She wasn't sure where she got the idea from. Perhaps, she had
watched too much television or seen too many movies. Yet, Persia
Whitmore was not one to turn down an opportunity when it stared her in
the face. With the new abilities she had been manifesting, Persia
decided that she could be a superhero. After all, what did one do
with abnormal strength and an ability to fly? Such things were
certainly being wasted away in the candy industry.
The problem was
how to go about it. You couldn't exactly take a trip down to the
public library and look for a book on how to be a superhero.
Another problem was discipline. It was pretty well known that
heroes are meant to have a pretty high moral standard. Persia
considered her moral values to be pedestrian at best. Still, she
wasn't exactly evil or criminal in any way. Rude, perhaps, but
there was no crime against that, and while it may seem evil to the
person who is being victimized by rudeness, it really only boils down
"Well, nobody's perfect," said Persia.
Her other problem
was her temper. She didn't exactly have a short fuse, but when
riled, Persia could be viscous. Not exactly the kind of thing
you want when you have incredible strength. She would have to
work on it. It was amazing how much self analysis her decision
"Perhaps, this is
what I've been needing," said Persia to herself. "My folks have
always been saying that I don't take responsibility for my
actions. Maybe now is when I can prove that I really can be
Her next task was
to pick a name. Persia sat at the dining table with a pencil and
a notebook. Several names had already been considered and
rejected. Super Kat, Mighty Kat, Power Kat, and others had been
written out and then crossed off.
"I need a name that describes what I am," said Persia.
She thought about
how Will had described the omega radioisotope that had given her these
amazing powers. "An isotope is an atom with the same number of
protons and electrons but different number neutrons," said Will.
"You've heard of Carbon 14 dating, right? Well, a carbon atom
normally has six protons, six electrons and six neutron. Carbon
14 is an isotope of regular carbon. It has six protons, six
electrons and eight neutrons. Isotopes are considered radioactive
because the atoms generally want to return to their more stable form."
it. The key to her new persona had to do with isotopes and
radioactivity. Persia wrote down Atomic Kat in the
notebook. She looked at it for a moment. It still wasn't
"It sounds too,
masculine," said Persia. She erased the word Kat and wrote in its
place Kitten. "Hmmm, needs more appeal." She erased the 'EN'
off of Kitten and replaced it with a 'Y.'
Persia sat back
and stared at the name. "That's it," she said with some
surprise. "That's what I'll call myself."
At first, she worried that the name was too cutesy. "What the hell," she said, "after all, I am cute!" Her statement reminded her that she needed to work on her modesty, too.
The next step in
the hero building process was to develop a costume. Persia didn't
know why, but heroes always dressed in tight costumes of primary
colors. Still, she was game to give it a try. Persia
discovered early on that her drafting skills were less then acceptable,
so, she turned to the growing pile of clothing catalogs that she
received in the mail. She didn't know how all these people got a
hold of her name and address, but at the moment, she was glad that
there was such a large selection. She was able to narrow her search
down to sports wear. There were several Spandex and Lycra outfits
that women wore during exercise. One such outfit really took her
fancy. It was a bright red halter which came down to just above
the midriff. A matching pair of stretch shorts with a yellow
waistband completed the outfit.
"I'll need shoes to go with this," mused Persia.
wearing boots, but she didn't like the idea of wearing heels. All
of the boots she saw had heels two inches or taller, and none of them
were the right color. Then, she came across a catalog selling
costumes for dancers.
"Now, how'd they
figure I'd be interested in this?" wondered Persia. "I've never
taken a dance lesson in my life."
Even so, she
flipped half-heartedly through the catalog until she came across a pair
of red ballet shoes. Persia studied the picture for a moment.
"That's what I need," she exclaimed excitedly. "A pair of shoes like this."
She set the dance
catalog aside, keeping it open to the page with the red ballet
shoes. Sorting through the catalogs for every conceivable type of
shoe, Persia eventually came across a pair of red, heelless
slip-ons. They looked somewhat like moccasins, but bore a more
striking resemblance to the ballet shoes. The soles were made of
rubber. The catalog called them deck shoes, apparently because people wore them on boats.
Persia. "I was worried they'd have leather soles. I'd slip
and fall on my ass if I wore leather soles."
