Author: Connie Millard
His eyes are going. The images on the other side are blurry when he attempts to peer through walls now. He squints. Is that the criminal or a floor lamp? Sighing, he decides that he can problem-solve when he arrives and bounds off the ground with a raised fist, only managing a few feet in the air before crashing to the concrete with a jarring thud. Embarrassed, he glances around to make sure no one has seen. He tries again, squatting deeper to leverage more power, and with a second leap, he is off, ready to save the day. Just as he has done for decades.
Securing the last button of his shirt at the collar, he ambles back home, one of the masses again, and resists the urge to rub the ache in his knee. He can still get the job done. Save people. Catch the bad guys. Solve crimes. He sighs and nudges the glasses up his nose, knowing the time has arrived to finally order those prescription lenses. At least he already has the frames.
He reaches his building and treks the ten flights to his walk-up apartment, slightly winded as he unlocks the door. Decades of random décor welcome him as he empties his pockets, tossing its contents next to the worn rotary phone on the midcentury desk. He keeps walking, past the charcoal mod style couch propped against the faded floral wallpaper, its once magenta flowers now a muted pink. Past the framed awards, yellowed and curling, that clutter the wall along with newspaper clippings, heaped in abundance at first and then less so.
He reaches his bathroom and contemplates the diminishing stacks of hair dye hidden deep in the linen closet. His hair, thick waves of ebony, is one of his few unfortunate genetic endowments, though thankfully his eyesight is still sufficiently keen so he can catch the tiny stark white hairs betraying his scalp before anyone can notice. He must add more boxes to his online shopping cart, he thinks as he pulls out the hydrating face mask and retinol infused eye cream and set them on the sink. He slips off his suspenders and white button-down shirt, finally reaching the familiar red and blue suit underneath. He discards that too and gazes in the mirror with equal parts disgust and gratitude at the new addition to his uniform. The flesh-colored spandex digs into his ribs, holding his flabby belly hostage. He sighs in relief as he peals them off, the angry red marks on his skin a worthy ransom for keeping his secret.
He makes his way to the kitchen and pulls the blender and protein mix from the dingy mustard cabinets. The vitamin supplements slide down easily with the help of the banana kale smoothie, a healthier dinner than the cheese doodles he covets inside the cabinet. He flops onto the couch with a thud and flips on his tv, clicking through the twenty or so news channels, unsatisfied. Bad news streams everywhere, his constant toiling hardly making any positive impact. Annoyed, he snaps open his laptop, loading familiar websites. He wistfully toggles through the photos of a favorite beach house on the realtor’s website. He pauses, lured by momentary temptation. Instead, he switches over to the online shopping site and taps the “Buy Now” button on the jet pack he has been eyeing for weeks.