LNH: Easily-Discovered Man #46

EDM Lite dreadpirate72 at netzero.com
Sun May 21 19:19:07 PDT 2006

    Doused with microwave radiation, Theodore Wong gained the ability
to glow
and be detected at great distances by anyone with a Geiger counter.
with his sidekick Lite, his intern Cynical Lass, and fellow hero
Lad, Wong wages a constant battle against the forces of corruption,
and common sense as the fabulous EASILY-DISCOVERED MAN.

-----Previously on "The Adventures of Easily-Discovered

     Captured while taking part in a focus group, Easily-Discovered
Easily-Discovered Man Lite and Cynical Lass are forced to do battle
the G.L.U.R.G.E (Gelatinous Living Ultra-Reassuring Genetic Entity),
a diabolically heartwarming creature made from living syrup, by Uma
Thurman, who is reading for the role of the villainous Waffle Queen.

     Though Cynical Lass is able to subdue the monster by drawing upon
romantic past, the team is horrified to discover that the G.L.U.R.G.E
might not be defeated after all...

     Before continuing, however, the author would like to tip his cap
the Legion of Net.Heroes, which recently celebrated its 14th
It's hard to believe that 14 years ago, the World Wide Web did not
George H.W. Bush seemed like a shoo-in for a second term, and the
Mrs. Tom Cruise was 14 years old.

     But while the LNH and its authors may be aging gracefully, the
cannot always be said for its heroes.  Sooner or later, every
begins to see the signs: the sagging Spandex, the lack of respect from
up-and-coming heroes younger than his former sidekicks, the sputtering
of his power ring during particularly awkward moments.  After 14 years,
even the intrepid Easily-Discovered Man may finally have to recognize


     10). Still able to leap tall buildings, but find that it now takes
          or three bounds.

      9). You've recently upgraded to a sexy new:

          a). Car

          b). Sidekick

          c). Leather jumpsuit with nipples

          d). All of the above

      8). You think back to your early years -- when your worst enemy
          threw your girlfriend from a bridge, unmasked you, and
          you helplessly through the streets of your city -- and find
          yourself wishing life could be that simple again.

      7). Your alter ego has evolved from an angry green monster to a
          crafty grey monster to a sullen, sepia-toned monster who sits
          around listening to jazz records and pining for younger

      6). A Hollywood studio finally makes a big-budget movie about
          your life and career, and they choose Keanu Reeves to play

      5). Mutant healing factor can't check the onset of male pattern

      4). There's a thin line between "feline femme fatale"
          and "crazy cat lady," and you've crossed it.

      3). Your parents and friends are always going on about how the
          Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-C and even the Bizarro World versions
          you are better-looking and more successful than you are.

      2). A group of young punks calling itself "The New [name of your
          super-team]" steals all of your arch-foes away from you.

      1). Someone has to explain to you that the super-soldier serum
          you took 60 years ago isn't the same thing as "natural male


        And now, we present episode #46 of "The Adventures of Easily-
Discovered Man," still crazy after all these years.
                The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man #46
                             "Mood Indigo"
                Plot:                                   Script:
             Rob Rogers                               Rob Rogers

        "H H
         H Here we are again at last," I said.  "Good friends.  Some
good jellybeans.  A seven-foot monster made of living syrup who takes
my boss' mind, causing him to try to murder me.  And Uma Thurman in
fitting activewear.  I tell you, Cyn, these really are the best of

        "Are you mad?" Cynical Lass asked, then thought better of the
question.  She held up a finger.  "One moment.  Let me ask that in a
different way.  Do you not realize that this thing is still alive, and
that it's going to be coming for our throats any second now?"

        The Prof beamed, the way he always did whenever Cynical Lass
and I
spoke in exposition.  "Magnificent!" he said, rubbing his gloved hands
together.  "Having been possessed, I missed our last combat with the
creature entirely.  Perhaps one of the two of you would be good enough
to be
commandeered by our vicious, viscous foe this round?"

        "I will NOT," Cynical Lass said, folding her arms over her
"The last seven men I dated tried to get possessive with me.  Three of
are still in hospital."

