This story is by mark heyer and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Casper wiped the cookie crumbs from the “SP” on his sweatshirt. He tapped his gavel without commitment as two dozen League members milled about in the borrowed church basement. He gaveled again and spoke into his microphone.
“The League of Not-So-Super Superpowers will come to order. I’m not sure why I have to say this literally every meeting, but may I ask everyone to be seated so we can begin?”
Conversations continued as if he hadn’t spoken. But a few more gavel taps finally brought about a general migration toward the rows of folding chairs.
“Again, as it says on the signs posted literally everywhere, if you forgot your cape, pick one up in the back of the room please.”
This re-directed nearly half the assembly back to the box of capes, so he added, “While you’re back there you might pick up a copy of my article ‘The End of Celebrity’. It’s the sequel to “The Celebrity Crash of 2020’… if anyone read that. It’s next to the capes. It’s also featured on the N-Triple-S-P website if anyone ever goes there.”
He watched the last of the members take their seats before resuming.
“Thanks as always for your eventual cooperation. Let’s all rise and begin by reciting our creed which may be found on a printed card on each chair…. You don’t have to take the one on your neighbor’s chair. Literally each chair. Ready?”
All read, but Casper recited from memory.
The curated life is not worth living.
I am not my Instabook.
I am not my Facegram.
I am not keeping up with the Kardashians. Or their ilk.
My true power is in my flaws and imperfections.
I will embrace these above all else.
With the aid and support of you, my brothers and sisters of the League of Not-So- Super Superpowers, I will triumph over the evils of the unattainable self and revel in my boundless limitations.
“Painfully monotone as usual, but thank you. Before we get started, can I get someone to sit between Conspiracy Theory Man and Insanely Gullible Consumer? Not, not you, Faux Insider. This seems a better fit for you, Incongruous Personal Anecdotes Man. If you’d be so kind? Thank you.”
He looked the room over, anticipating the response to the next question.
“Before we begin, does anyone have an urgent craving?”
Lady Fad Diet stood up and cleared her throat – as Casper had expected.
“The chair recognizes Lady Fad Diet. The chair reminds Lady Fad Diet that she must adhere to her assigned flaw for one year before requesting a new one.”
Lady Fad Diet sat back down.
Celebrity Worshiper seemed inclined to speak next, but thought better of it and remained seated.
“People, we are talking about your Not-So-Super Superpower. Not just some personality trait. This is your boundless, imperishable, deplorably, magnificently – human failing. We have selected what we believe is your most inexhaustible power source of this kind. Embrace it! N-Triple-S-P! N-Triple-S-P! N-Triple-S-P!”
A few in every row took up the “N-Triple-S-P!” chant until it became general. Casper was energized and stalked back and forth rooster-like, fanning his cape in approval until the room was in an uproar.
The League was now fully engaged and leaning forward on their chairs.
“All right, I think we’re finally ready for new business. Mr. Sergey Pavel – please approach.”
Pavel, in his late 50s and wearing a rumpled off-the-rack three-piece suit for the occasion, had been waiting anxiously in the front row. He stepped forward to face Casper. Of those present, he alone still had no cape.
Several members created a drumroll on the sides of their chairs, and calls of “Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!” echoed off the low-ceiling.
Pavel glanced back at the merry-makers then to Casper. He seemed at a loss what to do with his large hands, putting them in and out of his suit coat and pants pockets several times.
“Nervous? Good. You should be. This is a moment to which you will never return. Nor should you want to. You are about to be set free. Are you ready?”
Pavel nodded, half-bowed, and finally said “Yes” several times.
“Sergey Pavel, the Assignment Committee has observed you – meticulously. Here, at home, at your place of work, at leisure. They have identified your Not-So-Super Superpower. Are you ready, Sergey Pavel? Ready to learn the power, selected by your seeing and knowing peers; the power that separates you from the common lot? Your extraordinary gift. Your edge. Your mortal immortality. Are you ready, sir?”
