Saturday, 31 January 2009

You’ll Believe A Man Can Fly

He doesn’t come around as much these days: about once a month, sometimes less: though he never forgets my birthdays.

Most years he sends me flowers, or a small gift; something from one of the places he’s been to. Of course he can’t put his real name on the card; the man has a secret identity to maintain after all: but I always know it’s from him.

When he visits nowadays he always comes to the door wearing his civilian clothes; trousers, shirt, tie and those damn glasses: not like when we were both a little younger and he would fly down onto the balcony clad in tight lycra and take me by the hand. Some of the staff here tease me: they say I’ve gotten myself a toy boy. Usually I just smile and let them think what they want to, but to be honest I prefer not to think about that sort of thing too much these days – it gets me frustrated in places that haven’t worked properly in a long time, and besides he could do with losing a few pounds before I’d want to see him wearing tights again.

As I say: he doesn’t come around as much these days, not since Bruce died. I guess I never really understood how closely he was involved with the Wayne Foundation, but he’s certainly been less…attentive since that happened. Although: I did hear a rumour that Bruce wasn’t dead, that he’d just moved somewhere out of the limelight. Christ he’d have to be over a hundred years old now, so I guess it can’t be true.

How long have I been here? Oh about five years now, give or take a few weeks; ever since the operation. Took me so damned long to recover that I just knew I couldn’t live alone anymore, so I sold up and moved in. Mind you: I guess it’s not so bad here. True the food is awful and the walls stink of piss, but mostly they let you get on with whatever you want to do so I guess it could be a hell of a lot worse. Most days I paint. Sometimes seascapes, sometimes people, but mostly I paint our two hands, fingers barely touching against a pale blue sky. That’s the way I chose to remember him the most: still so young and hopeful, so damn full of American Pie that you could almost choke. Eight years of the Bush Administration knocked a lot of that out of him, but sometimes when he comes around now I think I see a little glimmer of that old hope in his eyes.

We even dated for a while: in between the nightly flights, though things were never easy. Every time we started to get somewhere he’d be off, leaving me alone in the bedroom wearing nothing but my birthday suit whilst he went charging around the globe after some bank heist or other. It was me that stopped it in the end, saved him the pain. Despite what you might think I was always the strong one and I think he was grateful when I finally told him it was over. In the end I just couldn’t cope with living with the fear every day. Funny that: the man was as near to invincible as you can get, but I still used to lie awake every night waiting for him to get back, wondering if this time he hadn’t taken on too much. No wonder I’ve got so many wrinkles

Still, it’s not so bad here. I get on well with the other residents, all except that Mary-Jane Watson. I think she’s overheard me talking about him once too often and now she makes out that she knew Spiderman. Well who didn’t? The guy wasn’t exactly publicity shy – I mean just look at that costume. She makes out that he was a newspaper reporter, which is how I know she’s lying; I mean what are the odds that two superheroes would work in publishing? He still writes, you know. Not for that damned paper, and not under the same name: but I can tell the style. A woman never forgets the words a man uses to explain himself, not even after all this time.

And of course, he doesn’t come around that much now, no sir…though he never forgets my birthday. About five years running he sent me diamonds; then I reminded him that I knew he was just crushing coal in his hands and he actually started spending a bit of money on me. He may well be a Man Of Steel, but the bastard’s got a wallet that’s harder to get into than Fort Knox

The last time he came by was about seven weeks ago, so I guess he must be due for a visit. I don’t know though, there was something strange in the way he looked at me last time, like it was getting too hard to see me like this. Plus I think he uses his X-Ray vision from time to time, so I guess he must know how seriously my lungs are shot. It must be hard for him if you think about it; ageing so much slower than the rest of us, staying young whilst everyone he cares about dies. Jimmy Olsen was the toughest for him: the day he died something went out of his smile and has never come back. Poor sweet Jimmy: I miss his optimism so much that it hurts.

Most days I palm the meds they give me. I know it helps with the pain, but it dulls the memory and makes you sleepy: and I’ve done far too much sleeping for one lifetime. Besides, the pain reminds me I’m still alive.

Of course the staff here don’t believe it’s him; they just smile and nod say “Yes Lois, of course Lois” and point out that it takes more than a pair of glasses to change the way a man looks. I don’t bother to tell them that most people are fooled because we look with our eyes and not our minds: they wouldn’t understand. They didn’t live through it the way I did.

Sometimes Lex visits too – though he has to be brought over by his grandson and he can barely walk these days. We laugh and talk about the old times when he would try to kill us both. All that stuff is so much water under the bridge these days, though sometimes when he falls asleep in the chair I think he still dreams about the power, though as he says, “It’s hard to think about world domination when it hurts so much to piss”.

Sometimes when he’s about to leave Lex will stand in the doorway and turn and say something like, “I nearly had you that time back in ’79 though, didn’t I Lois?” and I’ll always nod and say yes, because it’s true; he nearly did.