Also during her
hunt, she came across a pair of yellow cotton gloves that were the same
color as the waistband on the stretch shorts. Persia considered
them to be an accessory worth having. She set the three catalogs
aside and cleaned up the mess she had generated in the middle of her
living room. Then she went to the phone and ordered each of the
items she wanted. She bought two sets of everything in case she
needed spares and she couldn't find replacements readily. She
nearly blanched at the total cost. Still, she felt it was worth
the expense, and she knew she could cover the cost of the bills well
Not for the first
time, Persia contemplated why she was doing all this. More
to the point, she was torn over whether she should tell Will or
not. Somehow, she was pretty sure he would frown on her
superheroing ideas. Will was a cautious and logical individual,
due mostly to the nature of his job at the Advanced Atomic Research
Laboratory. On the other hand, Will had a pretty vivid
imagination. Something he rarely showed to most people.
Persia had made up her mind. She would tell Will her plans.
* * *
orangutan shuffled about her office, collecting papers and file folders
from different cabinets. Some papers came from the large pile on
her desk. Everything she collected she placed into an accordion
folder and fastened the string closure.
"Well, I think that's everything," said Dr. Malinda Mendez.
"Thanks, doctor," said Will Green. He took the accordion folder
from the Dr. Mendez. "I really think this is the best thing."
"Normally, I'd be
against the destruction of company records, but in this case, I'd have
to say I agree with you," said Dr. Mendez. "I can imagine what
kind of insane research would go on were it to get out that the omega
isotope could create superhumans. How's Persia taking things?"
"I'm not sure," said Will a trifle concerned. "She been acting...odd lately."
"You mean she not like herself?" asked Dr. Mendez.
"No, nothing that
obvious," said Will shaking his head. "I mean she seems normal,
but she been interested in watching action films lately. She's
always said she doesn't like action films."
blinked. "Hmmm," she mused, "don't be surprised if she wants to
talk to you about something really important in the near future, Will."
do you mean?" asked Will. His eyes narrowed. "Is there
something you're not telling me?"
something I'm not telling you, then there's a damn good reason not to
tell you," said Mendez warningly. Her expression softened.
"But, no, I don't know anything. However, I can make some pretty
good suppositions. Just remember, Persia is going through some
life altering changes. You can't really know what's that's
like. Just try to be supportive, okay?"
Will smiled. "Sure, Dr. Mendez."
Will left the
clinic with the folder full of documents and headed back to his
office. The omega isotope project had been scrapped until a board
hearing could be convened. Will, however, was taking no
chances. He made sure no one found out about his studies on the
effects of the isotope on living tissue. If they did, some
ambitious, warmongering politician would no doubt fund research into
creating super soldiers. Even though they were a private company, they were heavily funded by the government.
It was not a pleasant thought. The
death toll from any research would be astronomically high, but even
worse would be the successes. It wouldn't take a great leap for
some enhanced person to suddenly realize that he was more powerful than
the people who were in charge of the program. Will could think of
nothing worse than a rogue super soldier.
these changes were affecting Persia. He didn't think she'd go
bananas or anything, but anyone was susceptible to temptation. He
was afraid of broaching the subject with her because their relationship
was still relatively new. Dr. Mendez seemed to think that it
would be Persia who would bring up any concerns, so Will decided he
pretty quiet on Saturdays. Most of the workers were at home
relaxing from the week's work related stresses. A few continued
to work on weekends. Many assumed it was because they were
dedicated to their work. The sad truth was that they had no life
outside of work, hence they tended to spend their time in the one place
where they felt most comfortable. Will used to be one of those
people until he started dating Persia. He smiled as he thought
back to their first official date. He wanted to take her to a
fancy restaurant, but realized that she would probably feel out of
place. Instead they dined al fresco at an expensive bistro that he knew about.
Will had been
pleasantly surprised at how charming Persia was. She had told him
about how she had ended up refilling vending machines for a living.
"Why don't you go back?" asked Will.
"Are you kidding?" said Persia. "I can't afford it."
"You don't have
to go to a really big school," said Will. "There are a lot of
small colleges with really good credentials and reasonable tuition
rates. I went to a small college. Only eight thousand plus
students on campus."
"I don't think I could afford a small college on my current budget," said Persia glumly.
"You could always
apply for scholarship," said Will. "If you apply under adult
education, there's an even better chance of getting funded."
Persia lean on
her elbows. "Why are you so interested in me going to college?"
she asked. "My education not up to your high standards?"
