by Shai Nir
Drawing his powers from a secret barrel of nucleoactive radios, he is…
Stevie, Boy Wonder!
The place: the City of Philadelphiaburg. The time: Action time. A lone, mysterious figure clad in plaid surveys the city from a rooftop. He is utterly irrelevant to the rest of the story, so we zoom past him to an open apartment window through which one Stephen “Stevie” Steven is hard at work playing an engrossing action video game. Suddenly the television changes to an urgent news report.
Stevie: Oh, come on!
News Anchor: Urgent news, hot off the teleprompter: A costumed maniac is menacing Philadelphiaburg’s Centerburg Cityburg. We need Stevie, Boy Wonder!
Stevie: Can I at least save?
News Anchor: Oh, sure.
The TV switches back just long enough for Stevie to save his game. He walks into his closet and comes back out dressed like a bona fide superhero. He quickly checks his Action Danger Watch to see where in the city the crisis is. He notices the time.
Stevie: Oh, it’s almost six already? I have a date with Caitlin in ten minutes. Grr…
Thinking quickly, Stevie pulls his handy robotic decoy out of the cabinet. They play Rock Paper Scissors to decide who gets to do what, then both leave the apartment. A few seconds later Stevie flies back in, turns off the TV, and flies out.
Robot Steve enters a classy restaurant, Le Blurf, with Caitlin. She keeps the archives for the Daily Pencil. It’s not as glamorous as being a front-page reporter but she has just as much moxie and pluck. They are seated. She smiles.
Caitlin: You finally made it. I thought for sure you’d have some terrorist plot to foil or alien invasion to fight.
Robot Steve: Well, sixth time’s the charm.
Caitlin: Promise this date will last longer than two minutes?
Robot Steve checks his Robotic Action Danger Watch Substitute.
Robot Steve: So far it’s been three minutes and twenty seconds. Twenty-one. Twenty-two.
Caitlin: Precision. I like that in a man.
A neatly-dressed waiter comes over.
Waiter: Good evening, sir and madam. My name is Chris and I’ll be your server for this evening. Our two specials today are freshly-ground mint chicken with a fine crème crust over a bed of seasonal vegetation in a light cinnamon sauce, and tater tots. Would you like anything to drink while you’re thinking?
Caitlin looks at the menu.
Caitlin: Could you recommend something that goes well with the fish sticks?
Waiter: We have a 1998 Great White Wine.
Caitlin: I’ll have that.
Waiter: Excellent. And for you, sir?
Robot Steve: I don’t drink.
Waiter: Just water, then?
Robot Steve: I don’t drink.
Waiter: I see. Well, I’ll just let you mull over the menu for a while.
The waiter leaves to bother some other diners.
Caitlin: So, Stevie, how’d you get into the superhero business?
Robot Steve: I was made for it.
Caitlin: Were you?
Robot Steve: I mean, I was born for it. With superpowers. I can fly and set things on fire with my mind. Usually that means either a superhero or a lawyer.
Caitlin: And you didn’t become a lawyer because…
Robot Steve: Law school is hard work.
Robot Steve: How did you get into journalism?
Caitlin: It’s not really journalism; it’s more like sitting in a basement and watching file cabinets. I got the job during college and kept it because it gives me plenty of time to work on my real passion.
Robot Steve: What’s that?
Caitlin: Complex mathematical models. My goal is to quantify every aspect of life. Learning, justice, crime, curiosity, love… One day I hope to put it all together and prove that everything in the universe ultimately adds up to three.
Robot Steve: Wow.
Meanwhile, not far away, the site of the crisis. A jewelry store has been broken into and now a gang of armed and colorfully costumed men is running out carrying bags of jewelry. Their leader, sporting a gray-and-white striped cape and a big red J emblem, is on top of the escape truck urging his men on.
Jaywalker: Quickly! Two more stores like this and we’re set for the month!