        The black outer crust encasing the G.L.U.R.G.E cracked, and two
tendrils of steam, smelling like someone's overcooked breakfast, hissed
from within.

        "I suppose we shall have to defeat it then, before it fully
The Prof sighed, disappointed.  "Cynical Lass.  Have you any more
unfortunate tales of your dating life you can use against this

        "None that I'm comfortable sharing at the moment," she said.

        "It's true," I said.  "I've read her blog.  They'd be pretty
effective at keeping men away, but not much use against a monster."

        A pale, caramel-colored liquid pooled at the edge of the
fissure and
began to bubble.

        "Lite?" the Prof asked.

        "He's got nothing," Cynical Lass said.

        "That's not true!  I have Summer, a girlfriend who..."

        "...keeps you on a very short leash.  Period, quotation mark."

        A tiny, three-pronged clawlike hand burst from the top of the
blackened mound, reaching toward the fluorescent lights above our

        "A plan, at this point, would be most useful," the Prof said.

        "I suppose I could just eat it," I said.

        Easily-Discovered Man and Cynical Lass turned away from the
popping monstrosity to stare at me.

        "I now understand the nature of our friendship," Cynical Lass
"Because I am completely, utterly and entirely grossed out by what you
just said.  And yet I can't help but be intrigued."

        "Out of the question!" the Prof thundered.  "Yon creature,
it be foul, though it be deadly, though it be conceived in the fiendish
womb of one of the most evil minds ever to cogitate upon this planet,
though it be forged from that which e'en now poisons the growth of our
children in schools across our fair land..."

        "Did he just say 'conceived in the womb of a mind?' " Cynical
asked.  "I think that's even more disgusting than what you said."

        "...even so, this gelatinous G.L.U.R.G.E is a sentient being,"
Prof finished, shooting me the filthiest of dirty looks.  "And it is
not in
the nature of a champion of justice to devour another sentient, however

        "And tasty," I added.

        "...yes, and tasty it might be.  Speak not of it again!"

        "Don't get your tights in a twist, Prof," I said, looking
the syrup-stained ruins of the conference room for something to use
the creature, which had now sprouted another arm.  "It was just a
Besides, we're super-heroes, right?  It's not like we have a prime
directive or anything.  We're supposed to wing it."

        "This would explain why my adviser doesn't want to give me
for this internship," Cynical Lass said.

        "We are not 'winging it,' " the Prof said, placing his hands on
his hips and glowering at me.  "The profession of super-hero is an
honorable one, dating back almost seventy years, and was forged in
steel by those indomitable souls whose courage and virtue even now

        "Right, right, I get that," I said.  Two eyestalks emerged from
pile of Glurge with a light "shloop"ing sound.  "But it's not as though
there's a rulebook we get handed as soon as we decide to do this.
get powers, or they don't, in my case.  They run into something evil,
get into a fight with it.  Furniture gets broken, people get tied up,
we all have a few laughs, and if we're lucky we stop whoever it is from
doing whatever it is they want to do, and the world is saved."

        "Actually," said Cynical Lass, who was prying one of the metal
loose from a broken chair, "the whole existence of super-villains is
nothing more than a government plot.  The people in charge know that if
those of us with extraordinary abilities weren't constantly trying to
some crisis or other, we'd probably..."

        "Kill each other before the afternoon was out," I suggested.

        "Now listen, and attend well," the Prof said, shaking a glowing
finger at me.  "It is all very well to speculate on what a super-hero
and what the purpose of one might be, before you to decide to become
Once you have made that choice, however, the question is moot, and your
only concern should be for the kind of super-hero you want to be."

        "I'm listening," I said, rooting around inside a cabinet.  My
brushed against a metal cylinder, and I grabbed it.  "You're saying
we're not just here to fight evil.  We're supposed to be role models."

        "That is not what I am saying at all," Easily-Discovered Man
"When you are on the other side of this wall," he said, pointing to the
thin layer of plaster that separated us from the rest of the mall,
you can, if you choose, change yourself in order to become a

        He lowered his arm.  The G.L.U.R.G.E had begun to rise.  "But
you cross over to this side of the wall, then what you do as a super-
hero no longer merely affects yourself.  It defines and determines the
concept of what a super-hero is.  Your every action enlarges the
and sets the bar that much higher, or lower, for those who are to come
after you."