Will would have
been stung by such a comment except that a playful smirk was tugging at
Persia's mouth. He decided to counter her question with the same
attitude. "Well, I'm sorry, he said feigning injured pride.
I didn't know you wanted to fill vending machines for the rest of your
life. I just naturally assumed you wanted something more out of
Persia laughed at
his fake snobbery, and soon, Will join her. They were drawing
irritated looks from other patrons, but neither cared. They were
having a great time. When things settled down, Persia became
"I think I will go back, though," said Persia. "I'm a little scared, though."
"Of what?" asked Will.
"I'm not sure I'd fit in," said Persia.
Will waved his
hand dismissively. "Feh! Don't let that stop you. If
you find the right school, you'll fit in just fine. You're not
the only adult making up for a missed educational opportunity.
Adult ed is a major industry."
Persia smiled at Will. "Thanks."
"So, what are you interested in?" asked Will.
"Didn't we talk about that already?" asked Persia.
"No, I meant what
major would you choose?" said Will. "What was your major the last
time you were in school?"
Literature," said Persia. "I had dreams of writing the great
American novel. This time, I think I'll be a bit more
practical. Maybe I'll study marketing. One thing I've
learned from working in a candy company is what makes good marketing."
"Sounds like a worthwhile endeavor," said Will, "and I hear marketing makes some pretty decent salaries."
Persia laughed. "Yeah, that doesn't hurt, either."
Will woke up from
his daydream and glanced at his watch. He was supposed to meet
Persia for lunch today. Will tossed the folder in his briefcase
along with his cell study notes and locked it. Then he quickly
closed up his office and headed out of the building.
* * *
"Excuse me?" asked Will in shock. His fork hovered just out of reach of his waiting mouth.
Persia took a
deep breath. "I want to use my abilities to help people.
So, I thought I could, you know, become a...superhero."
Will set his fork
down on his plate. "Ok, I think I need my ears cleaned out.
I could have sworn you said superhero."
"Will, don't be difficult," said Persia.
difficult?" asked Will. "Persia, there are no such things as
superheroes. That's just a fantasy."
"Until now," said
Persia. "Will, everything I can do is just a fantasy, but I can
do them anyway. This is real."
"This is insane," sighed Will. "Well, this explains your sudden interest in action films."
Persia smiled sheepishly. "Research."
"Hollywood is not well known for its reliable information," warned Will.
many places I can go for reference," said Persia. "Be glad I
resisted the temptation to visit a comic book store."
Will sat back
with his hands folded in his lap. He recalled his conversation
with Dr. Mendez earlier that morning. Persia looked pensive and
started biting her lower lip. A snort of laughter escaped from
"What's so funny?" asked Persia. She hadn't expected him to laugh.
"Don't bite your
lip like that," said Will grinning. "You put me in mind of a
vampire with a fang missing."
Persia's brow furrowed. "You're trying to change the subject, aren't you?"
"No, I'm not,"
said Will. "Look, let's take this thing one step at a time.
How are you going to help people if you're working during the
day? And if you decide to go out at night, when are you going to
get any sleep?"
"Maybe I could just be a superhero on weekends?" suggested Persia tentatively.
"I don't think criminals follow a set schedule," said Will.
Persia's temper began to flare. "Will, stop patronizing me."
patronizing you," said Will who was also getting a little heated.
"I'm trying to make you see sense."
"What's sense got
to do with anything," shouted Persia. "I'm a walking freak of
nature thanks to you and your stupid lab! I'm just trying to make
the best of things!"
"Persia, don't shout," said Will.
"I'm not shouting!" shouted Persia.
"You are," said Will.
"I am not!" she
screamed and brought her fist down on the table. Her fist went
straight through the table and caused Will's end to catapult toward
Persia. Will's salad bowl leapt forward and smacked Persia dead
in the face in true vaudevillian fashion.
Will was shocked
by what had just happened, but nowhere near as surprised as
Persia. The bowl slowly peeled itself free of Persia's face and
fell to the floor. Persia was covered in ranch dressing. Bits
of lettuce stuck to her face and hair. Will tried his best to
keep a straight face, but eventually collapse into fits of
laughter. Persia became truly incensed.
"Get out!" she
screamed and pointed at the door. As she did so, her hand glowed
a bright pink color. Suddenly, a powerful blast of energy leapt
from Persia's finger and tore through the door. A deafening roar
was heard as splinters of wood went flying into the hallway outside her
apartment. Will felt the floor vibrate from the blast. When
the dust settled the wall opposite Persia's apartment had a large
gaping hole. Will could see out onto the street. Car alarms
were going off from as far away as two city blocks.
