you be, in case I have to reach you?"
"Oh, I'll…umm, I'll be on the road. I can't give you the number right now or stop for calls. Janna's fine, she's just upset that David left. She's healin' up good, so don't worry about that!"
"I'm so glad, Vincent. I've been so worried about her, and you! I know something is wrong. Can't you talk to me? Even if I can't help, I'm a good listener. We talked so much that night, gosh, Vincent it was wonderful."
After staring intensely into her eyes, Vincent grabbed her lovingly, and deeply kissed her. He pulled away, leaving her dazed.
"I know it was, baby. Don't worry about anything, it'll be okay…and…umm, we'll all be alright! I'm gonna take you out for the night of your life this week! I promise! You're a special girl, Ginge, and very special to me." Vincent's voice faded, he was losing his nerve. He kissed her forehead and took off before she could say anymore.
Virginia ran around to the phone and called Vincent's job. "Bestest Car Service, we got the bestest service, how can I help ya?"
"Is this Tim? Hi, this is Virginia, I'm…"
"Vinnie's new gal! How are ya? He's always spoutin' good things about you, uhh, he ain't here right now, but I'll definitely leave a message for ya."
"I know he isn't there, Tim. Does he…is he scheduled for work today, or is he doing any special pick ups?"
Tim picked up his roster and flipped through the pages. "Nah, not today, he had a few days off since his sister got hurt,the poor little thing. But if I see him, I'll let him know ya called."
Tim recognized the edge of fear in her voice; he always heard it in his wife's voice whenever certain business was involved. "Hey, uhh, is somethin' wrong, hon? You worried about him?"
"Yes, yes I am! He just left the school telling me he was going in to do something for work, and now I know he lied. Tim, you're his friend, he's been so crazy the last few days since the accidents. I'm afraid he's gonna do something he'll regret, or worse, he'll get himself killed! These damn mobsters are pulling him apart! He doesn't want to be involved, but now I think he's over the edge. He…he knows they caused those accidents to happen! Tim, we all do!"
Virginia couldn't control the fears that were coursing through her mind. She suddenly wished David were still here. He was always so rational and willing to help. Tim remained silent for a moment and then spoke in a rushed whisper.
"Listen to me, all I know is, Sal is about to have a six o'clock meeting down in DUMBO."
"Where? There's a bunch of old, empty buildings down there." She demanded, growing tearful.
"Fifty-five Water Street! Okay, that's all I can tell ya! I gotta go, I gotta business to run."
Tim hung up the phone on her and Virginia grabbed her purse. She ran to Lana's office, where the older woman was halfheartedly signing a last folder of reports that belonged to David.
"Lana! There's gonna be big trouble with Vinnie and Sal Marino if we don't do something! Vinnie's gonna confront him down by waterfront, but he'll get himself killed. I need to get to the hospital and make sure Janna is okay!"
Lana jumped up abruptly. "That can't happen! I'm going to do what David had been telling me all along and call the police again, anyone that will listen!"
David rubbed the dull ache on his right shoulder blade and opened his eyes slowly. He was strapped with ropes to a wooden chair in the middle of a deserted room, with only one light source above him. He heard a slew of rough voices and caught slivers of dim light and shadows from across the way. He couldn't make out the conversation, but he gathered it was a meeting of the thugs who ran Bensonhurst.
"No doubt, trying to decide what to do with me." He murmured. "But they'll just as quickly try and kill a woman in broad daylight." Thinking of Lana and Joanna's near tragedies was starting to upset him, so he forced it out of his mind. He had to keep rational and find a way out of here.
David struggled against the binds, trying not to create too much of a disturbance, all of a sudden the door to the building opened and he saw the outline of a cop step inside. The door slammed shut behind him.
"Thank God! Officer! The men inside that room kidnapped me! They're the ones responsible for the fire at the CFC and accident on the pier! I can give you names, I can take you to people who suffered at their hands…officer?"
The cop continued to stroll in slowly and walked into the subdued light. He hung over him with a scowl and David saw the name 'Briganti' on his shield. The cop pulled out his baton and twirled it near David's face.
"So, you're the big mouth making trouble for Sal, aren't you? Brooklyn's John Doe superhero!" He smacked his baton against his palm a few times for effect.
