LNH: Easily-Discovered Man #49 (2/2)

EDMLite robrogers72 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 10 19:59:34 PST 2007

    I sounded significantly less confident fifteen minutes

later, as the Prof and I drove back to Legion headquarters in

the Easily-Discovered Van.

    "And now you've got me making promises to super-villains?" I

said, trying to make myself heard over the sound of the

Professor's Manu Chao CD.  "What makes you think either of us

even knows how to investigate a murder?"

    Professor Wong sighed.  "You are, of course, correct, Lite.

In truth I fear I am sorely lacking in detective abilities.  And

yet I am even less capable of doing nothing."

    "In that case, don't you think we might be better off

leaving this one to the experts?"

    The Prof signaled before turning left on Scavenger Avenue.

"I sometimes feel that a reliance on experts is transforming

our society into one in which people are afraid to participate,"

he said.

    "Speaking as someone who's spent more than one afternoon

in the audience for the Jerry Springer show, I'm not sure that's

a bad thing," I said.

    "But it is, Lite, a danger of the very worst kind," Easily-

Discovered Man said.  "Consider the reaction of the nation to

the tragedy of September 11.  Or Hurricane Katrina.  Or the

earlier destruction of the city of Sig.ago.  Hundreds of

thousands of citizens willing to do whatever they could -- to

volunteer their time, their energy, their very lives -- only

to be told by their government that the situation was being

handled by professionals, that the best sacrifice they could

make was to send a check or indulge themselves at the shopping

mall.  Hundreds of thousands of potential heroes, turned into


    "I see your point, Prof," I said.  "But would you really

want thousands of untrained volunteers swarming over a disaster

scene, getting in the way of people who actually know what

they're doing?  To me, sending true believers into the face of

danger sounds a little too much like the kind of stuff Al-Qaeda


    "In the short term, it might well be a disaster," the Prof

replied, as the Easily-Discovered Van passed through the gates

of the Legion of Net.Heroes motor pool.  "In the long term,

however, I would infinitely prefer living in a nation of well-

meaning volunteers to living in one divided between those who

serve and those who shop in order to support them."

    The vehicle chugged to a halt near the back of the garage.

    "I don't understand you, Prof," I said.

    "I have long suspected this."

    "What I mean is... you've spent how many years now training

me to be a super-hero?  Telling me all kinds of stuff you say

I need to remember in order to do the job right?  And now you're

saying you think any Joe Blow off the street could do it just

as well?"

    "There is a difference of many orders of magnitude between

the concerned citizen who volunteers her aid in time of crisis

and a super-hero," the Prof said.

    "Really?" I said.  "You mean little things like super-

powers, a costume, maybe a merchandising deal with McFarlane..."

    "None of those things matters," Easily-Discovered Man said.

"The hero is the one who leads the way, who inspires others to

do what must be done. That, my soul-searching sidekick, is the

nature of the role I am preparing you to inherit."

    I stared at my sneakers.  "Ever think you've got the wrong


    The Prof clapped me on the shoulder.  "Never once," he

said, opening the door of the van.  "And neither should the law

enforcement community of this great city be amiss in finding

the vengeful spirit who has felled our greatest adversary!

Therefore, my constant companion in collaring crime, I shall

inquire of the greatest minds within these vaunted walls for

information on the consulting activities of our late foe."

    "You do that," I said.  "I'm going to check on Substitute

Lad.  Ever since Ultimate Ninja suspended him from the LNH for

accidentally frying the brain of that girl who made everyone

think they were gorillas, he's been moping around in his room."

    I stopped, and thought back over what I'd just said.

    "I really need to start hanging out with some normal people,"

I said.

    I found Substitute Lad straddling one corner of his bed, his

eyes glued to the 14-inch television on the other side of the

room.  The screen showed Ultimate Ninja, the leader of the LNH,

slaughtering a group of small children in bathing suits.

    "Holy crap!" I said.  "Did the boss just butcher the Society

of Pool Heroes?"

    "Only in a video," Substitute Lad said, pressing the pause

button on his remote control.  He'd let his beard grow out over

the last couple of days, but kept his new, energy-absorbing

costume on.  His hair looked greasy and disheveled.

    "I found a whole stack of these in the Peril Room library,"

Substitute Lad said, holding up a videotape labeled "UN vs. LNH."

"Apparently, every so often Ultimate Ninja will work off some

steam by taking on members of the Legion -- or sometimes, the

whole team -- in holographic combat.  I figured that watching

these tapes was the best way for me to learn how to duplicate

the powers of any member of the LNH."

    "There has to be a healthier way," I said, glancing at a

second stack of tapes.  "What are these?"

    "More Ultimate Ninja fight tapes, but with Master Blaster,

Sarcastic Lad and CAW providing 'Mystery Science Theater 3000'-

style commentary," Substitute Lad said.  "Too distracting."

    Substitute Lad's room was filled with well-thumbed training

manuals, super-villain case files and highlighted printouts from

the LNH Wikipedia entry.  I'd never realized how seriously Jack

Truman took his job -- to me, he'd always seemed more interested

in chasing girls and showing off than being a super-hero.

