On Monday something was up with Mike. At first I thought it was because Alexandra sat next to me before class started, and began talking excitedly about how much fun Friday had been, and how Jean said she really liked hanging out with me. She asked me what I thought of Jean. I thought she was pretty, and Alexandra got happy about this, and said that she didn’t have a boyfriend, and didn’t Aiden give me her number? And I said, yeah, but I was busy, which you and I know was bullshit. She said I should call Jean, and by that time Miss Farr was goading us toward our desks, her red hair abuzz as she cried, “Journal! Now, kiddies.”
I saw Jean walk by in the hall a few times and look in the class. I’d have waved but Miss Farr was good at catching that kind of thing, and as much work as she gave us, her class was fun.
At lunch I told Kyana and Mike about what happened. That was when I noticed that Mike didn’t seem too happy. Normally he works through the greasy stuff on his styrofoam platter like each item was a one up mushroom, but he was eating like a robot. That’s when I wondered if he was upset because Alexandra was talking with me.
I told them about Jean so that Mike would know he didn’t have to worry about the me and Alexandra. He said, “Congratulations, man. It sounds like easy street now. You know she likes you. She sent her friend to basically tell you that, and you have her number. Only someone as dumb as you could possibly mess this up.”
Kyana was holding up a thin piece of ham so that the florescent lights shone through; the ham rainbow resplendent as oil on a seal’s muzzle. “This ham is shit. So is your date. I know that Jean girl, and she’s stupid.”
I didn’t know why she was so mad. But then her face changed, and she said, “At least the pickles are good.” She went on to tell us a story about a crazy guy on her block who believed that he was E-40, the second in command to Weeble-Man. When he told her this, she held in her laugh, “I’m afraid of crazy people.” He asked what she was reading, and she told him Hamlet. He told her he’d read it, and he was sad when the little pig died, his face dead serious. He asked her if she was sad about the little pig, and she told him she bawled her eyes out. I laughed at lot at the story, but Mike was staring off across the lunch-room. His lunch was only half-eaten. Something was definitely going on.
Kyana said, “Mike, what’s wrong?”
He turned and looked at us slow and mournful as a dying elephant. “Nothing,” he said.
“Come on, tell us.”
He went on to narrate how this kid Deshawn on his block that used to bully him in middle school now has been calling him names that Miss Farr would kill us for using- you know gender and anatomy insults, because Mike won’t fight him. On Friday Deshawn cornered him and started punching him. That was when I saw, and I felt bad that I’d been so excited about a girl that I hadn’t seen it, that his one cheek was dark with the bruise, and his eyebrow was split.
Kyana said, “I’ll fight him. I’m coming home with you. I’ma whip his ass.”
Mike said, “Great plan, Kyana, then everybody on the block will respect me.”
She said, “I’m so mad. You just want to be you, and he come at your neck. Dickhead probably know he dropping out this year, and he see you going to Central, and he so salty he just try and fight you.”
Mike said, “It’s not a big deal.”
But it was. I didn’t want those things happening to Mike; I wanted the bully punished. Unlike Kyana, there was something I could do about it. There were logistics to figure out, but I could definitely do something. How was I going to figure out who Deshawn was? Was there any chance he would be armed? But once I got those little details ironed out, I’d be up close and personal, delivering super-punches into his face, asking him how he liked it.
I said, “What’s his last name?”
“I like to have a last name when I fantasize about beating someone up. Is he a drug dealer?” I figured he would only have a gun if he was.
“No, he wants to be, but I don’t think he does anything but yell if he sees the cops. He’s putting together a resume, and somehow he thinks beating up Central nerds is an important accomplishment.”
It wasn’t that hard to find Deshawn. He had a public profile on the Face. He thought his name was Deshawn Do-One-Thing Williamson. I memorized his stupid face. He had high cheek bones and squinty meanness in his eyes. Overall he was better looking than I expected, but I planned to make him more how I’d imagined.
I put all black on, but I was just wearing sweats, no mask, no stripes. I looked like a normal person. Super-Kid doesn’t have that kind of get up. I’m working on the name thing.
You can imagine the kind of nervous energy that was boiling in me. This was my first moment of action. Up to now, all my new talent was used to become popular (okay, I wasn’t popular yet, but I was on my way.) I loved Spiderman, despite the constructed quality of the story, and there I was, little Spiderman. Spider Boy! All I had to do was beat Deshawn up, and let him know that it was justice, and if he picked on anybody else, I’d kill him. Start small, Lance-Often. Lance-often was not bad. Our school name was the Lancers, and it played on Lancelot.
Some of you are saying, what about the girl? Couldn’t you have called Jean, who was probably holding the phone in her hand, waiting for your call? First of all, as much as having super-powers had given me new confidence, I wasn’t picturing her holding the phone waiting. The thing I was thinking about was what happened after we’d exhausted discussing Bio homework? And how pretty she was and how nice it’d be to impress her and also how likely it was that I wouldn’t.
It was easier, that night, to play Bat Boy. Nope, sounds like a baseball bitch.