Superhero Origin - JP

Superheroes rock. 'Nuff said.

  “I said there ain’t no good men left,” Granny Jarvis told her neighbor, “not a single damn one.” They were sitting on the porch in the heat, fanning themselves with old newspaper and sipping peach daiquiri wine coolers. Just past the scraggle of bushes by the stairs, the neighborhood children played with a half-flat basketball in the middle of the street. On the corner, Demetrius was slinging dope again. “Not since that Jimmy Jenkins died, anyway.” 

      Ms. Dorothea Huddle’s face nearly fell off mustering her sidewise glance. “And who told you Jimmy Jenkins is dead?” she asked with incredulity. The only part of her that didn’t react was her curly grey hair, which was carefully arrayed beneath a black net to keep it protected for church. Just yesterday, Granny Jarvis had mentioned casually to Lucinda Falwell how she though Dorothea might be using an excess of products.

      “Oh, girl, everybody knows Jimmy Jenkins dead,” Granny Jarvis explained, trying to be sympathetic to her woefully uninformed friend. “He got killed just down on Council Street last week. Poor little boy got his face smashed in a car accident.”

      “Weren’t no car accident,” Dorothea fired back, “That was some of that damn gang activities going on again, everybody knows that. Besides, Jimmy Jarvis ain’t dead.”

      “Lord, I wish that he weren’t,” said Granny, “such a fine young man. We need that kind of man around here, a good man with backbone.”

      “Listen,” Ms. Huddle whispered, leaning in conspiratorially, “he ain’t dead. At least not completely. I seen his ghost just the other day.” She nodded as though she had just read from the Bible.

      Granny Jarvis snorted. Now she knew better than to question the existence of ghosts and devils and angels and all sorts of things which only the Lord can explain, but she wasn’t a fool. The Lord may work in mysterious ways, but he surely didn’t work such miracles in front of an old gossip like Dorothea Huddle. “Don’t be tellin’ tales out of school,” she said.

      “Fine, don’t believe me!” her neighbor said, abandoning any pretense of secrecy. “But it’s the truth. I seen him, and I’ll tell you all about it.”

      “Oh, enlighten me, Dorothea.”

      Dorothea poked a bony finger out at the children in the road. “You see that little girl there?” A little girl of about six sat on the curb playing alone with her dolls, her hair in braided pigtails with little red clasps that matched her overalls and a yellow shirt underneath.

      Granny Jarvis nodded. “That’s Nevaeh Johnson. What you gonna bring her into this for?”

      Dorothea rolled her eyes. “Cause she’s what gives him form.”

      Granny barely mustered an “uh-huh.”

      “Listen, it’s like this,” Dorothea continued, “I was over by Treedad Park right by Council Street a few days ago, and I see little Nevaeh playing in the bushes, in the shade of that old live oak right where Jimmy Jenkins got killed. And I hear her talking like she’s talking to somebody, but ain’t nobody there.”

      “You old fool,” Granny interjected, “ain’t you had children? It’s called an imaginary friend, and you can’t see them because they’re made up!”

      “Hush,” Dorothea scolded, “I know all that. That’s what I thought at first, too, anyways, so I went on over there to see what she was doing and where her momma was at. And that's when I heard it.”

      “Heard what?”

      Dorothea leaned in close again. “It was low, and at first I thought it was the wind whispering through the trees. But the closer I got, the more I could tell they was words, coming like from all around.”

      “What was it saying?” Granny had abandoned all pretense of disinterest.

      “Well, Nevaeh was saying something like, ‘you can come home and live with me,’ and that voice, it said something like ‘I’d like that,’ or something, and something like ‘I had a home here,’ and then it says ‘maybe you are my home.’ That’s when I saw it.”

      “Well, what was it?”

      “I’m telling! It was a shadow, or maybe some kind of fog or something, and it was all around Nevaeh’s little doll, like a man in the doll shape. That’s what was talking. Girl, I liked to run off right then.”

      Granny eyes glazed over. “You got scared by a talking doll. Lord, you would run away from your own shadow if it weren’t attached.”

      “Oh, fine,” said Dorothea, “like you know cause you were standing right there. And I suppose you seen Anthony Elber come round here today, too.”

      “Anthony Elber? What’s that old pervert gotta do with anything?”

      Dorothea resumed her air of authority. “Well, Anthony Elber saw it too. But I don’t reckon he’ll be coming around to talk about it.”

      “What are you talking about?”

      The old woman smoothed her dress, clearly letting Granny linger in suspense out of revenge. “Well, I was backing away, and I see Anthony Elber come out of the bushes right near Nevaeh, and he comes up and grabs her right from behind and puts his hands over her mouth, and I knew he was gonna do to her what he done to them other kids, so I almost took off running to get the police. But as he picks her up, I see that fog-shadow thing, the ghost, come rising off the doll. Next thing I know, it’s huge, about 7 feet tall and shaped like a demon out of hell, with big ole claws and wings and teeth and whatever you want, still all just like a shadow. And it grabs Anthony Elber and drags him off of her, pulls him right into the bushes. Then it comes right back out and shrinks into the doll form.

      “Nevaeh was crying, but she was saying ‘I saw it, you came just like I imagined it,’ or something, and the shadow, it said something like ‘I’ll be whatever you need me to’ or something like that, and then it says ‘let’s go home,’ and she picks up the doll and off they go.”

      Dorothea sat back, satisfied. Granny looked at her quizzically. “I reckon it was Jimmy Jenkins’s ghost,” Dorothea said, by way of explanation.

      Granny shook her head. “You been drinking too many of these daiquiris, old fool,” she finally said.

      Across the street, Nevaeh Johnson smiled like the sunshine as she hugged her doll tight to her chest.

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Author's Notes