Superman fell from the sky, crashed on a building, bounced off as it toppled, and hit a green dinosaur. Mild-mannered janitor Dave Johnson set the building upright again then sent a scolding glance at his dimpled nine-year-old. “You shouldn’t have dropped him like that, Derrick.”
Derrick scratched his head. “But, Dad, you said Superman got hit with a missile.”
When would his son learn?
At least Derrick still cared. His older brother had sided with his mother. Naomi insisted mastering pre-algebra was more important than those brave souls that saved the world. “A missile isn’t going to knock him out of the sky, son. He’s invulnerable. He might be fazed, but he’d pop right back up.”
Derrick nodded. “That makes sense.”
“All right, so get him back in the sky.”
Derrick lifted Superman back above the cardboard model of Metropolis.
Naomi called, “Dinner!”
“But, what’s going to happen to Lois Lane?” asked Derrick.
Dave mussed Derrick’s hair, black like his own. “We’ll find out tomorrow, Champ.”
Upstairs in his bedroom, Dave stripped off his vintage Superman PJs and changed into the stone gray coveralls Naomi laid out for him. His gaze swept over the ten red milk crates filled with comic books waiting to join the rest of his collection in storage. Where was his government-issued navy blue baseball cap?
Ah, there. Atop his collection of every super hero DVD box set known to man.
After setting his baseball cap askew on his head, he patted his breast pocket and hit thin plastic. Good, he had his security pass. Not only would it be embarrassing if he lost it a third time this month, he’d incur another $25 fine and Naomi wouldn’t let him buy the Wonder Woman action figure he needed to complete his Justice League collection.
He opened the door. Naomi stood outside. Trouble brewed in eyes nearly the same color as his wife’s favorite Starbucks brew: a half-caf, non-fat grande latte with sugar-free chocolate syrup and exactly four packets of Splenda. “Dave, we need to talk.”
In other words, she had an irresistible yearning to nag. “What about?”
She folded her arms. “How about our life and supposed marriage?”
Dave grunted. Sometimes, he hated being right. “I don’t have time for this.”
“You never have time! You get up after I leave for work and leave yourself a few minutes after I get home.”
Dave walked down the stairs. “Wait up for me and we’ll talk when I get in.”
“At 2 a.m.?”
“That’s as good a time as any.” Dave fled to the kitchen and grabbed his X-men lunchbox from the fridge. He headed for the door to the attached garage.
Naomi ran ahead and blocked his getaway. “We talk now.”
He looked at his watch. She was making him late. “Fine, two minutes.”
“I’m concerned about the kids.”
Dave stiffened. “What? You don’t think I’m a good father?”
“You’ve been great teaching them to be little boys, but you can’t play Superman with them forever. They need someone who can help them through difficult times. Someone who can show them how to be men.”
Dave scowled. “And why can’t I?”
“Look at yourself, Dave! You make me pack your dinner in the same lunchbox James used in kindergarten! You don’t buy all that superhero stuff for the kids.”
Dave crossed his arms. “I work hard for this family!”
“You’ve been at the same job a decade. You’re not twenty-three anymore. You need to grow up for the kids’ sake and for me.”
“And for you?”
“Yes, and for me! Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve been together? Nine months. It’s like all you wanted were James and Derrick and as soon as you got them, you forgot all about me.”
“I’m the same man you married. You’re the one who’s changed. What happened?” He glanced over her navy pantsuit and pink polished nails. A sandy-haired Mary Jane met him at the altar twelve years ago, so how did he end up married to Lois Lane?
“I grew up, Dave.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She took the hint and moved out of his way. “This isn’t over!”
Dave slammed the door behind him in reply. Why couldn’t she understand? These heroes did things he could only dream of. He wasn’t just playing silly games; he was sharing his dreams with the kids. It wasn’t like the dream kept him from working. He always brought home his paycheck, and he never complained about the tight hold Lois-er, Naomi-kept on the purse strings.
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