Contributor: Jim Barry

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People from all over Ohio called Cleveland “The Mistake By the Lake”. But I didn’t care. This was my hometown. Sad thing was, there really wasn’t really much of a lake to speak of. Most of it had been polluted by radioactive waste. I remember when the water was actually blue. Or was it green? Well, that point was moot now as the water had turned a bright purple. It also wasn’t uncommon to find garbage floating in the waste. Popsicle sticks, women’s shoes, 7 Up cans, dead midgets, you name it.
Most regretful was that my father used to take me fishing by the lake. I do miss the sound of the actual water splishing and splashing as we would skip stones. Now, well, hmm..now you really couldn’t call it water. It was more like an ooze. It would bubble and cough. A sickening sound that was reminiscent of a frog with indigestion.
So basically, the world had completely gone to shit. But, hey! No reason to get down about it! I mean, sure, I had lost my wife, family, and all of my friends, but I was still happy. Some of my friends died by radiation poisoning, some were devoured by the invading giant lobsters from Alpha Centaurus IV, and some I had killed myself! I really didn’t want to kill them, but when my supply of food and clothing ran out, they wouldn’t share! They said “Ernie, you’ve been mentally unstable since you lost your wife Doris. We feel just as bad as you do when she was eaten by that giant radioactive goldfish, but you’ve become so violent, we’re afraid to let you into our homes.”
Ha! They said I was crazy! They made fun of my tin foil hat, Enrique. I love Enrique! Enrique guides me. Enrique understands me. And what’s more, Enrique NEVER steered me wrong. In fact, it was his suggestion to kill my friends and neighbors who were too selfish to share their food and clothes with me.
They said I became violent after Doris died. Ha! What the hell did they know? So what if I started to chase squirrels with a meat cleaver? They didn’t understand! The squirrels made fun of me! They were evil! EVIL!
It wasn’t long until the neighbors’ food ran out. I guess I could have eaten my dead friends and neighbors, but what am I? Crazy? Jeez. What’s wrong with you people?
I decided to go to the lake when my father had taken me years ago. I rummaged through one of my now departed neighbor’s clothes closet. Enrique told me to pick out my neighbor’s wife’s blouse and a pair of high heels. Then he told me to apply some make up and lipstick. “Damn,” I thought. “I look goooood.”
What? You think this is crazy?
Armed with my fishing pole, I headed over to the lake. Even from miles away, I could hear the ooze bubbling about.
I cast off and waiting patiently for a bite. Then..yes! At last! I had something! I reeled it in with all of my strength. And had caught……a green, 6 eyed goldfish. Sweet! The last one I caught only had 5 eyes!
The metal hook on my fishing rod was strong enough to handle the toxicity of the wriggling creature. My hands, however, were not. My flesh burned when I tried to grip my hand around the creature. “Aaaaah”, I yelled. “It burns!”
Right. Well, can’t eat that I thought. The fish continued to burn right through the scorched earth I had dropped it upon. Enrique suggested I should move on to downtown Cleveland.
First, I went to a butcher shop I went to as a kid called “Mr. McFee’s Neat Meat Machine”. Mr. McFee was such a nice man. Enrique tells me I shouldn’t feel sad for killing him, but I kinda still do. But he refused to share his meat. So, I had to feed him to the meat grinder.
Sadly, it didn’t look like there was any food left over at all. Besides the giant lobsters, another thing you had to cope with in this world was the giant rats. The rats had now grown to the size of Volkswagens. People started complaining about them when they started to eat small children.
At any rate, they had apparently ate all of the food. I did however, find a meat cleaver. It was even bigger than the one I used with chasing the evil squirrels! I held it up and salivated at the glistening metal. I always did love shiny things! I asked Enrique if I could keep it and he told me I could. So don’t touch it!!
I walked deeper into downtown Cleveland. Then I saw it! A giant golden letter “M”! I couldn’t remember what the letter “M” stood for, but I vaguely remembered it had something to do with food!
My stomach was growing louder and louder by the minute. So I ran towards the large golden “M”.
How I wished I could remember what this place was called. The lettering on the side of the building had been blackened out by the bomb blasts. Without my glasses, I couldn’t read the sign that was high in the sky. Only the golden “M” I could make out.
Aw, now THIS is sad. Here are two people who are frozen from shock. Must have happened during the last nuclear blast. One guy looked like a clown in a yellow and red suit. I love clowns! The other guy looked like a purple blob thingy. That poor man, he was probably mutated by the radiation.
That’s funny. They feel like they are made out of hard plastic. But..NO! They ARE real people. I KNOW it! Enrique TOLD me they were!
Then I heard a clattering noise. Then I saw these two guys coming out from the back of the building. I listened in to what they were saying.
“Wow, Darryl”, said one of them. “I can’t believe we found these two boxes of apple pies”.
