A town is buzzing with excitement over the bravery of a mysterious hero.
The doorbell rang, and Monica got up from her sewing machine and went to the door. It was Holly, a neighbor.
“Good morning, Monica.” Holly eyed Monica’s frumpy dress. “Sorry about just popping in on you like this.”
“Can you make it quick? I’m working against a five o’clock deadline.”
“A prom gown?”
“Three of them.”
“I’ve seen some of your work. That’s why I’m here.” She strode in. “I have a job for you.”
Monica closed the door.
“It’s for my daughter, Nicole. She’s getting married.”
“It’s mostly her decision, of course, but you’re a great seamstress, and that’s what I want for her. Only the best.”
Holly glanced at her baggy dress again, probably wondering why on earth a seamstress would wear such an ugly, ill-fitting garment. She saw a photo on the wall. “What a good-looking young man. Is that your son?”
“Yes.” She smiled. “His name is Richard. I’m so proud of him.”
“Does he lives here with you?”
“I can’t believe I’ve never met him. You’ve been here, what, a month now? How old is he?”
Holly grinned. “My youngest, Rachel, is nineteen. Maybe we should do a little matchmaking.”
“Richard…doesn’t get out much.”
“He’s a highly-successful freelance computer programmer.”
Holly smiled. “Rachel loves techie stuff.”
“But he’s not a big talker.”
“Oh, she’ll bring him out of his shell, believe me. One good look at her, and he’ll—”
“Well, I need to get back to work.”
“Oh, sure, honey—your deadline.” She walked to the door, then turned back. “Did you hear what happened last night at the Quick Mart over on Seventh Street?”
“It’s all over Facebook. This woman was in the back of the store, and a man came up and demanded her purse. He pulled a knife on her.”
“Oh, my. Is she okay?”
Holly’s eyes lit up. “This the cool part, and you’re not gonna believe it. This guy came out of nowhere, grabbed him, and threw him down on the floor. The creep got up and ran out of there and didn’t even bother to pick up his knife.”
“So, the police should be able to track him down with the fingerprints from his knife. Anyway, the hero disappeared, and nobody knows who he is or where he came from. But he’s already got a nickname: Dark Hero. Some blogger came up with that—because the woman said he was wearing a black superhero outfit. He even had a cape.”
“That’s crazy. Did somebody get a video of it?”
“No. The store had a security camera, but apparently it wasn’t working.”
“Yeah. Okay, I’ll call you later and set up an appointment about the wedding dress.”
“Sounds good. Thanks.”
Monica went downstairs to the basement.
Richard was sitting at his desk in the middle of the large room, working on his computer. To his right was his bed, a large couch, and a 70-inch TV with several game boxes connected to it. To the left were gym machines and a rack of dumbbells.
“How’s it going?” She walked up to him.
He kept typing and didn’t acknowledge her presence.
“I just had a visit from a neighbor. She may want to hire me to make her daughter’s wedding dress.”
Richard kept working.
“She was telling me about this good samaritan in a convenience store last night who saved a woman from a purse snatcher. They’re calling him Dark Hero. She said it’s all over Facebook.”
Richard kept typing.
Monica went on. “She said the store had security cameras, but the system wasn’t working.”
Richard continued to type. “That’s too bad.”
“Yeah, because I’d love to see that video.”
He stopped typing and looked up at her. “Okay.” He brought up a new window on his computer screen and played a video. She watched over his shoulder.
There was a woman in a store aisle selecting a bag of chips. On the next aisle was somebody in an overcoat with the hood pulled up and their back to the camera. A long-haired, bearded man in jeans and a jacket walked up to the woman and pulled out a knife. The one in the overcoat had stepped out of view. The man with the knife yanked the woman’s purse out of her hands. Dark Hero walked up behind the man.
“Pause it.” Monica pointed to the screen. “There he is. Oh, look at that cape. Magnificent! But his back is to the camera, so why did you delete the video from their system? There’s no way for anyone to identify him, and the poor traumatized woman won’t have an accurate memory of his face.”
“Patience.” He un-paused the video.
Dark Hero grabbed the criminal and threw him to the ground, and the man dropped his knife and the woman’s purse. He jumped up and ran away. Dark Hero made no attempt to stop him.
Richard said, “Now, watch closely.”
Dark Hero turned to leave.
Richard paused the video.
The hero’s face was in clear view.
“Okay, yeah,” Monica said. “But couldn’t you have just corrupted the video at this point, so the police and the public could have seen Dark Hero saving the woman?”
“You really like the name Dark Hero, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I do. It sounds cool.”
“That’s fine, but why give the police a chance to identify him, mother? We’ve already moved three times this year to avoid getting caught, and I like it here.”
“Really? All you ever see is this basement.”
He glared at her.
“Okay, fine.” She walked over to a clothes rack and smiled as she admired the various costumes. “Nobody knows how talented I am, Richard. Not really. Sure, they complement my gowns and wedding dresses, but these are my best work, and nobody ever sees them—except for those few lucky individuals who get rescued.”
He walked over and stood beside her. “I know how talented you are, and as I’ve said before, the morphing feature that you’ve created is pure genius.”
She smiled at him. “Thanks.”
He went on. “An overcoat that transforms into a super hero outfit in three seconds—you could make a fortune. Kids would go crazy over them.”
“I’m sure they would. But then everybody would know how Dark Hero and the all the others suddenly appear and disappear.”
He said, “The amazing and depressing part about all of this is the fact that if you wander around town every night, every so often you’re gonna come across a crime in progress.”
“That’s the excitement of it, though, right? That’s what pumps up the adrenaline. You know it’s gonna happen. You just don’t know exactly when.”
She took one of the costumes off the rack and held it up. The costumes looked heavy because of the sewn-in, bulging muscles, which were quickly inflated or deflated via a small, built-in, battery-operated air pump.
He said, “I hope nobody ever figures it out. I mean, you know we’re playing with fire.”
She grinned. “That’s the fun of it.” She walked over to the rack of dumbbells, picked up two thirty-pounders, and began doing bicep curls.
He walked back to his desk and sat down. “If anybody ever finds out that you’re a bodybuilder—”
“They’ll never suspect—as long as I wear baggy clothes.”
He shook his head. “I love you, Mom.” He went back to work on his computer.
“I love you, too. Now, let me hear you say it.”
She laughed. “Tell me I’m your Dark Hero.”
Copyright © 2017 Robert Burton Robinson