Joseph Is Falling

If I were a super villain who hurt people, what would my super villain power be?” Enzo said.

At first it had been paralyzing rays that shot from her index fingers. Then it had been a third eye that traveled about her body and could shoot paralyzing rays at will. Then a secret sonic vehicle that could shoot paralyzing rays from its headlights.

“I thought you’d already decided,” Joseph said. “Some form of paralyzing rays.”

Enzo tapped her mechanical pencil against her palm. She referred to it as her clickster.

“I’m sick of paralyzing rays.”

“So are we all,” Zap said from behind the bakery cash register. Zap and Joseph were seventeen. Both worked at the bakery, which was airy and full of light, with a pressed-tin ceiling that Joseph sometimes tilted his head far back to admire.

Enzo clicked her clickster and stared malevolently at Zap. Zap ignored her. Enzo was nine and she hated Zap for reasons Joseph did not understand. It was Joseph’s job to keep them apart, to keep Enzo from flailing at Zap and Zap from antagonizing Enzo. This was his destiny, to keep warring factions apart. They were angry bees and he was the beekeeper. Enzo sat at her table against the window with her clickster.

“The superhero is my idea,” Zap said. “I am the one writing the superhero book. Not you.”

“Who’s talking about a stupid superhero?” Enzo said. “I’m talking about a super villain.”

“Some people should come up with their own ideas.”

“Some people are full of ideas but their ideas are all stupid.”

It was time for the beekeeper to blow a puff of smoke. To calm the angry bees and restore peace to the hive.

“Why are you sick of paralyzing rays?” Joseph said.

“Because they only work for a little while. Then their power wears off.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that.”

“Well, now you do!” Enzo shouted. It took very little to set her off. “The evil guys are unparalyzed! You’re back to the beginning!”

“Make it permanent then.”

“Permanent?” Enzo held up her clickster and studied it as if it were new to her.

“Yeah. Permanent. Then the evil guys can never unparalyze themselves.”

“Can I do that?”

“You’re the super villain, Enzo. You can do anything you want to do.”

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