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|Jim stirred in my arms, looking at the city below as we flew by. “Not home, Dan – over there.” He pointed in the direction of Twin Peaks. I followed his point and caught a glimpse of a steel door, cleverly concealed in a thick growth of underbrush; I shot down towards it, the door creaking open, hurtling into a long cave which dove straight downward, then horizontally….then broadened into a large chamber, lights coming on instantly as we entered.
“What in the…..” I stared around at the cave walls, the imprint of hands that had gouged out the solid rock clearly visible…..computer equipment, a wall of flat screens showing various views of the city….a meditation alcove.
Jimmy laughed. “Put me down and I’ll explain.” He stretched as I complied, gently lowering him to the ground, then helping him up as he struggled to his feet. He looked me up and down, shaking his head in amazement and amusement. “My God, look at you!”
I stared down at myself….and noticed that I was now wearing…..holy smokes….red spandex tights clearly outlining my pulsing femoral muscles……two leather straps wrapping, coiling around my bulging biceps……a red cape billowing softly in the breeze blowing through the chamber….reaching up, feeling a mask on my face…….my chest and nipples hard and defined under a blue metallic shirt, stretching a tight logo of – it can’t be –
“It’s OK, Dan,” he said, gently pulling me close. “The ring must have….accepted you, just like it did me the first time I put it on. I know it’s a shock…but….you’re now….super. Just like I was.” His eyes softened. “Matilda – Milan’s grandmother -- was a friend of mine. She was a healer and a witch in the Haight – thought it was just mumbo-jumbo at first, but she really did have the power. She helped me and countless others – but the last time I saw her, she asked me to take her ring.” He smiled. “Little did I know that that was where her power came from -- or what would happen when I wore it.”
“So this….this is the ‘complication’ you were talking about,” I said, flexing my arms tentatively. God, I feel like I could lift this whole darn mountain! “This also explains why you were late so often….why you were —almost—never there when I woke up in the morning….you were off being Superbear.”
“Exactly,” Jim said, his face falling. “Dan, I’m so sorry….I didn’t want to lie to you. But I also didn’t want to put you in danger.” He grinned wryly. “Looks like I blew the last anyway. But you handled it…..like you always do….and now you’ve got the power to do what you wanted, to help others.” He looked quizzically at my chest. “Well, aside from a slight color scheme change, looks like you can step in and assume the mantle of Superbear.”
I looked at him…..and sensed the slight undercurrent of disappointment in his voice. “No, I can’t.” I walked back over to him and hugged him close….sheepishly backing off on my grip as his eyes bulged…..whoops, forgot about that strength part. “Jim, you’re Superbear. I can’t be that, nor…..nor will I take that away from you.” I reached up…..making the motion I’d seen him do…..the ring appearing on my finger. “I believe this belongs to you.” Gritting my teeth, I pulled it off.
I stood there looking at the ring, dumbfounded. “But….I….you….when you took it off…” I flexed my arm…..still strong. I lifted off the ground…..still flying….”What the heck?”
Jim’s eyes widened. “I….I don’t know. Maybe…..maybe the fact that you gave it up willingly—“
“Actually, the fact that you accepted it freely AND gave it up freely,” came a voice from behind us. Jim and I both whirled to see an old woman in a wildly-colored shawl, long stringy gray hair, a basket draped over her arm, smiling beatifically at the both of us.
Jim’s jaw dropped. “My god….Matilda!”
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