By Greg Doolan
Good always conquered evil. Unlike other things, this was an idea Peter could grasp. He couldn’t recognise a smile or tell how it differed from a frown, but good triumphing over evil was a revelation. It was also why he loved cartoons.
Peter could tell his Warner Brothers from his Hanna-Barbera and his Marvel from his DC by the time he was five. Superheroes were his favourite. Superman had the best costume and Spiderman had cool webs that shot from his wrists, but Peter liked Batman the best.
Frustrated by his inability to connect with his son, Peter’s father simply didn’t come home one day. Mother cried for weeks, but while Peter noted the absence – the way his father had filled a room – beyond that, it didn’t bother him. Several months later Peter noticed a different man in the house and mother said something about him being her new ‘special friend’. Peter tried to understand but didn’t like how the man smelled stale and smoky all the time and preferred to watch football rather than cartoons.
The man was often loud and his face would turn red and dark sometimes. This didn’t worry Peter, as the man mostly ignored him. But mother would sometime look the same as those cartoon people who had been captured by the evil Joker or the Penguin and were scared. Peter decided that if he was going to help mother fight this evil he would need a superhero costume. His comforter became a cape and a pair of dishwashing gloves became his gauntlets of power. And every superhero had to have good boots, even Aquaman, so his wellingtons became part of the costume too.
Peter tried to work out his superpowers next. Leaps from the couch revealed he couldn’t fly, though one ended with a knee to the man’s crotch and so wasn’t a complete failure. He tried the man’s sunglasses to see if he had x-ray vision but they kept sliding off and falling to the ground, and soon became so chipped and scratched that not even Peter could see clearly through them. Then one night Peter saw a brown bottle sitting on the kitchen table, and he wondered whether he could control objects with his mind.
The sound of breaking glass brought the man running to the kitchen where he saw Peter standing, hands outstretched and a pool of liquid spreading on the floor. The man’s face skipped red and went straight to a blotchy purple colour. The man strode menacingly toward Peter who got ready to test his force field-making ability, but before he could set himself the man was by him and at the front door. Mother came running just in time to see the man shout something about ‘Peter…’, ‘brat…’, and ‘destructive pest…’ before he slamming the door behind him with a sound of finality.
Mother hugged Peter close, while Peter stared at the door and wondered whether ‘destructive pest’ was considered a genuine superpower or not.