“It should be that house on the corner,” Bernard said. Most of the homes in Hunter’s Point were modest, yet well-maintained, though the recent drought had left all the yards crackling brown wastes. This small cottage with its beautifully carved front door stood out. Not surprising given the girl’s’ father was a carpenter.
Mr. Hamilton looped the Studebaker around the block and parked on the opposite corner. The Potential he’d been training for ten years had just turned twenty-five. The oldest Slayer on record was twenty-two. The Council was reassigning him to a more likely girl.
Bernard waited for a cue from his motionless mentor. This was to be Bernard’s first encounter with breaking the news to a Potential, and he wanted to impress. But Hamilton continued to silently stare at the house.
Removing his fedora and using it to fan the heat away from his face, Bernard asked hesitantly, “Aren’t we going in?”
“Didn’t you see the mass of children as we drove here?”
He’d had his nose buried in Miss Green’s file and hadn’t noticed. “Yes.”
“School just let out. She’ll be here shortly.”
“But she’s seventeen. Don’t young ladies go out with their friends for malts or some such after school?”
“Good God, man, did you read the dossier?”
Bernard felt a blush rise to his cheeks as he opened her file again. Dorothy Green, sixteen. Father worked as a carpenter. Mother a baker. Brother Steven, six… “Because she’s bringing her little brother home.”
“There may be hope for you yet, boy.”
After a few sweltering minutes, a teenage girl – dark brown skin, hair slicked back in a short ponytail, with smiling eyes and frowning lips – holding the hand of a little boy, his smile blazing as he laughed at a joke he’d told, walked past their car.
“Wait,” Hamilton said firmly as Bernard reached for the door handle.
Dorothy and Steven disappeared into the house. A few minutes later, they reemerged on the stoop, the boy snacking on an apple while the girl whittled.
Mr. Hamilton started the car again.
“Aren’t we going to talk to her?” Bernard asked.
“Because she’s not one of ours. She’s nothing.”
This surprised Bernard. The girl looked alert and strong, already comfortable with a knife. These were plusses not every Potential started with. “How can you say that?”
Hamilton sneered at him. “How long have you been with the Council? A year? I have four decades under my belt. I’ve trained three Potentials, one of whom became a Slayer, God rest her soul. Before I began training Miss McCain, I was part of the group that sought out and identified Potentials. I know in my gut when a girl is worth our time. We will report back that this Dorothy Green, dim and hot-headed, was not interested in us.”
Dim and hot-headed? “She’s been vetted. All the signs say–”
“I will not waste my time on a Negro!” Hamilton’s eyes blazed.
“Your bigotry isn’t more important than this mission! The Chosen are the Chosen. If you won’t train her, I’ll do it myself!”
The older man regarded him with a cold stare. “If you hope to ever be placed as a real Watcher you will do as a say.”
Bernard bit his tongue. It wasn’t right for Hamilton to ostracize this girl, but she was only one girl. How many could he help as a Watcher? Still, her chances gnawed at him. “But what if Dorothy is the next girl called to be the Slayer? She’ll die without training!”
Hamilton turned the key and the engine sputtered to life. “Then she’ll die, and someone more worthy will be called, Mr. Crowley.”