Immigrant Wonder Woman worked the jewelry counter at Walmart because she had lost her touch with taming galactic evil. The Russian space robots had gotten to her, and the damage to her soul was irreparable. But this new job… This was salt in the wound.
An old man dressed in all black wept at the counter because his wife was terminally ill, and he wanted to get her something nice before she rolled over to the other side. He trembled as he spoke. “A pendant with our picture.” That’s what he told her. That’s what he wanted. He wiped at his nose with a white handkerchief. He sniffled. He coughed.
Immigrant Wonder Woman leaned in and whispered to him. “If you really love her…” And she looked from side to side. “Go somewhere else.”
He cupped a hand against his ear. “Huh? What’s that you say?”
She leaned in even closer, and the old man could feel her warm breath on his face. “This is all junk. If you want to give her something nice, go somewhere else.”
The old man wiped at his tearing eyes with his knuckles. “Everyone I love lives somewhere else. Did you know that?”
“No. I didn’t. I’m so sorry. Doesn’t anyone ever come to visit you?”
“No,” the old man grunted with distaste. “They have no use for me anymore.”
“They don’t even want to come visit with their sick momma?”
He blew his nose into his handkerchief, and it sounded like a funny trombone. “My wife? She’s not their momma. That woman is in the looney bin in San Antonio… The one in Texas.”
“Oh wow. That all sounds pretty wild.”
“Yes, mam. And from where do you originate? Doesn’t seem from around here by the looks of you.”
She laughed and did a little dance. “I come from the wild imaginations of men.”
He leaned in like a curious llama. “Huh?”
“Hollywood, California, mister.”
“Oh. I’ve never been out west that far. Too much open sky and sin… Do you know how old I am?”
“Seventy-nine.” He looked at her body and wondered if she could shoot bullets from those breasts. Her nipples stood out through her Walmart uniform top like the rigid barrels of erotic pistols. He tried to shake the weirdness out of his head and asked her again about the pendant. “I have the photograph right here.” He carefully retrieved it from a yellow envelope. “You can cut it up however you like. You know, just our smiling faces. I’d like it to be silver and with an adequate chain because she tends to be reckless and break things.”
Immigrant Wonder Woman laughed then sighed. She looked at her cell phone. “You know. My shift is almost over. Why don’t you let me take you for a coffee. I know a place right by a nice jewelry store. It’s not far. I’m sure they would have exactly what you’re looking for.”
The old man looked at her face. Then he looked at all the things there in the jewelry case. He seemed confused. “You’re not going to kidnap me and do unspeakable things to me, are you?”
She thought he was being old man cute and laughed at what he said. “No. Of course not. I’m a good person. You can totally trust me.”
The old man sipped at his expensive coffee as would a child with an overly full glass of Ovaltine. He sat bent and innocent. His gray eyes were reddened and puffy from too much weeping and lack of good sleep. Immigrant Wonder Woman bit into a cheese Danish and chased it with an iced caramel concoction. “How long have you and your wife been married?” she asked.
He wiped at his mouth with his sleeve. “Twenty-four years… May I ask you something?”
“Were you once a man?”
Immigrant Wonder Woman nearly choked on her iced caramel concoction. She quickly corrected his suggestion. “No. A man? Why would you think I was once a man?”
The old man’s head wobbled as he studied as much of her as he could, even bending to look at the other half of her below the edge of the table. “You’re muscular. Men are muscular. Women have wrinkled fingertips. Yours seem fine.”
“Oh boy,” she sighed. “Now, I know you grew up in a different time and with different ways of thinking. But let me just right your wayward ship… You know, I never got your name.”
The old man sipped on his coffee without looking at her. “Eugene. My name is Eugene Folklore.”
“Okay, Eugene Folklore. This is 2023 and don’t you know women can do anything men can do. And they usually do it better. Women can do anything they want. I have muscles because I go to the gym and work out. I have muscles because I’m a strong, independent woman who’s dedicated to my physical health. And why in the world would I have wrinkled fingertips?”
“Like prunes,” Eugene chuckled. “All that washing of the dishes and the bathing of the babies in the bathwater. But when it comes to the Baptismal font mind you, well, that’s when a man takes over. Washing away sins is the work of men. It’s the work of men because the sin showed up and invaded the world because of the women. Don’t you know anything?”
“Are you feeling all right, Eugene?”
“Sure I am. Why?”
“Because you’re not making any sense at all. Don’t you know a real man cherishes the contributions of a woman. A real man leans on her when he’s weak because he knows she’s strong when he can’t be. And just to be clear, it’s going to be women that clean up all these messes of these damn foolish men… If you’d all just get out of our way and get your shoes off our necks!”
Eugene physically retreated within himself. “You’re angry with me.”
She beamed at him for a moment. She sighed. His frailty nearly broke her heart. “No, I’m not.”
He looked up at her and blinked his run-down eyes. “Will you be my daughter? Just until I die?”
She didn’t know what to say at first, but then it was easy. “Yes, Eugene. I’ll be your daughter.”
He breathed a sigh of relief and smiled. Then his cell phone rang, and he moved a trembling hand to reach for it and put it to his ear. “Hello… Yes… All right then… I’ll be there as soon as I can… Thank you for calling.” The phone fell from his hand and heavily bounced against the table. He began to shake and gasp for air. Immigrant Wonder Woman jumped up and went to put a hand on his bent back. He leaned into her and began to cry just as she said he would.
2 thoughts on “Immigrant Wonder Woman and the Broken Man”
Truth, Immigrant Wonder Woman!
This is so imaginative. Yet anchored in the real world. In which times and atittudes merge. Engaging characters, I think. So well done, overall!