A series of stories that revolve around an iconic figure, a superhero(recognizable to all) and how he affects the lives of people around him.
I take pictures. Things, places, buildings-done it all my life. My earliest memory is of me clicking on a camera while I’m crouched on my roof, my mother screaming at me from down below. I don’t blame her. It was two in the morning and I was perched on the roof, camera in both hands. I almost fell twice, but somehow some thing in the universe kept me up there. It was a falling star, shooting across the sky, cinematic and bright and just…beautiful. My mother freaked, but my Dad looked at the picture, gave me a look and took it down to the local paper. The editor put it on the front page, even put my name under it. It sold a lot of copies that year, but people still don’t believe it was taken by a six year old. Sometimes I look at that old newspaper clipping in my desk when I’m feeling maudlin and I don’t believe it. But yeah, I’ve been taking pictures ever since.
I’ve been taking pictures ever since. Made a little money off it too, receptions, weddings, stylized birthday parties, some pics of landscape for magazines. When money dwindled I did some, er, risqué pieces. Some of them blonde-ish and bare if you know what I mean. Needless to say, I was headed down a dark road. One of those caught the eye of Perry, my future boss and stand-in pain in the ass, and I was hired over the phone. I packed my things, kissed my red-eyed mum, hugged my beaming Dad and took off for Metropolis. I was leaving home, leaving the old Olsen homestead and heading for the Land of Dreams.
Land of dreams.
Metropolis was a nice enough city. Generic, maybe that’s what got me. Multi-lane traffic, stop lights, wide streets, large chain stores. It smelled new and fresh and I swear, my sneakers squeaked as I walked down the street. There was none of the pollution that rose up and choked the air, no cars double-parked, no spikes in the crime rate, no panhandlers hustling you for change. Nice. Clean. Pulse less.
Perry White, editor -in-chief, was a heavy-set man, grizzled and grey and looked at me with hawk eyes. I tried to act calm under his gaze but after a while I felt a little nauseous and wondered how he would feel if upchucked all over his U-shaped desk. Then I laughed and he asked me what was so funny and I told him. He didn’t laugh back. Strike one.
I met quite a few people I liked and didn’t like at the The Daily Planet.
Logan Gant. Nice guy. Sports correspondent. Doesn’t respect office space. Won’t rat if you take an extra ink capsule from a co-worker’s desk.
Ron Troupe. Award winning journalist. Quiet. Distant. Hulks out when you take stuff and don’t return it. Even pens. Jeez.
Lois Lane. Always on the phone, cell phone cradled against her left ear. Always scribbling something. Always, always cute.
Clark Kent. Goofy. Nice. Goofy.
And these were the guys whose names I remembered. Oh yeah, there’s Cat Grant. Beautiful gal. Anytime I see her I’m reminded of my neighbour’s dog, bulldog, a well-defined and truly savage. Harsh words, but a sentiment shared by the entire staff of The Daily Planet, even Goofy.
My days in The Daily Planet were not filled with song and Perry squinted at my pictures and asked to see my ID. When I asked why, he said I couldn’t be the man he hired over the phone. That guy had talent. Cat had been in the office at the time and had guffawed at my expense. Maybe I should have kept my trap shut, but Cat was there and she brings out the worst in everyone. So I had to tell Perry that my pictures were awesome and maybe he was the one that had problem recognizing talent. Perry White had risen out of his chair, his face the stuff of nightmares, and told me I had a week to bring back something worthwhile or I could clear my desk and take my bony butt back to Cleveland. Strike 2.
She became my muse. She moves around in these tight circle, a broad, bright smile on her face. A party girl. She knows all the latest trendy drinks and dances well…well, a lot. Even when there’s no music. Red hair, a lot of make-up, short, short skirts. The day I met her, Perry had just screamed at me about something and I was downing drinks so I would forget. I had thought of taking the first flight back home, just hauling my ass off and forget my boss and the way I felt like crap every morning and worse by evening. Then I’d drained my third drink and suddenly felt a hand at my elbow. I had spun around and there she was, a little smile playing on the corners of her mouth.
“Hi,” she said, her accent American. “My name’s Yvenka.”
I waved. “Hey, there y-v-e-n-k-a.”
Then it was the small talk, the flirting, the part where she put her hand on my shoulder and let it slide down my back. Then I would follow by leaning into her, my gaze falling on her pink-glossed lips, the soft angle of her jaw. I wasn’t falling in love, but I was falling in something.
Well, it wasn’t exactly a BOOM, more like distant thunder. But it was enough to rattle the bar and knock some bottles behind the bar. Everybody had this panicked look and Yvenka leaned into me, her breaths coming and going so fast I thought she was going to pass out. I managed to peel her off me and keep her upright while I slid off the bar stool. Smoke. Screams. Sirens. I felt for the strap of my Nikon XL. Metropolis had just become my kind of town.
Apologizing to a shocked Yvenka, I had edged out of the bar, edged my way through the staring crowd. There was a pillar of smoke billowing out into the sky just over a stack of buildings. A fire truck sped past us, sirens blaring. Someone beside me said something and I tapped his shoulder and he spun round. “What did you say?”
“It’s the bank,” he gasped.. “First Monument.”
I spun round, as much as I could bunched in by all these people, pushed my way through. That’s when I saw it. A motorbike leaned against the side walk, all nice and shiny and waiting just for me.
GAS LINE EXPLOSION AT FIRST MONUMENT
It was brilliant. First Monument caught in the middle of a burn-out, flames spreading and smothering the once proud building. Fire fighters trudged up the steps, grappling with the heavy-duty hoses in their arms. People ran down those same steps, arms flailing, one woman carrying a baby (the Universe put that in for me). I had caught it all in one perfect shot.
Perry was overjoyed and after that, I could do no wrong.