Pavel nodded with closed eyes.
“Very well. Sergey Pavel your Not-So-Super Superpower is….”
Casper struggled to unseal a glossy gold envelope.
“Is…is…. Droning. Your Not-So-Super Superpower is droning! Henceforth you shall be known as – The Drone! Watch out, villains! He’ll put you to sleep before you remember to rob the bank. Let’s give a big League welcome to our newest member – The Drone!”
Applause filled the room as the members relived the moment of their own Superpower Assignments and Casper outfitted Pavel with his official cape.
Finally, as everyone settled back in their seats, Casper asked if Pavel had any questions and reached the microphone toward him.
“Well first, thank you so much — Self Pity Man. And thank you to all the members of the League. I hope to make you all very proud. I’ve prepared a few words —”
Casper cut him off.
“You wouldn’t be The Drone if you hadn’t. Nor if you had any idea how many words are in ‘a few’. But I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it to a later meeting. We have some other pressing business to tend to.”
“Well ok, I just wanted to ask then. Is the idea to try to surmount the Not-So-Super Superpower – or wallow in it?” said Pavel squinting.
“That is entirely up to you – Mr. The Drone. But understand that should you defeat your Not-So-Super Superpower, something equally bad or worse will swoop in to replace it. Just ask Lord Puritanical, née Creepy Sexual Innuendo Man.”
“He’s right!” Lord Puritanical concurred. The Drone took his seat.
“The Drone, before we resume, as your first official act as a member, may I ask you to sit between Relationship Meddler and Hapless Gigolo? Scooch down, folks. Perfect.”
Casper paused while the re-seating was completed.
“Normally we would have Social Time now. But to absolutely no one’s surprise, Day Drinker forgot to get us the pinata we voted for last month. However, in this case, it may be fortuitous. So thank you, Day Drinker, and we’ll work out your transportation home as usual at the closing.”
He cleaned his glasses and resumed somewhat gravely.
“Friends, as I have reminded you at literally every meeting this year, my term as chairman came to an end months ago. It’s time for someone else to take over this gavel. Not merely because it’s unfair that I am the only one who has ever done it – true as that may be. And not merely because our bi-laws say the chairmanship is for one year – though that is exactly what they say. If– anyone besides me ever reads the bi-laws. Which I have come to doubt.
“But the real reason, the vital reason, is to show that someone here gets it. Gets it enough to assume this chair. That you believe in your heart that you’re better off embracing your magnificent, monstrous, unfixable flaws. Better off than chasing clouds. Influencers, celebrities, images.
“Look, we all lost someone. You all remember how worthless you felt. Doing nothing but waiting, remembering. Alone with all you never did or said. Maddening. We could either embrace that or go insane. We embrace it! That’s what keeps me – and us going. So who is going to take this gavel?”
No one spoke for a long minute. Then The Drone stood up.
“Your Not-So-Super Superpower is self-pity, Self Pity Man. If someone takes the gavel, how will you keep up your misery?”
Several agreed on this point.
“I’ll be fine, I—” Casper began.
“No, you won’t,” called Lady Fad Diet. “No, he won’t.”
“Chairman for life!” cried Lord Puritanical.
Chants of “Chair for life! Chair for life!” soon filled the basement.
Casper tried desperately to silence the general acclamation with waving hands and yelling “No! Please! Stop!” into his microphone.
But his creation was beyond his control. They marched up the stairs chanting, “Chair. For. Life! Chair. For. Life!” and disappeared into the night, leaving him alone in the church basement.
The parish priest came down the steps.
“Sounded like everyone had a good time.”
“Almost everyone,” said Casper.
“Works the same upstairs. Listen, I’ve got AA coming in a few minutes. I gotta get these chairs back in a circle – if that’s ok.”
“Maybe I should try a circle.”
“Maybe you should try letting it go, Mr. Casper.”
“Well, we’ll see you next month.”
“Apparently. Chair for life.”
“Chair for life.”