1. Mr. and Mrs. Adams [4]

Mr. Adams jerked awake as the clock-radio on his bedside table began to talk loudly and cheerfully, advertising some sort of cereal. He grumbled, pulled one hairy arm out of the blankets and hit the button that turned the alarm off. He sat up in bed, rubbed his eyes, yawned and stretched before finally throwing the covers off himself and getting up. He winced as he rose, his back giving an ominous cracking sound while he straightened up.

“Love?” he called out.

“Downstairs!” Mrs. Adams yelled back. She was in the kitchen already, having gotten up an hour before to take a brisk walk in the cool early-morning air. She was still in her walking gear; New Balance walking shoes, gray sweatpants and a big black t-shirt still slightly moist with sweat. She was nursing a cold bottle of juice as she scanned the front page of the morning paper.

Mr. Adams traipsed into the kitchen, pecked her on her sweaty head and switched the coffee-maker on before heading to the shower. There wasn’t much hot water, so he soaped himself and washed himself off as quickly as he could, mumbling to himself under his breath “cold, cold, cold, cold…”

“How’s the hot water?” Mrs. Adams asked when he came out, threadbare blue towel wrapped around his waist.

“Brrr,” he said by way of an answer. “Need coffee.” Mrs. Adams laughed and went to turn the boiler on. Their house was one of those old ones that seemed to have been built with the thought that people wanted to go to their garage twenty times a day – the switch for the hot-water heater was there, as well as a liquor cabinet built into one wall and the fuse box on another. Mr. and Mrs. Adams’ cars were there too, although they only ever used Mrs. Adams’ white Ford, because she refused to carpool with what she called the “mid-life crisis car,” which was Mr. Adams red Miatta.

It was in the Ford, then, that Professors Adams set out in an hour later. It was early September, and their work was starting up again in a few days. The new student orientation was already underway, and Mr. and Mrs. Adams both had various meetings to attend as well as work that needed to be finished in preparation for the classes they’d be starting in a week’s time, when the autumn term officially kicked off.

The faculty parking lot at Valley U. was conveniently situated in a big square deep inside the campus, although somewhat an eyesore. Mr. Adams’ office was in Acorn, the literature and languages departments’ building, while Mrs. Adams worked in Mulberry, the social-sciences building. Both were situated on either side of the parking lot, and it was common knowledge among the students of Valley U. that they could witness a sweet display of public affection every morning at eight-thirty sharp, when the Adams Professors got out of their car and kissed each other before heading off in different directions for the day.

Dramatic Scene…?

“I know what you’re thinking,” shot Max at Deirdre. “You’re always thinking the same damn thing. You’re thinking that I shouldn’t go. You’re thinking that I’m being stupid. Just say it already!”

Deirdre looked coolly back at Max’s angry expression. She could have scratched her face off, for plainly showing her thoughts and emotions as it so clearly was. It was too late to fix the expression that had jumped unwillingly to it when Max had told her he was going out. She settled for pretending innocence instead.

“I’m not thinking a blessed thing, boy.”

“The hell you’re not,” Max spat back.

“Well, I’ve got nothing to say to you when you’re in such a foul mood,” Deirdre didn’t give up her act, but gave Max a bland look before turning her back to him. He knew everything she could say to deter him already. It was true that she thought him a fool for going, yet again, and there was no point in having another argument on the subject. Max would do what he wanted, and that was that.

A few minutes passed. Deirdre sat at her vanity, staring blindly at her own reflection. Finally, she heard the sound that she’d been expecting. The front door slammed with a force to shake the very panes of glass in it. She shut her eyes tightly for a moment, screwing her face up in pain.

 

Max waited outside the front door, wondering if this time Deirdre would come after him. But no, the minutes passed and still there was no sound of footsteps inside the large, boring suburban box of a house. He sighed and ran a hand over his face. Taking his car keys out of his pocket, he strode off down to the curb and unlocked, with an unobtrusive beep, the luxurious car parked in front of the closed garage door. He climbed into the front seat, put the key in the ignition, and turned it.

The effect was immediate. His seat bent down all the way back, several contraptions started moving around and making metallic noises, and the car began to pull out of the driveway and zoom down the street on its own.

When Max’s seat came back up, he was dressed in a black, skintight outfit, with a white mask covering his entire face except for a slit for his eyes.

Off to save… someone, Max thought, tiredly. Damn it.

He thought of Deirdre, her shimmering blonde hair running down her back in dripping strands as she took yet another hot shower. She always took showers when he went out on jobs. She seemed to like the sensation of heat when she was upset. Max took cold showers when he was upset. It was one of the many ways in which they differed. Another, rather crucial, point of difference, was that Deirdre wasn’t a superhero. Max was. He was really very tired of it.