"Whoa," managed Will. "That's new."
visibly shaken. The glow had gone from her hand, and she placed
both hands over her mouth. Her eyes were brimming with
tears. Will got to his feet and walked up to Persia. He
placed a hand on her shoulder.
"You okay?" he asked cautiously.
Persia quickly pulled away from Will. "Stay away!" she cried. "I'm too dangerous to be around!"
streaming down Persia's face. Some traveled along her whiskers
and dropped off when they reached the ends. Will advanced further
and enfolded Persia into his arms. Persia leaned into his
shoulder and was reduced to heaving sobs. While still holding
her, Will guided Persia to the sofa and sat her down. He held her
and caressed her until the crying ran itself down to the occasional
sniffle. Will began picking pieces of vegetation from Persia's
hair and face and started nibbling.
"Will, what are you doing?"
"What's it look like. I'm grooming you," replied Will.
"Will you're a rabbit, not a primate," said Persia chuckling.
said Will. He was glad to see that she had calmed down enough to
joke with him once more. "Do you still want me to leave?"
"God, no," said Persia. "I need you now more than ever. How
am I going to explain this mess to my landlord."
"I might be able to pull some strings," said Will.
Persia leaned back from Will's embrace. "Really?"
smiled. "Sure. After all, you're AARL's
responsibility." Will thought for a moment. "You know, that
glow on your hand was the same color as the omega radioisotope. I
think you might be generating omega energy."
Persia suddenly pushed away from Will. "You mean I'm radioactive?"
"No, no," assured
Will. "You're generating the energy signature of the isotope, not
the isotope itself. That was the main reason we were working with
it. It proved to be a substantial energy source. In fact,
it defied all known laws of thermodynamics."
"Defied? You're not working on it any more?" asked Persia.
been shut down," said Will. "In fact, that was the reason I went
in to work this morning. Which reminds me..." Will reached
for the accordion folder that sat on an end table next to the
sofa. "This contains all of your medical records from the
lab. I want you to keep it somewhere safe. I wanted to
destroy them, but we don't know how the omega effect will change as you
get older, and we may need some reference material to do comparisons."
"Uhm...ok," said Persia a little uncertainly.
"You know," began
Will, "I'm beginning to see that you need an outlet of some type.
Dr. Mendez was right. This is a life altering situation."
"She said that?" asked Persia.
nodded. "Having this kind of energy potential without using it
could be dangerous. You'd have to become a superhero just to keep
from going stark raving mad."
"Is this some round about way of giving your approval?" asked Persia looking at him suspiciously.
Will shook his
head. "I still don't approve," he said, "but the way things look,
you may not have a choice. It's either expend your energy of
become a danger to everyone by doing nothing."
"I'd rather have your approval," said Persia.
"Give me time," said Will indulgently. "I may get used to the idea."
* * *
After two weeks
of waiting, all of Persia's orders had finally arrived. She
opened her packages and laid out her new costume. Something was
missing, though. She needed an emblem. All superheroes had
emblems by which they were easily recognized. Fortunately, Persia
was quick to come up with a design. She played around with a few
ideas by looking up information on atomic symbols. Finally, she
drew a large block letter 'A' with two electrons circling about it.
artistic skills were lacking, Persia was a reasonably good
seamstress. Using the drawing she had made of her emblem as a
template, she cut out fabric pieces to make up the the letter, which
was yellow, the electron paths in black, and the electrons which were
merely burgundy colored circles. She used pieces of silk which
she bought in a fabric shop in the odds and ends bin. These were
pieces left over from bolts of material that weren't large enough to
use on a full sized garment. She bought matching silk thread and
very fine sewing needles to do the work. She couldn't afford a
sewing machine, but Persia doubted that a machine could handle the
intricate work needed for the small pre-cut pieces of soft
fabric. Her mother had taught her how to stitch by hand.
She was quite good at it. Soon she had two complete sets of
thought about wearing a cape with her ensemble, but decided against
it. A cape would only interfere with her tail, and she really
didn't want to cover it up anyway. She had practiced with a
make-shift cape at one point and found that it was a nuisance when
trying to get things done. She could just imagine the number of
things the cape would get snagged on, strangling her in the process.
