“Ironheart” was a superhero story that I came up with four years ago. It’s embarrassing to read now, but at the time it was a pretty nice romp through the genre made popular by comic books and movies. It was a learning experience and it holds a special place in my heart because I developed the story when I studied abroad in Costa Rica, far away from familiar surroundings. I think it fueled my passion for writing as well as my desire to travel the world to collect new experiences. You see, not to be an Ugly American or anything, but after a day of speaking a foreign language, there was nothing more than I wanted to do than to stay home and play around with words in English.
Just to repeat, this short is over five years old so, cut me some slack…lol
Ironheart (Part I)
Hi, my name is Joe. I’m 6’2”, I like video games and…that won’t work. Okay, uh I am Joe Saxon and I have green eyes and like to write…no, no that’s way too lame. Let me start this off right. My name is Joe Saxon and I a superhero.
In fact, I really hate that term: Superhero. Can you blame me? What is the first thing you think about when someone says the word superhero? If you are like most, it’s probably an image of a musclehead flying around town in a cape. Let me tell you something, I don’t own a cape, and flab is the new muscle.
Where do I get off calling myself a superhero then? It is somewhat of a large claim. Before I get to that, let’s air out some of the prejudices you probably have of me. No, I am not making this up. No, I don’t collect comic books, and (hell) no, am I high when I write this. In fairness, that last one would be the hardest one to believe.
The first twenty years of my life were pretty normal. Well not normal completely, but I didn’t have powers. Hindsight is 20/20 and I wished I had those powers in High School. In any event, I got through my awkward phrase and attended college in New York City: The capital of the world. I began to adjust to the whole college life thing. Which was cool, seeing if I DIDN’T fit in, I could always find refuge in my parents house in New Jersey. It never came to that because frankly after the age of 18, who wants to live with their parents?
My first two years of college were great. Besides dealing with the food poisoning I got from the cafeteria food on a number of occasions, and my mountain of a student loan debt, I was on easy street. I was happy. I had great friends. I had great grades, and I had the girl. Oh man, did I ever. Her name was Karen and she had eyes of amber. I didn’t think it was possible, but she flashed fire with every blink.
I am not sure how it is at other schools, but my school was the last stop for the ladies. A lot of them had the old maid mentality. I am sure you know what I am talking about. They have the whole “If I don’t find a husband in college, I am worthless” attitude. I hear it is more common in the Midwest. Karen and I got close to that. We dated for two years and during that time we talked about our future our jobs and our kids. Kids?! I didn’t have the heart to tell her that children were the bane of my existence. Much like she didn’t have the heart to tell me she was cheating on me. Poor Karen, she had no clue what she gave up for a quick thrill.
Or at least, that was what I kept telling myself as I sat on my couch in my dorm room and watched re-runs on television. I was a wreck. I’ll put it like this: If the girl of your dreams walks out of them, what are you left to dream of?
My roommate Sal saw the condition I was in. He had noticed I hadn’t budged from the couch in four days. So much time had passed, I started to wear a little groove in the cushions with my side. He told me:
“Dude. You have to stop living like this.”
I am not sure if that was before or after he told me to take a shower. Hey, when I say four days, I meant four days.
“Come on”, he said. “We’re going out”.
“Is Karen going to be there?” I asked him. Man, I was a chump.
“Nope. Guys’ night out. Let’s go.”
To make a short story even shorter, Sal and I ended up going to a dinner show of a hypnotist. Donned in full suit and cloak, the guy was a total screwball. We got there a little late, but I got to see him make a small Asian woman believe she was part of Riverdance.
“What are we doing here?” I asked Sal.
“We are going to enjoy ourselves. Relax it won’t hurt.”
“But I have a paper due tomorrow, and I haven’t even started”
“You have a paper that wouldn’t have started regardless if you were with me or not. You’ll end up doing it later.”
Saw right through my lies. I wanted to be in my makeshift bed a lot more than I wanted to be at a dinner show. On the couch I could watch all that cable television could offer. I would sit there thinking about Karen. I could imagine her eyes or her smile. I wonder what she was up to and…
“You’re Up”, said Sal.
“You heard me. You’re up.”
“Up for what?”
The PA system blared:
“Don’t be shy son. Experience the magic and wonder of the Amazing Ironheart. Relax young one, I do not bite.”
I’m not really sure why I went up there. I could have out right refused and he would have chosen some other schlub, but I got my sorry behind up there and sat in the sole wooden stool on stage. The man in the cloak, turned and asked me:
“Is this your first time being hypnotized?” he asked.
“Well yeah, providing this junk is real.”
“Oh, just you wait”, he said with a smile.
