where the writers are
Stanley the Super Hero

I wrote this for a creative writing class about a year or so ago. It was the last thing I submitted, and I never knew what the grade was on it or what abominations to the rules of grammar I created. I'm proof-reading it right now and making some minor grammatical changes as well as some changes to aid in the flow of the story and make parts a tad bit more interesting. I didn't actually give it a decent read over after I finished it and sent it in. Unfortunately, the ending is missing for whatever reason and I think I finished it on the campus on a flash drive that is MIA. I'm reconstructing the ending from memory and I'm planning on just redoing it. I wasn't happy with the ending I made, I just needed to turn the thing in and get a grade.

I actually enjoyed writing this and got the idea after reading through a forum "vigilantes" that dressed up in super hero garb and tromped around all night. I will add the ending to this once I am done with it- for now, just pretend that you spilled coffee on the last few pages of the book and couldn't read it.

 

Perched upon a rooftop, Stanley the Super Hero quietly surveyed the street below. Blinking streetlights illuminated the way for a sparse few cars slowly drifting by and pedestrians wanting nothing more to escape to the safety of their homes or find a nice bar to pass the time in. The sky was wonderfully clear this evening, and the stars in the sky appeared much like the streetlights strewn wide across the city. Stanley had little basis for comparison for the stars. Though the sky was always above his head his whole life, he was always looking forever downward. Down at the city from a high window. Down at a comic book. Down at a pen and paper. Even when he did look to the sky he would imagine heroes and heroines soaring through the clouds.

            Stanley stood up to reposition himself over another side of the building. A few pieces of brick broke off the building and tumbled down the side. Stanley walked atop a piece of history. This building was over a hundred years old, refurbished only once after an earthquake had hit, and that was fifty years ago. This was also his home. He began his patrol here- often pacing back and forth across the rooftop for an hour, monitoring those who came in and out.

            He did a few stretches, getting ready for his rounds. He pulled the laces tighter on his boots, and buttoned up his black duster. Though he won’t admit it, they weren’t very practical considering how much they restrict his movements. Underneath, he wore a homemade sneaking suit with several pockets for cargo space. He always wore a black cowl and a thin pair of leather gloves. He wore them for a less noble reason than most of the super heroes he admires. He didn’t have anyone precious or close to him that any assailants could kidnap to lure him into a trap. No, he wore them to solely protect his identity.

            Tonight, he decided to move patrol a few miles to the east, going south, then returning home. He walked a couple of steps from the ledge of the building, took a running start and leapt to the other building. He hit the ground, and rolled into a tumble to absorb the shock of the landing. He quickly shot back up and ran towards the next building. He leapt over the gap, and looked into the alleyway below. Nothing. The next building was a little higher. His boots were already fitted with boot spikes, and he wore climbing claws that slipped on over the top part of his palms. He tried for many months, survived many falls, and dealt with many injuries trying to scale the side of this building. He finally gave in and decided to buy a grappling hook to ascend to the top of the building. He swung the rope in his hands, and tossed the hook to the top of the building. Once he heard it hit the roof, he pulled the rope until the hook caught on something, and the rope went tight.

            He held the rope in his hand, and jumped across the gap. He put his feet out in front of him, and he felt the claws strike against the building. With ease, he walked up the side of the building, the claws on his palms clicking against his metal lined gloved each time he pulled himself higher on the rope. Once he reached the top, he wound up the rope and folded up the grappling hook, and looped it over a hook on his belt. He sat on the edge of the building and looked out across the city. His heart was already beating faster. Not because of the physical exertion, but the exhilaration. He enjoyed the few moments that it felt like he was flying through the air, the wind caressing the unexposed portions of his face, staring down at the ground a hundred feet below him. The best part to him, though, was when he found someone in trouble or someone causing trouble. Being able to bring justice was the most important thing to him. Though it causes him to live a quiet, lonely life, though it forces him lose a lot of sleep, though it squeezes every last cent out of his wallet- he’s ready to sacrifice everything.

