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|The fog whistled past my ears as I shot through the sky, my cape flapping behind, laughing as I pulled up into a loop, then diving through an archway and rocketing back vertically. “You’re not a cub, you’re an OTTER,” Superbear had said on that first night, laughing as he watched me dance through the sky, overcome with the sheer joy of being airborne. I hope I never lose this, I thought to myself, looking down at the darkening streets, a river of car lights going up and down, engines struggling against the inexorable grades.
“So what you going to do now, fag?”
I stopped stock still in midair as I picked up a voice….not directed at me, but coming from over there….THAT didn’t sound healthy…
“G-guys….please…..I didn’t do anything….j-just leave me alone….”
Middle-pitched, definitely scared and quivering…..I homed in on the sound, following it back down a side street, over to an alleyway…
“Whaddya think, fellas? Should we let the queer get off for looking at us like that?”
Sixteen or seventeen, that classic bully timbre……as I rounded the corner, I looked down on a scene that was all too scarily familiar – a slightly-built teenager, mop of sandy brown hair askew, eyes wide and frightened, pinned up against a back wall as a group of thugs bore down on him.
“No! Hell no! No! No!”
“YES,” I boomed, landing with a crunch in front of them. “Actually, I can think of a better reason – which is, very simply put, you’ll have to come through me to do it.”
The group leader’s eyes bulged, the rusty chain in his hands clanking. “Who the fuck are you?”
“I never thought I’d say this to an American teenager, but you need to watch more TV,” I said proudly, pointing to my chest. “Logo? Cape? Does the name ‘Supercub’ mean anything to you?”
“I never heard of no Supercub, and anyone who helps a faggot out has to be one,” he spat back, whirling the chain warningly as his buddies fell into a phalanx behind him, two brandishing bats, the flash of a knife in other’s hands in the evening light. “What you going to do, faggot? Hit us with your purse?”
“Actually, to borrow from ‘Men on Film’, this one gets two SNAPS,” I said, a BOOM echoing down the alleyway as my indestructible fingers cracked together twice with superhuman strength, the shockwave knocking first the linebacker-looking teen on the left, then the tall spindly redhead on the right, backwards against the alley wall, their weapons clattering uselessly to the ground, “and a ROUND the WORLD,” the vortex as my arm spun at supersonic speed picking up the sallow knife-wielder in the middle, flinging him ten feet away, his knife torn out of his hand and then vaporizing in mid-air with a well-timed shot of heat vision.
I dusted my hands together. “Well, how was that?”
He looked to both sides, terrified….seeing his buddies sprawled out, groaning…”Fucking QUEER,” he screamed, swinging the chain with all his strength, his aim still true, it cracking against my jaw….then shattering into a hail of shrapnel, pieces flying off, ricocheting off the walls. He staggered, falling off balance…..shrieking as I reached out, picked him up, held him by the collar at arms’ length…..his frantic blows bouncing helplessly off my arms.
“Fuck, man, let me go, we were only kidding –“
“Sure you were,” I snarled, his eyes wide with horror as his feet left the ground, the other three teenagers rooted to the ground, not daring to move. “And I’m only kidding when I say that scum like you don’t deserve to live, much less walk the streets.” I tossed him over into the middle of his groaning buddies. “Get lost before I change my mind.”
I turned to the wide-eyed teen as the sound of what had to be stolen Skechers running like hell in the opposite direction faded away. “Are you all right?”
“I – I am now,” he said, staring at me in wonder. “You – you’re Supercub…Superbear’s new partner…”
“At least SOMEBODY here reads the newspaper,” I chuckled, offering him my hand; he took it as if he couldn’t quite believe it was real. “Yes, I am Supercub. I presume you have a name, too?” “I – oh jeez, I’m sorry….uh….I’m Eddie. Eddie Rodriguez.” His mouth moved a few times, squeaking the words out. “Wow….you really….you really kicked those guys’s butts! That was so cool!”
“Piece of cake,” I laughed, flexing my bicep. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Eddie. C’mon, I’ll walk you home.”
We made our way down through the Mission, Eddie hesitant at first; soon, though, the words started to spill from his mouth, chattering as he talked about his interests – almost as if he had never had a real friend.
“So you want to be an engineer, Eddie?”
“Yeah, I do,” he said, perking up immediately. “I love math and stuff, and I’ve been building this cool stuff – this guy down the street has an electrical shop, and I’ve been helping him fix things, he gives me his leftovers.”
“Sounds pretty cool – you’ll have to stay in school for that, you know,” I said as we halted outside a small apartment complex.
His face darkened. “Yeah…..school. That’s where those guys are…..they’re going to –“
“And you’re going to stand up to them, Eddie,” I smiled. “Use your brain. Teach ‘em a lesson. Don’t let them kick you around. And, if you need any help,” I said, pulling out a small card, “just call this number. ”
“Yeah….I guess, ” he said, staring quizzically at the card. “You have a PHONE number?”
“It’s our hotline. Kind of hard for people to get in touch with us otherwise.”
“Cool…..well….I guess I’ll….” he headed towards the house…”see you around.”
“Good night and take care, Eddie,” I said, lifting off, heading back across the district, patting myself on the back for a job well-done.
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