Clean Up

David entered the High Five bar and walked to his normal spot on the far end. The bartender placed a beer and a shot in front of him. In a smooth motion, David had half the beer  gone, then sucked the shot down in one gulp. The bartender, being quick, had a second shot to replace the empty glass. David sighed, placed his elbows on the bar, then looked at the TV.

“Glory hounds and sell outs.” His lips moved, but his voice didn’t carry far.

On the screen several members of Atlanta Justice dashed around. Two shot blasts, while another swooped in with a car, smashing it into the hulking figure they were fighting. Behemoth had decided to destroy part of Atlanta and the cops could’t touch him. This meant Atlanta Justice would receive a fat paycheck from the good citizens of Atlanta and the surrounding areas.

This was when the voice kicked in.

Hey! We were offered a spot on their team. You turned them down.

David turned his head from the TV. “Quiet you.” The mutter carried about three feet, but no further. The bartender had just stepped away to give a server her drinks, so no one heard a word.

Turning back to the news broadcast, David saw the end of the fight. Dandelion had gotten close enough to employ her scent powers and knocked Behemoth on his rear end. The rest of the team followed up with restraints. The news reporter went on to congratulate the team and noted that minimal damage was caused by the team itself. In the background David saw the Howard Clean-up trucks pull in.

“That is where the money is. Clean up.”

You have that job. You just don’t want to clean up after supers.

“It takes too long to pick their mess up,” David muttered into his beer mug.

Instead you work on the toxic wastes and other messes that cause more harm.

“I’m immune to that stuff. Besides, if I do it, no one else gets sick.”

A few seconds went by.

“That shut you up.” David grinned and sipped part of his second shot.

That wasn’t your fault.

“Shut it.” David’s tone progressed from a mutter to a quiet growl. A server looked at him as she passed by. He glanced at her, then turned back to the TV.

It wasn’t. You did everything you could. You’re not like me, you need to use equipment and tools.

David finished his beer then singled for another.

Stop beating yourself up over that. It was twelve years ago.

“You could have helped.” David finished his remaining shot.

I was young, inexperienced. We didn’t know what we know now.

“See where that got us?” David swallowed a mouth full of beer. “A one bedroom on the outer area of the ghetto. An ex-wife with my two kids, that I’m not allowed to see. And alimony that takes a third of my paycheck.” David’s voice rose enough that several people looked at him. He coughed to cover it, then hunched over his drink.

Look. I have already apologized for that. I can’t keep apologizing. I also can’t fix it.

“Yeah. No one can.”

The sound of tires screeching, then a high rev of an engine carried into the bar.

Several people outside screamed.

David looked at the door. We should check that out.

“No.”

Gunshots erupted followed by more screaming. The patrons in the bar cast wary glances at windows and the door. The bartender was talking into the phone.

David felt the familiar tingle. Checking his hands, he saw they were expanding.

“I said, no!” David slammed his fist on the bar. A good dent appeared in the hard wood surface.

Tires squealed outside. The sound of a speeding car faded then was replaced by a crashing sound.

David. We need to check that out!”

A young girl’s voice screamed. “Daddy! Daddy!” The sound of loud wails and sobs slammed into David’s ears.

“Damnit!”

Yes!

Getting to his feet, David fished out a twenty, a five, and tossed them on the bar. The tingle started again and spread over his body. When he turned to the center of the room, his hair went from black to light brown and lengthened. His body grew six inches by the time he pushed the door open. The jacket was no longer loose on him. Outside, his grey eyes changed to deep blue.
“Don’t worry David. I got this.” The man, wearing David’s clothes dashed for the crashed car with gunmen climbing from it. He fit a mask over his head as he ran.

Just don’t make a mess. I hate cleaning up after heroes.

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