Stories

“Sorry, Captain Freedom’s Already Taken.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the winner of “Search For A Super Hero” – Tad Adams!” Tad lunged on to the stage groin first, like a well-endowed ballet dancer.
This grand entrance certainly got the ladies’ attention.
But psychiatrists recommended children under five be moved back a row.

The crowd gasped with wonder at their new hero’s turquoise body stocking. It was tight.
And shiny.
But mostly tight.
And with good reason. Tad had a body to die for.
Hans, Gunther and Erik had in fact paid that price. Three Swiss mountaineers who od’ed on steroids. Tad found the bodies and took the parts he liked. The rest he left for the wild she-goats.
“Hello good citizens!!” Tad boomed. He had a deep voice, like a burp in a wind tunnel.
“Thank you for your well placed adoration! Who would like to ask me a question?”
Little Timmy put his only hand in the air. He kept it in his pocket for occasions such as this. How he managed to hold it up can not accurately be described here.
“Yes, my amputee admirer – what would you like to know?”
“Umm…why do you wear your underwear on the outside, Mr Tad…sir?”
“Good question, little boy. Well – for exactly the same reason you do.”
“Spillage?” Timmy enquired.
“No, my soggy supporter. Let’s just say that when you fly at 180 k’s an hour, windburn is worth taking seriously. – I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my sponsors, KillCrime Technologies –‘Where evil is jabbed in the eye with a hot needle’ and Gnome Dome – “The largest emporium of life-size garden gnomes in the state.’ “
“Tad – Johnny Fountain here, from ‘Action Weekly.’ What do you say to the feminist groups who believe you’re just an over sexed adrenaline junkie who preys on vulnerable women?”
“Well, Mr Fountain, I would tell them that I respect their opinion and gratefully thank them for their comments. – Then I would ask if they had younger sisters.”
This gave the entire crowd of four hundred and twelve a buzz. They all cheered and laughed. Except the mutes at the back.

University activist Julie Saunders, however, was not happy.
She still couldn’t find her car keys. But no-one noticed her. Julie was frumpy and somewhat dowdy. That’s right, she was frowdy. Barely noticeable in this crowd. Like an epileptic at a disco.
Next to her was Frankie Jr. Plump and pimply. Or, plimply. Frankie stood out like an epileptic at a monastery.
“Hello, Mista Adams. You’re my faverit supeyhewo of them all. Can I plees be your sidekick?”
Tad shifted his gaze towards the awkward voice. Frankie had a sheepish grin. The kind sheep have on April Fool’s Day.
Frankie loved Tad so much he even wore a souvenir tea towel for a cape, but in his haste, he forgot to wear anything else.
Frankie was 47.
Security asked him to leave.

Seeing Frankie’s plimply buttocks jiggle toward the car park conjured questions Tad had never considered.
“Did he have room in his life for a sidekick? Could he safely take a young man into battle? Did he remember to tape Idol?” These mysteries swam round his mind like a goldfish corpse in a flushing toilet bowl.

“Excuse me, Tad! Graham Hayes – ‘The National Inquisitor.’ Some have suggested that this city isn’t big enough for both you and Captain Freedom. The government have even suggested a roster system for the both of you. Any comments?”
“A roster? Never! This city has more than enough crime for everyone! I’m sure we’ll both be very busy. Remember, folks, evil doesn’t have a snooze button!”

The questions and photos continued. Until they ended. Tad’s focus began to wander. As it usually did around afternoon tea time. Vegemite crumpets were his favourite. They reminded him of his two greatest passions – crumpets, and Vegemite.

Aahh, the photos. The adoring autograph hunters. The free cheese. This was the life he always dreamed of. Ever since he received super powers, when that family of mutant cockroaches laid eggs in his ear.

