Monday, February 28, 2011

STARDUST #1 "Captain Amazing" - pt. 4

Jill’s car was a 2010 Audi S4, so if nothing else, Sean would be riding home in style. Being a nurse married to an architect, in addition to the money their parents left them, let Jill do everything in style.

Sean sat in the passenger seat and stared out the window. If Jill wanted to talk, she was going to have to initiate it. It did not take long.

“What did I tell you two months ago about needing to find work so you would have better insurance?” Jill asked like she was scolding a child. “If you had really broken something, do you think that fly-by-night insurance company you pay into was going to pay for everything?”

“Don’t worry about me,” Sean said dismissively without turning his face from the window.

“I wish I didn’t have to,” Jill said and she sounded like she really meant it, “but it’s been my job to worry about you since Mom and Dad decided I should be the executor for your share of the inheritance. And that makes it my duty to tell you that your share of the inheritance is almost gone.”

“What? That’s impossible.”

“It’s not impossible. Do you even read the statements I send you? Or took any of my advice on investing it? You’ve been getting hit hard by income tax every year while it was just sitting in a savings account and then drawing off it like a sponge after your unemployment benefits ran out...”

Sean tried to tune her out. He knew he should be paying attention, but he could not focus on money issues right now. It was too mundane. Something extraordinary had happened to him last night, he was sure of it, but he was also afraid that if he was dragged down by the ordinary details of life, he would lose that special feeling. So instead of listening, he paid attention to the route they were taking. They were on Villa Street now, at the top of the hill overlooking the downtown area.

“Turn here,” Sean said abruptly. “Jill, turn right up here!” he added, pointing to the right.

“I was driving you home,” Jill reminded him.

“My bike! I’ve gotta see if it’s still where I left it!” Sean demanded. When they approached the alley where the Ducati M900 had been left, Sean did not even wait for Jill to stop the car. He jumped out and limped to the alley’s entrance. “No! Oh no…!” he moaned.

At the age of 15, Sean had noticed that superheroes in comic books never cussed, so he gave up cussing. Even when the superheroes started cussing in comic books a few years later, Sean never fell back into the habit of cussing. Now, with no sign of his beloved motorcycle where he had left it less than a full day earlier, he let loose a stream of obscenity and profanity that surprised Jill when she heard it coming from him. He was screaming and hitting his fists on a brick wall to vent his frustration when Jill got out of the car.

“I'm sorry,” Jill said and this time she also sounded like she meant it. “I've got my cellphone on me if you want me to call the police for you.”

“No, it's okay,” Sean said, though he did not sound at all like he meant it. “I'll handle it.” He came back over to the passenger side of Jill's car, opened the door, and grabbed his bag of personal affects. “I think I'd just like to walk home from here.”

Jill nodded silently, got back into her car, and drove away.

Sean watched until her Audi turned the next corner and disappeared from view. Then he dug the mask out of the plastic bag and put it on. “One last mission for Captain Amazing...” he said out loud as he dug out his jacket and put it on. He put on his gloves while he walked and then dumped the empty bag in a garbage can he passed. The thought had occurred to him to look for the motorcycle thieves and extract a healthy dose of vengeance, but he had no idea where to start looking and he did already have a mission he had promised to perform. The dollar store was only six blocks away.
Captain Amazing was a rare sight downtown in the afternoon, but not so rare that he attracted anything more than curious stares. Sean was used to seeing staring faces. What he was not used to was walking into a dollar store and seeing someone else in a mask staring back at him.

“I'm robbing this store!” the man in the black ski mask said with a heavy Hispanic accent as he waved his gun at Captain Amazing. “Go find your own!”

The gunman seemed to be working alone. Sean spotted a customer, a black man, in the aisles standing still with his hands up and the Indian man behind the counter obviously worked there as the cashier. The cashier was standing there with a fistful of cash in one hand and the other holding the cash register it came from. It was hard to tell from the gunman's voice how old he was, but he was between 20 and 30. His tone had been casual, flippant, instead of frightened. This probably was not his first robbery. He also did not seem to recognize the Captain Amazing costume at all and Sean realized that he had been mistaken for a rival robber.
Sean put his hands up. “Easy there,” he said. “I didn't know this was your territory. Just don't hurt anyone.”

“Don't tell me what to do!” the gunman shouted at him, before accusing Sean of having a sexual proclivity towards mothers. The man waved his gun -- looked like a semi-automatic, probably a 9mm Glock – around some more.

“Just take it easy... take it easy...” Sean repeated calmly. He had not shut up yet because he could not decide what to do next. It seemed like a good idea to keep the gun trained on him so it would not be aimed at the cashier. Keep him from doing something stupid. He looked the gunman right in the eyes. What he did not expect to see was the reflection of green twinkling light, like the Aurora, in the man's eyes. Sean was startled and stepped back suddenly. The gunman did not react at all. Instead, he just stood there as if dumbfounded... or hypnotized, or mesmerized or something...

Taking advantage of the situation, Sean put one hand over the barrel of the gun, slid a finger from his other hand behind the trigger, and popped the gun out of the man's hand. The hand just fell slowly to the man's side as he stared off into space.
“Oh my stars and garters,” Sean said. “I do have superpowers.”
NEXT: Sean Causer abandons being plain old Captain Amazing for being the new Stardust. NEW Stardust? And does he really have superpowers or just thinks he does? Plus, Sean's plans for his future bring him into conflict with "The Man Who Stole Comic Books." Come back in a month and see how he does!

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