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The Power Revealed

“God-damn-it!” Mike barked as he pumped his car brakes and spanked the horn with his palm. The cause of his consternation --a speeding black sedan that cut him off on the highway-- was already long gone. “Stupid son of a…”

“Mike,” Cynthia sighed aloud, interrupting him, “why do you bother?” “

“He cut me off! What am I supposed to do?”

“You can’t do anything about drivers like that. It’s beyond your power. Just stay calm and pay attention to the road. And besides…” his wife said as she turned to look towards the back seat, “... you need to watch your language around Sammy.”  

“He’s not listening,” Mike said dismissively.

“Gawd-damn it.”

“Sammy!” Cynthia snapped. She shushed her toddler who was wedged into his toddler car seat.

Mike, feeling the sudden, pointed glare of his wife upon his flushed face, kept his eyes on the road.

She turned back to Sammy. “Don’t ever say that word again,” she insisted, knowing full well that in this day and age she’d be lucky if her child’s language wouldn’t put a burlesque performer to shame before his ninth birthday.

Sammy resumed playing with Max’s ear. Max, a one-year-old mini-schnauzer, licked at the child’s fingers, salivating at the sugary taste of frosted flakes on each of the small digits.  

Mike sighed. So much for a relaxing trip to the park. Just as his grip around the wheel had begun to ease, though, he glanced up toward the rearview mirror and saw a car coming up fast. By the time he was able to grumble another muted curse, the sleek, red sports car --one of those types for which you were practically required to lie down in the seat in order to drive it-- was up behind his tail, close enough to kiss his bumper if it had lips.

“Oh, for the love of God. Get off my ass,” Mike spat, still staring at the rearview mirror. The sports car was swaying left and right as it tailed him, looking for a window between the other cars on the road.

Cynthia frowned. “Mike…”

“He’s right there!”

“Just let him get past you…”

“How? There are cars all over the road!” Mike exclaimed. He tried speeding up, but the car still adhered to his rear. He contemplated brake-checking the bastard, but at that moment, the driver found a slot and slipped into the next lane. It blew past the side of their car before swerving back across the lane, narrowly missing clipping both the rear of one car and the front of Mike and Cynthia’s vehicle.

“Holy…!” he stomped his brakes and blasted his horn as Cynthia braced her hands on the dashboard and the dog barked wildly in the back.

Once more, Mike watched impotently as the sports car stole away through the highway traffic like a weasel in the thick forest.

“Mike!” Cynthia snapped, “Will you just calm down? He’s an idiot, I know.  Let himself get killed, but you have to take care of us in this car.”

Mike shook his head, chewing his lower lip. “Yeah, I hope his engine explodes right here on the highway. Boom!”

“Boom!” Sammy repeated in the backseat.

Mike grinned.

“Well, whatever helps you relax,” Cynthia sighed, and added, “Slow down a bit, okay?”

He had no choice to follow her suggestion as the highway became noticeably congested.  Within moments, they were at a crawl.

“Must be an accident?” Mike said, frowning.

As they moved along slowly, with cars funnelling into their lane, they noticed a plume of grey smoke billowing into the sky from the road up ahead.  

“Oh, wow,” Cynthia exclaimed.

They both craned their heads slowly as they inched past the scene: a young couple standing on the shoulder of the road, the woman looking concerned with her hand over her mouth, the man frantically waving his hands at the red sports car which had been previously licking Mike’s tailpipe a few kilometres back down the road. Smoke poured out from under the hood along with a couple of sparks and flashes that probably were a good indicator to step further away from the ruined vehicle.

“Huh,” Mike breathed. “Karma.”

Cynthia cocked a brow and smirked as she eyed him. “Now, now… you know what they say about karma. No gloating.”

He shrugged but maintained a smug grin.

“Boom!” Sammy repeated.

Mike looked at his son in the rearview mirror. “See that Sammy? Daddy did that.”

The feeling of satisfaction that comes with witnessing cosmic justice was dispelled after they arrived at the parking lot of the park. It was packed. Mike drove around in circles, hopelessly looking for a spot.  

“Let me ask these people if they’re leaving,” Cynthia asked rolling down her window.

Mike cringed. He hated doing that, but it worked. The people were indeed leaving. They followed them along to their SUV, signalled and watched patiently as the other family packed up and got in. Just as the SUV backed out, another car quickly came from the other side and inserted its nose into the spot.

