(Write about a person who collects superhero comics.)
I remember quite clearly the last morning I headed over to Billy’s house. The dew was heavy on the tall grasses of July. My jeans were wet to the knees but this wasn’t the first time, most mornings in summer found me wading through the wet fields to drag Billy out of bed. I could imagine quite clearly how he would read comic books late into the night and then miss the best part of the day.
Mornings were best, dew on spider webs showing the intricate patterns woven by some imprint on the spiders brain, droplets hanging from leaves and if you stared into them really close, you could see the world upside down, these were the things Billy would miss if I didn’t drag his butt out of bed. The natural world was just so amazing! Each creature had its own world, its own set of circumstances, where it fit perfectly, sometimes eating another creature, sometimes itself being eaten. These are the things I wanted to show Billy. I didn’t understand how he could be so bored with this wonderful world but be so excited and energized by those stupid superhero comics.
Most mornings would find me mumbling a good morning to Billy’s Mom, taking the plate of toast she had ready, and a glass of milk up to Billy’s room. He would be sprawled out on the bed, tangled in the sheets, looking like he had collapsed after a battle. He was something else! But he was my best friend and we even shared a birthday, we would be thirteen in four days, but Billy didn’t do birthdays, or so he said, but when he opened his gifts and there were new comics, he would suddenly forget to be cool. Everyone knew what would really please him so we all kept our eyes open at thrift stores and garage sales looking for comics we hoped he didn’t have yet. His smile was golden when he realized he had a new, to him at least, comic for his collection. Superheros were Billy’s thing! He lived every possible moment in some kind of battle against evil right next to the hero of the moment.
His room was covered in hero posters from movies and advertisements. Usually his big decision for the day was which super hero shirt to wear that day and while eating his toast he would try to fill me in on what he had read the night before. He wanted to bring me into his fantasy life and I hoped to bring him some real stuff, you know, Nature and growing things and shells and, well you know, wading in the creek, finding stuff, figuring out what it is or whether it is good or bad, even ugly things can be good things.
And so it was, this friendship, the superhero wading in the creek, talking continuously about amazing unbelievable things while holding a fat frog in his fist and never giving the frog much thought.
This last morning with Billy was much the same as always. Waking him up, pulling his lazy butt out of bed, sharing the toast and milk...it was all so very predictable. We talked about our birthdays coming up and he had only one wish...Super Hero Comics! He asked me what I wanted and I laughed and said…”I want to get going before the dew is all dried up and the bugs get bad, so hurry up!”
Billy took his special super favorite Spider-Man shirt out of the plastic sleeve he kept it in, slipped it on over his head and grinned at me….”I think it is going to be a super Spidey day!” He grabbed his backpack and down the stairs we thundered like men on a mission.
Across the meadow with Billy running fast, like he had a destination in mind, and I guess he did as we were heading directly to the bluffs. No meandering and discovery but sometimes it went this way, Billy burning off his excess energy in some imagined scenarios before he could settle down and explore with me looking for new things to look up on the computer later in the day.
I was out of breath by the time I caught up with Billy at the bluffs. He was about a quarter of the way up the trail to the top. He sat perched on a ledge reciting some imagined scene from a movie or comic book. “I’m coming for you Captain Splatter, you cannot escape me!” Now he laughed in a deep menacing hero voice. He turned and scrambled up the trail going higher and higher.
Emerging now from the wooded trail to a very narrow ledge, I see that he has taken his magic flying cape from his backpack. He has a running dialog going with whatever enemy he has conjured up this morning. I always find it funny how he can get so into these play games, they are so obviously ridiculous.
It is windy up on the bluff, Billy’s cape is flapping and blowing around. He stands very straight and tall on the narrow ledge. He is yelling words that the wind is carrying away before I can hear them. Billy stands rock still, his hands out from his body and slightly over his head. I wish I could hear his words! He always says we should write them down and become millionaires when we are men. Publish our own superhero comics. But I cannot hear him. He stands so tall, he looks like a superhero might look and then he steps off and into thin air….falling and falling and I am yelling NO! NO!
This morning as I wade through the deep grass, I feel totally helpless to feel anything but sadness! I let myself fall into the wetness and I let my tears flow freely! I feel safe in the middle of this meadow, in the deep wet grass, my tears hidden from those who still can’t understand how a tragedy like this could happen. I’m crying for Billy’s Mother and I’m crying for me, I’ve lost my friend, but I’m not crying for Billy! I suspect where he has gone, it is easier to fly and it is the job of angels to fight against bad things.
Yes. Billy the superhero angel!