Author: Ken Carlson
Ron had some time before the cartoon was over. He saw Dan the cameraman who glanced at his Timex and silently signaled, “three minutes.”
Ron remained in the wings, enjoying the animation and the rich taste of his Chesterfield. Say Hey, if they were good enough for Willie Mays they were good enough for him. He’d have given his right arm to be half as good as Mays, but hey, things turned out pretty well for him. He had picked himself up after a bum knee ruined a chance in the big leagues and turned that around into a TV role covering sports here in Chicago, then news, and now his own show. Not that the irony of this show was ever lost on him. He could never have imagined this life growing up; like another world, so to speak.
Betty from makeup gave him some touchup for his nose and forehead. Boy, these studios were hot. Ron was given the high sign from Bill the stage manager. Ron left his smoke going in the ashtray and marched to the x marking center stage. As the credits rolled and the music faded, the lights came up on Ron in his red, polyester, one-piece suit with yellow epaulets and plastic gun by his side. He smiled at the audience, mere shadows from the glare.
“Hi, Rocketeers!” he hollered.
“Hi, Captain Blast!” they hollered back.
“Wow, we’ve had a lot of fun today! And now it’s Captain Blast’s favorite part of the show! When Captain Blast takes a moment to take questions from you! What do we say, boys and girls?”
“That’s right,” said Captain Blast, “Let’s see what some of our friends here in the studio have to say.” Kids desperately flailed their arms to be chosen. The Captain selected a thin boy near the front in overalls and a faded White Sox cap.
“Captain Blast,” the boy asked nervously, “My friends and I, we love the Captain Blast comic books. We want to know who the toughest villain is you’ve ever faced?”
“Hmm,” thought the beloved space hero, “there were two tough fights recently where I thought I was through. You all remember I had my hands full fighting the Venusians,” the kids concurred. “7-foot tall and covered in green fur, they’re a tough bunch. Then, General Zag from Star Quadrant 9; one minute you’re fighting him toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano; the next he disappears and reappears behind you as someone else.”
The boy nodded in agreement.
“But they’re nothing like the battle coming up,” continued Captain Blast. “Next week, the Earth will be in trouble and I’ll need your help, Rocketeers! So,” Captain Blast leveled his arm and forefinger at the camera, “tune in next Saturday morning for the…”
The kids screamed with him, “Captain Blast Super TV Show!! Zoom forever!!”
A half-hour later, Ron was in his dressing room hanging his Captain Blast uniform up. A knock at the door brought a pale, slender man.
“Mister Brundage,” said the man in a suit.
“Mister Brundage was my dad, Darren. It’s Ron to my friends” said the host, “or Captain Blast to my fans.”
“Mister Brundage,” continued the man, removing a file from his briefcase. “The President and the Head of the Bureau of Skyward Affairs have indicated we are need of your people’s services again.”
“What people, Darren?” Ron asked coyly. “People who are tall? People who like baseball? People named Ron.”
“No, Mister Brundage,” the man paused, removing his glasses and rubbing his eyes tiredly. “People from your planet.”