The image of him folded into the side of a building is burned into my mind. The moment seemed frozen, surreal. It's one of those instances where you realize that even as a superhero, you can't do anything about it. But doing something is supposed to be what we do.
I'm sure this was not the first time that an Urban 30 member had died in the line of duty. But it was the first time since I had been on the team.
Through out the morning, I had this haunting feeling that the team was falling apart. At times, I would question just how together we were as a group. Doesn't seem much like a question now…
My cell phone sounded. I flipped it open to notice a text message from Tony.
ALL URBAN 30 MEMBERS - REPORT TO HEADQUARTERS AT 3:00 PM FOR AN EMERGENCY MEETING.
Great, just what I needed. I was sure that this would make the day even worse. My guess was that there would be more business than concern for Ralph. A minute later, the phone rang again. Terra was calling to make sure I had seen the announcement. Yes, I confirmed my attendance. I didn't make one joke, I didn't crack one smile. I spoke calm with no inflections with a short response.
Though I left work in time to arrive on time, I was still late. It’s like my conscious won’t let me arrive anything but late for these meetings. Perhaps it’s my unintetional method of protest. By 3:45, there were about five others present. From the sound, they’d been sharing their favorite “Arrow” stories. Remember the time when Ralph flew through the circus billboard, putting a hole right through the clowns butt. I remembered, but I didn’t laugh with them. Oh, and remember that time when he flew through the drive through window and busted up the fry machine. Classic! They stopped laughing. The reality was that usually Ralph got up from his less than perfect landings. This time, he didn’t.
Todd arrived just after I did and clearly he was a wreck. Probably one of the rare occasions where he was in plain clothes – Todd was a good soldier and whenever he was in HQ he was dressed as Router. There was no doubt that Todd had been crying most of the day. He and Ralph were close, so what else would you expect. I waved him over to sit next to me. I usually don't prefer sentimental moments, but i supposed you have to make exceptions.
“I’m done, Leroy…” The first words he said as he sat down.
“What do you mean?” I questioned as I looked Todd in the face.
“I’m leaving the Urban 30.” Todd looked up, over the empty seats toward the podium, looking at nothing in particular. “I’m too old for this… I have a family. I can’t afford to be out playing children’s games and end up like Ralph. Who will raise my kids?”
Todd was only 37. If you had asked me, I would have told you that being in the Urban 30 was the highlight of Todd’s life. Especially since the divorce. But I guess things change. I just nodded and placed my hand on his shoulder. His choice, not mine.
Looking away I noticed Terra toward the front. Just as I thought to ask why the meeting hadn’t started, Tony entered the room - with Christopher. I looked back to Terra. Though I suspected, it was clear at that point that this wasn’t a meeting to console the Urban 30 members on the loss of a friend and teammate. Instead it was business as usual.
"It’s always sad to lose someone so dedicated to the cause. But I’m sure if the Arrow were here, he'd want us all to solve this mystery and make things safe. Not just for us, but the city and ultimately, the world" Tony sounded rehearsed.
I couldn’t believe it... Even I’m not that cold. Tony didn’t seem to have any real concern for losing Ralph, or the folks who may be taking it hard. Hell, Todd just quit...
"Some of you are wondering why we are at less than half, tonight..." Tony continued. I had noticed that there were about eleven of us all together. "Most of us have already lost our powers. Those that have not, quit for fear of that very thing. But those of u who are here, must continue on... the way the Arrow did."
I shook my head. He won’t even call the man by his name. Tony was using Ralph as a martyr. Todd buried his face in his hands to hide more tears. Looking back to Terra, she seemed distant. Perhaps the fact that her husband – a man she put in jail for trying to take over the world, but he broke out and is now being harbored by Tony – is standing there winking at her made Terra feel "shut down"?
"Dr. Christopher Davidson has been temporarily activated to work with the urban 30." Tony’s words broke through all of my thoughts.
"What the fuck?" It was out before I realized I'd said it. I don't think I was loud. How is Tony just going to add a freaking criminal to the team?
I left the room. I'm going home to bed.