Henry "Hawk Man" Hickman
By: Dawn DeBraal

Lenny Squib looked at the fly as it crawled over the burrito sitting on the kitchen table. Why hadn't Hawk Man seen it yet? He waited patiently for the man to turn around. Once he saw the fly, it would be reduced to a cinder under Hawk Man's x-ray eye.

A red laser beam shot across the room, frying the fly in an instant. What was left of it, fell to the table. Lenny chuckled.

"Are you going to eat the burrito?" Hawk Man glared at Lenny.

"Every time a fly lands on something, it craps, or it vomits. Why would I want to eat that burrito now?" Lenny shrugged his shoulders, scooping up the burrito he bit into it deeply. Fly shat or not, it still tasted good. He licked his fingers when he finished. Hawk Man looked at him with disgust.

"Get me another." Lenny jumped out of his seat at the kitchen table and ran down to Nacho Burrachos and ordered another burrito. Lenny appreciated the honor of being Hawk Man's companion, but the guy could get overbearing at times.

"Get me this, get me that." Lenny used to be Hawk Man's best friend in high school. Something changed after the accident at the nuclear plant. Henry received a lot of rads. When he recovered from radiation sickness, he realized he could send out a laser beam from his right eye. It wasn't until his friend Henry stopped a bank being robbed, that they discovered his "gift."

Lenny was with his friend at the First National Bank. Henry was depositing his workman's compensation check into his account. As the robbers came in, Lenny and Henry walked out the door. Henry overheard the robbers say,

"This is a stickup," through the double bank doors. He stopped dead in his tracks.

"The bank is being robbed. We have to do something." They waited for the robbers to run out with their sacks of money. Henry's laser x-ray eye burned holes in the bags spilling the dough out on the street and they tackled the men trying to pick up the money.

It was the first time Lenny realized Henry "Hawk Man" Hickman had a gift. The reward for foiling the bank robbery wasn't too bad either. He split it with Lenny because Henry couldn't claim the reward and keep his workman's compensation check at the same time.

Having a laser eye was a nice find for Henry the Hawk Man, he could roast steaks, and cook an excellent meal without a grill.

It had been Lenny's idea to use Hawk Man's talents to make cash on the side. The side jobs could only be fit in when Henry wasn't suffering one of his debilitating migraines. The doctors never did find out what caused the headaches. When Hawk Man was in one of his "spells," Lenny shut all the drapes and tried to give Henry quiet and darkness. Lenny would sit in the living room and watch television waiting until Hawk Man recovered, which was usually a good day or so before that happened. When Hawk Man had a migraine, sleep was the only release from his pain. Lenny tip toed from the bathroom and flopped himself down on the couch, accidently hitting the volume button on the remote control.

The television blared deafeningly loud. Lenny grabbed the remote, trying to punch the volume down, but not before he heard an angry shout from the bedroom. Lenny beat it out of the apartment. He couldn't stand to be on the end of Hawk Man's rage.

Lenny was afraid someday Hawk Man might use his laser eye to burn him like Henry did the fly. So, he gave Hawk Man the time he needed to cool off. He stopped at the corner gas station and bought them a couple of coffees.

Returning to the apartment, he opened the door giving Hawk Man his hot black coffee. Henry looked up at Lenny, scowling. His eyes softened when he saw the fresh coffee. He wished that Lenny was a little brighter because he was Hawk Man's only friend

Hawk Man's faithful side kick worked at the gas station on the corner, stocking shelves, running the cash register, usually the night shift. Henry, the Hawk Man, went down there some of the nights when Lenny was working.

The neighborhood could be rough. Hawk Man had help foil a couple of robberies. The gas station had a reputation for fighting back, and the local hoods avoided the Fast Mart Express station.

After the accident at the power plant, Henry was depressed. He lay in bed, disoriented. Something in Henry's fried brain didn't turn up on MRI's or CAT scans. The shrinks, none of them knew Henry before the accident, they were only familiar aftermath.

It was hard for Henry to tell his doctors what was going on inside his radioactively altered brain, and he surely didn't want to show them. He would be locked up and studied like a lab rat.

Henry avoided the doctors. They were useless anyway. They hadn't found out what caused the weekly debilitating migraines, either. If it weren't for Lenny, Henry wouldn't have groceries in the house.

