NOTE: This is the third in the X-Men 1970
series, which branches off from Canon after X-MEN #66. For further
info, check out "The
Professor and His Pupil" and "Halfway
Fallen Angel." The flashback with Iceman, Havok, and Lorna comes
from INCREDIBLE HULK #150. And with that, let's get going...
Bobby and Hank say "Farewell, New York"
and Other Things
by Dark Mark
"I now pronounce you man and wife."
The minister didn't get to the part about "You may kiss the bride."
Scott Summers and Jean Grey were already in each other's arms and
defining the term "soul kiss" anew.
Bobby Drake grinned, sitting in the third pew from the front. He
had thought, briefly, about yelling, "Attaboy, Scotty!" But a firm
pressure from Henry P. McCoy's big brogan on top of Bobby's somewhat
smaller foot convinced him that discretion was called for.
Hank was sitting with Vera Cantor, his steady girlfriend of times
past. It had been over a year since they'd gotten together, but here
they were, putting out feelers and both hoping their filaments would
mesh again. Bobby was with the two of them, but stag. Vera had considered
calling Zelda Morton, provided she was still in the phone book, to
see if she wanted to accompany Bobby. The four of them had double-dated
a lot when they had been items with each other. But Hank advised her
The reason why was easy to see. Bobby Drake kept stealing glances
towards two figures in the front pew, sitting beside Jean's parents.
The two were almost-but-not-quite X-Men: Scott's brother Alex, known
as Havok when he wore his black costume, and Alex's POSSLQ Lorna Dane.
Lorna hadn't gotten a superheroic name yet, but she did have magnetic
powers and had used them to aid the team on several occasions, most
notably during the recent Z'nox affair. She normally had green hair,
but she hid it under a brown wig for the occasion.
Before Lorna had met Alex, she had gone out with Bobby on a semiregular
basis. Bobby had thrown over Zelda for her. Now ... well, nobody much
had to ask about now.
Professor Xavier was in the second row of pews, along with Warren
Worthington and his girl, Candy Sothern. There were other family members
and friends among the small crowd. The latter category included Cal
Rankin, who served as a pinch-hitting X-Man briefly in his Mimic identity.
He looked somewhat pale and nerved, but nobody had the opportunity
to ask him why yet. Sean Cassidy had flown in from Ireland to make
the ceremonies. As the Banshee, he had been a fellow mutant and ally
on several occasions.
But that was about it for the superheroic part of the guest list.
Scott and Jean's other identities were secret, and they intended to
keep them that way. Thus, no mob scene of people in odd costumes,
as had been the case in the Richardses' and Pyms' weddings. The X-Men
had attended both, as guests.
"Great couple," said Bobby. "Guess we always knew they'd be."
"Not always, chum," said Hank. He stole a look at Warren. Seeing
it, Bobby nodded.
Vera smiled. "I hate to talk about those wedding bells breaking up
that old gang of yours, Hank, but I'm glad they did for Scott and
"Indubitably, Vera, my sweet," Hank acknowledged, stealing a big
hand around her shoulders. "But Jeannie enjoyed the attention of all
the males on this otherwise-stag campus. Even, quite possibly, our
"Professor Xavier?" Vera wrinkled her nose. "I can't imagine him
falling in love with anything. Except a computer."
"The old guy might fool you," said Bobby, fidgeting in his brown
suit. "Fooled me a time or two, I know."
Jean and Scott walked back down the aisle. The organist played the
recessional. Bobby thought he saw Scott wink at him, but he could
have been winking at Hank, or Warren, or even the Prof. Heck, even
After the royal couple went wherever such couples go between wedding
and reception, everybody more or less stood up and made conversation.
Xavier had Warren place him in his wheelchair, and then Bobby saw
him wheeling over to Lorna and Alex. He shook their hands, smiled
at them, talked at them intently.
Holy Mike, Bobby thought. He's trying to recruit them for
a new team of X-Men. He stood and walked in their direction. Hank
and Vera were talking to each other at the moment.
Still, why intervene? If Alex and Lorna became the start of a new
group ... well, there were worse fates. Being an X-Man had been the
opportunity of a lifetime. He'd seen things, done things, gone places
that his father's resources could never have provided. And he had
gotten a ways down the road towards a CPA-ship. It was funny how being
a student and an X-Man could take your mind away from seeking a real
job. As if there was nothing more to life than textbooks, costumes,
He found himself in front of Alex, Lorna, Warren, Candy, and the
Professor. "Hi," he said, breathily, pasting on a smile.
Lorna smiled back, breaking the ice. "Hello, Bobby. It's good to
see you again, and I mean it."
