A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight
It was a hot day in the city of Chicago. The kind of hot that makes you feel as you’re strolling thru the world’s largest toaster, and brings kind of a wistful nostalgia for the 3 feet of snow and icy sub-zero winds we had earlier this year.
It was the kind of day that made me glad I was 3 floors up from that baking hot pavement enjoying the cool breeze of central air-conditioning, and not feeling too much sympathy for the people down below not wise enough to stay inside on a day like today.
As I gazed at the sweaty tourists trudging up and down the Magnificent Mile hauling their bags of over-priced swag, Mandi called in from the outer office, “Hey, Mike, you might want to check out channel 7.”
Mandi, (yes, that’s Mandi with an “I” not a “Y”), has been my secretary ever since I opened Smith Enterprises. She’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but she mostly shows up when she’s supposed to and has legs about a mile long. She does have a real knack for screening the real weirdoes that call here, and I can’t complain too much.
Picking up the remote, I turned on the 60” plasma screen in my office (kept mainly for Cubs games), and switched to channel 7. An Eyewitness News 7 helicopter shot showed a car driving erratically down the roadway and crashing. “Looks like a job for the fire department”, I called out to Mandi. Must be a slow news day if this is breaking news, I thought to myself.
The next news shot shows a man collapsing to the sidewalk, “Looks like the heat is going to keep the paramedics busy today,” I called out again to Mandi.
I looked away from the TV to see Mandi entering my office carrying a letter opener and wearing a malicious look on her doll face. “Why don’t you take an early lunch?” I suggested to her as she lunged across the office hoping to impale me.
I sprang to my feet and using a Judo maneuver I had learned in a previous life, I deftly disarmed her, leaving her thrashing madly on my desk. She suddenly leapt to her feet and attempted to throw herself thru my window. Grabbing her, she struggled in my grasp as I calmly put on my gas mask and ignited a sleep gas arrow, which quickly put Mandi down.
Did I mention that I’m a superhero?
My name is Mike Smith. In that previous life I mentioned earlier, I used to be Mike Burnham. Due to some minor complications involving the CIA, U.S. Army Ranger death squads, Columbian drug lords, and a lost Incan tribe, I go by Smith now and sometimes Yeoman, a.k.a. the Black Archer.
Seeing as my secretary was passed out and my office was filled with sleep gas, I decided to hit the streets and find out what was causing these strange incidents.
First, I made a call to Sheldon Cooper, my sidekick, or as I like to think of him, Geek Boy. Sheldon is a computer genius, and with his AI HAL1, he is a fount of useful information. Sheldon collated the reports of incidents and determined the epicenter to be Michigan Avenue.
After a few minutes indecision, should I wear the custom or not, should I drive or swing? I decided to wear the costume and take the Porsche. It seemed like a good day for a drive in the convertible.
As I pulled onto Michigan Ave., an elderly lady ran out in front of my car and started shouting, “Bad doggie, bad doggie, you won’t pee on my lawn anymore!”
“No, ma’am, I won’t,” I replied.
“You’d better not!” she admonished. “Wait a minute! Did you just talk to me?”
“Woof.” I quipped, and with a satisfied look she moved on.
Deciding it would easier to continue on foot, I parked the Boxster. Suddenly, I heard a man shout, “Look at me, I can fly! I can fly!” Without thought, I snapped off a line arrow, swung up and caught the hapless man as he plummeted to the pavement.
“I can fly,” he exclaimed as we set down, “I can fly! Did you see me? I’m a superhero!”
“That’s great,” I said, binding him with my line. “Guard this lamp post.”
“Okay, yeah, I can do that!”
“Wonderful.” I droned, just a bus started to the street smashing into every car along its’ path.
Dashing forward, I propelled my self upwards thru the bus’s front windshield and found myself dangling half-in and half-out of the bus. Doh! A quick kip-up and I was in the bus.
Needing to stop the rolling behemoth quickly, I grabbed the gearshift and slammed it to Park. A great grinding sounded from beneath, passengers started screaming, and the bus began to slew.
Heaving at the steering wheel, muscles straining, I straightened out the bus, and it rolled to a stop. “Last stop, Michigan Ave.,” I called out to the passengers.
As I helped the shaken passengers from the bus, I asked them not to tell anyone I had been here, and began to scan the area for the source of this chaos all around me. I noticed that a strange blue-green liquid was issuing forth from the new mist-cooling system our new mayor had just installed.
I pulled out my cell phone and called Sheldon. I asked where the central shut-off for the misters was located, and it turned out that the misters were all individually supplied with liquid and had to be shut-off one by one.
Locating a panel on the nearest mister, I opened it and found a note from the Black Harlequin rambling on about this is just the beginning and the Fourth of July weekend, yadda yadda yadda…
Instead of the shut-off switch I was looking for, Black Harlequin had replaced it with a panel bearing four colorful buttons. Which one to press?!? What a dilemma! I stood back and shot it with an arrow. Lots of sparks shot out and the mister shut down. Very satisfying.
About this time, Mister Mental showed up. He’s another costume I’ve met recently. Claims to have amazing mental powers. Something’s mental alright. He covers himself from head-to-toe in heavy black robes in the noonday sun on the hottest day of the year. Mister Mental.
Realizing the scope of the problem, and the number of arrows I was carrying, we located a nearby construction site and purchased a pair of sledgehammers. Soon the problem was in hand and the infected misters were all disabled.
We collected a sample of the blue-green liquid and went to seek out the aid of another costume I had recently met, the Glue-Sniffing Detective, Traumaman, or some such, who happens to be a pharmacologist.