Superman and the Oblivion Café

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


“Number 1579 Benedict Canyon Drive is a Cape Cod style, three bedroom, one and a half story house on the base of a hill overlooking the city of Los Angeles, eighteen miles to the south, and it’s haunted; or at least it was, and I should know. I worked nights there for twenty one years.” - J.R. Hamilton Jr.
A mid April sun was dropping below the horizon of an evaporating sea as the same excited Tuesday night crowd found their seats in window booths that ran along the circular wall of the old Griffith Park Café on the peak of Mt. Hollywood. Their panoramic view, sixteen hundred feet above Los Angeles, was blocked by electronically tinted glass, for later effect.
Phyllis Neill, a failed actress and soap opera reject of the early 2040s, sat trembling, facing the mirror over the bureau in her room on the third floor of The Garland Hotel in North Hollywood. The acrid taste of gun oil in her mouth, she switched the gun again to her temple and then under her chin; wondering which position would have the optimal dramatic effect. Phyllis decided under her chin and pulled the trigger just as she saw a “Stranger” appear in the mirror’s reflection of the room behind her. It had a garment bag slung over one shoulder and their trademark creepy smile stretched across its face. It said
“So, how would you like to meet Superman, “Ms. Lane”?” and then laughed.
It was “Cosplay Tuesday” at the Griffith Park Café. The patrons, dressed up in their favorite character costumes, finished their dinner and settled in with after meal coffee and quietly excited conversations. Their anticipation for the following show palpable in the old round café of a 2159 Los Angeles.
The vintage Cape Cod didn’t draw the weekly crowds anymore, the studio employed guard knew. Rummy Hamilton had been with Warner Brothers for twenty five years. Over twenty of those years working four days and one night a week in the “Superman House”, as it was commonly known. But the public was fickle and the “Ghosts of Celebrities Past” gigs were drying up. It would only be a year or so, at best, before the studio closed the house for good. He’d be out of a job, and in the middle of a recession. Rummy was chewing on this thought as he did his outside rounds just before show time.
The forty-something studio guard made his way back to the gate in the front yard. Up until a year ago, he could count on at least thirty people every Tuesday night standing in line for tickets, even though the house could legally only sell fifteen. Rummy walked to the gate and looked down both ends of the street. It was one fifteen a.m., almost show time and not a soul in sight. He decided to lock the gate and go in.
The sound of mumbled conversation froze Rummy Hamilton on the steps leading to George’s Bedroom. He peered through the gap in the door. George was not alone.
The excited diners quieted as the restaurant’s overhead lights dimmed out and a sudden bright spot light brought their attention to the Perry White costumed man standing on a small risen stage just below it. The serious looking man with frosted temples introduced himself as the evening’s MC and asked that his audience give applause to the waiter, hostess and chef. The room exploded with appreciation. He let the audience have the room for a moment, then took control again. He worked them like a pro. He peppered them with period appropriate jokes and quizzed them on relevant trivia. He memorialized the legends and celebrated their contributions. The room, full of Solomon Grundys, Ultra-Huminites, Lex Luthors, Jimmy Olsens, Mxyzptlks and a few Supermans with their accompanying Lois Lanes, responded enthusiastically with laughter, whistles and applause until at last he held his hands up to quiet them down. It was getting close to show time.
The old editor of the Daily Planet began his monologue.
“Friends, I’m sure we are all familiar with the life, career and sad ending of George Keefer Brewer, better known as George Reeves. The “Superman” of mid-twentieth century television entertainment. But what happened to him afterward? Well, tonight, my friends, Superman will tell you himself.”
With a dramatic gesture and a loud snap of his fingers, a hologram appeared in the center of the room just left of Perry. It was George as Superman.
“Great Caesar’s ghost!” the MC ejaculated loudly.
The room gave a respectful applause, and then for the next thirty minutes the manipulated light in the image of George told his story. He told them about his death, as opposed to his life. He told them about the monotony of his suicide, reliving it every Tuesday, every week, every month and every year. He told them about those who watched with a smile, with giddy anticipation, and those who cried. He told them about unlikely friendships and those nights when he truly died alone. But this Superman did not tell them everything.
