There was a moment of clarity in that brief instant when his eyes met the eyes of the child. The toddler stood there in front of his table, the front of his pants soaked and dripping around the ankles from wetting himself. His parents, still fumbling with their jackets, still hadn’t noticed. It was a fitting finale to the miserable dining experience during which the waitress had neglected him and the cook had fowled up his food. It was the climax of another miserable day. Something clicked in Ivan’s mind during that brief moment before the parents began roughly dragging the child from the restaurant. He no longer cared that the world seemed out to make him miserable. An idea was slowly taking form in his mind, a response to the subversions and annoyance in his world around him.

If he could he’d walk the streets surrounded at all times by a brick wall, or else he thought he’d like to be entirely invisible. You see, city life demands its residents make contact with one another, whether they wish to or not. It is very difficult to spend even one day without seeing, speaking, or receiving contact from another human being. If the interactions with other people weren’t at least annoying, Ivan felt they might at least be damaging to his individuality somehow. He didn’t want to give anyone directions or tell them the time, he didn’t want to be told what products he should buy, and he didn’t want to be brought into the lives and psychosis of strangers. Animals have the liberty, when annoyed, of biting, head butting, or kicking; but society denies humans such graces and so Ivan had to devise an alternative plan. It was a week or two before he was ready.

At last he went out into the world with his cane. In order to not look too conspicuous he wore his best suit with it. He fancied that he looked like a gentleman. He smiled that morning in the utter delight of feeling that at last he was taking control. He waited for the beginning of his journey on a bus bench, quietly daydreaming of his adventures to come with a bemused smile.

“Screw you!”, she screamed into the pay phone, “You can’t treat me like this! I’ll kill you! I hope you die! Why don’t you just go die!”.

Everyone was sitting nervously on the benches, waiting for the bus and trying to pretend they weren’t hearing her.

“Screeeeew yooooooou!” she screamed. This time she sounded closer and Ivan couldn’t help but turn to look. The phone was dangling from the pay box and she was facing him, screaming directly at him.

“Excuse me?” he asked in shock.

“You can’t treat me like this, I hate you! I hope you die!” she screeched.

He had never seen her in his life. She looked weathered, like one of those women that had been smoking and tanning their whole life and put on too much makeup to look glamorous. He debated quietly dismissing her like everyone else. He thought about passively aggressively pretending not to be aware of her, maybe she would lose interest and begin screaming at someone else if he just ignored her. He couldn’t bring himself to do that, he felt angry to have some stranger screaming obscenities at him. This was his first opportunity to test his invention. This was his first revenge of the day. He nervously looked around him to see if anyone was watching him or her. When he felt quite secure he looked straight at the woman. She seemed somewhat shocked to have him pay attention to her ramblings. He moved his cane a few inches from the bench and let the tip touch her ankle. He pushed the button on the side. All at once she fell to the ground and was silent. It was her silence that brought people to look. A young man jumped from the bench to help her to a seat, asking what was wrong and if she was all right. She didn’t know, none of them did. Ivan fought back the laughter. The feeling of adrenaline and victory was making him feel light-headed.

He saw the bus approaching and was anxious to get on with his day, he didn’t have anything in particular to do or anywhere in particular to go. Today he was simply going to travel about the city, to utilize his first day of “true freedom” from society. As the bus approached it slowed in front of the stop just long enough for everyone to read the “Out of Service” marquee. The small crowd let out a frustrated groan. It would be another fifteen minutes. The sky looked as if it might rain, which made Ivan nervous because he didn’t have an umbrella. Crazy woman had regained her senses and wandered off, “with her tail between her legs” he thought.

Another bus finally came rolling along. Ivan stood up and stepped toward the street, as if being the first one on the bus would somehow speed up his journey. The bus screeched to a halt and splashed mud on his dress pants. The small crowd pushed their way on and he found a side seat by the window. He was using a napkin he had to try to clean the mud off of his pants. After a moment he realized they weren’t moving so looked up. A stocky man in a wheel chair was rolling his way toward the bus. He had a tall orange flag and bumper stickers on the back of his chair. “Why are we waiting? The bus doesn’t wait for anyone else when they’re not at the stop!” he thought. He suddenly, internally, tried to make himself feel bad for being insensitive. It didn’t work, he was always in a damn hurry and none of these people seemed to understand that he wasn’t there for their company.

The beeping of the little lift lowered and after about 10 minutes of fidgeting the passenger rolled on. The driver was trying to buckle the passenger’s chair in but he wouldn’t roll back close enough to the wall. Ivan was silently trying not to go insane.

They were finally moving. About a block down the street the little “stop” bell rang. It was the passenger in the wheel chair. “For all the time it took him to get on the bus he could have wheeled to this stop,” he thought. He was sure thoughts like this would send him to hell but he couldn’t help it. Another bout of fidgeting with the chair straps and fighting with the elevator and the passenger rolled off and out of their lives. As the bus pulled away Ivan watched the man. He watched as the man stood up out of the wheelchair and began pushing it. He was the only one who saw it. “What the?” he muttered aloud. “I’m gonna get that guy if I see him again,” he thought. He was angry that the guy had slipped in and out of his life and commit this heinous act without giving him the opportunity to punish him.

