Flash Friday 20/11/2015: Falter Ego
“Let’s see here…” Mary typed on the computer on her desk. “Job recommendation services, four-thirty…yes, here you are. Jack Garland.”
“Yep,” the well-built Jack beamed from the other side of the desk. “That’s my name, don’t wear it out.”
“It says here that you told us on the questionnaire that you have five years work experience. Fantastic, we can work with that. Alright, then.” She turned away from the computer, smiling at Jack. “Tell me all about it.”
Jack swallowed. “About what, sorry?”
“Your five years employment. What you did, why you left, that sort of thing.”
“I, uh…did things. For people. Mostly.”
“What was your job title?”
“Job title?” Jack scratched his head. “Well…my job did come with a name, but it wasn’t really a title.”
“And what was your ‘name’?”
“I, uh…” Jack wringed his hands. “I’m not at liberty to say. Private, confidential stuff.”
Mary blinked. “Oh, I see. So you handled sensitive, top secret materials.”
“Yes!” Jack nodded. “Yes, that’s exactly that. Real top-secret stuff, that all was. Sorry I can’t give you any more information.”
“That’s quite fine, we can work out something from there.” Mary typed something into the computer. “What provable skills do you have?”
“Uhm.” Jack pushed his two index fingers together. “One time I used a computer during my work. I mean, that was something. And, I, uh…this one time, I had to work out if I could afford a trip to Gerald Burger after work. That’s like managing finance, in a way.”
“I…can see that, I guess.”
“Oh! And this one time, I had to speak to a group of people. That’s gotta mean something right?”
Mary sat forwards. “You mean, in a meeting sort of way?”
A heavy shrug. “Nah. Just sorta waffled at them.”
“Oh. Well, then.” Mary began typing on the computer once more. “You see, the main problem we have here is that we don’t have much provable work experience to assign you an ideal career.”
“If you don’t mind my own input,” Jack said, with a smirk on his face. “I think you’ll find you don’t need much work experience to put these guns to good use.”
Jack brought up his right arm into a flex, showing off his muscles. As he did, the middle button on his white business shirt groaned under strain, popping off and hitting Mary directly on the forehead.
It took her by surprise, but as she recovered, she noticed that Jack was wearing something under the white shirt — a bright blue shirt with a gold shield emblazoned on the front. She caught the red letters ‘JM’ proudly displayed across the shield before Jack pulled his shirt together again in a panic.
“Oh my god,” Mary said, bringing a hand to her mouth. “You’re Justice Man.”
“No!” Jack said, closing his arms around himself. “No, it’s a…it’s a costume! For a party I’m going to after this. So don’t have any funny ideas about me actually–”
On this word, Jack pointed a finger at Mary. As he did, a grappling hook branded with the JM letters shot out of his wrist, parted Mary’s hair, and embedding itself into the wall behind her.
“Uhm,” Mary said, her face white. “Nice costume.”
Jack stared stunned for a few seconds. He opened his mouth to argue his corner, but it ended in a sigh. “Alright, fine. The last five years I’ve been fighting bad guys, solving crimes and being a paragon of humanity. I also have eye-lasers, if anyone’s hiring for those.”
“But why on earth are you applying for a job? Aren’t you supposed to be fighting Doctor Deviance and all the other villains?”
“Villain market crashed.” Jack placed a magazine on the counter. It was a copy of Schemer’s Monthly, with a picture of a sad-looking Doctor Deviance on the cover. The headline read Cheats Never Prosper: Is Villainy Now A Poor Career Choice?
“Superheroes like me are getting better at their jobs, meaning that villains pouring millions into death rays and moon bases and islands shaped like skulls are seeing no financial returns. Nobody is in the villain business, which means we’re out of our own.”
“Have you tried policing?”
“The police force know my real face, given the nature of my work. After the little situation with a police dog and me throwing an Explosive Stick of Justice, they don’t like me any more.”
Mary tapped the end of a pencil against her chin. “So you’re looking for work, thinking of axing your superhero alias due to poor prospects, and don’t want to reveal yourself as the identity behind Justice Man. You know what I think? All you need is a little rebranding.”
“Rebranding?” Jack said. “What do you mean by that?”
“You mean you didn’t know?” Susan said, leaning over the restaurant’s table. “This place almost went out of business until they got Justice Man in as a waiter. Now everyone’s wanting a table.”
“Really?” Gareth said, looking around. “No wonder this place went from nothing to packed in a week. Still, I would have thought they’d show off Justice Man a little more, but I haven’t seen his face since we got–“
Two plates slammed onto the table, causing both patrons to jump. They turned to see Justice Man in full suit, holding an impossible pyramid of meals in his arms and balanced on his shoulders. “Sorry for the delay,” he said. “Full night.”
“That’s quite alright,” Gareth said, “but I’m afraid I ordered my steak well-done, not medium rare. Do you mind if you–“
“Certainly!” Justice Man said. Two red lasers shot out from his eyes, setting Gareth’s steak alight with a small fwoomph. He then stormed off clattering with his plates, saying “The day is saved” as he went.
Both of them stared at the steak as it crackled softly. “I’m still paying the tip,” Gareth said. “That was pretty awesome.”