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.”

Fudgenado

You’ve heard of sharknado. It’s Mother Nature’s way of getting even, and she always gets even. It’s a tornado spewing sharks. Scary stuff. Hope it doesn’t come to your part of the planet. If it does, learn how to duck. Those teeth are vicious. Never forget how much damage that thing did on the east coast, the west coast and the in-between coast.

I, for one, am glad it’s over. We can take a little breather. While we wait for the next disaster. But here’s a comforting thought. There is a new superhero on the block.

Yes, you heard me right. A new superhero. And he’s one for the 21st century. His name is Fudgenado. All those other superheroes are old school. They are so 20th century. Of course, I’m talking Superman, Batman and all those D C Comics guys, and the Marvel gang—The Fantastic Four, Thor. You know the ones.

This Fudgenado is a rootin’, tootin’, genuine superhero up to the villainy of the new millennium. He’s taking on all the baddies. Evil villains like The Nugget and his sidekick, Candy Bar. The twins Creamy and Delicious. And, of course, Karamel. You know, how sticky he makes things when he flies through. Last time he came to my city we were up to our fingers in sweet stuff for a month.

Then there’s the most dastardly, evilicious, black-hearted Brownie Maker. She has been making brownies without the nuts and taking out planets one-by-one all the way from the star, Titus Andronicus, to Sirius. She is on her way to Planet Earth. Rumor has it that she left last Monday from her home planet. She’ll be here by Saturday. And she’s got plans for us humans. She’s about to make global warming look like a game of tiddly-winks.

She has brownies to bake and one of those brownies is our planet. But there is no need to worry. Fudgenado is ready and waiting for the knock-down, drag-out. She won’t know what hit her. He’ll k.o. her in the first round. That’s for sure.

So read this fast, then get ready for the show. Pop a tub of popcorn and pour yourself a beer, or a soda, and sit out on your back lawn and watch. You’re in for a treat. There will be a really big show.

When they meet, it will be the superbowl of super dooper folks. It’s going to be out of this world, that show. Just be comforted by the thought that Fudgenado is our guy. Without him, it would be like a tsunami on steroids. We’d be baked. I hate the thought of that prospect.

For now, Fudge (that’s what we call him for short) is out barn-storming the planet with his absolutely unbelievable, delicious fudge. You really have to try his maple. It’s so good the gods think it’s ambrosia. Oh man, just writing about the stuff makes my mouth water.

And make sure you put out your fudge buckets. He will making fudge out of Miss Brownie Mix. There will be plenty of fudge to go around for everybody.

What does a superhero want?

Since the beginning of time, there have been superheroes galore. The Sumerians had Gilgamesh the searcher. The Greeks had the invincibility of Achilles and the strength of Hercules.The Vikings had the courage of Beowulf. The English had King Arthur and Excalibur.

We’ve had Thor and his hammer, Superman and his x-ray vision. Wonder Woman and her lasso. Iron Man and his armor. Spider Man and his web. Batman and his crime fighting skills. Green Arrow and his bow. Flash and his speed. Green Lantern and his ring. Captain America and his shield. The X-Men and their mutant powers. Luke Skywalker and his light saber. Frodo and his Sam.

All these superheroes wanted one thing. It wasn’t to stop Thanos from getting his six gems. It wasn’t to prevent Red Skull from creating an empire. It wasn’t to defeat Darth Vader and the Dark Side. It wasn’t to get a story for the Daily Planet. It wasn’t to help Commissioner Gordon defeat all the criminals in Gotham City.

All those goals were really a way to reach their ultimate goal. Which was to get a date for Saturday night. After all, Superheroes get lonely too.

A Superhero Name

In order to be a successful superhero, the superhero candidate must have a sexy name. It’s absolutely required. Jimmy Olsen can be named Jimmy Olsen. Lois Lane can be Lois Lane. Alfred can be Alfred. But Superman must be Superman and Batman must be Batman. Otherwise no one would take them seriously.

Unfortunately all the sexy names were taken when Fish Guy was ready to graduate from Superhero U. Sure, he had played on the football team. Sure, he was graduating valedictorian. But Fish Guy just wouldn’t do for a name. Even though he was Big Man on Campus, the alumni and parents just laughed when one of his fellow students said the name “Fish Guy”.

In all the years of Superhero U, not one superhero had graduated without an appropriate name. If the word got out that Fish Guy was the latest, and greatest, of the school’s graduates, the public would laugh themselves into early graves.

The President of the school and the Faculty Council knew the consequences if they didn’t come up with a name that matched Fish Guy’s status as the latest and the greatest. They would be out of business. The new Paladin School for Champions had been recruiting many of the Potentials lately. If Superhero U didn’t face this crisis head on, they would have to close their doors. Parents would be  just too embarrassed to send their child to such a disaster.

After months of racking their brains, the Administration finally decided they needed a crisis management team. They chose the dream team of dream teams, X-cel Plus, Inc. If anybody could solve the dilemma, they could. After all, they had changed Heracles to Hercules. When Brutus came calling, they chose the  Ides of March for assassination day for Julius Caesar. When the Cleopatra team asked, they substituted an asp for arsenic. After all, if you’re a queen, you  want to go out with a bang. And they had made Lucretia Borgia the envy of her colleagues. Stabbing a person just wasn’t done if you were looking for a good rep. Poison it had be, and poison it was.