“Hello, George.” the Stranger said.
George stood barefoot in a bathrobe. His sock drawer open, a Luger pistol dangled from his right hand down at his side. He turned around slowly and acknowledged the form standing in the lamp shadowed corner of his 1959 Cape Cod bedroom.
“I’ll bet you could use a change of scenery, dear boy.” the Stranger said, then chuckled.
The tear streaked face nodded slightly and then turned and looked directly at the dark gap of his partially opened bedroom door.
Johnny Larson was Roadie, but these days he was mostly a junkie. A once promising guitar god from the streets of El Segundo in the 1980s, he developed a habit he couldn’t afford and settled for teching and humping equipment for those who could. Johnny lay naked on his soiled bed sheets, fermenting in his own piss. A syringe stuck in the crook of his left arm. His eyes opening and closing as the heroin made its way through his circulatory system. Then, nothing.
“How would you like to be famous, Kid?” came a voice crisp and clear, slicing through Johnny’s addled brain like a samurai sword.
He sat bolt upright and looked around his room in the seedy Eugene Hotel. His bloodshot eyes landed on a form by the door. After rubbing his eyes mostly clear, he recognized the form as a Stranger.
“Oh, fuck me!” he whined
The Stranger gave him one of those freaky grins and then handed Johnny what looked like a costume in a garment bag.
Rummy raced his old Tesla Model S down Mulholland Drive. He scattered gravel in the corners and chirped the tires in the straightaways while over correcting. He didn’t care anymore. His life was shit ever since that last night in the house. The scene replayed itself over and over. Rummy had watched George through the partially opened door. George had nodded to someone in the room and then placed his pistol back in the drawer. He then turned toward the door and gave Rummy what looked like a sad smile before dissolving into thin air. In the years since, Rummy Hamilton had searched every Ghost House, Ghost Park, Ghost Train, Car, Hotel, Elevator, Bridge and Roof Top in the greater basin and Inland Empire hoping to find George’s new haunt.
Rummy put the accelerator down before the next corner, choosing to end his misery.
“How would you like to see George again?” came a voice from the backseat.
Rummy shot a glance into his rear view in time to see the Stranger in his backseat grinning at him as his Model S left the road and flew over a three hundred foot arroyo.
Dessert brownies and coffee finished, the constant diners watched as the hologram Superman wound down his presentation. He snapped a smart salute to his audience and then disappeared. A spot light split the dark. The Perry White MC stepped into the light.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we hope you have enjoyed this evening's presentation.” he said
The diner erupted in applause that lasted two minutes.
“Wait, my friends! Wait!” he pleaded
“Wait, we have one more thing to show you! He shouted over the now dying applause.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I direct your attention to the windows.”
With that, the electronic tint faded to crystal clear glass. The room looked on a three hundred and sixty degree view off Los Angeles. The city lights and freeways from this height were beautiful. But a moment later, their attention was drawn to the sky as four spectacular bursts of light instantly turned day into night.
“Welcome, my friends! Welcome to oblivion!” the MC shouted out dramatically, just before his audience disintegrated.
The four of them stood alone again in the ruins on the mountain, three hundred years after the event. Mother nature had finally recovered enough to take the mountain back.
“We really killed them tonight!” the MC said.
“Ya know, that joke just never gets old, Rummy.” George said, smiling while taking his paper chef’s hat off.
“Neither do you, Baby.” Rummy replied in his best Telly Savalas voice, and pretending to put a lollipop back in his mouth.
“Say, why don’t you two write a routine and take it somewhere else.” Johnny grumbled and then tossed the prop camera that had been hanging around his neck all night.
Phyllis, dressed like a ‘50s Lois lane, stood atop a mound of concrete rubble and looked west. She gazed out over a dried up Pacific Ocean and silently cried.
The four dissolved again before the sun rose.


Submitted: February 11, 2021

© Copyright 2021 R.Guy Behringer. All rights reserved.

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