She also contemplated
wearing a mask, but after watching a few superhero movies, she realized
that a mask wouldn't fool everybody. Eventually, some wisenheimer
would figure out who was behind the mask, so she might as well let
everyone see up front. She contemplated how that would affect her
normal everyday life.
"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess," said Persia to herself.
A knock came at
the door and Persia jumped. Quickly she gathered up her costumes
and tossed them into the bedroom, shutting the door. She
hurried back to the front door.
"Who is it?" she called.
"It's Will," said
Will through the door. Persia undid the dead bolt lock and let him
in. "I see the contractors I hired did a nice job on the wall out
there." He had a shopping bag in one hand that he set down next to the sofa.
Persia. "They even aged the brick on the outside so that it
matched. I owe you my life."
"I'll settle for a kiss," said Will.
"Sold," said Persia and leaned into long, loving kiss.
"So, what's new?" asked Will after pulling away with much reluctance.
"I got my new costume," said Persia
Will stumbled over his own feet. "Where in the world did you find someplace that sells hero costumes?"
said Persia giving Will a playful punch in the shoulder. "I
cobbled together some things myself. Come see."
Persia led Will
to the bedroom and opened the door. She picked up the haphazardly
tossed outfit and smoothed it out on the comforter.
"Gee, it's really...red," said Will.
"I like red," said Persia feigning disdain.
"Well, then, let's see you in it," said Will.
Persia, "you stay here. I'll be right back." She grabbed a
set of clothes and dashed into the bathroom shutting the door behind
Will sat down on the bed. He had to admit to himself that Persia was really gung ho
about all of this. It wasn't long before Persia emerged from the
bathroom in her outfit. Will's jaw hung open when he eyed
Persia. The costume fit very snugly and hugged every curve of her
body. Persia noticed his reaction, sauntered over to him and shut
his mouth closed.
"I...I'm not sure I like the idea of you prancing around in that get up," said Will.
"Gee, Will, I never figured you for the jealous type," teased Persia.
"How about a nice pair of red coveralls?" suggested Will. "I've
always thought you looked good in coveralls."
Persia laughed. "Don't worry. I promise not to let this go to my head," said Persia.
"So," said Will conversationally, "when's the big day?"
Persia paused a
moment. "I'm not sure, yet," she said. "I mean, I'm
definitely going through with it, but I don't think I'm quite
ready. I need more preparation time."
"Which reminds me," said Will getting up. "I have something for you."
"I was wondering what was in the bag," said Persia.
"Come see," said Will leading her into the living room.
Will reached down
into the shopping bag and pulled out what looked like a radio.
"This is a police scanner," he said. "It picks up radio
communications from police, fire and ambulance dispatchers."
Persia gasped as she took the scanner from Will. "You got this for me?" she asked.
"Well, I figured
if you were going to help deal with emergency situations," said Will,
"you'd need to know where to show up. Which brings me to my
"You mean there's more?" asked Persia.
Will pulled out a
large folded sheet of paper. "This is a map of the city," said
Will. "A very large map. One you could, you know, hang on
your wall. I mean, you've gotta get your bearings for when you're
flying around, right?"
know what to say, so she gave Will a very big hug. "You are so
good to me, Will Green," sighed Persia.
"Well, you've been pretty decent to me, too," admitted Will.
"This is just what I needed," said Persia, "and with the karate lessons I've been taking..."
"You're taking karate lessons?" asked Will.
Persia. "There's a guy at the Y who gives free lessons every
week. I've just started, but he says I pick things up very
quickly. It's odd, though."
"Why odd?" asked Will.
"Well, I've never
been what you'd call athletic," said Persia. "In fact, I've
always been uncoordinated. I never went to dances as a kid
because of my two left feet. Now, it's like I'm the most well
coordinated person in the world."
are," said Will. "I suspect this is another effect of the omega
radiation. I never did any studies on what it does to the central
nervous system. I think, you're going to find that you can do a
lot of things you couldn't do before."
"Par for the course, I suppose," said Persia.
"Just promise me
you'll be careful, okay?" said Will. "We still don't know what
all the effects are with the omega radiation."
"Don't worry, Will," said Persia. "I'll start slow and easy."
* * *
Persia was true to her word. She started slow and easy.
Listening to the police band on her scanner, she made her first
appearance at a traffic accident on the nourth-south interstate.
