“Goooooood morning Politan! This is Kirk Kirklandson, Politan Action AM News reporter, reporting to you live! I am here onsite where our fair city’s hero has once again put a stop to yet another attempt by X-Cordion, and what a sight this site is. In case you are just joining us, I’ll take this moment to recap what perspired here this morning at the corner of Politan Parkway and First.
“First calls came in, as X-Cordion, that most dastardly of diehards, landed on the scene. Brandishing his patented instrument of musical mayhem, the 64 and a quarter keyed squeeze box from Hades, the villain laid waste to the yet to be finished 14th Bank of Politan. This is just this humble radio reporter’s opinion, but it looks like our fare citizens will have to wait for the 15th iteration for all their banking needs.
“Pulling in a vacuum around him, the rogue rapscallion unleashed a torrent of ill-tuned bedlam in the form of compressed breathing juice and felled the abandoned site in one fell swoop. Laughing in the sinister fashion of a devil with no cause to be had, X-Cordion took this moment to issue his challenge:
‘Yick yick yick yack! I ask you now, WHERE’S he at?
Where is this hero, you blindly follow?
I have my tunes for him to swallow!
“And in a flash of gold and purple, the question was met with an answer for the ages. Neptone, the extraterrestrial hero who has come to call Politan home, landed down from the clouds and made his stand. Folks, I’ll tell ya, I wasn’t there, but the patrons who had gathered around the scene informed me that X-Cordion’s face quivered with fear at the arrival of our hero.
“With the stage set and sound checked, the battle of the one-man bands commenced! X-Cordion once again prepared a strike from his accordion. But alas, before the minor chords could befall, our hero gave a power chord strum of his inverted ‘W’ axe guitar. Proving once again that pure American rock and roll will always reign supreme, Neptone left a star-struck X-Cordion down in the rubble, ears bleeding from the sweet tune of justice.
“Folks, I am pleased as punch to tell you that Neptone himself has just joined me, and we’ll see if we can get a few words from him.
“Neptone, tell us. Walk us through your latest escapade in yet again saving our fair city of Politan.”
“Kirk Kirklandson, my man. It’s great to be here. As per usual…”
Jack Jackson shoved his palm into the button that silenced his vehicle’s radio. Boy howdy, he sure did hate the way that man talked. Granted, he wasn’t ungrateful. Politan was his home, and they were truly blessed to have a savior from the stars defending them from the likes of the resident evildoer. But the vernacular! The accent! Jack was flummoxed. How does an interstellar superhero gain a Californian surfer accent this far from the West Coast? The nearest beach was damn near a thousand miles away from his Midwest motherland. And he was no astronomer, but Jack was fairly certain there were no “sick waves” out on the Milky Way.
Maybe it was just the mood he was in this morning. For starters, he was in a traffic jam. Jolly Roger, did he hate traffic. Especially on a day like today. He needed to be in the offices of Jenaric Contracting. Superhero and supervillain conflicts that leveled infrastructure were the sole reason he had a job. His quiet little city would have no need of competing contracting firms without them. X-Corp, meanwhile, was all the other way on the other side of town. He was no mind reader or fortune teller, but Jack Jackson was quite confident that their estimators were not stuck in traffic on a morning when buildings were in dire need of estimating.
Jack was optimistic this morning. Jenaric Contracting had a losing track record in getting the big jobs. Sure, the little mom and pops and their broken windows and missing shingles kept them in the black, but they were nothing compared to the expected payday from banks and businesses. Today, he thought aloud, today is the day we get the big one!
As traffic moved like pitch through a sandpaper funnel, he came upon the reason for the delay. A short, squat little man in a mismatched black suit holding a microphone drew in a crowd that rivaled a rock concert. Extending his short arms upwards, the sound recording device was inches away from the face of the hero himself. Long, tan and handsome, Neptone gave a side flick of his head as his shoulder length, sandy blond hair whipped around. His leotard, uncomfortably tight by Jack Jackson’s standards, glittered in the early morning sunlight. Smooth vermillion against a base of violet, the sleeveless superhero outfit only lacked a satin cape.
Instead, a braided leather strap supported the most famous guitar in the land – the three-toned purple, gold, and white sunburst, inverted “W” axe with a maple fretboard. Jack Jackson didn’t know too much about guitars, but he thought it must be cumbersome to play. He did buy into the fact that it was indeed much more pleasant sounding than an accordion.
Neptone and the compact reporter shared a hearty laugh as Jack watched them from his window. Unable to contain himself, he flicked the radio broadcast back on, catching the last part of the conversation.
