Hero

It was perfect. Everything was going according to plan.

Ten years. Ten years he had been planning, sitting on these feelings while he wove a protective cocoon around himself. He had volunteered at animal shelters. Made surprise trips in costume to the children’s cancer ward. Given money and – this had really won him points with the mommy bloggers – knitted blankets for critically ill children. Hell, he’d learned to knit so he could do it.

The cancer kids had been the most fun. They couldn’t believe it when their favorite superhero showed up to spend the day with them, give them flying lessons, and make the appropriate sounds over their paintings of him. He’d actually enjoyed seeing them, especially the dried-up leaves of children who couldn’t leave their beds. Maybe it was because they were close to the edge, the earth crumbling under their feet while they were too weak to even grasp a ledge to save their lives. It wasn’t quite what he was looking for, but it would do.

He inhaled slowly, hoping that with this breath he would be able to remember the way the grass smelled and the bite of the anthill at the edge of the house. Anthills had a unique smell, one he remembered well from when he was a boy and used to destroy them for fun. They had been on the edge too, but he supposed insects always were. Their bodies may have been designed for hard work but when it came to the bottom of a giant’s shoe they were powerless.

Powerless. Like the man behind the window.

He allowed himself a grin as he leaned against the house, which smelled like it had just been painted again. They never kept it the same color for more than a year or two and once the change had been so dramatic that he’d had to check to make sure the address was the same. That had been early on, though. Now he would have been able to tell the difference even if they’d painted it eggshell instead of ivory.

The glass wasn’t double-paned, not like the windows at his house, and he could hear the muffled voice of the critic extolling the virtues of his latest movie. He tuned out after “his best work since Plasma Man” but his grin got wider. The timing was just as perfect as the weather. No mud to make plaster casts of his shoes, no wet clothes to point the finger at his being outside, and now the compulsory red carpet photo of him with his arm around a woman who would kill to be his girlfriend.

Kill. Yes, that was right.

It seemed as good a time as any to get started, to slide into the house just as his face was disappearing from the screen and behind the chair where he was sitting on the edge, waiting for his push even though he had no idea it was coming.

The last thing Kinsey would see before his life soaked into the carpet was the face from the red carpet, a face that had come to be associated with charity and goodwill, kindness, and one spectacularly bad attempt at pop music. No one would believe it. There would be articles throwing doubt on the charges, protests with signs demanding his freedom, and hundreds of blog posts and tweets proclaiming that they knew he was innocent, that he was framed, that the justice system had it out for him.

He kicked the anthill on his way to the back steps for good measure. One or two thousand more lives wouldn’t make a difference tonight.

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