He took out a locket and did the whole “You are getting sleepy” bit. I didn’t buy it. After all, this guy was getting paid either way, he didn’t have to hypnotize anybody. He could totally fake it and still collect his cash at the door. On second thought, that would be a pretty swank way to live. Traveling the country, and seeing new people. That would be nice. Just me, Karen, and…
“Let’s give him a round of applause”, he said.
The crowd erupted into a frenzy. Some even gave a standing ovation. I got up out of my chair and stood there bewildered. What were they cheering for? I didn’t do anything. This guy in the cape didn’t do anything either. I stumbled back to my seat being blinded by the white hot stage lights. When I got back to my seat a few moments later, I was met with a huge smile on the face of Sal. He turned to me and said:
“Dude, that was awesome!”
I doubt me sitting on a wooden chair would warrant that kind of a response.
“What did I do?”
Don’t you remember?” Sal asked.
“Well, after he put you under, he had you do some stupid stuff like jump up and down on foot – things like that. But then he told you to imagine if you could fly and to run and jump off the stage.”
“I don’t feel hurt,” I said.
“That’s just it. You ran, jumped, and actually flew around the room like you were wearing a jetpack. You have to tell me bro, where you in on it? Did you have like wires on or something?”
“No,” I said. “Not that I don’t remember.”
A very large man in a suit and a jazzy white tie stepped to my table. He looked at me, smiled and left a business card on my side of the table.
“Mr. Ironheart would like to see you after the show,” said the man in a voice only a smoker’s mother could love.
He walked away as coolly as he arrived. After he was out of my sight, I read the card:
KENNETH IRONS, PSYCHOANALYST
Psycho-what? What did this guy want with me? Was I going to join his act or something? I wonder what Karen would think of me if I became famous. She would regret the day she left me by the wayside. I decided to take the guy up on his offer and waited outside his dressing room after the show, leaving Sal to his own devices. I hear the business of show is pretty decent, and I can’t say no to potential cash.
“Do you know who I am,” was the first thing out the guy’s mouth. I’ve never seen a hypnotist be so full of himself. Then again, how many hypnotists have I actually seen? Was this some sort of quiz? Was he going to be a jerk to me until I answered his riddle of a question? I knew who he was. A glorified circus performer with an arrogant attitude but I wasn’t going to say that. Why risk my chances of being kicked out of the business of show before it even got going? I’m confused but I’m not stupid.
“A hypnotist?” I asked.
“Yes that is also true. But more importantly, I study the human mind. Do you know why I sent for you?”
Here is my chance. Get me out of the world of term papers and lab partners. Make me rich you crazy man.
“You want to offer me a spot in your show,” I said with conviction.
“Oh God no,” he laughed.
Well, there goes my chance at fame.
“Why on Earth would I do that? Listen…”
“Joe”, I said with just a hint of disappointment.
“Joe,” he repeated. “Do you remember what you did tonight?”
“Not really. But my roommate says something about me flying”
“Son, do you know what hypnotism is?”
Man I hate when people did this. Here is this hypno-psycho-analyst-tist. Someone who’s apparently been this sort of thing for years, is asking me what his profession is. No possible answer under the sun is going to be good enough.
“No, but I have a feeling you are going to tell me.”
So there I was, in the dressing room of a guy I didn’t know some days prior. He apparently has no need for me in his show, so why waste his time and mine with an explanation of something that I particularly didn’t care about.
“Son, hypnotism isn’t a science, but an art. It is all about control.” He continued, “Control of the mind, control of the body, control of the spirit.”
“Is this about tonight’s show?” I asked.
“Ooh. You are a smart one,” he replied.
For just a second, I wondered why exactly I was there. This fool is taking shots at me like we were friends and if he called me “son” one more time I swear we are going to fight.
The man turned around and faced a television that was mounted in the upper left hand corner of the room. With a press of a remote, the TV showed the performance that was on the stage some forty five minutes prior. There’s that Asian woman again. The picture had become blurry as he fast-forwarded the tape until my sorry behind was on front and center.
“Ooh. This is my favorite part,” the man said. Spoken like a true carnie would.
The video had me, in my entire camera-adding-ten-pounds glory, levitating to the ceiling. As Irons shouted out commands, I followed moving about the room as if I did in fact have wings. Sal wasn’t lying to me. I wondered which one was more surprising.
“That’s what I call stealing the show,” he said with a grin.
Don’t get me wrong, seeing yourself float is a surreal experience. You keep thinking it is some made for TV movie. But I was growing impatient. So let’s say it wasn’t a sight gag, what does it really have to do with me? I understand these guys want you to buy the video and all, but I think he was going too far as a salesperson.
