LNH: Easily-Discovered Man #55

EDMLite robrogers72 at gmail.com
Sat Apr 26 23:34:03 PDT 2014

    Doused with microwave radiation, Theodore Wong gained the
ability to glow and be detected at great distances by anyone
with a Geiger counter.  Forced to retire, Wong has left former
sidekick Lite to continue his battle against the forces of
corruption, chaos and common sense, and to carry on the
legacy of the fabulous EASILY-DISCOVERED MAN.
    The following takes place sometime after issue #8 of the
Legion of Net.Heroes mini-series "Beige Countdown."

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

     Still searching for the killer of the nefarious
WAFFLE QUEEN, Easily-Discovered Man Lite travels to the 
villain's hometown of Mount Roosevelt, Ohio.  There, he and 
former girlfriend Penelope Laine uncover a hidden laboratory
filled with futuristic equipment and guarded by zombies
-- one of whom is an undead ringer for Lite's closest
friend, the super-hero known as SUBSTITUTE LAD.

     Yet these efforts bring Lite no closer to learning the
truth about the Waffle Queen's death.  Nor do they bring
him any closer to Penelope, who resists any attempt to
rekindle their relationship and sends him back to
Net.ropolis.  There, Lite -- who has so far eluded the
clutches of the criminal mastermind MYNABIRD -- finds
himself at the mercy of former ally and longtime

     Before continuing Lite's journey from frying pan to
fire, however, the author would like to present this
brief word from our sponsor...

     --EDM--          --EDM--          --EDM--     



                    -- IN --


     "Give up the gold, SEA QUESTER!" Cynical Lass declared.
"Your days of pillaging the federal treasury -- and
siphoning needed funds from the sick, the poor and the
jobless are finished!"

Blast yer bilge-ballasted beams!" snarled the Sea Quester,
the tattered flaps of his pea coat snapping in the Potomac
breeze.  "Yeh may have thwarted me latest scheme, but yeh'll
never take me wriggling -- nor will yeh get yer land-locked
limbs on me ill-gotten gold!"

     "Why would we want to take you wriggling?" I asked.

     "Not to mention the damage you've done to research
institutions, public safety, the economy in general..."
Cynical Lass continued.

     "I think he gets it," I said.

     "...the national infrastructure, aid to developing
countries, National Public Radio..."

     "We get it," said the Sea Quester and myself at the
same time.

     "Besides," I said, opening a briefcase, "why would
you want to steal that gold -- when you could have these
golden treasures instead!"

     "Shiver me salt-spattered splinter!" gasped the Sea
Quester.  "That gleam!  That unearthly light!  Be that...
Marcellus Wallace's soul?"

     "Better, and even more elusive!" I said.  "It's
three whole cases of Mistress (TM) brand Schwinkies
snack cakes!"

     Cynical Lass and the Sea Quester both looked at me
as if I had not only lost my mind, but deliberately left
it unattended in a vacant alley on the wrong side of
the tracks with the keys stuck in the ignition. 

     "By the briny barnacled bosom that suckled me,"
the Sea Quester said.  "Did yeh really think I'd unload
me sackful of gold fer a satchel of sponge cake?  Is
every villain the two of ye face nowadays a slave to the
demon weed, then?"

     "I can't believe you would do this," Cynical Lass
said.  "Do you have any idea what kind of chemicals are
in those things?  What they can do to the human digestive
system?  Are you or are you not the same person who cried
on my shoulder when we watched _Super Size Me_ together?"

     "Ach!" the Sea Quester said, shaking his head.
"Grow some stones, lad!"

     "I never suggested he -- you -- should eat the
Schwinkies," I said.  "I just thought I'd point out that
an unopened box of original Schwinkies goes for more than
$40 on eBay.  That's more than eight times its original
value.  And they're a lot easier to move than gold,
especially if you're heading for foreign shores."

     "And every Schwinkie has a half-life of 7,000
years, in addition to the delicious, cream-like
filling," Cynical Lass added.  "When the world economy
collapses in a few months, how would you rather ride out
the apocalypse?  With a bag of cold rocks, or a case of
Schwinkies snack cakes?"