Reality TV had been his salvation. He narrowly beat Senor Spatula, a Mexican chef who blinded criminals with chilli, and X-Ray Lass, the girl who could smell through walls. He was now glad he taught his Mum how to SMS. She was a great encouragement to Tad, and always had been. He never forgot those special words she spoke when he won the competition; “Tad, can you grab some yams on your way home?”
Yeah, his Mum was the coolest.
Now all he had to do was smile a lot and fight the occasional bad dude. A far cry from his early days of vigilantism. He couldn’t afford a costume back then – only the coloured jocks. Not exactly heroic, but he did have great abs, and rather pert buttocks, like two peaches in Glad-Wrap.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it,” his Grandpa would always say. He was an 84 year old nudist. The only one, in fact, at the Golden Pond Senior’s Village. The nurses weren’t too bothered though, as all the other residents were blind.
Tad did advance to woollen boxers during the winter months though. He was all too aware of shrinkage, and the damage it could do to his manly image.

“Howie Thomson, Tad. From ‘Daily Nightly.’ Captain Freedom has been defending this city from corruption and giant moths for fifteen years. What can you offer that he can’t?”
“I have long admired Captain Freedom and his excellent work, Howie. However, I believe my twelve years in the Justice Department will be of great aid.”
“Didn’t you just work in the cafeteria at the Justice Department?”
“Only for the first eleven and a half years, my well informed friend.”

This wasn’t the first time comparisons had been made between Captain Freedom and Tad. It was the eighth. Granted, Freedom had a big cape, his own talk show and a thick moustache. Tad had none of those things. Well, he did have a pencil thin moustache in his teen years, but that was only because he drew it with a pencil.
No matter. Tad was a vibrant, powerful young man who didn’t know the meaning of fear. Or several other words. But what he lacked in vocabulary, he made up for in good, clean super hero work.
This work began with his first battle. It was against a rather oily super villain called Garbo. Garbo was a disgruntled sanitation worker who tried to poison the city’s sewerage. Bit of a waste of time really. Tad took him out with one punch. Straight to Garbo’s double chin. He flew backwards in to a Chinese restaurant. It made a sound like a brick hitting a caravan. I don’t know what sort of brick. Probably a red one.
Garbo went in to a coma after that.
For six months.
Then he died.

Tad was determined to last longer than Garbo in this business. He had the powers, the cleft chin and the product endorsements. He just needed a better moniker. All the good names were already under copyright. Manuel Mann, the Man’s Man. The Lard Kid. Lazy Eyed Susan. All gone. He really wanted Captain Freedom, but that was already taken. (By Captain Freedom) Tad wasn’t a name that brought awe and fear, but he had no choice. He could always kill Captain Freedom so the name would be free, but Freedom had a dangerous reputation. He was known for attacking his opponents with all the relentless savagery of a bull elephant eating a baby seal.

Suddenly – a female shriek! Two blocks away. The mysterious woman cried as if she had found a nose in her Caesar’s salad. Not her nose. Aunt Ruth’s. The throng of Tad lovers swivelled their heads from the scream, to Tad, and back again. Tad did his groin lunge thing and raised his finger in the air.
“Don’t panic, friends! Tad is here to rescue this damsel from her distress! I will bring swift vengeance upon the culprit in a most brutal, yet artistic, fashion! Then all shall tremble at the mention of…”
The screaming stopped.
Then the gurgling began.
Then that stopped.
Silence fell upon those gathered, but no-one was hurt.
Tad subtlely adjusted his groin to its standard position and slowly lowered his hand.
“So – who wants to see me lift a bus?”
Once more, the crowd cheered.

——–

“His World”

His was a dark world. Devoid of all the good things that gentlemen and educated women often discussed.

No friends. Nor family meetings. Only whatever social contact was necessary to achieve the task.

Few could live this way. Few have.

A predator amongst men. Anything with breath; a potential target. As long as they breathed evil. He would have no part in erasing good. It was a rarity in his experience. Something to be valued, protected. A smile to a stranger. A tip for an earnest waiter. These were valid attempts. He went further. He fought the encroaching evil. RO 12:9 “Cling to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” The book of Romans. Chapter 12. Verse 9. His only distinguishable feature. A seemingly insignificant tattoo on his right palm. His gun hand. His motivation, his mantra. To be etched on his tombstone , if he were allowed one. No matter. Recognition was a weakness. It was necessary neither in death nor life. Invisibility was perhaps his greatest ally.