“Okay, I got wings, what’s it to you?” I said.
The man smiled once again. “You see,” he began. “As I was saying before, hypnotism is all about control. But no hypnotist in the world can make you do something your mind doesn’t want to do on a subconscious level. The inner workings of the whole thing can boggle the mind.”
“What are you getting at?” I said. I was getting cranky. Maybe Karen would have stayed with me if I showed more of this side of me.
“Son”, There was that word again. “What you saw wasn’t a trick. For some reason you have the power to fly.”
He got another world class blank stare from me.
“I understand if you do not want to believe me. Heck, I do not think I would believe me either, but it is true.” Irons dug into his pocket. “Here is my address. If you wish, I could help you bring that part of your mind to total consciousness.
“And If I decide not to?”
“Hey, no harm, no foul.”
I got in well after midnight. My room was exactly the way I left it. Man, I am a pig. All the lights were on, so that must mean…
“Yo, where have you been? I waited outside the dinner theater for over an hour.” It was Sal. More like an annoyed slightly tired Sal with nothing on but his boxers. “I know where you went, but what took so long? What did he say?”
“He said that I have quote, The Power Of Flight unquote, and he wants to meet me tomorrow.”
“For what?” asked Sal.
“To…I am not really sure,” I said. My guess is he wants to see if I can do it all the time or something.”
“Are you going to do it?” He asked. I didn’t blame him, it was a fair question.
“Well,” I said. “I don’t have anything else to do.”
The next day, I arrived at Irons’ house. It wasn’t the huge brick mansion with the wrought-iron gates, excuse the pun. The house was fairly modern. You might consider it impressive judging by the fact he lived alone. Guys like him always did. You know the types, the one that can tell you the meaning of life on a whim, but didn’t know how to ask a woman out for drinks. I followed the instructions he gave me the night before and rang the doorbell to the adjacent basement.
“Who is it?” a voice called out from the electronic speaker.
“It’s Joe. You met me last night”
“You know,” I said. “The guy who could…”
The door opened with a buzz.
“Come in, come in,” the voice called out. “We have much work to do.”
The word we. It implies cooperation; working together to achieve a goal. Well, the work “we” had to do was already done. You see in the dank basement of the old man laid a steel table. On that table laid books, journals, magazines, diagrams, dioramas, and charts all about the human brain. If I didn’t know it then, I knew it now. I was a test subject. Maybe Karen was right in leaving me. Maybe this was going to be the highlight of my life. I was going to be a guinea pig; trying to replicate something that was caught on grainy video that may well be an illusion to begin with.
Irons looked tired, as if he hadn’t slept at all the night before. His eyes were bloodshot. He positioned himself so that the table would be between us.
“In the short time he have been apart,” he started, “I have done extensive research, most of which came from my personal library. What you are looking at is nearly three dozen theories that explain what happened last night from the comical to the most definite.”
Maybe being a guinea pig isn’t such a bad deal after all.
“Definite?” I asked. “What’s your best guess?”
“Well, what do you know about PK?”
PK? Was that some kind of dog or a brand of cologne? Rather than guessing and risking yet another shot to my ego, I opted to take the easy way out. A simple headshake got the point across.
“Listen closely,” he started “It is very easy to get lost. PK stands for psycho kinesis. It is more or less the natural progression of the theory of telekinesis. Previous tests have found out that the abilities are nothing more than fiction. However, after reviewing last night showing, I feel you are a living, breathing anomaly in the regard that you have telekinetic powers.
“Ok,” I said. “I have these PK things. Great. That is all well and good but that doesn’t explain the angel act last night.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” he replied. “You can move things with solely your mind. Sure you can bend spoons but I am thinking big. Last night, you took flight because with only your gray matter, you moved your own body as if it were second nature.”
“Assuming all that stuff was true,” I said. “How come I can’t fly now?”
I tried to launch myself into the air. A small part of me wanted to believe I was just a little different than the average person. But there was not a repeat performance. My feet were on the floor as if they had roots.
“Potential,” Irons bellowed. “Just because you have the ability to do something, doesn’t me it is easy. It is going to take time and practice. I can help. There is no telling how deep this thing goes,” he said.
“Does this mean you are going to have me under permanent hypnosis? Because to me, it’s the only way you get the show,” I said.
“Yes,” he said matter of factly. “I mean, maybe at first. Repeated use of the untapped part of the brain could awaken it somehow. Over time, you wouldn’t have to even give it a second thought. Joe, this is a grand opportunity if I ever saw one.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” I said. “I think you are a swell guy—I really do. But if you don’t’ want me in your show, what is all of this to you?”