“Oh, no, no, no,” Mike warned.

“Hey!” Cynthia snapped and pointed at the offending vehicle. She reached across and pushed the horn. Even her patience wearing thin.

Unfortunately, with the way the original car pulled out from the parking space, it effectively blocked them out and allowed the intruding car to manoeuvre itself into the spot. All they could do was sit and watch.

With the other car parked, Mike rolled down his window.

Cynthia shook her head wearily. “Mike…”

“Hey!” he shouted at the other car’s passengers as they got out. “We were waiting for that spot! We were signalling!”

Three of the people, teenagers, simply ignored him. The fourth, the driver, shrugged his arms and grinned. “Sorry, man. Didn’t see you.”

“Well, move it!”

The driver waved a dismissive hand as he turned away.

“Let’s just look for another spot,” Cynthia sighed. A car horn blurted out from behind them. “You have to move. We’re blocking traffic.”

Mike was livid, glaring at the teens as he ground his teeth together. He spat, “I hope you get a flat tire! I hope you get four flat tires!”

“Flat tie-uhhs,” Sammy mimicked from the back.

As Mike reluctantly started to pull away, a loud burst erupted in the air. He and Cynthia jumped in their seats as he hit the brakes.

“What the hell…” He craned his neck to look back at the car that had taken his spot.

A couple more bursts --“Boom! Boom!”--  then there was a shriek from one of the teenagers followed by a fourth and final eruption as if several very large balloons had exploded.

While Max barked furiously in the back seat, Mike crushed his brows together and he gazed back at the scene. As the teens gawked and stumbled around the car, he could see that the back tires had blown out -- there were bits of black rubber scattered on the pavement. The car appeared to be a few inches shorter.

“I think,” Mike said in disbelief, “all the tires blew out?”

Mike regarded Cynthia who looked as if she was processing a physics formula on a chalkboard. Finally, she just gave her head a little shake. “Coincidence,” she said, “Let’s just go park already.”

A few minutes later, they finally landed a spot for the car and unloaded. Mike hauled the cooler and other supplies as the family walked along the grass park looking for a picnic spot.  

“It’s kind of weird, though, right?” he remarked, still mulling over the two incidents.  

“What’s weird about it? They were coincidences,” Cynthia replied with Sammy and Max in tow, preoccupied with scouring the park for an open barbecue pit. She scoffed, “Do you think you did it with your mind?”

“No, but…” Mike paused, then sighed, “Okay.”

After a few more minutes of trudging, they lucked upon a group of people just clearing out from a picnic spot.  

“Hey, um, guys,” Mike said as he watched the group start to walk away, “want to take your garbage with you?”

Plastic bags, cans and food containers littered the spot.

A burly man whose beard smelled and looked like it was dredged in beer and barbecue sauce looked back at him and snorted, “You’re going to use it, you clean it.”

Mike felt his blood pressure spike yet again. Cynthia didn’t have to intercept any verbal salvo this time, however. The two practically physical clones of the first man --stained beards and barrel chests-- also turned to create a wall of aggression, more than enough to make him stand down and pivot away without another word.

Cynthia eyed him and nodded silently.

“Thinking of the family,” Mike said, mindlessly patting Sammy on the head.

“Right,” his wife replied, smirking.

“Still,” he muttered, looking down towards his son, “wouldn’t be so awful if some birdies pooped all over them, right?”

“Buh-die poopie!” Sammy laughed.

“Hey!” a gruff voice suddenly shouted behind them.

The family turned in time to witness the three departing goons frantically waving their hands. In the sky, squadrons of robins and chickadees were circling above and dive bombing towards them, unloading payloads of little off-white turds which splatted on their heads, faces, and all over their bodies. Then just like that, the aerial assault ended. All nearby park-goers were left with was the scene of three men trying in vain to wipe slimy plops of bird crud from their faces, hair and beards.

“Oh…” Cynthia uttered, but stopped and looked at Mike who offered the same gaping, gawking expression back at her.

Sammy was still laughing.

After a few seconds, Mike managed to close his mouth and simply turn away.

It was while he was piling the charcoal and kindling in the barbecue pit that he continued to ruminate about the day’s events so far. While Cynthia set up the picnic blanket and Sammy ran around in the field playing with Max and some other kids, he had the time to entertain the idea that maybe he wasn’t experiencing “coincidences”.  Maybe, just maybe, he managed to cause everything that had happened. He recalled reading something or watching some show that talked about how mental “powers” manifested themselves during moments of duress. Who knows? That car cutting them off earlier may have triggered them in him.