        "Professor Wong, look out!" Cynical Lass screamed.

        The Prof turned.  The G.L.U.R.G.E charged.  And I emptied the
contents of the fire extinguisher I'd found into its midsection,
freezing it
once again into an immobile chunk.

        "There, now," the Prof said.  "Still vandalism, technically,
does that not feel better?"

        About two hundred people applauded when the three of us emerged
from the battered conference room and carried the frozen G.L.U.R.G.E
the mall entrance.  I couldn't tell whether people were applauding
we'd defeated the monster, or because they'd heard the Prof's speech,
because they thought we were rehearsing for the Legion of Net.Heroes
or because Cynical Lass had torn her sweatshirt in the fight.  In any
it felt good, and I wished Summer had been there to hear it.

        We helped the Prof load the G.L.U.R.G.E into the back of the
Discovered Van.  He offered to give me a ride, but it was a warm day,
and I
wanted to walk across the McCoskey Bridge back to Net.ropolis.  Cynical
agreed to come with me.

        "Do you ever get tired of doing the same thing all the time?"

        "Which part?" I asked, kicking a crushed, empty Mr. Paprika can
along the sidewalk. "The part where we get attacked by breakfast foods?
the part where you're able to turn your past relationships into a
Because both of those still feel kind of novel to me."

        "You know what I mean," she said, reaching out with her foot to
and steal the can away from me.  I held on to it.  "We end up in these
situations, facing something that seems different but turns out to be
of you and the Professor's old enemies.  You make some stupid jokes,
Easily-Discovered Man makes a speech, I get really pissed off, and
Substitute Lad..." She stopped, and I nearly tripped over her leg.
was Substitute Lad today?"

        "It's a long story," I said.  "So, okay.  We fall into a
It's not like we're sitting at desks or something.  I mean, look at Kid
Citrus.  Nothing against the guy, he's great with a grapefruit and all,
but would you want to give up doing this to work in retail?"

        "I don't know," Cynical Lass said.  Behind her, through the
strands of cable that held the bridge in place, stood Net.ropolis,
colorful and crazy and chaotic and beautiful.  Cynical Lass brushed the
hair out of her eyes, squinted a little at the sunshine in her face.
she smiled -- which wasn't often, which was probably why it occurred to
at that moment -- you noticed that one of her teeth was turned just a
little bit the wrong way.  But not in a way that made her mouth look
It actually looked -- well, not beautiful, maybe, but maybe pretty, if
were into that sort of thing.

        "Have you ever noticed," she said, "that almost all of the
heroes we know are either our age, or younger?"

        I thought about the heroes I'd known.  Sarcastic Lad and Master
Blaster, my role models for the swinging super-hero bachelor life, had
married and settled down, more or less.  Particle Man had left
to take a teaching position somewhere.  Sig.Lad had died.  Swordmaster
written a novel that I kept meaning to read.  I hadn't heard from
Dude in months, and Glitch Girl had gone to work for MicroSoft.

        "People change, I guess," I said, feeling the warm wind whip
past me
as cars rumbled across the bridge.  "Doesn't mean everything has to."

        "No, of course not," she said.  "Easily-Discovered Man will
be Easily-Discovered Man, and there's something very comforting about

        She looked at me.  It wasn't quite as intense a look as when
she was
using her powers on someone, but it was more of a look than I was used
getting from anyone.  "What are you going to be?  Are you going to
next year?"

        I let my foot fly and launched the can halfway down the bridge.
"Thought about it," I said.  "I got in at Dave Thomas Deluxe.  I guess
having my own spatula really impressed them."

        "My visa runs out in June," she said.  "I'll be going back to
London.  I've actually started looking forward to it."

        "I see," I said, looking past her shoulder at the city.
back together with the InterKnights?"

        "I don't know," she said.  "I've been Cynical Lass for so long
sometimes I wonder whether the people who know me even think of me by
real name."

        She placed a finger under my chin, turning my head around so
that I
faced her.  "You do know what my real name is, don't you, Hector?"