     "Blast me rusted cutlass!  These Schwinkies be both
fun, and fundamentally fungible!" the Sea Quester said,
dropping his gold and clutching the proffered suitcase of
snack cakes to his chest with both bony arms.  "Stick THAT
in yer assets, ye 'Mad Money' mollycoddles!"

     "Thanks, Cynical Lass!" I said, as the harbor police
hauled the raving madman away.  "Now the Sea Quester will
have plenty of time to think about gold during his golden
years -- in prison!"

     "Unless the world economy really does collapse tomorrow,"
Cynical Lass said.  "In that case, thanks to these delicious
Schwinkies, we've just made our first tribute payment to one
of our future warlords."

     "Now that's putting the 'Great' back into the 'Great
Recession!" I said.  "Remember...


           IN EVERY STASH OF


     We now present episode #55 of "The Adventures of Easily-
Discovered Man," "Enemies with Benefits."  Please keep your
arms and legs inside the episode at all times.  Enjoy the ride.

     --EDM--          --EDM--          --EDM--

    The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man #55
                  "Enemies With Benefits"
      Plot:                                     Script:
      Rob Rogers                                Rob Rogers

     In the years I'd known Londonbroil, I'd pitied him,
been amused by him, occasionally been grateful to him
and even come to have a grudging kind of respect for him.

     Not as a human being, of course, but in the way you
might come to respect a cockroach, or a Kardashian, or anything
else that managed to flourish in a difficult and dangerous
environment without anything that resembled talent or

     If crime lords like Mister Homage, Doctor Killfile
or the Waffle Queen were the lions, bears and crocodiles of
the Net.ropolis underworld, Londonbroil was a raccoon.  He'd
never make it to the top of the food chain, but I always
figured someone like him would be digging through garbage cans
and skittering down alleyways long after the big guys had been
stuffed and mounted on somebody's wall.

     So I'd never been afraid of Londonbroil.  Not really.
Not even on those occasions when he'd pointed the nozzle of a
flamethrower directly at my face.  I didn't see any reason
why today should go any differently, especially since the
weapon in question was nowhere in sight.

     "Tell you what," I said.  "I'm in a good mood.  And I'm
busy.  You go your way, and I'll go mine, and the two of us
will just pretend like we haven't seen each other."

     His smile, already too big for his face, grew even

     "And what are the chances you think that's going to
happen, then?" he asked.

     I shrugged.  "How many times have we done this?" I asked.
"And every time has ended up with you unconscious, or in
handcuffs, or lying on a..."

     He drove a fist into my stomach.

     "Lying on the bricks, you say?" he asked, stepping on my
wrist before I could go for my spatula.  "Happened the very 
first time we met, dinnit?  Hit me with a spatula then, didn't 
you -- not as nice a one as you have here, of course," he said, 
kicking my weapon into the gutter.

     I was stunned.  Not because of the pain -- though I
had forgotten just how painful and debilitating a punch to the
gut could be -- but because he had hit me at all.  The idea that
a super-villain would just haul off and smack me instead of
threatening me with an exotic weapon, explaining his master
plan or engaging in a few rounds of spirited banter seemed...
wrong, somehow.

     "I'm sure at the time you must have felt incredibly
lucky," Londonbroil said.  "What were you then, fifteen?
Sixteen?  Just signed on as Easily-Discovered Man's sidekick.
Your maiden voyage, so to speak.  And there you were, getting
the jump on an experienced and artful codger, such as myself."

     "You've... been to... London," I gasped.  "Doesn't it...
pain you... to know... how badly you're... butchering the

     "I had a bit of luck that day myself," Londonbroil said.
"I'd just come from what you might call an audition with the
Waffle Queen.  Now normally, someone in her position would
never have given the time of day to someone like yours truly.
But then I just happened to run across the likes... of...
you," he added, punctuating each word with a kick to my
midsection, "and I says, Londonbroil, old boy, here is an

     I looked around the bus station for something I could 
use as a weapon, or someone who might come to my aid.
Londonbroil, however, had thought ahead, placing a sign
-- "Street Theater In Progress.  Your Donations Gladly
Accepted" -- on the adjacent platform.  No one in the station
as much as glanced in our direction.

