"Another challenge for the Green Hornet, his aide Kato, and their rolling arsenal, the Black Beauty. On Police records a wanted criminal, Green Hornet is really Britt Reid, owner-publisher of the Daily Sentinel, his dual identity known only to his secretary and to the district attorney. And now, to protect the rights and lives of decent citizens, rides THE GREEN HORNET."
It was not always so obvious he was getting ready to go out as the Green Hornet. Honestly, just knowing her boss, Britt Reid, was in fact the Green Hornet was enough. She never asked unless he broached a particular case first. When it did come up, he only told her enough so she'd be able to cover adequately for him-that's why she was one of the few who knew to begin with. But tonight Britt Reid was obviously getting ready to go home only to go out in the infamous Black Beauty as the equally infamous Green Hornet.
He was not anxious, or nervous, quite the contrary, in fact. He was calm, collected, but it was all in the eyes. His sharp blue-green eyes were the most intense Lenore Case had seen as he placed a pile of papers into his briefcase. He was focusing himself even now, going over what needed to be done, whom it would be done to and when it would be done.
When he was finished, he looked up at her and sighed. "Well."
"Well." She repeated.
"That's everything. Tonight's the night."
She folded her hands in front of her and kept her eyes on the floor. "I hope me saying 'be careful' is your common sense."
"Of course it is, Casey."
Her head came up at the sound of her nickname. She liked it a lot more when he said it.
"Besides, if I forget, Kato can always pick up the slack." He said, grinning. But Casey didn't find it funny.
"Britt, these gangsters are dangerous, dangerous men. They kill at the slightest provocation and you showing up as the Green Hornet and threatening to destroy their entire operation is no small provocation! Besides, the rumors about the giant…."
Britt snorted. He was aware that the man he was after, Tony Matizello, the son of Carmine Matizello, head of the Matizello crime family, was a ruthless killer who took joy in inflicting pain and ruining the lives of those he touched. He was also aware of the rampant rumors that, in his employ, Tony Matizello had a supposed giant. The size and width of a tree and the strength of a hundred men. He scoffed at the idea.
"What? You don't believe there's a giant? Everybody who has survived an ordeal with Tony Matizello-."
"—Yeah, like, two, three people?"
Casey ignored him and went on. "—has said there was a giant whom was used to torture and intimidate hostages."
Britt grabbed his briefcase and walked over to her. "To me, it's just an urban legend created to enhance Tony Matizello mage. Nothing more, nothing less."
Casey folded her arms across her chest and regarded him with a raised eyebrow. "You know, a lot of people still think the Green Hornet is just an urban legend. That is, until they see you and you're actually real. We believe in the Green Hornet, don't you think you should at least…keep the thought he might be real in the back of your mind while you and Kato go out tonight?"
Britt considered it then patted Casey on the arm. "Don't worry about it. Go home and get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning."
She let him go but called out before he could get to the outer office. "Good luck!"
He raised a hand as he walked. When he was gone, Casey still stood in his office. She bit her lip against a nagging feeling that her young, handsome boss and a hero in disguise, was indeed walking into the lion's den.
Kato, Britt Reid's valet, and his partner when he wore the Green Hornet mask, was already dressed in his black chauffer uniform and held his black cap and mask in his gloved hands when Britt arrived. Kato met him at the front door.
"Mr. Scanlon is here, Mr. Britt."
"He is? Why, what's up? The plans changed?
Kato shrugged. "I don't know. He arrived an hour ago and wanted to wait until you got here. I just got changed and pulled your Hornet costume out. "
"Okay. Thanks. I'll talk to him."
Britt followed Kato back in to the living room/study, where District Attorney Frank Scanlon and the last person to know who Britt Reid really was, paced. Britt dumped his briefcase next to his desk and took off his suit coat to drape it over the chair back.
"Hey, Frank. What's going on?"
The two shook hands. Scanlon took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "Nothing's going on. Everything is fine. I…just wanted to come by and tell you to be careful."
Britt grinned. "You too? Ms. Case practically stopped me from leaving the office to tell me the same thing. It's not like I'm going in by the seat of my pants, you know. Believe it or not, Frank—Kato and I do know what we're doing."
"Well…I know Britt, but it's that silly rumor about Matizello's giant. It's silly, I know." He added again to show Britt he in NO way believed it, of course….
But Britt saw through that and clapped him on the shoulder. "We'll be careful, giant or no giant, okay? Now, when we pull up to their hideout, I'll give you a call. It'll take you and the police a bit to get out there. By the time you do get there, we should be out and back in the Beauty. I'll give you the signal and you can go in. The son of the head of the Matizello family will be in custody and it's not a far stretch from him to his father. "
Scanlon grunted and put his glasses back on again. "What job were you suppose to do for Matizello?"
"Collect the payment that will give him the full monopoly on all the boxing operations in the city; all the gyms, all the trainers, boxers, everything. Only I'm not, obviously."
"Won't they get suspicious if you show up there, when you're supposed to be collecting that payment?"
Britt shrugged. "Why would they? I'm just there to get the final okay before the big job. Frank, you worry too much."
He went to the bookcase and pulled down three books. The fireplace suddenly ascended and in its place appeared a lift cage. Its steps folded down, waiting for its passenger to climb aboard. Scanlon watched the entire process and when it was finished, he turned back to Britt with an exasperated expression on his face.
He sighed in defeat. "Okay, okay. I give up. You win. I'll be waiting for your call but Britt, please. Whatever you do, be careful. That's all I ask."
"I promise. Scouts honor."
Scanlon looked especially skeptical but climbed aboard the lift with a wave and callout of good luck.
Britt didn't respond, his finger tapping the desktop thoughtfully. Kato leaned forward and asked again, "Ready, boss?"
This time, Britt heard him and glanced back, his mind still preoccupied. "Oh. Yeah, Kato."
Kato left again to get his mask and cap before he'd join Britt in the lift up to the Black Beauty. The fact of the matter was simple-Britt was nervous about the whole thing. He may not have shown it but he too, was scared that maybe Matizello was more than just the usual thug who'd gotten too big for his britches. The kind he was used to.
Maybe the guy was a new brand-yes, he carried his brutality and his joy for it as his claim to criminal infamy like the rest, but…what if he was the kind Britt couldn't stop? There would come a time, he knew, when the criminal element would outgrow him and make it especially hard for him to catch up. Or, it could mean a permanent retirement if he and Kato weren't careful.
Britt broke his depressing train of thought and pulled the books down again. Kato walked in with his cap and mask already on. Both stepped on to the lift and it automatically began its ascent, the fireplace closing below them.