It was a massive ten car pile-up. It was a miracle that no one
was killed. Still, there were people trapped in their horribly
misshapen vehicles. The police on the scene were ill equipped to
deal with the situation. They were waiting for backup from
emergency services. She helped free the trapped accident victims
by tearing open car doors or car roofs depending upon what was more
Cars on the opposite side of the interstate were slowing down to watch in amazement, causing traffic to snarl. Some people pulled off to the side and got out of their cars to watch. Persia noticed that a news chopper which had been covering the accident was focussing on her presence. She found it extremely annoying, but there was nothing she could do about it. The police had their hands full trying to keep traffic flowing. They seemed to have given their unspoken consent to Persia's assistance.
ambulances and fire trucks were able to fight their way to the
scene. The paramedics immediately went to work on the accident
victims whom Persia had laid out carefully near the median strip.
Firefighters went to each car making sure there were no threats of
exploding gas tanks. Unfortunately, a news van had made its way
to the scene in the wake of the emergency vehicles. It didn't
take long for a reporter and camera man to zero in on Persia.
"Excuse me miss," asked the reporter. "Are you one of the accident victims?"
"No," said Persia, "I stopped to help out."
"Were you on your way to a costume party when this happened?" asked the reporter.
"No," said Persia, "these are my working clothes."
looked a bit confused by her answer. Persia didn't care.
She was trying find out if it was safe to move the cars to the side of
"May I ask you your name, please?" asked the reporter.
"I am the Atomic Kitty," answered Persia somewhat proudly.
She had expected
professionalism of some kind from the news reporter. She would
have liked him to be impressed or amazed. She would even have
accepted dubious skepticism, or a veiled inference to her lack of
sanity. She did not expect a full out belly laugh from a
so-called professional journalist.
"Did I say something funny?" asked Persia in an irritated voice.
"I'm sorry," said
the reporter regaining his composure. He was wiping tears from
his eyes. "i thought you were serious for a second there."
"I was," said Persia. "My name is Atomic Kitty."
said the reporter in a not so veiled aside to his camera operator,
"we've got a live one here, Charlie."
"Look, pal, why
don't you go hassle the cops or something," said Persia
dismissively. "I'm a busy superhero."
"Superhero!" cried the reporter laughing again. "Right!"
Persia growled in
anger but decided to pay him no mind. She stepped up to a mini van
that now looked like a failed clay sculpture. Reaching beneath
the side that had the least structural damage, Persia easily
hefted the mini van up onto her shoulder and carried it to the side of
the road. Then she carefully set it down out of the flow of
traffic. When she turned around to decide which car she would
move next, she caught sight of the annoying reporter. His mouth
was hanging open and his microphone hung limply from his hand.
Persia allowed herself a smug grin. The camera man, however,
didn't seem impressed by anything. He continued filming
everything that was going on. At the moment he was focussed on
her. Persia walked over to a mangled sports sedan and moved it to
the side of the road.
"Hey, wait a minute," called the reporter.
"Sorry, you had your chance," chided Persia.
"Aw, com'on," he
pleaded, "how was I supposed to know you were legit? I mean,
there's no such thing as superheroes." He paused and then added,
"At least, that's what I thought."
"Just goes to show you don't know everything, do you, Mr. Smarty Pants?" said Persia.
She was feeling
on top of things at that moment. Suddenly, an explosion rocked
the scene as one of the cars tanks ignited. The flames towered
into the air by several yards.
"Oh, crap," said Persia. "Now, what do I do?"
"Can't you, you know, blow it out or something?" asked the reported.
"It's a burning car, not a birthday cake, genius," snapped Persia. She really didn't like this guy.
around her. There didn't seem to be anyway to put out the
fire. That is, until she saw something which made her relax.
"I think I'll let the more experienced heroes handle this one," said Persia with a smile.
The reporter started looking around quickly. "There are more superheroes?"
"Yup," said Persia pointing. "The best kind."
She was pointing
to a group of firefighters who had immediately jumped into action and
were in the process of dousing the flames with their hoses.
"I don't get it," said the reporter a touch bewildered. "That's just the firefighters."
menacingly on the reporter who quailed at the look in her
eyes. "There nothing 'just' about firefighters, mister!
Those are some of the bravest and most selfless people on the planet!"
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" apologized the reporter. Was that a pink neon glow he saw in her eyes?