     "Turns out all you have to do these days is let one
teen-age boy hit you in the head with a kitchen implement
-- and bob's your uncle, you're a card-carrying super-villain,"
Londonbroil said.  "You and the Professor ran off, and I had
time to warn the Waffle Queen before you showed up on her
doorstep.  In one afternoon, I'd made myself the trusted
friend of one of the world's most powerful master criminals
and a foe of its least powerful super-hero."

     "It's not that I don't appreciate having someone else
doing the exposition," I said, struggling to pull myself 
upright.  "But just how long are we going to spend on Revisionist 
Memory Lane?  I've got places to go, things to..."

     He hit me again -- a good right cross, followed by a
series of left jabs that drove me, reeling, into one of the
heavy green trash bins.

     "It's not... always... about... YOU!" he said, his
accent momentarily disappearing.

     "You want to skip to the end?  I shouldn't, if I were
you," he said, recovering himself.  I began to pull myself
up, but he drove another fist into my ribs.

     "I have... a lead... on who killed... the Waffle Queen,"
I gasped, trying to raise myself into a fighting stance.
Londonbroil swept my leg, then drove his point home with a series
of sharp kicks to my already sorely-abused chest.

     "That's lovely," Londonbroil said.  "It's refreshing,
is what it is, to know that, at long last, Easily-Discovered
Man Lite has managed to find the time in his schedule to
do what he promised he would, a year after the woman in
question has gone to the worms.  I'll be sure to notify her
next of kin.  And yours."
     He kicked me again.  A couple standing on the other side
of the bus station applauded.  Londonbroil gave a little bow.

     "I've... been..." I began.

     "Busy?  Beige-y this and beige-y that?  Leading the
Legion of Net.Heroes, and getting kicked out of them?  Not
much of an excuse, really.  You're a super-hero, mate, or
you were.  These things tend to come up.  Part of the
package.  Besides..."

     He reached into the pocket of his duster and removed a
small, blue, squarish device, like a pager that had been
bitten in half.

     "Been a bit busy myself.  Met a fella -- well, he's
more like a... well, who knows what he is, really.  Powerful,
though.  Well-connected.  And oh, Christmas, does he have a
mad-on for you."

     "...Mynabird," I said.

     A pair of crows, the closest thing Net.ropolis has to
vultures, landed on the edge of the garbage bin that, moments
before, had been my primary means of support.

     "Now there's a likeable chap," Londonbroil said.  The
little device in his hand began to hum.  "Considerate.  What
you call a nat-you-ral leader.  A bit more going on upstairs
than what you normally see in those of the criminal mastermind
persuasion.  For instance, he don't say 'Bring me Easily-
Discovered Man Lite alive,' or 'I want the honor of killing
Easily-Discovered Man Lite myself!' No, no.  What 'ee says is,
bring me the bloke's thumbs.  And his lower jaw.  Now that's
quite reasonable, is what that is."

     Several more crows began to land on benches, street lamps
and slow-moving pedestrians throughout the station.

     "Tell you what else is reasonable," Londonbroil
continued.  "He give me this device... a microwave gun.
Much easier on the shoulders than a flamethrower,
I'll tell you, and a good deal less conspicuous.  Cooks you
up just as well, though I can't say that it does the job as
evenly.  You know how microwaves are."

     "You're not a killer, Londonbroil," I said.

     "Aren't I, though?" he asked, shooing away a couple of
crows that had come in for a closer look.  "I think what
we're finding today is that you don't know me nearly as well
as you think you do.  I'm a bloke what knows a good opportunity
when he sees one.  It's why I've kept you alive all these
years, until the time was right to... Get 'arn of it, bird!"

     There were more crows, and bigger crows, now, covering
nearly every perchable space within the bus terminal and
fluttering around the head and upper body of Londonbroil.
I had once seen a pair of the black birds attacking a much
larger falcon that had flown too close to their nest.  What
I saw now reminded me of that on a much larger scale: the
flurry of wings, the screeching and scratching, the scramble
of black feathers and jet-black eyes.

     From somewhere inside the cloud of birds I
could hear Londonbroil cursing me, the Net.ropolitan
Transportation Authority, the genus corvae and Alfred
Hitchcock, all in the same breath.  I wanted to laugh,
to run, to drag myself to a safe place where I could begin
to recover.  

     Instead, I closed my eyes.

