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

EDMLite robrogers72 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 11 08:57:53 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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