“I’m Devon,” said the old man, still holding his umbrella over Gladys. “Night guard at the warehouse. I’d shake your hand, but I’ve only got the one.”
Gladys noticed that his left arm did indeed stop just above the elbow. “Oh,” she said, “let’s go inside.”
Inside, they shook hands, then Devon gestured at the damaged storefront. “I thought someone had moved in, but until you started remodelling I wasn’t sure.”
“Yeah, we’ve been here a few months now, but it’s been slow going.”
“What kind of place are you putting in?”
“It’s,” said Gladys, “It’s a, uh, honey store.”
“What if I don’t want to work with you guys?” Clint said. Wearing his magic helmet, he felt at full power. “I got my own plans.”
“I understand this,” Adam said, sitting behind a desk in the upstairs office. Dante stood by his side. “You will come to see that our goals and yours are compatible. Complementary, even. Anyway, we do not expect you to stop helping this city in your way, but to be willing to help us when the need arrives. We will help you as well.”
Clint folded his arms. “I don’t need help.”
“Everyone needs help.”
Clint agreed to the partnership. The Street Sentry would work alongside Adam, Gladys, and Dante. In a few days they would meet again to coordinate their efforts.
But before heading home, Clint spoke to Dante.
“I saw you take out those mobsters at the club downtown. You’re tough.”
“Well, I had no clue anyone saw that, so you’re apparently sneaky for a big guy.”
“You ain’t afraid of the LeSauvage mob retaliating?”
“I’ll tell you this, you stick with us for a while, you’ll realize how low on the pecking order those guys are. You’ll have scarier things to fear.”
Devon returned to work and Gladys went to the back room. Dante was sitting on the couch. He asked, “Who was that guy?”
“Security guard at the warehouse next door. Seems nice. So, Mr. Helmet agreed to Adam’s plan?”
“You don’t mind another person on the team? It doesn’t throw your plans into turmoil?”
“Nah. Adam’s right that extra muscle will help. We’re still the main team. Our votes still carry the most weight around here. One new kid won’t change that.”
Just then, Adam came down the stairs. “I know the next person we are going to recruit.”
The next day a cloud of bees descended on Sarahill Park. They were perfectly calm, avoided contact with people, but covered every surface they could. After exactly ten minutes they flew off again.
Ten more minutes passed and a woman in a long coat arrived. She asked around for witness accounts. She photographed the plants and took samples of the soil. She wrote copious notes.
Then a voice said, “October Bradshaw,” and she turned to see a young man in a beekeeping outfit. “I am a fan of your website and I believe I may have answers you would appreciate.”
October leaned against the hood of her car. “So you’re behind the mysterious bees then? How’d you do it?”
“I am a Beekeeper,” said Adam giving a slight tip of his veiled hat. “My bees help me when they can.”
“Fair enough. Then why?”
“As I said, I am a fan. I thought this would be the most efficient way to meet you. I think we should work together.”
“Work together doing what?”
“Investigations. We will look into mysteries to improve the world.”
“My whole thing is more about searching for the supernatural.”
“Indeed. I have much to show you.”
October drove, Adam gave directions. He was leading her to a neighbourhood nearly deserted since the economic downturn, but he seemed trustworthy. If she needed it, she was armed.
“You read my site?”
“A friend showed it to me only recently,” he said. “It is quite interesting. A database of the fantastic.”
“And you’ve an interest in investigating supernatural events?”
“I enjoy investigating in general. I have since childhood. But I may have a more nuanced opinion on what constitutes a ‘supernatural’ event than you.”
Glancing in the side mirror, October saw the cloud of bees still following them.
Adam stood by his hive as the bees returned home. “I lost my way for a time,” he said. “Tried solving problems with rage. Now I must undo the harm I have caused and, hopefully, go beyond to make things even better. The allies I have so far are experts at violence, but I need better this time. If you join us…”
“I get it,” October said. “Can’t say I’ve had real expectations of changing the world with my work. I just want to gather the truths of the universe.”
“I suspect one can not be done without the other.”
“So,” October said. “You control the bees?”
Adam shook his head. “No, Not ‘control’. We work together. I am very much a fan of teamwork.”
“What do they get out of it?”
“I care for them.” Then, after a moment, “Or at least I try. I admit this hive has been troubled. It has been both difficult and expensive to keep them healthy. I do what I can.”
October saw Adam’s eyes watering they followed a bee. “Alright. I’ll come to your team meeting, check it out. But if it starts feeling like cultish, I’m out. No arguments, right?”
“Hey,” said Dante. “Lemme use the computer.”
“I’m writing to Stan!” said Gladys.
“He isn’t going anywhere. Move.” Dante shoved her out of the chair. “I had an idea. If Adam is adding more members to the team, I’m going to invite some of my own.”
Gladys plopped onto the couch. “I don’t get the rush. Seems like you got what you wanted. Adam is happy to settle here in town and you’ll be able to point him at whatever targets you feel like. Is this basically just about you wanting to feel like you’re in charge?”
“Yeah. Exactly that.”