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Drinking With Superman
Drinking With Superman
So last night I'm sitting at Lou's First & Last Chance, a smoky little dive just outside of Hennepin County. If you want to go to a smoky dive these days, it can't be in Hennepin County. Not since the smoking ban.
Alcohol good, smoke bad.
I squinted my eyes when the door opened, letting slits of light from the oncoming traffic beam through the door like a cheap laser light show. Through the smoke I could make a tall figure wearing a red cape. This wasn't Loring Park or the Gay 90's, so I wondered what this guy was thinking. It turned out, he knew what he was doing.
"Give me the usual, Lou," the costumed dude said approaching the bar.
Lou, a short pear-shaped bald man, scurried back to a room behind the bar, then emerged bearing a luminescent green cocktail clasped in welders gloves. Lou deposited the drink on the bar. The beverage gave off a sickly green glow, illuminating the costumed crusader's face.
"There you go, Superman," Lou said, saluting the greatest of all superheros.
Superman perched himself a bar stool away from me. He was wearing tights, but he wasn't gay. His brows were furrowed tightly despite the rakish lock of hair curling playfully over his right eyebrow. He looked pissed.
I lifted my half-full glass of scotch in salute to him. The glass is always half full unless someone is willing to refill it because they think it's half empty. They're entitled to their opinion and to refill my drink.
"You're looking a little rough around the edges, Superman," I said, taking a swig of scotch.
He scowled at me. For a moment, I thought he was going to hit me. He took a belt from his glowing green glass and set it down on the bar. He belched. LOUD. In fact, shit fell off the walls. A couple playing darts lost the board. Everyone looked at him, then began applauding. I don't care how drunk you are. You're not gonna fuck around with Superman, even if he's trashed too.
"Rough? ROUGH?" he said, grabbing me by the collar and pulling me toward him. "I look rough to you, asshole?"
I can tell you now, my eyes were as big as saucers. I thought I was gonna crap my pants. Superman's steely blue eyes were blazing with fire - half crazy. I gulped reflexively before he loosened his grip.
"Sorry," he said. He let go of my shirt and I plopped back onto my barstool. "It has been kind of rough. It's too much. I just can't fix it all..."
I didn't say anything. I just watched him. I mean, it's not everyday that I see Superman, much less a Superman who seems hellbent on getting himself trashed at my favorite dive.
He lifted the luminescent liquor to his lips. "You know, it's hard work being a superhero.
People expect you to fix all their problems and make the world safe. It's just too much, even with all my powers."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," I said, immediately feeling stupid. How could I know what he meant? I didn't have any superpowers, unless it was holding my liquor well. But trying stopping crime with that."
Superman snorted in his drink. He started laughing. It was a good sound. The sound that maybe everything would be okay, that even if all the shit on CNN was happening, our little corner was just fine.
"Oh damn," he chuckled, "You made kryptonite come out of my nose."
"Kryptonite?" I asked.
"Yeah... It's in the drink."
"But that's poison to you!" I shouted.
"Yes it is. In large doses. In smaller doses, it gets me lit up like you. Hell, if you drink enough scotch, you'll croak too!" Superman finished off the drink and waved to Lou for a refill.
Lou put the gloves back on, grabbed the glass and disappeared into the back room. He reappeared with the glass glowing red this time.
The faintest scent of sulfur whisked toward my nose, reminding me of a burned match.
"What the hell is that?" I asked.
"Do you always drink beer?" Superman asked, smirking before taking a belt.
I looked at my scotch. "Point well taken. So, Superman, what bring you into a bar to get a little buzzed with us mere mortals?"
"I told you already. It's too much. When I was in teenager, I was in love with girl. She was awesome. She liked me, but she was in love with someone else."
"Who can't identify with that?" I asked.
"Well, she got married. I was in love with her and I watched her get married. I was at the wedding," he drank a good sized gulp from the glass.
"That's rough, Superman. I don't suppose there's any special powers that protect your heart from breaking."
Superman nodded, looking down into the fire of his glowing red glass. His blue eyes looked almost purple in the light. He swallowed hard before he spoke, "You're right, mister.. what's your name?"
"Ian," I said. "Ian Dark." I extended my hand.
Superman grabbed it and squeezed it hard. It hurt a little bit, but I could tell he just needed someone to listen. What better place than in a bar?
"So, I watch this woman I love marry another man. It's not that I dislike him, I just wanted her for myself," Superman told me.
"Why didn't you tell her how you felt?" I asked.
"I couldn't. I'm not human, I just look like it. She'd always be in danger if I she were my wife. She's mortal, I'm not," Superman said matter of factedly. "She'd be the target of any enemy of mine. They'd get to me through her. They can't hurt me, but they can hurt the ones I love."
Just as I was finishing off the rest of my scotch, when a couple of burly rednecks hunters came into Lou's. They were already plastered to the gills and were carrying shotguns. They were whooping and hollering up a storm.
