Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "In Some Home Neighborhood"

This poem came out of the March 3, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "Pie" square in my 3-1-20 card for the Food Fest Bingo. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth, [personal profile] fuzzyred, and [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Broken Angels thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: Do not read with mouth full. Hilarious supervillain fluff ensues.

"In Some Home Neighborhood"

[Saturday, October 17, 2015]

Faster Blaster was home alone
because Cas had gone to a class on
Babysitting Safety and First Aid while
the button twins were running errands.

So when the doorbell rang, there was
nobody else to answer it, and he had
to put down his paperwork for a minute.

"Hi sweetie," said Edie, with a neighbor lady
standing beside her. "We thought that
you could use some cookies today."

Each of them handed him a paper plate
piled high with cookies, recipe taped
on top, and then scrammed before
he could say more than, "Thanks?"

Closing the door, Faster Blaster
peeled off the cling wrap and
took one of each type.

Edie had given him
kitchen sink cookies
with three different kinds
of chips and he didn't know
what-all else in them.

The other lady had left
honey cookies that were
warm and soft and so good
that they made him whimper.

With a monumental act of will,
Faster Blaster rewrapped the plates
and put the cookies in the kitchen.

You didn't earn your gang's respect
by keeping all the good stuff for yourself.

Firmly he turned his attention back to
the paperwork, where he was perusing
city regulations regarding garages. He'd
need somewhere to work on stolen cars.

He had just picked up the pamphlet
when the doorbell rang again.

When he went to open it,
there was Ruthie Willoughby
holding a whole apple pie.

He could tell that it was
a Cinnamon Slam, because
brown powder dusted the top crust
and brown juice bubbled out the vents
and the smell curled his nose hairs
while making his mouth water.

"Now Ruthie, I've told you that I
don't take tithes --" Faster Blaster said.

"Have you eaten your lunch yet?"
the old lady demanded.

"Yes I have," he said.

"Then here's your dessert,"
Ruthie said, firmly pushing the pie
into his hands. He didn't resist
very hard. "I've seen you running
all over this neighborhood, and
I heard speedsters run out of gas
if they don't get enough calories."

"Yes, ma'am, that can happen,"
Faster Blaster confessed.

"Go eat your dessert so it doesn't.
You have about 5,000 calories
to put away," Ruthie said, and
shooed him into the house.

So Faster Blaster cut a piece
of spicy apple pie to enjoy while
he browsed through the pamphlet.

It looked like he might want to get
a small garage instead of a large one,
since the regulations got tighter
as the facility got bigger.

Then the doorbell rang again.

Faster Blaster crammed the last
of the pie into his mouth and
hustled toward the front door.

There stood Georgianna Cozzens
with her youngest baby on her back
and a cake held in her hands.

That was her hobby, she baked
cakes for people in the neighborhood.

"What's up, Jee-Jee? Nobody has
a birthday today," said Faster Blaster.
Then he panicked. "They don't, do they?
Tell me that I didn't forget anyone!"

"You didn't forget," Jee-Jee said,
laughing. "It doesn't have to be
a birthday to bake a cake. I heard
that Cas had a babysitting class today,
so I figured he shouldn't have to come
home and make dessert on top of that."

"It's very thoughtful of you, thanks,"
Faster Blaster said, looking at the cake.
It was piled high with white icing and
filled with a thick layer of pecans.
"What kind of cake is this?"

"It's carrot cake with pecans
and cream cheese icing," she said.
"Try not to eat it all before Cas
gets back to see it, okay?"

"I won't even cut it until
supper," he promised.

On her back, Paisley
began to cry, and then
Jee-Jee said, "I should
get going. See you later!"

She scampered down the steps,
leaving Faster Blaster with
a hand full of cake and
a head full of questions.

He put the carrot cake in
the refrigerator to keep
the cream cheese icing
cold, and then grabbed
another pair of cookies
because they sure as hell
wouldn't run out of dessert.

The cookies really were
amazing. He should probably
do something nice for Edie and
her neighbor, but the button twins
had already fixed the gutters and all.

Well, he'd think of something later.

Faster Blaster was sorting through
his options for tax breaks, grants, and
other incentives for local businesses
when he heard the doorbell go off.

Willie Singleton grinned at him,
holding something wrapped in
a towel with a rooster on it.

"Morning, Willie, what do you
have there?" Faster Blaster said.

"Creamy chicken casserole,"
Willie said, his teeth flashing white
in a dark face. "Hope you like it."

"What on Earth for?" said Faster Blaster.
He was getting more and more confused
every time the doorbell rang today.

"I figgered that everyone else
would bring desserts but
no real food," Willie said.
"That's not so helpful."

"Well, you're not wrong,"
Faster Blaster admitted.
"Cookies, pie, and cake."

Willie cackled. "Eat up, son,
you've earned it," he said.
"We've seen you busting butt
all over this neighborhood, and
we want you to know how much
we all appreciate your efforts."

"Thanks," said Faster Blaster.
"I'm sure Cas will be thrilled
to get home and find that he
doesn't need to cook tonight."

Willie creaked and groaned
his way down the steps.

Except for Jee-Jee who was
a stay-at-home mom, the others
had all been senior citizens,
who either didn't have kids
or had kids who didn't pay
much attention to them.

When the button twins
got back from their errands,
Faster Blaster would put them
to making a list of ways to help
some of the older folks around here.

Taking care of them would help keep
the neighborhood quiet and happy,
and it was the right thing to do.

Faster Blaster finished taking notes
about the financial aspects and
moved on to real estate ads.