        "Uh, yeah," I said.  "Of course.  Hey, look at that!  Some kind
hovering orb is attacking the city!"

        She grabbed me by the sleeves of my T-shirt.  "There's always a
hovering orb attacking the city," she said.  "But I hardly ever get a
to talk to you like this, just the two of us.  And there's something
been wanting to do since the moment I met you."

        "There is?" I stammered.

        "Oh yes," she said, pulling me closer.  Her eyes locked on
"You can't believe how much I've wanted to do this."

        I closed my eyes...

        ...and felt Cynical Lass slide her long fingers beneath my
Boston Red Sox baseball cap, remove it from my head, and launch it over
the side of the bridge, where it fluttered in the wind for a
before plunging into the ocean.

        "My hat!" I screamed.  "My lucky hat!"

        "What a rush!" she said, lighting a cigarette.  "So rarely does
something happen that's exactly as satisfying as you think it's going
to be."

        "I can't believe you did that," I said, watching as the faded
"B" slipped beneath the waves.  "My grandfather gave me that hat in
the year the ball went through Buckner's legs.  He told me never to
take it
off until the Red Sox won the World Series."

        "But the Red Sox did win the World Series."

        "Exactly," I said.  "I figured if my hat could do that, it was
capable of anything.  I wasn't ever going to take it off."

        "Look at this as a chance to re-invent yourself," she said.
know, of all the Legionnaires, you're the one with the most flexibility
deciding the kind of person you want to be."

        "Apparently, I'm not allowed to choose the kind of hat I want

        "You're not listening," she said.  "Cliche Dude is always going
walk around speaking in cliches.  Cheesecake Eater Lad is always going
bake cheesecakes.  Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive-Lass... well, you know.
And I'm always going to be Cynical Lass.  But you..."

        "Joy," I said.


        "Your real name is Joy," I said.

        "Who told you?"

        "I asked Excitable Boy back when we were in London," I said.
you actually blushing?"

        "No, I'm not blushing," she said, turning a deeper shade of
"So what else did Excitable Boy say about me?"

        "Well, for starters... hold on," I said, as my cell phone began
ring.  "I'm on my way," I said, after checking to see who it was.

        "Was that Easily-Discovered Man?" Cynical Lass asked.

        "No," I said.  "Listen, I need to get going.  Are you headed
to the subway?"

        Cynical Lass rolled her eyes.  "Was that Summer, then?  Are you
for a date, or does she have you running errands for her now?"

        "It's not Summer," I said.  "And I wish you'd quit picking on
I happen to like her, you know."

        "Because she looks like someone who's trying to look like

        "No, because she treats me differently than anybody else."

        "Like a doormat, you mean?"

        "I guess you're right," I said.  "You are always going to be
Lass.  I hope that works out for you."

        I walked, alone, to the end of the bridge.

        "Lite!  Liiiiite!  No, not you," Cynical Lass said, waving away
man who approached her with a cigarette lighter.  "Hector!  Come back
you #@$%^&?!"

        I felt like an #@$%^&? as I walked into the subway.  I hadn't
meant to snap at Cynical Lass.  She was probably right about Summer,
all.  But as bad as things with Summer had gotten, she still wanted to
me, most of the time, and that put her in a different category from any
the other women I knew.

        That was the trouble with people like Cynical Lass -- and the
for that matter, I thought, as I paid my fare and headed for the
People were always telling me I had options, whether they were talking
women or being a super-hero or being anything other than a super-hero.
But they never bothered to explain what those options were.  Having a
full of possibilities might seem like a great thing to somebody else,
to me it felt like someone had given me a watch with a million
and no instruction booklet.  All the opportunities in the world
wouldn't do
me a damn bit of good if I had no way of knowing what they were.

        The Net.ropolis subway system (sometimes called the
was one of the world's safest, its subterranean tubes triple-reinforced
against earthquakes, burrowing super-villains, giant mechanical worms
the construction of new sub-sub-basements for Legion headquarters.
crime had dropped in recent years, Morlock sightings were few and far
between, and really the only terrible thing about the subway was that
was impossible to find a seat.

