Wednesday, March 07, 2007

He Says

The sun was rising over New City. At the cost of some bruised knuckles and zip-tie handcuffs, the three superhero's, Paladin, Fire Ant, and Confusio, had prevented a burglary, stopped two muggings, and helped an elderly blind man and his dog find their way back to their apartment. "An eventful night for our first outing as a trio," Alex said. The three ducked into Alex's SUV, parked downtown, several blocks from where they had spent most of the morning hours. Thomas reached up and began to pull off his green mask. Before he could get it over his eyes, Alex said, "Don't take your uniform off until we're back at headquarters."

Thomas turned to the backseat. He gave Miranda a confused look. She shrugged. Her mask was already off, and she was pulling the hair tie off her ponytail. Thomas turned back to Alex. "Headquarters? You mean, your penthouse?"


"But the windows are tinted; no one can see us in here."

"While we're still on duty, we need to be prepared at all times. So, we must remain in uniform."

Thomas looked back at Miranda. She smiled. Thomas smiled back and tattled on her, "Miranda took her mask off." Miranda stifled a giggle.

Alex did not loosen his hold on seriousness. He looked into his rear view mirror as he pulled up to a stoplight. "Fire Ant, keep your uniform on. And don't refer to each other by your given names while you're in uniform."

Thomas looked back at Miranda shaking her head and replacing her mask. Instead of poking through the hole in the back, her shoulder-length hair fell out from under the mask and made it look as if it she was sporting a superhero mullet. Thomas decided to press his luck with Alex. "That reminds me: What was wrong with 'Mind Bender?' 'Confusio' sounds stupid."

"We'll discuss this when we get back to headquarters."

"I'm hungry," Miranda said, preempting Thomas's retort.

Thomas thought for a few seconds then added, "Me, too. Hey, do you guys want to go to my place – after we get out of uniform, of course – and I'll cook everyone breakfast?"

Miranda was quick with an enthusiastic affirmation. There was a long pause before Alex answered with a polite "no thank you."

A moan of delight and something that resembled "this is delicious" fell out of Miranda's mouth, along with a few bits of scrambled eggs. Thomas looked over his shoulder at her while he was pouring a glass of orange juice. He watched the petite girl shovel eggs into her mouth for a few moments and almost spilled his orange juice onto the counter. He took a quick glance at her skinny legs under the table before turning back and capping the juice jug.

As he replaced the orange juice in the refrigerator, Thomas remember that he was still a bit irritated about the discussion he had had with Alex back at "headquarters." He sat down at his small kitchen table with Miranda and chewed on some bacon. "I know he wants us to use our code names or whatever so that people don't find out our real identities, but 'Confusio?' It sounds like a idiotic magician or something. I still don't know what was wrong with 'Mind Bender.'"

Miranda said, "It's not as bad as 'Fire Ant.'"

At least 'Fire Ant' makes sense. You can lift several times your own weight and you have a red costume."

"Maroon," she corrected him.

"Confusio doesn't mean anything. What, do I confuse people into submission?"

"Well ... yeah, kind of. That last guy we got looked pretty confused. What did you make him think was in his hand?"

"A turd." Miranda laughed at him. "What? It was the first thing I thought of. It worked didn't it?" They both munched on bacon for a bit. "'Paladin.' What does that even mean?"

"Alex says it's a knight that does heroic deeds."

"Sure, he gives himself a cool name. What's with Alex, anyway? I mean, he doesn't really have any superpowers. So, why's he want to be a superhero?"

"Alex says that powers don't have to come from within your body. He says his powers are his influence and his money." Thomas sighed and conceded that this made sense. "And plus, he says that he got shot and died." Thomas raised his eyebrow. "It was a while before I started working with him. During one of his first nights out, he took off his uniform and body armor to take a rest. Then some guy came out of nowhere and shot him. He didn't really die, I don't think. I think it's, like, a metaphor. Before he was shot he was Alex Sander who dressed up as a superhero at night, and after he was shot he became Paladin who dressed up as a millionaire during the day."

"So, what really happened?" Thomas asked."

"He says that he swears that he could feel the bullets hitting him and falling down. But then a minute later, he felt better, like nothing had happened, like he hadn't been shot. He says he felt changed. He says that he could feel things, that he could sense powers of good and evil moving throughout the city. Then he got up, much to the surprise of the guy who shot him, kicked the gun out of his hand, and stopped his first crime," Miranda shrugged. "He's been doing it ever since. He says that his power is his ability to sense the forces of good and evil."

Thomas wondered out loud, "Did he have any bullet holes?"

"He never says anything about that."

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