Episode 5

Downtown Gargle City, just outside the business district

Dirt Man was wandering randomly around downtown Gargle City, hoping to bump into someone with “sidekick” written all over them. So far it hadn’t panned out, likely because everyone on the street avoided getting within five feet of Dirt Man if they could help it, so there wasn’t much chance for bumping. He wondered idly if he should have taken a shower this morning, and decided as he had shortly after getting out of bed that when a shower nozzle looks as predatory as the one in his trailer, it’s better to give the whole showering thing a pass. Besides, doing so would have washed off some of the nice dirt that he had accumulated over the past few days.

He hadn’t really wanted to resort to random wanderings, but after sitting at home for four days hoping against hope that someone might realize that he was in need of a sidekick and call him, Dirt Man had decided that he might as well do something, even if it was totally futile. Now it was getting to be mid-afternoon, and he still hadn’t found a sidekick. Not that it was much of a surprise.

Glancing at a clock hanging in the window of a nearby bank, Dirt Man decided he should probably start the trek back to the trailer park or he would arrive too late to eat anything. He figured that as long as the food in his trailer provided by the Commissioner lasted, he might as well take advantage of it. He didn’t have any money of his own to buy anything with in any case.

As Dirt Man wound his way out of the main downtown area, he suddenly noticed a small cluster of figures down a dark alley across the street. He perked up. Although he knew that it was theoretically possible that someone was conducting a legitimate meeting halfway down a dark alleyway, it was much more likely some criminal activity going on, which meant he would get his first action. This was where the criminal undercurrent in the city would learn the name Dirt Man, where the seeds of fear and hatred would be sown. Soon the words “Dirt Man” would be cursed by criminals throughout the city.

These grand thoughts going through his mind, Dirt Man headed down to the end of the street, waited for the “walk” signal to flash on, and crossed. He’d been nabbed for jaywalking too many times back in his hometown to fall for such a simple trick again.

When he entered the alley he saw a woman backed up against the wall by two large and obviously criminal men. Dirt Man was ecstatic. Sure, it was just a simple mugging, but he remembered quite clearly what the Happy Hero(ine)™ Correspondence Course had said about damsels in distress:

“Despite being a classic cliché, the damsel in distress is actually a highly dangerous and rare scenario. You must make sure to proceed with extreme caution in any distressed damsel situation, since although the Primary Objective is still defeat of Evil, your secondary objective will be to make sure the damsel makes it through safely. Villains of any kind will be likely to seek the damsel’s death as soon as they realize that they are hopelessly outclassed by you in battle. This is due to a psychological phenomenon stemming from a deep-seated insecurity with women dating back to bad relations with their mothers. As such, if you need to distract villains from their attempts at killing the damsel, ‘Your mother’ jokes are often very effective.

“Although the survival of the damsel is a secondary objective, there is also a very practical reason for even those gritty heroes intent merely on their own benefit to save her: if you play your cards right, post-distress sex is absolutely to die for.

“Heterosexual gritty heroines, on the other hand, will of course have no good reason to ensure the damsel’s safety, and should avoid damsel in distress situations or be ready to face moral dilemmas.”

Dirt Man approached the men from behind, cleared his throat experimentally, and said in his best super hero voice, “Leave that woman alone.” Not exactly the stuff of legends, but being a super hero gives one a certain license.

The two men turned from the woman they were trying to persuade to part with her purse and looked Dirt Man

over.

“Who the hell are you?” said the man on the left. He had huge eyebrows, and shoulders that looked like they belonged on an ox.

“I’m Dirt Man,” said Dirt Man, and attempted to look dashing. He mostly succeeded at looking dirty instead.

“Well,” said the man on the right, whose entire appearance ran a bit towards the ape part of the human evolutionary tree. “Well.”

The man on the left brought his hand around, and showed Dirt Man his knife. It was a very nice knife, and looked like it was probably very good at cutting and stabbing things. “Why don’t you go about your business,” said the mugger. “And we’ll go about ours. Civilized and all

that.”

Dirt Man stood firm. “Let the woman go,” he reiterated.

Dirt Man didn’t see where he got it, but the man on the right suddenly had a rather large wrench in his hand. The man on the left raised one of his gigantic eyebrows. “If that’s how you want it,” he said.

Dirt Man could tell the conversation was going nowhere fast, and he’d run out of things to say in any case, so he decided to just take things to the next level and get it over with.

“Your momma!” said Dirt Man with great vitriol, and jumped for the man on the right.

The man on the left lunged toward Dirt Man with his knife, but missed him. Seeing that his partner had Dirt Man covered, he turned back to the woman.

Dirt Man meanwhile landed a punch on Ape Man’s arm which appeared to faze him about as much as a flea biting a dog; annoying, worth a good scratch, but not that big a deal. The man swung with his wrench, but it missed Dirt Man because he had jumped back out of range. Dirt Man decided to try a kick since his first blow hadn’t appeared to faze his opponent much, but even as he shot his leg out for the man, the wrench came back around and slammed into his arm. Dirt Man was thrown back against the far wall, where he cracked his head on the brick and passed out.

The man with the wrench turned with satisfaction away from Dirt Man back toward the woman, and got a line of pepper spray straight to the face, followed swiftly by a roundhouse blow to the head.

Dirt Man woke up several minutes later with a nasty headache. Pulling himself up to his feet using a dumpster conveniently located next to him, he looked around and noticed both of the muggers lying unconscious on the ground. The woman was nowhere in sight, having apparently gone on her way after dealing with the muggers.

“What a woman,” said Dirt Man admiringly. She must have dealt with the man with the knife while he was distracting the guy with the wrench. Who’d have thought damsels would be so well prepared these days?

A boy on a bicycle skidded to a halt at the entrance of the alley. Dirt Man walked toward him.

Sam couldn’t believe his luck. He usually disliked having to ride his bike to and from school, but here he was, face to face with the man who was obviously Gargle City’s new super hero. And after one of his heroic battles no less.

Dirt Man looked inquiringly at the boy on the bike, who looked back with great adoration in his eyes. It made Dirt Man slightly uncomfortable; it was the first time someone was obviously impressed with him. He was more used to obviously disgusted.

“You wouldn’t happen to be in the market for a sidekick, would you?” said the boy.

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