Jason Justice paced the master bed-room’s pink shag carpet. His wife opened the bedroom door, wrinkling her pug nose in that cute way Marlene did when nervous. “Jason, they’re here.”
He swallowed. “Time to face Wally.”
Marlene pulled brushed back a lock of her golden hair. “Honey, honestly, you act like you’re the child and he’s the father.”
“He makes me feel like it.”
“Well, he shouldn’t.” She grabbed Jason’s hands and bowed her head. “Dear Lord, be with Jason and give him a heart that’s unafraid to speak the truth. And Lord, I pray Wally would give Jason the honor that he’s due. Be with them both.”
She wrapped her arms around Jason and kissed him.
After a few seconds, she pulled away.
He said, “You know, if I had a prayer and a kiss from you before every battle, I have no doubt I’d win. Come on, let’s face the dreaded Wally.”
Wally Justice sat on the couch in his Khaki uniform, with the insignia proudly declaring Major Justice “a real major” not a “dumb” super hero. The army officer turned to his brother’s widow. “Lorene, if there’s anything that I can do for you, name it.”
The young woman nodded. “Thanks.”
Wally stood. “Hey, Dad!”
Jason nodded. “Son.”
Jason and Wally sat down. Jason cast his glance at DJ, playing a handheld video-game on the futon. His grandson’s unruly blond hair danced as the teen’s head and hands moved.
No answer. He’d try louder. “DJ!”
Still not a blink.
“Dewey Thomas Justice Junior!”
DJ looked up from the game. “Huh?”
“Put that away. We have to talk.”
“Let me save it.”
A few button clicks later, DJ tossed the game on the table. “Yeah, Grandpa?”
“I’m coming out of retirement.”
Wally laughed. “You’re joking.”
Jason stared at his son.
“Dad, tell me you’re joking.”
“Son, I’m needed.’
Wally jumped up. “By your family! You spent thirty-two years playing masked avenger. You promised me you were giving this up.”
“I did. But now I need to go back.”
“No, you want to go back! It’s not enough that Grandpa and Dewey died doing this and left Grandma and Lorene widows. No, my father’s gotta break his neck.”
“The Army’s dangerous.”
“There’s a difference. I’m an Army surgeon, you a vigilante. I don’t go looking for trouble, you do. You wear a Halloween costume, I my country’s uniform. Mom, talk some sense into him.”
Marlene looked into Jason’s eyes and then glanced back to their remaining son. “Wally, I’m proud of you. I was proud of your brother, and I’m proud of your father. When I married him, I knew this was a fam-ily with a unique calling.”
“Oh, you think it’s the family’s call-ing to run around in tights and play games with their lives? Nobody asked me about this calling.”
Marlene smiled. “Nobody asks you about a calling. You can choose a job or a career, but a calling comes from God.”
“God? We’re freaks of science.”
“Son,” Jason said. “God is the one who allowed the Admiral to be chosen.”
“Well, what do you want from me? To join your little masquerade?” His son stared into his eyes. “You do. You want me to suit up.”
“The doctor said it would help—”
“—if you had somebody else along. Well, I’m not signing your death warrant.”
“I’m doing this with or without you.”
“You want to be a fool and get your-self killed, that’s your business, Dad.”
Wally thundered to the door. The slam redounded throughout the house.
Jason winced. Even in his worst battle with the Human Muscle back in 1993, he hadn’t been hurt this bad.
Lorene said, “Dad, I’m sorry he acted like that. DJ. and I stand with you. Right, son?”
DJ blinked. “Uh, right, Mom.”
“Thank you,” said Jason. “It’s good to have some support. DJ, I know you’ve not been interested in the past, but I could use the help.”
DJ put up his hands. “Dude, I just want to play music.”
“I understand. It’s not for everybody.”
Lorene said, “I’ll be praying for you.”
“Thanks. Could you give me a few minutes alone?”
Jason bounded up the stairs and into the game room. Memory transformed the pool table into Wally’s bed. Jason walked over to Wally’s fourth grade science proj-ect, a volcano. Beside it sat Wally’s glove from little league. Memories spilled down Jason’s cheeks like the soda that had once erupted from the volcano. Too many times of saying no, of missing that special game, the play, the Junior ROTC drill team.
No wonder he hates this stuff so much.
“I am Lady Justice!”
Jason turned and laughed. His wife stood in the entry with a pillowcase on her head. He asked, “How can you fight crime if you can’t see where you’re going?”
“I can cut holes in it. Or maybe I should just get a costume designed.”
Jason laughed. “You’ve never had any interest in this.”
“I don’t want you to be alone.”
“Me neither. That’s why I don’t want to be a widower.”
She removed the pillowcase.
Jason smiled. “Ah, you’re unmasked.”
He kissed her gently on her lips.
“Wasn’t my style.” She paused. “Will you be okay, seriously?”
“After the Admiral’s death, I fought alone until Dewey was old enough to help.”
“That was over twenty years ago.”
“I know I’m not in the condition I was in then. But I know people who can give me a few edges. If I’m not as strong, I can be smarter in the way I fight.”
She nodded. “Be careful.”
“I’ll do the best I can.”
Considering my job involves fighting off armed criminals in the dark.
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