The Knight estate after the funeral:
“You’ve got a lot of nerve showing up here…”
In the living room of the Knight estate, Green Lantern approached the Shade and Matt O’Dare. The emerald warrior was not pleased at all to see one of the JSA’s old enemies here.
The Shade cocked his head at Green Lantern and continued to sip from his drink. “I am here to pay my respects to a friend, Mr. Scott. There is no sinister purpose afoot.”
Alan Scott could feel his blood begin to boil, even as he realized that the Shade was apparently aware of his secret identity. “No sinister…? You’re an at-large super-villain, a former member of the Injustice Society — give me one reason why I shouldn’t bring you in.”
“Because I said so!”
Police Commissioner Clarence O’Dare approached the group. “I know you have your issues with the Shade, Mr. Lantern, but in Opal, the Shade is one of our heroes.”
“What?!” Green Lantern said, not believing his ears.
Matt O’Dare spoke up, “It’s true. The Shade has never been anything but an upstanding citizen here in Opal. He’s helped out when Starman wasn’t available. He protects this city like it was his own.”
“I’ll bet. Has it occurred to you that the reason he does it is to set himself up as Opal’s criminal kingpin?”
The Shade set his drink down and stared at Green Lantern. “Whatever you might think of me, Mr. Scott, and as well-deserved as it might be, the city of Opal means everything to me, and I will not let it be sullied by anyone!”
Green Lantern was about to raise his ring hand when a figure appeared next to him in an instant.
“Alan, he’s telling the truth,” Jay Garrick said as he held his friend’s arm.
As a very unhappy emerald gladiator walked off with the Flash, the Shade turned to Matt O’Dare and whispered, “Have you turned anything up so far?”
“No, but I’m still looking.”
In the foyer, Doctor Mid-Nite was talking with Wonder Woman. “Why was the casket closed, Charles?”
“According to the physician at Opal Memorial, David wasn’t in very good shape when he arrived there. The injuries weren’t very pretty.”
“Did you get to examine him?” Diana asked.
“No; that was the strange thing. Even though I’ve been the Knight family physician for forty-something years, they wouldn’t let me near the body.”
Elsewhere, Jack Knight was on the second-floor balcony, avoiding all the well-meaning guests.
He was still holding the star given to him by his Great-Uncle Woodley as he remembered.
“Ooohh, Mommy, can we go in there?”
Jack looked into the window of the old shop. It was an antique store that dealt with old movie props and memorabilia.
“Of course we can, sweetheart,” Doris Knight said as she pushed the shop door open. It creaked like the entrance to an old haunted house.
Once inside, Jack’s eyes went even wider. On the walls were posters for Casablanca, Abbott and Costello, Frankenstein, and Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Jack began to run around the shop, trying to look at everything all at once. Doris just smiled. She loved to browse through these old antique stores, and she was glad that Jack seemed to share her passion. Ted was never interested in coming with her. Funny, Ted’s always looking to the future, and I’m stuck in the past.
As Doris continued to browse, she noticed her son standing in front of a display case, his eyes transfixed on something. She knelt down next to Jack. “What do you see, sweetie?”
“That,” Jack said, pointing at a gleaming sheriff’s star. It was round, with pieces cut out to form a shape of a star in the middle. “Can I get it, Mommy, pleeease? I’ve gots money.”
Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled dollar bill. Doris rubbed her son’s head as she stood. The shopkeeper came out of the back. “Can I help you?”
“Yes. My son would like the sheriff’s star in your case.”
The man’s eyes twinkled as he retrieved Jack’s treasure. “A fine choice. John Wayne himself wore this. I’ll let you have it for fifty dollars.”
Doris opened her purse and pulled out a few bills. Jack was so excited he could hardly stand it. She pinned the star to Jack’s shirt.
“Now, you have to promise me, Jack, that you’ll be very careful with this. This is a very special star — a magic star.”
Jack was all smiles. “I will, Mommy. I promise. I love you!”
As Jack wiped a tear out of his eye, a voice came from the house: “Well, there you are!”
The teenager groaned as he recognized Murph’s voice. As Andy Murphy walked out onto the balcony, he brought two others with him: one a strapping young man, wearing a designer suit with slicked back hair, the other a girl about Jack’s age, who just looked down at the floor as if she wanted to disappear.
“Jack, I want you to meet my kids. This is my son, Kyle, and the shrinking violet here is my daughter, Natasha, but we all call her Nash. I want you kids to get to know each other real well, since we’re all going to be living together.”
Jack’s jaw dropped. “What?!”
Moments later, Jack ran down the stairs like a man on a mission. He waded through the guests as he desperately tried to get to the front door. As he rushed by the Patriot and Wildcat, Sylvester Pemberton reached out and grabbed Jack’s arm.
“Hold up a minute, Jack. I wanted to talk to you.”
Jack quickly threw Sylvester’s arm off and gave him a look that would have made the Anti-Monitor flinch. “#$%@ off, Pemberton!” Jack yelled as he quickly vanished from sight.
Wildcat punched Patriot in the arm. “Well, Sly, now you can say Jack’s said more than two words to you.”
