Newswoman Tanya Everson appeared on the screen. “On the world stage today, middle eastern strongman Bloodstone vowed never to relinquish power in his home country of Magogistan—this in the wake of two weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations in the capital city of New Babylon.”
The screen switched to male co-anchor Bill Drake. “An explosion rocks the downtown area today as resident supergals All American Girl and Skygirl battle two well known villains. Find out which ones after the break.”
As the television screen switched to a commercial for cholesterol lowering drugs, the house telephone on the kitchen counter rang and Linda got up to answer it.
“Hello? Yes. And whom may I say is calling? Who? Hipp? Hippo?” She put a hand over the receiver. “Do you know a Hippy somebody?”
Stella jumped up and pulled the phone from her hands.
“Stella? Who is that foolish mortal?”
“Hi, Daddy. That’s just my room-mate. I can’t believe you called.”
“What does she mean by pretending she doesn’t know me?”
“Never mind about that, Dad…”
“All of Greece knows the legend of Hipparion.”
“…cholesterol doesn’t just come from what you eat. Family history, exercise, and the machinations of power-hungry supervillains can all play a part…”
“Can you turn that thing off?” Stella asked Linda. Then she turned her concentration back to the phone conversation. “Look, Dad. First of all, you’re not that famous anymore. Secondly, I don’t live in Greece. I live in Chicago.”
“The land of the Skraelings?”
“No, Daddy. Home of the Cubs.”
“Hmm. The Cubs is not a name that would inspire much fear in one’s enemies.”
“Yeah, well their home record was 35-46—not exactly fierce.”
“Your mother told me that you asked after me.”
“Yes, I did,” said Stella. “I didn’t think you two talked.”
“We bumped into one another. What did you need—a magical weapon or the answer to a riddle, perhaps?”
“Um, no. I just wanted to… where did you bump into mother?”
“It was a sort of a… religious festival… event… party.”
“What kind of religious festival event party?”
“It was a Bacchanal.”
“What is wrong with you people up there?” wondered Stella. “Is that all you do?”
“Make war, make music, make dancing, make love—what else is there in life?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe enjoy a quiet evening with your family.”
“What was it that you required, Stella?”
“I don’t need anything,” she said, exasperated. “I just wanted to say ‘hi’ and, you know… tell you ‘I love you’.”
There was silence and after a moment Stella thought she had lost the connection.
“Are you there, Daddy?”
“Well, I’ll let you go then. I know you probably have a murder or an orgy to go to.”
“Stella, be sure to let me know if you ever need a weapon or anything. I have this new magical armor…”
“Yeah, thanks Dad. Goodbye.” She dropped the handset onto the base stand of the phone. “Thanks a lot.”
“So that was your father?” asked Linda.
“He has a nice telephone voice.”
“It’s nice that you are still able to talk to your dad.”
“I suppose.” Stella got up. “I’m going to take a shower.”
She made her way toward her bedroom and its attached master bath and a moment later the sound of running water could be heard from the rear of the apartment. Linda busied herself cleaning the already clean kitchen. Then the phone rang again.
“Do you want me to answer that?” called Linda.
“I can’t hear what you’re saying,” Stella called back, and then continued under her breath. “You’d think you’d remember by now that I don’t have super hearing.”
“And you’d think you would remember that I do,” said Linda, who stared at the phone undecided as it rang again. When it rang a third time, the sound was followed by a click and the answering machine message.
“This is you-know-who,” said Stella’s recorded voice. “Leave me a message; maybe I’ll call.” Beep.
“Stella, baby! Irving here. I’ve got to say it—fantastic, fantabulous, phenomenal, and lots of other f words—good f words. Not the bad ones. That was beautiful, my mega-powered babe. First, you save the city from a really big bomb. Then you rescue skyslut, who was lying helpless in the middle of the street in front of God and everybody. Nice.”
“Skyslut?” said Linda.