“Consider this a grand experiment. That’s all. Just say the word, and your life will change forever.”
Something still was telling me to not trust this guy. Chalk it to my cynical nature. Although no one else on the planet was offering me anything half as interesting
“What the hey. I’m in”
The days that followed were a whirlwind. I spent my days in class, and my nights recovering from the afternoon training sessions with Irons. On top of that, I had to find a place to put sleep and meals somewhere in the day too. He put me through the ringer. There were drills after drills after drills. At first, he put me under full hypnosis. As time went on, I was less and less “under the influence” and started moving my attention towards objects.
I couldn’t forget my first subject: A spoon. A simple, metal, stereotypical spoon. I followed the man’s directions in focusing all of my will into bending the spoon. All I got out of that was the biggest headache of my life. I remember sitting in my chair holding my head in my hands at the temples. I didn’t know it then, but it got a lot easier.
I began to bend spoons with ease. The splitting headaches got a lot less painful. Naturally, I moved up the food chain sort to speak. It went from bending and moving silverware to tossing full television sets like they were toys. Gradually, I started to look forward to training. At first a chore, it was my leisure time. All I had to do was concentrate. Not on grades, not on keeping up appearances, and definitely not on her.
That semester came and went and I found myself in the middle of summer vacation. Sal and I moved out the dorms and found an apartment across the bridge in Brooklyn. Yeah, the commute would be longer, but I was happy I was living on this side of the East River.
For Sal, living with me was a no-brainer. Though we made a promise not to tell anyone about my abilities, Sal loved the idea that he could use them to win bar bets. You would have to see the faces of the guys who lost 20 bucks apiece because they didn’t think a bowl of nuts could float through the air. I didn’t feel bad one bit, it paid the bills.
That summer was especially hot in New York. We were in the midst of one of the longest heat waves in history. Eleven days, all without rain. The mayor put in the obligatory “Don’t water your lawn” restrictions, but anyone who knows the city knows you can’t tell the people what they can and cannot do.
One night, Sal and I tried this new bar that overlooked the river. The night started like always. We would walk in and order the most expensive drink in the house. If we were lucky, and the bartender cute, we would get it for free. Place a bet or two, make our cash, then bounce. Unfortuneately the (male) bartender served us our drinks full price. Like most establishments in the city, there was a television that constantly had the game on. Tonight was no different apparently because we were getting our fill of the Yankees. I couldn’t care less, I was a Met fan myself. It wasn’t the fourth inning when it was interrupted:
THE FOLLOWING IS A SPECIAL REPORT FROM CHANNEL 9 NEWS
“Ah c’com, who gives a rat’s ass,” said the large, very drunk man to my right.
BREAKING NEWS TONIGHT AS POLICE ARE RESPONDING TO A BIZARRE HOMOCIDE. THE SCENE OF THIS HORRIFIC EVENT TOOK PLACE IN BROOKLYN, WHERE THE BODY OF A WOMAN WAS FOUND IN A DUMPSTER BEHIND A STRIP MALL ON ERKSINE STREET. PRELIMINARY REPORTS HAVE THE WOMAN BEING ONE KAREN DOWD, ORIGINIALLY FROM LAS VEGAS, NEVADA BUT ATTENDING DOUBLEDAY UNVIERSITY HERE IN THE CITY. SHE WAS 22. WE’LL HAVE MORE ON THIS STORY AS IT DEVELOPS. WE NOW RETURN YOU…
There wasn’t a doubt in my mind about who that could be. They practically spelled it out. Karen. My Karen is dead.
I have to go over there,” I shouted to Sal who was on my left.
“Were you not watching the TV? She’s dead”
“Look,” he said. “I understand that she was your girl, but you haven’t seen her in months. In any case, you just can’t walk down there; the area is covered with cops, it being a crime scene and all,” he remarked while taking a swig of his concoction.
“If you don’t want to help, fine. But the last thing I am going to do is sit around here.”
I got up off the stool. As I was leaving, I heard:
“Hey man, we didn’t even do our thing tonight.”
Ironheart (Part 2)
I took what seemed to be the longest train ride to the location given by the news. By the time I had got there, a lot of the fanfare had died down thankfully, but there was still a cop car, two officers, and a barricaded area. I approached the scene but was stopped by an officer. A tall man, his features chisled from stone.
“This is a crime scene,” the officer barked. “I am going to have to ask you to step back.”
“Excuse me officer,” I pleaded. I was going for the pity route. “I heard what happened on the news and recognized the victim as a friend of mine.”
“He asked you to step away from the scene.” Another officer, this one female, had stepped out of the police cruiser. She was plain from top to bottom. Rather be that way than chiseled I guess.
