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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

The Subheroes Chapter 5: The Kid Enters The Picture

Submitted by on July 26, 2004 – 9:12 AMOne Comment

The first thing she notices about the bar is that it smells funny. It doesn’t smell bad — but that’s what’s funny about it. There isn’t that fug of slopped beer and secondhand cologne. Everything else about it is utterly bar-like, the taps, the cracked stools, the oversized fireplug in a sleeveless gas station shirt with a “Little Andy” name patch who’s standing under the TV, cleaning pint glasses. But it smells like a library.

The second thing she notices is that her name is chalked on the menu board.

She squeezes in between a couple of stools and rests her elbows on the bar, staring up at the board, the loopy “d” in the middle of her name. She is expected here, at this bar that doesn’t have an awning or a sign, isn’t in the phone book, has no street number on the card the woman gave her — the card only says “Finch’s Pub” and “Second Avenue, New York City” below that, and from the street the bar looks like a store that used to sell musical instruments and launder money and then closed.

And yet she’s here, standing under her name. “Olivia Benedict IPA pint $5 pitcher $17.”

The fireplug stumps down to her end of the bar. “Help you, miss?”

In her head, she is meeting a hundred tragic ends, punched in the face, folded into a trunk, murdering a fat man and hiding out at a motel called The Seashell, she can’t hear the ocean and she can’t call her parents and she’ll have to change her name and repeat it to herself in the mirror, and what if it’s an ugly name like Mildred or Geraldine?


Or Bertha?

“Get you something?”

“I, uh…” She points to the board. “I’m…that. That second one there.”

The fireplug looks up at the board. “Right. Olivia Benedict. I’ll tell Shelley you’re here.”

He stumps off again, and Olivia perches on a stool. She feels all unmoored and floaty, like there’s no horizon, and her legs are twangy and nervous like they get after sex. She finally really understands what the song “Major Tom” is about — what it means.

The fireplug reappears. “She’ll be right out. I’m Little Andy.”


“Nice to meet you. Get you something?”

“You got any coffee?”

“Brewing. Give me a minute.” Little Andy looks over Olivia’s shoulder. “Finally. She fix it?”

Olivia turns to look. There’s an Asian man in a propeller beanie coming through the front door holding a leaded-glass lamp.

“So, good news, bad news,” the Asian man says, plunking the lamp down on the bar in front of Little Andy. “Which you want first?”

“I think I know the bad news.” Little Andy folds his arms.

“Bad news, not fixed. Good news, can be fixed, just needs a part and then she can fix up, new cord, everything for you, so.”

“But it’s not fixed now.”

“Not fixed now, needs a part.” The Asian man flicks the propeller to twirl it and smiles winningly. Little Andy isn’t having it.

“Jin, what is this, three times now? If she can’t fix it, just say, Andy, Miranda can’t fix –“

“Miranda can fix!” Jin seems offended. “Can fix any lamp, any time! Lamp is picky, not her fault!”

Olivia thinks of her grandfather’s banker’s lamp, sitting dignified and busted on a shelf in her parents’ garage, and says, “Really? Any lamp?”

“Aaaaaaany lamp,” Jin says proudly. “Any lamp, anything electrical, car, straighten knife out, my daughter fix anything for you, like new, you don’t even tell it’s broken before. You have a broken lamp?”

“Actually –“

“Jin,” Little Andy says, “when can she get the part?”

“Goodwill in Jackson Heights has same lamp. Later I pick it up. Now I have glass of beer.” Jin sits on a stool. “Brooklyn Lager. Best lunch in the city.” He turns to Olivia. “So. Your lamp. Miranda take care of it for you cheap.”



One Comment »

  • Chad says:

    Ok, so I read the whole story and I found myself with more answers than questions at the end, such as what was the bad news from the Asian guy? Why was her name on the board? And, what happened afterwords? Please tell me there is more you got me on the edge of my seat looking for answers.