Henry Russell was an ordinary enough man who liked to blend in. Life had been good to Henry. He had a nice apartment in the good part of town, had lots of friends and had parents who were wealthy enough to help him out financially when he needed it. Everything was moving along nicely in his life until he lost his job a year ago. He hadn’t been able to find work since then, despite spending a good portion of everyday looking for a new job.
One morning while drinking his coffee and scanning the want ads, Henry came upon a bizarre ad that simply read:
“Superhero wanted, no experience necessary, cape and mask to be provided.”
The only other thing in the ad was a website address to apply for the job online. At first, Henry thought it was a joke and enjoyed the humour of the ad, and continued looking for a real job. After a while, he went back to the ad and re-read it. He wondered to himself what kind of person would place such a bizarre ad in the help wanted section. He put the paper down again and went about his morning ritual, all the while trying to imagine who or what was at the other end of that ad.
As morning turned to afternoon, curiosity got the better of Henry and he went back one more time to read the ad. He stared at the website address in the ad for a good ten minutes before he finally opened his laptop and typed in the address. When the browser returned the web page, it actually looked like an official job application, with the standard questions. Henry was quite skeptical at first, as he was sure this was some type of scam, but as he read further, he realized this application wasn’t asking for any personal information. Not his name, his address or even his phone number. Nothing personal at all. He stared at the screen for a few minutes then got up to pour himself a fresh coffee.
“None of this makes sense,” he said to himself. “Why would you have a job application that doesn’t ask for personal information? What’s the point? It’s clearly not a stolen identity scam as they get no information from the application. I just don’t get it.” As he sat back down at his desk he stared at the screen again, and without giving it another thought he filled in the form. He hesitated over the submit button for a few moments but finally clicked the button. He wasn’t sure what he had done, but he had done it. Hopefully nothing bad would happen and he’d have a funny story to tell his friends about how he applied to be a superhero that week.
His cell phone rang twenty minutes later, and when Henry answered, the voice on the other end simply said “1563 Armoury Blvd. Get there right away”, and then hung up. Henry stared at his phone in disbelief and set it back down on his desk. Five minutes later the phone rang again. As soon as Henry answered, the same voice said ” Henry, what are you waiting for? Do you want the job or not? Get to 1563 Armoury Blvd right away!” Henry once again stared at his phone in disbelief, wondering how the caller knew his name and wondered if this was about the superhero job he had just responded to.
After considering whether to go to the address or not, curiosity finally got the better of him and Henry called an Uber and headed out. When he got to the address all he found was a tattoo shop called The Iron Cross. He could see a few people inside getting tattoos and after a few moments, he decided to head inside.
“You here for the job or for some ink?” asked the very large man covered in tattoos who greeted Henry.
“The job,” Henry replied.
“Go to the back and take a seat outside the office,” the man said.
Henry walked back and took a seat outside the door marked ‘Office’ and waited. After a few minutes he started questioning the wisdom of his decision and wondered whether he should just get up and leave. Just as he was about to, a tiny woman emerged from the office and called his name.
“Henry Russell? Are you Henry Russell?” she asked.
“Yes I am, who are you?” he replied.
“That doesn’t matter, please come in,” she said as she motioned Henry into the office. Henry got up and followed her. Once inside, Henry couldn’t believe the size of the room. It was massive and was filled with couches and desks with computers and big screen monitors hanging from the ceiling.
This isn’t an office, Henry thought, this is a lair. A superhero lair. The woman motioned for Henry to take a seat in front of a large desk in the center of the room. As Henry sat, the woman asked him:
“What makes you think you can be a superhero?”
“I really don’t think I am a superhero, I just answered the ad because I thought it would be a cool story to tell my friends that I had applied to be one.”
“Ya we get that answer a lot around here” she said.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to waste your time” Henry replied.
“You didn’t, actually. The job is yours. You see ,we have been placing that ad every day for the last month trying to get your attention, Henry Russell. You’re the right man for the job. You just don’t know it yet.”
“I don’t understand. I’m no one special, why me?.” Henry asked.
“Oh but you are Henry. You just don’t realize it yet.” The woman said. She was going through a rack of clothes behind the desk. You’re about a medium I’d say, aren’t you?”
“Yes typically a medium” he replied “why do you ask?”
The woman pulled a hangar off the rack of clothes, handed them to Henry and said “Here try these on. There’s a change room behind the row of desks.”
Henry walked back to the change room and looked at the clothes on the hangar. There was a cape, tights, a shirt and a mask. The shirt had a stylized ‘L’ on the front inside a circle. Henry hesitated for a few minutes, not sure how he felt about wearing the costume, but he decided to try it on and at least get a selfie in order to further sell the story to his friends later. As he was finishing up and putting the mask on, the door flew open and the tiny woman stood in front of him.