Alex forced a smile, extending his hand. "Me, too, Drake. I want
to apologize again for that little thing we had. Believe me, I am
"Oh, that. Okay, it was nothing," said Bobby, shaking Alex's hand.
Like hell. They'd gotten into an argument over Lorna shortly after
the Professor's life had been saved by a gimmick invented by Bruce
Banner. The argument had been cut short by an accidental -- at least,
Bobby hoped it was -- discharge of Havok's power. It had rocked the
heck out of Iceman, and Alex was aghast. So was Lorna. But it didn't
make her give up her little Summers boy. No such luck.
"Just kind of, wanted to wish you, a lot of, uh, lot of luck together,"
"Thank you," said Lorna, still smiling. Warren looked as though he
wanted to unstrap his wings and fly out of the embarrassment zone.
"Yeah, uh, a lot of luck. Uh, Professor. How are you, uh, doing,
kind of coming along, y'know?" Bobby held one of his hands in the
other to keep the both of them from shaking.
Xavier gave his former pupil a gracious look. "I've been getting
along, Bobby. Just speaking to Mr. Summers and Miss Dane, here. Hoping
I can interest them in a possible endeavor. Are you and Hank still
planning on rooming together for awhile?"
"Uh, well, possibly, yeah," Bobby answered. "I mean, well, we've
done it before, y'know, with the old daredevil act and all. I mean,
that didn't work out to well, but, you know..."
"Bobby," Warren said, in a kindly tone. "We're friends. You don't
have to be nervous around us."
Bobby Drake exhaled. "Yeah. I mean, no, I guess not. By the way,
Warren, is it true what I hear about you and Candy being...?"
Candy gave the biggest smile of the evening so far. "Yes, Bobby.
We're engaged. And I think it's fabulous."
"She's not the only one," said Warren, embracing her from the side.
"We haven't decided on a wedding date, but when we do, you all will
be the first to know. And you'd all better be there, or I'll go after
each and every no-show and hang ‘em upside down from a clock tower!"
Bobby chuckled. "Cool, War. I, uh, Lorna."
"Yes, Bobby?" She waited. Alex held her hand a bit more tightly.
"I hope you'll ... be your own woman, whatever happens. And that
Alex will be his own man."
Xavier stiffened a bit, perceptibly. He recognized the implications
of Drake's statement. And it hurt.
"Don't worry, Drake," said Alex. "Whatever else happens, both Lorna
and I intend to keep our own lives separate from it. And equal."
"Glad to hear it," said Bobby. His heart started to put up a malfunction
signal, and he damned well didn't want that to happen. He swallowed.
"Listen. I, uh, have to go check on Warren and Jeannie, and I'm ...
glad I got to see you. Really."
"Take care, Bob," said Lorna, and, leaning over, she pecked him on
the cheek. "That one's for luck."
He couldn't say anything. His autonomic nervous system took over
and had his legs walk him away. Somewhere on the journey Hank McCoy
caught him by the shoulder and gave him a look of comradely concern.
"Bobby? You okay, lad?"
"I'm all right, Hank. I'm really all right."
Hank nodded, silently. Then he clapped Bobby on the back, almost
making him fall down. "Ready to go see Jean and Scott off?"
"Not really. But we have to."
"That's the spirit, fellow educant. Come with me."
Bobby found himself at the punchbowl with Scott and Jean and nobody
much else around. His hands were sticky from the wedding cake's icing
and he had to awkwardly wipe them on the edge of the tablecloth, underneath
the table, and hoped nobody would notice. Well, nobody who would embarrass
him any worse.
With Scott and Jeannie, he felt at ease. "Scott," he said, "it's
going to be sad, not seeing you for awhile."
The brown-haired man in the tux and shades nodded, soberly. "I know,
Bobby. We'll miss the heck out of you, too. But it's something we've
all got to do."
"Right," said Jean, laying a reassuring hand on Bobby's arm. "We've
all got to get out of school sometime, Bobby. If we didn't do it now,
we might never do it at all."
"Or get married," Bobby said.
"Or get married," agreed Jean. "And I'm very glad Scott and I decided
to do both."
"So," he said. "What do we do now? It's not like any of us made big
plans for the future, and all."
Scott shrugged. "We find our way, Bobby. That's about all anybody
can do, I guess, no matter how many plans they make. We've had it
easier than most people, in some ways. Harder than others."
"Yeah," said Bobby. "Not too many humans..." Then he caught himself.
Jean and Scott looked tensely at him, for an instant. Nobody else
seemed to be paying attention, but other people were still within
"I mean, not too many people had the experiences we did," amended
Bobby. "Not too many of ‘em know what going to this school was like."
"I know," said Jean. "But there were so many good things for the
people who did go to it. And, Bobby ... one of those good things was
knowing somebody like you." She gave him a big hug.
