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“Here’s something I don’t understand.” Kalila paused outside the old movie theater and gazed at one of the posters. “What’s this fascination humans have for superheroes?”
“It’s a natural impulse," Ricky said. "We all want to think someone will come along and save the day.”
“But you have us.” She spread her arms. “Gods, djinns, fairies…we can do everything your superheroes do. Or at least we could back when your kind still believed.”
Ricky suspected where this was going, but they had been on the road for days, tonight’s gig had been troublesome, and all he wanted was a little walk in the cool night air so he could clear his head enough to sleep. A discussion of how humans had failed Kalila and her supernatural kind wasn’t in any of his late-night plans.
“You abandoned us for humans in masks and tights.”
“Not all of them are human. Superman—”
“Oh, please.” Kalila began walking again.
Ricky hurried to catch up. “It’s just stories; fantasies humans like to tell each other.”
“That’s my point. Why resort to fantasy when you have reality?”
“Because reality is problematic?” When Kalila didn’t answer, he tried to explain. “If I ask you to do something for me, you might do it or you might not.”
“That’s because I’m not your servant.”
“Right. But superheroes always come when called. We made them like that.”
“So it’s about control. You can’t be in charge of us, so you imagine powerful beings in your own image who you can boss around.”
Ricky had never thought of it that way before. “I don’t know if ‘boss around’ is how I’d put it. You have to be worthy and in need.”
“But if you are, then the superhero will always come.” Kalila nodded wisely. “You knew you couldn’t count on a real deity to help, so you invented ones who play by your rules. Since you created them, you’re in charge, which makes you the superhero.”
This was too much philosophy for one night. “Let’s go back to the hotel. Maybe I can find something on TV to help me relax so I can sleep.”
“Will this help?” She conjured a glass of neat Scotch whiskey.
“Not out here.” Ricky looked around. “They have laws about drinking on the streets.”
Kalila laughed. “If a cop saw you, I’d make him think it was a cup of coffee. If you went to jail, I’d get you out again.” She forced the drink into his hand.
Ricky took a sip and sighed with pleasure. Kalila knew her single malts. And in spite of her cantankerous ways, she always came through for him when it really mattered. He put an arm around her and they continued toward the hotel. It was nice to have a personal superhero.
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