Olga was waiting for Senator Carlton when he arrived home. ‘Did you see? My power is stronger than hers!’
‘This will be well worth this fee,’ he said, mostly to himself, as he dropped a bag of coins on the table. ‘Can you teach me the methods to control her?’
‘What kind of witch would I be if I did that?’ Olga was incensed. ‘Besides, it is my power, not the words or the stirrings. Even if I did tell you what to do and say, you wouldn’t be able to hold her. She would be too strong for you.’
‘Very well.’ The disappointment was evident in the Senator’s voice. ‘Then, let’s get to sleep. Tomorrow’s going to be a busy day.’
A Saturday afternoon in late spring is always tide for tourists in Washington, D.C. This was a particularly warm Saturday, so many young people, in various stages of undress, families with children of all ages, and retired couples spending their children’s inheritance were wandering on the mall. There were softball games there as well, couples and families picnicking, watching the games, or, too self-obsessed to watch, simply making out. Large numbers walked the well-worn paths from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial or crossed the mall between the museums: Air and Space, Natural History, the National Gallery of Art. It was one of those days that reminds people that Washington is, in reality, a southern city. The sky was clear and blue, dotted only with occasional puffs of clouds. Temperatures by noon were already in the 80s, heading for a late-afternoon high of about 90. Already, many of the ball players were stripped to the waist, in a few cases a rather poor decision, if what they wanted to do was to impress the female observers.
Diana and Penelope had come to the mall to get away from the apartment and to actually spend an afternoon together. They hadn’t really done so since Penelope had moved from Delaware. Diana’s job kept her away much of the time, so here was an opportunity that did not come frequently. They were watching a game opposite the Air and Space Museum, so there was heavy foot traffic behind them as the tourists made their way to see ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’ and the Wright Flyer. But the game was a good one, between some workers in the Department of Agriculture (always a power-hitting team) and the Secret Service (who relied more on speed). Both teams had a large contingent of supporters surrounding the field and every run that was scored was greeted with a swelling of cheers from sections of the crowd. There had been lots of cheering thus far.
‘Do you want to take in the Renaissance Exhibition at the National Gallery?’ Diana asked.
‘Oh, yeah, you just want to see naked Greeks and replay your own personal family photo album,’ Penelope shot back. ‘Why don’t you ever want to see the Moderns?’
The Department of Agriculture batter hit a hard line drive into the gap in right-centre. The Secret Service outfielders chased down the ball, another run scored and the batter had a standup double. Diana cheered with the rest, then turned, smiling, to Penelope. ‘I prefer representational art. You can’t mean that you prefer Mondrian and Jackson Pollack to Michelangelo?’
The two went on like this. It was the sort of mental fencing that characterized much of their relationship. It was the one thing that Diana most loved about this new lover, something that she had never been able to do with Steve.
The two continued smiling at one another as they crossed intellectual swords and parried their way across the centuries, Diana highlighting the balance and symmetry, the idealization and the universalism of classical and Renaissance art, while Penelope advocated the philosophical ennui and the clean sharp lines of the modern works. It was a debate neither would win, but which they expected to take up again when they debated music over dinner.
‘So, instead of art representing man’s quandary-‘
‘And women’s quandary,’ Penelope added.
‘-and women’s quandary-in the contemporary world, art is more important in defining our aspirations and the fulfillment of ourselves,’ Diana went on. ‘It’s more about leading us, rather than simply reflecting where we are.’
‘But can’t that reflexion offer a way out of where we are philosophically? Someone has said that in the post-Holocaust world there is no need for representational art. Art needs to offer a way of looking at an existential universe and finding meaning for ourselves….’
The sound of gunshots behind them cut off Penelope’s argument. Someone was firing automatic weapons at the Museum of Air and Space, just across the street. Immediately, Diana turned to rush to change into Wonder Woman. Penelope grabbed her wrist firmly. ‘No. Don’t,’ she said, looking deeply into her friend’s eyes. ‘Please don’t. Let the police handle it. You don’t have to be the heroine all the time.’
‘But my darling, I’m here. Now. I didn’t go to the other incidents earlier today because they were a good distance away and the police would have responded as quickly as I would. This is right here on the mall. There are crowds of people who might be hurt waiting for the police. I have to. You were talking about Meaning in an existential universe. This is my Meaning.’ Penelope dropped her hand.
