Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » September 2014 » “Superman” by Darryl Graff

“Superman” by Darryl Graff

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, Darryl Graff takes us to Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan, a community with its very own superhero. Next week, Josh Krigman gives a fry cook a deadly surprise in Chinatown, New York City.

Darryl GraffSuperman
by Darryl Graff
Stuyvesant Town, New York City, NY

I was born in 1962 in Stuyvesant Town, a middle-class housing development located on the East Side of Manhattan. When I was young, I used to see an older kid who rode his ten-speed bicycle through the neighborhood. He always wore a Superman costume, and he steered the bicycle with his feet, with his hands always high over his head and his red Superman cape flapping in the wind behind him. He was already about seventeen or eighteen years old at the time and had a black peach fuzz mustache, the kind of mustache boys have when they’re not quite men.

In the late 1960s–early 1970s, bad things happened in the neighborhood all the time. But no one ever bothered Superman—not the blacks from 14th Street or the Puerto Ricans from Avenue D. It was almost like he really was Superman: flying high above our heads in the sky on his ten-speed bicycle, up high where no one could reach him and no one could hurt him.

Sometimes I would see him on the playground. He would go down the metal slide on his stomach, laughing and screaming, “I’m flying, I’m flying.” His mother sat on a bench and watched him. She had blonde hair and smoked cigarettes one after another. She was thin and always tired-looking, like she needed to sleep.

When I was in the fourth grade, something really bad happened upstate at a prison called Attica. A lot of people were tortured, and burned or shot to death. News of the nation’s deadliest prison riot, at Attica, played on the television every night.

One day at recess, my friend Mike and I were playing ball at the playground on 20th Street and Second Avenue when our teacher Miss Kleinman started screaming: “Everyone! Inside the school. Now.”

Miss Kleinman looked scared; we didn’t know what was happening.

First we heard them. Then we saw them marching down Second Avenue: lots and lots of people, and they were really angry. Some were carrying wooden coffins; some held signs. They were all screaming, over and over, “Attica. Attica. Attica. Kill the pigs. Kill the pigs. Kill the pigs.”

At that moment, wouldn’t you know it? Guess who came flying down Second Avenue, steering his ten-speed bike with his feet, hands high above his head, his red cape flapping in the wind.

Miss Kleinman screamed, “Get away from the street.” Mike and I ran to the chain-link fence that separated the school playground from Second Avenue. We put our fingers through the chain links and held on tight. Miss Kleinman was crying and pulling at my shirt. Mike and I screamed, “Go, Superman, go!”

***

DARRYL GRAFF is a New York City construction worker and writer. His stories have been published in the online literary magazine Fat City Review.

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Sep 22, 2014

Category: Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art