Mostly though it’s just me, my thoughts and Mary Jane refusing to stop talking about Dr Octopus like all that bullshit really happened. I get my own back though: I remind her that Metropolis is still a safe place to live, whereas crime is still rising in New York and that all that’s left of the old webslinger nowadays is some very faded cobwebs. I’m always tempted to slip a few of my meds into her food: just to see what happens you understand, especially when she starts going on about her glorious stage career…glorious my ass. She was so far off Broadway she was practically in Tibet.

And I understand why he doesn’t come around as much, truly I do. He’s got so much on his plate right now and immortal or not he’s not as young as he was. I can see it in his eye that stuff like straightening out the Leaning Tower of Piza or stopping a speeding train takes a lot more effort these days than it once did.

And then there’s me: slowly going senile, stinking of this place and just reminding him all the time of the good old days when he would carry me to the ends of the earth just to show me a sunset.

No, he doesn’t come around that much these days; I’d say about once a month…sometimes less.

But he never forgets my birthdays, no sir

He never forgets my birthdays.

9 comments:

Lydia said...

ok, this is GREAT!!!!!!! I can't believe I "know" someone talented enough to dream up this piece, let alone write it.

This: ". . .but mostly I paint our two hands, fingers barely touching against a pale blue sky. That’s the way I chose to remember him the most: still so young and hopeful, so damn full of American Pie that you could almost choke."

and This: "...now she makes out that she knew Spiderman. Well who didn’t?"

this, too: ". . . I reminded him that I knew he was just crushing coal in his hands and he actually started spending a bit of money on me."

This!: "I don’t bother to tell them that most people are fooled because we look with our eyes and not our minds: they wouldn’t understand. They didn’t live through it the way I did."

this: "She was so far off Broadway she was practically in Tibet."

and: ". . . the good old days when he would carry me to the ends of the earth just to show me a sunset."

When you read the phrases I selected as my favorites do you see, really see how great this is?

I'm bowing to you now.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Thank you so much for that Lydia - it really is good to get great feedback.

This was one of those stories that just appeared, almost fully formed in my head - just from the premise of what it would be like for both parties after the passing of time. It was great fun to write and i'm glad you enjoyed reading it - it really does mean a lot to me xx

Honour said...

Fantastic piece. I loved it. I wrote a superman piece too - I'll post it soon. From a different perspective ... but I love the aging perspective.

My favorite parts are when she's mad at Mary Jane - hilarious!

The Clandestine Samurai said...

Excellent! A new perspective on things old and reknown.

I like the bit about Superman crushing the coal in his hands and giving it to Lois. It's that kind of stuff that really makes fiction worthwhile: him using his supernatural strength in that situation ironically is exactly what makes him as human as everyone else.

Eight years of the Bush admin' kind of killed his patriotism. That was a great bit. As well as the fading heyday and comparison in between Metropolis and New York City. Superman and Spider-Man. Although, switch them. If Superman were to take care of NYC, would it still be as crime infested? Superman was much more about nobility in his appearance than Spider-Man was. That may change things.

But still, this is great writing. Truly thoughtful!

The Clandestine Samurai said...

P.S. Peter Parker wasn't a reporter at the Daily Bugle, he was a photographer.

Argent said...

Absolutely loved this! A nicely-developed piece of writing. I loved the very natural "voice" of Lois, the language was spot-on and didn't slip once. Definitely all of a piece; it's really great when something comes out all in one go like that. Haven't had that happen to me since '99 dammit!

Buddha said...

“It’s hard to think about world domination when it hurts so much to piss”
Ha! That is priceless!
Great, great stuff.
The irony the style everything is flowing in one breath like you were Lois
– Wait a minute… are you?

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

OK - a general response before i respond to individual responses (?!)

I don't know who Superman is for you: might be Dean Cain, might be Brandon Routh, hell - it might even be ole George Reeves, but for me it will always be Christopher Reeves.

Writing this piece was really wierd, because i still almost feel that Margot Kidder's Lois Lane stepped into my head for a few hours and told me her story - all i had to do was write it down.

There are a few references to the films in here, plus The Dark Knight Returns and i don't think any of it could have happened if i hadn't read Watchmen.

Honour - thanks. Somehow it seemed logical that she would end up living with MJ and clearly they would never get on!

Samurai - i included the line about the Bush Administration for you and for Lydia: glad you liked it. I know Peter was a photographer, but let it pass...

Argent - thanks for your feedback, it means a lot to me that you liked this

Buddha - see above comments about Lois stepping in. I too enjoyed the scenes with Lex, though he's been berating me since that i should have said "hurts to take a leak" - somehow that wording feels more Lex...

Thanks all

pohanginapete said...

A tour de force. I really can't add anything the others haven't said — I'll just second those comments and say how impressed I am.