By Ronnell Kay Gibson
I dive from the rooftop just before a second blast sends another explosion of bricks bursting from the building’s exterior.
Above me, Captain Tremendous shouts, “Kid, get out of there. Now.”
No need to tell me twice. I leap from the fire escape to the balcony to the rooftop to a higher rooftop where my mentor stands waiting, his red cape flowing in the night breeze. The initials “CT” shimmer across his chest. At his feet, my assailant is already tied up in CT’s signature coils. Boy, he’s fast.
I’d been tracking BoBoHaroldo, a known for-hire hitman, through the roughest part of Grandthum City. But I let my guard down and stepped on a creaky, aluminum gutter. That’s when the shooting started.
“JT, what’s with you today? That’s the second close call tonight.”
I gulp. It’s time. But the words remain a jumbled mess in my brain. How do I tell him I’m thinking of another path? “Just a lot on my mind.”
He puts his meaty hands on his hips and raises his bushy eyebrows. He waits for me to tell him all about it. When I don’t, he nods, seeming to understand my need for space. “Been a long day. Let’s call it a night and head home.”
We jump in our matching tricked-out speeders and race toward Tremendous Towers, our humble abode set on the largest hill on the outskirts of town. The whole way, I rehearse the conversation. It’s not like I was going to be his sidekick forever. Junior Tremendous, or JT for short, was cute when I was kid, but now that I’m old enough to legally drink, it’s not so adorable.
Then I think about all that we’ve been through—hundreds of bad guys, dozens of near-death experiences, an adoring community. He took me under his wing, uh, cape, when I was ten and became my family. He’s all I’ve got in this world.
That’s it. I won’t take the job. Spiral City can just find another superhero to mop up their crimey streets.
We pull into our garage and park the speeders with the rest of our weaponized vehicles. Driving—or flying—Professor Tinker’s inventions is my favorite part of the superhero gig. I step out of the vehicle and adjust my spandex in certain tight places. That’s the worst part: the tights.
As we ride the elevator to the top floor. I push away the claws of doubt that try to tear at my newest decision. “So, what should we have for dinner? Irina’s Pizza or Sal’s Chinese?”
“You gonna tell me what happened tonight?” CT’s voice is deep and forceful. Prying.
“I got sloppy is all.”
”Yes, sir.” My voice cracks, betraying my fib.
“Nothing to do with Spiral City?”
He knows. Of course, he knows.
His mind may sense the pulse of the city. His heart senses mine.
“I didn’t know how to tell you.”
We exit the elevator and linger at the entrance to the living room. “I knew our team wouldn’t last forever. That eventually you’d want to forge your own path in life.”
I look up, surprised. “You’re not mad?”
“Or course not. All your hard work has paid off. I’m proud of you.” He leans over and gives me one of his rare side hugs. He smells like the night air and cinnamon bun frosting. His favorite late night snack. “When are you leaving?”
“In the morning.”
The siren’s blare and flashing red lights interrupt our silent goodbye. CT shouts at the ceiling, “Status report.”
An automated voice responds. “Burglary in progress at the Grandthum City Bank. Heat signatures indicate two suspects. Local police are in route.”
CT holds up the keys to the speedsters. With a quirky grin, he asks, “Up for one last ride?”
I laugh. “Absolutely.”