Short: Broke(n) Hero

One prompt, from one person, once a week. Here’s last week’s efforts.

“The world’s greatest superhero is too broke to afford a costume. As a result, no one takes them seriously.”

With the remote in one hand and a nearly empty glass of scotch in the other, he was a bit confused as to where the daily despair came from. Usually it was the scotch (neat) but the news report and vox pop with clueless people going “Well, he does good, but he doesn’t look good, does he?” and “I dunno maaaan, he kinda looks like a fool but where would we be without him?” or “Hey, if you need help with your look, hit me up? I can be your fashion side kick, yeah!” weren’t exactly doing much for his self-esteem. It’s not like they weren’t grateful, but that just seemed to make it worse. So there he sat, in stunned silence as the TV kept on blaring at him, but all he could do was let it wash over him. He wasn’t even disappointed at this point, it was hardly news to him.

What can you do when you can do anything, though? Keep yourself quiet, was his answer. John Garner, strongest, quickest, most resilient person on the planet, best thought of himself as a humble member of society doing what he could. The problem really started when he discovered his capabilities. For a little while it was the best thing that could ever happen to him and those he could help, relieving him from the doldrums of office life; sure, it wasn’t the best paying job, but he could do that, save the city from destruction and be back in time for dinner without so much as a fuss. It began to take a toll on him though. These herculean acts started putting attention on him, attention he didn’t want. The office might have been a meaningless, sombre affair, but it was his meaningless, sombre affair that he could go back to after casually stopping an evil scientist here or a super-powered wrong-doer there. The stress of it all caught up, so he had to quit one and weighing up which was the better thing to be doing, it seemed like an obvious choice.

As he finished his fourth glass of scotch for the evening, a simple task given the fact alcohol had no impact on him, he reached behind for the bottle only to put his hand on his mask it sat on. The blue plastic had been broken and scarred several times over and fabric was well and truly coming undone. He hadn’t used it for years, instead resorting to the mask of looking like an Average Joe. An unkempt beard, clean but messy hair, a narrow nose, soft eyebrows and brown eyes kept him from looking too distinctive. Besides, when you can run as fast as John could, it could be pretty hard to get a good look in to pass judgement. Except he wasn’t always moving at full speed, so shabby chinos and a short-sleeved white shirt that was missing its top button were what first introduced an assailant to a swift end.

When he first started out, with his government funded costume protecting who he was, he cared so much about what he could do he consequently tried equally as hard. As he felt the control of his life slip away from him though, his attention being pulled every which way, he started to care less. Of course even when he didn’t terribly care, he still sought out to try as much as he could because it was all the meaning he had left for himself. After so many incidents, his suit got worn out and he just didn’t care enough to wear it. His life had been consumed by this role that he no longer felt he was anybody except for being a hero. He stopped repairing the costume after a certain point, but this lack of ‘formal’ presentation caught wrong-doers off-guard and they were easily stopped. They didn’t take John seriously so he just stopped trying too, but instead of eventually being caught out at some point, he still effortlessly took down his opponents.

Besides the government cheques he got monthly, a ‘hero wage’, every time he met with a representative they offered to pay for a new costumed suit, but he declined just saying he’d sort it out in his own time, something that was never argued because who would argue with someone that powerful? By the time in the month he would maybe think about getting a new one sorted out, his wallet was empty. He’d even down-sized into a small flat not wanting to burden the tax payers with a high upkeep, but between buying an otherwise excessive amount of alcohol and meals for one, he didn’t have enough to go out and get costume materials and with that any interest he had in doing anything about the suit disappeared near instantly for another month.

Looking at the time he turned the TV off and slinked away to bed, lazily pulling back the covers and kicking off his shoes before getting comfortable within the covers. For a brief moment a glimmer of hope and aspiration overcame his thinking, but went back into the recesses of his mind as quickly as they had appeared.

The bad guys laughed at him when he apprehended them, the public thought he was a fortunate joke and he just didn’t have the willpower left to argue with either. Maybe they’d treat me seriously if I acted against the public, he’d think every so often, but his heart was just pure enough that no matter how low he felt, he’d never switch sides. That’s how things would remain then. Some people would try and rise up to try and prove they could best him and fail, the public would outpour thanks and appreciation and rely on John for what his abilities allowed him to do and he would swoop in and save the day with no effort required. He would often dream of being back in the doldrums.

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About thejgman

I am a person and do persony things! Favourite things include Mars bars, video games and, surprisingly, writing. I'm a graduate in Cultural Studies, with a focus towards all things digital and technological.
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