"Wooo!" said Jethro.
"Yee HAW!" yelled Bubba. I was pretty sure Bubba was ready to fire his shotgun in the air, but when he tried to pump a load in the chamber, a hollow click replied.
Lou, the short pear-like man expanded into a burly bear-like man. It was like one of those puffy fish. The kind that blow up into giants when threatened. "GET OUT NOW WITH THE GUNS!" He bellowed.
Superman's head turned, spying the two idiots. He looked back at me as if I was supposed to do something. They had guns! What the hell did I have besides the power of holding my liquor?
"HOLY SHIT! DID YEW SEE THE SIZE OF THAT BUCK?"
I yelled, looking out the window. I couldn't really see out of the window, but I was my best attempt to distract these two boneheads likely to misuse one of the greatest Constitutional rights.
Jethro and Bubba froze for a moment, a bit of drool spilling from their mouths as they registered the information. They shuffled back toward the door like zombies in a George Romero flick. Out the door they went.
"AND DON'T COME BACK AGAIN!" yelled Lou.
"Good job," said Superman. Lou turned around and smiled in response.
"Take the whole situation in the Middle East,"
Superman leaned on the bar. His cape slung over one shoulder like a misplace tie. "The Middle East situation is fucked. What the hell can I do about that?"
I shrugged. I didn't know what I could do about it either. People were dying. No one was happy about it. Sure, there were the blow hards who said stuff like, "Just nuke 'em all. The hell with it." In reality, there were a lot of innocent people being killed over the war of two governments.
"You have two groups of people who don't believe the other has a right to exist. I can stop bullets, but I can't stop people from trying to kill themselves. I would have time to take a dump!" Superman took another drink. He seemed like he was getting a good buzz on now.
"Yeah. This year's war in Iraq might be next year's war in Iran," I said. "Same kind of thing."
Superman nodded and got ready to say something, but the two rednecks came back into the bar. They'd put their guns in the back of their pickups. They looked puzzled, not sure if they should be looking for deer or taking another look at the bar.
"I would a got that buck if that Buick hadn't got in front of me," Jethro said, disappointed.
"Yup," said Bubba. "Damned fern cars."
Superman, a little drunk now, disregarded the rednecks. "Right. We're at war. People are dying. Gas is about $3 a gallon. Hey, I'm pissed off and I can FLY! And what are they fighting about in government? Gay marriage and burning the flag!"
Jethro craned his neck like a hound dog hearing a raccoon. "RRR?" He looked squarely at Superman. "Yew must be one them there faggity boys."
Bubba laughed. He circled toward Superman and I. His fist clenched. He was fat, drunk, ugly, but still meant us harm.
"If you gotta problem with gay marriage, yew must be one of them tofu eatin' fairies," accused Jethro.
Superman ignored them. "Fuck those guys. I'm talking about priorities here. We need to get out of Iraq and take care of the good old US of A. If they want to kill themselves, we can't stop them. All we can do is not let them take us with them."
"Liberal pussy!" Jethro spat.
Superman sighed. He looked at me with a sad look in his steely blue eyes. The Man of Steel seemed truly burdened by this ignorance. After stopping crime all day, here were to morons questioning the ultimate Superhero of his sexuality.
So he wasn't married! Hell, Lex Luthor's wife divorced him too. So what!
Superman may be the greatest superhero of all time, but he didn't take into account that I'd read a great deal of his comics when I was a kid. My uncles had saved most of those Lois Lang ones, so I knew more about him than he thought I did.
"Why didn't Clark Kent make it in?" I asked, thinking I'd help him hide his secret identity.
"I'm sick of hiding," Superman shrugged, "so sue me."
"See, I told you he was a fucking queer," snarled Jethro.
"Ass monkey!" barked Bubba.
Superman glared at them. A white hot beam of light shot toward Jethro. Superman's heat vision burned Jethro's clothes off in layers, right down to his underwear. After the smoke cleared, Jethro stood bearing a turquoise bra and panties.
"Holy shit!" yelped Bubba.
Superman stood up from the bar. He used his super speed to get to Bubba. Bubba had been finishing the "t" in "shit" when Superman had his throat in his hands. There was the sound of something wet hitting the bar room floor as Superman lifted Bubba toward the ceiling.
"Superman, he's a moron. Let him go," I said.
Superman looked angry, but puzzled. Bubba trembled in his grip, urine stained pants clinging to his thigh. Superman smiled. Bright light shot from his eyes, burning the clothes off Bubba in patches.
Bubba was clad in a Nazi uniform. A smudge of ash suggested a choppy mustache. Superman set him down, smoking and burning. Bubba, in shock, stumbled then ran out the door.
"Back to Washington..." Superman said. "See why I'm getting drunk? It's just too heavy."
((TO THE IGNORANT, THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION.))