Super Heroes are Bastards

He had a smug look on his face and his voice sounded like he belonged in a wine-tasting club. "My super power is telekinesis." He smiled as a cigarillo floated out of the breast pocket of his sports jacket and rested on his lip. A match struck itself against the table and floated up to light it. Poofy bastard.

The attention shifted to a small, greasy kid with a wicked grin on his face. "I can make myself invisible." He pushed back his chair and vanished. A silence filled the room as we all waited for the kid to reappear. I looked around at the others at the table until my eyes came to rest on the blonde girl off to my right. Suddenly, her right breast twitched and she let out a small, involuntary shriek. The kid appeared next to her, laughing. Without pause, she grabbed the kid by the front of his shirt and threw him through the nearby wall. Drywall dust billowed as she turned back to the group. "Super strength." She said, simply.

Douglas, the one who put up the ad in the paper, turned and looked directly at me. "Well?" He said, idly snapping his fingers, sending a spark into the air. "Do you have any super powers?"

"Yes." I said, and left.

I walked out into the alley, slightly steaming (figuratively speaking, the fire conjurer was still in the meeting). They had been skeptical from the start, and I knew that anything I did wouldn't impress them one bit. They wouldn't really get my power anyway, showoffs.

The sun temporarily blinded me as I exited the alley, giving the mugger hiding around the corner just the chance he wanted. The butt of his knife smashed against the side of my head and knocked me to the concrete, dazed. He stood over me, all wild eyes and pale skin. "Wallet, phone, whatever you got." His voice was hoarse, out of practice.

"Sure." I groaned, thinking of the basement full of heroes not fifty feet away. My wallet was thankfully skinny as I drew it out of my pocket and handed it to the mugger. I decided to leave my cell phone in my pocket, he didn't know I had it; besides, I'd need it to cancel my debit card. The mugger looked through my wallet briefly before shoving it into his coat, then he paused. "You got a car? Bike?"

I shook my head. "Took the bus."

He nodded in return. "Good for the environment." And he was gone.

I rose to my feet, shooting a hateful glance down the alley to where I imagined those swelled-headed bastards sat in their basement of solitude, not knowing what it actually meant to be a hero. Shaking my head, I walked half a block up to a nearby telephone pole and unlocked my ten-speed. With a sigh, I mounted and biked away.

The sun was setting when I got off my bike and locked it in front of Webbs. The florescent lights flickered as I entered and took a seat at the counter. The waitress gave me a dirty look, and I knew I had insulted her with my presence, forcing her to do her job. Briefly, her eyes flickered up. "What happened to your head?"

"Got mugged." I replied, digging in my pocket for change and slapping it on the table. "Coffee, please."

She eyed the change dubiously. "On the house." She murmured and turned to get my coffee. I wasn't sure if her generosity was out of concern for the poor mugging victim, or if she just didn't feel like counting change. Either way free coffee, I thought as I scooped the change back into my pocket. A voice caused me to turn. "That is a nasty bump."

I turned to see an attractive, younger woman sitting alone at a booth. She motioned for me to join her. I moved to do so, but the waitress's harsh voice cut in with a "Your coffee, sir." She was positively dripping with disdain.

Smiling, I took the cup and retreated to the booth, and, upon sitting down was immediately assaulted with an ice cube. I jerked back and she smiled at me. "Don't be a baby," She cooed. "This will help the swelling."

I sat looking at her for a little bit, taking in all the little details as she held the ice cube to my temple. Finally, I asked, "What's his name?"

She looked at me quizzically. "Who's name?"

I smiled and said noncommittally "Your ex-husband."

Her hand jerked away, surprise in her eyes. "How, how did you…"

I pointed at the ring finger on her left hand. "You have a tan line, so I figure either you guys just recently divorced or you're on the town tonight looking for an affair, but I don't think that's the case.

She was looking at me seriously now, self-consciously rubbing her wedding finger. "How do you know I'm not looking for someone to ruin my marriage?"

Again, I allow a small smirk. "If you were, you could do a hell of a lot better then me."

Now she laughed and all the caution seemed to slip away. "Um…" she said. "His name is Mark, and we're not actually divorce yet, just going through a trial separation."