Persia took a
deep breath and reigned in her anger. She really shouldn't let
this gnat of a reporter get under her skin. "Look, buddy, I'm
really trying to help straighten things out here, and you're getting in
my way. Why don't you take a cue from your camera man here, go
off to the side of the road, and just observe, okay?"
Crestfallen, the reporter did as he was instructed.
* * *
Persia sat in her
sofa chair with her feet soaking in warm water and epsom salts.
Occasionally, a contented sigh escaped from her lips.
"For someone who can fly, I sure spent a lot of time on my feet, today."
rang. Persia swore and reluctantly pulled herself out of her foot
bath and walked over to the telephone.
"Hey, gorgeous," said Will over the phone. "I saw you on the evening news. You really looked good out there."
"Thanks," said Persia, "but I didn't realize what kind of work I had set for myself. I am beat."
"After lifting twenty-three cars, I'm not surprised," said Will sympathetically. "Mind
you, I don't think that journalist who gave the report liked you very
much. Still, he said a number of nice things about you."
"I was too hard
on the poor guy," admitted Persia. "He was trying to do his job,
and I gave him a hard time. But, he was constantly getting in my
way. I mean, what if I accidentally dropped a truck on him or
"Yes, well, now for the bad news," said Will. "One
of the tabloid shows got footage of you. All they pretty much
talked about was how snugly your costume fit. And since you're a
blonde, well, you know the rest."
"Ouch," winced Persia. "So much for good press."
"You're gonna have to expect this kind of thing when you go public like this," said Will.
A beep signaled
over the line informing Persia that another call was trying to get
through. "Hold on, Will. I've got another call coming in."
Persia pressed the flash button on her phone. "Hello?"
"Persia Delilah Whitmore! Just what do you think you call yourself doing?"
"Mom?" squeaked Persia.
"No, it's the Avon Lady. Of course, your mother's gonna call you when you embarrass yourself on national television!"
"Mom, I was out helping people," said Persia. "I thought you'd be proud."
"Proud? Of a daughter who dresses like a Las Vegas showgirl? I saw you on Entertainment Affair!"
"Cripes," groaned Persia, "you would watch the tabloid instead of the real news"
Affair is real news, and it's much more interesting than that dry stuff
on those other stations. So, what were you trying to do?
Audition for a movie or something?"
"Mom, people were
hurt in that accident!" said Persia exasperatedly. "I was there
helping. I rescued people trapped in their cars, and I cleared
the wrecks off the highway so traffic could move."
take that tone of voice with me, young lady. I know a movie set
when I see one. There's no way someone like you could pick up a
real mini van."
Persia. A beep reminded her that Will was waiting on the other
line. "Hold on, Mom. Will's on the other line."
"Will? Who's Will?"
"Later, Mom," said Persia. She pressed the flash button. "I
gotta go, Will," said Persia in a defeated voice. "That's my Mom."
"Uh-oh," said Will. "How bad is it?"
"Bad," said Persia.
"Well, I'm with you in spirit," said Will.
"Swell," sighed Persia with a small smile. "I'll talk to you later."
Persia pressed the flash button once more. "You still there, Mom?"
"Will is my boyfriend, Mom," said Persia.
There was a pause over the phone. "And when were you going to tell me about this? Who is he? What does he do for a living?"
"He's a research scientist, Mom. He's head of his division," said Persia proudly.
"So, what does he see in you, Miss College Drop-Out."
"Geez, Mom," said Persia. "Can't you let it go just once."
"Sweety, your father and I just want you to be happy."
"I am happy, Mom," stressed Persia. "I'm happier now than I've been in a long time."
"Does he make good money?"
"He does ok," said Persia.
"Then, is he at least good in bed?"
"I'm just looking out for my little girl."
"Mom, your 'little girl' is all grown up with a job and an apartment of her own," said Persia.
"Well, I want to meet this Will of yours. Invite him over for dinner."
"Mom! You're a four hour drive from here."
"I said invite him for dinner, not breakfast. What difference does four hours make?"
sighed. She did a lot of sighing when talking to her
mother. "Ok, ok, I'll ask him when he's free."
dear. Let us know when you're coming down. Oh, and don't
wear that garish outfit again, okay sweety? Bye!"
Persia heard the
line disconnect. She placed the receiver in its cradle and slid
down the wall to the floor. She looked up towards the ceiling and
spread out her arms.
"Lord, just take me, now! Please?"
T H E E N D
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