Henry discovered by accident his ability to crush a melon in his right hand. The radiation affected his right side only. He was cutting up a cantaloupe for a salad when the melon exploded. It went all over the counter. Henry stood there, wondering what the hell had just happened. One minute he had a good grip on the melon slicing it from the rind, and the next, it was in liquified pieces all over the kitchen.

He cleaned up his mess. Still, hungry Henry took a can out of the cupboard. He grabbed the can with his right hand and squeezed it. Just like the cartoons showing a sailor eating spinach from a can, the can popped open to Henry's amazement. How was this possible?

It seemed as the months dragged on after his illness, his body was still making neuropathways through his brain, rewiring electrical and muscular systems. Henry now had to be fully conscious of where his right hand was, if he forgot, a broken glass, or he shuddered to think of what would happen when shaking someone's hand. Luckily, Henry didn't meet many people, except Lenny. Though Lenny drove him crazy, some part of Henry knew that he would never fit into standard societal ways any longer.

The gas station closed at nine. Lenny walked down to Henry's apartment. Did he want to go out for dinner? A movie? No.

Lenny turned on the television, searching for their options, he had also called for a delivery of a Supreme pizza.

"It's the pizza!" Henry's eyebrow lifted. Was Lenny paying for a pizza? Did Hell freeze over. The pizza girl pulled the pie out of the warming bag.

"Here you go!" She smiled brightly. Henry Hawk Man Hickman found himself instantly in love, unfortunately so did his side kick, Lenny. Lenny paid for the pizza and gave her a big tip.

"What's your name?" Lenny whispered.

"Honey." She said as her eyes lit up with the tip. Lenny told her goodbye.

"What's that girl's name?" Henry was interested.

"Heidi." Lenny said, quickly getting plates and napkins. Lenny didn't know the latest neuro pathway in Henry's brain linked the hearing in his right ear to his superpowers. Henry knew the girl told Lenny, Honey, not Heidi. Who was Lenny trying to kid? If Lenny lied about the girl's name, what other things had he been lying about?

Hawk Man started to doubt his formerly faithful friend. Lenny was doing more things on his own lately. He wasn't around when Henry needed him the most. During those downtimes. Henry woke up from the headache naps, and there was no fresh hot coffee to get him back on the road to health. Henry wandered down to the gas station one day to make sure Lenny was alright. To his surprise, Honey/Heidi was sitting there talking with Lenny.

Henry could feel the nagging pull of resentment. Lenny had not lied to him but certainly had been keeping the truth from him. He could hear them through the door before he walked into the Fast Mart Express. They had been talking about Henry. The look on both of their faces when he walked in the door unannounced, said it all, they had been caught.

Henry went to the coffee counter and filled himself a cup. He went to pay for it.

"On me!" Lenny said, smiling. "Do you remember Honey?"

"I thought her name was Heidi," Henry said, staring at her with his x-ray eye.

"Hi, I'm Honey." She quickly offered her hand. She'd heard about the x-ray eye. They shook hands limply. Leaving the Fast Mart Express, Henry happened to close the door with his right hand. The door hit the jamb, shattering. Glass was strewn about the store. Henry looked in shock. He'd forgotten to pay attention to the strong side. Lenny assured him it was the wind and told him not to worry about it. He'd meet up with Henry later. Lenny was already on the phone to the Fast Mart Express owners, saying the wind caught the door, please send someone out right away to fix it. Honey was sweeping up the small diamonds of glass, she was shaken.

"You are going to have to stay away from Henry, Lenny. He can't control himself. Look what he's done to the door That could have been you or me." Lenny knew that Honey was telling the truth.

Henry walked briskly back to his apartment still surprised at the broken glass. He saw the looks on his friends faces. Upon entering his apartment, he discovered there was nothing to eat. He hated that he needed to go out again for food. Luckily, his headache had receded, so he was able to go shopping.

He returned the cart back to the cart coral at the grocery store. The handle broke cleanly off as he pushed the cart into the one in front. Henry could not believe his eyes. This super strength was getting out of hand. He kept his right hand in his pocket. It had become so destructive. Everything he touched was in danger like Midas and his golden touch, only Henry's touch crushed whatever it met.

He no longer recognized himself. When he looked into the mirror, he saw a stranger staring back at him. The whole right side of his body had become overly developed due to the radiation. It was becoming harder to coordinate his body for simply things like walking. His right side wanted to take over.

Henry called Lenny, telling him he was scared. Lenny gave some lame excuse but told him he'd come over tonight after his shift. Later that evening, Lenny tapped lightly on the door.

