New Rourke Unmasked
Damn it, I'm a Superhero!
By: Arthur Hopkins
Those of you who are familiar with my column in our esteemed fishwrap know I’m usually found reporting on sports. Go Volts! So, what am I doing in the Capes and Cowls section today? Well I am just as surprised as you, but I had the strangest encounter the other day with one of our faire city’s more colorful characters.
I decided to try out Parker Paul’s Sports Bar over on 87th as a change of pace and a chance to avoid some of my detractors who know the places I frequent. PP’s is a decent dive reminiscent of a bygone time when the local watering hole was a refuge of pig-headed male fraternity. The closest thing to a fruity drink in the whole place is the jar of pickles.
Nursing a local microbrew, I couldn’t help but overhear the commotion by the pool tables. A group of three rough-and-tumble guys seemed angry about loosing a large sum of money to a stranger, and they were tossing around threats. The argument got heated, until one of the group pulled out a coin and flipped it. The group quieted down, and he flipped it again. This happened a few times, and soon the big guys were all laughing. After they left with their money, the stranger strolled over to the bar, took a stool, then banged his head down on the bar.
When I asked him what that was all about, he turned a bleary eye to me and grumbled something about being a superhero. Now, this guy did not conform to the paragon of humanity stereotype in the least. While he did have a decent hero build (Early 30’s, 5’10”, lean muscle, chiseled features, glossy brown hair and blue eyes) he looked like he hadn’t shaved in days. His clothes were a rumpled, slept in, mess; worn jeans, a heavy coat over a white T-shirt with Θ drawn on it in marker. Usually, I would take one look at a guy like this and pass him over as a drunk or a loon, but something just told me there was a story here that I should look into. Like the good little reporter I am, I asked him for an interview. He agreed if I bought his drinks.
You’re a superhero?
That’s right. I’m a [Expletive Deleted] superhero.
What is your name?
Gabriel Docket. And yeah, you can print the name. It ain’t like I got a secret identity or nothing. And, no, I ain’t drunk.
I don’t think I’ve heard of you.
I wouldn’t be surprised. [Other heroes] call me “Crapshoot”. Oh, they don’t call me that to my face. No. They call me a good luck charm. The nice ones [He makes air quotes] call me “Theta” [Here he points to the symbol on his shirt]. I actually thought it was a pretty decent name ‘til I found out what they meant.
What does it mean?
I’m the luckiest [Expletive Deleted] on Earth.
From what I saw earlier, you don’t seem very lucky.
That? That was nothing. Thing is, I’m cursed.
You’re cursed with luck?
That’s right. I got the worst kind of good luck there is.
I’m going to need you to explain that.
’Kay, so, a few years ago I was at this Indian casino in Arizona. Playing poker with these native guys for hours. Got down to just me and this other guy with a pot of fifteen grand. Real high stakes, you know? Long story short, I showed with a straight flush to his four of a kind. He just looked at me and said, “You think you’re lucky, don’t you?”. I said, “[Expletive Deleted] yeah, I am, you [Expletive Deleted]! This is my [Expletive Deleted] house!” Guy just stares at me for a sec, then says something like, “See how you like it.”, and leaves. Anyway, when I go out to my car, I get struck by lightening.
I’m sorry, I don’t follow.
Man, you know how Indians are. That lighting didn’t kill me. It just gave me a weird jolt. And now, nothing bad happens to me. Everything just goes my way.
Know where I’m living now? I ain’t got my own place. Four months ago, I was walking down the street. This man and his wife pulled up to me in a limo, said I looked trust worthy, and asked me to house sit their big-[Expletive Deleted], fancy, penthouse apartment while they spend a year in Europe.
But you almost got in a fight earlier.
Okay, not everything. But in general things work out for the better…Except when I try to make them work for me.
See, I was a professional gambler. I did the pro circuit, casinos, online, races, stock market, boxing matches, the whole shebang. Man, I was a [Expletive Deleted] king! I made a good living, and every now and then I’d roll out big. That don’t work no more. Any game of chance, I lose. Dice, no. Slots, no. Black Jack, no. Poker? I always have a bad hand, but I can still bluff like the best of them. Except, right before the other players fold, they get this weird look in their eye, and they call my bluff.
So, why were you winning against those three guys?
PFFT! That’s pool. I can do pool against anyone who ain’t a shark. Pool requires skill. I got skill in spades.
I came here tonight to get some beer money. All they got at the house is wine. I challenged those guys to a few frames, and I won their cash. They got pissed. Sure, if they had tried to actually fight me, something would've happened to let me win. But I don’t want the bartender to get mad at me for fighting, so I told the guys they could win their money back with coin flips. I called it wrong every time. They left happy. Fortunately for me, I've got a reporter buying my drinks. See, it all turns around.
Alright, assuming that’s all true, how does any of this make you a superhero?
Yeah…Some capes heard about my special power [Again, he makes air quotes] and started taking me along. At first it was okay, but I just kept being shoved into freaky situations. Now, a lot of bad guys think I’m one of the good guys.
Damn it, I’m a superhero! I’m a [Expletive Deleted] superhero!
What about “the call to adventure”?
Man, [Expletive Deleted] that. That ain’t me. Besides that whole great responsibility deal only works if you got control of your stuff.
Like last week, you know how Grey Vigil took down The Tangler?
Yes, it was a big shock. Most would think Grey Vigil was out of his league.
Yeah, Grey Vigil. He’s a jerk. Next time you see him, tell him I think he’s a jerk. The guy can only fly and see ghosts. Can’t even talk to the damn things. Complete tool. Tell him I think he’s a tool.
Anyway, I’m standing in line for the movies when Grey [Expletive Deleted] Vigil swoops down, tells me I’m needed, and straight up kidnaps me! He flies me out to this big warehouse, where he drops me inside, then just disappears! Next thing I know, I’ve got The Tangler charging at me with those big freaky tentacles of his…hers…its…whatever. Right before it grabs me, a shelf collapses on The Tangler, knocking it out. Damn near gave me a heart attack!
Grey Vigil finally comes out from wherever he was hiding, gives me a twenty, and sent me on my way. Jerk.
That is quite a story.
Hundred percent true. My hand to god.
At this point, I still wasn’t fully prepared to believe Docket’s story. He was, at the least, amusing to talk to, so we spent the next half hour talking sports (he’s a Shifters fan for some reason). He told me about some bets that he would make and therefore I should avoid.
Then things took a turn for the bizarre. A ski-masked man burst into the bar, waving a gun around. He announced he was holding the place up and told everyone to put their money on their tables. Docket just looked at me like this sort of thing happened to him all the time and silently counted to three on his fingers. When he got to 1 the assailant sneezed violently; his gun fired on reflex. The shot flew wide, ricocheted off the juke box then a lamp, before imbedding itself in the thug’s spine. As the man screamed about being paralyzed, Docket thanked me for the drinks and left the bar.
Maybe it was coincidence. Maybe it was planned. Maybe Docket actually has some odd form of telekinesis. All I know is, the next time the day is saved, take a look around. You just might spot Gabriel Docket (a.ka. “Theta”, a.k.a. “Crapshoot”) grumbling to himself about how everything is so [Expletive Deleted] peachy keen.