He looked up, staring ahead towards the distance, and grinned. Wow! Superpowers! Wouldn’t that be something? Just think of what he could do… what he could get away with.

His grin widened.

“Hey,” Cynthia said, nudging him out of his revelry, “what are you doing?”

Mike blinked. “What?”

She nodded towards the barbecue. “The fire isn’t going to start on its own.”

He looked down at the pit and at the matchbox in his hand. Then he regarded Cynthia and, still sporting a coy grin, said, “Maybe it will.”

Cynthia puckered her lips and narrowed her gaze upon him.  Then she rolled her eyes and said, “Oh for… what? You think you have some sort of mental powers now? You had something to do with the cars and birds?”

“Maybe.” He shrugged.

She crossed her arms and struck him with a sneering grin. She shook her head, sighed and said, “Okay. Go ahead. Start the fire with your mind... ‘Super Mike’.”

Without a word, he looked again toward the pile of cold charcoal. He actually felt giddy thinking about the possibility. His eyes widened and he held out his hands as he proclaimed, “Fire!”

Both of them stood still and silent for a few seconds then… nothing.

“Fire… start!” he said, again thrusting his palms forward.

Still nothing.

“I want this barbecue to light on fire now!”

So much nothing.

“Try telling the charcoal to rub up against each other really fast. Maybe they’ll ignite,” Cynthia mocked.

“Come onnn… fire!”

Sammy returned with Max. “What’s daddy doing?” he asked.

“Losing his marbles, sweety,” Cynthia replied.

Mike’s shoulders slumped, and he turned away from the unlit barbecue dejected.

She patted her husband on the shoulder and said, “Daddy was trying to start the fire.”

Sammy looked at the pit. “Stawt the fy-uh?”  

A robust flame suddenly spouted up from the heart of the pit immediately setting the charcoal and kindling ablaze.  

Cynthia pulled Sammy back and held him close as both she and Mike stared in astonishment at the roaring fire. Once more, their eyes met in disbelief before eventually dropping down to their son.

Mike knelt down and held Sammy’s arms. He stared at him for a moment, then looked around the park.  

“Sammy,” he said, pointing at a plastic cup blowing across the field, “I want that to go into the garbage.”

The boy looked at the cup. Its trajectory took an unlikely and unnatural right angle turn. Then it tumbled across the grass and floated up and arched gracefully into the trash bin. Nothing but net.

Mike pointed to a forlorn kite that was severely skewered by a branch in a tree. “Poor kite,” he said, affecting a pouty face.

The kite immediately removed itself from the branch, its tail visibly untangling from the stems and leaves, and flew around in the air, despite the hole in its belly, elated to be freed from its imprisoning impalement.

Now Cynthia got on her knees. She also looked around and then up. She pulled Sammy in close, facing away from her and directed his gaze up to the sky.

“Sammy,” she said, her voice anxious, “Those clouds up there might rain. Maybe they should go away?”

Mike frowned at her. “Oh, honey, I don’t know if…”

The clouds instantly scattered and disappeared as if a wolf had been dropped in the middle of a herd of fluffy sheep.

“Oh my God.” Neither Mike nor Cynthia actually uttered the words, but their expressions screamed them out loud.  

A conflagration of frantic conversation erupted between Sammy’s parent. Mike said they should notify the news. Cynthia said she knew a professor at the university who maybe could explain what was happening to their son. Mike reminded her that the woman was an English professor and then wondered aloud if Sammy could predict the numbers in the lottery. Cynthia hugged the boy and told him not to worry and that they would protect him from “the authorities”.  Mike rambled on about how with great power, came great responsibility.

Meanwhile, Max the Schnauzer had tired of the commotion and settled down at the edge of the picnic blanket for a nap. Just as his eyes winked closed, he suddenly spied a cat crouching low in the grass. The suspicious feline crawled slowly and deliberately towards an unsuspecting chickadee pecking at the ground.

With Mike and Cynthia’s attention fully on their increasingly beleaguered son, their imaginations and chatter running amok, no one seemed to notice how a cat had somehow flung itself one hundred feet through the air across the park, and into the middle of a small pond.

Max sighed and finally closed his eyes, content that justice was served.

 

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