Tag Archives: age

Old Superheroes Never Die

“Superman has Clark Kent when he wants to kick back and just not go out to fight the bad guys. I’ve wearing this costume for so long I can’t remember what name my mother called me. It gets tiring sometimes. There are days I could use an extra hand, but who offers to carry groceries for a guy in a superhero costume? Even if the guy qualifies for his old age security.”

The old man sat in the chair in my office and glowered at me. The blue spandex might have been a good choice when he was younger and in better shape, but now it showed off the softness of his old body. Not that he was soft, that gun was real enough, and his eyes held the same steel as the gun.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked and looked at the blank page where I would normally have reams of notes.

“I need a retirement home,” the old man said, “somewhere where the bad guys can’t find me and where everyone else will leave me alone.”

“I need a name, a social security number, an address,” I said, “I understand you wanting a rest, but I can’t place a nameless stranger in a home. You have to give me something.”

He pushed himself to his feet. The sound of joints popping and cracking made me wince. His fingers were swollen, super-arthritis? Was surgery even possible on him?

“Come with me,” he said, “see for yourself. Don’t get too close and don’t get in my way.” I followed him out of my office and watched him walk along the street. Nobody paid the slightest attention to him. A flock of pigeons flew over him and left their mark on his blue costume. His shoulders sagged a little as he kept walking, though I noticed his hand brush against that gun at his side. I don’t know if he walked slowly so I could keep up, but if so he over did it. Several times I had to stop to tie my shoe or look in a window to give him the space he needed.

We turned down a ramp into a parking garage. Shouts echoed through the empty space as men in black ninja costumes jumped out to surround him. None of them saw me as I ducked between two cars and pulled out my cell phone. No signal.

My debate as to whether I should go out on the street to call for help ended when the ninjas leaped to the attack. In the movies, they’d charge one by one and allow him to defeat one before the next moved in.. This wasn’t the movies. They moved as a coordinated team to pummel the old man.

Only he didn’t move like an old man now. One opponent moved a little too fast. The man in spandex grabbed him by the throat and tossed him at those attacking from the rear. The smack of a fist hitting flesh reached my hiding place, but the hero used the arm to pull the ninja off balance and drop him with a quick jab. He spun out of the attempted headlock by another opponent and threw that man on top of the first hard enough to bounce.

One by one then ninjas joined the pile of unconscious thugs until it was taller than the old man. The last one he dispatched with a jump kick I couldn’t imagine trying, though I was sure he had thirty years on me. As I came out of my hiding place the energy left him and he puffed like I did if I walked up a hill too fast. He waved at me and I waited for him to catch his breath.

“Why didn’t you use that?” I pointed at the gun at his side.

“Do you know… how much… ammunition costs?” he said between wheezes. “Nobody pays me for this.”  He walked to the back of the garage and pulled the cover off a classic muscle car. Well, it would have been a classic if it weren’t for the fifty caliber machine guns mounted on each door.

“You may as well get in.” He waved me over to the passenger side and climbed into his seat.

“Where are the seatbelts?”

“Never needed them.” He pushed a button and the engine roared to life. Tires squealed as smoke filled the garage, then he popped the brake and we took off. He weaved through the garage slowing only slightly to bump a reviving ninja back onto the pile with a rear fender. We erupted out of the garage and onto the street, where he had to slam on the brakes to fit into the bumper to bumper traffic.

“We’d be faster walking,” I said.

“Tell me about it,” the old man thumped the steering wheel and glared up at the flock of pigeons that left white gooey marks across the windshield. “Flying’s better, but everyone’s so uptight now I’m afraid they’d try to shoot me down. Got some nice pictures the first time they scrambled on me, but now it’s just a nuisance.”

He pulled off the road and sped away through an alley making one turn after another into spaces I was sure we’d never fit. Even with the extra width of the guns we didn’t leave a scratch on the wall.

“Here we are,” he said and whipped the car through an open loading door. The car rocked and creaked as the elevator lifted us up to the top floor.

We stopped and he climbed out of the car. I had to climb across the car to get out.