Goon Bo: Aw, boss, why do we need so much?
Goon Ned: Yeah, I can pay my mortgage with half a’ my share.
Goon Hank: I’m only in this so’s I can propose to my girl. I can just take this one ring an’ go.
Jaywalker: Sorry, boys, but customized bobblehead collecting is an expensive hobby.
Descending from the sky in a flash of light, Stevie, Boy Wonder lands nearby.
Good Citizen Man: Look, it’s Stevie, Boy Wonder!
Good Citizen Boy: Sign my copy of Innervisions!
Stevie: What’s going on here, now?
Good Citizen Woman: Stevie, the Jaywalker is running wild!
Stevie: Uh, jaywalking? That’s not really a serious crime, and even if it is I think the police can handle it…
Good Citizen Man: No, he’s not jaywalking. The Jaywalker is stealing jewelry!
Stevie: Well, why didn’t you just say “The jewel thief?” Or “The jewel thief is jaywalking” if you really want to be specific.
Good Citizen Woman: His name is the Jaywalker. That’s what he told us all to call him.
Stevie: Ohhhh. I get it now. Is he the one with the things in the thing over there?
Good Citizens: Yes!
Stevie speeds in front of the truck. He raises his arm as if to hold the vehicle in place, but it’s not moving anyway so the gesture is somewhat lost.
Jaywalker: I knew you’d show up, Boy Blunder! Rest assured, I planned for this. You see, I did some research and found out your biggest weakness… bullets! Shoot ‘im, Hank!
Goon Hank points his gun at Stevie. Stevie looks at Hank’s direction. All of a sudden, Hank’s coat is on fire. Panicking, he drops the gun and starts rolling around on the floor. Stevie looks back to the Jaywalker.
Jaywalker: Crud, I forgot you can do that. Ned! Bo! Rush him!
The Jaywalker turns to make a hasty escape.
Goon Ned: But boss, he’ll stomp us!
Jaywalker: No buts, there’s power in numbers. Go!
As the Jaywalker darts off down the street, Goons Ned and Bo run at Stevie. A flashy, onomatopoeia-rich fight scene ensues.
By this point, in the restaurant, Stevie’s robotic double and Caitlin have built up a great rapport.
Caitlin: I’ve always said that people should stop blatantly ignoring vacuum cleaners’ rights.
Robot Steve: I completely agree.
Suddenly, Caitlin notices something strange outside.
Caitlin: Stevie, look over there… Isn’t that you beating up goons?
Robot Steve: Oh, that’s just… I mean, uh, I mean… Caitlin, I have kind of a confession to make. I’m not really Stevie, Boy Wonder. I’m just his robot body double.
Caitlin: You’re actually a robot?
Suddenly, Caitlin’s face brightens up tremendously.
Caitlin: Me too! Caitlin sent me here because she has crippling social anxiety disorder!
Robot Steve glows with happiness. So does Robot Caitlin. They make out like crazy.
Outside, the fight scene is over and the three goons are duct taped together. Stevie speeds after the Jaywalker and almost catches him, but the latter manages to flee across the street during a red light. Stevie stops at the curb.
Good Citizen Boy: What’s wrong, Stevie? Go after him!
Stevie: I can’t. The light’s red. Crossing now would be a bad example. If I stoop to the level of the Jaywalker, he wins.
Good Citizen Man: No, he doesn’t really…
Stevie: Don’t worry, I’ll catch up with him once the light changes. Any second now, and… Shoot, he turned the corner. Well, nothing more to it. Just another plot foiled by Stevie, Boy Wonder!
Good Citizen Woman: But the bad guy got away with the jewelry.
Stevie: Another plot foiled!
As the police arrest the Jaywalker’s goons and the two robot doubles play furious Tonsil Pong, Stevie, Boy Wonder flies back to his video games, satisfied with a good day’s work.
Many thanks to my roommate Steve for inspiring me and also letting me steal some of his ideas.