The Red Avenger
The Red Avenger’s body smashed through the skylight of the Raleigh Convention Center and fell one hundred feet before crashing into the floor below. The crowd stared in stunned silence as his body lay still in the middle of broken glass and girders. A spider web of cracked concrete radiated from his lifeless form. A calm voice on the PA told everyone not to panic and to remain seated.
His fallen body could only mean one thing. They collectively looked up as the Masked Menace came hurtling through the open skylight and landed on top of the Red Avenger’s body. The Menace stood triumphantly over his arch nemesis and opened his arms wide, revealing the black silk cape that lined his costume. The onlookers booed and hissed at the man.
Two security guards ran to the middle of the arena to apprehend him. It was a valiant, but pointless gesture. The Menace threw a kick to one man’s stomach and sent him flying into his partner. They fell to the floor, knocked unconscious. The Menace turned to the crowd.
“Is that the best your town can do?” He lifted the head of the Red Avenger then slammed it into the concrete. It made a sick sound that reached all the way to the back row. An inebriated and outraged man in the front row screamed back and tried to climb over the protective barrier. Security guards held him back.
The Menace picked up the Red Avenger and held him up my the armpit. He turned a full circle, parading the fallen hero like a dead trophy. His cruel smile, visible below the mask, infuriated the crowd.
He leaped into the air, carrying the Red Avenger almost to the full height of the center. He dropped him again. The Red Avenger plummeted to the ground again. His body landed head and neck first. It was too much for the crowd to bear. Many looked away. The Menace beat his chest as he hovered in the middle of the convention center.
“I pity you and your hero! Maybe it’s time Raleigh had a real man!” He pointed to a buxom woman in the third row and blew her a kiss. She hurled her beer cup at him, but it fell far short.
An electric murmur ran through the crowd. The Menace was too busy crowing to notice the Red Avenger had rolled over onto his side. People began to cheer. Others tried to distract the Menace by shouting insults at him. He just laughed them off and began to fly in wide circles around the center.
The Red Avenger got to a knee. He reached a hand to the ground to steady himself. The crowd roared. The Menace saw none of it. The Red Avenger lifted his head. He tossed his blonde locks back and the audience saw the determination in his face. He lifted his eyes to the Menace, who had his back turned.
The Red Avenger got to his feet. He took a deep breath and tried to leap into the air. He faltered. The crowd screamed enthusiasm. He tried again and stumbled. The Menace began to search the faces of the crowd, trying to understand what they were screaming. He turned to look where the Red Avenger had fallen, only he wasn’t there. He’d missed the hero’s leap by just a few seconds. No sooner had he realized the Red Avenger was no longer there, than he felt the powerful arms of the man wrap around him.
The Red Avenger held him in a tight grip, locking his fingers. He pulled the Masked Menace out of the air and dragged him down to earth. At the last moment the Red Avenger let go and twisted his body mid-air to bring the Masked Menace full force into the concrete. The crowd went wild.
Nose bleeding, the Masked Menace stood up. The Red Avenger waved him on. The Menace wiped the blood from under his mask then started for him. He stopped half way and looked at the ground where a large girder from the ceiling lay. He picked it up and flung it towards the crowd. The Red Avenger leaped into the air to chase it down before it crushed and maimed the watching audience.
As he leapt over the Masked Menace’s head, a hand shot up and grabbed his red boot around the ankle. He was ripped from the sky before he could stop the girder. The audience screamed as they realized there was nothing left to stop it.
Thousands of eyes watched in slow motion as the girder flew towards a group of people in the upper seats. Suddenly there was a flash of light from the middle of the doomed crowd. A beautiful blonde woman ripped off her dress revealing a sparkling red bikini. Red bolts of energy shot from her fingertips and the gird turned to harmless red smoke. The audience went ecstatic.
The blonde woman in the bikini, known as The Red Kick, sometimes sidekick to The Red Avenger, leaped from her seat and landed in the middle of the center, putting the Menace between her and the Red Avenger. The Masked Menace shook his head.
“Now that’s not fighting fair!” He brought a hand to his lips and whistled. A woman in the first row jumped out of her seat and ripped her clothes off in mid-air revealing a black bikini even more skimpy than the one The Red Kick was wearing.
The fight went on for an epic half hour that both the live crowd and the pay-per-view television audience would be talking about for weeks. It finally ended with the Masked Menace’s sidekick, Night Silk, getting captured when he sacrificed her to make his escape.
Backstage the Red Avenger sat hunched over with an ice pack to his neck. The Masked Menace sat next to him drinking a beer.
“Hell of a show,” said the Menace.
“Yeah. They got their money’s worth,” he winced as he turned his head. “Maybe next week in Tampa, don’t bring me down so hard on the second drop.”
“You’re getting old.” He wiped away a trail of blood from his upper lip. “Didn’t feel like you were holding out much.”
“Sorry about that. But next week in Tampa, it’d mean a lot to me of you let me get a few more moves in. My kid will be there with the ex.”
The Menace took a sip from his beer. “You got it. I’ll make sure his dad looks like a real hero. Stacy and Karen heard about some oyster shack by the river. You wan’t to go?”
The Red Avenger nodded his head. “Sure. Just as long as it’s some place quiet and we can avoid a crowd.”
“Should have worn a mask all these years. I can go anywhere.”
“Yeah, I know. I just wanted my kid to be able to tell his friends what his dad did for a living. Be proud.”
“How’d that work out for you?” said the Menace.
The Red Avenger rubbed his neck. “It never ends. First it was pro ball, then test pilot, now this. Kids. You’re afraid you’ll never measure up in their eyes. When he’s a little older and cynical I’ll probably have to turn heal like you.”
“That’s why I tell mine I’m a truck driver. They’re just happy when they get to see me. It’s all about managing expectations.”
The Red Avenger nodded. He put a hand to his sore back and hobbled towards the showers. He looked back. “Mind if we just drive there tonight instead of flying?”