It’s that time again… another installment of the Official Mr. Zeus Fanclub Newsletter! This time, our hero reminisces about an incident from his pre-hero days, which would later prove to be a foreshadowing of things to come. (Ooooooohhh!) And it was all Top Secret — well, until now, that is! Then, he offers some advice for wannabe/newbie crimefighters….
Did I ever tell you about the first time I met the President of the United States? No, of course not. I would’ve remembered that. Plus, the event has been officially “Classified” for 15 years. (I guess I’ll have to make sure the Secret Service vets this before I publish.) You may be saying to yourself, “What are you talking about? I saw the awards ceremony on TV! That was, like, 10 years ago!” But, that was only the first official, public meeting I had with a President. My actual first meeting was about mid-way into my wrestling career. It seems that President MacKenzie was a big fan of pro-wrestling in general and of me — “Hacksaw Jack”, a mid-level “good guy” at best — in particular. Pretty cool, right? But, his handlers decided it wasn’t a “presidential” hobby, so they kept it quiet. Not a bad “secret” to have, as far as politicians go. Harmless, really. Besides, he revealed his love for the sport in the memoir he released almost immediately upon leaving office. But, at the time, they decided to keep it from the press. So, when I got a personal invitation to meet privately with POTUS, it was all very hush-hush. (My manager was kept in the loop, of course, but we were both sworn to secrecy.)
The Secret Service picked me up from my hotel in D.C. at exactly 6pm on the appointed evening and whisked me away to the White House. After going through security, I was given a full tour of the place. (Well, the same one every other tourist gets, anyway.) I’m a bit of an American history buff, so I was thrilled! Then, as they were escorting me to a small dining room, where I was supposed to meet the President for a late supper, I noticed something odd. The skin on one of the agents’ hands rippled slightly. It was weird, and I thought either it was a trick of the lighting or my contact lens had slipped. But, then I noticed the ripple again, very slightly, on the same agent’s face. (His name was Lefke.) I assume no one else noticed it because they were focused on their jobs, plus I was the only ‘unknown’ among them. Or, so they thought.
While we waited for the President to join us (i.e., me, the President’s Chief of Staff, and four Secret Service agents stationed at the doors), some of the wait staff brought in the food. As I chatted with the Chief of Staff, Conrad Hafner, I looked over at Agent Lefke again. I was about 10-12 feet away from the door where he was standing, but I swear I saw the ripple effect again right before he noticed me looking at him. My face must have betrayed my surprise and suspicion, because he suddenly looked very agitated — nervous, even. Just then, the President and his personal security detail came through that door.
I saw Lefke pull some sort of device — a “gun” of unearthly design — out of his pocket and start to discreetly point it at the President. I made a split-second decision, grabbed a serving platter from the table, and hurled it at Lefke. It hit him in the shoulder, and he dropped the gun. But, not having seen what I saw, the rest of the agents reacted reflexively, according to their training — one group surrounded the President and hustled him out another door, while the rest tackled and trained their guns on me. (Another agent came in and led Hafner out.) I was yelling about the weird gun, which the now-recovered Lefke had reached and was returning to his pocket. Fortunately, as Lefke headed to follow after the President, Agent Hansen saw him and the gun, assessed the situation, and shot Lefke in the arm.
As the agents present tried to figure out what had just happened, one of them partly opened the door to the hallway that went back to the kitchen. I happened to glimpse down that hallway and saw one very nervous-looking female member of the wait staff, with one hand shoved awkwardly into a very lumpy jacket pocket. By then, I was standing again. I pointed and said, “She’s got one of those things, too!” (I hoped I was right.) I realized that I was already running after her, with two Secret Service agents close on my heels. (Hansen was presumably escorting the wounded Lefke elsewhere.)
