The Night Job

It’s rough being a super hero these days. The things you have to put up with. For instance:

S walks into the living room and yells to his wife in the kitchen, “Honey, I can’t get the stains off my outfit. Any idea what will take blood out?”

“If it’s yours, no,” she yells back. She’s fed up with this superhero gig.

“It’s just a little nose bleed.” S walks into the kitchen. Goes over to give her a smooch.

She’s not in the mood for smooching. She’s ready for combat. “I am not going to do any more cleaning up after one of your night forays.”

“But it’s my job.”

“No, your job is to drive a bus, Ralph.” She pushes him away. She is not having any of his excuses this time.

“That’s my disguise job, Alice. My real job is to fight crime. Since crime happens most at night, I have to go out every night and fight it. You know that.”

She goes over to the coffee pot and pours herself a cup. “All I know is that you were quite normal. A good husband and all. Then you saw that ‘Avengers’ movie and some bug must have bit you.”

“I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. I told you that I received a call from the Planet Varsa. They gave me strict orders. If I don’t do this, they will come and destroy the earth. They said they needed one man to prove that the earth was worth saving. I asked them how could I prove to them that I was that man. You know what they said?”

“Yeah, go suit up in some purple spandex and a t-shirt with a big-ass S on it. Oh, and don’t forget the cape. It’s gotta be periwinkle. It can’t just be blue. Periwinkle, geez. Even Superman wears a blue cape.”

“It’s not just any blue. It’s phthalo blue.”

“What?” She is really laughing now. “What the heck is phthalo blue?”

“That’s the color of Superman’s cape. That’s what it is. Everybody knows that.”

She’s starts to choke on her laughter. Finally she catches her breath and calms down. “C’mon, Ralph, you expect me to believe that cock-and-bull story of yours. Some idiot from God knows how many billions of light years away wants you to be a crime fighter. He just up and calls you. Give me a break.” She laughs again. She can’t help herself. It happens every time she imagines her husband in that get-up.

“I’m telling you. It’s true, Alice.”

“Look, I’m going to my mother’s. You call me when you’re ready to settle down and be the nice, lovable Ralph I married.” She goes to the sink and rinses out her coffee cup.

“Before you go, can you just show me how to get this blood out?”

She shakes her head, walks over to him and takes the suit. “You’re phthalo to the point of being pathetic. You know that.”

He takes her in his arms and kisses her. After a long embrace, she looks him in the eyes.

“You really have to do this?”

“I really do.”

Alice pushes her husband away. “Well, if you gotta, you gotta.” Her voice has resignation in it. “You be careful out there, you hear?” A look of love for her husband fills her eyes. She kisses him lightly on the lips. “Sit down at the table and I’ll make my big superhero some breakfast. But first, I have to take this out to the laundry room. Okay?”

“Okay,” he says thoughtfully. And goes to the table and sits down. She leaves the room, humming.

“It took three wives and I finally found one who will let me be the S I am supposed to be.” Then he calls out to his wife, “By the way, I’m going to need a new mask.”

In the laundry room, Alice rinses Ralph’s costume. There’s a smile on her face. Then she says, almost whispering so her husband won’t hear her, “That guy from Varsa is right. He’s going to need a sidekick. Otherwise.”

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