He wasn't even surprised
when the doorbell sounded.

There was no food, though.
Instead Oretta Dabney looped
a beautiful scarf around his neck,
striped in soft shades of blue,
like a stack of well-worn jeans.

"What's this for?" Faster Blaster said.

"I was a school teacher, young man,
I know what velocity does to wind chill,"
Oretta said, patting him on the hand.
"Besides, I saw people bringing food
and thought you'd have enough of that."

Faster Blaster chuckled. "Yeah, and
only one of them brought a main dish."

"I'm sure you and those kids will
have no trouble putting away dessert,"
Oretta said. "Thank you for everything
you've done for the neighborhood."

"You're welcome," said Faster Blaster.
"Do you need someone to walk you home?"

"I'm not dead yet," Oretta said as she
waved him off. "Go back to work, I'm fine."

Faster Blaster went back to work, but
his head was buzzing. Sure, he'd been
doing this and that around the neighborhood,
but he hadn't expected people to react like this.

Maybe he should ask Boss White later,
whether he was doing it right or wrong.

The real estate ads proved more frustrating
than useful. Some neighborhoods in Lincoln
were in good shape, but most were run down.

The only places with garages for sale weren't
anywhere useful to him at the moment. He
might have to renovate something else.

Grumbling, Faster Blaster crossed out
the last potential ad, and didn't even mind
when the doorbell pulled him away again.

There was a ... person on his porch.

She, or possibly he, was tall and
statuesque, with a handsome face
and warm tinted skin. Ash-brown hair
fell long and loose, the top turning
to silver like frost on an old tree.

Under a black leather jacket,
a black spandex dress hugged
every curve and offered up
an impressive bosom.

"Hi, I'm Auntie Jo,"
she said with a wink.

"Um ... hi. I'm Faster Blaster,"
he said, trying not to stare.
He was probably failing at that.

"Yes, they're fake," Auntie Jo said.
"I'm a transvestite. Yes, you can
call me 'she' -- I spend most of
my time en femme these days."

Faster Blaster heaved a sigh
of relief. He hadn't dared to ask,
and Halley Finn would glue
his shoelaces together if he
mucked up a gender reference.

"Pleased to meet you," he said.
"What brings you to my door?"

"I brought you something,"
Auntie Jo said, holding out
a hat. "Even supervillains
need to keep warm on the job."

"Who said I was --" he sputtered.
It was true, but no need to spout it.

"Some of my other clients mentioned you,
of course," said Auntie Jo. "They told me
you were a good kid and to take care of you."

Faster Blaster felt like he'd stepped off
the last stair into thin air. "Wait, what?"

"I make leatherwork for the kink, queer,
and cape communities," she said. "I do
custom leather, including costumes for
any color cape, going by Stonewall Joe."

"Ohh," Faster Blaster said, enlightened.
"Now that name I've heard of before.
And you gave me a hat?" Quickly
he unfolded it to find a hunter's style
in black leather with warm ear flaps,
all lined in genuine fur of silver-gray.
"Wow, this looks incredible."

"Well, somebody has to look
after you," said Auntie Jo.
"Put on your hat, hon, it's
getting ready to rain."

When he put it on,
it was just as warm
as it looked. "Thanks!"

"Welcome," said Auntie Jo.

"Do you have any idea why
people keep bringing me things?"
Faster Blaster said. "I really
haven't done anything to deserve
this much attention. I mean, I have
big plans, but I'm barely getting started!"

"You've already done more in a few weeks
than the local authorities have in years,"
said Auntie Jo. "When the world seems
large and complex, we need to remember
that great world ideals all begin in
some home neighborhood."

Faster Blaster opened
his mouth, couldn't think
of anything clever to say,
and then shut it again.

His brain seemed
to have given up after
all the unexpected stuff
going on here today.

Auntie Jo folded him
into a warm, squashy hug.

"Don't worry, hon," she said.
"You're doing just fine so far,
and I'm sure you'll figure out
the rest as you go along."

"I hope so," Faster Blaster said
in a shaky tone. "I really hope so."

"Well, you can come talk to me
if you need the voice of experience,"
said Auntie Jo. "I've done my share
of wild things over the years. If you
need a new costume, or a set of
biking leathers, I'm good for that too."

"Driving, actually," said Faster Blaster.
"I'm a car man, not a bike man."

"Can do," said Auntie Jo. "Look
for Hide / Bound. You can't miss it."

"I may look you up," Faster Blaster said.

"Then I'll see you around, hon,"
Auntie Jo said, and sauntered off.

No sooner was she gone than
the button twins thundered up
the steps into the house, followed
at a more sedate pace by Cas and Hali.

"Oh hey, cookies -- and somebody
made pie!" Bobbie exclaimed.

"Holy shit, there's a whole cake
in the fridge," Kato said.

"Where did all this food
come from?" Cas said,
looking as bewildered
as Faster Blaster felt.

"Our neighbors brought it,"
Faster Blaster said, explaining
who made which items. "There's
a casserole too, that's from Willie."

"I don't even need to cook," Cas said
with a tired smile. "Yay. I can just
throw together a salad for a side."

"That works for me," Faster Blaster said.

Cas drifted closer and feathered a hand
over his shoulder. "Relax, boss," he said.
"I know it's a bit weird, but you got this.
Folks just want to show they're grateful."

"I guess I'll get used to it eventually,"
Faster Blaster said. "It's just ... new."

Despite the novelty, though, he was
starting to believe that he could make
a difference in some home neighborhood.

* * *


This poem is long, so its notes appear elsewhere.
Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, food, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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