He called himself Rampage. He went from a scrawny 12 year old kid with braces and glasses to a 28 year old mass of bulk and testosterone. He had an average height, only with the body of The Incredible Hulk. His high school football teammates used to call him “The Black Terror” for two reasons. The first was, of course, he was black. The second was his tendency to make other football teams urinate in their uniforms when they caught sight of him.
Those days were long gone though. He had such promise, such potential. And here he was waking up in the morning in a one room shack located in the south end of Purgatory. His home was a literal one room house. His bed and a night stand sat on one side of the room. On the other side was a couch facing a television on a makeshift stand. Sitting between the two was a washer/dryer set up, and across from that, a stove, a refrigerator, and the front door. An outhouse and shower stall were out back. Thankfully he was a few miles out of town, and no other houses were within any seeing distance.
He got up from his bed taking clean underwear and a clean towel and went out back to clean and relieve himself. When he got back a thin man with dark hair was waiting on the couch for him. He looked up at him and smiled.
“How are things Bear?” The man asked, calling him by his real name, which felt uncomfortable after so many nick names.
“Not so bad.” Bear replied, his voice deep and resonant. “How about you Jim?”
“Ok.” He replied dismissively. “We lost track of you last night. I wanted to make sure you were ok.”
“Yeah, fine.” Bear said, slightly irritated.
Bear looked at him knowing full well what he was going to ask.
“Where were you last night Bear?”
Bear, still in his boxers, walked to a nearby hamper and pulled out a pair of Dockers and a white T-shirt. As he pulled them on he answered thoughtfully.
“Let me think. I went to the bar…got hammered…took advantage of a couple good looking college girls, and….oh yeah I ripped off some guys arms.”
“Look, I just went to the bar and watched the basketball game alright? I didn’t cause any trouble, I-”
“Your anklet is gone and you lost your escorts. Purposely I might add.”
Bear got a gallon of milk from the fridge and slammed it onto the stove.
“Give me break! Please! I’ve been living in this hole for over a year now. I got no table to eat on. You wont even let me get a decent butter knife. I ain’t caused any trouble. Is it to much to ask to get just a couple hours alone.”
“I don’t blame you, but I still have a job to do. You see the paper this morning?”
“No.” Bear said pouring himself a bowl of Golden Grahams.
Jim tossed a paper down on the stove. A large headline read “O’DELL HEIR MISSING!” It was associated with a photo of the 26 year old O’Dell with reddish-brown hair and freckles. Jim spoke up again.
“He was last seen two nights ago.”
Jim just stared him down.
“Don’t look at me, I didn’t get off your record two nights ago, it was last night, remember?”
“I only said he was last seen two nights ago.”
Bear muttered something under his breath.
“What can you tell me?”
Bear glared at Jim. It wasn’t the first time he was asked for help, which made it all the more difficult.
“I can tell you at least one thing,” Bear said. “He wasn’t last seen two nights ago, that’s guaranteed.”
“It says right there in the article he was spotted at The Lake. Nobody just goes to The Lake and disappears. Especially at midnight when over half the city’s there.”
“There’s more not printed there. There was a major ruckus at The Hole. Nobody would confess whether or not they saw Johnny leave but…”
“So where are you standing?”
“The O’Dell fortune is a big one. Everything from advanced military weaponry to simple home security handguns. Not to mention the billions of dollars locked away in a vault somewhere.”
Jim shrugged “It’s a lot to gain for anyone who was close enough to Johnny to gain it. A pretty simple, lure Johnny here, try to cause confusion and nab him when nobody’s looking.”
Bear took a deep breath, folded his arms and leaned against the stove.
“You seem like you got it all figured out.” He said. “What do you need me for?”
“It’s just not sitting right with me. I was hoping for another perspective.”
Bear thought. “Best I got?”
Bear thought some more. “Go the opposite direction you’re in.”
“What do you mean?”
“You said the cause of the ruckus was somebody else. What if Johnny was the cause? That’s if he was even at The Hole that night.”
Jim gave a shocked look “What do you mean started it? Why would he start it?”
Bear shrugged “Just a theory. That’s all. I gotta get going. You mind?”
Jim shook his head. “Just do me a favor, and stay within our boundaries tonight.”
Bear took a baseball cap from his nightstand and grimaced. “Yeah. Right.”
“I mean it. New law and order around here. They’re giving me an awfully hard time about you.”
“Well we wouldn’t want you to lose everything you love now do we?”
Bear turned and went out the door. The old screen door slammed shut behind him. He had nothing more than a cheap Huffy for transportation. He looked at his rusty old bike, and back at Jim’s BMW and shook his head. Some things just weren’t right and that was one of them. Jim was good man and could almost be a friend if he wasn’t Bears acting “babysitter”. Bear got on his bike, which looked unnaturally small compared to his bulk, and rode off toward the city council building where he would fulfill his janitorial duties for the next twelve hours.
Jim looked around at Bears small house. He truly felt a pang of pity and sadness for the man. It should not have worked out like this for him. But as always people were looking for fame, and attention. It was just too bad a good man like Bear became a victim of it all. Jim looked around and thought about everything. About Bears former majesty as Rampage. About the missing O’Dell heir. And finally, about this ever increasing government power. Purgatory was unlike any other city in the world. They were their own people. Their own government. Their own universe. And this new governor was pushing a tight envelope. Many were angry, few would revolt. If things got pushed to far, which is where they were heading, maybe even Jim would not be able to stand with the council. Jim was devoted to his government, yes. But some things were worth fighting for, and if push came to shove, Jim would show the world everything they hoped was never real.