Honoria looked radiant in the sun’s dying glow as the day slowly nodded off to twilight. She turned to smile at him on the balcony with her champagne.
“Oh, darling, I’m the luckiest bride that was ever in the world.”
“And I the luckiest groom,” he said. Is she smiling at me with her mouth or with her champagne? he wondered. Oh, well, as long as she’s happy. “Shall we embrace?” he asked.
“You betcha, buddy,” she whispered anti-sibilantly. Their lips touched for only a second before she turned to sip at her champagne. “Oh look,” she said. “That funny man on the beach. Whatever is he doing?”
His lips still feeling let down, he looked gamely to the seashore below, and the sight he saw was a sight he sought to unsee ere he saw it. He gasped with recognition.
A man worked frantically on the beach, trying to mold a golem in the sand. He would manage to get a crude homunculus formed, but always as he stepped away the figure collapsed.
“Gerald, my darling, you look so troubled. Do you know that man?”
“No, I don’t know him.”
“Don’t lie to me, Gerald. Let’s not start our marriage on lies. That was a gasp of recognition if ever I heard one. Gerald, who is that man?”
Gerald turned to her, his face stricken. From the beach the man waved his fists in Gerald’s direction while shouting too faintly for the lovely young couple to hear more than a barely audible “eck oo” or something like it.
“That man is my arch-nemesis: the Sandmaster!”
“The Sandmaster? What the hell is a Sandmaster? I never heard of a Sandmaster. Sounds like some kind of vacuum cleaner you’d buy from an infomercial.” She tossed off her champagne in a gulp of exasperation, the kind with too much air in it that can give you the hiccups.
“If only he were. No, Honoria, the Sandmaster is the world’s most dangerous super-villain. He can bring figures made of sand to hideous life to do his ghastly bidding. Fortunately, he is an awful sculptor, so it takes him many tries to get one to hold together long enough to crank it up. But he will succeed eventually.”
On the beach the man continued frantically molding the sand only to see it collapse again. Fuming with rage he looked about and noticed a young boy with a pail nearby who had built a magnificent sand castle. The man and boy were having a conversation as Honoria watched. Then it seemed like the Sandmaster was writing out a check.
“Well, that can’t be good,” she muttered. She moved swiftly from the balcony toward the room. “I’m breaking open the scotch,” she said as she stepped past Gerald, his nostrils tingling from the scent of her delicate perfume.
“I was going to tell you, Honoria, I was. But I was so afraid that if you knew the life we were to lead, if you knew the deadly danger that is my bread and meat…”
Honoria stepped back out on the balcony and plopped into a chair, poured a stiff drink of Bell’s into a squat glass, and knocked it back like a pro. No air this time at all. She poured another as Gerald stared at her.
“I had no idea you were such a drinker.”
“Back to the program, Jerry. ‘Bread and meat’ you were saying.”
Gerald shook his head. “Of course. Deadly danger, my precious one. Gerald Monckwhistle is my real name, but it is not my real person. It is my secret identity. The secret identity of that hero of justice—” he stopped and looked over to see if she was paying attention. She was and motioned in the air with her finger as if to say, go on. “—Pus-Man.”
Honoria blinked several times. She stared down at her drink, back up at Gerald, back at her drink again. She set it down. In as calm a voice as she could muster, she said, “Who?”
“The Amazing Pus-Man!”
“You have suppurative super-powers.”
“More precisely I have super-suppuration powers.”
“I want a divorce.”
“Darling, I know it’s a shock.”
“A shock? Finding out you were a woman would have been a shock. A pleasant one, but that is neither here nor there. Finding out the man I married can turn into a great glistening ball of fetid purulence is the end of the world. I want a divorce.”
There were shouts from the streets below, screams. Honoria paid them no attention. “I can just see me with the other super-hero’s wives. ‘Well my Spidey swings,’ and ‘My Superman flies,’ and ‘My Flash is ever so fast.’ ‘What does your man do, honey?‘ ‘My Amazing Pus-Man? Oh, he’s an oozer. He oozes.’”
“I don’t ooze,” Gerald said through clenched teeth. He turned to see the cause of the chaos beyond their balcony. The screams broke through to Honoria, and she joined him at the railing, the bottle firmly in her hand.
A demonic, monstrous sand figure of Dora the Explorer came slogging toward the hotel, smashing vehicles and store windows as she passed. The Dora golem howled in rage and by her side stood the Sandmaster, a smile of triumph on his face.
On the balcony above, Gerald was already changing, his skin glistening.
“Oh Christ,” said Honoria, gagging, “that is disgusting. You are disgusting.”
“Don’t fear for me, my darling. You’ll see. I shall prevail.” He grabbed her by her upper arms and made as if to kiss her, but she spit a spray of scotch into his face. He averted his gaze, sighed, released her, and glopped from the balcony to the street below.
As the sounds of battle rent the night, Honoria stared ruefully at the pus marks on her blouse. “That is never coming out.”
Will the Amazing Pus-Man win the day or will the dreaded Sandmaster destroy his nemesis and take over Hawaii with his henchman Pail-Boy? Will Honoria divorce Gerald, or will she reconsider when she remembers his riches? Tune in to our next installment of Love Never Seeps when you’ll hear Honoria say:
“Are we talking Bruce Wayne rich, or what?”