Even Bad Guys Have Good Days in Excelsior City

John Adams

Wyld FLASH June 4th 2021

I was a lazy kid with cheapskate parents. I got my superpowers watching too many cartoons on the radioactive TV Dad found in a junkyard.

At eight, I started creating objects with my mind. Nothing lasted long. Nothing was very solid. But I got better.

At ten, I made chirping birds circle Dad’s drunken head.

At seventeen, I imagined a tunnel on the side of a building… and walked right inside.

At twenty, I materialized my first plummeting anvil.

Now, at twenty-four, I’m Tooney Tim, the guy who generates zany cartoon effects from thin air.

I tried to be a superhero. Was even a member of the Excelsiors (“The Premier Heroes Safeguarding Excelsior City™”). Didn’t last. See, my power’s kinda wonky. First mission out, Rhinoceros Rita attacked Excelsior Plaza, and I tried to drop a grand piano on her. I created an accordion instead. The rest of the team finished up my fight.

Afterwards, the team leader, Silver Cowl, came up to me, all smiles, and said in that patronizing, electro-disguised voice, “You need more practice, Timothy.” I agreed. Even signed papers to that effect. Turned out, that sanctimonious Samaritan conned me into quitting the team. I can’t rejoin for five years. I’m too old for Teen Excelsior. Too young for the Retiree League.

So, I got a new crew. Only I didn’t stick with superheroes.

They say even bad guys have good days in Excelsior City. This was gonna be one of those good days.


We review the plan one last time on the ride over. It’s my ex-girlfriend’s limo. She runs the car service that drives for WEXC-TV. She doesn’t know I’m borrowing it.

Snakey-Sue’s in the passenger seat, dangling reptiles like jewelry.

Mr. Distraction’s in back, “swiping right” or catching Pokemon on his phone.

Next to him, Balloonatic inhales helium and cackles through caked-on greasepaint.

I drive. Literally. Figuratively.

“Today’s the day,” I say, eyes back and forth between the road and the crew. “Haylouise Honey-Michael just got back from her annual trip to her family’s farm. She’s worth millions. We nab America’s Sweetest Grandma from the alley behind her talk-show studio and ransom her to the network. Mr. Distraction, you’re first. Create your illusions to distract the guards. Sexy ladies. Sexy dudes. Hell, sexy ribeyes. Whatever works.” I glance in the rearview mirror. Mr. Distraction’s still on his phone. “You listening, Distraction?”

He replies with a bored handwave.

“Once the guards’ backs are turned, Balloonatic moves in. Command your balloons to swipe their guns. Levitate those puppies high enough they’re out of reach.”

Balloonatic cackles, which I guess is agreement.

“Snakey-Sue, once the weapons are taken care of, tie up the guards with your snakes. No suffocation. Venomous ones stay in the car. We’re kidnappers, not killers.”

Snakey-Sue tttthhhhpppttt-es her forked tongue against scaled lips. “Whatever. If Silver Cowl shows up, my girls are biting. I hate that guy. Or gal. Or whoever’s under that cowl.”

“Silver Cowl’s been off-planet for weeks. The rest of the Excelsiors are celebrating Miss Fire and Holly Haymaker’s interdimensional wedding. This should be a hero-free job. But if not… there’s my power.”

“Okay, Tooney Tim,” Snakey-Sue snickers.

I need a better codename.


The rest of the drive over’s fine. We’re scanned through the initial guard-gate without issue.

It’s not ‘til I park the limo behind the studio that everything implodes.

Mr. Distraction’s too busy checking his Instagram. He hops right out of the limo and plops right into an open manhole.

The guards, with none of Mr. Distraction’s distractions distracting them, pull their guns and shoot Balloonatic’s balloons. Blam-blam-blam. Pop-pop-pop. Balloonatic cackles, inflates another balloon, and floats away.

Panicking, I manifest a heavy-duty iron safe to shield me and Snakey-Sue from gunfire.

That’s when something finally goes right. Haylouise Honey-Michael marches out of the studio door, finger wagging. “What the mother-fudgin’ heck are you gosh-darn crud-brains doin’ back here?” America’s Sweetest Grandma barks. (Never meet your heroes, kids.)

Snakey-Sue’s pets charge, slithering around the safe toward the guards and the octogenarian talk-show host. They dodge bullets and wrap themselves around Haylouise, pulling her toward us. The guards, not wanting to ice their celebrity client, holster their weapons.

I lunge from behind the safe and grab Haylouise. And man, does that granny fight back, spitting, shouting almost-swear-words, and beating me with her purse! I finally yank the giant handbag away before she clobbers me with Werther’s Originals. America’s Sweetest Grandma scurries away.

Snakey-Sue pulls my arm. “Come on! Abort!”

We’re almost back to the limo when a wave of blue energy blasts from above. Snakey-Sue’s out cold. I dodge a similar attack. Damn. I’d forgotten this was the same studio where Teen Excelsior films their reality-TV show.

I focus on the half-dozen flying teenagers, imagining six cartoony sandbags materializing above them.

I get it half right.

The sandbags materialize… above me. They crash down. Conk-conk-conk-conk-conk-conk.

I stumble into the driver’s seat, barfing into Haylouise’s purse. “You need more mother-fudgin’ practice,” America’s Sweetest Grandma calls after me. Familiar words.

I woozily gun the ignition, leaving grandma, guards, and guardians behind.


I make it four blocks before I need to vomit again. Head spinning, I park the limo, up my chuck, and study my score: Haylouise’s handbag. I could’ve had a million-dollar ransom. Instead, I get wadded-up tissues.


There’s something shiny poking out.

I remember bits of the crew’s earlier conversation: I hate that guy. Or gal. Or whoever’s under that cowl… Silver Cowl’s been off-planet for weeks… Haylouise Honey-Michael just got back from her annual trip to her family’s farm…

Huh. Weird how there’s only one major Excelsior City superhero who’s never appeared on Haylouise’s talk show.

I hold up the barf-soaked silver-lamé cowl.

Even bad guys have good days in Excelsior City. Face it, Tooney… you just hit the jackpot!

I triumphantly pump my fist. It hits something coiled and hissing.

Another bit of our earlier conversation: Venomous ones stay in the car.

“Mother-fudger,” I whisper as the viper strikes.

Author Bio: John Adams writes about teenage detectives, robo-butlers, and cursed cowboys. His publication history includes Australian Writers’ Centre, Dream of Shadows, Metaphorosis, Paper Butterfly,  and The Weird and Whatnot. His plays have been produced by Alphabet Soup (Whim Productions) and The 6×10 Play Festival (Barn Players) and selected for readings at the William Inge Theater Festival and the Midwest Dramatists Conference. He performs across the U.S. with That’s No Movie, a multi-genre improv team. Web: https://johnamusesnoone.com/. Twitter: @JohnAmusesNoOne

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