            He did it partially for himself, though he does believe it’s wholly due to his want to better the world. There’s a part of him he ignores. A little boy inside that just wants to please his father. By no means was his father a bad man. He never raised his voice to Stanley. He never showed any disappointment in anything that Stanley did. Then again, he never shared any praise or grew excited at any of Stanley’s accomplishments. Regardless of what Stanley did, his father would stare at him over a comic and say, “You’ll do better next time” or “You tried your best” or “Good job”, in the same monotone voice.

            He tried to absorb himself in his father’s hobby. Hoping somehow to become closer, to understand a little more about him. His father had a room dedicated to his growing comic collection. Sealed acid-free boxes were filled with the more precious comics, others were in filing cabinets listed by comic company, author and artist, comic character, and of course, comic book number. Each was in it’s own sealable mylar sleeve with an acid free backboard. He had several fans placed throughout the room to keep dust from settling, and vacuumed the room everyday.

            The room had a distinctly sterile smell, almost like that of a hospital. The room had a single recliner that his father constantly frequented. He wore a vinyl apron, a surgical mask, a hair net, and vinyl gloves. He kept all but the gloves on hooks along the wall, and always had a box of fresh gloves to put on anytime he entered the room. Stanley would often find himself in here, sitting on the floor beside his father in his own protective garb. He would spend hours reading and analyzing every comic that his father would allow him to touch. The yellowed pages of his oldest comics would have a musty smell. He would run his fingers across it’s covers, wishing he knew what the crisp paper felt like. He would read portions at a time, over the extent of several weeks. The comics couldn’t be in contact with the air for long. These comics became his favorites. The forbidden ones. The ones he could never touch and could hardly see. Blackhawk™, Strange Adventures™, The Adventures of Tintin™, Dick Tracy™, Spiderman™, Flash Gordon™, Batman™, Captain Marvel™, EC comics™, DC comics™, Fawcett™ comics, Marvel comics™, he read all he could.

            He would ask his father many questions about the morality of the heroes in the comics. Why did they do this, why won’t they do that. Some had a strong sense of justice and morality. Some felt a sense of responsibility. Some were simply out for revenge.

            He looked down at the city below him. Everyone moved with selfish self importance. People cutting each other off on the streets. Pedestrians bumping shoulders and screaming obscenities instead of moving around each other. He always felt like the city was angry. Everyone was ready to explode at any minute. He often saw crimes happen for no reason. Someone stabbing someone else, then fleeing. Several people would see this and ignore it. A police officer would rather pull someone over for speeding than have to fill out the paperwork of a homicide. The city was also apathetic.

            He knew that the heroes he read about weren’t real. Even the ones depicting the average Joe trying to clean up the world. There was no Dick Tracy waiting somewhere in a P.I’s office trying to take down mob leaders. There was no dark and brooding Batman hiding away in a mansion. No team of multinational Blackhawks waiting by their aircraft. Sure, there were vigilantes, but he believed many to be mentally ill. He wanted to be the real deal. He wanted to save this city from it’s inherent apathy and anger.

            Tonight was a good night. Nothing in particular was going on. He ran across a few more buildings, stopping for a few moments on each to survey the area. He stopped on top of a building overlooking an intersection, and sat down on the ledge. He pulled out a small hip flask filled with chilled coffee, pulled down his cowl and took a few sips. It was getting later into the night, and few people were out on the streets now. He was nearly out of the zoned residential district. Stanley was getting into the Central Business District, and would have to patrol on foot in alleyways. He rappelled down the side of the building, quietly landing on the ground below. He pulled and shook the rope a few times to loosen the hook, and caught it on it’s way down.

            Patrolling the actual streets was never an option from him. Early on, he caught ridicule from those he only wanted to protect. As the years went on, his wide assortment of gadgets became less and less street legal. He understood he needed to be a little realistic, and didn’t want to end up in jail for the rest of his career.

            He criss-crossed through several alleyways. Jumped over many wooden and chain-linked fences. Though there were easier ways around, he always chose the most difficult way to traverse. He spent years honing and strengthening his body, his agility, and his endurance. When he was younger, he was always labeled as the generic comic book geek. He did more than read his comics though, he obsessed over them. He wanted to be the idealized muscle bound super hero with no match in physical prowess. When he wasn’t reading comics or penning his own, he was out running, performing acrobatic feats at the playground, and what he felt was protecting the weak.

