Klaus Trofobia by Debbie Weiss
“Klaus, honey, your supper is ready. Come on downstairs.” Klaus was in his room in front of his computer, his favorite spot. He was studying the local news clips from the surrounding area. He had his big book of maps at his desk and was searching for local crime scenes. Klaus loved crime and intrigue. He had a huge scanner radio similar to the ones the police used. Klaus read up on the police lingo and soon was able to decipher the different codes. “Honey, your stew is getting cold.” Shouted his mother from downstairs. “Yeah yeah.” Klaus muttered to himself. “Not hungry.” He whispered.
His mother did not understand him at all. He was in his late thirties, he still lived at home, was a very shy and quiet young man. He stayed in his room all the time until his mother forced him to get a job. So he finally did and applied for the bagger job at the neighborhood “Buy All” market. Klaus wore his navy blue slacks which his mother still ironed for him. He felt comfortable in his brown scuffed loafers since he had to stand for his entire eight hour shift. He wore a starched white collar shirt and a red and white striped apron. The final touch, a name badge which he proudly wore. That was his uniform during the day. He was thought of as mild mannered Klaus.
On Friday nights, it was a different story. He would turn into Mr. Kevin the Magnificent. When he noticed the last light go off from his mother’s bedroom down the hall, he would begin. He would crawl out of his second story bedroom window. He had a sturdy rope hanging from the tall oak tree outside the window. He would reel in the rope with a fishing pole and shimmy down the wall with his feet like he was Spider Man, one of his favorite hero’s. Klaus was infatuated with Superhero’s. He had hung his favorite comic strip characters all over his wall. He wanted to be like the man in the fancy suit that got the bad guys and got the girls but he was so shy. So instead he went to the “Wear It from me” thrift store and created his own costume. He wore a one piece yellow jumpsuit which made him look like a cross between Elvis and Liberace. He had on black rubber boots and a silver cape. Not exactly like the suave man in the comic strip but he had gotten everything for $5.00. To complete his ensemble, he bought a black face mask that resembled the Long Rangers and a tight white swim cap to cover up his full head of hair. He would jump onto his old Schwin bike and head out to fight crime.
One night while out on patrol, Klaus dressed as Mr. Kevin, wondered into the convenience store next to the gas station. He wanted some gum. A friend of his named Mitch worked there. But Klaus’s costume was so convincing, not even his friend knew it was him. As he entered the store, Klaus saw a young punk teenager holding a gun on Mitch. Klaus tapped the teen on the shoulder and when the teen turned around to see who was tapping at him; Klaus immediately went into a full Karate stance. The kid took one look at Klaus in his bright yellow uniform and said, “Hey buddy if you don’t get outta here, I’m going to kick your ass.” Klaus stood as still as a statue, not even a flinch.
The teen started to laugh so hard that Mitch grabbed a bottle of booze and knocked the kid out. White Mitch was calling the police; Klaus threw down a dollar and twenty nine cents for his spearmint gum and ran out the door. Mitch had trouble explaining what happened when the police got there. “No really, the guy in the yellow jumpsuit.” The police knew of some costumed stranger but had not ever seen him. Klaus rescued cats from trees, dogs from abusive owners; he found a bracelet from a missing girl in some tall weeds one day while riding his bike and that led police to locating here. Klaus knew he did good work. But he was too frightened to let anyone know it was him.
Klaus finally turned off his computer and headed down to dinner, to his cold stew. His mother handed him an envelope. It was hand written on the outside with just the letter K in yellow. Klaus opened the envelope as he slurped down the stew. I know who you are and thank-you was all the note said. Then Klaus noticed a drawing inside the envelope. It was of him in his costume and mask. It looked just like a comic strip drawing. Klaus smiled as he finished his dinner. He got up quickly. “No dessert?” His mother asked. “Not now.” Said Klaus, as he ran up the stairs to his room. He got out a thump tack and placed the drawing next to the Mr. Travers comic strip. The newest super hero, he smiled to himself. It’s me.
Although slightly anachronistic I think Debbie Weiss’ story is the winner mainly because he made me think of the Seinfeld joke, “That every man thinks that he could become a superhero, all he needs is the training.” I also like how the Weiss’s story seemed like a kinder gentler version of the film “Kick Ass.”
Very close on Weiss’ heels were the other three stories.
“The Twilight Zone,” “Tales by Saki” and Roald Dahl’s “Tales of the Unexpected” all came to mind in Royce Ratterman’s “Street Level.” I really liked how Ratterman gave a sense of San Francisco in a sort of alternate 1930’s world in which Chinese Americans spoke in an accent that I suspect never really happened.
Klaus Trofobia – Like Lichtenstein by Gigi DeVault had a cute art historical comic book reference that made me laugh.
Anthony Galica’s story was a very “Twighlight Zone” homage with a bit of “Sybil” thrown in for good measure.
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