Her words poured over him, cold at first and then biting into his sweat glands like acid.
“I’m not going.”
“What do you mean you’re not going? You’re my wife.”
She stared nails into the palms he proffered. “I am not going to Ferguson, Missouri. People are getting *killed* there. Your stunt with the kid was bad enough. Are you going to take him, too?”
“If he wants to go, I don’t see why not.”
She threw her hands into the air, making strangled noises. Her hair whipped out around her when she turned. The floor creaks diminished as she stamped deeper into the house.
Alone. He’d have to do this alone. Her position was written all over her face, even if he pretended he couldn’t see it. She wouldn’t go. She wouldn’t let him take Big D, their ersatz foster kid. Maybe it was the way her jaw worked or the set of her spine as she left, but he knew. He’d do this alone.
If he did it at all.
People were getting shot. Mike Brown did, and now protesters, too? Maybe it was too dangerous.
Or maybe it was exactly the time. The time to talk peaceful protest. The time to talk signs and words, not guns and knives.
The carpet scrunched under his toes. The cool air (Damn that polar-bear wife!) blew over him, raising the hairs on his arms. Turning the corner to the kitchen, he spotted her cradling the mug of hot cocoa. Damn, she must be upset. Hot cocoa was PMS medication, or Somebody Died therapy. Not some trifling thing.
“A superhero isn’t needed when everything’s OK. He’s needed when it’s dark and dangerous.”
She eyed him over the brim of her cup.
Her voice echoed, hollow and scary, from the ceramic. “You are not a super hero. You are someone who shoots videos, not guns. That shit you pulled at Tops? That ain’t never happening again. And you are NOT going to St. Louis to fight no goddamned race war.”
He tried a smile on: “You know I like it when you talk ghetto.”
A manicured nail sparkled in the kitchen’s light. The middle one.
“You are not.”
“I’m going, Madeline. You know I have to. They’re sick out there. Sick with rage. They shootin’ and lootin’ because they can’t find their voice, like when you stormed out of the bedroom. They can’t talk about what’s wrong ‘cause it’s just so much that’s wrong. 300 years and it’s got to stop. And they gotta breathe. And someone’s gotta get them talking instead of fighting. But fightin’s all they know, and it’s all they’ll do unless I go out there and show them otherwise.”
“You’re serious? You think you got some super-powers now? Because you know the names of little kids who steal food. Because you know the name of a beaten prostitute?”
“Because they didn’t shoot Big D. Here, I can show you.”
Her hand heated his. The air around her smelled like hot cocoa and buttery lotion. A habit she’d picked up from him, putting lotion on every day out of the shower.
The heat of the day beat on them as soon as he opened the door. Gray sky hung over them, sealing them in, as it did most days in August. Rocks stabbed the soles of his feet but he half-jogged through the gap in the fence toward the parking lot.
“Where are we going? Why don’t you have shoes?”
He ignored her. His cheeks hurt from smiling. He pulled her toward the street, slowed down. “Stand here.”
She stood, holding onto the pole of the bus stop sign out of habit. Anchoring herself. “What are you doing?”
“Just stay there.”
The bus stop shelter smelled like piss in the heat, but he ducked behind it anyway, careful not to touch it. Soon enough, the stop light turned yellow and then red. Cars piled up quickly, forming perfect rows, waiting for the light to change.
She turned toward his whisper, and he stepped out from behind the shelter. “What—?”
Cement struck his heels as he strode toward the stop. At first, nothing. Then a single *chunk* of a door lock.
Madeline’s hair shined gold as she spun toward the sound.
Another step. *chunk, chunk*
Now he was even with the pole. He looked into the passenger window at dyed-red wiry curls. White wrinkled neck dripped over the seat belt.
Chunk. Chunk. Pop chunk chunk pop snap chunk.
He turned back toward his wife, arms up and shining blackly in the sun. “See? Superpowers.”
Her finger came up again. Not to him this time, but to every car stopped at the light. “Fucking racist assholes!” She turned to him, gray eyes flashing. “I’m coming with you.”