When a Super-Hero becomes more, is that really less?
| TALK ABOUT SOLACE
From apartment 3C on the third floor of Clemmons Ville Condos, the sky always appears black on rainier days, black rather than gray.
It’s raining outside today, and as always, when it’s raining, I can’t help but think that I’m wasting my life. I sit here at my desk in my home office and look at it, the rain, as it cascades down the thin windows that shield me from the rest of the world. It travels not in one continuous river, but as a collection of strange, finger-like torrents, all feeling their tedious ways down to the already sodden earth.
I feel as if I’m wasting my life as I sit here and watch the sky cry aggressive tears from clouds that appear to be black.
The wind blows as if it were a thing alive.
The water collects and swirls upon the sidewalk that sits before my particular complex.
The ground sinks in like the puckered mouth of a senior citizen.
I feel as if I’m wasting my life because I can stop these things if I wanted.
I was once known as Wendt.
I can bend steel and fuse coal to diamond with my bare hands.
I can traverse land and sky at Mach 4 speeds.
My skin can withstand forces that would tear a fully armored war tank apart in seconds.
Me, the most powerful man on earth, reduced to staring out of his window at an overcast sky on a rainy, very black day.
How pathetically simple.
Tuesday, the day after the rainstorm.
I wake at 3:13 a.m. with the taste of old copper in the back of my throat. It’s as if the Tooth Fairy visited me in the dead of night and emptied her entire payload down my throat.
I am thirsty.
Copper and thirst.
It’s been this way for the past three years.
Every time it rains anything more than a slight drizzle, I always end up smack dab in the middle of the office my Boss, Emeril Goins, supplied me with in order to perform my job to maximum efficiency, staring out at the lost, black world like some kind of zombie.
I don’t know what I’m looking for exactly, and I am never aware of the dreamy passage of the hours that come and go, but I am aware that I am searching for something. I just can’t figure out what that something is.
Whether it rains a bit harder than a drizzle or not, at 3:13 sharp in the a.m., on every morning for the past three years, I wake up with the taste of old copper in the back of my throat and a thirst that seems to be drawn from the very belly of some vast, incomprehensible desert.
I wake up with the vague feeling that I’m searching for something, something that I once had, something that I perhaps once embraced with my very soul, but something that my heart tells me will continue to evade me for the rest of my days.
I rise and fix myself a drink of water on this morning, stumping my big toe as I do every morning on the linoleum that juts up a bit as you enter the kitchen, just as I do every morning, although I know that the water will do nothing to quench my odd, three year thirst. I drink my water and think my slow, sad thoughts of what the following day might bring. Lunch…bag or drive-through? Work…fast day or slow day? Wives…a decent and loving romp in the sack, or a careful, coarse thrive in the troubled woods of a slowly deteriorating marriage?
‘What variations of these things might the day bring?’ I’m thinking, when the idea of the source of the thirst comes to me.
Just like that.
Like a bat out of hell.
Like a racehorse out of a holding gate.
Like a bolt from the blue.
The taste of copper, old and tired and ruined. Pennies are copper. Pennies are simple. Pennies are everyday enough things which are only missed when one goes a bit too long without finding one in one’s everyday trek through life.
Pennies equal old copper taste.
Old copper taste in the back of my throat equals my sadness because of the lack of what was once simple, and unquestioned everyday for me.
What was this?
The simply violent, yet altogether necessary release of pent up energies that being the hero Wendt once allowed.
The thirst, that odd, twisting thirst that eats at my heart and soul far more than any thirst could ravage the mouth and throat…the thirst is my knowing that I can never again operate as Wendt.
The thirst is my secret curse.
My secret curse is being normal.
Three years ago, Heroes were told to put away their interesting costumes and dazzling abilities. They…We, were told to trade in our high times and swashbuckling attitudes for sensible slacks and average, everyday employ. We were ordered to give Saving up, for good, or suffer the consequences.
Most of us obeyed without much question.
Those of us who didn’t obey were thrown into prison, or exiled to whatever godforsaken gulags that mankind had prepared in advance for us, made “Special”, just in case of just such an occurrence.
Mankind’s intelligence and new ingenuity have deemed us unnecessary.
Petty criminals and cats in trees are solely for the authorities to handle, now.
How unnecessary and sad.
As I return to my bed (which my wife of thirteen years has lately begun to neglect using) after managing to quench my mind-thirst, after three years of guessing, suffering, and secretly enjoying the passing rumble and ramble and disarray of the noon train that runs beneath my apartment, I see that a volcano has erupted in San Juan, Mexico.
Countless homes lost.
Billions in damage.
These things equal Opportunity.
These things equal the loss of the taste of old copper and mind-thirst.
I can act.
When I arrive in San Juan five minutes later, Mount Saba doe is still in the throes of violent, corpulent eruption. It’s a simple enough task for me to slam through the upper layers of lava that pour from the volcano’s mouth and smash the huge plates that have shifted enough to release the mountain’s pent up frustration into a position that is close enough to decent to stem the flow of magma and stop the mountain ripping itself apart.
Combined, these actions cause a small earthquake, but this is altogether necessary. It saves more lives than it takes.
With myself and a few other tentative Heroes helping out with the relief effort, everything is back to normal after a solid month.
We are praised and revered again, just as in times of old.
It feels like Heaven, not only to me, but to many other Heroes, too.
A month passes.
And nothing happens.
Many more rainy, black days come and go with the slow passage of Time, but nothing happens to call Us forth from exile again, ready in our dashing tunics and flattering masks and perfect grins, ready and willing to save the day.
One morning I wake with something nagging like the salty taste of copper in the back of my throat.
Not again, oh God, not again.
Then, an idea strikes me.
There is a dull ring on the other end of the earpiece I’m holding.
“Hello?” a voice says at 3:13 in the silent morning.
“Hello Magma. This is Wendt.”
“Hello, Wendt. What makes you think of me at 3:14 in the morning with an air of concern and worry on your voice?”
“Well…. it’s terribly frustrating that nothing’s happening now, and our gifts are going to waste and this shit makes no sense and how is it fair, Wendy? Magma? You tell me how it’s fair, and I’ll give the worry up. I’ll give the thirst up. I’ll give the coppery taste in the back of my throat up. Tell me how this is fair, and I’ll hang this phone up right now.”
“What are you getting at, Paris? What is this call about, really?”
“Magma. I’m bored and sad and I’m feeling pointless with the way things are going now. That plugged volcano is plugged, but your gifts…your gifts could change things in many ways.”
Outside, the sound of thunder rose upon the sky’s face like seedlings through a formerly baked hardpan.
“I’ve got a plan,” the man whom had once more begun to refer to himself as a Hero named Wendt said. “I’ve got a plan to make things better again.”