"I..." He tried to talk, but he couldn't. Scott seemed to be holding
back emotion himself. He always looked like he was doing that, but
this time he looked like it took more effort. With Jean still hugging
Bobby, he still managed to find one of Bobby's hands to clasp.
Jean broke the hug, taking Bobby's head between her hands. "Listen,
Bobby. I know this is hard for you today. Hard as hell seeing Lorna
and Alex again, hard seeing us get married, and, I know it ... hard
not having a girlfriend here to be with you."
"It's okay, Jeannie," said Bobby. "Really, it's okay."
"No," she said, shifting her grip to hold one of his hands. "I know
that it isn't. But listen. I wanted Scott for a long time, and for
most of that long time it seemed as though the big lunk would never
get up the courage to ask me. And Warren, well ... he was okay, but
I had to admit he wasn't what I wanted. You've been through a real
heartbreaker, Bob, and I know it. It made me feel good to see you
with Lorna ... and, I've got to tell you something, but you can't
repeat it. To anyone. Okay?"
"I thought she was a bitch for dumping you," Jean whispered. "Maybe
she is. But she's happy with Alex now, and if she is, Bobby, let's
face it, she just wasn't the right girl for you. And I don't know
if this thing with Alex is going to work out. If she sees a guy better-looking
than him, he might just find himself Number Two in a long string.
But you don't tell anyone I said this, okay?"
"Okay," Bobby repeated.
Scott cleared his throat. "Bobby, I want you to know that I talked
with Alex about the incident that happened recently. And I told him,
quote, ‘If I ever hear you doing something like that to Bobby again,
or anyone of my teammates, I'll shove a New York phone book down one
end of you and pull it out the other.' Unquote. And I meant it."
Bobby chuckled. "Thanks, Scotty. I don't think it'll be necessary."
"It better not be."
The youngest X-Man sighed and shook his head. "Look. I'm sure you've
got a lot to do, from here on in. I wish you all the best, you hear?
You were two of the greatest people I could ever have grown up with.
I think you're going to be just about the happiest couple in the world."
Jean smiled, blinking back what looked like tears. "Thank you, Bobby.
And ... good luck to you, too."
"Good luck from me as well, Bobby," said Scott, taking his partner's
hand again, briefly. "And, once we find out how to live separately...maybe
we can talk about togetherness, again."
"Maybe," said Bobby, holding Scott's hand. "Just maybe."
Then Mr. and Mrs. Grey appeared and Scott and Jean gravitated off
with them, saying goodbye again to Bobby. He stood there for a long
moment, then said, "Whew," to nobody in particular. He took a cup
and dipped out some punch from the bowl into it.
Hank and Vera were there, beside him.
"Bobby," said Hank. "Warren, Candy, Vera, and I are going to the
Coffee A Go Go afterward. Sort of an Irish wake for ... well, you
know. If you don't wish to attend, it's understood. But we would consider
it an unforgiveable breach of taste if we didn't extend the invitation..."
"I'll go, Hank."
Vera said, "Bobby, I don't know if Zel -- if she's working tonight,
but we could see Bernard, and the old place, and maybe some of the
"I'll go, Vera," said Bobby, loudly enough to turn heads in his direction.
He looked at them, and then back at Hank and Vera, who looked a bit
uncomfortable. He lowered his voice.
"I'll go," he said.
Excerpt from "Coffee-House Mutants and the Big Green Showdown"
by Tom Wolfe, Esquire, December 1970:
...TheVillage is going through another one of its Phases, and they
happen about as often as the shuffle of cards on a street-dealer's
turf, but there are by-gosh some PERMANENT things about the Village,
and that's when you've set aside all the fashionable changes, the
accoutrements, the day-glo bongs and trendy hippie-dippie clothes
that are looking as old as last year's worsted now, the graying hipsters
still toting their no-more tres chic Ban the Bomb signs, the Che Guevara
impersonators, the guitar guys with the hat (or, even luckier, the
open guitar case) at their feet for your thrown bread, the protestors
with their Speed Kills And So Does Nixon signs, the tourists coming
for happysnaps, the reporters with the cameras in tow looking for
the Mood of the Moment to fill in a low spot in Uncle Walter's monologue,
there are (yes!) Some PERMANENT Things, and one of them is the Coffee
A Go Go, down there on Umpteenth and Broad, where you can still hear
the Mingus mellow fantastic if you drop a quarter in the Wurlitzer
slot, and the smoke-cured hams are the ones who, my God, yes!, actually
get up on the stage and declaim beatnik poetry, in THIS DAY AND AGE!!
likeJackKerouacwasstilloutthereontheroad and Allen Ginsburg was watching
the best minds of his generation rot, and there was no nobler place
to rot them than here in the Coffee A Go Go, oh no no, friends and
true believers, and while it is true some things change, many things
change in the Village, the Coffee A Go Go is one of the Gibraltar
points, as is Bernard of no certain last name, the gray-haired guru,
part-owner, poet, and pusher of benzene coffee catastrophe guaranteed
to Keep You Up To All Necessary Hours And Then Some...
