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Jim Meirose

Superman’s Picnic Table

Still Life with Cabbage by David Petrovich Shterenberg

After backing his Ford into his nemesis Eddie Mannix’s back yard, George hooked his chain to the picnic table which Eddie’d stolen years before, and drove off with it bouncing behind. It was dancing around pretty good by the time he’d got up to sixty on the Interstate, and it flopped over on its top when he reached seventy-five. He topped out at eighty, where it slid along pretty smooth; and that was when officer Halloo, of the highway patrol, pulled him over.

What do you think you’re doing, sir? said Halloo, authoritatively tipping down his cap.

George said cheerily, That’s my table. I had it a long time. It got stolen, but I took it back. I got my big chain, and so—well, the rest is as you see. I need it for picnics. I want to have picnics like back when I was a boy. All summertime we’d have picnics on tables in the back yard. Everybody in the neighborhood came—so many that we ended up with two or three tables just like this one to handle it all. So okay, officer? If that’s all you need to know, I’ll be on my way—uh—eh what’s that badge say—officer Halloo? What kind of a name is—Halloo? And it’s—yes your badge is number hundred and thirty seven. Does that mean there are at least that many more just like you on the force? Two hundred and thirty seven is quite a force. What are you going to do? Fight a war?

No, of course not. But, anyway, dragging things like this’s against the law. You—

Hold it! Wait! Don’t change the subject! You’re planning to fight in a war! Who are you going to fight against? Do all the other officers have silly names like yours? Or do they have normal names, like Smith, or Jones? Do they make fun of your name, Officer Halloo? Like, do they tip their hats and say, Halloo to you too, Mister Halloo—do they make fun like that? Do they make fun? Like, Halloo, Halloo, who goes there? Halloo—

Officer Halloo said loudly over George, License and registration, please! because—what else could he possibly say? After George produced the documents, Halloo read them closely.

He said, Reeves—your name is—George Reeves?

Yes, it is. George Reeves, but—I am the real Superman. That other guy way back when who claimed to be me and who they say killed himself pretended to be Superman, but, I am the real George Reeves—the real Superman.

But—Reeves was an actor who played Superman. He wasn’t really Superman.

Oh, come on! That’s baloney of course! I’m the real Reeves, and I’m Superman, not no actor, but—get this; if that Reeves did kill himself, how could he have been Superman? Superman can’t be killed! And if he wasn’t Superman, then it is possible to be George Reeves and not be Superman, but—it doesn’t necessarily follow from that that I might not be Superman also—or does it? What do you think, Officer Halloo? That make any sense to you?

Ah, no. But anyway—have you been drinking today, sir?

Wait! No, you say? What do you mean, no? Hey, I’d never kill myself. It might not even be possible, me being invulnerable and all. I’ve struggled with the question of whether or not I could kill myself,  even thought to try it once to see, but—didn’t have the nerve. I do think though, that damn, that phony George Reeves must have been phony because how could he die, being invulnerable and all? Is this crazy talk, Officer Halloo?

I don’t know. Are you done now?

No. I got one more to ask you; you looked at my license and all. It says on there I’m George Reeves, right? You saw that, right?

Yes, I did.

Then I’m Superman, right?

No. Superman is not real, sir.

Oh? So—my license and all that other from the government and all—all those are lying?

No, they’re not. Your name is George Reeves. It’s just you’re not Superman.



So—its not true who I am? Or maybe it is? Which is it?

Sir. Please. Like I asked you before. Have you been drinking today?

No, of course not—but it’s terrible, officer. Terrible.

What’s terrible?

To not be sure of nothing. I’m—I’m not sure of nothing at all. You know, I—

All right, sir. Enough. Get out of the car, please.

Halloo stepped back to allow the car door to open, and as George Reeves stepped out, he slowly began counting from right to left the sparse clouds dotting the blue arcing high across the sky up beyond the officer and somehow—they began—telling him what to do, now.

George looked Halloo in the face. The officer took a pen from his pocket and held it up between them.

Follow this pen back and forth with your eyes, sir. Without moving your head.



No. I won’t. There’s no point. Superman cannot get drunk.


What I said. Sir.

Okay, then. You want to do this the hard way? Fine. Turn around.

He reached for his handcuffs—and George said, Eh, wait. You know who I am, right?

Yes, I do. But no more from you. Turn around, put your hands behind you.

Are you sure about this? Knowing who I am?

Yes! Just do it! Or I’ll have to—

Then; a blinding white shock-wave slammed the officer back, flipping his cap gone lost someplace—a roar deafened him, as blinded by dust and dirt, he stumbled away, wiping wildly down his face—God damn if it’s no bird it’s a plane if no plane then a bird ah ah where’s he go, do something, my gun where’s—is he going for my gun is he going for—his eyes cleared and glanced up, just catching sight of a dot shrinking tinier and tinier and higher and tinier high to nothing, so far too far up and away, and—but where was—George Reeves? How—who was—George Reeves, where was he; but, thank God. In the blackness that followed, Halloo came to, in the patrol car which had already taken him miles away and now was straining to top one hundred twenty—yes, thank God, the car. Thank God, the car, and—no. Was there a—was there—no; do not go back ever to see. Do not go back ever. Not ever. Not. All done. All done. After the car arrived back at the station he fumbled to strip off his badge and his gun as he stumbled slow toward the front door.


About the writer:
Jim Meirose‘s work has appeared in numerous venues. His novels include Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer (Optional Books), Understanding Franklin Thompson (JEF), Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection (Mannequin Haus), and No and Maybe – Maybe and No (Pski’s Porch).

Image: Still Life with Cabbage by David Petrovich Shterenberg (1881-1948). Oil on canvas. No size specified. 1920. Public domain.

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