Long Weekend In Hudson City
By Jeff Baker
Author’s Note: This is a companion piece to a series I’ve written (largely unpublished) which started off with a story called “Friday Night In Hudson City.” This story didn’t quite go where I’d planned. Still, Happy early 4th of July!—–Jeff
“Blazing fire in the sky,
Call the flame that does not die.”
The lanky young man in the welder’s goggles and rock & roll t-shirt grinned as his clenched fist burst into flame. He cocked his arm back and was about to strike when he was interrupted.
“Kip Starkwell! What do you think you’re doing?” It was Mrs. Pickney, coming off like she was in charge. Which she was.
“Uh, lighting up the grill?” he said grinning.
“Not by plowing that fist into the charcoal,” she said. “You’ll break something! Or blow up something.”
“Okay, okay,” Kip said as he wiggled his fingers and the flames dissipated. He blew on his fingers.
“Hey, help yourself. Got canned lemonade over here in the cooler,” said a young man covered in brownish fur.
“Thanks, M.K. Too bad there’s no beer,” Kip said as he reached into the cooler. There was a momentary hiss and steam rose as he pulled out a can.
“Long as nobody asks if I want a saucer of milk, I’m cool.”
“Speaking of cool, how ‘bout you change that super-name of yours,” Kip said. “I mean, ‘Mister Kitty?’ Come on!”
“Wasn’t my idea,” Kitty said. “All the good names were taken. Remember when that comic book company tried to sue the Crisis Squad over copyright a couple years ago? Anyway, all the good cat-related names were taken.”
“Hey, they saddled me with ‘Kid Aquarius,’” Scott Velez said from the towel he’d stretched out on the lawn, pitcher of water and a glass beside him. Young, tanned, buff wearing a purple tank top with dark glasses, Velez looked like the superhunk he swaggered around pretending to be. “Of course, Aquarius and me would have been, you know, simpatico.” He picked up his empty glass and glared at the pitcher. The water in the pitcher bubbled and swirled and filled again. He poured himself a glass and laid back. “This is living!” he sighed.
Kip grumbled and flicked a finger in Velez’s direction.
“Two-four-six-eight, c’mon towel, incinerate!”
There was a spit of flame from Kip’s finger and in another instant the towel flashed into ashes in a burst of fire. The glass, pitcher and Kid Aquarius were untouched. But Kid Aquarius was livid.
“Hey, what the hell! You think that’s funny?” Aquarius said jumping up clenching his fists.
“Yeah, you wanna make something out of it?” Kip said glaring. To himself, he wished he’d broken his habit of saying the supposed magic words to activate his powers. It was a crutch, he knew, since finding out his powers weren’t really supernatural. Still, he could paste Kid Aquarius, of that he was certain.
Yeah, I’m gonna make something of it!” Kid Aquarius said.
“Hold it right there, both of you!” Mrs. Pickney. An instant later, the concrete floor of the back porch re-formed into a wall between the two.
“Yowlp!” M.K. yelled.
“Both of you calm down,” she said. “This is our Fourth of July weekend and we don’t need the Crisis Squad Auxiliary Training Facility turned into a battleground. Or when Electron gets back, I could have him put you in separate corners. In separate countries. You understand?”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Kip and Kid Aquarius said.
“Good.” Mrs. Pickney left.
Kid Aquarius and Kip glared at one another.
“Electron,” Kip muttered. “He’s eighteen. Big deal.”
“We’re fire and water,” Kid Aquarius said. “Always.”
“Yeah.” Kip Starkwell said, clenching a fist. “Always.”