Spin: Part 4

Quickly Haley said, “I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, but were you planning on going in costume? I don’t think any of us have real clothes along.”

I thought about that, imagining going into restaurant as we were. For all I knew, Izzy might sometimes use what she was wearing as workout clothes. Plus, eating with the Rocket suit’s helmet on was possible, but ugh…

Then I said, “Do you think IHOP does take out?”

She said, “Nick, everybody does take-out.” She straightened up in her seat. “So let’s go. I’m hungry too.”

From behind us, Cassie said, “Good. Because if you were going to say that we shouldn’t get food, I was really going to argue.”

The logistics of buying a stack of pancakes while in costume turned out to be more complicated than you’d expect.

First you’ve got to decide which IHOP to go to, and it turns out that even though one IHOP is pretty much exactly like every other IHOP in the U.S., people still have opinions. My thoughts were that we ought to go someplace in a small town or a lone restaurant next to a highway exit someplace.

I looked over IHOP locations, explaining what I was looking for as I went.

“No,” Vaughn leaned forward, looking over my shoulder. “We ought to go to one that’s in a city.”

I turned away from the screen to look at him. “Why?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Could be fun to see how they react. If we’re supposed to be some kind of big deal now, it’d be cool to see what that’s like.”

Izzy spoke up, and her tone wasn’t happy. “People just died, and you want to see what it’s like to be famous?”

Vaughn raised his hand, the light reflecting off his glossy black costume. “Whoa. I didn’t mean it that way. I just thought it’d be fun. That’s all.”

Daniel cut in before anyone else could. “I’m sure Vaughn didn’t mean anything disrespectful. I’ve got to admit, I’m a little curious if we notice any difference. The League’s already famous—even if it’s mostly because of who we’re descended from.”

Izzy sighed. “That’s the last thing I want to be famous for.”

No one said anything for a little while after that. We were all thinking about how her great-grandfather had been “Dixie Superman” and fought not only the Heroes League, but also racial integration, civil rights, and “miscegenation.” Ironically, Dixie Superman’s son, her grandfather, married her grandmother—who happened to be Hispanic.

Breaking the silence, Vaughn said, “I get that.”

Haley reached across the dashboard to tap on my screen. “There?”

“That’s what I was thinking.” She’d tapped the city of Wood River, Illinois. It was a little north of St. Louis, and it didn’t look like a big city at all.

She reached out, clicked on her screen, and the gravitics gave us more altitude. Even with the inertial dampers, Vaughn noticed the buildings outside the windows tilt, and sat back in his seat, strapping himself in.

“You could have told me,” he muttered.

“I could have.” She leveled out the jet, smiling quietly.

Meanwhile I called the Wood River IHOP. Haley didn’t let the jet go too quickly, or we’d have been there almost instantly. As I finished telling them our order, the man on the other end said, “And whose name should I put on the order?”

I thought about that. “You’re not going to believe it if I say it.”

“Let me be the judge of that.”

“I’m the Rocket.”

He laughed.

“Tell you what,” I said, “if the League jet doesn’t show up out of nowhere to pick up the food, I’ll admit that you’re right.”

So then it was on—kind of.

The Wood River, IL IHOP wasn’t one of those franchise restaurants that sits next to a highway, obscure simply as a result of existing. This IHOP sat close to the edge of town, but on a road next to other chains on one side—Walgreens, McDonalds, and strip malls—and on the other small, suburban houses.

Haley landed the jet in the parking lot of the next building over—an out-of-business Mexican restaurant.

I got up to walk over there, and Daniel got up to go with me. Vaughn popped his straps off as the hatch opened, and followed us out.

“I’m just here to help carry the food,” he said.

The three of us walked across the snow covered lawn to the entrance. The IHOP didn’t have an entrance on the Mexican restaurant side.

I felt a little weird about it. On the one hand, I long ago lost any self-consciousness I’d had about walking around in the Rocket suit. On the other, I could still appreciate the absurdity of the situation.

I couldn’t deny that crossing the snow in the day’s earliest light with Vaughn in his black, multi-pocketed costume, and Daniel in his own black, but sleeker costume felt a little weird.

Plus, anyone inside had to have seen the jet land.

We walked inside. It wasn’t busy. Not even a quarter of the tables had people sitting at them. Well, theoretically sitting. As we walked through the doors, a few of them were walking back from the windows and sitting down at their seats.

Everyone was staring at us.

A local radio station played over the sound system. I don’t know what the format was normally, but this morning it was all talk.

“—don’t know the current death toll, but it appears to be almost impossibly light—“

A slightly overweight, middle-aged man stood behind the podium.

“I’m the Rocket,” I said, “I called in an order a few minutes ago.”

The man said, “I… ah… Well, I didn’t, I…”

I felt Daniel’s telepathic connection in my head. He didn’t believe it was us, so he didn’t put in the order.

That figured.

They filled the order twenty minutes later. It would have felt longer, but we spent most of the time autographing napkins.

18 thoughts on “Spin: Part 4”

  1. Ah, the horror of them not doing your order… :'( poor rocket.

    “Tall you what,” I said, “if the League jet doesn’t show up out of nowhere to pick up the food, I’ll admit that you’re right.”
    “Tall you what”

  2. “and out of business Mexican” should be “an out-of-…”.

    Fame, and, selling autographed napkins on eBay? [grin]

  3. I wonder if the board of directors will be annoyed that they didn’t go to a restaurant that sponsored the League. I guess they’re probably not that petty.
    Because superheroes eating at your establishment? That’s free advertising. Come for the autographed napkins, stay for the delicious sweet smell of pancakes… Now I’m really hungry.
    Anyway, its fun to read another social chapter. Chatting with their superhero friends, eating pancakes together… how can evil ever hope to overcome the awesomeness that is the bonds of friendship within the League?

  4. Whoa. I didn’t mean it that way. It just thought it’d be fun. That’s all.”

    It should be I just thought it’d be fun.

    Still loving this.

  5. “Typical, that they wouldn’t put the order in. We could have been here instantly, but we took our time, and you didn’t even make it?”

    That would be my take. Sorry, I get a little grumpy when I don’t get my pancakes and omelette. Of course I’m still mad at IHOP for discontinuing the country griddle cakes, but that’s a whole other rant.

    In other new, Izzy really needs a costume. Maybe that can be the next project? Double points if it’s one of those cool, modular transforming ones he’s been working on.

  6. A sponsorship with IHOP could lead to some pretty brutal fights. I can imagine quite a death toll as heroes toss chicken-fried steak down the gullet of their foes, who have a heart attack in the middle of the fight.

    Problem is, now that this IHOP has shown themselves to not be that friendly toward superheroes, they may become a target of a few niche villains. Like a man in a flying suit of power armor that uses a lot of heat-based weaponry. Fear the Waffle Iron-Man!

    More than likely, I’m guessing Jim has recently passed through that IHOP himself and perhaps didn’t have a good time at the establishment.

    There are better ways to get revenge on a restaurant. Might I suggest something with live chickens who’ve been munching on aggression-enhancing antidepressants?

  7. I love how you have this big super parts and bring us back to “real life” type stuff. its gives the story so much depth.

  8. Thinking about Izzy’s costume, the interesting thing that was recently revealed about her powers, namely that she has a protective forcefield, means that she can wear much more elaborate costumes, and not worry about wind drag or getting them all torn up. She could go steampunk, for example, and not worry about the wholly decorative bits of brass and leather being lost of ruined. Or even an evening gown — although maybe people who fly above others’ heads should always wear pants?


  9. Garth/Ace/Jeff: Thanks for the typos. They’re fixed.

    Jerden/Rain: I do like doing sections where the characters deal with normal life. Sometimes I think stories lose track of that and suffer as a result.

    Charles: It sounds like you’ve eaten at IHOP far more than I have. I know what’s there, but most of the time, the actual names of the dishes escape me.

    PG: I’ve actually had generally good experiences at IHOP. So apparently I’m capable of blackening the name of a restaurant I’ve got nothing against…

    Hg: I suppose she could even wear a Donald Duck costume. Not that that’s especially relevant, but I imagine her as coming from Los Angeles, so she could work at Disney World some summer.

    It would be amusing to imagine.

  10. Thanks Jim. I’m now craving a steak omelet with lots of salsa and a stack of buttermilk pancakes with hot maple syrup.

  11. “Then I said, “Do you think IHOP does take out?”

    Hahaha I can actually imagine that scene. Haley, who’s family has been in the fast food / restaurant business for three generations, just completely not understanding where Nick is coming from, at all.

  12. Was Dixie Superman Izzy’s grandfather, or her great-grandfather? I thought he was her grandfather, and he’s referred to as such a few chapters down the road, but it says great-grandfather in this chapter.

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