We’re All In Our Places With Bright Shining Faces By Jeff Baker
There was something a little frightening about Doctor Straw, Arlecchino Martinelli thought. Not just his ability to squeeze through the smallest opening as a seemingly wind-blown cloud of yellowish straw; more his grim appearance. The face like a shock of wheat with eye slits and a mouth. Arlecchino thought this as he watched Doctor Straw re-form inside the Teacher’s Lounge. Not as frightening as those kids in A-21. He suppressed a smile.
“I’ve had it,” Straw said in his hollow voice. “Absolutely had it! I fought the Villains United Coalition; even went up against the Crisis Squad that time they turned bad, but I refuse to spend another minute in there with those incorrigible delinquents.”
“I thought you said there are no bad nascent superheroes, only misunderstood…” Arlecchino began with a grin.
“Stuff it!” Straw said. “We should sic those, those, those…”
“”Youthfully exuberant…” Arlecchino began again.
“Oh, come on! Leave him alone!” Ezekiel Bert said, setting down his coffee. “You have a body that’s built like a tank, literally…” Arlecchino Martinelli flexed his right arm, watching the steel ripple. “…and I have my Leonine form. Doctor Straw is, well, straw. Give him a break.”
“Those kids barely have their powers and I became a strawstorm and I still couldn’t control them.” Doctor Straw grumbled. “Somehow, they ganged up on me.”
“They’re the remedial education class, remember?” Arlecchino said. “They’re irresponsible kids, not a grad school study hall. These kids aren’t used to knuckling down.”
“But you need to treat them like people, not like inmates,” Ezekiel said.
“Maybe you’re right,” Doctor Straw said. “After all, nobody ever said teaching kids at a High School for aspiring superheroes was going to be easy.”
“Tell you what,” Arlecchino said. “Keep your signaler on; if the kids become unmanageable, give us a call. We’re not too far.”
“Darn shame Hypnos retired,” Ezekiel said. “Those kids wouldn’t give him any trouble.”
Hypnos had retired on the verge of having a nervous breakdown after a semester in A-21, Arlecchino thought. The year before they hired Doctor Straw and Ezekiel.
It was half-past one when the signaler in Arlecchino’s belt buzzed. He excused himself from his class and ran down the hall to Room A-21. He saw Ezekiel midway between his human and Leonine forms.
“They’re not there!” Ezekiel said. “The kids or Doctor Straw! The signal came from outside.”
As Ezekiel and Arlecchino ran outside, they were greeted by Doctor Straw’s voice.
“Heymph! Uffer hurrr! Uffr hurrr!”
Propped on the hood of a parked car, Doctor Straw’s straw head clenched the signaler between his teeth. He spat it out and glared at Ezekiel and Arlecchino.
“Don’t just stand there! Help put me back together!”
“What happened?” Ezekiel growled in his leonine form.
“What do you think happened?” Straw yelled. “Those kids happened! I turned into a strawstorm and one of them moved like lightning and scattered me all over the grounds! Too far for me to re-assemble by myself.”
“So what do we do?” Arlecchino asked, trying not to laugh.
“Go get the rest of me!” Straw snapped. “They threw my legs over there, and my arm over there, and my hand over there and my…”
And suddenly, the metal man and the lion began to laugh.