Superhero Status Anxiety

K, a superhero, finds working as an ESL teacher tough…

By James Royce Mcguire



It’s wacked. Here he is living the life of a superhero, not angry at anyone, simply living his life and there she is. A half-cat creature with a feline purr that would drive any superhero wild.  

“It really isn’t fair,” he thinks.  

He’s fighting for justice everyday – todos los dias – as his students might say in his English-as-a-Second-Language classes, and he’s still getting a bum rap.  

What about karma?  

Surely all of his good deeds and high morals would count for something. Surely, someone in the sky is keeping score, eh? But it doesn’t seem that way. He teaches his class during the day and at night his other self comes out – his super self. He dons the cape, sports the mask, and has actually lowered crime in Los Angeles County by thirty-three percent.  

Still she doesn’t like him. Well, she did at first. He knows if he had a better day job, she’d probably fall in love with him non-stop. But that doesn’t seem to happen. He can only keep up his “front” for so long.  

So, he teaches his students not just English, but English as a Second language, even though they are driving him insane.  

Amanda Sing approaches him. She has an Asian-based last name, but she’s clearly Hispanic. With bleached blond hair and orange hot pants that are a size too tight she comes at him like a linebacker might a helpless quarterback.  

“Teacher,” she blurts out.  

K. sighs. “Amanda, my name isn’t ‘teacher.’ It’s K.” 

She smiles and for a second a small amount of rose-colored blush enters her cheeks and shows a tiny gap between her teeth.  

“I… sorry. I ask you about the class?” 

“Of course. What is it?” 

Who is he fooling? What is he thinking? An ESL teacher? No wonder Cat Woman or whatever her superhero name is at the moment doesn’t like him anymore. She’s all into that Bruce Wayne, a millionaire, and a business owner. Wasn’t he gay? How can he possibly compete? An ESL teacher?  

“What is it, I said?” He repeats.  

He wants to scream, “Spit it out, spit it out you doofus!”  

But, of course, he keeps his mouth shut.  

Amanda looks at the homework and clearly doesn’t understand how to make a question using simple ‘be’ verbs.  

“I’m gonna be fired,” K. thinks. Then, just as quickly, “which is a good thing!” 

“It’s very simple, Amanda you just…” 

Cat Woman sits in her trendy loft overlooking her courtyard. She’s having tea with Wonder Woman, like good little women should. Frankly Wonder Woman is getting on that last nerve of Cat Woman. She has just won some stupid award from some stupid mayor and is going on (and on) about it.  

Wonder Woman, takes a sip of the fine black tea, brushes back her thick, chestnut hair and wipes the deep red lipstick from the edge of her teacup.  

“So, what awards have you won?” Wonder Woman asks.  

She knows Cat Woman is the bad girl of the crime fighting world and hasn’t won any.  

“Oh, I never win awards. People just don’t like cats…” 

“Oh, that’s not true…” 

“What I mean is that you either love cats or you hate ‘em. Most hate me. It doesn’t matter. I don’t fight to win awards.” 

Cat Woman had sensed there was going to be a confrontation before there was any. She always knows, always gets code words in her mental imagining.  

A slight droop enters Wonder Woman’s face. Cat Woman really doesn’t mean to rain on her parade. But… 

“But my God,” thinks the feline beauty, “how long can W.W. talk about this award? It’s getting ridiculous.”  

“Well, I don’t fight crime to win awards either,” Wonder Woman says, “but it’s always nice to be recognized. Are you still dating that English teacher?” 

“You mean the English as a Second Language teacher?” Cat says with a sneer.  

“Yes.” 

“I told you we broke up.” 

“I didn’t think you were serious.” 

“He’s good in the sack, but come on. You’ve seen that hovel he lives in. In Long Beach!” 

“Well. I like a simple man.” 

“Wonder Woman. You drive an invisible jet, for crying out loud! How could you like a simple man?” 

“You know what I mean. Some men just don’t try so hard to compensate.” 

“What about Batman…?” 

Cat Woman knows she’s getting into sketchy territory and secretly starts sharpening her claws. Wonder Woman and Batman were an item at one point. But doesn’t Wonder Woman deserve it just a tad? And now Cat Woman might be entering the territory. She might have to show her claws, protect herself.  

“Please. He’s gay.” 

“He is not. Just ‘cause he didn’t like you?” 

“Trust me. There’s something there. If he’s not gay, then… something. He likes children or something.” 

“What? Now, that’s ridiculous!” 

“Oh honey. Let’s just face it. It’s tough to find a super hero who meets all the requirements. It’s just not what it used to be.” 

Wonder Woman looks at her gold wristband even though it isn’t a timepiece. “I should be going. I need to get to work. The science lab will be wondering where I’m at.”  

She stands up and walks into the bathroom to change into her day clothes.  

Cat Woman looks out the window.  

Super English-as-a-Second-Language Man, aka K., finishes his classes and is grateful for it. He finds teaching high pressure. At least when he’s fighting crime, he doesn’t have to worry about people watching him all the time. Sometimes it happens, it’s inevitable, but for the most part he can do his fighting in the relative quiet of the night. If he messes up, no one’s around to see it. But teaching. Shazam!  

Teaching is, as his friend described it, like jumping through hoops and juggling fireballs in front of a crowd of sixty. If you mess up, the entire class is watching, and you can lose respect in an instant. He’s thinking about fighting crime full time. But there’s simply no money in it. He has to fight crime simply for the love of it.  

He gathers his things in his briefcase and walks outside onto the community college campus. Several students wave to him. He’s a popular teacher after all. He can please them, but he can’t please the one he truly loves. Cat Woman. He knows he shouldn’t feel this way, but still. He can’t get her out of his head. The more he tries to stop thinking about her, the more she enters it.  

“Well,” he thinks, “that’s that.” 


James Royce McGuire

James Royce McGuire’s plays have been performed at Circle Rep, The Drama Book Shop and Cornelia Street Café in New York among many others. His first full length play, “Daddy Kathryn”, was originally produced at HERE, was filmed for the BBC and featured in several national papers including, “The Sun”. It received readings at Ensemble Studio Theatre, a staged reading at The Abingdon Theater Company, and a production at The New York International Fringe Festival. His one-act, “The Dating Cyclone”, was produced by LoveCreek Productions at The John Houseman Theater and his play “A Texas Funeral” was performed at The Actor’s Studio New Play Festival and The Last Frontier Theater Conference. His play, “The Seventh Chakra” was a PlayLab Selection at GPTC. His fiction has been published in HGMLQ, Ellipsis, The Story Shack, The Legendary, Ars Notoria and his work is archived in the permanent collection of plays in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Literary readings include the 92Y and KGB. He is an alumnus of BMI Musical Theater Workshop and a Hawthorden Fellow. He now lives in Palm Springs, CA.



Categories: James Royce McGuire, Short story

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