“You’re not kidding, Frank”, said the other. “It’s incredible that no one ever found these..and that’s including the giant rats & lobsters. These should last us for 2 months at least!”
Those bastards! How dare they steal food from that poor clown and that purple..thing. They must pay for their crimes!
“Stop, evil doers!”, I bellowed as I ran after them.
“Wha..? Who the hell’s that?”, said one.
“Vermin!”, I said. “How dare you two villains steal from that poor clown and his portly, but pleasant purple pal?”
One of them gave such a flimsy excuse. “Buddy, what the hell are you talkin’ about? We were just tryin’ to find food. If you’re hungry, we ‘d be more than happy to sha--..”
“Silence, miscreant!”, I bellowed. “Taste my cleaver of justice!”
With all of my might, I hurled my cleaver at this one fool’s head. He barely had time to scream as the cleaver quickly lodged into his head.
One of the thieves’ bodies was now sprawled on the ground, completely lifeless. I pulled my cleaver out of his head and shifted my vigilant gaze towards his partner in crime.
“Screw the pies!”, he frantically screamed. “I’m getting the hell outta here!”
Oh, how he tried to run, but I was able to stop him with a flying tackle. I turned his body over, held my cleaver high and let out a primal scream!
CHOP! CHOP! HEE HEE! Chopping good! Hee hee hee! Wow, not only is he dead, but now he’s in pieces. Hee hee! That’ll teach him.
“Here you go, gentlemen. I have returned your food!” I placed the two boxes of apple pies in front of this poor clown and his friend, the purple monster. They did not answer. I asked them if it was ok if I could eat some of their pies. They still did not answer. Those poor people. They’re probably in shock from having their food stolen. Well, Enrique said it was ok to eat the pies, so I did. Nom nom.
Y’know what’s wrong with the world today? Well..besides the fact that 85% of the world’s population was dead and the earth had been ravaged by radioactive contamination. There was no order! Everything had devolved into total anarchy! What kind of world do we live in where a clown and his purple monster friend can’t eat their apple pies in peace? The world had gone to hell..and it was time to make things right! First, I needed a uniform.
I found a thrift store nearby where I could assemble my uniform of justice. I found a blank T-shirt and proceeded to draw “CC” on the chest. I then found some hot pants so everyone could see my amazing body. Then I found a pair of yellow galoshes and brown gardening gloves. Then, I found a “Holiday Inn” towel for a cape. Finally, I found some pantyhose which I thought would make a decent mask. I looked in the mirror and thought I looked pretty amazing. Watch out, everybody! Captain Cleaver is here to make the world a better place! Now I decided to look for crimes.
I stopped a man from taking out books from a library. He tried to bargain with me. He told me it didn’t matter as most of the city was dead. Who was he trying to kid? Stealing is stealing, right? CHOP!
Two men were loitering outside a convenience store. I can’t believe these two had the audacity to hang around when the sign clearly said “no loitering”. They told me they needed rest and were suffering from exhaustion. Feh. A likely story. DOUBLE CHOP! That’ll teach’em.
Later, I hid in the shadows. I saw some guy walk by eating chips. I was curious of where he found the chips? He seemed like he was done, so he tried throwing the empty bag into a trash can. But he missed! Litterer! I lunged at him and chopped him with everything I had while letting out another primal scream. CHOP!
This was great! So far I had taken out 20 evil doers with my cleaver of justice! I felt powerful! I felt like I could do anything! Why, I bet I could even fly! What am I saying? Of course I could fly! Enrique told me I could. I just needed an appropriate launching pad. But where could I find one? Then in the distance, I saw it!
It was a miracle that Key Tower was still standing. I had heard when the bombing started, most of America’s sky scrapers had been decimated. The Empire State Building, The Sears Tower, and even the Liberty Towers in Philly were all gone. Yet, The Key Tower, constructed in 1991, was still standing.
Oh. Right. The elevators were out of order. I forgot. Sometimes I forget how useful electricity was. Only other option was to take the stairs.
Around the 33rd flight of stairs, fatigue started to kick in. I thought about quitting, but I couldn’t. Cleveland needed a protector and everyone needed to see that their new protector could indeed fly.
I finally reached the top of Key Tower. This was my moment. Now or never. I wanted to run off the roof and into the sky, but I was so tired from climbing the stairs. The best I could do was jog. I jogged off the edge, held out my arms and yelled “geronimoooo…”
I was doing it! I was flying!
Wait..why am I going down? Shouldn’t I be going upwa—


I..I don’t feel at all well right now. I feel awful. In fact, I don’t think I can even move. Much less feel anything.
Enrique you jerk..

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My bio? Just a 36 year old comic book geek still looking for his niche in this world. Naturally, I'd LOVE to write comics, but thought it may be best to get my feet wet by writing short stories first.
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