        So I was surprised when the train pulled up to the end of the
platform with the last car empty.  Then I remembered that I was riding
Russell line, and I knew what car that was.  I swallowed, made up my
and walked toward the empty car.  The conductor grabbed my hand.

        "You sure you want to do that, son?" he asked.

        "I'll be okay," I said, holding up a crumpled dollar bill.
got my dollar."

        "Suit yourself," he said, and I entered the car.

        A few of the passengers in the next car peered through the
glass at
me, but none of them made a move to join me.  I stretched out across
seats and waited.

        The screaming began about halfway to the next stop.  At first
it was
just a voice -- a high-pitched, wailing woman's voice -- and then she
appeared: a heavy-set African-American woman with wild grey hair and
eyes, shouting incomprehensible babble that grew in intensity as the
continued.  The first time I'd seen her, I'd thought she was yelling at
me.  My brother, who'd been with me, told me that wasn't the case, that
she yelled the same stuff at every person who rode that car, and that
didn't do any good to take it personally.

        He told me about all the stories he'd heard about the old woman
he was in high school: how she'd been shot, or worse, while riding the
subway, how she was screaming for her grandson or a police officer or
someone to save her, how they'd never found the body.

        "Why do you think that is?" I'd asked him.

        "You want to know why?" Jose said.  "I'll tell you.  It's
she's still alive.  I've seen her, sometimes, pushing a shopping cart
around Molixville.  She looks older in real life."

        "How is that possible?" I'd asked.

        "I think she just had a real bad argument with someone on this
and the walls just kind of recorded it," he said.  "It happens
It's nothing to be afraid of.  There are worse things in the world to
afraid of."

        Jose also told me what to do when you rode the car, and when to
it.  If you held out your dollar at the beginning of her tirade, she
insulted, and launched into you even worse.  If you didn't have a
dollar at
all, he said, she might even follow you out of the subway.  I'd never
that.  The trick was to hold out your dollar just after you passed the
17th Street stop, and then she'd stop shouting, smile, and disappear.
never did find out where the dollars went.

        This time, however, she didn't.  She took the dollar, all
and smiled, as she always did.  But then she looked at me -- and I
could tell
she was really looking at me -- and she stopped smiling.

        "You got to help her," she said.  "He got her."

        I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out.  This is what
happens when somebody throws your lucky hat from a bridge, I thought.

        "You got to HELP her," she said, and I could smell stale food
old, old cigarettes on her breath.  "He GOT her, understand?  You got

        She reached for me.  I flinched -- and she was gone.

        I was still shaking when the doors opened at Fourth Street.  A
grey-haired man, almost as thin as the Prof, entered the car, placed a
leather briefcase on the ground, and smoothed out the lapels of a tweed
jacket.  He smiled at me through a thin, wispy beard.

        "I see you've taken care of the ghost," he said.  "Marvellous!
all in a day's work, I suppose, for an eminent super-hero sidekick such

        "Do I know you?" I asked.

        "Quite possibly," he said, handing me his business card.  "I've
worked with quite a few of your colleagues.  My name is Professor
and I've been sent here to ruin your life."

        TO BE CONTINUED...
        NEXT ISSUE: What profound perfidity will Professor Perhap
Isn't he supposed to be dead?  What is the meaning of the subway
warning?  Where was Lite going on the subway, anyway?  Wasn't
Lad supposed to show up in this episode?  Has this series really been
downhill since episode #25?  Will it take the author two years to churn
another issue?  Check your Magic 8-Ball for the answers, because only a
will be revealed in an episode the NSA already knows we're calling
"The Life You Wreck May Be Your Own."

        CHARACTERS: Easily-Discovered Man, Easily-Discovered Man
Lite, Cynical Lass, Substitute Lad, the Waffle Queen, and the
G.L.U.R.G.E are (c) Rob Rogers.  Professor Perhap is (c) Mike Friedman.

        SPECIAL THANKS: to Tom Russell for his kind and thoughtful
and to everyone else who's kept the dream alive for all these years.

        "He who does not fill his world with phantoms remains alone."
        -- Antonio Porchia

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