“Don’t hit any buttons,” he said.

The words rocket launcher peeked out from beneath my hand. I moved it away and made sure to watch what I did until I stood safe outside the car.

The penthouse was sparsely furnished, almost barren. I shivered, it might be a great hero’s lair, but I wouldn’t want to live here.

“Tea, coffee?” the old man said, “I’d offer you biscuits and jam, but jam jars are my one weakness.”

“How can a jam jar be your weakness?”

“Can’t open them,” he said, “never could.” He poured boiling water into a pot and swirled it. Then made tea.

“Was a time I didn’t mind it up here,” he said, “I needed a quiet place to get away from the rush; being a super hero is addictive. Then like any addiction it takes over and you lose yourself. Those guys with their secret identities had it right. You’ve got to step back and let it go once in a while.”

“So why not take off the mask and retire?” I watched him make tea in the window’s reflection.

“I’m not sure who’s under there any more.” He came over and handed me a cup. I sipped at it. I hate tea, but its bitterness seemed appropriate. He stared through the window at the city. From up here it looked quiet and peaceful.

“They’d find you anywhere I placed you,” I said, “Unless you take off the mask and become just another old man.”

He sipped his tea and I waited.  When I finished my tea, I left him there, still looking out the window. I saw him wave once before I closed the door behind me.

Generation Gap is out

My YA dystopian book Generation Gap is now out.

When age rules the country, it’s hard being young.

Trey runs away from the youth reserve sure he’s no more than spare parts for a father he barely remembers. The Council of Elders has its own questions about him. When Trey finds the Underground and joins the fight to give rights back to the Youngers, he starts a chain of events beyond anyone’s control.

 

 

Available from my bookstore on this site

[ebook_store ebook_id=”1221″]

or from all major ebook retailers.

As always hard copies can be purchased from Lulu.com

Cheese and Whisky

Joe leaned his cane against the counter and put the kettle on for tea. He put some biscuits on a plate and sliced some cheese to go with it. After a moment’s thought, he put a jar of jam out as well. Cups and plates completed the setting. The door bell rang; he took a final glance at the little kitchen. It would do.

He picked up the cane on the way to the front door. A young women stood on the other side of the door. Everyone looked young to Joe now, but she couldn’t be thirty yet. Youth glowed in her red hair and blue eyes. She smiled when she saw him. Joe liked that, even better were the faint smile lines around those blue eyes. He revised his estimate of her age upwards a decade.

“Hello, Mr. Baldur,” she said, “My name is Gina, I talked to you on the phone yesterday.”

“I remember,” Joe said and opened the door, “Come on in. I’ve put water on.” He led the way back to the kitchen. She put her purse under her chair and laid a pad and pencil on the table.

“Do you mind if I tape the interview?” Gina asked, “It’s helpful to make sure that I don’t misquote you.”

“Fine by me,” Joe said, “What do you take?”

“Just milk thanks,” Gina said as she fished a tiny recorder out of her purse and placed it at the top of the pad. “Gina Stapopolous, interviewing Joe Baldur, January 28, 2010 at his home. Anything you don’t want recorded just let me know and I will stop the recorder.”

“Thanks for coming by Gina,” Joe said, “It’s nice to have a new audience for my old stories.”

“I should start off with a few questions then. How old are you?”

“According to my birth certificate I am one hundred and fifty one this year.”

“That’s an extraordinary age Mr. Baldur.”

“Please, call me Joe.”

“OK then, Joe,” she said, “Do you have any other way of proving your age? It isn’t that I doubt you, but the oldest person on record is one hundred and seventeen and they live in a nursing home.”

“I’m afraid that anyone that might remember the day of my birth is long gone.” Joe smiled her. “I have no interest in trying to claim any record. I’m not interested in going through the media circus that would entail.”

“Yet you took my call and invited me here…”

“I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to have a pretty young woman give me her undivided attention.”

Gina laughed and marked a point in the air with her finger.

“So tell me what it’s like being your age?”

“Boring.”

“Boring?”