Well, some things are just built to last, you know?
Except for the one night when, oh man, you know they didn't anymore...
"My father conceived me in blue,
On the blue of the night
Jelly Roll Morton turntabling while
My mother and he jam sessioned
Till the music was spent
And they too
And it was blue. Deep indigo blue."
Bernard, greying, bespectacled, hippie-beaded, in black turtleneck
and worn brown jacket and blue jeans, looked up from his battered
notebook at the crowd. Satisfaction. The silences, the smoking, the
percentage of eyes turned his way in wonder or boredom. Somehow, the
boredom was the most satisfying of all things.
After all, this was commercial crap. Words they could understand.
His real poetry languished. The stuff that, as T.S. Eliot would have
it, was poetry for the poets. The philistines at the big verse magazines
mostly turned their noses up at it. He'd had his stuff printed in
the no-pay mags, though, and got back a few letters. That was pay
enough for a poet.
Except that the Coffee A Go Go depended on a New Beat atmosphere
and if reading this cliched stuff was what they needed to keep coming
back, then he by Jupiter was gonna give it to them. Homer for the
In the audience were some of the regulars. The kids from up in Westchester,
who'd followed Bigfoot Hank and Cleancut Bobby down on their recommendation.
It was usually four guys and their dates. But now ... well ... somebody
seemed missing. Maybe several somebodies.
He was damned glad Zelda was in the kitchen right now. Cleancut Bob
and she had a nice innocent thing going for awhile, till he dumped
her for some other little twist and quit coming there. Now they were
back, and Bobby didn't seem to have a girl beside him.
And where was Scott With the Shades, and Miss Fireplug Hair? Yes,
they were the ones missing. Strange, as they always showed up when
Warren Richkid and Dandy Candy were about. This time, though, they
weren't. He'd have to pay a visit to their table and see what was
Tut, Bernard, he reminded himself. Pushing fifty and you're
turning into the Old Town Gossip, always looking for new dish.
Still, it would be nice to talk to the kids again. They'd practically
grown up here.
"And all the blue blue indigo blue
Wrapped up in tinted tinfoil timorously
Like the birth caul or the egg's inner membrane
Like the corona ‘tween sun and earth at daybreak
Like the interval between tongue and wine
Like the ear straining for poems to be heard
Like the loins begging for divine completion
Like the prayer a micron away from the ear of the Maker
Like the needle a millimeter away from the record
Like the bomb a mere inch no more than that from target
Yea all the indigo blue the deep deep indigo blue
All that is in me, all that I am, all that I
He let it hang for a long, long moment, and savored the silence,
broken by just one cough.
There was applause. That was divine.
The faux-beats and hippies played at slapping their hands together,
to show their seeming indifference. But the Westchester kids really
clapped, called encouragement, and smiled. Cleancut Bobby usually
even stomped his feet and whistled. That kind of applause, for all
its corniness, Bernard loved.
But tonight, Bobby was only clapping.
So he wrapped it. "That's it," he said. "More readings tomorrow night
at 8:30. Thank you all."
There was a Grateful Dead song, "Casey Jones", on the jukebox, started
up as he left the platform. Bernard shook the hands of the faithful
as he passed by them. Longhanded Larry, Benny of the Big Bike, Katie
Kalamity with her pink-dyed hair. All of them with wine or espresso
and pizza or burgers or both. His children.
He made his way to the Westchester table. The crew took notice, greeted
him. Warren was first to stand up and shake his hand. "Guess what,
Bernie?", he said, beaming.
"Hmm," Bernard said, theatrically, putting a hand to his goatee.
"Riddles often have dire consequences for the riddlee, if a wrong
answer is given. May I have three guesses, before penalty is invoked?"
"Sure," said Warren. "Go ahead."
"You liked the poem."
"Well, yeah, that, too, but that's not it."
"Your stock split twice this week."
"Nope. But I could do with more of those predictions!"
Bernard paused. He studied Warren's face, then glanced at the pretty
girl in the sweater and slacks, squeezing his hand, and sporting --
yes! -- a ring on her finger, with a quite vulgar diamond.
"Then, Mr. Warren, I would presume, for my final and fatal third
guess, that you and the young lady here are engaged. Congratulations."
