Friday, May 7, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Peer Advice

He didn't look like a mugger. The guy wore a bland suit and tie, a hint of paunch poking out through his jacket and thick glasses that obscured his expression. Jack slapped at his arms, breaking out of his grip.

"Back off, gramps!" he said, even as he backed into the bathroom where the man had dragged him. The middle-aged mugger stood in front of the door.

"Good work against Polaris this morning. His fields are useless if he keeps casting them where you just were. You use your speed smartly. But you can't dress like this at your day job."

Jack put up a fist, threatening to punch the guy if he came forward again.

"You need even thicker glasses. You've got the wrong guy."

"Son, I don't need x-ray vision to see through your disguise."


Rather than come closer, the man pointed at Jack’s suit jacket.

"I like the coat. It's baggy and hides how big you are. But tuck your shirt in a little looser so it bunches up. Bigger pants help, too. Always at least a size too large and even if they look baggy, you come off fat. If the public's idea of you is a fat reporter, they will be much less likely to connect you with a hero."

Jack glanced into the bathroom mirror for a split second, faster than this guy could possibly realize. But no, he didn’t look anything like his alter ego. Between the hairstyle and designer suit, how could anyone recognize him?

He glared into the assailant’s glasses.

"Now listen, I don't know who you think you--"

"Don't look people in the eyes like that.” The mugger-come-fashionista adjusted his glasses. “You need to look people in the eyes as a hero so they'll respect you. As a reporter, look down more. Maybe at your shoes or a notepad. Then you don't seem so assertive. Again, it helps throw people off.”

"Mister, you're making a fool of yourself. I'm walking through that door and if you follow me, I'll--"

Before he could stop him, the guy yanked Jack's collar down, revealing the yellow spandex shirt beneath. And before Jack could slap his hand, the guy was out of reach and in front of the door again.

Jack gawked. How could the guy be so fast?

"You're a speedster. Use it. Never wear your costume under your clothes. You can change in a closet, a restroom, a phone booth if you can find it, and no one will see anything but a blur. Don't be lazy."

Jack studied this guy’s face, but every inch was generic beyond the glasses. He had a big chin. Who had a big chin? Even blocking the door and scrutinizing Jack, this guy seemed as intimidating as a bowl of Jell-O.

"And don't just muss up your hair when you go out. You're good looking and people will notice. If you're not going drastic, get a mask, a cowl, or at least a costume that attracts the eyes more than solid yellow with no logo. Trust me: you do not want a guy with so much free time he bends the laws of gravity to rob banks figuring out your civilian identity."

“Okay. Okay.” Jack put up his palms as though to ward off anymore haymakers on his appearance. “Thanks, I guess. But who are you?”

The guy pulled press credentials from inside his jacket and pinned them on his breast pocket. They hung crooked. The name was “C. KENT.”

"A colleague.” For a moment, C. Kent’s voice was much deeper. “We’ve got to look out for the new guys. You’ll do the same some day."

The next thing Jack knew, the bathroom door closed. He didn’t even see the guy leave.

“Fast for a fat ass,” Jack remarked to himself and turned to the mirror. He buttoned his collar back up and tried to envision himself fighting crime in a cowl. Could that look cool?


  1. Ha! Great twist on superheroes. Excellent story. I think you'd enjoy a book by an awesome author I met last year. It's a great read and this story made me think of it.

  2. Very cool! The twist dawned on me slowly and that was great.

    Also, the whole thing made me miss Superman.

  3. I definitely miss superheroes like Superman. Nice job John. Really fun read.

  4. Damn. I was going to say exactly what michael said.
    damn damn damn.

    AND I just used up my swearing allotment for the month. Well, unless I get more quarters for the jar.

  5. mugger cum fashionista - loved that!!!

    marc nash

  6. I caught on pretty fast but it still worked well for me. I'd just been discussing this topic with someone yesterday. Good advice, and good story.

  7. Just loved that the characters in this story were talking in the bathroom!

    Bathroom Monologue, get it?

    Ahem. Loved this. Warms the heart that superheros watch out for the new guys.

    Jay Leno has a big chin. :)

  8. Marisa caught it. It's Jay Leno.

    I should have known Marc would like the fashionista line.

    Thanks everyone for the kind words. I used to hate Superman as a kid, but the idea grew more interesting as I grew up. I had to give him a shout out in one of the BM's eventually.

  9. Haha. Lazy super hero wearing their out fits under civilian clothes. Damn, I've been wearing Laurel's super woman thigh highs-- I thought the long black pants covered them. Back to square one.

    I love your super hero stories!

  10. Delightful and imaginative. It's nice the superheroes have guys who can give them etiquette and fashion advice.

    Appearance is everything... :)

    Loved it.

  11. I like it! Jack gets some advice from the old guy, Clark Kent. Very entertaining!

  12. Fantastic. I always love your take on superheroes.

  13. You know, if superhero comics had more of that - namely, superheroes growing old and, eventually, making room for a next generation - they might interest me more than they do. Nice one. :)

  14. This is great John. It came to me slowly too, which is a nice switch-up; usually I either get it right away or there's that big twist at the very end.
    Fun stuff!Makes me want to watch The Incredibles again, which I love.

  15. Deanna, I love The Incredibles! One of the few movies I own. Pixar does some incredible work.

    ... pun unintended, but embraced.

    Anke, I'd be happy to write about generational changes in superheroes. It'd be a fun project. While not quite on that topic, "Kingdom Come" deals with the conflict between generations in a very provocative way. It's in a lot of major bookstores and on Amazon. Might even be in your local library, if you feel like giving it a look. The artwork is painted and stunning.

    Thank you all for the kind words. Glad I can export my enjoyment of superheroes to the enjoyment of others in my little prose medium.

  16. I'm such a big super hero freak, but this piece sticks out for me especially because it feels so real and authentic. You can totally see super heros arguing about this kind of thing in real life. :) Great job!

  17. Suspected the guy was going to turn out to have superpowers, but didn't realize his identity - nice one! Not sure how Lois can bear to let him out looking that that, though... Great story. :-)

  18. I love this! Especially the C. Kent bit at the end. I'd love to get mugged by him.


  19. Fantastic! It's been a long time since I haven't seen a good piece in super heroes.

    I loved how Kent calls Jack lazy and without patronizing gives him great tips.

    Jack is very cool, isn't he? To have the super man give him tips and not gawk at the business card? ;)

    Great story! I'm putting your blog on my blog roll so I can follow your stuff more closely. :)

  20. Excellent! That C. Kent guy sure seems to know his stuff. He couldn't be...? Nah.

    Good stuff!

  21. 'Nother winner... oh, and I loved "a phone booth if you can find it..."

  22. Eric, nah. It's Jay Leno.

    Anthony, I'm glad you caught the phone booth reference. Did three revisions on this piece and I simply could not let the phone booth go.

    Mariana, that's great praise for you to want to follow me after this. I have quite an archive of posts if you'd like to look through them. I update everyday, so I'll try to serve your blogroll well.

    Thank you all. The feedback has been wonderful.

  23. Wonderful twist on some classic superheroes.

  24. All the great lines have been stolen here so suffice it to say the story just rocked. The ending when C.Kent is revealed is hilarious.
    Funny guy, you.

  25. Superhero Mentor Program? I could definitely see it! Love the old Clark Kent! Great story!


Counter est. March 2, 2008