"Hey, look who it is," Greg Kinison stood at the front door to his home. A party was going on inside and he had been the lucky one close enough to answer when the newest arrivals rang the bell. "C'mon in, M&M," he greeted Marshall and Meredith as each stepped across the threshold and entered his house.
"Genevieve is inside here somewhere," he shook their hands and took their coats, handing the outer garments off to one of the servants hired to help out at the Welcome To The Neighborhood party the residents of Cranston Creekside Community were throwing for the newest residents in their neighborhood.
"Meredith! Marshall!" Genevieve Kinison came out from the elegant ballroom where the majority of partiers were thronging together, many of them already having imbibed too much, seeing as how the party had only begun half an hour previous. "Everyone was wondering if the guests of honor were going to make it for their own party," the middle-aged hostess laughed too much, proving she was among those who had been partying before the festivities actually began.
"Oh no," Meredith smiled in response, wishing there had been a way for them to not show up here tonight. "We'd never be no-shows for this event. I hear the parties in this community are the greatest events of the social season."
"Oh, you're too kind," Genevieve hugged her guest once too often, almost spilling her martini on Meredith's blouse. Fortunately Marshall was standing behind his wife at the time and had carefully tilted the tipped glass back to an upright position.
"Come on in and meet everyone you haven't already been introduced to," the hostess swung her martini glass around in an expansive gesture, finally managing to slosh the remains of her drink - along with the olive - across the hallway carpet without noticing.
Both of the guests of honor watched their step so they didn't get any of the spilled drink on their shoes. Neither was much of a drinker to begin with and didn't want to leave smelling of alcohol, though as they were introduced around the room it became more and more obvious fate must be attempting to force them into a difficult situation.
"Y'know, you look very familiar," one of the older and more inebriated guests pointed an index finger into Marshall's face, far too close to his nose, and leaned in as though he needed glasses for seeing up close and had lost them. "I know," he poked Marshall squarely in the chest this time. Marshall looked down where the thick, pudgy digit still pressed against his shirt and into his pectoral. Fortunately he had gone through his share of drunks over the years and learned how best to deal with them. "You look just like..."
"A young Bruce Willis," Marshall finished the sentence for the other guest, not wanting anyone there to make the obvious connection of who he really looked like. Even though his hair was now a different color and style and he sported a Van Dyke, too many people who had met him recently had told him he looked just like the one person in the whole world he did not want to be associated with. "Only I have a lot more hair than old Bruce even in his younger days," Marshall joked, patting the older man on the back hard enough to make him stumble and lose his balance.
"Whoa! Careful there old timer," he caught the man before he could topple forward onto the floor. "Maybe you better have a seat over here and sober up a bit." Deftly Marshall relieved the other guest of his drink, which was yet half full and carried it off to find a tray where he could place it. Anything to get him away from the drunk.
He finally located his wife over by the hors d'oeuvres and slipped in beside her with his arm snaking about her shoulders. He pulled her in close so they could converse without being overheard by anyone else. Of course, with the loudness of the party, both the music and the revelers, it was doubtful anyone would hear anything they had to say.
"How long do we have to stay here?" Marshall asked through a tight smile he did not feel. He'd been smiling far too much this night and wanted nothing more than to drop the pretense and punch someone.
"I'm sure the party should be winding down soon," Meredith sighed. "If not, at least we can beg off on the fact that I have to head out early tomorrow morning for work."
"Do you?" Marshall looked askance at his wife. "What's up?"
"The bank robberies. Someone called in a tip that they might know who the man is. Evan and I are supposed to meet up with the informant tomorrow morning before he gets off work."
"Works the night shift, does he?" Marshall nodded. He could understand people working until early in the morning not wanting to hang around the city and talk to the FBI when they could be heading home for bed.
"Night foreman at the old steel foundry and machine shop out on Jolson Road."
"Jolson?" Marshall looked surprised. "That's on the opposite side of town, at least an hour from here on the way out of town heading west."
"Hence the need to get up early. Our informant clocks out at seven o'clock and doesn't want to hang around, plus he says if it is who he thinks it is, the man works right there at the foundry on that very shift."
"What?" Marshall's surprise caused him to be louder than intended. Several people looked his direction and Meredith smiled their way and waved, letting them know everything was all right.
"If we want to catch this guy, tomorrow morning could be our best bet."
Marshall glanced at the ornate antique clock hanging on the wall of the ballroom. "Why not head over there tonight. Catch the foreman while he's going on his shift? If he's there, the suspected perp would be, too. Wouldn't it be better to catch him before he has a chance to slip away after work?"
"That's what I told Evan. Evidently the foreman has a strict boss who already isn't a supporter of his. If he did anything to jeopardize the work production on his shift he could get suspended without pay. He insists he'll only talk to us in the morning."
"Isn't that a great thing?" Marshall murmured, shaking his head. "Losing out on capturing a notorious bank robber because of not wanting someone to get suspended."
"Come on, Mars," Meredith placed a soft hand on his wrist. "Sure we want to stop this guy's reign of terror on banks, but we also have to think of those people willing to help us or soon we won't have anyone who wants to step forward and tell us what we need."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. Okay, so first thing tomorrow I'll be up and have your breakfast and coffee ready so you can get an early start."
"You're the sweetest husband." Meredith lifted up onto her toes and kissed him.
After the party Meredith went back home to bed. Marshall went into his private basement workroom in order to get into his work suit and hit the streets. As he headed out by way of the underground exit he had dug soon after moving into the house and came up through a private hatch he had placed several miles away in a thick wooded area, he thought about the steel foundry and wondered if he might not want to drop in and take a look around - unobtrusively, so as not to disturb the work flow and interfere with the production schedule for the night shift.
