In the Public Eye: Part 15

Another update. It’s sort of on time if by on time you mean it was completed on the day it was supposed to appear. Sort of.

Well anyway, you’ll get a chance to run into one of the two surviving members of the original Heroes League in this post. That’s something to look forward to even if the specific circumstances of the meeting are a little depressing.

One of these days, I’d like to write story that’s completely the original League set in the 50’s or 60’s or something. Not sure when I’ll do it, but it would be cool.

I stood in Daniel’s room in my street clothes. I’d left the suit back at HQ. Putting it away and borrowing my mom’s car had given me enough time to calm down.

Mostly.

Bookshelves were built into one wall. Daniel’s room used to be his dad’s home office. Daniel had done a surprisingly good job of filling it with books, CD’s/DVD’s, and video games.

He had a lot of books about the Civil War. I flipped through a couple.

“Dad’s just about to fly back from Chicago,” he said, shutting his door as he stepped into the room.

“I’m going to have to go home just about the time he gets here,” I said.

“I know.”

I paused, trying to figure out a good way to accuse my best friend of secretly planting something in my brain.

“Look,” he said, “I’m sorry. I should have told you.”

“I didn’t know my own name.”

“I know. Here’s what happened… You remember the block Grandpa put into everybody’s heads? So none of us would talk about the League in front of outsiders? Well, a couple years ago I looked at yours and I realized I could improve it. Now if a telepath tries to go deeply into your head, the block shuts off access to anything he happens to touch.”

“And not just to the telepath,” I said.

“Not really,” he said, “It’s all there. You just can’t consciously think of it. That’s the beauty of it all. You just trust your instincts and you’ve got unconscious access to everything.”

“What about the martial arts training? That didn’t go away.”

“I thought you might need conscious access to that.”

I bit back a reply about how having conscious access to my name and history might also be useful. Unfortunately for my righteous anger, I understood why he’d done it. If he hadn’t, I’d be back in the mayor’s office right now spilling my guts. Worse, however irritated I might be with Daniel, if the mayor had had the chance to change things around my head who knows what he would have stuck inside?

“If you feel some urge to screw around with my brain in the future, tell me first,” I said.

“I get it,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

We stood there quietly for a moment. I wanted to move on to another topic, but still I didn’t quite want to let this one go.

“So,” Daniel said, “how do you suppose the mayor’s going to play this? Think that he’ll ignore it or call the police?”

“I have no idea.” I said. “Haven’t you been investigating him or something?”

“Sort of,” Daniel said. He sounded a little frustrated as he said it. “My dad said he was corrupt, but I haven’t found any evidence of it. I mean, there’s the thing I fed to the paper, but there’s no direct evidence that he was involved at all. The organization gave money to his campaign and he did hire a former staffer of theirs, but that’s all. If it weren’t for what happened to you and the way he was trying to get information out of Vaughn, I’d be worried I was going after the wrong guy.”

I considered asking him why he’d released the information to the paper if he wasn’t confident of it, but I never got a chance.

“I was trying to push him to do something,” Daniel said.

“It worked.”

“Not very well,” he muttered.

I laughed, and he did too after a moment.

“Well,” I said, “if you want to check, I think FOX 50 has news at ten. I’d think that punching the mayor would make news no matter who did it.”

Daniel’s got a TV in his room. The remote floated from the dresser to his hand and he turned the TV on.

We watched the broadcast. It contained the usual litany of car accidents, the presidential campaign, an expose on a local contractor who was ripping off the elderly, sports, and finished off with a report about a water skiing squirrel.

Near the end of the program we heard shuffling footsteps in the hall.

Then each door opened one by one, swinging with enough force that the metal doorstops buzzed when the doors bounced off them.

Daniel got up quickly and stepped into the hall. I could hear the doors begin to shut—softly this time.

I got up off the floor and stepped into the hall after him. The second story hall in Daniel’s house looks down on the living room on the right. The bedrooms are all to the left.

A short, white haired man stood a few doors down the hall, leaning on the railing. He wore a dark blue bathrobe and had a confused expression on his face.

“Grandpa?” Daniel said.

“I can’t find my room. Do you know where it is?”

“You’re standing next to it,” Daniel said. “It’s the only door that’s still open.”

His grandfather took his hand off the railing, turned toward the door and looked inside.

“That’s not my room.”

I heard Daniel’s voice in my head. +++I hate this+++

“Grandpa,” he said, “I’ll show you.”

He walked down the hall, reached his hand into the room, and turned on the light.

“See?”

“Oh.” His grandfather peered in. “It looked different. Thank you. You’re both fine young men.”

He stepped into the room and then turned to face us. “Shouldn’t you be in uniform,” he asked. “There’s a war on.”

The door shut behind him.

Daniel turned to me. “Sorry,” he said.

“It wasn’t too bad,” I said. “Remember the time he thought I was my grandfather?”

Daniel nodded. “Yeah, that was worse.”

13 thoughts on “In the Public Eye: Part 15”

  1. Personally, I was relieved that you had remembered that his grandfather had created the block at one point. I wrote about that a while ago and it gave me hope that others might also remember it…

  2. Oh, I think The Block is a pretty important point in your storytelling. It’s a very handy mechanism for avoiding all the annoying cliches about hiding from parents and things like that — everything that a teen hero normally has to do to be written believably. Anyone who has forgotten about it must be scratching their heads a lot about how the parents can be so dense. (Or they’re just plain stupid — oops, did I write that out loud?)

    Hg

  3. thats a major plot point, i couldn’t see forgetting it. cool that it was improved upon. i wonder what the mayor is planning to do exactly?

  4. It’s a little scary to think about the corrupting influence of superhero culture when you can make technology sit, roll over and beg. Having a friend that can do the same sort of thing to your psyche…

    I wonder what other “improvements” he might have made? To be fair, it sounds like a good idea and I can see wanting to just go ahead and do something beneficial without having to try and explain it to someone that can’t really understand what you do. As always, the mistakes make these guys feel human.

    Yeah, that little point had “This will be important!” written all over it.

  5. journeyman: Having them make mistakes (and sometimes fairly obvious ones) is a key thing for this story in my opinion. I see the Nick and the rest of them as being out of their depth most of the time–and often lacking the experience to realize it.

    Charles: You’re not going to have to wait long for the Mayor’s response…

  6. Okay, remember, I said I would probably change my opin about The Block.

    The mental chess game between the Mayor and Daniel with Nick’s mind in the balance was six levels of cool.

    Touching moment at the end with Danny’s gramps.

  7. I once listened to a radio report about news segments like stuff on the waterskiing squirrel. It turns out that lots of this stuff is independently produced by some company(ies) out there for profit.

    It’s really crazy. It’s not really news, you know?

  8. It’s been long enough since I’ve seen Anchorman that I completely missed the reference. The main thing I remember from that movie is how much it reminded me of actual television in the 1970’s.

    Well, minus the secret news team gang fights. I’m pretty sure that’s fictional (well, one hopes).

  9. My grandfather has dementia and I have a great-aunt who use to have one of those some-what secret government jobs who is seriously suffering from Alzheimer’s. I think you really got at least part of that helpless feeling children, grandchildren and the like get when family members suffer from that kind of sickness. You just feel so helpless when you are caring for the people who raised you and were your heroes. It is different from just physically caring for them because they know you and what you mean to each other. With this, it is like they are gone. Daniel’s response, pained but far too use to it, was very accurate.

  10. One of my grandmothers had dementia in the years before she died. The feelings I had about that probably come out where Daniel’s grandfather appears.

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