"You got it," Warren said, pumping his hand. "Just this week. We
haven't set a date yet, but count on it, before year's end there's
gonna be a Worthington-Sothern merger."
"Oh, War-ren," said Candy, in mock exasperation. "Can't you think
about anything in other than business terms?"
Bernard tipped his granny glasses down a bit on his nose and offered
his hand. "A poem I'll compose for your blessed nupitals, milady.
If, of course, you'll consent to bring your friends along before or
after the blessed day and hear it."
"Well, I think we can manage that," Candy replied, shaking Bernard's
mitt. "Don't you, Warren?"
"If we can swing it, we will," said Warren. "This place is part of
"Especially, Warren, the night of Bobby's 18th birthday, when we
fought the motorcycle gang here," put in Bigfoot Hank. "May no one
excoriate your expostulations, Bernard. Well done tonight."
"Thank you," said Bernard, breaking off with Candy to shake with
Hank. The man's paw practically devoured the poet's, and he could
sense the strength in it. If the young man had gone to a bigger school,
he would have been a whole football team by himself.
"I liked it too, Bernard," said Vera, and blushed when he kissed
her hand. "We've got some more good news. Shall I tell him, Hank?"
"Why not, my dear?" said the bespectacled, brown-haired young giant,
toying with an espresso cup between one big thumb and forefinger.
"The old adage applies: telephone, telegraph, tell a woman."
"Hank!" She slapped his leg underneath the table. "Anyway, Bernard,
the reason Scott and Jeannie aren't here with us tonight is that they
got married. Isn't that fabulous?"
Bernard's mouth O'ed, then he said, "My gracious sakes alive, Miss
Vera, that's wonderful. Simply blessed. To think that the two of them
couldn't accompany you here tonight for a teensy bit of time ... yes,
indeed, I would compose a wedding poem on the very spot for them."
"Maybe that's why they didn't," said Bobby, dryly.
"Manners, chum," reminded Hank. "Besides, we know a better reason
why they didn't, and they're undoubtedly..."
"How many times do I have to slap you, Henry P. McCoy?" Vera's hand
was held in pre-whack position.
"Subside, subside, Vera, m'dear, t'was all in good comradely fashion
jested." Hank put his big hand around Vera's, dwarfing it for a second,
and bussed her on the cheek. "We'll give them your best, Bernard,
and as soon as they get settled I'll wager we can bring the connubial
couple back for another visit. This, too, is part of their history."
"As it is of mine, Hank." Bernard steadied himself against a chair.
"When I first tread this floor, Sputnik hadn't yet gone up. Eisenhower's
term was yet young. Beats were Beats then, even more Beaten than today
... though, I admit, today we seem more beaten in a sadder and more
literal way. Deflated more than beaten, I suspect."
"Oh, c'mon, Bernie," said Bobby, rubbing his cheek and feeling the
nubs to have something to do. "Don't get depressed. For crying out
loud, you're over draft age. What do you have to worry about?"
"I'd say he has a hell of a lot to worry about," came another voice.
"And so do you."
The attention of the party was drawn to a man who dressed in such
a fashion as to make one mistake him for Lamont Cranston's alter ego.
Bernard knew he was the only one old enough to get that reference.
Except that the man dressed in brown. Brown slouch hat, upturned collar,
and pants. And ... well, his shoes...
They were purple. And they seemed to be boots.
The young men at the table were standing, putting the women behind
them. Bernard glanced at them. This man might simply be a hostile
fruitcake, and in need of a bouncer. He didn't look like a biker type,
which should have been hopeful. But ... somehow, Bernard was not hopeful
The man swept the hat off his head and was damnably green underneath.
Bobby knew he should pretend to fail to recognize the man, secret
identities needing to be protected. But if the guy was here, and knew
them, then he obviously knew who they were in their other i.d.'s.
Because that was how he had met them.
"Mesmero," said Bobby.
"What?" asked Bernard, feeling as though Orson Welles were about
to step from behind the curtain and tell everyone the green man was
just a hoax. But when the green man put a purple glove against his
chest and shoved him aside, he disabused himself of that illusion.
"I owe you, X-Men," he said, focusing on the three males, as the
girls gasped and looked at each other behind him. "I owe the other
two of you, as well. But they're not here tonight, so you'll just
have to do."
Bobby's hands were icing up. Warren was starting to take off his
coat and shirt. Hank was slipping off his shoes. None of them took
their eyes off the green man. He was drawing attention. Considering
the clientele, that took some doing.
A guy in a tie-dyed undershirt sitting nearby puffed a joint and
said, "Man, you are like chartreuse. Pretty. Like the valley of the
The man Bobby called Mesmero whirled on the man and looked him in
The smoker widened his eyes to their greatest extent, dropped the
j from his mouth without even thinking of Bogarting it, and clasped
both hands to his head. He fell to the floor, rolled on the planks,
and screamed in pain.