Meri's ire is going to rise higher than the top peak on Mount Everest if you do anything to mess up her meeting in the morning, he told himself. But what was he to do when he knew instinctively from the many years he'd had of dealing with the criminal element of the world that something didn't feel right about waiting until morning?
Soon the shadowy form of Solar Eclipse stood atop a rafter in the dimmest lit portion of the foundry and machine shop. From his vantage point he could listen in on every conversation anywhere in the building. It was only a matter of finding someone who might be talking about coming into a large amount of money recently to tip him off as to which one of these workers was the bank robber.
Of course, he reminded himself, there was the possibility that none of these workers was the one Meri and her partner were looking for. The foreman could be tilting at windmills.
For the next several hours he waited patiently, never so much as twitching a muscle as he tuned in on every word that was spoken, even the many curse words shouted out whenever something didn't work the way it was supposed to or someone got hurt in any way, even minorly.
Then he picked up the words he'd been waiting for as one worker came up to another halfway through the huge warehouse-like building and over by the smelters. Solar Eclipse focused his attention that direction and brought the two men in question up closer by way of his revolutionary vision.
"Hear you're leaving us for the Bahamas. Going on vacation?" one of the workers, an older man, came up to another and clapped him on the shoulder with a smile.
"Ah, yeah. Just going on vacation," the other man said, though his voice sounded disturbed, possibly upset that someone knew about his plans when he hadn't told him. A quick scan of the man's heartbeat with his hearing proved the man's pulse was moving at a higher rate than it had any right to under the obvious circumstances.
"Man, I wish I could take a vacation like that," the first man said with a grin. "Been working here in this old plant nearly twenty-seven years and I still can't afford a vacation much more than heading up to Atlantic City and throwing money away in the casinos."
"Maybe that's the problem," the younger of the two men sounded slightly upset over the discussion.
"Whattaya mean?" the older man asked.
"When you go to Atlantic City all you do is gamble your money away. Save it up and buy a ticket to the Bahamas, like I'm doing. Lots cheaper than gambling and you get more bang for your buck."
"Oh, so you saved up the money you're using from working here?"
"What? Of course I did. Where else would I get the money? What're you getting at?"
"Oh, nothing. Nothing at all. Just - well, you haven't been working here more than what - two years?"
"Almost three," the younger man was sounding more and more defensive. Solar Eclipse's muscles tensed. He waited for the moment to act, feeling as though something was about to happen any second.
"Seems like not a lot of time for saving up the kind of money you need for that kind of vacation, that's all. Must have some other form of income, too, right?"
"Are you implying I'm into something illegal, like dealing drugs?" the younger man turned toward the older man, his arms held straight down at his sides, his hands clenched into fists. Solar Eclipse could hear the increase in his heartbeat as his blood coursed harder and faster. He gave every appearance of being ready to hit the older man. Could this be the foreman Meredith was supposed to meet with? Was the man checking his information prior to talking to the FBI, making certain his facts were straight so he wouldn't look stupid? If so, it was a dangerous game he was playing. The possible suspect was about...
Just then the younger man swung out with his right fist, catching the older man behind his left ear. He then swung his left fist up and connected with the other man's chin. The older man who'd been asking questions slumped, but the younger man caught him in his arms and held him up.
Solar Eclipse had almost sprung from his perch as the fists flew, but he could tell the older man had only been knocked unconscious. He too well understood the need to let events follow their natural course, see if anything else was going to come of this or if the man who'd hit his co-worker had only been too impetuous and would quickly regret his impulsive actions.
Then the worst possible scenario started playing itself out - the man holding onto the foreman, if that was who he was, drug the limp body up the stairs, the steel toes of his boots clanging on each metal rung as he was pulled step-by-step up toward the opening where he could be dropped into the open cauldron more than half-full with molten metal.
Still Solar Eclipse held himself back. If he was going to turn this man in to the police, he needed to have the worst case scenario against him, not just aggravated assault. Even if he turned out not to be the bank robber, attempted murder was better than an assault charge that would quickly be bargained down to almost nothing by an overworked assistant district attorney.
He waited until the younger man had the older man draped over the edge of the cauldron and then gave the last push that sent him tumbling over the side where he would instantly be swallowed up within the sea of molten metal, his body burned beyond recognition.
As the limp body fell into the cauldron Solar Eclipse was already inside to catch him. Swiftly he flew upward so the already unconscious man wouldn't receive any burns from the intense heat or breathe in the noxious fumes from the metal bubbling in the kettle. As he lifted above the rim of the cauldron he looked down and saw the shocked expression on the face of the man who thought he had gotten away with murder.
"No!" the iron worker screamed out just before he turned to race down the steps. Unfortunately for him the hero holding onto his intended victim was able to speed around in front of him before he could move even two steps down the long stairwell, even holding onto another human being at the time.
"You're not escaping me that easily," the dark-hued Super called out in his hollow voice that sounded enough as though it was spoken from the pits of Hell. Solar Eclipse tapped the man on the forehead with the middle finger of his right hand in the same fashion a child might flick a pea at a sibling at the dinner table. The impact was enough to stun the man. He slumped to the step beneath him, but Solar Eclipse caught him in the crook of his arm and carried him along with the foreman, who was just coming to, over to the main office where he could hold him while they waited for the FBI to arrive. He had already used his hi-tech satellite phone inside his helmet to call Meredith, waking her up from a sound sleep to let her know he had the suspected bank robber and that if she wanted him before the local police arrived, she'd better get into some decent clothes and get over to the foundry on Jolson Road.