“Not many people are interested in the elderly anymore. Getting other people to take care of your parents or grandparents is big business. Put them in a safe place and get on with the important work of living. No one gives much thought to what it’s like for the old people who’re pushed to the edges. The last decent conversation I had was with the paper boy. He was collecting his money and told me all about the hockey tournament he’d played in on the weekend. That was five years ago. Now the paper is delivered by a girl in a car and I pay online for the paper.”

“Sounds lonely.”

“That too,” Joe admitted. He pushed the plate of biscuits toward his guest. “Help yourself.”

Gina took a biscuit and put a slice of cheese on it.

“So if you are bored and lonely, why live by yourself and not talk about your age.”

“All the fuss about my age would just add annoyed to bored and lonely. I don’t want to be Methuselah.”

“Methuselah?”

“The only thing anyone knows about him is that he lived to 969 years and was Lamech’s dad. That would be me. I would just be ‘the old guy’.”

“So, what do you want to be known for?”

“That’s a good question.” Joe took a long sip of his tea and looked up at the ceiling. Gina picked up the biscuit on her plate and took a bite.

“O my, this is good,” Gina said, “Where did you buy them?”

“I make them myself,” Joe said, “I can teach you how.”

“Really?” Gina gave herself a shake and looked at Joe. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to distract you from your answer. What do you want to be known for?”

“A baker of really good biscuits wouldn’t be a bad start,” Joe said, “Try the jam, it’s from the strawberries I grow out back.”

Gina dutifully spread some of the ruby red jam on her biscuit and bit into it. She closed her eyes and sighed.

“Heaven,” she said, “So what else can you do?”

“I make most of my own food from scratch,” Joe said, “It isn’t like I don’t have time to give what I’m doing my full attention.” He bit into his own biscuit and sighed.

“That sounds like good advice. My dad used to tell me something similar.”

“Sounds like he’s a smart fellow.”

“He is, but he lives on the other side of the country now and I don’t see him much.”

“Don’t have time?”

“He’s pretty busy too,” Gina said, “He’s always off golfing with his buddies.”

Joe just looked at her.

“All my friends are my age. They are just happy not to have their parents telling them how to live their lives anymore.”

“Yes, that is a weakness of the elderly.”

“Not just the old,” Gina said, “You wouldn’t believe how many times my girlfriend tries to tell me what to do with my life.”

“Is her advice good?”

Gina laughed, “Heck no, she’s into relationships like an alcoholic is into beer.”

“Right, so it’s about the effect not the taste.” Joe took another bite of his biscuit. “So you put up with bad advice from your friend, but not good advice from your father?”

“Just because he’s older doesn’t mean the advice is better.”

“True.” Joe got up and opened the fridge, pulled out a tiny block of cheese and brought it back to the table. He carefully cut a slice. “Try this.”

Gina took the tiny sliver of cheese from him and popped into her mouth. Joe watched as something close to ecstasy passed across her face.

“What is that?” Gina whispered.

“That is a ten year old cheddar,” Joe said and passed her another sliver. “Some things, like cheese and whisky improve with age. If you have the patience and the knowledge to enjoy the difference.”

“And you’re saying that people are one of those things.”

“Some people, in the right conditions,” Joe said and cut himself a sliver of cheese. “I guess what I want is to keep improving with age.”

Gina looked at him and smiled.

“I think I could say the same thing.”

“It’s no easier at my age.” Joe cut her another slice of the cheese.

“But you manage.”

“I hope so.”

Gina pushed the stop button on the recorder. She looked at the blank pad that sat in front of her and picked up the pencil.

“You offered to teach me how to make these biscuits, how about you give me the recipe, then you can teach me how to make it work.”

“Only if you promise to make some for your dad and….”

“And?”

“Come back to visit me.” Joe looked at her, his heart thumping with nerves. He didn’t want to be disappointed again.

“I think I can promise you that,” Gina said.

Joe grinned, “I’m feeling a hundred years younger now.” He went to the cupboards and began pulling out bowls and ingredients. “The trick to good biscuits is in how you mix them…”