It was then that Zelda Morton burst out of the kitchen. "What's going
on here?" she called out, still wearing a dishwasher's apron.
"Zelda!" Bobby wheeled, his hands encased in whitening ice, the wrists
of his jacket damp.
"Back inside, quickly!" snapped Hank. She saw Bobby and was on the
verge of saying something. But she saw the green man, and couldn't
Mesmero turned to her and locked eyes with Zelda. "Come here," he
"Get back inside," Bobby warned. "Go, Zelda!"
"Do as he says, Zelda," said Bernard, not daring to move without
knowing the green man's game.
But the brown-haired girl was as unable to resist as Trilby would
be to defy Svengali. Her face contorted in shock, as her legs carried
her further into the room. She went to Mesmero's side, wonderingly,
and he put an arm about her. He smiled, coldly. "So you like her,"
Zelda looked frightened, but said nothing. "Let her go, Mez," said
Bobby. "Your fight's with us, not her."
Bernard always regretted the next thing that he did, which was to
let his eyes wander over Mesmero's shoulder towards the young bouncer,
Gerald, who was about to whack a Tiki cane into the side of the green
man's head. Mesmero turned his head, locked eyes with Gerald, and
the cane stopped in mid-swing. Gerald was as paralyzed as Zelda, and
that position he was locked in just had to be taxing.
Bobby shielded his eyes with an arm, iced up all the way, wasting
his jacket and pants in the process, and let fly with an iceball.
Mesmero managed to dodge it, but it splattered off a table behind
them and showered the patrons with freezy stuff. Then there was screaming.
People were about to play stomp-each-other-to-the-exit.
"Stop!" yelled Mesmero, and raked the crowd with his gaze as he yelled
it. Not all of them looked up at him, but enough did to quell the
stampede. They froze.
Hank McCoy had surged for Mesmero, and managed to knock him over
a table, going down with him. Warren had his shirt off, had exposed
great white wings, and was headed over towards them, several feet
off the floor. Bobby was headed in their general direction.
Bernard, hustling Vera and Candy to a safer place and promising himself
to come back for Zelda, muttered, "Oh my God. They're the X-Men. That
Then the fight-that-was-to-be was no more. Hank, Warren, and Bobby
ceased their attack, and merely stood, lay, or knelt there. "Stand
up," ordered Mesmero.
Bernard, moistening his lips, stood regarding the green man. "How
did you do that thing?"
Mesmero regarded him with contempt. "I can show you first-hand, if
"Uh, no, no. Really, that won't be necessary." Bernard held up his
hands. "They said your name was Mesmero. I assume, then, that you've,
uh, mesmerized them?"
Behind him, he heard Vera saying, "Candy, did you know that Warren
And Candy saying, "Yes, but did you know that Hank and Bobby were...?"
Play for time, poet, he told himself. Make believe that
this is merely a sheriff with a summons, telling you to vacate the
property because some kid was caught in here with the Killer Weed.
"Well, why here?" asked Bernard, spreading his hands in a gesture
of helplessness. "I mean, I should be flattered for the attention,
it'll probably bring business to my place, but--"
"You should SHUT UP!"
"Oh, well, if you, uh, insist," muttered Bernard.
Mesmero gazed at all of them, turning in a circle. Finally, he spoke
again, not facing Bernard. "It took quite a bit of planning," he said.
"But I finally caught them off their guard. Away from their professor.
"Um. Well," said Bernard. "Care for a cappucino?"
The green man went on. "They thought they'd humiliated me. Embarrassed
me, yes. Great God, who wouldn't be, when he thought he'd been working
with Magneto and an army of mutants and found out the whole pack of
them were just a bunch of androids?"
"That would be disconcerting, yes," said Bernard, motioning the girls
to get out the back way, if they could reach it.
"Don't," said Mesmero, sternly, and turned his head. The girls couldn't
avoid looking at him. All three stopped.
"That's my power," confided Mesmero. "The power to control minds.
Thus, my name: Mesmero."
"Yes, yes, of course," said Bernard, stepping between him and the
girls. "So you're controlling the mind of everyone in the place now,
"And, um, why not..."
"Because I need someone to talk to," he said. "I would have used
that fool over there, but he looked at me when I was placing the crowd
Mesmero was pointing at a nattily-dressed person standing nonchalantly
with the rest of the clientele. Bernard saw him and put a hand to
his face. Of all the nights for this to happen, why did it have to
be one when that idiotic New Journalist had to be in here?
"Go on," said Bernard, massaging the bridge of his nose.