David's eyes widened and panic set in. "No! I was only trying to help the people he victimized! As you should be! You're an officer of the law, you took a vow to serve that same community and protect people that live in fear of him." He stammered.
Officer Briganti chortled and whacked his shoulder. David cried out in pain.
"Don't tell me how to do my job! I look out for number one first and foremost. My man Sal has done great things for his community! We go way back, he's like family."
David couldn't move to rub his shoulder; it was the same one that took the hit from Steve-o's pistol earlier. He gritted his teeth and tried to reason again.
"All Sal does is alienate people, not help them. He's a wicked man! Most likely a murderer! Everybody in the neighborhood has a story! You are going to get caught sooner or later! Don't you understand? Sal only uses people and he's using your authority as a cop to protect him. The day you cross him or fail to deliver, he will go after you too, I know men like him, I've met them and…ARHHHH!"
Briganti swung his club again and knocked David across his face. The entire chair flipped over and David banged his head. He groaned from the instant throbbing on his jaw. Briganti knelt beside him with a snide laugh. A loud crash interrupted Briganti's attack when he was about to ram his club into David's stomach. Vincent jumped into the room, crouching low in the shadows. He had been watching the scene from a hole in the garbage bag coverings on the window. Briganti pulled his gun and fired a blind shot. Vincent dove for cover and threw himself on the floor. The other gangsters ran out of their meeting room from the commotion.
"Briganti! What the heck is going on? Can't you handle one simple job?" Sal shouted at the confused cop, smacking the back of his head.
Vincent dug under his jacket and pulled his own gun. He fired at the swinging metal lamp, and the entire room was flooded in darkness. He rushed to the entryway and unlocked the door. The only light was coming from the damaged window he had entered. The men ran around looking for the culprit and Vincent bravely ran toward the center of the room. He quickly used his pocketknife to cut David's ropes and rushed him to a corner.
"David! I'm sorry this happened! You need to get outta here! The door to the exit is unlocked."
David winced under the soreness radiating from his shoulder and face. He gripped Vincent's jacket. "No, we'll both leave! You can't take them on by yourself! Neither of us can! They'll kill you! Is that what you want?"
"They tried to murder my sister! They threatened people I love! They are gonna pay!"
Vincent tore away from him and rushed toward Steve-o's back. The man crashed to the ground and a struggle ensued with Vincent getting the upper hand over the heavy, winded man. David couldn't see clearly enough in the dark to tell who was who in the brawl. He heard more gunshots go off and Sal screaming for his men to find him and the other intruder. David made a break for the main exit. However, thick hands stopped him vehemently. The gangster forced David's arms behind his back and slammed against the brick wall.
"Thought ya could get away from us, huh, Brewster! You and your stupid friend are gonna pay big time!"
The thug pulled David's body back and rammed him again. David landed seemingly unconscious on the ground. The thug grunted and kicked him for good measure. David's stomach clenched and his body heaved, and then flattened out. He heard Vincent shout, having been subdued by three men and shoved onto to the floor. Sal stood over the young man, his gun pointed at his head.
David couldn't control his senses any longer. His eyes lit up a haunting green and the Hulk's muscles enlarged through his clothes. Deep growls escaped him and the gangsters backed away from the noise, leaving Sal and Vincent alone in the center of the room. Sal raised his gun and gazed around fearfully. Vincent kept his face down, his arms covered over the back of his head. All he could think about was how he failed his sister and friends, and tears streamed down his face.
"What the hell was that?" Mickey demanded.
The growls and snarls grew louder until they turned into a roar. All six gangsters pulled out their weapons, but it was too late. The Hulk bellowed again and faced officer Briganti, remembering the attack on his alter ego. Briganti aimed his weapon, but the Hulk crushed it in his bare hands and flung the bits and pieces across the room. Briganti then pulled his club and thrust it into the Hulk's mid-section. He staggered back, seeing that the creature didn't flinch. The Hulk grabbed the stick and lifted Briganti over his head, throwing him into wall. He took the club and broke it in half, and tossed the splintered wood pieces at him. The stunned officer fell unconscious.
Upon seeing the creature attack, the other mobsters ran for their lives and the Hulk chased after them like a madman. Looking around he saw a base beam near the center of the room and he punched into it. Large chunks of cement and plaster flew everywhere and the ceiling partially collapsed, blocking the main exit. The Hulk ran through the mess, roaring at the mobsters and crushing their weapons. While they dealt with him and tried to dodge falling cement and brick, Sal scurried back to Vincent, who was crawling away to safety.