            He joined many sports in his youth, mostly as a drive to improve his physique. He was considered to be a top athlete by many of his coaches. Though many would have believed him to be the “jock”, he often times found himself exiled from the rest of his team mates. He found a more comfortable home chatting with those who shared his similar interests. Whenever he tried to talk about comics with any of his team mates, they would instantly exalt Superman as the desired god-like hero. They would never understand how drab the perils are of a man who can do anything, who is completely perfect, who had to have the most contrived and boring flaw to add any sense of excitement. No, he could never associate himself with them.

            His friends were usually the subject of ridicule, and Stanley did all he could to protect them. Of course, he spread his protection to any and all persons that ran into trouble. He would, at times, simply use his words to try and appease a crowd bent on physical mistreatment- but found himself more often than not having to appease them physically. If he noticed any girls receiving unwanted attention, he was there. If someone was having their possessions extorted, he was there. If anyone was new to the school, or needed a friend, he was there. He found a lot of popularity during this time, landed himself in and out of detentions because of his behavior. Whenever his father had to come in and talk with the teacher, he would always say, “I don’t know where he gets it from, he’s such a good boy”.

            When they would get home, he would simply sit back in his chair and pull out a comic and begin reading, saying to Stanley, “Try to behave from now on”.

            He didn’t know it then, but he became a little frustrated with his school. When he was nearly finished with highschool, the constant struggle of the strong pestering the weak drove him into deep bouts of anger. He was getting into fights all the time, regardless of what was going on or how big or small the situation was. His parents finally decided to pull him out of the school and put him in an art school. Apparently, they found the regular school environment too distracting to his needs. When he talked with the principal and his parents, they agreed that he needed a better place to go to to better his skills, and potentially become a comic book writer and artist like he’s always wanted.

            Stanley bounded from a high wooden fence into an alley behind a Chinese restaurant. A few cats scuttled out of a partially open trash bin, startled by the sudden noise. A few protruding hoses dripped water down the wall, leaving waves of lime deposits. Several lonely lights, several of which didn’t even bother to work, lit the trash strewn path out of the alleyway. The smells emanating from the trash filled his nostrils with the over-sweet scent of meat drenched in gallons of sweet and sour sauce. He found it a little unnerving that the discarded food didn’t seem to smell all that differently from what was usually served inside.

            Stanley pulled off his cowl and put his hands into the pockets of his duster. This alley led to the street. He would have to use the streets to move around for a bit. He pulled his duster tightly across himself, hoping not to reveal everything he had underneath. He was about halfway out of the alley when he noticed someone walking in. He backpedaled to the side of the trash bin and ducked down low. He peeked over the side to examine the figure walking into the alley. The figure’s feet tap quietly on the concrete floor. The figure has a bag in its hands. It stops several feet away from Stanley, and rests against the wall. The figure pulls a cigarette from the bag, and lights it. From what Stanley can tell it’s a woman. She was fairly young, and he could assume by the way she dressed her job was on several street corners throughout the city.

            Another figure entered the alleyway, walking with a confident swagger. It was a man. He wore a long coat, running down to just under his knees. He approached the woman and said. “How much ya got?”

            “Shit man, it’s been a slow night.” was her reply.

            “Damn woman, every nights a good night! You just no damn good!” he said, while he poises his hand ready to strike her.

            He lowers his hand and says, “But, messing ya up isn’t gonna make me money.”

            Stanley never understood why people would lower themselves to such a position. He would love to clear the streets of things like this, but he doesn’t know where to strike. He doesn’t pay much attention to the rest of the conversation, but when he hears her give a short, startled shriek he looked back at them from behind the trash bin. He saw him angrily muttering something to her, and she had been pushed hard against the wall. He held her against the wall with an outstretched arm. He struck her once against the face, and that was about all Stanley could take. He pulled a small knife from a pocket on his duster and threw it at the man’s leg. It hit him behind his knee, and he let out a grunt and stumbled backwards. Stanley imagined the pain the man might have been in- the sensation of the warm blood seeping out of his wound, collecting on the cold steel of the knife, veins being split open and muscle tearing. “Who the hell!” the man screamed as he pulled a gun from beneath his coat.