"Good." I respond, and she opens her mouth to ask why, but I've heard that question too many times and I wasn't in the mood to hear it again just then. "I'll tell you in a bit." I cut her off. "Tell me why you two split up."

She bit her lip in hesitation. "Look, I don't know if I want to-

"Tell all of your problems to a complete stranger? It's an understandable concern, but consider this. Who can be a more objective listener then someone who has no bearings on the situation? If no one else can help, I can." I can feel it, I'm dead on tonight.

She's still unsure, but I know that she's too unhappy in this situation to turn away any potential help, no matter the source. "Ok," She says. "Um, where to begin…

"Well, I suppose I just wasn't happy in the marriage. I mean, we didn't date long before we married, just sort of caught up in the wonderfulness of it all, I guess."

She paused, as if waiting for me to comment, but I knew better and instead waited for her to continue, which she did.

"I can still remember some of the times we had when we were younger. It was amazing, more like a dream then a memory of something that actually happened. But…" And here her smile grew rueful. "All fresh loves are like that, aren't they. They're like flowers. They bud and blossom and are beautiful, and then just as quickly die." She shook her head. "So, the love died, I wasn't happy, and I told him. Now we're separated. That's it." She looked at me expectantly. "Got any advice, stranger?"

I shook my head. "I'm going to ask you a question, and then I'm going to answer it. Are you ready?" She looked at me, almost affronted, then nodded. "The question is, are you happier now then when you were with him? The answer, is no. That's the easiest thing I can tell from you all night. I know," He said, cutting off the "why" question that was coming, "because you're sitting here in a George Webbs, the most miserable place on earth. Hell, after I got mugged, I couldn't think of a more appropriate place to be. Now, I'm going to tell you that the love has not died; it's only been chased into hiding. What I mean is this. What's the longest relationship you've been in besides this one?

She looked at me, clearly overwhelmed. "Uh, only a couple of months."

I nodded. "Thought so. You are scared of commitment."

She laughed, and I was momentarily taken aback. "That's it? That's your grand analysis? Of course I am! I'm horrified of it. Everyone is. So?"

I looked at her, hard. "So, not everyone allows it to screw up their chances at happiness." She smiled benignly and I could see her weight lifting to leave. "And don't put on this fake 'laugh it off' face. Look at your hands!"

She paused and looked down at her own hands. They were gripping the table so hard her knuckles were going white. "Please," I said. "Hear me out."

A long pause passed between us before she finally shifted her weight back down. She took her hands from the table; they were trembling. "Ok." She said.

I breathed. "You're afraid of commitment because someone in your life left you. I don't know if I'm right in saying that, but that seems like the most likely thing that would make you so afraid of commitment that you'd throw away happiness. I know that that's the real reason you're running from this marriage because the flower speech was too routine, like you've been saying it over and over again in your head, trying to convince yourself that that's the case. What really is going on here is that you're too afraid that things won't work out that you're making them happen that way, like a self-fulfilling prophecy of fear. You do love him, it's not dead. It's just tucked under your fears and soon it'll be tucked under your regret unless you go and find him and tell him exactly how you feel."

I smiled as my stomach rumbled. Jeez, I was hungry. When did that happen? The girl was still staring at me until she finally breathed. "You're scary."

"Well," I said, leaning back. "I don't mean to be."

"No," She said. "I mean, you're absolutely right. About everything. It's like a scary reality check."

"Yeah, well." My smile grew. "Some super powers are frightening. Please, go and make things right. Nothing's better then happiness." I looked down at my coffee to realize it was gone. I didn't remember that happening either. Oh well. I stood and gave a mock tip of the hat to the girl. "I wish you the best of life and love, madam." With that, I stepped outside.

Night had fallen and the air felt cool. The back tire had been stolen off of my bike and I looked at it in dismay. With a loud piercing shriek, the alarm system to the shop next door went off, followed by breaking glass. I watched casually as a thief climbed out of the window with bundles of money in his arms. He ran puffing down the street, but I saw he had no chance. A dark figure flew in from the night sky and effortlessly scooped up the would-be thief. He jumped in surprise, dropping his steal as he was whisked off into the night, presumably to prison. I watched the super hero and the average villain go before turning my attention to the street. Casually, I walked over and picked up a bundle marked "$500" and turned to stroll casually back to my apartment. Those superhero guys weren't so bad. They had their place, and I had mine.