General Fiction posted December 24, 2017

This work has reached the exceptional level
Not all superheroes wear capes

The Jacket

by Stacia Ann

I don't know that I can do this anymore. It's making assignments on time. Plus chasing the news. Hell, making the news.

"Clark, need to talk to you." My editor stalks past my desk to his office, holding a cup of coffee.

"Yes, sir." I rouse myself from where I've been sitting, face buried in hands.

Lois glances over, sympathy brimming in her wide brown eyes. "I'm here for you," she whispers.

I nod and touch her shoulder as I head to Perry's office. Lois has always been a good friend. Sometimes I suspect she knows the truth. But then, how could she? Contrary to myth, superheroes don't wear capes and fly. Although it would make life much easier if we did.

No, our power rests in our everyday clothes.

Perry is sitting, feet up on his weathered desk. He sips from his coffee, turning the fresh pages of today's Daily Planet. He doesn't look at me.

I clear my throat.

"A good story is conspicuously absent from today's issue." He turns another page.

My cheeks burn. "I'm very sorry, sir."

He glances up. "Sorry's not good enough."

"Yes, sir." Nothing's ever good enough.

"I mean," he slams down the paper and gets up to pace, "exactly how do you miss an entire shopping center on fire in the middle of freaking Smallsville?"

"I'm sorry," I repeat. "I wish--I could do something to make it up."

"Make it up?" He stares at me. "What the hell is this, middle school? Uh, no." He collapses behind the desk again. "There's no make-up work, Kent."

"Yes, I get it, sir."

"Do you?" He fixes me with another hard stare. I become aware of my disheveled appearance--glasses, broken from last night, fixed with tape; white shirt disheveled, sleeves pushed up, the cuffs covered in ink. I think of my sports jacket back on my chair and wish I'd put it on.

Not all superheroes wear capes.

"No, you can't make it up." Perry picks up a pencil and twirls it between his palms. "But I can tell you what you're going to do, if you want to keep your job."

Oh, wow. I dread what's coming next. I probably can't do it.

Not all superheroes are superheroes.

"This is what you're going to." Perry sits up. "There was a mystery man at the scene. Of the mall fire. He evacuated a bunch of people. Then he just disappeared. No clue who he was. Well, you're going to find him. And interview him. I don't care how." He picks up his paper again.

"Yes, sir." My heart lightens. "I can do that."

I return to my desk and roll a sheet of paper into the typewriter.

"How'd it go?" Lois asks.

"Fine." I start to bang out the words.

"But--don't you have a story to chase?"

"Writing it now."

I shrug into my jacket.

And feel my powers flowing back.

Flash Fiction - A Secret contest entry

Shrugging into a jacket is the contemporary equivalent of putting on a cape.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the comic strip, Superman was a popular superhero, his alter ego Clark Kent, a newspaper reporter.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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© Copyright 2018. Stacia Ann All rights reserved.
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