My Hero – Superhero Flash Fiction

“Did you see?”  Hannah comes skidding around the corner, her face all aglow with the rush of meeting one of her heroes.  If her eyes got any starrier, she’d have to apply for a galaxy to hold them all.  “Did you see?  The Golden Mask came into my store! The Golden Mask, Erin!”

See him? I want to say. Sweetheart, I’m living with him. But I don’t, of course.  It’s all about the secret identity, David tells me.  If random Joe Q. Everyman on the street knew who he was, everyone in his life would be open to attack. Including me.  And the last thing I want in my life is for the Razor or Captain Beak or Dead Kennedy to come after me, snatch me off the streets and torture me for all three of David’s secrets.

So instead of telling her just who the Mask is, I light my cigarette and blow a lungful of smoke into the air.  “I didn’t know he liked frozen yogurt.”  I don’t know how I manage to keep a straight face.

“Neither did I!” Good Christ, she’s actually bouncing in place and clapping her hands together like a happy toddler.  Don’t get me wrong; I love my boyfriend and I tolerate the superhero gig, but I don’t think he really needs this much enthusiasm when he’s not even here.  “Chocolate raspberry! With sprinkles!” Her eyes go wide and she sucks in  a breath so quick I think for a moment she’s having an asthma attack. “OhmigodIhavetotweetaboutthis!”  Her BlackBerry comes whipping out of her pocket so fast that, if I didn’t know otherwise, I’d suspect she had superspeed.  Within seconds, she’s tweeted about the experience.  The sighting.  The encounter.

If Jesus wore red tights and a glittery papier-mache mask, I guarantee Hannah’d be in church every Sunday.

Hannah tucks her phone back into her pocket and thumps back against the side of the building with a dreamy sigh.  “He’s so cute,” she says, tucking her hands under her chin.  “He must be a playboy millionaire, with a Jaguar and a private jet and…”  She trails off into incoherent babbling about fast cars and mansions in the Hollywood Hills.  She’s probably drooling too.

I roll my eyes and stay silent on the issues of superheroes and money.  As cool as David’s invulnerability and ability to fly are — and trust me, they are — they’re somewhat impractical for cash flow, and McDonald’s was the only one hiring.     It would break her fucking heart to learn that the Golden Mask has a dayjob at the Golden Arches.

I’ll tell David about this later tonight, if he makes it home in time for dinner.  Christ only knows if whatever nemesis-of-the-month he’s currently chasing will be courteous enough to finish the fight by five.  I doubt it; villains are so rude.

I stub out my cigarette and readjust the nametag on my Walgreen’s vest.  My break was over five minutes ago.  There’s still two hours on the clock and I have bills to pay.  Lots of bills.  That are all past due.  David’s too proud to ask his buddy, the rich-as-hell Quakemaster, for a loan, and I don’t know the guy well enough.  We’ll make do; David’s up for promotion to manager in the next few months and I can pick up some extra shifts.  “David’s planning to barbecue tomorrow after the game; y’wanna come?’

And just like that, her nose wrinkles in distaste.  She gets along with David, for my sake, but she doesn’t really like him all that much.  Most days, the irony amuses the bejesus out of me.  Today, I’m too tired.  Being up half the night worried sick that Doc Mayhem or Mantis Face or the Wrangler has finally found a way to kill your boyfriend will do that to you. “As long as he doesn’t start talking about the war in the Middle East or the government or teabaggers,” she sniffs.

“I’ll pass it on.  See you after work?”

“Nah,” she says.  “I’m going to go to the park.  Queen Corona’s supposed to be making an appearance there.” Her eyes brighten at the mere prospect.  “Maybe I’ll see the Golden Mask again! OHMIGOD that would be awesome!”

I sigh, toss her a wave and head back inside.  I know without a doubt, she’ll buy one of our thermal green-earth bags before she goes home, and I know without a doubt there’ll be a chocolate raspberry frozen yogurt in it when she takes it to the park.  With sprinkles, no less.

I’m ringing up an old lady with a million coupons when it occurs to me that David doesn’t like sprinkles.  He hates them.  In fact, the last time he had them was…

Oh Christ.  He got hit with the Reverso-Ray again.

Or the Evil Twin Beam.

Or the Personality Matrix Exchanger.

So help me, if he got himself split into two separate people again, both of him are sleeping on the fucking couch.