“Nice fit, now turn for me” Henry reluctantly stepped out of the change room and did as he was told.
“You might want to switch to briefs going forward, no lines that way” the woman said “Just a suggestion though”
“Now I want you to go outside and go for a walk in the uniform.See how it feels on you.”
“Wait a minute,” Henry said, ” I have questions. How much does this pay? Is it dangerous? What do I have to do?”
“It’s simple”, she replied. “Just go out and stop crimes from happening. You get paid a flat rate of $300 for every crime you stop, big or small.”
“That’s insane!” Henry exclaimed “You want me to walk the streets stopping crime in some superhero costume. That’s just asking to get beat up. I’m no tough guy!”
“No one is asking you to beat anyone up or to get beaten up. That’s not what we are about.” The lady replied
“We?Who is we? Besides even if I said yes, how would you know when I did stop a crime without getting my ass kicked?” Henry asked.
“Trust me”, the woman said, “you’ll be fine. No one is going to hurt you. Why don’t you try it out, go for a walk in the suit and see what happens?” she said.
Henry looked in the mirror outside the change room doors and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He looked like a fool in the costume and was sure he’d get beat up within minutes of leaving the tattoo shop. But he decided to give it a try.
“You promise I’m in no danger and I won’t get beat up?’ Henry asked anxiously.
“You’ll be fine” the woman replied.
Henry walked from the office through the tattoo shop and onto the street. He planned on being gone for no more than five minutes and was sure that was enough time to get an idea as to what the reaction would. And he was pretty sure that reaction would result in him getting a black eye.
But as Henry started down the street, he realized no one was really paying any attention to him. No one was mocking him and no one was trying to confront and hurt him. He continued and returned to the tattoo shop after being gone for 2 hours. While he had been surprised at the lack of reaction, he hadn’t been able to stop any crimes from happening as he hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary
As he entered the tattoo shop, the employees stopped what they were doing and clapped as Henry made his way to the office. Henry was embarrassed by the attention and quickly went through the door.
The tiny woman greeted him with a huge smile. “Congratulations, how did that feel?”
“It felt fine, but I didn’t stop any crimes and I don’t know what all this fuss is about.” Henry replied.
“Are you kidding me? You were amazing. In the two hours you were out, you thwarted a drug deal, and a robbery. Not to mention the life you saved! That’s a record for a first timer!”
“What are you talking about? I did none of those things, I just went for a walk.” Henry replied.
The woman climbed behind her desk and motioned for Henry to sit. She read from a paper on the desk.
“While walking around, you stopped two teenagers from making a drug deal because one of them saw you and took off running. The one who ran was trying to buy drugs for the first time and got spooked. Remember that convenience store you stopped at? There was a man in the back of the store getting ready to rob the place when you walked in. He quickly left when he saw you. And finally, that man you asked for directions? He was going to the top of the building you were in front of to jump from the roof. But because you stopped to talk to him and told him you appreciated the help, he decided not to and instead went home to his wife and family. You saved his life by simply acknowledging his help and telling him you appreciated it.”
The woman put the paper back down on the desk and looked at Henry. “You had an amazing first day and you didn’t get beat up once. Congratulations. How does it feel?”
“ It felt like any other day except I was wearing a costume. I really did all that?’ Henry asked.
Yes you did, and in only two hours. Imagine what would happen if you went for a full eight hours.”
The woman came around the desk to Henry, hand outstretched, to shake his hand.
“ I understand if you don’t want to do this again, it’s a lot to ask of anyone, but we’d really like to have you join us. You’re a natural,” she said.
“Us? You mean there is more than just me?” Henry asked.
“Yes,” she replied.” You’re not alone. There are approx two dozen more just like you. They work in various parts of the city. Not all of them wear the uniform, some are undercover.”
“Wow, I never knew” said Henry.” I’ve lived in this city all my life.”
“Well, that means we are doing a good job, if you didn’t realize we are here.” “So how about it? Do you think you want this job?’
Henry sat silently for a few minutes. What was he going to tell his friends? That he was a superhero? The once funny story had taken a serious twist, and now he had to decide what to do.
“Well, what do you say?” the woman asked
“I guess so,” Henry said. “I think I’d like to come back tomorrow and try it again”.
“Excellent, I knew you’d be great at this,” she said.
Henry got up to leave and as he was walking to the door, the woman called after him.“Oh, Henry” she said as he turned back towards her, “Welcome to The League.”