    "Any word on my suspension?" he asked.

    I shook my head.  "Not yet," I said.   "To be honest, with all

the fuss over people becoming leader for a day and then

disappearing, I don't think anyone's even reviewed your case.

On the other hand, if this keeps up, eventually you or I will

end up becoming the leader."

    Substitute Lad snorted.  "Right.   The day the Legion of Net.

Heroes chooses Easily-Discovered Man Lite as its leader.  I'd

like to see that.  No offense," he added.

    "You ought to think about opening a window in here," I said,

knocking stacks of magazines and towels that had gone stiff out

of my way as I searched for a place to sit.  "It's funkier than

James Brown's rhythm section."

    "What about the girl?" he asked.

    I didn't have to ask which girl.  "Still suffering from the

effects of Super Apathy Lad's powers," I said.  "Cynical Lass

keeps trying to get in to see her, but the hospital won't let

her.  Something about cynicism adding to apathy... hey, what's


    A photograph had stuck to my hand while I was brushing off

one of Substitute Lad's chairs.  I shook my wrist to flick it

loose, then stopped.  The picture was of myself, Substitute

Lad and a curly-haired girl I'd never seen before standing

in front of a barn.  I was wearing a They Might Be Giants

T-shirt -- the one I'd worn at 16, when I first became Easily

Discovered Man's sidekick -- and Substitute Lad was dressed

in jeans and a T-shirt, although I'd hardly ever seen him out

of uniform.  I had no recollection of ever appearing in such

a picture.

    "Hey Sub," I said, as my pager began beeping.

    "What?" he asked.  He had become immersed in the video again.

    "Nothing," I said.  "Listen, it looks like we've got a lead

on this Waffle Queen thing.  I'll come by tonight to catch you


    "Keep me posted," he said, his eyes fixed on the television


    Londonbroil's tip led the Prof and I to a second-floor

apartment above the old Pseudo-Random House publishing company's

warehouse, about three blocks from the apartment where the

police had found the Waffle Queen.  According to Londonbroil,

Schlubb had found the apartment for Mrs. Butterworth and even

secured her a job as a receptionist for her consulting firm,

at which she'd excelled -- not surprising, since she had a

voice as rich and smooth as maple syrup.

    "Keep your weapon at the ready, my esteemed enforcer of all

that is lawful," Easily-Discovered Man whispered as we stood

outside the henchman's door.

    "No problem, Prof -- though I doubt I'll need it," I said,

holding my spatula like a baseball bat.  "I mean, we're talking

about a giant talking bottle of syrup here."

    "We are talking about a woman with fists like beer bottles

and nothing left in the world to lose," the Prof said.  "On my

signal... enow!" he cried, kicking open the door to her


    "Put... put your weapon away, Lite," the Prof said, after

both of us had entered the tiny room.  "And contact the

authorities.  This has become a crime scene."

    "There are no marks.  Not a crack or a hole in her," I

said, staring at the empty glass body of Mrs. Butterworth,

her face contorted in a silent scream, her body drained of

both liquid and life.  "What... what could have done this to


    The Prof shook his head, the reflection of his glowing face

casting a halo on Mrs. Butterworth's frozen corpse.

    "Villainy have we faced before, Lite, and often," Easily-

Discovered Man said.  "But evil such as this is new to me.   For

the first time since I donned cape and cowl, I fear what we may

encounter next."



    NEXT ISSUE: The unthinkable happens in an episode we could

only call "Easily-Discovered Man... No More!"

    CHARACTERS: Easily-Discovered Man, Easily-Discovered Man

Lite, Cynical Lass, Substitute Lad, Downyflake, the Death

Thoreau, Barrage, Carrion, Londonbroil, Mrs. Butterworth and the

Waffle Queen are (c) the author.  Kid Recap is (c) Josh Geurink.

Sing Along Lass and Pointless Death Man are (c) Jeff "Drizzt"

Barnes.  The Scarlet Prawn is (c) J.O.S.Hartung.  Invisible

Incendiary is (c) Steve Hutchison.  Rabid Child and the Pencil

Rain are (c) H. Jameel al-Khafiz.  Super Apathy Lad is (c) Jacob

Lesgold.  Doctor Oblivion is (c) Pete "Tick" Milan.   Mr.

Everywhere is (c) Jamie Rosen.  The Worm is (c) Matt "Badger"

Rossi.  The Quartermaster and Two-Bits are (c) Ken Schmidt.   Plum

Master, the Seven Deadly Sphammers and So-Lame-Even-Saxon-Brenton

-Wouldn't-Use-Him-In-A-Story Lad are (c) Arthur Spitzer.  Whew.

    SPECIAL THANKS: to those who voted "The Adventures of

Easily-Discovered Man" their favorite series in the 2006 RACCie

Awards.  We don't know what you were thinking, but we're



    "Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

        --Dylan Thomas


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