Sariah Miller sat in Jesse’s office. She groaned as she read the storyboard for the upcoming issue of Small Packages and Skyscraper’s comic, pulled out her Blackberry, and called Walt Winters. “Walt, I just read your storyboard for Small Packages and Skyscraper. What’s going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“This is hokey. Jesse never did hokey. He wouldn’t approve this and neither can I.”
“Now, look, Sariah, do you think you can do better? It’s hard work-”
“Stop.” They’d never try this with Jesse, but leave it to the writers to try and strong arm the wife. She’d show them. “No, Walt, I don’t. I think you can, and if you don’t want to, Jesse has a whole drawer full of promising young writers he’s gotten stuff from. What seems to be the challenge?”
“Have you ever tried to write a series with your heroes being a gnome-and-giant tag team? It’s not so hard if you can get the stories from the gnome. Otherwise, there’s no way to come up with something rational.”
“It doesn’t need to be rational. The whole concept is fantastic. Do something sci-fi. But don’t give me hokey stuff like this. Jesse liked Small Packages, and he’d never let you portray him as a clown. And believe me, you don’t want those two angry at you.”
“Sariah, we’ve got to accept that none of these guys are coming back. It’s been six weeks. They’re only alive on the page, and heroes on the page go through different eras. They evolve to fit the times.”
Sariah choked back tears. Walt didn’t know what he was saying. Other than Jesse’s doctor, she was the only person of known whereabouts who knew the Sword’s true identity. For as long as she could keep it that way.
But, as far as Walt and the rest knew, she’d chosen Jesse over the Sword years ago. He’d forgiven her for two timing him with himself about the same time she’d forgiven him for battling himself for her affections in order to sell comics. “Walt, if they are gone, we’re going to remember them right. That’s our policy. I expect a rewrite in three days.”
Walt gave a resigned sigh. “Yes, ma’am. By the way, I hope Jesse gets better. What did the docs say?”
“I’m sorry. When you visit him, let him know we’re pullin’ for him. I know it doesn’t do much good in a coma, but I’ve heard they can hear-”
“Thanks, Walt. It’s a nice thought. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Sariah hung up the phone and began to weep. Jesse had to come back. He was the Sword. The Sword always came home. At least he had until now.
The story about Jesse being in a coma was a fabrication facilitated by Jesse’s doctor. They’d keep it up as long as possible. Until he came home, if he came home. She buried her head in her hands and began to weep.
He was out there, somewhere. She closed her eyes and bowed her head to pray for her poor lost husband. In more ways than one. Jesse managed to fool her before “I do,” or maybe she’d fooled herself, but marriage proved itself eye-opening indeed.
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