Cicada-Man: Chapter 1
David Tolkien wanted to die. Not through a suicide by any means, just through an accident. Maybe he could push someone away from a screeching bus, or have a head pushed into the tracks of the El and its vibrating rhythms. Maybe he’d dissolve enough brain cells to just lie in the concrete and dirt. He took another bite.
Pigeons danced with each treat the wind carried to this cluster of tables and chairs under the interconnecting building passageway labeled Chicago Board of Trade. No cloud crossed the pathway of sunshine pulverizing the eyes of pedestrians a distance away from David and his cheeseburger. Everything else smelt of bleach.
After checking the WiFi connection on his phone again, he stared at the flimsy posters for Omni, PowerLady, and The Ares, all coming soon to theaters. He rubbed his eyelids with a crumpled classified ads paper. His eardrums would burst again if he so much as placed a headphone there, so he stood with flabby legs, wrapper placed in the crumply bag. After a stretch and a rub of his eye, David slumped on down under Chicago Board of Trade away from the noontime crowds.
He flipped through his wallet again under the shade of the El, fighting the tastes of others’ cigarettes. A pile of texts had accumulated on his phone. He wandered three feet from everything, especially the windows, stumbling now without rhythm.
Headphone-less ears picked up grunts and thuds traveling from an alleyway. With tense, sore muscles, David put his back to the dirty store, inching his feet from the tabloids the wind had brought to the ground. He peered over. Two men, in all black shirts and shorts, leaned over a brown lump: one on his knees punching the pile, another kicking it from a safe distance. The lump had boots and texture, and twitched with each blow. Even without the rushing train, only the faintest of sounds could wheeze its way out of the alley.
David put his hand to his phone pocket, looked around at the two people in all the city, then returned his gaze to the alley. A swelling in David’s gut tightened his fists. He straightened himself up, setting his arms loose and wiggling as he tapped his head to the bricks and closed his eyes. After a few quick whispers, he smiled; David Tolkien wanted to die, but a hero’s death is best.
Suddenly, as David stepped into clear view of the alley, the lump flew onto its boots, raising its arms into two magnificent punches that knocked away its attackers. They covered their bleeding noses on the ground. All present were frozen by the man sporting dark brown body armor and bright red combat gloves. The boots turned around in one stomp into a fighting stance, and David beheld the brown ski mask concealing the hallowed-faced man with wrinkled chin. Fiery ski goggles were the eyes of this lean one.
David was still frozen when the kicking man launched an uppercut that the costumed one easily caught with his bulging glove. This gave the second one time to grab the old man’s thick pants and yank the body to the ground, causing the armored back to sound off a CRACK as it slammed. Instantly, David rushed past the dumpster in his way and got only a flimsy grip on the standing one’s arms before he was shaken off. That man nearly turned around, but a spraying sound and a shriek of pain later, he was writhing on the ground, sobbing. The masked man was still clutching the pepper spray as he continued to swat at the attacker on the ground.
It was no trouble for David to pin the man to the shaded cement. He of the brown ski mask stood, and fiddled with his misshapen pocket belt until his smudged hand emerged with a pair of handcuffs. While latching them on the arms David held in place, he spoke in a booming voice:
“I now place you under citizen’s arrest for charges of criminal assault and battery. You will now be brought to the nearest police station, where you will reflect on and admit your sins.
He repeated this verbatim to the other one, who was still crying as handcuffs were placed on his misshapen wrists. One casual pull from each arm was enough to bring up each captor. Before emerging onto the road, the brown-clad man turned to David.
“I thank you for your valorous actions,” he demanded. “If you could grace this alley with your presence until I return for the ceremony, that would be most kind.” With that, he marched out, dragging along the two criminals into the street of small shops. He carried no sign of injury with him.
It took David a while to unfreeze his jaw. His head was still spinning, his heart’s pound had finally caught up with him. He collapsed and leaned his tired shoulder blades on the rough dumpster, a small cluster of joy emitting from his sigh.
He spent the next five minutes panting. Though a quick check revealed there was still no Wi-Fi to use, he could still remember posters for Omni, the Power Lady, The Ares, St. Salt, and Whack-Man.
He peeked behind him, and the masked man strode down this canyon imprisoned by inside shadows. Upon arriving next to David, he knelt. Though very thin, a surprising amount of tamed muscle lay inside the dirt-smeared red undershirt protruding under his arms.
“I shall not rise,” he stated, “until you have granted me that which I seek: the title of a superhero from a superior to another.”
Too quickly, David panted out, “But I’m not a superhero.”
“Your modesty is admirable, yet who else could have aided one such as I on the true genesis of my career, my first victory?”
“Your- hang on, you haven’t won a fight on your own?”
“They have all been victories in spirit. Occasionally, the combat last long enough for the noble policemen to stop us both and detain the guilty. More often than not, these superstitious and cowardly criminals flee and disappear before apprehension! So I am truly humbled by your presence, you soft-spoken warrior, for it has lead me to triumph and my own dubbing.”
His body itched away, but David’s gaze remained. “Ok, you’re a superhero. Rise.”
The man did not move his bowed head. Some pedestrians were looking down the alley as they moved past, a few trying to contain chortles.
“Sigh… didn’t I do it right?”
“Well, it is customary for the hero to be granted a name by those he has served! I believe both of us lent a hand to one another in this glorious and terrible combat.”
“So what would you like to be called?”
His masked head looked to the sky, and he clasped his hands over his stained knee. “If I were to be so blest to choose my own identity, there could be only one name for me. I wish to be known in the hearts of those who crave hope (and the hearts of those who detest the light) as CICADA-MAN, a guardian of Chicago and an eternal servant of the Lord!”
“Right, right.” David pulled out his phone and clunked it clumsily on the armored shoulders one by one. “Ummm, having proven your worth this day, mighty hero, I hereby dub thee Cicada-Man. Go forth and, and do your thing.”
Cicada-Man’s wrinkled lips hung open in silent prayer, and caught a sniffle.
“Look, I hope the fact that I’m not a superhero gets in the way of this.”
Cicada-Man towered over the dumpster when he reached his full height. “It is of little concern, now that we have both shown our courage on the field of battle. I bid thee well, sir…”
“Sir David Tolkien, may the Lord bless you. Now I must depart.” He shook David’s hand, than began a stride towards the smell of burning hot dogs in the street outside.
“Wait!” cried David, and Cicada-Man turned in an instant. David mouthed a few words as he rubbed his temples, his grin increasing the longer the new superhero stood in confused pause.
“…are you hiring?”
Copyright (C) 2013 by Nick Edinger