AUTHOR’S NOTE: After making this post, I did some edits to the story’s beginning. If you want to read what I originally had (including some deleted scenes), then go here and enter in the password “errishuman” . On to the story proper!
The nurse lady says that my health insurance doesn’t cover the condition I called, “getting my ass kicked by Beaver-Man.” Unbelievable. Can you see what I’m dealing with here? I gave this woman at the desk of the emergency room my name, my ID, even a State Secret my boss told me about. I’m in trouble if my wife looks up my medical records. And this nurse won’t even give me the courtesy of trusting my henchman honor. She didn’t even mention insurance, I had to bring it up, and I’m pretty 100% sure that that’s not how it goes, okay? Our president passed a health care bill right after the Omni-Man Collateral Damage Act. Something about health care had to change. In my line of work, people my age need all the help they can get. Estoy a punto de llorar.
Maybe you didn’t understand what I just said. Maybe you only speak English so far. Let’s keep it that way. I’d like to have some thoughts for myself, and I let you into my head as a favor, gracias.
I’m staring at this woman, the only white person in this whole building by the way, and I’m pointing to my swollen leg because it’s— well, the leg’s actually not so bad. I’ve had worse. Tonight wasn’t my first scrap with Beaver-Man, and if he keeps sneaking up on me and my henchmen like that… you know, next time I see Sinister Sid, I think I’ll tell him that my job’s designing uniforms, not playing Superheroes and Supervillains. Ahh, who am I kidding. Sid’s no supervillain. People got their labors of love— I put jetpacks on spandex, he puts jinxes on Senators.
The important thing is, I’m not crying. I have a lot of ongoing missions. Defeat Beaver-Man, unless he sneaks up on me again tonight, in which case I bolt. Pay off my wife’s college debt, set up a savings account for my kid with the rest of my dough. Get back the beer money I gave Jack. Here’s my number one mission: don’t cry. At least until I’m on a rooftop or something. Jack, OddBo, Brianna, Narp, Otis… all these fellow henchmen at the bench behind me aren’t crying either. And they all got beaten up by Beaver-Man tonight like me. Just like the henchmen in wheelchairs all over this lobby.
Those other henchmen got it easy compared to my friends on the bench. Otis whimpers when he shifts his weight, Brianna’s arm is swinging limp from her shoulder, and OddBo… I think you’re a little too young to hear about OddBo. Point is, although I’ve got a throbbing in my lower leg like an overheated motorcycle, I gotta be stoic. I can’t cry. This pain, it’s nothing. In fact, I enjoy riding motorcycles. Everything’s under my thumb.
While I’m lost in thought, the nurse yaps on. She rubs her eyes. She invites me to sit down at the bench across the room. I wait for her to bring me a wheelchair. After a long silence, she says that my injured companions possess half of the building’s wheelchairs, while Labor and Delivery stole the other half. Hey, that’s charity work for you.
So the nurse hands me a crutch. Just one crutch, by the way. I’ve never used one of these before, but I know how they work. I just swing it next to my broken leg as I walk back to the waiting room bench. My leg flames up with each step— they must’ve given me a terrible crutch. It takes a few grunts, loud grunts, gritos, to walk to where my fellow henchmen sit. They’re staring at me. I like to think of my grunts as similar to the grunts I make when I deadlift.
I sit down at the overcrowded bench’s end, and I start some rhythmic breathing. I ignore the growing fuzziness in my eyes. Jack doesn’t scooch over, and I’m not asking him. I sit on the very end of the bench. It’s a balance, that’s for sure.
Jack used to look like a big dog. Not anymore. Beaver-Man breaks a lot of things. He’s got a foot-tall height advantage over me. He threw me off the warehouse roof last week. He could do it again. Still, I need my money back. I gotta confront him, and right quick too.
Jack’s a mess, but the other henchmen on the bench remind me of something else. Sinister Sid talked to me about the 5 stages of grief the first time we met. What you need to understand is, when Sid’s not engaging in world domination, he gives his employees something like a therapy session. Sid taught me to listen to all the voices in me, voices ranging from “rub your belly” to “rob a bank.” And because of Sid’s teachings, I see in this room the five stages of henchmen, or at any rate the stages I went through as a henchman.
Stage 1 (Denial): OddBo, with his last semi-good eye, reads something on his phone. OddBo isn’t a henchman, he’ll always say he’s an “entrepreneur’s assistant,” and he won’t take our dirty henchman money to even buy himself a pillow. I said similar things my first week on the job. OddBo reminds me of Omni-Man, who’s been known to cry if he fails to save a school bus or some junk. The guy once said, after saving the world, “I am not a Mexican superhero or a West-Coast superhero: I am an American superhero.” What a load.
(to be continued in Part 2)