"I learned it all when the Sentinels took us," rasped Mesmero. "They
turned my ‘Magneto' into a heap of bolts. I damned myself for a fool,
but damned the X-Men more. And I promised to hunt them down when they
were not prepared for battle, hunt them down when they were in their
secret identities. Of course, I had to discover what their secret
identities were, first."
"Of course," the poet echoed.
"The Sentinels made that easy. They gathered an entire pack of mutants
in their headquarters for disposal. I probed the minds of the lot
of them, looking for clues. They'd fought the X-Men, too, mostly.
And in the Blob's mind, I found it. He didn't even know he had it."
"Well," said Bernard, "what was it?"
"Their identities," said Mesmero. "He'd been recruited by them. Their
professor had repressed the Blob's memories of their civilian selves,
but I found them and had him tell me. He didn't even know he was doing
it. He still doesn't know consciously who they are."
"I'm sure that's ... most reassuring."
"I discovered that the X-Men frequented your dive," said Mesmero.
Bernard was about to protest, but the mentalist mutant stopped him
with a look. "For weeks on end, I frequented your place, drinking
that whatever-it-is you sell, wiping the memory of my presence from
you and your clientele, until the night they came back. And now that
night has come."
"So ... what happens next?" said Bernard.
"What happens is that I take the three X-fools with me, and you will
never see me or them again," said Mesmero. "Indeed, no one will ever
see them again. By their own hands, they will perish. And you will
not remember this. Only Mesmero will know of Mesmero's final triumph."
"Oh, bother all that," said another voice.
Bernard and Mesmero both turned to the speaker.
The eyes of the three X-Men were turned towards him, so they saw
him, too. The newcomer was known to them.
He was a blackhaired man whose temples were shot through with grey.
He had a mustache and neatly trimmed beard, and wore a jewel of blue
on his forehead. His costume was orange with green sleeves and boots,
and he had a green cape embroidered with wizard's stars, moons, and
planets in gold.
"And who are you?" said Mesmero, not pleased.
"Names," said the man, diffidently. "I've worn a few in my time.
Once, they called me Merlin."
"Merlin?" Bernard was drop-mouthed. He'd done his time studying Arthurian
and Celtic mythology. Could this man, too, be an aficionado? But,
still ... he didn't look like the type Bernard would really want to
sit around the wine table with.
"Oh, yes," nodded the man. "I wasn't the real article, the real Merlin
found me and entombed me. But I did walk with King Arthur for a time,
yes, I did."
"King Arthur!" Mesmero scoffed. "Wendell Willkie, most likely."
"You are being impertinent," said the Merlin man, and he did not
look humorous when he said it. "I found myself reawakened in this
time, tried to seize power, would have done so except for an impertinent
hero who styled himself after the legendary Thor. I refashioned myself,
called myself the Warlock, and encountered these--" He gestured to
the three heroes. "--X-Men. Another rather disappointing encounter.
I limped away from that, became the Maha Yogi, and once again met
defeat at the hands of two of these. This one, whom we both know as
the Beast, and that one, whom they call Iceman. The fact that I am
a mutant, even as they are, nettles me to no end."
"Oh, really," remarked Mesmero, his arms folded. "You're one of the
"I might be said to have founded the club," said the other. "But
I will go by the name Maha Yogi, since it was the last I used. Now.
I broke jail without too much difficulty once I gathered my powers
again. I, too, deduced that the Beast and Iceman must be habitues
of this area, since they found me so quickly when I set up my previous
enterprise here ... the ‘Psycho-Rama'. So I waited, and I baited,
and in due time, I found you."
"What?" said Mesmero and Bernard, together.
"Yes," the Maha nodded. "You didn't detect me? Well, I detected you.
I suppose I've had a little more experience in shielding my mental
emanations, by a few centuries. When I discovered what you were up
to, I let you play my stalking horse. Now, if you'll excuse me, I
will take two of these off your hands. My generosity--that I leave
you the one with wings."
Mesmero stepped forward, getting in the Maha's face. "In an Arthurian
pig's eye. The three of them are mine, and mine they shall stay."
The Maha drew himself to his full height, and his eye gleamed with
power. "Then you'd match power with me? En garde, you rank pretender
to the craft."
"Oh, I'd love to," said Mesmero. "But I don't have to. On all sides,
you're surrounded by my slaves. And I shall forthwith command them
to tear you limb from mustache, because I doubt you can override my
control that easily."
The ancient mutant smiled. "Before I came here, I made another stop,
to a competitor's establishment. Arthur never went into battle without
reinforcements, and I ... well, come in, ladies and gentlemen."
The front doors slammed open and into the already mildly crowded
place trooped at least thirty people, mostly young, but a couple of
oldsters. Among them, Bernard recognized the owner and proprietor
of the Coffee Bean, that upstart joint two blocks away. Damn it! To
have to have him on the premises, on this day of days ... it simply
And yet ... and yet...