“Very funny, Ted.”
Once outside, Jack headed to the gardener’s shack. It wasn’t really a shack, though, more like an apartment. In the main room was where all the gardening equipment was kept. It also had two other rooms, a small kitchen/living room and a bedroom with bath. When the old gardener Mr. Fox passed on, Jack had quietly moved into the place, since the gardening was now done by an outside service. He opened the door to the bedroom and found a young woman lying on the bed, listening to his stereo.
“What the…? Geri!”
The young woman stood up and smiled. “Hey, Jack. I knew you’d find your way out here eventually.”
Jack threw his arms around the woman who was like a big sister to him and hugged her tight. The tears that had been building for days finally came forth.
“Oh, God, Geri. The whole world is crumbling around me.”
Gerri Sloane said nothing as Jack sobbed in her arms. She just cried with him as the only person who truly understood him.
As the guests cleared out of the house, Jules Black sat down with a sigh of relief. As the financial manager of the Knight family fortune, his job was made that much harder with David Knight’s passing. Ted Knight had specified in his will that Jack not be given anything from the estate until his thirtieth birthday. Ted had felt that Jack would not be mature enough to handle such a fortune wisely.
That left Jules with the matter of who would look after Jack. True, the youngest Knight was eighteen and of the age of majority, but he couldn’t even commit to high school, dropping out at the end of his junior year. He had thought about asking Sylvester Pemberton, but then Murph had come into the room.
“What’s on your mind, Jules?”
“Gah!” Jules cried as he saw Andy Murphy standing in front of his desk. He never even heard the man open the door. “Murph, how many times have I asked you not to do that?”
Murph took a seat and smirked. “Sorry. It’s not intentional. What are you working at so intently? Getting David’s affairs in order?”
Jules pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose and put down the papers he was holding. “No. It’s Jack’s affairs I’m worried about. Ted specifically forbade Jack from having direct access to the family money. With David gone, I’m in need of someone to handle the day-to-day affairs of the estate. All I ever had to do was advise David. At my age, I’m not anxious to have to play wet nurse to the likes of Jack Knight.”
“So what’s the plan?”
“Well, Ted was close with Sylvester Pemberton, and I…”
Murph sat up in his chair and looked directly into Jules’ eyes. “No. I can handle the day-to-day affairs of the Knight estate.”
Jules looked back at Murph with a glazed look in his eye. “Yes. You can handle the day-to-day affairs of the Knight estate.”
“In fact,” Murph said, “I should have power of attorney, too, and access to all the Knight money that you can legally transfer to me without setting off any red flags.”
Jules replied blankly, “You should have power of attorney, too, and access to all the Knight money that I can legally transfer to you without setting off any red flags.”
Murph grinned from ear to ear. “And you trust me completely and without question.”
“And I trust you completely and without question.”
Now, Jules had finished transferring almost ten million dollars into the household account that Murph would have access to.
Thank God for someone I can trust like Murph!
Geri Sloane looked down at the sleeping form of Jack Knight and sighed. Despite their five-year age difference, they’d always been friends and probably always would be, not that it had been easy. The past few years they had drifted apart. That was partly because Geri had been away at Oxford University for a few years and had been training for her career as Miss Terrific, before she took a turn for the worse and was transformed by a madness toxin into the original Madame Mayhem. (*) But by that time their friendship had broken off when the teenaged Jack had started to hang around with a bad crowd. Although Jack had tried to hide it at first, Geri soon discovered that he was abusing drugs and booze, and she made it known she wouldn’t tolerate it. Jack had told her to politely mind her own business; well, maybe not politely.
At least he had this fellow Murph to look out for him now. Granted, Jack didn’t like him at all, but that was probably a good thing. Maybe he could help straighten Jack out where no one else could. Before he fell asleep, Jack had told Geri what Murph had said on the balcony.
“You’re not moving in here! This is my house, now. Mine!” Jack was practically breathing fire at Murph. His daughter, Nash, ran to hide behind her brother. Kyle just stood there and watched.
“Jack, I know you’re upset. I would be, too, if my brother had died, but this is for the best. You can’t possibly take care of this home and your father’s business. Jules and I can do that, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
“Fine. $%^& you! Just stay the hell out of my way.”
As Jack stormed down the stairs, Kyle turned to his father. “Want I should rough him up a bit, Father?”
Murph suddenly turned and backhanded his son, sending him to the ground. “Idiot. Do you want to ruin everything? You will not touch a hair on Jack Knight’s head. Do I make myself clear?”
Kyle slowly pulled himself up. “Yes, Father.”
Murph straightened his jacket and went back into the house.
Nash took her brother’s hand. “K-K-K-Kyle, why do y-y-you let Fa-Father treat y-y-y-you like that?”
Kyle pulled his sister into a hug. “So he doesn’t do it to you, Nash.”
Geri quietly leaned down and kissed Jack on the cheek. “I’ve got to go now, Jack. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
She shut the door behind herself. Jack’s eyes came open, and he reached under the bed. He pulled out a small box and opened it. Inside were his pipe and his pot. I’m sorry, Geri, but this will take care of the pain better than you could.