“Sorry,” I said. “I don’t think I can do that.”
With a thrust of my arm I sent the male officer sailing into the air, colliding with a parked cruiser. The female officer drew her gun and began to charge with great speed. With a state, she raised off the ground. I had her hanging there for a moment, just enough time for her to make sense of her surroundings. With a quick glance to my left, she followed, hitting the pavement with the sound of skinned flesh some forty yards away.
By this time the street lights had come on. It was dusk. I made my way to the section that was tapered off with police caution tape. On the floor around the dumpster, laid four cups, each containing evidence which hadn’t been catalogued. My guess is that the two cops were babysitting until real experts arrived. There were bullet casings under two of the cups, a strand of Karen’s hair in the third, and a matchbook in the fourth. There was no sign of the body, she obviously had been moved to a hospital. After my initial survey, I knocked over the cup containing the matchbook. Small, it fit in the palm of my hand. On the backside was a picture of a woman’s silhouette the words “Golden Ray” written underneath it.
“Golden Ray,” I said to myself. “Chinatown”.
My first step seems to be a gimmie. But if I figured it out, I’m sure the police did too so the quicker I get to the bottom of this the better. A quick look around was all the confirmation I needed as the sun had completely sunk below the horizon. With it being dark, it would be less likely that anyone would see me fly. With a running start, I took to the sky.
I landed in Chinatown out of the night sky. I wasn’t sure what the Golden Ray was but I hoped it was a restaurant; I hadn’t had anything to eat all day. Fifteen minutes of walking aimlessly looking up at the signs proved fruitless. Then I came across a sign to an underground establishment: The Golden Ray.
“Well, that’s too small for a restaurant,” I thought.
I made my way downstairs and was hit with the awful odor of booze, cigars, marijuana and sex. I think I’ve just found the shadiest strip joint the city, a dubious honor if I ever heard one. I bet even Sal has never heard of this place. Finding someone to ask would be a challenge. I don’t believe the people here are the most talkative.
I was soon at the back of the “club: where I came across a VIP door. With no hesitation, I opened it. Whoever this important person was, he or she might know what exactly goes on in a place like this besides the obvious. Upon settling foot I was met with a shout.
“A whoa whoa whoa, who the hell are you?” A middle-aged man wearing a light colored suit sat on a leather couch, flanked by two women who would be naked, if they weren’t wearing a string between their legs. The blue lights in the room overhead were a sharp contrast to the blood tinged color of the other rooms.
“My name is…”
“You know what?” The man in the suit said, “I don’t care who you are. It’s more important that you know who I am. I am the sole proprietor of this fine establishment. The name is Dan; you should remember that. If you want a lap dance or something, I’m pretty sure a couple of the girls on the floor would be willing to assist you, but these are my personal stash.”
“I’m not here for a lap dance. One of my good friends was murdered and stashed in a dumpster behind an electronics store across the bridge. You know anything about that?”
“I’m sorry kid,” Dan said. “I know a lot of people, you are going to have to elaborate.”
“Her name was Karen Dowd.”
“Who?” he asked. “Oh wait a minute. Bubbles? She’s dead? Look man, I didn’t have anything to do with that.”
“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,” Dan said. “She was one of my best girls. She had a habit of making her clients come back for more. I scooped her at the local college a couple of months ago and she was making us both a serious load of money. She’s really dead, huh? Well, serves her right for leaving me.”
“Left you?” I asked.
“Yeah, man. A couple of weeks ago she had been seeing this regular. Some guy by the name of Mark. Mark Sherman. The guy was a total square, he couldn’t handle the woman Bubbles was, you know? Anyway, she wanted to get out the business because, get this, she fell in love with the guy. Me? I run a business, but I’m not a pimp. I don’t have that whole “you can’t leave me” vibe going on so I let her walk. I knew I would find someone better. Besides, she wasn’t good at all in the sack,” he said with a grin.
I lost it. I lunged at Dan from six feet away and give hum a punch right across his cheekbone. My hand, already throbbing, was cocked back and ready to give another. Meanwhile, the girl who had been sitting to his left bolted upright and ran to the security alarm that was on the wall. Within seconds the door busted open and four muscular men in all black had stepped in, blocking the door.
I leapt towards one of them and speared him to the ground. As quickly as I did, I rolled over and pushed the second one to the ceiling with my palm. That gave me the breathing room to get my bearing with the third. He tried a punch, but I caught his arm with both of mine. I twisted my vice as fast as I could until I heard a snap accompanied with a cry of agony. The fourth blindsided me with a double fisted blow, sending me to the ground with the likes of the other three. He stepped over me, attempting to repeat his performance. With my open palms, I slammed him into the wall by the door. Head first.