Originally Bill Shakespeare was known as “Just Plain Bill”. Bill came to X-cel Plus, Inc. They suggested “The Bard of Avon”. They said, “Now no one will ever call you Shakes again and use it derogatorily as in ‘I’ll be there in two Shakes.'” As you can see, the Bard of Avon is so much sexier than Two Shakes. From that point on, his plays were standing room only.

“But have you done anything lately?” President Positron asked.

“Waterloo. Wellington had chosen Brussels. We said no. No one would take the phrase ‘he met his Brussels’ seriously.”

“But anything since?”

“We were responsible for the Fab Four name for the Beatles and the phrase ‘British Invasion’. It’s amazing how much those two terms netted the British government in tourism dollars. You name the term, and we probably invented it.”

“So what did you have in mind?”

“We’ve given it a great deal of thought. At least, two hours. We took several polls. Tried out Merman on the public. People walked away shaking their heads. There was The Atlantaean. They just scratched their heads confused. Then we took The Swimmer out for a ride. It got a 52% approval. Not good enough. And the women didn’t swoon when they heard it.”

“I guess we just can’t let Fish Guy graduate.”

“No,” X-cel Plus shouted. “For heaven’s to Betsy, no. I’m not through”

“Continue then.”

“We tried Water Boy, Sea Weed, Gill Man. Nothing worked. Maybe okay for villains but not a superhero. Then one of our clerical workers piped up with the perfect name. It was so good we’ve made her head of our PR department.”

“What was it?” There was a great deal of impatience in the President’s voice. There was such tension in the air as the President and the Faculty Council were on the edge of their seats.

“Since it was her idea, we’ve asked Iris to do the honors. Iris?”

Iris stepped forward. If ever there was a business suit, it was the dark blue suit she wore. Her face was painted with such seriousness the President and the Faculty knew how serious she was.

“Over the past two weeks,” her soft soprano said. “we tested this up and down America from sea to shining sea and the responses have been 99% in favor. On hearing the name, women have swooned. Men have said that they would want this guy on their team. The name is…drum roll please.”

“Get on with it,” one of the Faculty Council urged.

“The name is Aqua Dude.”

The name hit the President and the Faculty like a ton of bricks. Before they knew what they were doing, they were on their feet applauding.

When the applause had quieted down, Iris continued, “There’s more.”

“More?” President Positron asked, a big grin on his face.

“What’s an AD without a BC. Aqua Dude has sidekicks. They are the Beef Cakes.”

And so that is how Aqua Dude and the Beef Cakes came to rein over the Seven Seas, pursuing Truth and Justice and distributing sea sick  pill to all in distress.

Near 500 words: The Birth of a Superhero

In a previous post, I introduced my readers to the twenty-first century superhero, Fudgenado. Here is how that superhero came to be:

Some say it was a Monday. Some say Wednesday. Still others Friday. In truth, it was Sunday. Late Sunday night with midnight closing in. Jasper Cookster, chocolatier-in-chief of Chocolatetown, had spent the last thirteen hours working on a new fudge recipe. He was on his hundredth try.

As all stories like this begin, it was indeed a dark and stormy night. Besides that, there was a tornado on the way to Chocolatetown. There was thunder and flashes of lightning on the horizon. But Jasper Cookster was so engrossed in his recipe-making, he didn’t have a clue about what was about to hit Chocolatetown.

All he knew was that this recipe had better work. For thirteen hours, he had been at his work, stirring in this ingredient and that ingredient and the other ingredient. And none had that fudgelishous taste that said, “Jasper.”

Jasper leaned over and tossed in his last ingredient for the piece de resistance batch he was making. The thunder thundered. The lightning lightninged. And a tornado hovered above the Chocolate Store where Jasper was in mortal combat with his recipe. “This had better work,” he mumbled. “This had better work.”

As we all know, those are abracadabara, shazam words that make magic. And magic did happen as the clock struck midnight. Only it wasn’t the magic Jasper was expecting. The thunder ka-boomed. The tornado touched down. The lightning struck and hit Jasper right in his tushie.

Jasper fell into the large tub of fudge goop that was a-stirring. He went under. Just as he did, the lightning hit the tub. The tornado then picked up the tub and Jasper and sailed off into the west a la Dorothy. Two miles out of town, it gently set the tub onto a pasture.

Now that tub may not have been the home of an fudge excellence, but it was the birthplace of a new superhero. Out of the fudge razzmatazz, Jasper flew. Only he wasn’t Jasper. He was a creature covered with brown fudge goop covering his entire body from the end of his big toenails to the tippy toppy hair on his head. He rose spiralling in the sky and headed towards Chocolatetown.

As he moved like a meteor across the sky, Farmer Brown, from his bed through the bedroom window, looked up in the sky and saw what he saw. As he did, he was moved to say, “It’s a bird. It’s a plane.”

His wife said from her sleep, “No it’s not. It’s a fudgenado. Now go back to sleep. The rooster will be crowing in six hours.”

From her bedroom window, Latisha, Farmer Brown’s nubile daughter, had been wishing upon a star. Only there wasn’t a star. She was about to wish for her Prince Charming to come and swoop her away from slopping hogs and milking cows and all the other farm chores an only child had to do. She saw the meteor as it flashed across the sky. Right then and right there, she knew she had seen her future. She was ready to walk down the candy lane aisle and say her I-doeses to the world’s first twenty-first century hero. She was ready to become Mrs. Fudgenado.