"I'm gonna finish this once and for all! No one is gonna make a fool of me! I'm in charge! I'm powerful! No one is gonna be better than I am!"
Vincent found his bearings and stood up, looking him squarely in the eye. "I can name a million people better than you and I think ya finally met your match!"
Sal's hand trembled on the trigger and Vincent seized the opportunity to jump him and wrestle the gun from his grasp. He wrapped a brawny arm around the older man's neck.
"You are gonna pay for everything you done! I'm gonna make sure of it!"
Sal tried to kick at him, but failed. The Hulk ran to them and howled at Sal. This man, he reasoned, was bad. He was responsible for hurting people that David Banner loved. The woman under the water, the girl in the fire, and the man that pinned him down. They almost died because of him. The Hulk continued to roar and growl as he inched closer, gnashing his teeth and flexing his muscles. Sal's whole body shook and he was soon pleading for his life. Vincent couldn't bring himself to hurt the man, despite his own growing rage. He let go of Sal and the gangster sank to his knees, practically bowing to the Hulk.
"Don't hurt me! Don't hurt me! I give up! I give up! I'm finished!" He cried out and his tears spilled all over.
The other gangsters encircled him and the creature, watching disgusted as their boss, a man who had made a livelihood off other's fears, groveled and bawled on the floor. Sal clawed at Hulk's feet the Hulk stomped on his hand, nearly breaking it. The old gangster screamed in agony, but no one would help him. They were in too much shock to move. Vincent kicked him onto his back and went down beside him, keeping a knee in his chest.
"You are never gonna bother anyone in Brooklyn again! You will leave me and my sister, the school, everyone alone!" He shouted, putting pressure on him.
"Oww! Yes! Yes! I'll leave them alone! Just get that monster outta here!" He begged.
Vincent turned to the other gangsters, enraged, and the Hulk lingered beside him like a Goliath bodyguard.
"That goes for all of you!"
The gangsters all nodded quickly and backed away. Sirens wailed from outside the warehouse. The Hulk straightened up and turned to find an exit. Vincent left Sal and put a hand on the Hulk's arm, dragging him away toward the broken window. He couldn't find David, and hoped that he escaped unharmed.
"I dunno if you understand me, but ya need to get outta here fast! I can handle it! The police can't see ya! Go out this way! Hurry!"
Vincent shoved the Hulk. The creature stared at him calmly for a moment and then lifted his immense arms, smashing a bigger exit. He was all too familiar with the loud noises and flashing red lights. They meant capture and harm for him.
As soon as the Hulk escaped, the cops busted down the door and they all raced inside.
"Everyone! Hands in the air, now!"
Jack McGee rushed in with Lana, who had called him for the story. McGee kicked at the debris irritated. He missed the creature and John Doe again. He rushed to the window and stared out, but The Hulk was long gone, leaving destruction in his wake and oddly enough, a long-awaited resolution to a neighborhood plagued by a small-time mob. There was still a headline grabber to be found here. He looked over at Sal Marino and shook his head. The gangster was beside himself with fright and kept mumbling about power and monsters as the cops escorted him and his cohorts from the building. The Police Captain immediately stripped off Briganti's shield and vowed that he was going to pay as hard as the rest of the Marino crew. McGee followed along, trying to ask questions about the creature. Lana lingered on the premises and saw David's brown, leather bag lying off to the side. When no one was looking, she picked it up. She was determined to give it back to him.
CFC- Three Months later
The school proudly unveiled the new and improved art room and gallery for the clients and now they were enjoying a small party in honor of the opening and displays. Many wealthy sponsors came to the event and were overjoyed to see the skills and learn about the productivity of the clients. Lana hung up the phone after a lengthy, private call in her office and joined the staff in the cafeteria for cake and snacks. She wheeled a large, blue suitcase behind her. Virginia brought her over a piece with a sly grin.
"So, why do you look like the cat who caught the canary, Lana? I haven't seen you this happy since…well…in at least a few months."
Lana bit into the cake and wiped the icing off her lips. "What, Ginge? Today is a very special day for our clients. They have a great chance to show the world how accomplished they can really be. I'm very proud of them."
