Crisis at Pride
By Jeff Baker
The strength of Poseidon! The warrior skill of Sappho! The power of Phoebus! The agility of Thelixinoe! The mystical wisdom of Tiresias! And the innocence of Ganymede!
Stu Dulare seems like an ordinary young man, but when he invokes this untold power, he transforms! Now, he and his partner Jason have been charged by these ancients to expose untruths, to battle for diversity and to protect the innocent! Join them now on their journey!
Two young men stood in the shadow of a brick building.
“You got the stuff?” Brad said.
“Yeah, right here,” Steve said, holding up the large bag. “Hey, you still think this is a good idea?”
“It’s not like we’re going to hurt anybody, we’re just going to stir things up a little. Make ‘em listen to our side of things!” Brad said. “You got the key?”
“Yup!” Steve said. “My Dad never missed it!”
The day of the pride festival was warm and sunny. Stu and Jason walked around the area the locals called Olden Town, taking the Festival all in.
“Seriously, Jason, you look goofy. Take off the flag and put on a shirt.”
“C’mon, Stu,” Jason said with a grin, “What’s wrong with literally wrapping yourself in the Pride flag?”
“Nothing, but every time I see that, I keep thinking of all those guys wrapped in the American flag with a swastika tattooed on their beerguts!” Stu said. Jason loved Stu when he got that determined look on his face.
“Well, maybe I should get a shirt,” Jason said. “Let’s walk around and see if I can find a good one.”
“Let’s walk around and get one from the SUV.” Stu said, grinning again.
“You mean the Gay Dadmobile Without The Kids we ride around in?”
Stu was laughing when he heard the popping noise.
“My gosh, gunshots!” Stu exclaimed.
“No! They sound different!” Jason said. “I was in the Army, remember? Those sound more like firecrackers. Part of the celebration?”
Jason and Stu glanced across the crowd to see people on the other side of the closed-off streets running and pointing.
“Somebody’s throwing fireworks into the crowd,” Stu said. “I think from one of those buildings.”
“Jumping Castro Street! Somebody could get hurt!” Jason said.
“Not if I can help it!” Stu said, dashing behind a building. He looked around, checking more for security cameras than people and then he mentally invoked the Six Ancient Names. He felt a rush of power, there was a thunderous roar in his ears, and a blaze of multicolored light burst from his body like a prism as time stood momentarily still. He glanced down for an instant; he was taller, buffer, in a tight-fitting costume that glistened the way black hair sometimes shows glimpses of every color. And a cape that he imagined was like one ancient temple priests or priestesses would have worn.
Instantly his mind was filled with images; the gift of Tiresias. Two men, in their twenties, in an unlit office by an open window, a bag of fireworks spilled on the floor beside them. The men were arguing. The one grabbed the bag of fireworks; the other hit him in the face.
Stu rose into the air, calling on Phoebus’ power, which was exceptionally strong in bright sunlight. In an instant, he was hovering over the buildings, enough to see the fight through the window of the five story brick building across the street without mystical aid. One of the men punched the other who fell backward, slipping on the spilled fireworks and falling out the window. Clutched at the last minute, his hand holding the windowsill was a lifeline. The fight forgotten, the other man tried to pull the falling man inside, but he wasn’t strong enough.
“Jumping Castro Street!” Stu’s other form said. He invoked the power of Poseidon and Ganymede, both with control over liquids. In another instant, the water cooler in the office burst open and a watery hand grabbed the man, holding him there in mid-fall. At the same time, the ice from several ice chests at the festival rose and formed a swirling platform, lowering the man safely to the ground.
“What were you trying to do?” Stu’s other self asked Brad. “Someone could have been killed!”
“We didn’t mean that!” Brad said as the security guard brought Steve over. “We just wanted to draw attention to some things. Like, they call this the Gay Pride Festival. Well I’m Bi and my buddy here is Transgender. There’s a lot of others who don’t get a mention!”
“But nearly causing a stampede and a riot is no way to go about this,” Jason said.
“Yeah, we should have thought it out,” Steve said. “We shouldn’t have done this.”
Stu’s other self paused thoughtfully for a moment, and when he spoke he realized it wasn’t with the mystical wisdom of Tiresias, but the hard-earned wisdom of Stu Dulare.
“You two need to realize that the Pride rainbow covers all of us, don’t get hung up on semantics. We are stronger together than split apart.”
It was later in the afternoon and Stu (in his ordinary form) and Jason were walking back to their SUV, Jason with a couple of Pride shirts in a bag he’d also bought.
“That’s the problem, Stu,” Jason said. “We still haven’t come up with a name for that super-powered paragon you turn into.”
“Would have been nice if they had given a name to go with those powers.”
“How about Captain Wonderful?” Jason said.
“Nah. Too showy.” Stu said. “What about Anti-Bigot Man?”
“Ick!” Jason said. “What about Captain Nicebutt?”
“Can’t use that!” Stu said! That’s what I ought to call you!”
Jason grinned back.
“You know,” Stu said, “Today Steve and Brad learned that violence is no way to spread a message. It may even damage your cause, no matter how worthy it is. Talking and reason are always better.”
“Who you talking to?” Jason asked.
“Hmmm? Oh, nobody,” Stu said with a wink and a grin.
Dedication: In Memory of the Elders; Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer.