Friday, November 08, 2013

Saved by Zero 02


It was about three months ago that Charles and I met.

We were both sitting at the bar, me nursing a beer, him simply waiting. The television was displaying the latest of Zero's exploits - he'd rescued fourteen people from a burning apartment building.

"Thank God that Zero was here," one of the now homeless people was saying to the camera.

Charles scoffed loud enough that he got my attention. "Not a fan?" I asked.

Charles looked at me, and around at the rest of the bar. He glanced at his watch, then said, "Hundreds of firefighters do the same thing every day. Or did. Who knows how many rescue workers he's put out of work. And none of them feel the need to hide their identity behind a mask."

I felt my eyebrows arch up somewhat. Had never heard anyone bad mouth Zero before. At least, not so brazenly. Charles looked to be the type of guy who didn't take back talk from anyone though. He was six foot four, and looked to be pure muscle. He appeared to be in his early 50s, but could easily keep pace with any 20-something. His entire demeanor screamed 'police officer'. "Did he put you out of work?" I asked.

A grimace was the response I got to that one. "Yeah, more or less," he said. "Although I guess I've found other means as a result." He chuckled once at that, although I didn't know what was amusing about it. He stuck out his hand. "I'm Charles."

I took his hand - his handshake was extremely firm - and introduced myself to him.

"Can I buy you a beer?" I asked him, happy to have some company. "Thanks, but no," he replied. "Waiting on my friend to get here, and then I'm heading out for the night. I will sit with you, though, if you'd like." 

On the television, footage of Zero running into the building was being played back, again. The news had even edited music to it. "So, what about you? What do you think of the masked wonder?" Charles asked me.

I took a sip of my beer, then said, "Guy definitely puts on a good show, I'll give him that much."

Charles was nodding. I continued.

"But something about him just doesn't sit right with me. Why the secrecy? I mean, nobody has ever seen his face because of that mask he wears all the time. It's like you said, ordinary folks who do good deeds don't need to hide who they are."

We chatted for a few more minutes, bonding over our distrust of the most trusted man in the country, until Charles' friend, Ken, showed up. Charles introduced us to one another. Ken was physically the opposite of Charles - thin, short, and wearing glasses that constantly needed to be pushed back up his nose. The guy was like a textbook sterotype of  dweebish. I wondered how the two of them were friends - what could they possibly have in common?

Ken saw the television report and asked Charles where it was that it had taken place. Charles told him, and Ken said, "Okay, I'll have to reevaluate the info, but I'm thinking that this will narrow the possibilities down to a 15 mile radius."

Charles must have seen the confused look on my face, because he decided to share. "My man Ken here thinks he's tracked down where the Zero lives. We're gonna pay him a visit."

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