Driven Mad

“Here you go, Mrs. Herrera,” Luis said. He handed the elderly woman an open jar of pickles.

“Ay, thank you. I didn’t want to wake mijo with such a small thing,” she smiled with sparkling eyes. “He earned his cape last week, and he’s been so busy.”

“You’re welcome,” Luis faked a smile and stepped back into his apartment to close the door. “And, again. Congratulations on your son.” He shut the door with a heavy sigh and walked back into the kitchen.

“My hero son is a hero,” he mocked her with a high, whiny voice. “Did you know he was a hero?” he asked Mort. The shell of Luis’ pet turtle was decorated with a bright yellow sticker that smiled up at Luis. The tall, lean man growled and rubbed his back against the doorjamb. “You see, Mort?” He wiggled from side to side against the hard edge. “She talks about her stupid son so much she gives me hives.” Mort disappeared into his shell.

“Yeah it’s late,” Luis said. “See you in the morning.” He flipped the light off on his way out of the kitchen and headed to the single bedroom in his “quaint” apartment. Luis continued to grumble to himself about Mrs. Herrera’s son as he worked through his bedtime routine. Then he climbed into bed and drifted off to sleep.

He felt better after a solid night of rest. He smiled at Mort as they had breakfast together, then left the apartment. His smile only lasted until the elevator doors opened. Mrs. Herrera’s son, Angel, stood in the elevator with each arm wrapped around a beautiful woman. Angel smiled at Luis.

“Morning!” Luis nodded, stepped into the elevator, and promptly turned his back on him. “Girls, this is Luis. He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He’s always helping my mom with stuff that’s,” he chuckled, “you know. Under my league.”

“Hi,” one of them said flatly. “Tell us about when you earned your cape,” she said to Angel with a flirty tone. Luis heard the sound of rustling fabric behind him and imagined the girls running their fingers through Angel’s white, satiny cape.

“Oh, you know all about that,” Angel chuckled. “I mean, the news is still talking about how I saved that bus full of kids from crashing into a burning building.”

“I know,” the other woman said. “But how does it work? How did it feel?” Luis rolled his eyes and glanced at the number pad. 30 more floors to go.

“Well, after I parked the bus in a safe spot my whole body tingled, and then,” A finger snapped right by Luis’ ear. “Snap! The cape just popped out.”

“That’s it? You mean you don’t get to pick your powers?” the first woman asked. Luis looked down. 20 more floors to go.

“Nope. I don’t know how they get picked, but I knew how to use them as soon as the cape appeared,” Angel replied.

“Ooooh. What can you do?” The second woman asked.

“I can fly. I have super strength, and I can make light,” Angel said. The metal doors in front of Luis grew brighter. He saw a ball of light in the reflection, then Angel made it disappear.

“That’s so hot,” the first woman said. 10 floors to go. Luis reached into his suit pocket and pulled out his collapse-able back scratcher. The stress caused by Angel’s bragging triggered his hives again.

“Hey, Luis. Need a hand?” Angel laughed. Both women sounded disgusted at the thought, but Luis ignored them.

“He doesn’t need a hero, he needs a dermatologist,” one of the girls said, and the trio burst into laughter. Luis gripped the back scratcher and rubbed harder. Five floors left.

“You’re a hero, don’t bother with anything that small,” the first woman said. One floor left. Luis scratched harder. The elevator lurched and stopped halfway between the second and first floors. The lights went out. Luis snapped.

“FUCK YOU!” He yelled at the door first, for taking too long to open. Then he whirled around in the darkness and screamed.

“YOU’RE A FUCKING BUS DRIVER! IT’S YOUR FUCKING JOB TO KEEP THE KIDS SAFE!” A warm light began to glow from Angel’s hand to illuminate them. The golden light highlighted icy-cold stares coming from both women.

“You’re just Jealou-” the first woman was interrupted by Luis yelling in her face.

“DID I ASK YOU ANYTHING YOU FUCKING GROUPIE?” Angel stepped forward and put a firm hand on Luis’ shoulder.

“That’s enough,” he said. Luis growled and swung his only weapon, a  metal-tipped back scratcher. The tiny claw sliced across Angel’s face and left three red gashes over his left eye. The surprise attack made Angel drop the light. Luis growled again in the dark. His back felt like it was on fire and he doubled over to try and escape the pain.

“IT BURNS!” He yelled. He rolled over and rubbed his back on the floor, then he went quiet. After several seconds of silence, Angel produced light again. He and the two women were huddled against one corner of the elevator. They looked down at Luis, but the lean man began to stand up.

“What is your deal?” the second woman asked. Luis took a deep breath and reached behind himself. He made a smooth motion and held up a handful of black silk for them to see.

“I can fly, I have super strength, and I can make dark,” he smiled at the woman, then snapped his fingers. Angel’s light went out.

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