“Superman” by R.E.M. from Lifes Rich Pageant
We’d be working on this guy for days. In shifts. I’d been sleeping at my desk. My partner back home was not pleased. But it’s the job, right?
We had the long weekend to our advantage. No judge to speak to meant no need to file charges. An attorney would’ve had the guy out in a moment, of course, long weekend or not, but he hadn’t requested one. He was definitely an American and had dropped some references that made it clear he had a right to counsel, but he never asked for it.
He was tall and broad and weirdly calm throughout. He accepted the offers of food, water, and coffee when offered but hardly seemed undone when they weren’t.
He was pleasant and patient with us, maddeningly so. We insulted him, coddled him, tried to even flatter him. All of it was met with kind disinterest.
He maintained two things throughout. First, he had nothing to do with the bodies we found him amongst. He had just arrived himself and was also interesting in finding out who was responsible.
Second, he was Superman.
The second one was the one that drove the Lieutenant crazy. We’d heard of Superman, of course. But he was a city boy and he wore primary colored spandex. He did not wear glasses and a suit and he did not show up in small town Missouri. Lieutenant apparently had a bit of something for Superman memorabilia and did not take kindly to someone dropping into town—someone who might just be a mass murderer at that—and besmirching the Man of Steel’s name.
Finally, at day 4, our suspect perked up. His eyes stopped focusing on us and it was like he was listening to someone else but there was no one else in the room.
“Oh no,” Marcum moaned, “He’s crazy. I knew it. Waste of time.”
I thought he was playing crazy, a way out of the situation. Not smart enough to get there on day 1, but day 4? Inspiration!
I tried to get his attention, but he waved me off with the friendly but firm, “Sorry, officer, something’s happening.”
I don’t know why, I suppose it was something in his tone, but I did stop. And wait.
His gaze returned to us, his face got serious.
“Officers, I assure you, I respect the law. But it has been days and I’m certain at this point you have no evidence to keep me here this long beyond my proximity. More to the point, I can hear the true criminal preparing for another abduction.”
“Hear?” Marcum asked with a chuckle.
The man continued without acknowledging the smirking doubt, “I know you’re all good people here and you want to do the right thing. I respect your commitment. But I have to go now. I have to prevent this crime. I’d prefer you let me out the front door, but if you don’t, I’m still leaving.
“Is that a threat?” I asked, bristling,
“I hope you don’t receive it like that, officer,” he replied, watching my eyes calmly.
“Well, whatever you’re doing, you aren’t going anywhere, Man of Tomorrow,” Marcum mocked, “So why don’t you just quiet down.”
The man exhaled and shook his head. He looked profoundly sad for a moment.
“Fine,” he said quietly as he stood. He was visibly big and strong so Marcum and I were on our feet immediately drawing our guns. He looked at us and shook his head.
“I wish you didn’t think that was necessary,” he told us sighing, “When I come back with your killer, I’ll fix the damage.”
“Oh yeah?” Marcum demanded, turning off his safety and filling his body with bravado. I wondered if he felt as…weird as I did in that moment.
He continued, “What dama—”
Before Marcum could complete his though the man seemed to disappear in a blur, the wall shattering loudly, concrete and rebar tumbling everywhere. We were left staring at a crumbling, empty interrogation room.
Marcum looked like he might be sick. “Do you think, maybe,” he began haltingly.
“Superman?” I finished the thought.
“I think…oh, this is gonna look bad.”
He always did have a gift for understatement.