Friday, May 13, 2011

5/12/11 - Why Heroes Never Cry

"Load up on guns and bring your friends / It's fun to lose and to pretend."

(Art by Dean Stahl)

"Do you want to be a superhero?" that's what the sign asked Rodney Carmichael, three years ago.  

Three years ago, Rodney was eighteen years old and had just barely squeaked out of High School. Healthy but too weak for the Army. Not too uneasy on the eyes but no super model either. Bright eyed but dumb as a post.

He could have gone into flipping burgers at his uncle's truck stop. He could have left town for the big city and flipped burgers there, too. But by God he wanted more.

And there was that sign at the bus stop, pointing right at him and offering the opportunity of a lifetime. The government was going to make Super Heroes, trying to recreate the procedure that created Mr. USA all those years ago. Who wanted to volunteer for testing?

It involved some risk, of course. No promises, no guarantees. Just a chance for the lucky few.

But Rodney Carmichael wanted out of the bad hand life had played him. So he signed up, got a bus ticket to Neo York City, and underwent weeks of physical and genetic testing at the hands of Dr. Yesterday and his creepy sex dwarfs to see if he was compatable.

And, for once in his life, the cards were good. Turns out he had good genes. Amazing, super-deluxe, one in a million perfect genes.

Who would have thought?

So sooner than you could say "lie down, sonny boy," they had him scrubbed and going in for crazy weird science surgery. Gene therapy. Electro chemical baths. Strange substances.

Alien technology no one !@#$ing understands but everyone uses anyway.

He lived through it, which was a miracle unto itself, given all that. And he not only lived, but prospered. He bench-pressed ten tons. Heard people talking a mile away. Flew to near orbit.

Understood complex mathematics for the first time in his life.

On graduation day he took a punch from Mr. USA, himself, and staggered away to laugh about it

And that's how Rodney became Rockethand. That's why there's Rockethand action figures, breakfast cereal, t-shirts, and a fan club.

That's why, whenever there's trouble in America, you can call up Rockethand and his friends, and they'll be there. Soon.

He smiles that blank and friendly smile from televisions everywhere. He rescues cats from trees and stops bank robberies. He leads parades and tells kids not to take illegal drugs.

He's perfect. Amazing. Super-deluxe.

One in a million

But all those eggheads that Yesterday had running his tryouts, running all those tests to see how much his body could take? They didn't pay as much attention to something a lot more important.

They didn't look at his mind.

They didn't ask around town and find out that Michael Carmichael had been beating Rodney black and blue since before the day he was born. The fact that his mother's stomach was in the way didn't deter him in this important chore.

They didn't ask about the bullying in school that comes with your father being the designated county drunk, wife abuser, bigamist, and occasional fire hydrant stealer. They didn't ask whether all that bullying and possible brain damage at home eventually created something even worse.

They didn't read his diaries. They didn't ask about the missing pets. They didn't interview the girls he knew in high school who were !@#$ing scared of him. !@#$ing scared of what he might do.

!@#$ing scared of what he already did do.

None of that mattered because his genes were picture perfect, one in a million, super-deluxe. So what if he stared too long at wrong things? So what if he laughed at the wrong moments?

So what if he acted like he had a noggin full of broken dishes, sometimes?

That's what they're still telling me, even now. Dr. Yesterday's apparently shouting it over the phone in my subordinates' ears while I'm cleaning up his damn mess. Amazing, super-deluxe, one in a million.

Can't we just talk him down...?

Dr. Yesterday's one of the smartest people on the planet, but he just doesn't understand certain common sense things. He can't get his head wrapped around the idea that, when someone's brain damaged, sociopathic, and not firing on all 52 cards, it is generally not a good idea to introduce crazy, weird science substances into their bodies and turn them on like a Chanukah bush.

No, not at all.

That's why there's a room full of screaming Rockethand Fan Club kids seven miles away, not knowing why their best friend, the greatest man they've ever known, is frothing at the mouth, screaming at invisible fathers, and threatening to kill them all.

That is why I'm hanging upside down out the Flier, holding a gun the size of an East German female swim team member, loaded with bullets as big around as my arm that cost about as much as the GNP of your average oil-rich despotic sheikhdom, waiting for a flock of birds two miles away to get out of my !@#$ing way so I can get a good bead on Rodney's left temple, five miles past that.

If I aim the shot just right, no one else in the room should be caught in the blast. If I time it right he'll hear the shot just as the bullet hits his brains.

If I do this right I'll have killed him before he knows he's as good as dead.

I tell people I haven't cried since Divine died. But looking at that screaming, angry, sad, and broken face I'm about to turn into a red mushroom cloud, I'm not sure the tears gumming up my sights are just the wind. 

(SPYGOD is listening to Smells like Teen Spirit (Tori Amos) and not drinking a !@#$ thing)

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