     When I opened them again, I saw a girl standing in the
middle of the murder of crows as though it was the most
natural place in the world for her to be.

     She was tall, slender and pale -- and not your run-of-the
mill, Katy Perry kind of pale, either, but Tilda-Swinton-skinny-
dipping-in-the-North-Atlantic-in-November pale.  That she was
beautiful went without saying; anyone who had shown up to
rescue me from being microwaved to death by one of my least
favorite people would have placed fairly high on my personal
Sexiest Woman Alive rankings.

     Yet it was a strange, otherworldly kind of beauty that
expressed itself in her.  Apart from her hair, which was
wild and black and blew frequently across her eyes, everything
about her -- from the heels of her Doc Martens to the rhinestone
studs of her belt to the black halter top that seemed far too
slight for early spring in Net.ropolis -- was perfectly chosen
and tailored to her body.  Her flawless face was almost too
beautiful, like a character in a Japanese video game, but much
less creepy.

     "Arise, messenger," she said, in a voice that was 
deeper and more commanding than I would have expected.  It was
only then that I realized who the woman standing in front of me
had to be.

     "You're... you're Death," I managed to choke out.  "My
God.  Neil Gaiman really was right about everything."

     The woman in front of me rolled her eyes.  "Take one
modeling assignment on a lark, regret it for the rest of your
life," she sighed.  "No, mortal.  I am not Death.  Nor am I
the one you call Siouxie Sioux," she added, eliminating my
second guess.

     "Swell," I said.  "Then you're another one of Mynabird's
assassins sent to kill me and take my thumbs.  Hang on a
minute while I..."

     "Do I look like someone who is accustomed to taking
orders from others?"  she asked, giving me a look that would
have caused a roomful of Carnaval partygoers to sit up and
pay attention.

     "You," she continued, "are Hector Lopez, otherwise known
as Easily-Discovered Man Lite.  You are searching for someone,
a... magician you have encountered in the past.  You believe
this person can help you solve the murder you have been

     "I'm pretty sure we covered all of that stuff at the
beginning of the issue.  You know, the part where it says
'Previously in The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man.' "

     "I, too, am looking for someone," the young woman said,
holding out her arm.  One of the larger crows landed on it,
and the woman began to stroke the feathers on its head.
"A friend of yours.  Luke Jones."

     "Aurora's cousin?  The Goth kid?  One of those Teens in
Trenchcoats, right?"

     "And now who is providing needless exposition?"

     "Okay," I said, "but I'm the narrator.  I get paid for
it.  Besides, I haven't seen Luke for quite a while."

     "No one on this plane of existence has.  He has hidden
himself," the woman said, her silver fingernails running
smoothly along the bird's black feathers.

     Something clicked in one of the remaining intact 
corners of my recently-battered brain.  "I remember you now," 
I said.  "Ravencroft.  Luke talked about you."

     Nothing about the woman in front of me changed, but
something in her voice suggested that Ravencroft was pleased.

     "He's not in any trouble, is he?" I asked.

     "Not nearly as much as he ought to be in," Ravencroft
said, with just the hint of a smile.  "The world is a much
less interesting place without Luke Jones in it."

     "Well, this is all quite fascinating," I said, pulling
myself up to a sitting position.  "And I really appreciate
you and your two thousand closest friends keeping me from
being barbecued.  But I'm not sure I can help you.  I haven't
been all that great at finding missing persons lately... and
me and Luke were never that close..."

     "You knew him well enough to place in his care an
object of unimaginable power," Ravencroft said.  "Not many
would have willingly bestowed the Ring of Simplification on
another.  It was an act of great wisdom..."

     "Yeah, well, it didn't really go with any of my stuff."

     "...or a tremendous desire to avoid responsibility,"
Ravencroft finished.  "In any case, the quest on which I am
sending you is yours as well.  Find your magician, and you
will find my Luke."

     "I'd like to.  I really would," I said, as the pain in my
ribs began to take on a life of its own.  "It's just that I
need to find my way to a hospital, first, assuming I can
somehow avoid all of the other super-villains in this city
who are out to get me..."

     Something in Ravencroft's eyes flashed, and just like
that, the pain was gone.  Not "slowly subsiding," not
"beginning to heal," just -- gone.  In fact, I felt better
than I had in months.