He turned and looked at a girl sitting across from him with a little dog on her lap. She had dressed the little rat in a sweater. He decided to not waste his time with the owner so scowled directly at the dog as it grinned goofily at him .

“Have you been eating garlic?” a strange voice asked. He looked up and saw an overweight woman with a high parrot like voice.

“No,” he replied. He realized she had been asking everyone on the bus this.

“Are you sure?” she asked in a baby talk way. “Someone’s been eating garlic… Maybe pizza?”

“No,” he snapped.

“Maybe spaghetti? I smell garlic…”

The thought occurred to him to strike out at her, but there were too many people in close quarters on the bus. What if someone saw him, what if they heard the crack? He couldn’t risk getting caught, not so soon into his day of freedom. He consented simply to speak his mind in the most hateful tone possible. That would have to suffice for now.

“I told you no, so why don’t you sit down and shut up! What is this, an asylum on wheels? Who cares who’s been eating garlic?!”

She looked shocked and as if she might cry as she walked back down the aisle to her seat. Some older man was giving him a dirty look.

Ivan took notice and snapped at him. “Why ya giving me the crazy look!? I’m sitting here minding my business!” The man looked away.

“Sir,” the bus driver barked, “If you don’t calm down I’m gonna kick ya off my bus.”

Ivan's face felt warm and he clenched his fists and waited in a silent rage for the rest of the trip. “Maybe I should walk up and down the aisle punishing them all,” he thought. He felt like he did as a child, when the older kids pushed him out of the bus seat and into the aisle for a laugh. He wasn’t a child anymore, and he didn't feel helpless. He just needed an opportunity...

The bus station where Ivan got off was rather crowded. He was pushing through the people and so didn’t notice the old woman squatting on the ground in front of him until he was almost on top of her. She was hoisting her skirt and urinating on the sidewalk with a silly toothless grin. “Nasty!” he exclaimed aloud when he noticed her. He didn’t even need to debate it in his mind this time. He let the tip of his cane brush her knee as he passed. With a groan and a heave, she projectile shat on the ground as the cane cracked and she keeled over. The nasty witch wouldn’t appall him today. The passers-by didn’t even notice. They were already trying too hard not to look at her. Ivan was euphoric.

With each new victim Ivan was becoming increasingly pleased with himself. His cane was an ingenious invention, a cattle prod fashioned into the hollow shaft and connected to the metal tip at the bottom of the cane. It wasn’t long before he began an assault upon nearly anyone that dared to talk to him. “Can you spare some change?” Shock! “Do you know what time it is?” Shock! “Watch out queer!” a younger man snapped as he ran into Ivan. Ivan cracked electricity into him twice before he hit the ground.

Everywhere Ivan went people mysteriously collapsed in his presence and any on looking witnesses had no idea as to why. It shocked him that so many people had the temerity to speak to a stranger however they saw fit. “Hasn’t it occurred to any of these *******s,” he thought, “that it might be a madman they’re being rude to?” He felt no remorse. In a way, he justified his actions as potentially teaching them a lesson and saving them from saying the wrong thing to someone in the future that could get them killed. God knew that Ivan would have loved to have shot most of them, but luckily for them he was perfectly sane.

He was exceedingly delighted with himself on the bus ride home. He could punish anyone he pleased and who could possibly suspect? He was daydreaming about the crazy woman who was always talking to herself and standing in the middle of the road near where he lived. He promised himself to drive up beside her the very next day. He would roll down his window and stick his cane out and deliver her such a shock that she’d never slow traffic again. "It would be much better than her getting run over, that was for sure," he reasoned.

It had begun raining as the bus pulled into his stop. He got off the bus and began speed walking up to his apartment. The gutter was a running river when he made it to the front of his building. He crossed through the grass in the little yard to his apartment door. He began slipping in a puddle of mud so thrust his cane down to regain balance.

There was the sound of a crack. It wasn’t pain he felt, it was something he could only describe to himself as horribly uncomfortable, or disturbing. It was a dull jerking within the muscles of his leg. It was as if someone was shaking him from within his own body. He felt numb as he lay on the wet grass with the rain speckling him in the face. He felt dazed and sore and didn’t want to move. He formed an image of himself lying there in his mind. He was lying in the mud in his very best suit with a cane at his side, a cane he had crafted into an instrument of torture. It occurred to him that he must look quite asinine to anyone who might happen to see him. The thought made him chuckle to himself.

There was a moment of clarity in that brief instant when his eyes met the gray sky above him. “Am I crazy?” he thought. “What am I doing? Is this who I am? I’m no better than these crazies I’ve been shocking all day” The realization was disturbing him. “Am I a maniac?” …

“No, no of course not.” He assured himself, “ I’m a superhero!”