Betty Battles Superhero Blues by Catherine Chiarella Domonkos
Lady, why you stay with man who is married?
The cab driver’s third eye glows in the rearview mirror. He’s clairvoyant in his white turban. You’d think I’d be used to this charge by now. We’ve been at the light for a few seconds, but I feel sick already. I hit my head on the air-conditioned window watching you cross the street as you cradle your phone to your ear. It rings; you bolt; I stay. Same page every time. My throat tightens. I roll down the window and get a thick blast of sour beer, sweaty bodies, exhaust. My head pounds.
He’s not married.
You don’t show for Christmas dinner with my family or my college roommate’s wedding, so I say that same thing. If I get that head tilt one more time, I’ll leap from the tallest building. I explain you’re out saving the world prosecuting some Teflon don or jihadist sheik who messes with truth, justice, and the American way. But I don’t know too much about what you do, actually.
Googling your name over and over just confirms you work for the Department of Justice. You say the identical blue suits hanging behind your office door are in case of emergency. My Superman, you’re always ready.
Hey, I’m finally in a place where it’s safe to talk. Wait up for me. Cynics claim this is a bootie call at 2 a.m., but I know you’ve been on a secret mission and that’s why I haven’t heard from you in a month. My heart beats a little faster at the sound of your voice.
I wait up for you and don’t mention your killer tan.
I trail you one weekend when you have to visit your father, whose nurse has threatened to quit if he wanders off again. An unsmiling young woman opens the door and I hear boyish shrieks of Daddy! Daddy! from inside. But it could be the voice of a demented adult. It really could.
My stomach churns.
Oh, missus! He is definitely not loving you most of all. You understand this, yes?
I groan and my sweaty hand slips from the door handle. Fwap!
When Gotham quakes and days are suddenly Before or After, your phone rings. You abandon me and your coffee, skip the shower, and don the blue suit. You speed to the rescue. I wonder if it’s the commissioner or your wife calling. I wonder how Mary Jane Parker and Lois Lane ever held up.
Just take me home.
I plead, but the fist around my throat grips tighter. I open the door and spray the curb with chocolate fondue and chardonnay.
Oh, Brad! It’s over! I whimper.
Until next time.
Catherine Chiarella Domonkos‘s short stories have appeared in PANK and Word Riot. She holds a master’s in business from New York University and lives in Greenwich Village with her husband and their two children.