Crow is standing alone in a cemetery over his late wife’s grave. Reading the tombstone, it says:
Melissa Delaney Collins
March 31, 1975 – July 2, 1999
It’s been nine years since her death, but a part of Crow will never let her go. They were married for almost three years when she died. Still in love, they were still blinded to the flaws which each other possessed. Ever since he put her into the ground, Crow made it a point to visit Melissa’s grave on their anniversary whenever possible.
Though he should be wary when he stands in front of Melissa’s grave, Crow drops his guard, despite the fact that he runs the risk of being caught. He isn’t as wary as he otherwise would, or should, be. It’s not a controlled environment and there are too many variables to control. Cemeteries are open to the public during daylight hours and there is the chance that someone might recognize Crow as a wanted criminal.
Whenever he visits her grave, he tends to stand at the foot of it so that he can avoid standing directly over the casket. Even when he walks among the graves, he tends to walk between them instead of directly over them. For Crow, he feels like it would be disrespectful if he would walk or stand directly over someone’s casket or where they have been buried. The dead should be respected, even if it’s someone else’s. How he sees it, there are only a few situations where it is appropriate to do so, and one of those situations is the process of actually burying the dead.
As he went to his wife’s grave today, he found a discarded beer bottle. He picks it up and wonders why someone would disrespect a cemetery and the dead like that by discarding ones garbage in such a way. That’s why you bury the dead in the first place, so that they can be respected. That’s why he doesn’t understand the reasoning of people who get drunk at funerals or at the cemetery when the body is being lowered. Yes, you are grieving, but don’t disrespect other peoples dead like that. What about their grief? What about their loss? Their wishes should be respected. You can get drunk later. Otherwise, you’re just being selfish. And he’s seen it before with Black and Hispanic street gangs and white biker gangs.
He remembers, growing up, experiencing such an incident with a one-percenter motorcycle gang when visiting his sister’s grave. With his sister’s death, he felt like more was going on then he was led to believe. But this could just be due to the fact that he wasn’t around when the incident occurred and the adults around him trying to protect him, feeling like Ken wouldn’t be able to handle the information. This in turn led Ken to start thinking that a conspiracy was going on. Young Ken was taken to the cemetery so that he can see Ashley’s grave in the hope that he’ll get some closure. As he approaches the gravesite, in his suit, Ken looks over and sees a bunch of biker clad individuals, in jeans, vests, and bandana’s, hooting and crying while in a drunken stupor. He sees a keg in a large plastic container with ice and a few bikes parked over people’s graves.
“Mrs. Morrison?” Ken asks. “What are they doing?” gesturing to the bikers.
“They’re having a funeral, dear,” Mrs. Morrison replies.
“Why aren’t they wearing suits?”
“Because some people have different funeral customs then we do, and that includes clothing.” What she doesn’t tell him is that, in other cultures, the mourners do actually wear different outfits for the funeral then everyday life, but the bikers are wearing exactly the same outfits here as they do while riding their bikes.
“Why do they have cups in their hands?”
“Because they’re drinking.”
“Why are they drinking?”
“Because it helps them with their mourning process.”
Before he is able to ask his question, Mrs. Morrison cuts him off by saying “That’s enough questions for now.”
Crow doesn’t learn until years later what was going on with the bikers. Once he does, he develops very strong opinions on the matter. He sees them as dishonorable pricks. For them, nothing exists beyond their selfish little existence and the only laws that they need to obey are their own and the only dead worth respecting are their own. So many times he wished he could teach them a lesson.
Crow still has an emotional connection relating to his wife which hasn’t abated over time. With his troubled upbringing and the fact that he is a social outcast because of his psionic abilities, he felt that Melissa was the only one who truly got him. Much like him, Melissa had her own skeletons tucked away in her closet. Crow’s biggest regret is not opening up entirely to her and sharing all of his troubles with her, which she did with him. Though they talked about it, Crow always evaded the topic, promising to share his secrets another day. But now that day will never come.
The two of them had made plans together, to have a life together, complete with their dreams and aspirations. When Crow graduated from college and completed his four-year ROTC obligation to the Army, they talked about leaving Los Angeles and settling down in a small community, most likely a coastal town. Both grew up in Los Angeles, a city with just under four million people in the city proper and close to eighteen million people in the metro area spread across a vast area, even a medium sized city would seem small. They even considered living in Avalon, situated on Catalina Island. Hawaiiwas also considered. They wanted a break from what a big city like Los Angeles brought. But with how Los Angeles is setup, it has more of a feeling of a country in microcosm then an actual city. When Crow and Melissa chose a location and settled down, Crow planned on working in public office. Initially, he would seek an entry level office job in one of the city’s departments so that he can learn the ropes of the local bureaucracy and gain some real world experience before running for elected office.
But all of that came to an end and Crow’s world shattered the day Melissa died. With her death, Crow received a devastating blow for the second time in his life. Melissa meant everything to him, and with the death of his sister, she managed to fill the emptiness he felt inside. But with her death, Crow essentially snapped. For the second time in his life, the person he cared the most about had died and he was powerless to do anything about it. Even though Crow is a powerful psionic and has mastered his abilities by continually practicing and honing his skills, developing new ones along the way, there was nothing he could do to save his wife.
