Captain Obvious was late to the meeting not because of any fault in his planning, which was impeccable, his power being what it was, and also having had responsibility beaten into him from the earliest age; but because the worst thing was to be sitting around with some eager beaver who had the power to make his pee smell super bad, or maybe super good, and making smalltalk with the guy while waiting for somebody more interesting to show up. Public gatherings had always been difficult and uncomfortable for Captain Obvious; and it was also difficult and uncomfortable knowing that he was behaving like an asshole, and most uncomfortable of all the fact that he would continue to behave like an asshole despite that knowledge, like some kind of unapologetic star-fucker or social climber. It sucked that ignorance was never an excuse for anything anymore.
Traffic crept forward in fits and starts. It always took a while to cross the moat, regardless of the hour, and while he stared at the Mazda 3 in front of him and tried to find something tolerable on the radio he also reflected on the sorry state of public transportation everywhere in the Twin Cities except for the one place he’d actually want public transportation to take him.
But whatever, eventually he crossed over the bridge, nodding briefly to one of the armed guards who happened to catch his eye as he was waiting for a light to turn green, and getting a return nod, which was nice, made you feel like a real person for a second. He parked in the usual lot filled with the usual cars worth more than his house, paid its exorbitant rate, and was soon legging it to the Dunn Bros where they were having the MSP Enhanced Meetup, and where the slight chance of something wonderful happening was tugging at him too hard to resist.
“How you doing?” the barista said when he walked inside.
“Great,” Captain Obvious said, wondering for a moment when ‘barista’ had become a word that he both recognized and accepted. “You?”
“Pretty good, thanks for asking,” the barista said. He was one of the imported hipster types that had taken over the service industry in the Moated City, giant earholes and stars tatooed on his face in lieu of freckles, which had been a thing for a while apparently, and dressed like he had a second job changing oil. But at least he seemed one of the good cheer variety of imported hipster, vs. the sullen and excessively cool asshole ones that Captain Obvious always had to fight not to smash in the face with a brick that he was perpetually tempted to acquire solely for that purpose. “What can I get you?”
He ordered a coffee and tried, as inconspicuously as possible, to scope out who was actually gathered at the big table at the end of the room next to the coffee roaster, one of those long community tables you could butcher a deer on, that the cafes had resorted to because too many douchebags were spending all day nursing a single cup of drip and basically establishing their small businesses there, spreading their papers everywhere, bringing external keyboards and mice, once he’d seen a guy with a fucking monitor that he’d plugged in and strung cables all over the place, which, yeah, you heard stories, but this had actually happened, Captain Obvious had witnessed it with his own two eyes. If he’d had a more assertive power god help any of those fucking clowns, but of course if his aunt had a dick she’d be his uncle.
“Here you go, buddy,” the barista, returning to the counter and handed him the drink. Then, following his gaze: “You with that group?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Captain Obvious said. Probably ten, twelve people were crammed around the table, and his eyes were kind of shit so couldn’t actually tell if he knew any of them. “It’s a meetup.” He’d never gone to this meetup before but the world of superheros wasn’t that big, and you ran into people, especially on the circuit.
“Do you know Gary?” he said.
“Gary?” Captain Obvious said, pouring some half and half into his coffee.
“Yeah,” the barista said. “One of those guys got here like an hour ago. Said his name was Gary. Told me all about the superhero thing, just talked and talked. Eventually I was like, dude, I got customers!”
“That does not sound promising,” Captain Obvious said, frowning. He told himself that there was nothing keeping him from just taking his coffee and leaving. Head over to Pam’s Pies, get an apple fritter.
“Then I was like, I hope he doesn’t have the power to set people on fire or some shit.”
“If he did he wouldn’t be here,” Captain Obvious said. “Is my guess. Class-A guys don’t go to superpower meetups. At least, I would fucking hope they don’t, for their own sake.”
“What do you mean?” the barista said.
“It’d be like winning the lottery and still eating at Perkins,” Captain Obvious said. “Just, you know. Sad.”
The barista laughed. “So what’s your thing?” he said. “Your power?”
“It would take a long time to explain,” Captain Obvious said. He saw the future spreading out in front him, the probability space he’d inhabit if he just kept doing the same shit he was always doing, so in that moment he resolved to go over to the meetup, introduce himself, do that politician thing he could sometimes persuade himself to do, at great personal cost: smile, feign interest, give the impression that he was pleasant and affable. “It would bore the hell out of you. That might be the best way to describe it, actually. I bore people until they leave.”
“You just need to find the right people,” the barista said. “That’s my opinion.”
“That’s for fucking sure,” Captain Obvious said, putting the lid on his coffee and turning to head over to the gathering. I can’t stay long, he would tell them. I’m meeting my sister for dinner.
“Say hi to Gary,” the barista said, grabbing a rag to wipe off the counter.