There was a quick chase down a couple service corridors. Just before she could round a corner into the kitchen, I grabbed an empty coffeepot off a small table and chucked it, hitting her in the head. She stumbled, dazed, through the doorway and slumped against a counter. I stood there as the agents rushed into the kitchen, frisked her, confiscating another one of those weird guns and something else I didn’t get a good look at, then hauled her off to be detained somewhere. As for me, I was escorted back to a holding room where I twiddled my thumbs for about half an hour, until Agent Hansen took me back to the small dining room. A couple minutes later, the President and Hafner returned, both of them looking a bit shaken.
Apparently, they still had their appetites, and they relaxed a little as we had a very nice (though brief) dinner. The President and Hafner were both pretty nice and would have talked about sports all evening, except an aide reminded them of something else they had to deal with. They were very thankful for my help in stopping the “attack” (or whatever), as was Agent Hansen. They gave me a couple souvenirs, and I was back at my hotel by 10pm or so. I never did find out who or what the fake “Lefke” and the female were or what they planned to do. (Kill the President? Kidnap him? Replace him with an alien or robotic duplicate?) Obviously, nothing was mentioned about it on the news, either.
So,… that was the night that 25-year-old pro-wrestler “Hacksaw Jack” saved the President of the United States! Pretty exciting, let me tell ya! In fact, that incident was partly responsible for inspiring my career transition into superhero adventuring. Being in the ring was great and all but still nothing like actually getting down-n-dirty with superpowered, armored, and/or costumed villains with weapons of mass destruction — or, in some cases, mass annoyance.
Y’know, I’ll bet some of you think that having superpowers or high-tech armor and/or cool gadgets would be enough to make you a superhero. But, you would be wrong. Take me, for instance. Sure, I accidentally got powers of superstrength, supersonic flight, limited invulnerability, and enhanced reflexes. But, those by themselves didn’t make me a great superhero. There are two more things that are necessary to being a successful superhero / crimefighter / adventurer. A cool name and a costume… no, just kidding! (Those are really just optional.)
The first is “heart”. It starts with being a decent person who wants to help people and fight bad guys. But, you really need to be dedicated and persistent in your efforts, if you’re going to make a difference. This involves both a mental toughness and the willingness to truly make sacrifices in your life — this includes your time, relationships, and occasionally risking life-and-limb to do the right thing. You really must have this dedication to “the cause” in order to be successful at the next thing….
Second, you must have proper training. Some of this can be done on your own, and some is best done under the guidance of a mentor. There is physical training, though the areas of focus will depend on your specific abilities and other strengths — e.g., strength training, gymnastics, various martial arts (inc. boxing and wrestling), cardio/endurance training, etc. For me, I already was pretty athletic — wrestling and football, mostly — and in good physical shape, but I took up aikido shortly after I got in the game. Of course, you *must* practice controlling and fine-tuning the use of your powers and/or weapons, too. (For example, if you suddenly gain superhuman strength, you don’t want to be breaking things and people all the time. Nor do you want to cause havoc with random projections of energy beams.)
Then, there is the non-physical training. I don’t mean psychic or spiritual, though those may be applicable, too. I am referring to the need to learn about things and learn to do things that will help you be effective. “Knowledge is power!” There is a huge range of things one can learn about — e.g., various scientific disciplines, weapons & explosives, mechanical & electrical engineering, tactics & strategy, investigation techniques, history of various places and things, local people & entities of power and influence, etc. No one expects you to be Batman, who gained an encyclopedic knowledge of many subjects and mastered dozens (hundreds?) of different disciplines. But, you should definitely always be learning, and start with those things that make the most sense in light of your abilities, local environment, type of work you plan to be doing, known or suspected adversaries, and even personal affinity. Have fun, and know that the more you learn and practice, the safer and more effective a hero you will be, which will eventually mean the difference between life and death — yours, someone else’s, or both.
OK, that’s the end of “Mr. Zeus’ Advice for Aspiring Superheroes”!
This makes 4 quarterly installments from “Mr. Zeus”. I enjoy putting them together — except when writer’s block sets in — but I’m wondering if anyone is actually reading them. If you are, drop me a quick note in the comments. Also, if you have an idea for something you’d like me/Mr. Zeus to talk about, I’m open to suggestions. Peace!
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.