‘Please be careful,’ she said softly as Diana raced away.
There were four men with models of the Army’s new rifle, the M-16, standing, spread out over the plaza in front of the Air and Space Museum. Two leveled their rifles at the crowd while the two others seemed to be looking and waiting for something, or someone. They were dressed all in black, their faces covered by ski masks, certainly uncomfortable on such a hot day.
When Wonder Woman ran up, the two who were watching and waiting turned their M-16s on her. ‘Well, Wonder Woman. You finally showed up. We’ve been trying to get you to come play with us all day, first over at Union Station, then at the Jefferson Memorial. What’d ya do? Sleep in this morning?’
Wonder Woman looked questioningly at the man who was talking. What was he saying? That this was some sort of trap? If so, it was unlike any she had ever been lured to before. Usually traps were in dark houses or deep woods, not in broad daylight and in the middle of a crowd.
‘Put the guns down and none of you will get hurt,’ Wonder Woman shouted at the men. She was concerned about the two men who were pointing their weapons at the crowd, but maybe she could talk them out of whatever they had in mind. At least until the police arrived.
In answer, one of the men leveled his M-16 at the Amazon and fired a short three-second burst, about eight rounds. The Princess’ bracelets flicked the bullets out of the air. This was the most difficult thing about bullets and bracelets. Not actually catching the bullets on the Amazonium bracelets: anyone from Paradise Island could do that. The trick was to make sure that they fell harmlessly. Often people forget about shooting up into the air: What goes up must come down. Ricocheting bullets, deflected by Amazonium bracelets, have to go somewhere. The Princess of the Amazons made sure that all eight of these bullets wound up falling to earth harmlessly.
‘If you’ve been trying to get hold of me all day, you surely know better than to shoot at me,’ Wonder Woman taunted the black-clad shooter. ‘You know that gun is of no use against me. Put it down!’
The two men who faced Wonder Woman were huge. As the Amazon Princess approached them in an effort to take their guns away from them, ever her impressive height looked petite compared to these brutes. I’ve dealt with men this size before, Wonder Woman said to herself. As long as no one starts shooting into the crowd, everything will be all right.
‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ the Amazon called out, ‘please step back. Please don’t get involved in this. Please keep out of the line of fire and stay away from the men who are holding the rifles.’
As Wonder Woman was saying this, Penelope rushed up to the scene. Fearing for the safety of her friend, she pushed her way through the crowd, drawing an occasional curse, treading on an occasional foot. Towards the back of the crowd, people were drifting away, and after Wonder Woman’s warning, many people were willing to let her pass, as determined as she seemed. When she got to the front, the sun-splashed plaza looked like a scene from the OK Corral. Wonder Woman was nearest to her, the high, hot sun glinting off the gold of her breastplate and her girdle. Marking the four corners of a rectangle were her adversaries, two of them on the plaza at about eight and two o’clock from where she stood, the other two keeping a watchful eye on the crowd, at about four and ten o’clock from her position. My God, the men facing Wonder Woman were enormous. They looked like football linemen. Although fearful, Penelope was proud of her lover as she slowly approached the centre of the plaza and a position halfway between these two men. Her boots were about shoulder width apart, her arms bent at the elbows, her body slightly bent at the waist. The Amazon was a study in concentration as she prepared to deal with the situation. There was still no sign of the police.
Setting up communications was the most difficult part of the trap. Olga was back in the library at the Senator’s house. Senator Carlton was in the room with her, his ear glued to the telephone. He was in contact with William, who was sitting in the limousine, parked on a driveway near the Capitol. Using binoculars, William was watching the Museum of Air and Space, but he was mainly relying on the walkie-talkie that connected him with still another observer who was actually on the plaza. It was a good thing, too, because thanks to the crowd and the trees, he couldn’t see what was happening there.
‘She’s here.’ The sound of the short burst sounded both through the walkie-talkie and across the mall. ‘She deflected the bullets. She’s moving toward Scott and Al.’
‘All right, Olga, here’s where you earn your money. First, slow her down.’
Wonder Woman moved forward toward the line defined by the two men who were confronting her. She needed to be as close as possible to them if she was to use either her speed or her lasso to bring the situation under control. The police would be arriving soon; in the distance she could hear the sirens. She needed to bring the situation to an end quickly, or else she would leave it to them.