——–

“The Rebel”

He made his mark alone on the wall he’d spied on for quite some time. How many people passed this wall? How many minds ready for rebellion? It surprised him that no-one had exploited this brick canvas before. Or, maybe someone had. The cops quelled any anti-United Earth sentiment with brutal efficiency. He wanted to take the chance. That’s why he came here. These streets offered some cover at nightfall, but the feeling of the city remained the same during waking hours. It wasn’t what it used to be. It was far worse, and not because of the constant patrols and intrusive surveillance. Big Brother was semi-welcome here. The people were desperate for peace. But now that they had it, they questioned its price. Not publicly of course. The facade could never be questioned. One doubtful, fearful voice could quite possibly ensnare others. Then where would it end? Everyone knew the city could easily revert to what it once was. An ugly place. A mass of hate and danger. Humanity was at a loss here.

——–

“Emily Ross”

Emily Ross is 9 years old. She had a party planned. All her friends from school and netball were going to be there. At least her 8th birthday was fun.

Here, the nurses were nice. Her Mum bought her dinner each night. Spaghetti. Her Mum always made the best spaghetti.

Strangely, she did miss school. Not the homework, but Miss Fanelli, her Italian teacher. And playing at lunch-time.

She could sit up and watch netball on TV though.

Whenever she had visitors from school, she put her wig back on. It was itchy, but she felt weird without out. Emily Ross likes netball, and spaghetti, and Italian.

Emily Ross was 9 years old.

———–

The Cult of Donald

This was my submission for the annual monologue competition at His Majesty’s Theatre. This one didn’t make it to the finals, but my submission from last year did, which you can read here. 

My step brother Donald once tried to start a cult. Actually, he didn’t try; he succeeded. Though I often wonder, how exactly do you measure the success of a cult? By the number of robe clad bodies the police have to put in body bags? Or maybe by the number of successful Hollywood actors who follow your teachings?

Thankfully, Donald didn’t kill anyone, or himself, but he did prove that you don’t need a good education or even a pleasant body odour to amass followers who believe whatever craziness spouts from your mouth. Apparently all you need is a mildly entertaining delusion, and no awareness of personal space.

I was always close with Donald. We first met when he and his Mum moved in with my Dad and I. My Mum ran away with the postman when I was five. He wasn’t our postman, but he was a postman, and he had his own motorbike. Dad was a mess for a while, but it helped us become closer, and forced me to grow up sooner than I wanted to. Eventually he met Sara at a PTA meeting. She was cheery, always spoke too loud and was an excellent cook. She still is actually, and sends me brownies for my birthday every year.

Donald was Sara’s son and, like me, an only child, although he was a year older. Both Dad and Sara were introverts and had no friends or relatives so they had no choice but to bring us along on their dates and put us on a table by ourselves. It explains why I’ve always had a thing for expensive food and older women. Sara moved in after a few months and Donald and I shared a room. He had the top bunk. When we started going to high school, we drifted apart as he was always the sporty, popular type and I became the “stay indoors and read fantasy novels” type.

You know what they say about James Bond? How, “men want to be him, and women want to be with him.” Donald lived that. I don’t know how. I mean, we weren’t that different growing up, but as soon as he hit puberty, he left me in his dust. I was discarded like an imaginary friend from childhood. We still talked, sometimes, but as we hit our teens, our worlds just became so different, and that’s when I noticed that Donald’s world wasn’t just different from mine, but from every sane person’s in the galaxy. His wild ponderings would make Nicolas Cage blush.

