“My brother has the coolest job in the world!” Hailey Patterson squealed as she held up her handmade book depicting what she thought her brother’s occupation was. “He’s a superhero! Every day, he patrols the city and beats up the bad guys. Whenever Denver is in trouble the police-leader-guy just shines this super duper bright light into the sky and my brother comes to the rescue!”
Lucas’s hand sprung up, but he didn’t want to be called on. “What if it’s during the day? How will he see the light with the sun!”
Hailey paused for a second, thinking. “Then the police-leader-guy shoots up a firework! Then, Jamie goes and beats up the evil super villain!”
“Who’s the evil super villain?” Patty asked.
The third grade class gasped with wonder. “Wow, Hailey! That’s so cool!” Lily exclaimed.
Beaming, Hailey replied. “I know!”
While the rest of the class was exhausted by Hailey’s tall tale, Ms. Griffiths remained unpleased. “Hailey.” She called out from the back. “I need to speak to you in the hallway.”
Shrugging, Hailey tucked the book back inside her desk and hurried outside. Just before she ducked out, Hailey declared. “When I get back, I’ll tell you about the time he caught a bunch of robbers!”
In the hallway, Ms. Griffiths knelt down beside Hailey. “Hailey, you know that Jamie isn’t really a superhero, right?”
She pouted. “Yes he is.” Hailey argued.
“No, he’s not.”
“Yes he is!”
“No, he’s not.”
“YES HE IS!”
“Don’t raise your voice at me, it’s unladylike.”
“Then don’t be such a witch! That’s unladylike!”
Ms. Griffiths’s mouth gaped open. “That’s it! Go to the principal’s office!”
“But I didn’t even do anything wrong!” Hailey exclaimed.
As she stuck her long, bony finger in the direction of the principal’s office, Ms. Griffith’s ordered in a cold tone. “Now.
With her head hung low, Hailey trudged down the hallway.
Meanwhile, at Jamie’s office, he was busy filing some paperwork when Jeff Davids--or Speeder as everyone called him for talking so fast.”
“HeyJamie,how’sitgoing? Paperworkdraggingyoudown? Ifeelthatman. IwasjustgoingoverHarrisonIndustries’budgetandletmetellyouman,notpretty.”
“Speeder, can you say that all again about half as fast?” Jamie asked.
Taking a deep breath, he repeated himself. “Hey Jamie, how’s it going? Paperwork dragging you down? I feel that, man. I was just going over Harrison Industries budget and let me tell you man, not pretty.”
“They’re over spending again?”
“Yeah,” Speeder plopped down in the chair in front of Jamie’s desk and took a sip of his coffee. “It’s all that overzealous CEO’s fault. He needs to take a few damn chill pills. He’s making my life a hell of a lot more difficult. They’re running me ragged. I had to pull an allnighter yesterday because of them. This is my fifth cup of coffee and I’m struggling to stay awake.”
“I thought you usually have ten cups a day?”
“Used to. Now, my doctor to making me cut down. Major bummer.”
“That sucks, but hey, if you ever need someone to pick up the slack, I will. For a price.”
“Still trying to make an extra buck, I see. Your budget still tight?”
“Yeah, but Hailey and I are getting by. Though this new child therapist for her is gonna cost a lot, so I really need the cash.”
“I thought she was seeing Dr. Kendie?”
“No, I just don’t like the way that man functioned.”
Speeder shrugged. “Whatever you think is best for her. Just be careful and try not to smother her with your precaution. Oh, and if you ever need a loan.” He stuck a thumb at himself. “I’m your guy.”
Jamie offered a relieved smile. “Thanks Speeder.”
“Please, call me Jeff.”
“I’d rather call you Speeder. It fits you better.”
Jamie gave Speeder a come-on-dude look. “Oh, yeah.” Speeder said. “I get it now.”
“Your lips sure do move fast but your brain can’t compete!” Jamie teased.
Before Speeder could make a snappy comeback, Jamie’s desk phone rang. “Hang on, I have to get this. Hello?” His face quickly paled. “It’s Hailey’s school.”
Jamie raced through the corridors of Hailey’s elementary school, knocking over several small children, and being chased by an overweight security guard that gave up after three steps. He slammed open the principal’s doors. “I’m here!”
Ms. Griffiths glared at Jamie while Hailey refused to make eye contact. Her face was red with embarrassment. Meanwhile, Principal Tater was the only one to maintain a normal facade with his hands folded neatly on his desk. “Mr. Patterson, I am sorry to have to call you here during work, but I appreciate you getting here as soon as you could.”
Scoffing Ms. Griffiths mocked “‘As soon as you could’, he’s late! We’ve been waiting for an hour! School is already over! I’m late for a massage appointment!”
“And thank you, Ms. Griffiths, for your deep and passionate connection to teaching.” Principal Tater remarked in a passive-aggressive voice. “Now, Mr. Patterson, we’re here to discuss Hailey’s behavior in class today. A few problems seemed to have surfaced and--”
“She was lying to her classmates and called me a witch!” Ms. Griffiths interrupted.
“Because you’re a witch.” Hailey muttered under her breath.
Ms. Griffiths glared at her and Jamie pulled Hailey into his protective embrace. “Well, that’s something I’ll be sure to work on with her. Have a nice day.” Was all he said before he rushed out with his sister in tow.
“Wait! This isn’t over--” Ms. Griffiths began to say before being cut off by the sound of a closing door and a brother who didn’t care what some hack third grade teacher with unreasonable anger issues toward children had to say about his little sister.
“Am I in trouble for calling Ms. Griffiths a witch? Hailey asked as she hopped in Jamie’s chair.
“No, no you’re not in trouble, Hailey. Heck,” he censored. “If I was in your situation, I would have said a lot worse for a lot less.”
“Good, because she is a witch.”
“Yeah.” Jamie chuckled, then turned to face her. “But what was all that lying business about?”
“Well,” Hailey began. “We were supposed to make this picture book about our parents’ jobs, so I did yours. When, I told everyone you were a superhero, Ms. Griffiths didn’t believe me.”
“Hailey, I’m not a superhero. I’m an accountant.”
“But you said you always beat the numbers!”
“Because I’m one of the best.”
“And you said you caught those robbers!”
“I caught a couple of inconsistencies and discovered some embezzlers, which are like business robbers. However, the police were the ones who actually cuffed the guys. I’m not a superhero, Hailey.”
“Yes you are!” She shouted. “Superheroes are strong and Dr. Kendie said you were strong for how you handled Mom and Dad’s deaths!”
You’re a superhero!” Her eyes were slightly teary. “But if you’re not…” She hiccuped.
Jamie’s heart sank. “I take it back. I am a superhero. And because I'm a superhero, I’m always going to protect you, okay?”
“Even from that mean witch Ms. Griffiths?”
“Even from her. But, Hailey, no one must know I’m a superhero. My secret identity cannot be revealed or you could be put in danger. So, remember this, my secret identity is an accountant and that is what you will tell others. Can you do that for me?”
“Now, who wants to go get ice cream?”