“Breaking News” flashed on the TV.
Night Lord smiled.
The news anchor said, “Good evening, we have a development in the story of Powerhouse, the mystery man fighting crime in our community. We go live to John Markey at the University Hospital.”
Markey stood in the parking lot out-side the hospital. “Thank you, Karen. According to sources at the Police Depart-ment, Powerhouse was rushed to the hos-pital in critical condition due to a gunshot wound. Details are sketchy at this hour.”
Night Lord hit the power button on the remote. He went to the wine cabinet, poured himself a glass of sherry, and raised it high. “Here’s to me, the slayer of superheroes.”
“I’m a medical professional and can be trusted to keep information confi-dential,” the doctor said.
Powerhouse shook his head. “Your life would be endangered.”
A green humanoid in a cape ap-peared before him. Powerhouse blinked. “Zolgron?”
Zolgron nodded. “Only you can see me. One of your powers is super fast healing, but that won’t help you any if she doesn’t remove those bullets. You can change your face so it won’t look like you, but you do have to take off the helmet.”
“Why didn’t I think of that?”
Zolgron smirked and faded away.
Powerhouse changed his face. “You can remove the mask.”
The doctor took it off. “Brad Pitt! I’m removing bullets from Brad Pitt’s neck. Oh, I could just die!”
“So could I, if you don’t hurry.”
The doctor removed the bullets from his neck. By the time she had finished dressing the wound, Powerhouse felt much better.
She said, “Okay, put your mask back on, and we’ll get you into a room.”
“I’m feeling much better.”
“But it’s only been a couple hours since you were shot.”
“And how many superheroes have you treated?”
“Trust me, I’m fine.” Powerhouse got up.
The doctor squealed. “I can’t wait to tell everybody I treated Brad Pitt!”
Powerhouse laughed. “‘I’m a medical professional and can be trusted to keep this information confidential.’ Ha! I’m not really Brad Pitt! I can change my face to look like any face I want.”
“Ooh, could you do Will Smith?”
“Sure.” He morphed his face to appear like Will Smith’s.
“Oh my gosh,” said the doctor. “This is great. What about Bill Clinton?”
His face morphed again, but seemed to stop far too soon.
The doctor wrinkled her nose. “Oh gross. I know they say that Clinton was the first black president, but come on!”
Zolgron said, “You can only do that twice before it sticks in between. And it won’t be able to change back for four hours.”
Powerhouse sighed. Now you tell me.
“Sorry, ma’am.” He put on his helmet and flew out the back entrance of the hospital, avoiding the press out front.
Weakness stole over him. No way could he fly all the way home without some rest. He mentally exchanged his superhero gear for Dave Johnson’s clothes, stopped at a bus depot, and bought a ticket to his hometown on the last bus leaving Seattle. Once aboard the bus, Dave closed his eyes to visit Zolgron.
Zolgron smiled. “You’ll be as good as new soon. You had me worried there for a minute.”
Dave frowned. “I could have died.”
“But you didn’t.”
“How many of your friends have died?”
“If you mean my hosts, all of them. With one exception, the longest I’ve had one host is six months.”
“Six months! Why didn’t you tell me?”
“It didn’t seem important.”
“I don’t want to die, Zolgron.”
“All mortal species must die even-tually. Be careful, and you may set a record.”
“I’ll be careful, all right. Powerhouse will never fight again.”
Zolgron scowled. “You can’t be serious.”
“I want to see my kids graduate from high school and college. I don’t want to die fighting some drug dealer.”
“I’m alive, that’s what matters. I’ll take care of my family. I won’t die on them.”
“But you’ve made promises. How can you break your word?”
A black boy James’ age flashed before him. “Don’t judge me, Zolgron! He’s not even the real Jimmy Olsen.”
“You can’t seriously mean that.”
“Do I? Let me just say you’ll have a good sixty years to figure out the meaning of life, or whatever it is you’re supposed to learn.”
At home that night, Dave crept into the boys’ room and kissed their sweet angel faces before lumbering into his own room. Naomi lay in the bed, her chest rising and falling at a steady rhythm.
Dave slipped in beside her, placed his arms around her, and stroked her cheek. “Don’t you worry, Naomi. From now on, things will be different, I promise. Powerhouse is dead; long live Dave Johnson.”
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