In the Public Eye: Part 9

Sometimes I think that what I ought to do is change the projected posting days to Tuesday and Friday rather than Thursday. That way, if I post on Saturday it will only be a day late rather than two.

You don’t know how the press will spin an accidental car chase. Will they portray you as a menace? A fool? Or will they fail to even recognize you?

With that in mind, I was relieved to find the story in the lower right corner of page three of the Grand Lake Sentinel’s Sunday edition under the name “Mistaken Identity Causes Low Speed Chase.”

A quote from the article…

“An unidentified police officer stated, ’If the officers on patrol had ever properly identified the car, I’d have told them to leave it alone. I remember Night Wolf. He never bothered to stop either.’”

I left the paper in a pile on the couch. Dad would read it when he and Mom came home from the conference. I spent Sunday afternoon re-reading David Brin’s “Kiln People” while sprawling on my bed. Fixing the Legion’s old vehicles and attempting to play superhero had cut seriously into the time I normally would have used to play video games and read.

It felt good to be normal for a change.

My parents came through the door around five. The conference had been relatively close to home—just a few hours drive to Indianapolis.

My Dad was a child psychologist. He specialized in troubled teens, but did work with children of all ages. He did more than just work with troubled teens, however, he wrote books with titles like “What Your Teen Wants from You.”

According to Dad, most teens want consistent rules, love and appropriate discipline. Personally, I could have used a copy of Firefly on DVD, but that had yet to show up.

Ever since his first book had been published (when I was five), Dad had gone to conferences, acting as a speaker, panelist, attending just to network, or getting a booth to plug his books. Mom, as his business manager, went with him.

I opened the door to my room. On the other end of the upstairs hallway, I could see Mom, still in her blue suit, dumping their dirty clothes down the laundry chute.

“Nick, how did your weekend go?”

So here was a bit of irony, in his books Dad claimed that one of the reasons teens begin having massive parties in the house or get involved with the wrong crowd is because parents just aren’t home enough.

Dad and Mom ended up going out of town on speaking engagements at least once a month. So far I hadn’t set up any parties or joined a gang. I didn’t even get invited to those sort of parties. In fact, prior to hanging around with Vaughn and Cassie, I didn’t even know when I’d missed one.

On the other hand, you could argue that a superhero team isn’t that much different from a gang.

“Not a whole lot happened,” I said. “I did my homework. I read a book. I hung around with Cassie a little on Saturday afternoon.”

“She’s nice,” Mom said. “You’ve been spending a lot of time together lately.”

She stood next to the wall, waiting for my reply.

“We’re friends, Mom.”

She smiled at me and walked into the bedroom to help my dad unpack.

I went back into my room, read for another hour and then went downstairs. Dad sat on the couch reading the paper. Mom was fixing herself a sandwich.

“So now they’re joyriding in Night Wolf’s car,” Dad said. He sounded amused.

“Who?” Mom said.

“The kids who fought that thug a few weeks ago. The Grey Giant?” Dad flipped open the paper, following the story to page four.

“I don’t think the article said they were joyriding,” I said.

“What else would kids be doing with a car like that? I had this old rust bucket of a Camaro in high school and I tried things that should have killed me a couple times over.”

He scanned the rest of the article. “The city’s not going to fine them for destroying the traffic light either.”

“Should they?” I walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out the leftover Chinese takeout from Saturday night.

“They should. Kids need accountability.”

“I’m sure they feel guilty about it.” I poured the rest of General Tso’s Chicken over the rice and put the plate in the microwave.

“They probably do.” He put down the paper.

“But that’s not good enough,” he said. “It’s the whole package that causes problems. There’s the secret identity—which means these kids can’t talk to anybody about what’s going on in their lives, the constant exposure to violence which could give anybody post-traumatic stress disorder, and then there’s the government. Some kid, or even an adult, goes over the line and they just smooth it over.

“It’s corrosive,” he said. “It takes a child’s community away and it gives them what? Adulation for hurting people. And they wonder why some of these people go over to the other side of the law.”

I pulled up my stool to the counter and ate my food.

“I hadn’t thought of it quite that way,” I said.

He shrugged. “Neither had I, but I had a client a couple years ago. Basically a good kid, but with a bad case of PTSD. He started skipping school and killed a man outright. It turned out that the man was a villain who had abducted and killed the kid’s girlfriend as part of a plan to kill him. The government covered it up and told him to take a break for a while. His parents brought me in because they knew something was wrong, but they didn’t know what.”

“Is he still active?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him lately. He’s not from around here.”

13 thoughts on “In the Public Eye: Part 9”

  1. That’s something you never really think of, what happens to the heroes when the villains go too far? Let’s hope none of our league has to find out how they’d react.

  2. Sonja: I like having his dad in there as a character. He’s not always going to be right, but I’d say he’s right about a lot of things here.

    Charles: People generally don’t get to find out what happens because the hero succeeds in solving the problem and everything’s good after that. Happy endings are so limiting that way… I’ve got to admit though that I’ve always been partial to happy endings myself.

  3. Tuesday and Friday would be fine – at least 3 days between installments to give you some breathing time – and the story is well worth the extra day’s wait for Friday’s installment. Plus, there would be less of a wait between Friday and Tuesday for the next installment.

  4. Okay, Family secrets…why wouldn’t Nick’s Mom and/or Dad know who the original Rocket is? This has not been explained anywhere that I have found….

    I do love the story so far, great work.

    1. Easy. The block. It’s right here. The original team initially set up “the block” on their kids, but lasted long enough to include the people their kids married too. Basically, the block makes it hard to make the connection and recognize that Nick’s grandfather was the Rocket.

  5. Oookay. Dad’s right. Dad probably should put SOME consequences on “kid lied to me for months” (as it’s plain that it’s going to take a while for this to be known).

    But it probably shouldn’t be “grounded” or anything like that.
    REAL consequences, like “you fix the roof, repair my car’s squeak, and tell me about every single superhero thing you do for as long as you’re under my roof”

  6. VERY MILD SPOILER

    “And they wonder why some of these people go over to the other side of the law.”

    Almost ten years later, this line from this offhand conversation finally payed off.

    Did you include this line specifically thinking about what would happen recently with Adam? Or did you not have it planned out that far ahead?

    Regardless, the foreshadowing is strong with you, Zoeteway.

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