David did a little jog to keep up with his companion’s wide steps once they emerged from the 7-11 buried between nose-stinging shops and the overbearing tower above.
“So what was that all about?” He wiped the midday sweat from his neatly combed hair.
“…I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that.”
“That weird question you asked her.”
Cicada-Man once more directed his answer to the cracked pavement ahead. “I knew there must be more to the perpetrator than misshapen clothes and a bracelet. She confirmed my findings: everyone agreed that the ingrate was quite beautiful.”
David stumbled on a discorded plastic box, and then moved in front of his tan-skinned friend. “So what was that all about on Planet Earth this time?”
“I know this may seem strange at first.” Cicada-Man said in a rumbling voice. “But this is not the only sorcerer I’ve done battle with. Surely you remember our first meeting and those obligatory muggers the devil sent!”
“Obligatory mugg- what does that even mean!?” David’s raised voice squeaked out.
“If I am in error, I await your own theory!”
A block of hammering steps and dodging pedestrians later, David looked over to the Sears Tower figurines inside a shop’s streaking window and stated, “Maybe that bracelet messes with the camera, or something.”
“I suppose searching for that trinket would be worthwhile.”
“No, no,” muttered David. “He’d have taken it off by now- hang on.”
Cicada-Man halted instantly, causing the person behind him to bump into his smeared armor. After the stranger murmured and passed, David leaned in, “Why would a master of disguise throw a cinderblock?”
He was close enough to see trimmings beneath the superhero’s nose. “Go on.”
“He should’ve brandished a knife and walked out calmly with the cash. Either way, no one would recognize him, so why leave such traces?”
Cicada-Man brought a tight hand onto David’s hunched shoulder. “Listen; this is all very exciting, but we should move out of everybody’s way.” He swiftly swung David’s shoulder and body into the revolving door, where they were whisked into a golden hallway of elevators, guided by a frayed red carpet.
“You are right, my fellow hero. This case is not as it seems. If it was to deprive someone of wealth, why only fifty dollars?”
“He did what?”
“Did you not see the sign? ‘Cash register has fewer than fifty dollars’?”
“…That just makes it more confusing. What’s the point, then?”
“There need not be a point,” Cicada-Man stated. David focused on the red line of his ski mask traveling between his two equally red eyes. “Evil acts for its own sake, and cannot be rationalized.”
David sighed, “So then what? Are we gonna ask any model we see if they’re a cinderblock short?”
“Not in those words, of course.”
“Alright, look. Let’s assume your theory is correct, that this guy appears differently to different people, with the only commonality being beauty. He has a bracelet- that can be easily taken off- as his only identifiable feature. Simply put, he can disappear at will.”
“And this will stop you!”
“Look I didn’t expect this! I thought things would be, you know, a little more down-to-earth.”
“What talk is this!” The secretary at the long hall’s end, behind the false wood desk, craned his neck over to watch. “If evil is let loose by one’s failings, than which is the greater evil? Warned or not, you must always be ready for even the things that do not make sense to you!”
Two chatting women stepped out of the cinnamon-smelling elevator as David clutched the side of his pocket. Cicada-Man stood, leaning over David, as if to touch his head to the distant ceiling.
“Doesn’t make sense.”
“That’s right! Now-“
“No, no, that’s it. Doesn’t make sense. We might be overestimating him. If he has the power to change appearance, he could be a secret agent or a model or anything he wanted. Why rob convenience stores? And why in such a careless manner? He doesn’t make sense. He’s not doing this for personal gain, and he might not have a master plan.”
“Evil for Evil’s sake!” Cicada-Man exclaimed.
“Sure,” David said with a quick wave of his hand. “Now, what was the exchange between him and the cashier?”
“The cashier claims nothing,” leaned in Cicada-Man, now at David’s height and with tightened hands on his knees. “The other one, however, accuses him of making a pass at the soon-to-be criminal when he attempted to purchase some aluminum foil.”
“That might be it! And the cinderblock through the window was insult to injury!”
“Of course! So where should we begin?”
“…So robbing him might not be enough.” David started to break into a run, “So we need to find him now!”
Blasting through the revolving door, David found himself back on this shadowy quarter of the city and right in front of Portia. Portia had grown since those high school days where her curled blonde, strawberry-scented hair would unfold onto David’s desk. Even when frowning and navigating the crowded street with hands in pocket, her cheeks still shone.
“Hey!” David cried after canceling his momentum. She had disappeared into the crowd by the time a padded, tall figure also running from the office building had bumped into him.
“Who was that?”
“Just some woman I knew from high school.”
“That’s impossible-“ Cicada-Man froze and locked eyes perfectly with David. He then tilted his wrinkled face to the peeking sun before bringing his right hand to his forehead, breast, and then both shoulders. “It was a most fortunate omen.”
“I’ve lost her,” said David, turning to the crowds on tiptoe. “But we just need to find the cashier, and we’ll-“
David could already hear Cicada-Man shoving through the horde, demanding that they step aside in the name of the Lord. He rolled his eyes, sighed, and then ducked inside to join the chase.