Sariah Miller stared down at the cover. A casket lay open with a familiar pair of overalls inside. Bright red letters screamed, The Death of Small Packages.
A tear trickled down her cheek. Small Packages saved her life a few years back when he was in town helping the Sword. Small Packages and his brother dug her out from underneath a pile of scrap metal. He’d been over to the house a couple times for dinner. And Walt wanted to kill him off.
Walt Winners put his thumbs in his sus-penders and snapped them. “It’s quite the moving story, Sariah. Sales will go through the roof.”
I’m about to go through the roof.
“Walt, why are you killing him off? Are you planning on shutting down the comic?”
“Heck no, it’s a big seller. We want to bring in a new Small Packages.”
Sariah’s eyes bugged. “A new Small Packages?”
“Yes, his seventeen inch tall Salvador-ian cousin, Poca Paquetes. It’ll bring in a new demographic.”
Sariah sighed. “Curador already brings in Hispanics. And why not give Poca her own comic book?”
“Oh, please, it would never work.”
“Then why are you trying to get rid of one our premier heroes?”
“Look, she’d never get off the ground in a standalone series, but if we let her take over a popular series, we’ll have diversified our character line.”
“How about we get readers by telling compelling stories with characters anyone can believe in without playing to the lowest common denominator?”
“You’re a right winger, aren’t you?”
Not until I met Jesse, I wasn’t. “We’re not killing off Small Packages, particularly in some senseless monster fight.”
“He’s dead already.”
“Maybe to this Earth, but some of them live on in the next life.” She grabbed a comic book out of the drawer. “And all of them live here. If we continued the way we have done things, we’d have to kill all our heroes in a senseless plane accident. In such hard times, our readers don’t want realism. They want us to keep the dream alive, and that’s what we’re going to give them.”
Walt folded his hands together. “Can I speak freely?”
“You’re not being objective. This is the way things are done in this industry.”
“It isn’t the Jesse Miller way, and while we wait for him to pull out of a coma, we’re going to do things his way. Now, get me a better storyline.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Walt left.
She glanced at the wall behind her, which proudly displayed the first issues of each of their comics, each with a live shot of the star in a heroic poise. This was how the world would remember them. “I promise, guys. I won’t let you down.”
She grabbed Issue 1 of her husband’s comic and pulled it off the wall. She planted a kiss on the glass over the Sword’s face. Only she and the family doctor helping her cover for him knew the bed lay empty in Jesse Miller’s room in ICU.
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