Virginia laughed and sipped her punch. She was watching Janna and Vincent interact from across the room. The brother and sister had been closer than ever since the incident with Sal Marino. Marino's entire organization had been brought down, with complaints and witnesses appearing all across the city. They were finally able to speak freely on how Sal and his mobsters terrorized the neighborhood. Vincent's boss Donny was also arrested and Tim was now running the Bestest Car Service. He promoted Vincent to be his partner and also allowed him to start his mechanic shop in the vacant lot that was part of the store's property. Vincent caught Virginia's eye and winked at her, with a small smile. Lana nudged the secretary.
"He's completely taken with you. I always said you were going to find the teddy bear you dreamed about. I think you two are perfect. Now that all this drama is over with, everything is back to normal and even better than it was."
Lana stared wistfully at Jimmy's table and Virginia patted her back. "You miss him, don't you? I tell you, there aren't many men like David around anymore, that's for sure."
Lana grinned and reflected on their time together. Lana had found a small journal in David's bag, and her instincts about him and the creature were confirmed. They were one and the same. Afterwards, David wrote her a long letter and revealed the secret of the Hulk. Since looking over some of Jack McGee's old columns, she realized that David was also the John Doe that had saved the reporter's life in the mountains, the man he so desperately wanted to catch. Despite McGee's persistence and his bribe of a reward, David's secret was forever safe with her.
"Nope, Virginia, there aren't many like David. So when you got them, you do everything in your power to hang on to them, even if they try to run away from you!" Lana kidded. She smoothed down her hair and checked the clock. "I have to leave early today. I have a four o' clock flight to Austin."
"Well good for you! I hope you enjoy yourself back home, how long will you be gone?"
"I've got tons of vacation time I need to use or lose, about three weeks, I'd say." Lana adjusted her purse and headed toward the exit, having said her goodbyes to the staff and clients earlier.
"Woo hoo! Don't get bored out there, Lana."
"Oh, I doubt that I'll get bored. My brother keeps me busy when I visit him, you know. Take care of my clients, and Vincent!"
"You know I will, have fun!"
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, 7:30pm
After retrieving her suitcase, Lana rushed toward the main exit of the airport, hoping to catch a taxi. She flagged one down and hurried over. However, a man's rugged hand grabbed the door handle and he casually bumped her aside.
"Excuse me, I flagged this taxi down first. Please find another one." She glanced up at the rude person and let out a gasp.
David released the handle and gave her large smile. "Lana, did you think I wasn't going to come out and meet you!"
Lana began to weep and grasped him in a warm hug, kissing him all over his face.
"That wasn't the plan! Oh Gosh, David, I missed you terribly, when you called me two weeks ago I couldn't believe you were actually going to come here!"
David returned her kisses and then pulled away to pick up her bags. "Would I lie to you? I am here, and tonight for starters, we are going to have that dinner I promised."
"Tonight? But I'm a mess and…"
"You look a beautiful mess, Lana. Simply beautiful. Let's not waste anymore time, you only have three weeks!" He winked.
"As long as I'm with you, they will be three long and superb weeks." She sighed, collapsing against him as they sat in back of the cab. "So, what's on the menu tonight, Doctor?"
"Well, I was thinking something totally foreign and exotic, so…I cooked! I hope you like Indian food." David clasped his hands and bowed his head. "We have delicately seasoned white rice, tender chunks of Chicken Tikki Marsala swathed in an orange cream sauce and almonds, hot and buttery Naan bread…and some more little dishes I won't give away. It's all very tasty. Everything is prepared at the house, just waiting for us to dig in."
Lana gazed him, impressed. "That sounds delicious! David, you're a scientist, doctor, Para, lifeguard, connoisseur, chef, is there anything you can't do?"
"I won't answer that. As long as you're here with me, I can do anything! I…I love you, Lana." The relief of admitting his feelings was evident in his deep, green eyes.
Lana looked into them fondly and kissed him. "I love you too, David, very much." She whispered and played with his collar. "And as for doing anything, .I will hold you to that."
"I should hope so." He scolded firmly, and then broke into another smile, putting his fingers through hers. He kissed the top of her head. "No stress, no worries, no…anger." He murmured gently. "At least not today."