Surveying the damage, I knew I had overstayed my welcome. I left the room and ran past the red sea of “clients” until I reached the main entrance. I hopped the four stairs up onto the street was met with a blow to the head by a nightstick. Three officers jumped on my back and handcuffed my wrists together, while one in plain clothes looking on while sipping a cop of coffee.
I was on the long end of a cold, steel table. The cop who was enjoying his cup of java while I was getting my face bashed in switched his beverage of choice to water; as seen as the half empty glass on the table. He was in his mid forties and bald. Not that horseshoe bald, but that Kojak bald. Only thing he was missing was the lollipop.
“Joe Saxon,” he said. “Based on your file it seems to me that you are one of the good citizens. Or at least were. Tonight, you are going to be charged with battery, property damage, assaulting two police officers, destruction of city proper for that stunt you pulled with our police vehicles, and tampering with a crime scene.”
“Look officer,” I pleaded.
“Detective. I didn’t…”
“Okay, okay. Look, Detective Fast, I’m not some street criminal. Tonight, I was just looking for answers.”
“Mr. Saxon,” he snorted. Please realize that the New York Police Department hires professionals, and that vigilantes need not apply.”
“If you guys were so professional, you would have the case solved by now, wouldn’t you.”
“Not if we keep on having to deal with diversions like yourself.”
“Now,” he continued. “I know why you went to The Golden Ray. Obviously you must have seen the matchbook at the crime scene. Now Mr. Saxon, what I do not understand is how you got there so fast, or even had the man power to dispatch two of our own to get to the scene in the first place. So tell me, are you working alone, or are we dealing with a group situation.”
“This maybe hard to believe,” I whispered. “But, I have these powers.”
Fast’s head perked up like a puppy would for a rib eye. He didn’t know whether to laugh in my face, slap me for being a smartass, or call the guys in the white jackets to take me away. Believe me or not, my “secret” wasn’t a secret anymore.
“Oh?” he asked.
“I know this sounds crazy but I have the power to move things with only my thoughts. Anything. Boxes, trees, four bouncers at a club, myself…”
“Yourself?” Fast asked.
“Yes,” I said with a sigh. “After I figured out The Golden Ray had something to do with this, I flew––well more accurately moved myself––to Chinatown. You can believe me or not.”
“I choose the latter,” he chortled. “Tell me this magic man. If you can do all of these things you say. If you could dispatch two officers and take out four individuals of good physical stature without breaking a sweat, how in fact did we haul you in?”
“That’s just the thing,” I said. “Sometimes I get tired. Lack of sleep, repeated use, whatever the reason I don’t know. But there comes a time where I hit empty. Times where I can’t even lift a finger. Times where all I get is a headache for my efforts.”
“You know what, I am tired of all of this,” said the man with the badge. He turned to a uniformed guard that was standing beside him. “Lock his ass up. I’m too old for this nonsense.”
Three hours had passed with me in this holding cell with a couple of others. I didn’t know them, and they didn’t know me but we all knew we were guilty of something whether we wanted to admit it or not. For a moment, I asked myself why was I even in this position. I knocked out a half dozen people and for what? A girl that one day decided I wasn’t good enough for her. But if I wasn’t good enough for her, who was? That club owner, Dan? Her “new friend” Mark? No, something wasn’t right.
An officer walked to the cage with a clipboard.
“Saxon comma Joe,” He shouted.
“Yeah,” I said as I jumped off my bench.
“You’ve got bail,” he chuckled to himself. “You are free to go.”
Good news. It’s possible that Sal got worried about me. He got all the money he kept in that sock next to his porn magazines to spring me out. Man, that is what friends are for. My glee turned to surprise however when I realized that it wasn’t Sal that bailed me out.
“Irons, what are you doing here?”
“What does it look like I am doing,” he snapped. “Come we have much to discuss and police precincts make me nervous.”
We soon were in a diner some blocks away from the police precinct. Wearing a cap and a pair of shades Irons gave to me, I tried my best to blend in. I was tired. Save a couple of minutes here and there I hadn’t slept in a day, I now have a police record, and the trail to Karen’s killer is getting colder by the minute.
“Ahh, how long as it been?” Irons said with his mouth full of pie
“Three months. Since the end of the semester.”
“It’s amazing how fast time goes, here today gone tomorrow boy I tell you,” he said. “Have you graduated yet?”
“No, not yet. I still have another year to go.”
“What do you mean then what?” I admit it, I was cranky. “A year of school, then I graduate. What comes next, I don’t know,” I said as I sipped my coffee.
“Really? No plan, no direction?”