Normally, Crow would only visit Melissa’s grave once a year. However, the situation has changed and Crow realizes this fact. As the events and activities surrounding the New World Power begin to become more complicated and advanced, it’ll become harder and harder for Crow to take time away from his responsibilities to visit his wife’s grave. He, and his organization, have garnered too much notoriety and infamy for these trips to continue to be feasible. The time has essentially arrived for Crow to say his final goodbye, making it that much harder for him to do. To help him pay his final respects to Melissa, Crow brought a bouquet of flowers with him so that he can leave it at her grave.
As Crow stands there over Melissa’s grave, his cell phone begins to ring. Pulling it out of his pocket, Crow checks to see who the caller is before he decides if he should answer it or not. Looking at the display screen and seeing that it is Bobby, Crow decides to answer it. Bobby is one of Crow’s lieutenants and is the Los Angeles contact for the mission in New Mexico involving Congressman De Soto. When the situation allowed for it, the other New World Power members who were in attendance at De Soto’s rally contacted their immediate supervisor within the New Mexico branch of the New World Power and let him know how the mission when. From there, the supervisor contacted Bobby, who in turn is contacting Crow.
“Hello,” Crow says as he answers his phone. “Is it done?”
Yeah boss,” Bobby says. “As Congressman De Soto started talking about the New World Power, Rickie was able to get his shot off.”
“What’s the status of Congressman De Soto?”
“He seemed to have been shot in the chest area and he was taken to the hospital. The people at the rally saw him moving as he was taken away and from what they’ve overheard, De Soto was responsive.”
A weaker leader would have demanded a definite answer about De Soto, if he survived or not. But Crow knows that some situations are not available to definite answers. Yes, De Soto left the rally alive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll survive. Take Owen Hart for example. He was a professional wrestler who fell seventy-eight feet from the rafters and his chest struck the top rope, a foot away from the turnbuckle, at a pay-per-view event in 1999. When he was taken from the ring, he was still alive, but he died on the way to the hospital. So just because a person left alive doesn’t mean that they’ll survive.
“Well, let me know about De Soto’s condition as soon as you learn about it,” Crow says. “And if he does survive, I do not want anyone to make a move against him. Understood? No further actions against De Soto.”
“Understood. What should be done about Rickie?”
Crow understood that Rickie would be caught. Even Rickie knew that he would be caught. There wasn’t really any other option if he followed through with the plan. It wasn’t necessary for it to be explained to him; it was self evident, at least to those capable of rational thought, which Rickie clearly is. Yet he still followed through with the plan, which means one of two things; Rickie is dedicated to the cause or he fears the New World Power more than the federal government. Either way, he did it.
“I want an eye to be kept on him,” Crow says. “If it comes to it, Rickie may need to take a fall.”
Crow understands that he can’t risk losing more people in order to save a low ranking member of the organization. The New World Power will survive without Rickie. He’s not an important cog in the machine and he doesn’t possess crucial information that will either advance the cause of the New World Power or sink it. If Rickie plays it right, he could be seen as just a lone gunman out for a particular politician who just might have a connection with a rebel organization, or at least fancy’s himself apart of it. But if this connection is made, it would be flimsy at best. It just depends on how Rickie plays it while under duress.
“Understood,” Bobby replies.
With that, the conversation is over and Crow puts the phone back into his pocket. This allows Crow to return his attention back to his wife. Well, her grave at least. Taking one last whiff of the bouquet, Crow puts the flowers at the base of the tombstone.
“I’m sorry,” Crow says. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you; for not saving you. I’m sorry I wasn’t as open as I should have been. I’m—” Crow’s voice breaks. Though he doesn’t cry, he has a feeling that he might. He brings his forearm up to his face, placing it under his nose. Whenever he visits Melissa’s grave, Crow tends to be more emotional. And he has a right to be. Melissa meant everything to him. After the death of his sister, Melissa was the only person who had any meaning in his life and managed to get close to him. But once Melissa died, Crow essentially just shut down. From then on, he would always keep people at arms distance, preventing anyone from ever getting to close. “I’m sorry for everything. I miss you babe. I love you. Goodbye.”
With his war against the United States, Crow doesn’t declare it in Melissa’s name. He feels like it would be disrespectful to her and would dishonor her memory if he did. He’s declaring his war because it has to be done to ensure the rights of people like him, the so called mutants, are secured. But if Melissa was still alive, he never would have declared his war. She was the only person who kept him anchored, preventing him from taking drastic actions. If she was alive, Crow would have followed in the footsteps of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and work within the system to achieve the necessary change, as slow as it might be.
With his goodbyes said, Crow turns and proceeds to leave the cemetery. As he leaves, Crow passes by something which he can throw the discarded beer bottle into. It’s not a trashcan, just something the groundskeeper uses to maintain the cemetery. Crow then passes through the cemetery gates and disappears into the city to plan the next move of the New World Power.
(c) 2011 Bradley P. Thomas