LNH: Easily-Discovered Man #46

EDM Lite dreadpirate72 at netzero.com
Sun May 21 23:32:59 PDT 2006

Take two...

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

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

     Captured while taking part in a focus group, Easily-Discovered
Man, Easily-Discovered Man Lite and Cynical Lass are forced to do
battle with 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

     Though Cynical Lass is able to subdue the monster by drawing upon
her 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
to the Legion of Net.Heroes, which recently celebrated its 14th
anniversary.  It's hard to believe that 14 years ago, the World Wide
Web did not exist, George H.W. Bush seemed like a shoo-in for a second
term, and the future Mrs. Tom Cruise was 14 years old.

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


10). Still able to leap tall buildings, but find that it now
takes two 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
dragged 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 women.

      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 of 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
pretty good jellybeans.  A seven-foot monster made of living syrup who
takes over my boss' mind, causing him to try to murder me.  And Uma
Thurman in form-fitting activewear.  I tell you, Cyn, these really are
the best of times."

        "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
chest. "The last seven men I dated tried to get possessive with me.
Three of them are still in hospital."

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

        "I suppose we shall have to defeat it then, before it fully
awakens."  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
sweetly-popping monstrosity to stare at me.

        "I now understand the nature of our friendship," Cynical Lass
said.  "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,
though 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
Lass 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,"
the 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 vile..."

        "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
around the syrup-stained ruins of the conference room for something to
use against the creature, which had now sprouted another arm.  "It was
just a suggestion.  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
credit 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
tempered steel by those indomitable souls whose courage and virtue even
now informs our..."

        "Right, right, I get that," I said.  Two eyestalks emerged from
the 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.  People get powers, or they don't, in my case.  They run into
something evil, and 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
legs 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 avert 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
is, and what the purpose of one might be, before you to decide to
become one.  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
hand brushed against a metal cylinder, and I grabbed it.  "You're
saying that 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
said.  "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, "then you can, if you choose, change yourself in order to become
a super-hero."

        He lowered his arm.  The G.L.U.R.G.E had begun to rise.  "But
once 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 very concept of what a super-hero is.  Your every action
enlarges the definition, 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,
but 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
toward the mall entrance.  I couldn't tell whether people were
applauding because we'd defeated the monster, or because they'd heard
the Prof's speech, or because they thought we were rehearsing for the
Legion of Net.Heroes movie, or because Cynical Lass had torn her
sweatshirt in the fight.  In any case, 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
Easily-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 Lass agreed to come with me.

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

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

        "You know what I mean," she said, reaching out with her foot to
try 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 one 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.
"Where was Substitute Lad today?"

        "It's a long story," I said.  "So, okay.  We fall into a
routine.  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

        "I don't know," Cynical Lass said.  Behind her, through the
long 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.
When she smiled -- which wasn't often, which was probably why it
occurred to me 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 weird.  It actually looked -- well, not beautiful, maybe,
but maybe pretty, if you were into that sort of thing.

        "Have you ever noticed," she said, "that almost all of the
super-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
Net.ropolis to take a teaching position somewhere.  Sig.Lad had died.
Swordmaster had written a novel that I kept meaning to read.  I hadn't
heard from Decibel Dude in months, and Glitch Girl had gone to work for

        "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
always be Easily-Discovered Man, and there's something very comforting
about that."

        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 to getting from anyone.  "What are you going to be?  Are you
going to university 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.
"Getting back together with the InterKnights?"

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

        "Uh, yeah," I said.  "Of course.  Hey, look at that!  Some kind
of 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
chance to talk to you like this, just the two of us.  And there's
something I've 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
mine.  "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
vintage 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
half-second 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
red "B" slipped beneath the waves.  "My grandfather gave me that hat in
1986, 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.
"You know, of all the Legionnaires, you're the one with the most
flexibility in deciding the kind of person you want to be."

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

        "You're not listening," she said.  "Cliche Dude is always going
to walk around speaking in cliches.  Cheesecake Eater Lad is always
going to 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.
"Are you actually blushing?"

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

        "Well, for starters... hold on," I said, as my cell phone began
ringing.  "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
back to the subway?"

        Cynical Lass rolled her eyes.  "Was that Summer, then?  Are you
late 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
her.  I happen to like her, you know."

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

        "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
Cynical 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
a man who approached her with a cigarette lighter.  "Hector!  Come back
here, 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,
after all.  But as bad as things with Summer had gotten, she still
wanted to date me, most of the time, and that put her in a different
category from any of the other women I knew.

        That was the trouble with people like Cynical Lass -- and the
Prof, for that matter, I thought, as I paid my fare and headed for the
platform.  People were always telling me I had options, whether they
were talking about 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 life full of possibilities might seem like a
great thing to somebody else, but to me it felt like someone had given
me a watch with a million functions 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
"N-derground") was one of the world's safest, its subterranean tubes
triple-reinforced against earthquakes, burrowing super-villains, giant
mechanical worms and the construction of new sub-sub-basements for
Legion headquarters.  Subway crime had dropped in recent years, Morlock
sightings were few and far between, and really the only terrible thing
about the subway was that it 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
the Russell line, and I knew what car that was.  I swallowed, made up
my mind, and walked toward the empty car.  The conductor grabbed my

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

        "I'll be okay," I said, holding up a crumpled dollar bill.
"I've 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 the 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 empty eyes, shouting incomprehensible babble that grew in
intensity as the ride 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 it didn't do any good to take it

        He told me about all the stories he'd heard about the old woman
when 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
because 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
train, and the walls just kind of recorded it," he said.  "It happens
sometimes.  It's nothing to be afraid of.  There are worse things in
the world to be afraid of."

        Jose also told me what to do when you rode the car, and when to
do it.  If you held out your dollar at the beginning of her tirade, she
became 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 tried 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.  I never did find out where the dollars went.

        This time, however, she didn't.  She took the dollar, all
right, 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
and old, old cigarettes on her breath.  "He GOT her, understand?  You
got to HELP HER!"

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

        I was still shaking when the doors opened at Fourth Street.  A
tall 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!
But all in a day's work, I suppose, for an eminent super-hero sidekick
such as yourself."

        "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
Perhap, and I've been sent here to ruin your life."

        TO BE CONTINUED...
        NEXT ISSUE: What profound perfidity will Professor Perhap
perpetrate?  Isn't he supposed to be dead?  What is the meaning of the
subway ghost's warning?  Where was Lite going on the subway, anyway?
Wasn't Substitute Lad supposed to show up in this episode?  Has this
series really been going downhill since episode #25?  Will it take the
author two years to churn out another issue?  Check your Magic 8-Ball
for the answers, because only a few 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
words and to everyone else who's kept the dream alive for all these

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

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