Here is  a story in which you are the hero.  Well, the sidekick.

There is a hero and his group and the villain and his group.  But you must not imagine that you are in a superhero story.  The hero is a suburban dad.  You are, well, you.  The rest of the hero’s crew are neighborhood people.  The villain is a rangy, rawboned young man in a wifebeater who operates out of a collection of trailers out in the sagebrush.  His crew are trailer park people.  One of his sidekicks is a woman in her 30s who looks like a cafe-waitress: a bit the worse for wear, stringy mouse brown hair, prettyish if not so unkempt, face a bit lined, a little too thin.  There are no superpowers.  Maybe minor powers, the woman can possibly do a few spells or something.  There are devices that work better than they should.  You are definitely a sidekick in a pulpish or cinematic story.  But no superpowers.

There is a backstory by the way.  Act 1, before the story starts, you and the hero tangled with the witchy woman.  You of course prevailed.  Now, in Act 2, she found this villain and helped him put together a group.


As the story opens the hero and his group have got the drop on the bad guys out by some junk to one side of the trailers.  They have their guns out and pointed.  But the woman does something or other and all of the group except the hero slump over.  And you, because you are apparently just in the back watching.  The bad guys use the distraction to crowd onto some kind of battered metal platform which then takes off straight up.  It can’t maneuver, it just goes up and down, but that is plenty of time out of range for them to all draw their own pistols.  So off they go.

Nothing daunted, the hero busily arranges all the slumped bodies in poses of alert pistol pointing at the spot where the platform will return.  One or two momentarily wake up in a panic but the hero wrestles them back into shape where they resume their stupor.   Down come the villains, but instead of one man and a bunch of comatose, they see all guns pointed at them.  The hero confidently barks out an order, the bad guys drop their weapons, and now it is too late for them.  One fat man and the woman try to run into the brush.  But the hero calls out an offer of mercy.  The woman comes back.  Eventually the fat man does too.

Now the story accelerates.  At least it feels that way.  From now on, you experience the rest of the story with much greater intensity.  Your mind floods with information and meaning.

The group, particularly the rawboned leader and the woman, are sitting on two  sets of trailer steps facing each other across a narrow gap.  The woman is sitting on the stairs where she lives with a recent boyfriend.  He is not part of the group and hasn’t come out this whole time, and does not now.  You are there too.  You now discover what your role is in the group.  You are the Priest.  Not a Catholic priest, per se.  Not a D&D-style healer.  But you are there essentially because you are religious.  The woman is nicking the man’s temples to bleed him to relieve his stress and you suddenly see that her witchiness is a few half-remembered flotsam from the old days.

You tell them to repent.   You tell them to live the right way.  The woman tears up.  She says or you somehow know that she has had an abortion and her womb is scarred.  You tell her that if she repents she will miraculously be healed.  They are not your words.  You feel an outside agency operating through you.  But it is as if that were an excuse, because with that promise made her confidence is gone and you see the raw fear very near the surface.  But no one would want me, she says.  She glances at the young man.  You can tell she doesn’t think he cares for her sexually or even want that.  But he has real qualities, and she has cherished being able to advise him and offer him support that he values.  She wants to be wanted.  But she believes that she has nothing to offer beside her witching.  Inside the trailer there is the unfelt presence of the man who also does not really want her with him long term, and is only here for now because of what she offers him now–and she knows it.  You say something that is from yourself.  It is very like you, this thing you say.  “You see, your fears are the strings on which he plays you.”  You both know who ‘he’ is, the dark man down down.  You then open your mouth to say the next thing you have in mind to say, the next thing that you would naturally say in these circumstances.  Which is that if she repents she will eventually find her  man, whether in this life or in the life to come.  It is true and it is reassuring.  But that unseen agency stops you.  It has other words to say and you let it.   You say, ‘you have no promise.’  The understanding that flows through you is that she doesn’t need her fears assuaged.  She needs to submit.  She needs to kill them by embracing the possibility of the worst.  The story ends with your feeling that quite likely for her and for all of them, all will be well.


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