“…and the day was saved,” Neptone boasted. Jack could hear the crowd murmuring and cheering both through the radio and his closed windows. Most of the conversation was left indecipherable, aside from one patron requesting that Neptone make a baby with them. That one got the crowd laughing.
“Now Neptone, we know you lead a busy life, and we won’t hold you here for any longer. But, and I know the crowd will back me up on this, can’t let you leave without one little jam.” Kirk Kirkland’s request so enthused the audience that their raucous cheers shook the windows of Jack’s little old car.
“Well Kirk Kirklandson, you know me all too well.” Neptone flung his golden locks over his shoulders with a flick as he swung the inverted “W” axe to the ready. Even without an amplifier, the alien surf rocker blistered out a mind melting solo, culminating with an extended hold on the highest of high notes. The frequency rang through the streets and every window on every building and vehicle, Jack’s included, shattered into a falling rain of shattered glass.
Dusting the shards of glass off his lap, Jack Jackson let out a curse, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash! Superhero? More like superzero.”
Klive Anderson closed his writing journal, as he silenced the blaring alarm on his phone; 5:45 AM was, by most people’s standards, an awful time to start the day. Sometimes Klive would toss and turn in his bed for hours, and sleep would never come. When that happened, he would work on his writing project. And when the bell of the morning would inevitably toll, it was his waking dream he would end and not his slumber.
He wasn’t troubled, nor was he overly stressed or worried. Klive was only 27, he could manage staying up every once and a while. The sleepless nights weren’t all that bad, to tell the truth. Sometimes the story in his head was just to vibrant. Like a dream he could remember.
Nevertheless, Klive was still human, and the lack of rest necessitated a serious dose of caffeine. Putting on his long johns before donning his flame-retardant work wear, he readied himself for the day. He quietly put on his boots, grabbed his keys, and tiptoed out into the apartment. He carefully turned the handle to the door and walked outside as the crisp air from the frigid South Texas morning battled the cozy apartment’s warmth.
The night had been cold for sure, but thankfully there wasn’t too much moisture in the air. Last year after one icy evening, he had hit the top step of the concrete staircase with a little too much speed, slipped on the ice, and nearly went ass over tea kettle to the bottom. No ice this morning, though, which he considered a good thing.
Klive glanced in the coffee shop that served as the bottom floor of his apartment. Well, not his apartment, just the one he lived in. The Brew Bean was dark, save the lava lamp that glowed and globbed bright orange in the window.
He opened the door of his truck and stepped in. Turning the keys, the sequence of electrical relays fired as he heard the hum of the block heater going to work. His old 7.3L Ford, bulletproof as it was, disliked the cold far more than he did. After a few rounds of heating the glow plugs, he gave the engine a try.
For all the care he took in the mornings to remain as quiet as possible when leaving the apartment, it all ended when he began a cold start. The engine whined and coughed, echoing down the road in small town Lilly Grove. The revolutions were slow and difficult at first as white smoke bellowed from his exhaust pipe. But as the cylinders began gaining ground, Klive gave a victorious thump on the dashboard as the rig finally turned over and the purr of the diesel engine roared against the sleepy little street.
Glancing up through the windshield, he saw that the Brew Bean was now open for business. He turned up the cab heater and closed the door. Stepping into the quaint coffee house, he inhaled the robust scent of the first brew of the day.
The clashing of styles within the shop was one of his favorite things about The Brew Bean. The quaint little shop on 1st Street had the whole small-town vibe going on out in the common area. No hipster couches or cluttered bookshelves, just handmade stained wooden tables and chairs on a hardwood floor. The morning paper was always in a galvanized tub ready to read, though sometimes it was some other days issue. The walls on the other hand were littered with brightly colored posters with a psychedelic, seventies vibe to them. That and the lava lamp gave the joint its “a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll” feel.
Klive looked over to the counter near to where the register was mounted. The shop still had the original metal cash machine installed when the place was built. The type that rang when the handle was pulled. Next to this antique was a mop of unruly, dirty blonde hair. The definition of bedhead if Klive had ever seen it. As he approached, the owner declined to lift aforementioned head off the counter as she slid him his coffee. The paper cup was as brightly colored and funky as the posters on the wall, and although he never tried, Klive suspected the container would be a trip under a black light.
For a moment, he thought about greeting the gal but had long learned that some people just aren’t in a conversing mood until the more respectable hours of the day. Instead, he slid three dollars toward her and turned for the exit. Klive heard the clanging of the register and the rustling of cash in the drawers as the bells above the door jingled upon his exit. Though severely muffled, he swore he even heard the shop keep mutter “Thank you.”
©2018 Ted Dawson Akin
To get the whole story, check out Amazon or visit The Aviary to get your very own copy of Wham! Today!