“What are you getting at, Irons?”
“Well, to make a short story even shorter,” he said. He reached into his pocket and pulled a clipping from that day’s newspaper, The Light. The Light wasn’t more of a paper as it was a gossip column surrounded by sixty pages of fish wrap. The clipping read.
JEALOUS EX-BOYFRIEND ARRESTED. COULD THIS BE THE KILLER?
“How did they…”
“It gets better,” Irons said. “News travels fast in this town you better believe it.”
He began to read from the paper.
“’Sources at a local adult-themed bar claim that one Joe Saxon, one ex-boyfriend of the deceased Karen Dowd injured four men in the bar last night, a bar that once employed the deceased. One of the injured men claimed that Scott used his mind to send him in the air like it was nothing. Scott was picked up by local authorities shortly thereafter and may have been charged with the shooting death of Dowd in a form of a rampage as reported by our late edition.’”
“That’s bull,” I said. “I wasn’t charged with that. Trust me, I was charged with a lot of stuff but murder wasn’t a part of it.”
“You’re already guilty in the court of public opinion,” he said. “They might as well lock you up and throw away the key now. But that is not what concerns me. You used your abilities to hurt other people.”
“It’s a long story. All you need to know is that I was trying to find out would kill Karen and those men got in my way,” I said.
“You do realize that you are bit of an urban legend now,” he said. “Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the mysterious Mind Man. You know that, right?”
“Well,” I said. “Ideally, I wanted to keep this whole thing secret, but it didn’t work out that way. What are you going to do?”
“That’s the million dollar question,” he said. “That is something you are going to have to figure out. But the reason I want to talk to you today isn’t about your new found fame. I need you to listen to me carefully because I don’t know how else to say this. You were not the first person that I came across that has these abilities.”
Another one of my world famous blank stares.
“Two months ago, I was in town doing my act when I asked a young man to come on stage. I put him under, and after a few games here and there, it was time for the showstopper.”
“Don’t tell me you asked him to fly.”
“Worse,” he said. I asked him to lift a bolted table out in the audience knowing full well he couldn’t do it. After all, up until this point you were the only anomaly. But not only did he lift a table, he raised every table, chair, and person with relative ease.”
“Interesting story,” I said. “Even though I appreciate you springing me out and paying for breakfast, I have more pressing issues to attend to.
“I trained him,” Irons said, ignoring me. “I trained him just like you to free the dormant parts of his mind. He turned his thoughts into powers of physical strength. He had potential. We he didn’t have was control. One night some two weeks ago, he overpowered me, and I haven’t heard from him since. I guess what I am trying to say is that I need your help. You are the only person I know that can bring him back to me.”
“Is this the reason you bailed me out of jail?”
“After reading about how you handled yourself against those guys at the club, I realized that you could do great things with your gifts and the right motivation.”
I was being commissioned as some sort of a second rate hit man, taking out people who were just like me. Meanwhile, Karen dies in vain throughout this whole mess. I could have looked him in the eye and told him to shove it. But I would be no better than that other guy and above all else he did save me from those iron bars some blocks away.
“What’s this guy’s name?”
“He lives down in the Spring Creek Towers in Brooklyn. More specifically in the Kempton Loop. His name is Mark Sherman.
The missing link. Just like that I was back on the trail where I had left off. I didn’t tell Irons I had the name back in Chinatown. The pieces were falling together. This guy who was different like myself gets involved with Karen. But there of course, there were some pieces missing. I knew they weren’t going to be missing for long.
I waited for sunset where the skies turned the colors of cotton candy. I flew from my neighborhood to Spring Creek Towers. I dressed as conservatively as I could: Dark jeans, a black T-shirt, and some sneakers so I wouldn’t call any extra attention to myself. I ended up landing on a basketball court adjacent to the Kempton Loop. The apartment buildings (the actual towers) were stories upon stories tall. There would be no way I would find this guy. It was the proverbial needle in the haystack.
I was knocked to the ground by a quick shove. I guess the needle found me.
“Took you long enough,” the voice said.
He was at least ten years older than myself. He wore denim shorts with a black tank top. He obviously had the same idea I had. I wasn’t sure if he was showing his physique or trying to keep cool but he should have been glad I wasn’t he fashion police.
“So you are the one they call Joe Saxon,” he said. “I thought you were a myth, just a figment of the hypnotist’s imagination. I thought I was alone. I thought I was the only mentally enhanced human on the planet. I was wrong.”
The ogre stuck his hands into the blacktop like it was putty. He molded it, forming an edge with his bare hands. He lifted the edge above his chest. The raised asphalt curled with tremendous speed away from him like an ocean wave. Towards me. Seeing the mound would make a normal person’s life flash before their eyes. Against my better judgment to stop the damned thing, I rolled out of the way, avoiding injury in the process.