            Stanley threw another knife, this time it connected to the man’s hand. He dropped the gun and grabbed his hand. The woman started to scream at this point. Before the man could scream an obscenity, Stanley had run from behind his hiding spot and had the man in a headlock. Stanley pushed him to his knees, and held him by his hair. “You like being the strong man huh? Messing with people who can’t do anything about it huh!? You make me sick... You are disgusting, pitiful! There’s no place for you here!” Stanley grumbled into his ear.

            Stanley took a bowie knife from a sheath underneath his duster. It was new, he just bought it and sharpened it. He was excited at the chance that he finally gets to use its thin, sharp edge. He pushed it against the man’s throat. Applying slight pressure and gradually pressing it harder. The woman is behind him, screaming, yelling, and pounding his back with her bag. The man tried to tell him something, perhaps begging for his life. He felt the man’s throat push back with a slight resistance as he pushed the knife in harder, and harder. He felt it give away, and saw blood coming from the cut. He felt the man’s pulse go faster, felt his breathing become more troubled and worried. He put the knife’s edge to the left of his throat, pressed down hard and swept it across to the right side of his throat. He threw the man to the floor, and turned him over. He grabbed at his throat, vainly trying to stem the profuse bleeding. Stanley smiled. He always enjoyed the irony of the life sustaining beat of the heart slowly causing someone to bleed out. He could tell the man’s lungs were filling up with blood when he began gurgling and struggling for air. Stanley let out a slight chuckle.

            “You fucking freak!” The woman shrieked, as she ran out of the alley.

            Stanley stood up and watched her run away. No one ever seemed to understand that he wanted to help them. That he just wants things to be better. His dad knew, maybe, but he hasn’t seen him since he went to the art school.

            Stanley wiped the blood from his knife, and threw the body in the dumpster. He scaled the fence behind him, and went on his route back home.

            Stanley took a few different alleys on the way back, before scaling the side of a tall apartment building. He looked out towards an all night diner on a corner. He sat down to take a break, and took out his flask of coffee and a few strips of beef jerky.

            His work was often unappreciated and met with a lot of criticism. It didn’t bother him, he tried to convince himself. Many heroes in his comics ran into the same problems. They all had their rough starts, but eventually, some of the populous warmed up to them. He wished they would to him. He spent years after exiting the art school to make it as a comic artist, but he was refused everywhere he went. The school’s principal told him his parents had gone away somewhere, disappeared somewhere where they did not know. All he had was a stipend of money left for him to live off of for awhile to get him started. He thought that perhaps his parents thought he would stay at the school for a long time. It was one of those “away from home” schools they told him. Like a private school, or a college. It seemed pretty bland and sparse, but Stanley assumed it was because his parents couldn’t afford much. The students there were just as boring and bleak as the building, and didn’t seem to show any decent artistic talent.

            Stanley enjoyed the classes though. They were free form, and the teacher simply left them with a few art supplies. Stanley ignored the scribbling of his peers. They were always boring and they lacked a lot of creativity. Stanley had his own struggles with his art. They weren’t allowed to use pencils or pens, only markers and crayons. Stanley just thought that perhaps they limited him so that he would come out more resourceful and better in the end. He even had to bind his comics with rubber bands, as staplers were also not permitted.

            Stanley turned his dorm into a living masterpiece, constantly lining his walls with each new piece of art, and his renditions of his favorite comic characters. They wouldn’t allow outside comics, perhaps to nurture his own creativity. They seemed very keen on that. They even offered multi-vitamins to all of the students, to keep their minds sharp and attentive. Stanley wanted his achievement to be made solely on his own, so he often hid the vitamins in between his gums and his cheeks. Everyone else probably needed all the help they could get. They cruelly butchered the paper with their half-witted drawings. Stanley would be surprised if they ever got hired anywhere.

            Stanley was there for years before they let him go. They claimed he still needed more work whenever he asked when his time there would be up. His parents used to visit frequently when he started there, but those visits grew less and far between, before stopping all together.

Poor man (c) by Donovan Sithan 2008 by mailing it to himself

 

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