"It's open." Henry called out. Lenny thought he sounded odd. Nothing could prepare him for what had become of his friend. In a few short months, Henry had turned into a monster. Lenny squelched the urge to scream, trying to make his face calm.

"You're changing," he told his friend. Henry cried out he knew that if he hugged his friend, he would crush him. Lenny offered to help,

Henry remembered being entranced with the circus oddities when he was growing up, realizing her was resembling them. He had become so grotesque it was mesmerizing. Wouldn't people pay to see such an oddity?

"You can't make anything on the side in this condition." Lenny told his friend. "But I have an idea to make money. I got this all under control, don't worry." Lenny left Henry feeling hopeful.

It was Honey that came up with the idea. They bought and parked a semi-trailer outside town. They decided to put the Hawk Man on display. Everyone would pay to see Henry's disfigurement. An ad in the newspaper, Honey put flyers on her pizza boxes, they hung posters all over town. They hawked the Hawk Man.

People came from miles around. Lenny collected five dollars a person. The trailer had been set up to look like the top of a tree. The walkway kept people behind the rail. They passed through having three minutes to look at Henry whose face was disproportioned. He honestly looked like a hawk. His distorted head sprouting a protruding his nose. The bulging x-ray eye. The oversized arm and leg. Henry could no longer get around on his own. He was dependent on Honey and Lenny. The people came in droves, hundreds of them a day, paying five dollars a pop.

Anything Henry wanted to eat, any movie he wanted to watch Lenny brought to his friend. He knew that Henry was in great pain, but they were making so much money. They had to strike while the iron was hot, he told Henry that he would find a doctor to help him, but Lenny never looked. Restoring Henry to his former self would never sell tickets. Lenny even saw repeat customers because the Hawk Man appeared to change daily. People couldn't get enough of him.

Lenny was going to be a rich man, and Honey was going along for the ride. They'd made thousands of dollars, more than Lenny would ever admit to his friend, saving it in a good-sized banks account. The money had to be in Lenny's name; otherwise, Henry would lose his compensation checks, though the Hawk Man made much more that his compensation checks, Lenny knew it was his fear to lose them.

Lenny told Hawk Man the expenses were high on the trailer, what with lot rent and utilities. Henry slowly realized his friends were getting rich and were no longer paying as much attention to him as they had been before. They wanted to go out and spend the money they had gained by Henry's misfortune while the Hawk Man was forced to live in the trailer all day and night. Lenny and Honey had made the trailer pleasant, but every day people walked through pointing and laughing at him. It was hateful and hurtful.

No pictures allowed they made a lot of money with the photos on sale in the lobby. Henry was sure they were snapping photos of him on the sly with their cell phones, when he caught a kid snapping away. He roared at the kid to put the cell phone away. The kid lied and said he hadn't taken pictures.

Henry stared at the little puke with his x-ray eye. The laser beam came out, burning the phone in the kid's hand. The kid screamed and dropped the red-hot phone, running out of the trailer.

"Why did you do that?" Lenny shouted. "He'll bring the police back!"

"The kid broke the rules."

"You can't be layering people," Henry. The following day Lenny installed bullet proof glass between Henry and the walkway. Lenny wasn't going to risk any closer calls. He and Honey realized Henry was getting out of control. If nothing else, the sideshow became even more popular when news got out about the laser eye. The display of Henry acting out behind glass, was even more thrilling for people.

It was Honey that brought the whole thing down around them. She was talking to Lenny about Henry's loss of control and her fear that he would not be able to be contained. Lenny agreed.

Henry Hawk Man Hickman could hear every word through the thick glass. They were so foolish. They thought they controlled Henry, where he had always been the one in control. Lenny was merely a dancing puppet.

When the two came to talk to Henry about his behavior, his temper flared, and both Lenny and Honey were gone, vaporized on the spot.

Henry couldn't believe what he had done. Who would feed him now? He couldn't walk any more, he could no longer take care of himself. The rage that built up in him reached a level that had never been achieved. How could he be so stupid? He had killed the only friends he had in this world. He had nothing

Henry screamed in anger as the laser x-ray eye blew out the bulletproof glass, heating the trailer until it caught on fire. The flames licked up the walls around him. He wasn't a superhero any longer, because everyone knows a superhero can fly, and has a trusty sidekick. He had none of those things.

THE END

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