One of the big men facing her began to edge toward her, keeping the M-16 leveled at her. This is good. She wanted him closer. It’s not often someone who sets a trap, as these men claim, is so co-operative. She also noticed that the other two men now took more interest in the spectators and less in the events on the plaza. These two men raised their rifles and pointed them directly at the crowd.
Now the second man facing her took a tentative step toward her. If they would get close enough together, she could use her magic lasso to end this. Wonder Woman held her ground, waiting to see where this ballet would end.
It didn’t take long. The sun was beating down on Wonder Woman and she noticed that she was sweating profusely. She was having trouble focusing her vision on her opponents. Her arms and legs felt heavy. She tried to take a step forward and realised that it required a great effort. Her eyes shot from one black-clad figure to the other, as she nervously now tried to gauge her next action.
About this time, the first police squad car arrived. The officers were not prepared to deal with so strongly armed an opponent, so one remained in the car, calling for backup. The other watched the spectacle from the back of the crowd.
Suddenly, the man to her left rushed toward her. He was extremely fast for someone so large. Maybe he was a football player. In any case, he was very light on his feet. He rushed the powerfully built Amazon from her left, cut sharply to his right, and kicked her sharply in the ass. Then he danced away like a boxer, giggling and cackling with glee.
‘Heeee, he, he he. Gotcha, Wonder Woman. Just try to keep up!’
Wonder Woman made a move to go after him, to use her superhuman speed and round this guy up. But she could barely take a step. It was like she weighed tons. Her head moved from left to right as she tried to keep an eye on each of her opponents.
The, with equal suddenness, the man on her right rushed her, cut a sharp turn, just as his partner had, leaped gracefully into the air, and twiddled the Amazon’s dark brunette hair with his fingers. ‘Gotcha!’ he laughed.
This sort of picador-activity went on for the next few minutes. First one, then the other, leapt at the Princess, who stood rooted to the ground apparently unable to do anything, sweat running down her face and body. They tweaked her cheeks, patted her rear, stuck a finger in her ear, pulled her hair, and anything else they could think of. And each time they did so, they giggled, guffawed, yelled ‘Gotcha!’, and danced away. After a few moments, the crowd, and even the police, seemed to get into the innocent spirit of the taunting, and began to chuckle. A few joined in on the ‘Gotcha’s’.
Penelope watched with growing emotion. Her stomach was churning, tears were welling in her eyes, her chest tightening as she watched her lover undergo the public humiliation. This was worse than what happened at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday. There she had obviously be captured and drugged by her enemy. Now, however, she was the object of ridicule. Here she was, a superheroine, seemingly unable to perform even the simple act of using her strength, so very well known, to bring these two men under control. What was wrong with her? Why didn’t she just take them down?
Finally, one of the big men danced toward the grounded superheroine like Muhammad Ali, gave her a little ‘Ali Shuffle’, then dropped down and swept his right leg, powerfully striking the Amazon’s red boots and taking her legs out from under her. She fell to the sidewalk and seemed unable to move.
The two men guarding the crowd now lifted their rifles into their armpits and scanned the crowd. The tone of the Princess’ humiliation was about to change and they had to be ready for anyone who wanted to be a hero. They pulled the loading mechanism back and listened as a pronounced ‘Click!’ sounded as a round entered the chamber.
Lying on her back, the heroine struggled to raise her head to see her attackers. She was barely able to do so. The masked men moved like well-conditioned fighters. Wonder Woman needed all her strength to raise herself to her elbows, and she could get no further. Then she realised that she had lost sight of one of the men.
He was behind her! Closing to the helpless Amazon and roughly grabbing her bare upper arms, he dragged Wonder Woman to her feet. He pinned her arms behind her back, wrapping his arms around them. Wonder Woman made a move to toss him off her, as she had done so many times in the past. But with increasing horror, she realised that she couldn’t do so. She was as weak as if her bracelets had been chained! But no! She wasn’t weak! She could feel the strength rushing through her body. To toss the man aside, she would need to make a large movement, twisting her body, turning at the waist, dropping down, and surging outward with her arms. Her body was simply frozen. She stood, incapable of moving, her arms pinned behind her back; but that didn’t matter: She couldn’t move her arms anyway. It simply looked like he was holding her arms against her will.