“The hypnotist told me that he came across someone just like me who had natural ability. Of course, I didn’t believe him. I repeatedly begged the man if I could see the other man with the gifts I had,” he said stepping towards me at a snails pace. “He repeatedly refused, saying it wasn’t ‘the right time’. One night, I just had it and went on my own looking for you. Getting information about you was fairly easy. Finding out what were your dreams, your fears, the people you loved was pure sport. You can thank your friend Sal for that one. He’s got loose lips when he’s on the bottle.”
Great. I am going to die because Sal was a lightweight. I stood myself up, and braced myself for whatever Sherman decided to throw at me.
“Well you got me,” I said looking for a way to stall. “No one had to die to get me here, but you got me anyway. What do you want?”
“I think it’s obvious what I want,” he said. “Tonight, we are going to see who is the better enhanced. One of us is not going to make it tonight.”
He charged at me like a rhino. We crashed into a mound of pavement created by his last feat. Now I knew how those bouncers at the club felt. As I laid there writhing in pain I asked myself why I wasn’t blessed with invulnerability or super healing. The ogre towered over me, smiling.
“I wasn’t going to kill her you know,” he said. “I was only going to rough her up, you know? She fought back, or at least tried to. She took out her pistol and tried shooting at me. I figure it would be an ironic reminder that one shouldn’t try to be a hero. Now it’s your turn.”
With my outstretched palm, I summoned the metal backboard from the hoop from the far side of the court. With a jerk of my wrist, the board sailed through the air, connecting with the skull of the ogre.
A searing pain began to radiating throughout my head. My temples began throbbing excessively. My mind was on empty. Over twenty four hours and lack of a proper rest put this situation from bad to worse.
I stood up but the change in the elevation only made the headache worse. At that point I would have carved a hole into my skull if it would make it feel better. With both my hands on my temples and no power to speak of, I was an easy target for another charge from the beast. This time we crashed through the chain link fence that was enclosing the court and spilled onto the sidewalk. By this time a good crowd had gathered, urging us on as if we were Roman gladitators.
“Your pathetic,” he said. “And to think I actually feared that you may have been better than me. You are nothing but a joke.”
He knelt down and put his massive hands around my neck and squeezed. Hard.
“I don’t even need my abilities to finish you off,” he taunted.
With every second, his grip got tighter and tighter. This is where I am going to die. What a night of entertainment this would be for the ever growing crowd. I suppose I will see Karen again. She did die in vain. She died at the hands of a guy who wanted to have a high-mental pissing contest. A contest he was winning, hands down. This wasn’t fair. I refuse to let some pansy who didn’t even give me a fair shot to begin with rub me out.
With my left index finer, I motioned for a large black Sport Utility Vechicle that was parked on the side of the road to be raised. It didn’t budge. My headache worsened with every second. I tried the SUV again, this time with better results. The vehicle hovered over the middle of the road some eight feet above the ground. Blood began to ooze out of my ears.
The vehicle was suspended in the air, and my attention focused to Mark Sherman, the ogre. With one stare of my eyes, he was dragged into the street, leaving me in a heap still on the sidewalk. With a deep blink, I let the SUV go, sending it crashing onto the body of the ogre and denting the road beneath. The impact snapped Sherman’s body in half. The last thing I heard before passing out were the sounds of disbelief from the “spectators” and of police sirens.
I awoke some three days later. Sal was took my left, and Detective Fast to my right.
“How do you feel,” Sam asked.
“I feel like someone should stop drinking.”
“Oh, so you heard about that,” Sal said. “Sorry about that. Yeah, won’t happen again.”
“It’s cool,” I offered.
“Mr. Saxon,” the booming voice of Fast barked. “I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that one Kenneth Irons will not be making more people float, for lack of a better again, anytime soon.”
“Should I be more surprised you took Irons off the street or the fact you believe what he had done,” I said. “Did you arrest him?”
“Think of it more as indefinite protective custody,” Fast said.
“Will I being going away to protective custody too?” I asked. After all, Mark Sherman…”
“Yes, Mark Sherman,” Fast said. “Poor guy was hit by a car while jaywalking. It is sad to see him go.”
“Excuse me? I’m pretty sure there was at least a dozen people that saw otherwise”
“Sure,” he said. It was the guy that moves things with his mind. Mr. Saxon, consider your record expunged. Who knows, if you keep your nose clean we might work with you in the future. Now, get some rest, and we’ll talk when you’re discharged.”
Working to help curb crime in the city, if only Karen could see me now.