     "I'm beginning to see what Luke likes about you," I
said.  "Is whatever you just did covered under the Affordable
Care Act, or will I be getting one mother of an insurance

     Ravencroft smiled again.  It was an unsettling smile,
one which -- like postmodern furniture -- seemed intended
to make a point rather than invite comfort.  I made a mental
note not to share any of my ninja jokes with her.

     "My people do not concern themselves with such
trivialities," she said.

     "Right.  You're Canadian.  I should have guessed from
the accent," I said, picking up my spatula from the platform
floor.  "So... how do I contact you once I've found Luke?"

     "Find him, and he will find me," Ravencroft said.
"Do not disappoint me, Hector Lopez.  I do not take well
to disappointment."

     I stood there for a moment, staring at her.

     "Well?" she asked.  "What are you waiting for?"

     "Nothing," I said.  "It's just... there's this guy I
 go to school with.  Spends all of his free time listening
 to Morrissey, and The Cure, and reading old issues of
 _Sandman_.  And when he finds out there's this beautiful
 Goth Queen of Scary Birds who's pointing her lace-gloved
 finger at me and ordering me to do things... well, it's
 just going to ruin him."

     "You are a strange man, Hector Lopez," Ravencroft said.
"Now go.  You will find what you seek at the sign of the

     Before I could comment on the originality of her
statement, she was gone.  Or was probably gone, at any rate;
I could no longer see her, or much of anything else, through
the black nimbus of several hundred crows rising from the bus
terminal at the same time.

     "I'm sorry, man," I said, clapping the terminal custodian
on the shoulder as I left the station.  He looked confused for
a moment, then stared at the vast quantities of bird droppings
left behind by Ravencroft's flying armada.  The last sounds I
heard as I walked away were his long, heaving sobs.

     I knew the man I had to find.  There was only one person
who could explain what Easily-Discovered Man, Substitute Lad
and myself had been doing in Mount Roosevelt, Ohio with a
teenaged Waffle Queen, decades before Substitute Lad or myself
had been born.  Thanks to Ravencroft, I also had a pretty good
idea where he was.

     But I also knew there was someone else I needed to see
-- someone who might be able to explain how I had managed to
travel in time without remembering it.  Someone whose good
advice and... whose wisdom... I had rarely appreciated.
Someone I really missed having around.

     That was why, with a dozen assassins on my trail and the
demands of a goddess driving me onward, I decided to stop on
the campus of Dave Thomas Deluxe University during the
office hours of Professor Theodore Wong.


     --EDM--          --EDM--          --EDM--     

    NEXT ISSUE: How far will Lite go in order to solve the
mystery of the Waffle Queen's death -- and what will happen
when he discovers the truth about himself, his mentor and his
friends?  Theodore Wong returns -- as does another character
not seen in these pages since the turn of the millennium --
in a story we've received a post-hypnotic command to call
"Leather and Laces."

    CHARACTERS: Ravencroft is (c) Ben Rawluk.  Mynabird
is (c) Arthur Spitzer and the author.  All other characters
are (c) the author.  More information about these and
other characters is available at: 

    SPECIAL THANKS: To Ben Rawluk for advice, motivation and
the use of his characters and concepts in this issue.

    EXTRA-SPECIAL THANKS: To Andrew Perron, Arthur Spitzer,
Mitchell Crouch and everyone else who commented on episode #54.
Keep circulating the tapes!

    EXTRA-EXTRA-EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS: To everyone who voted
for "The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man," winner of the
"Favorite Parody/Comedy" award in the 2012 RACCies.

Ben, Jeff Barnes (!), Scott Eiler and everyone else who
agreed to be involved in the 20th anniversary celebration for
Easily-Discovered Man.  Something will be in the works in the
coming year.  I promise.  Hey, the series still comes out more
frequently than _Sherlock_...

Rogers, for sleeping (almost) long enough for me to complete
this issue.  

     --EDM--          --EDM--          --EDM--

    "Raven hair & ruby lips
     Sparks fly from her fingertips
     Echoed voices in the night
     She's a restless spirit on an endless flight."
       --The Eagles

     --EDM--          --EDM--          --EDM--     

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