The man holding her leaned toward her and whispered in her ear, ‘Surprise, Wonderslut! What’cha gonna do when your powers abandon you?’ Then he licked her ear.
Wonder Woman stood with her legs spread wide apart, her body erect, her arms behind her back. Sweat poured off her. The man behind her made a show of restraining her, although the Amazon knew that that’s all it was, a show. The other man approached her directly from the front. ‘What’sa matter, you cunt?’ he whispered viciously. Wonder Woman ordered her body to kick him. Nothing happened. ‘We got ya now,’ snarled the man facing her. With that he drove his large fist and powerful arm directly into her face.
The sound of fist striking flesh was loud enough to echo across the plaza. Wonder Woman’s head shot straight back, her hair wrapping itself around her shoulders. Then, the powerful athlete began to tear into the helpless Avenger, held in thrall of a force she did not yet know. Alternating right and left, her beat her again and again, wringing her head on her neck, the raven hair splaying out to all sides with each blow. Each time his heavy fist struck the beautiful face of the Champion of All Women, some in the crowd responded with an ‘OOOoooohh!’ or an ‘Aaaahh!’
Penelope was absolutely beside herself with fear and horror. Wonder Woman was being beaten senseless and no one could do anything about it. Tears were flowing down her face; her mind was absolutely beyond all reason. She took two running steps toward the centre of the plaza where the powerless Amazon was being pummeled by her attackers, when…
A single shot from an M-16 cut her down. It entered the outside of her right thigh and exited the back. Someone behind her was struck in the foot by the round. But Penelope went down, the pain terrifying, but less bothersome than what she continued to watch in front of her.
Wonder Woman felt herself losing consciousness as a result of the beating she was absorbing. The powerful man behind her was no longer holding her. Rather, both of these muscular men were working over the Amazon Princess, utterly incapable of resistance. First one, and then the other, took a free shot at the superheroine. Each blow to the head drove her toward the other attacker. One man struck a ringing blow right in front of her left ear. Her head snapped to the right, her body twisted in the same direction, and her left leg crossed over her right. The clicking of her heels on the sidewalk was now the only sound echoing across the plaza, the shiny boots making a crisp, clear staccato contrasting with the heavy thuds of the fists on flesh. When she had taken that step to the right, she ran into the other attacker, who stayed her movement, lined her up and measured her and landed his own powerful blow to the left side of her jaw. Again the twisting of her head and of her body, the clicking of her heels on the sidewalk, the helpless movement of her body toward another blow. She could barely see now, her vision reduced to just small tunnels of light surrounded by deep blackness.
Finally, one of the brutes drove his fist deep into the pit of the Princess’ stomach. She doubled over as the sweat flew from her face and hair and air rushed out of her. Involuntarily, she took a step or two forward. But her Amazon strength kept her standing. The man now measured her for the final blow. Stepping to one side, he drove his fist downward, hard, to the left side of the Amazon’s face, catching her right at the temple, just below her tiara. While this happened, she simply stood, rooted to the spot, her arms hanging uselessly at her sides.
Wonder Woman fell to the ground, crumpled to the sidewalk, and lay on her right side. The two men stood over her. One of them took the toe of his black boot, placed it against her bare left shoulder, and pushed the Amazon Princess onto her back. He then reached down and yanked her breastplate down, revealing the ample tits that so many had longed to see.
Sirens were screaming toward the Museum as the backup finally arrived. The four men, all now carrying their M-16s at the ready, moved in military fashion toward the corner of the Museum. All four fired into the air, scattering the crowd. Then they disappeared.
Wonder Woman lay unconscious on the plaza. Sweat poured off her face and shoulders soaking the sidewalk around her. Exposed, her breasts rose and fell slowly as her body came out of its enchantment. The only evidence of the end of the spell was the straightening of her leg, the sound of leather on the hot cement.
Everyone who was there had just seen Wonder Woman soundly beaten. She had been unable to save the citizens from a determined group of criminals. Two people had been shot, though not seriously. The police rushed toward Penelope and the young man behind her to examine the extent of their wounds. At first, no one thought to cover the fallen superheroine.