Charles Franklin had a headache. Not one of those annoying-Mary-I-can’t possibly-make-it-for-squash-today headaches, but a deep tension-behind-your-eyes-while-your-mother-asks-when-you’re-going-to-give-her-grandchildren kind of headache. As he sipped his lukewarm excuse for coffee, he tried to think of anything but the ever-increasing stack of forms, files, and memos overtaking his desk. Instead, he mulled over the previous night’s events.
There was heavy silence amidst the darkness, a rare occurrence for any time of day or night in Callahan City. He scanned the rooftop for signs of hidden wrongdoers. Exhaling slowly, he began to relax, until a sudden flash of gold and scarlet took him by surprise…
“Charlie? Hello?” Rupert Beadle was a smallish man who worked in the adjoining cubicle and spoke with a voice of someone who still lived with his mother and her younger boyfriend, Larry.
“The boss wants to, um, to see you right away.” He turned to go to the men’s room. As if he’d forgotten something, Beadle turned and darted back. “Charlie? I almost forgot. The boss wants to see you.”
“Yes, Rupert, I believe you covered that one.”
“So, you’re heading to the boss’s office?”
“That does seem to be a logical plan of action.”
“Maybe you should go to the boss’s office.”
“Are you suffering from short term memory loss?” Charles asked.
“Not today, but I still think you should go to the boss’s office,” Beadle said. He flicked his eyes across the room and lowered his voice. “The boss’s office.”
He scurried away to the solitude of his cubicle.
Charles at last understood the mad ravings of Beadle, a great feat in itself. He tidied his mess of papers into an orderly stack. Impressed by his own neatness, he grinned as he walked down the hall to the elevator.
He stopped just short of colliding with an attractive twentysomething waiting for the buttons to light up. Flirting shamelessly, she practically begged him to follow her down to brunch. Alas, when the doors opened, she entered the lift alone. Charles wanted nothing more than to take her down to more than brunch, but he turned his attention to a distasteful ficus.
He moved the ficus aside and lifted a square of tile, revealing a keypad. He punched several digits, replaced the ficus and once again waited for the elevator. When it arrived, the Charles the telemarketer stepped inside, whistling the tune he hoped would one day be his theme song.
Charles Franklin seemed a quite unremarkable man. He was tall, but there were taller. He was a handsome man, but some were more so. The only peculiar thing about his appearance was his attire. His clothes always seemed to be too tight; sweating was a constant concern; and his glasses didn’t quite fit his face.
When the elevator stopped, Charles entered a cavernous room containing a single chair. The boss’s chair. A nice chair. Probably high-end IKEA. The boss was not merely the manager of the telemarketing office, but also an important official in international affairs or something impressive like that. The scent of wisdom, leadership and a hint of cat urine filled the air.
Before Charles could approach the chair, a voice snickered, “You’re late.”
“It’s hard getting anywhere on time with tights on under my slacks. And the Spandex? It’s killer,” said Charles.
“You don’t like the spandex? I picked it out especially for you.”
The chair whirled around to reveal a woman with long, fiery hair. A real knockout. I mean, wowza.
“Very funny. Let’s get down to business. What’s the deal?”
“Well, with increased police patrol and a stronger international military presence (thanks, Obama!), we’re having a slow week in the emergency department.”
“Why did you call me in?”
“55th and Park Street. Code Black.”
Charles nodded and left the way he came. Once he’d made his way to the street, he walked quickly, muttering to himself. “Come on, come on, there has to be one somewhere!” He became more frustrated with each passing block. Finally he found what he had searched for. A portable restroom. “Johnny Blue.” (What? Were you thinking of a telephone booth? Come on, that is so cliché.)
Once inside, he proceeded to take off his clothes, carefully fold them, and leave them on the floor of the stall. An ally, following at a distance, would pick them up after his departure. Okay, Beadle. Beadle would pick them up. Charles had a spectacular costume. Well, spectacular if your only exposure to costumes came from the garments your aunt fashioned for you every childhood Halloween: bright green tights he found at the aerobics store, one of his mother’s old white leotards and a mask, the only piece truly worthy of a superhero. The mask was made by none other than Rupert—telemarketer by day, master tailor by night. Why, Rupert was probably working on Charles’ new costume, which would be a huge improvement. His delicate fingers worked slowly, so the hand-me-downs would have to do for now.
When our hero stepped out of the hot, stinking blue box (no, not that blue box) he was no longer Charles Franklin. He was…Captain Stellar-Guy(guy,guy,guy…)! Okay, so the name was a little weak, but hey, all the good ones were taken. Having shed his secret identity, Captain Stellar-Guy ran and took off with a giant leap. Yes, he could really fly. Of course he could fly! What kind of superhero can’t? (Posers like the “Incredible” Hulk, that’s who. Oh, you’re strong! Congratulations!)
As he was flying, Captain Stellar-Guy slipped into a daze…
It was a fair fight. The two individuals were equal in power. Neither seemed to be winning or losing. With a blast of his Stellar-Breath (a hit with birthday cakes), he brought the scarlet and gold fiend down, hard. His opponent fought back with laser vision. “Psh, laser vision? That’s a cool power. Too bad it won’t work!” Captain Stellar-Guy shouted, ducking behind a rooftop wishing well. (If he could’ve stepped out of battle for a moment, he would have found the fifteenth-story garden quite lovely). He stepped back into the open and found himself face to face with his nemesis.
“You think you can beat me, Captain Stellar-Guy? Well, I have news for you,” hissed his antagonist, a pathetic villain currently involved in a celebrity lawsuit over his name—Lieutenant Super-Bad.
“As a matter of fact…Look! Is that Steve Carrel?”
“Where? ‘The Office’ is my favorite…” The so-called villain turned his head for just a second, but that was long enough for our hero to tackle Lt. Super-Bad into the aforementioned wishing well. There he remained until the authorities arrived. The man not worthy of being called a villain cursed as he was led away in handcuffs, “I’ll get you, Captain Stellar-Guy! And your little dog, too!”
Captain Stellar-Guy snapped out of his daydream as a wet and slimy missile struck him from above. “I hate these birds. I just washed this leotard!” (That was a lie.) He soon reached his destination, 55th and Park Street. He stopped just feet away from the crowd of three, maybe four people standing at the corner. “No need to fear, good citizens, for Captain Stellar-Guy is here!”
The crowd muttered in apathetic confusion. “Captain who?” “What’s he saying?” “Who is this guy?”
“What seems to be the problem? I was told there was a Code Black,” Captain Stellar-Guy said, trying not to seem like he had no idea what Code Black actually meant.
A man stepped forward.
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about. All I know is that Mrs. Oldman’s cat is stuck in that tree.”