It started innocently enough, much like owning tigers as pets, and DIY electrical repairs, do. Donald used to hide porno mags, under my mattress I might add, and began communicating mainly through grunts. I just thought he was embracing puberty like a long lost friend, but then he started to get…weird. His Mum wasn’t exactly normal though. She had this fetish about wearing something blue at all times, and she never shaved her legs. Or armpits. Or upper lip. Dad saw past all that, as that’s what love does. It blurs the edges of reality until you forget what it looks like.

Donald’s strange behaviour started when he first noticed women. He was dating at twelve and lost his virginity at fourteen. I only remember that because Dad bought him a PlayStation as a prize. Donald stopped playing when I continually beat him at Tekken 3.

His second girlfriend was a year older than me and was originally my maths tutor until she got distracted by Donald and Dad had to fire her. They’d always make out on his bunkbed, and insist that I stay and watch. I must admit that sometimes I did, but only if there wasn’t anything good on TV.

Donald moved out straight after high school and we lost contact for years. I’d hear rumours every now and then. He was working as a stuntman in L.A. He married a ballet dancer and moved to Switzerland. He was in prison for running an insurance scam. All of it seemed believable, but I didn’t find out the truth until two years ago when Donald surprised us all by turning up at Dad and Sara’s house for Christmas. And that’s when I finally managed to get the truth from him, after a few glasses of cheap scotch by the fireplace.

He looked pretty similar to the memories I had of him, with his youthful, cheeky expression, wild hair and a staggering sense of self confidence. However, he now had a fake tan somewhere between brown and orange (what I called brorange) and teeth whiter than an Englishman’s thighs. Not that I have a lot of experience with that, but I did once see Hugh Grant at the beach.

He travelled around the country for years, doing odd jobs like fruit picking, telemarketing, concert security and one month at a funeral home. He never had a house of his own, but slept on people’s couches and more often than not, in loose women’s beds.

The way he explained it sounded like some low budget indie film, with Orlando Bloom playing the part of Donald. You know the type, where everyone’s quirky, people dance in the rain, and the soundtrack is filled with hipster acoustic bands that no-one’s heard of.

Ten minutes into our chat it was pretty obvious that he’d had a lot to say, and I didn’t want to get off the rollercoaster he was describing. He never really asked about me, but there wasn’t much to say. “Failed arts student and currently potential failed political science student. Now, tell me again. How many of these sisters did you sleep with at once?” My life was Mr Bean to his James Dean. It didn’t compare.

He told me had an epiphany one night. Well, that’s the word he was trying to say, but he kept mispronouncing it. It’s the only time I hid my laughter. He used words like, “consumerism,” “post modern” and “financial terrorists” repeatedly. In his mind staples of society like having a mortgage, paying taxes and being gainfully employed were of the devil, and simplicity was heaven sent. It worked out for him though, as the owner of the strawberry farm he was living at at the time died while fixing a fence. He and Donald were very close, so Donald took it upon himself to keep the farm running, and credit to him, he managed to do it apparently, with a few changes. The first one was to replace the current staff, and being on a major road in country Victoria, it was always a popular destination for backpackers.

All the people that worked with him now had one thing in common. Or two things really. Yep, they were all women. The farm was the Amish version of the Playboy Mansion. Making the most of his charm, he began to build his little empire, and with no boss, or parental supervision present, his mad cravings for power roamed free. He had so much free time and surrounded by sunshine, bikini clad strawberry merchants and generous doses of marijuana his imagination kicked into overdrive. He was intent on creating a new way of living and sharing it with the world.

Donald believed in his grand delusions so much that he legally changed his name to “Donal.” He just dropped the “d” and told people that “Donal” meant, “Seed of the dragon,” in Gaelic. It didn’t. However, I can tell you that Donal was the seventh most popular name for boys during the winter of 1840, and that the rough translation of Donal is, “one whose face resembles a potato.”

