THE MAN WHO DRESSED as a piñata woke to find that he was no longer adorned in his colorful suit.
His battle togs.
Instead he wore a simple hospital gown of gray and pink, two colors that shouldn’t go together but somehow work.
He sat up and found he was surrounded by turkey sandwiches. Six in all. They were about eight inches tall and they orbited his head, dancing and singing a song about lettuce—the root of all evil. So, naturally, he blacked out. It seemed the only logical choice at the time.
When he woke the second time, he rose and found that the turkey sandwiches were back. But this time they each held a handgun. They still danced, they still sang of lettuce—the root of all evil—but as they cut a rug they pointed the pistols at his head. The apprehension he felt as he stared down the tiny black holes at the ends of each of the six guns was almost too much for any man to take, even one such as he. And so, choosing logic once more, he blacked out.
The man who no longer dressed as a piñata woke a third time, but rather than rising, he remained on his back. He was in a semi-upright position, the bed underneath him inclined just enough so that he could see around the room without much effort.
He was in a hospital, which should have been obvious from the gown. He touched his head to find bandages from the top of his pate, right down to the temple. To his right, sharing the room with him, was a mummy.
No, not a mummy. It was a man or woman—or alien life form for that matter—in a full body cast that covered him/her/it from head to toe in white wrappings.
The man who at one time had dressed as a piñata found the controller that adjusted his bed and pushed the button. The incline increased, slowly, until he was in a seated position. So far there were no turkey sandwiches dancing around his head, something that always gave him hope.
Scanning he room he located his suit. It had been thrown casually across a chair to the left of his bed. He frowned, there was nothing casual about the suit. His bat, he noticed, leaned against the very same chair. He swung his legs out over the bed and stood, keeping an eye out for sandwiches. Then, the coast being clear, he got dressed. It had been tricky, what with the IV, but he’d made it work.
The man who once again dressed as a piñata returned to the bed, feeling whole. Complete. Himself. He turned to whatever it was in the body cast.
“I died once, you know,” he said.
The person in the body cast did not reply.
“In spirit, mind you.”
Still, no response.
“I mean, I didn’t literally die.”
“But I’m not the man I used to be.”
It was at that moment a doctor entered the room. She was young and petite, not someone he would want at his back in a crisis. She carried with her a clipboard and was flipping through the pages when she stopped at his bed and looked down at him. Her eyes widened for a moment in apparent surprise. She was obviously overwhelmed to be in the presence of the Fist of Justice, but she hid it well.
“So, Mr. Wei,” she said, smiling down at him over the clipboard. “You’ve put the costume back on, I see.”
“You’re a very lucky man, Mr. Wei,” she continued. “Had your robber fired just an inch lower you’d be dead. As it was the bullet only grazed the top of your head. You’ll have a good looking scar, but we should have you out of here soon.”
“Thank you, good doctor,” he said. “The longer I remain in this home for the medically inferior, the longer crime has to reign unfettered in my city.”
“Yes, well,” she no longer looked at him. Her head was bent and she talked as she wrote. “We can’t have crime going about unfettered can we.”
“No, doctor. No we cannot. Not on my watch.”
“I’ll have a nurse come check your vitals one last time as well as drop off a prescription for pain killers.” She clicked her pen and stuck it in the front pocket of her white coat. She gave him another smile. “After that you’re free to go.”
“Freedom,” said the man who dressed as a piñata. “It sings to me like the sweet song of justice!”
“Before you go,” said the doctor. “I would like you to speak with one of our on staff psychologists. It’s not required, but I would encourage you to do so.”
“Why? Is there something wrong with them? I would welcome the opportunity to help put their mind at rest.”
“Yes, well,” the doctor replied. “As I said, it’s your choice. I have to go check on the Governor. The nurse will be along shortly.”
Suddenly, from somewhere below, there came the unmistakable sound of gunshots. Or fireworks. He was always getting the two confused.
“What the...?” The doctor turned to look out the door.
“The din of battle!” The Mighty Piñata rose. “Innocent lives are in danger!”
He rolled out of bed and began pulling at the IV that snaked out from under the suit.
“Remove me from this infernal contraption!”
“No,” the doctor put a restraining hand on his arm. “Mr. Wei! Stay in your bed. I’ll find out what’s going on.”
“It is against my very nature to sit idly by as crime strikes, doctor,” he said, yet returned to the bed. “But you are the doctor, I will abide by your wishes.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” she said. “Just stay here and a nurse will be in soon.”
He watched as the doctor rushed from the room, then he turned his attention to the person in the body cast.
“Fear not, sir, madam, or creature from beyond the stars. No harm shall befall you. Not while you share a room with the Mighty Piñata!”
The person in the cast, he felt, looked suitably impressed.
- Could the gunshots have anything to do with the soldiers from Chapters One and Three?
- What in the world is in the body cast?
- Did someone actually let the dogs out?
Find out the answers to one of these questions in the next exciting installment of: The Mighty Piñata!