At the height of his powers, it seemed he was a curious creature. You know that horror movie from the ‘80s, The Fly? It’s where Jeff Goldblum and a fly get into a transporter chamber and their DNA is mixed, so Mr Goldblum becomes a rather gross human fly. Imagine the same scenario but with a hippy ‘musician’, a 50s revival preacher, a B grade movie actor of the Steve Guttenberg ilk and a game show host all crammed into a transporter. The result, with a strange scent of forest berries, would be Donal. He was more magnetic than Ian McKellen in the X-Men movies. People were just attracted to him, or at least unemployed girls with low self esteem were.

You know how you sometimes see hot girls with ugly guys? That’d be Donal, if he could stick to one girl, that is. Usually in such partnerships the guy is either rich, has a great sense of humour or is well hung, or all of the above. I believe the ladies call that a “hubby hat trick.” Donal was none of those (yes, I did see him in the change rooms when we were 11 so I can only assume that like me, nothing’s changed since puberty) but he had charisma oozing from him, like a jam donut that someone stepped on.

In the eyes of the few dozen women at the farm, he was cooler than an ice sculpture in the shape of Ryan Gosling. Yes, that cool. He had this habit of assigning tasks on the farm by reading their aura, kind of like the sorting hat in Harry Potter. He showed me photos of the girls and told me what they did though and I can tell you there was no metaphysical discernment. As far as I could tell, the skinny ones rotated sleeping with and/or bathing him, while the more…rotund ones did all the manual labour.

He even wrote a book. Well it wasn’t a book in the traditional sense. Even the term, “pamphlet” would be a generous description. It consisted of 16 black and white pages which he photocopied at the chemist he sometimes worked at. It had the unlikely name of, “The Complete Guide to Understanding Oneness.” The title in itself was a giveaway as to the authority of the argument, as he misspelled both understanding and oneness.

Three months later he published, “The Complete Guide to Understanding Part 2”, which obviously raised doubts about the ‘completeness’ of the first volume. The second volume was more of the same, with everything having capital letters, but it also included five pages on how to interpret dreams, and a whopping sixteen pages of his artistic renderings of the history of the universe, which consisted of more naked female aliens than a Captain Kirk wet dream. Most of the drawings looked like the results of a whisky fuelled Pictionary night, though I must say his likeness of breasts would rival the great Runbinesque artists. He tried to sell his books to every local bookstore he could find, but was faced with the response that is familiar to all of us, but not to Donal at that point – rejection, and humiliation. He then set up a strawberry stall at the market and, using his girls as bait, managed to draw in many customers, and many more wives who were angry at said customers. He unloaded a few of his books that way tough. Even barefoot cult leaders know that sex sells.

He held weekend services for months where he’d sit in a tree and spout whatever nonsense came into his mind from the previous night’s drug fuelled love-in. From what I can gather, usually it involved working on your tan naked, so to get more of the Sun’s harmonic energy inside your body, and trying to interpret the secret language of trees. It all seemed harmless, and amusing, enough.

I was more interested in how he got so many women to sleep with him rather than his chaotic philosophies. I could never do it. The only technique that I found useful was pity, begging, booze or money. Or all of the above, but Donal was a natural.

His trick was that in every conversation with a woman, he’d tell them he had a cute birthmark in the shape of a baby unicorn. He doesn’t, but he later gave himself a tattoo of one with a ballpoint pen just below his belly button. I got to admit, that was a great idea, as he’d always reveal it to girls before somehow successfully seducing them. Now if he wrote a book, or pamphlet, about that, I’d be all over it.

Donal spent almost a year at his farm, making strawberries and love, though not at the same time I’d imagine, but like all fantasies, it had to end. It was more of a whimper rather than a dodgy TV expose or shootout with local law enforcement however.

A jealous ex-boyfriend of one of his “Don Dolls” as he called them tried to burn the farm down. So with fear being a greater motivator than the combined powers of lust and pride, he left his dream and shuffled back to reality.

We still catch up occasionally. In fact the last time, I gave him some advice, and surprisingly, he took it.

He’s already got a haircut, a nice suit and a fake resume. He left for Canberra a month ago.

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