Mesmero was still facing the Maha Yogi. "Make your move," he said.
"Make yours," said the Maha, all too coolly.
"I said it first," claimed Mesmero.
"I said it best," asserted the Maha.
"I warn you, you tinhorn T. H. White fanatic--"
"T. H. White?" The Maha looked puzzled. "Who is--"
The speech was cut off as Bernard cracked Gerard's cane across the
tops of both their heads. Both went down, grabbing their craniums,
but neither was knocked out. The poet scrambled across to the three
zombified mutant heroes. He slapped their faces. "Come on, snap out
of it," he said. "You've got to snap out of it. Klatuu baradda niktu."
A bit of clarity seemed to waver into Iceman's eyes. He blinked,
Behind him, Mesmero pulled himself up against a wall, turned to the
Coffee A Go Go habitues, and pointed at the invaders. "Get them!"
The Maha, not to be outdone, came up from a kneeling position, looked
at his troops, and pointed at the defenders. "Get them!" he yelled.
And, while the two of them leaped at each other and started to mind-blast
and punch and kick all at the same time, the fifty to sixty people
in the beatnik heaven came towards each other, chose opponents of
appropriate sex and hopefully those who looked like they weighed less,
if they could manage it, squared off, and let fly.
"Oh, dear," said Bernard, who was still holding the cane.
"Bernie," said Iceman.
The poet turned his head. The crystal-clad mutant had two snowballs
in his hands.
"I've got to bring Hank and Warren around. Take care of the girls!"
"Oh, yes, the girls," said Bernard, looking towards Candy, Vera,
and Zelda. "To be sure, I'll..."
That was when Simon Simms, the owner of the Coffee Bean, ran up and
punched him in the gut.
Bernard doubled, came up gasping, and saw that the sonofasoandso
was grinning. A little zombied in the eyes, but grinning.
He came up with a right from near the floor and hung it on Simms's
jaw. The two fell to grappling on the floor. Bernard could see the
girls, taking cover behind a Dr. Pepper machine. He loosened one of
Simms's hands from his throat. "Ladies," he croaked. "Upstairs. Lock
the door. Call the police. NOW!"
Vera and Candy did just that, dragging Zelda between them.
Bernard head-butted Simms and punched him, taking a punch back. My
God, to be dropped in the midst of a John Ford Western right here,
He smiled as he bulled the both of them over a table.
Iceman looked out at the melee, saw women pulling hair, guys trading
punches, people bashing each other over the head with ceramic coffee
cups, a couple of enterprising types who had gotten into the kitchen
and were lobbing pizza dough splat in people's faces, two waiters
swatting each other with wet towels, a guy in a Nehru jacket actually
swinging from a hanging light fixture and landing with booted feet
on the back of some cleancut brown-haired type who really looked like
he was in the wrong place. The brown-haired guy was knocked down but
not hurt, and a big guy in a U.S. Army uniform, clean down to the
cap, who was with him, grabbed the fixture-swinger, turned him upside
down, and bonked his head soundly on top of a wooden table. Two girls
who were apparently with the two guys, one a blonde and the other
a redhead, were holding bottles but looked unsure of what to do with
them, until two bravos from the other side came up and apparently
offered to make love, not war. Then the women discovered what to do
with the bottles, and both swains went down.
On top of that, the New Journalist was standing on a table in the
corner, scribbling in shorthand on the reporter's pad he always carried
with him, and fetching a kick at anyone who came near him. The action
seemed to be swirling away from him, leaving him an observer, which
role he appeared content with.
Iceman spread his hands before him and covered the floor in a spray
of white. Those in its path slipped and slid as if on an ice rink
and went down, flopping but still grappling. The sub-zero paladin
whirled, throwing snow-bursts through the crowd, distracting the combatants
with slushballs that spattered on their person and made them draw
in deep, gasping breaths, forgetting the fight for a second, but only
for that. Bobby knew he was going to have to go after the two who
were really controlling the action. But as he searched the room for
them, he felt two hands on his shoulders. One hand was big, the other
"Going somewhere, Bobby?" said the Beast, in friendly fashion.
The Beast and the Angel swung their arms and propelled Bobby face-first
into a wall. He yelped in pain. Great. Just great.
As he turned around to try and face them, he felt Hank's great arm
slam into his throat and pin him to the wall. Both Beast and Angel
were in costume now. Apparently they felt it was the thing to do at
"Sorry you have to be on the other side," said Beast, the trace of
Mesmero-zombieism still in his eyes. Beyond him, Bobby could see the
Angel, picking up a table and about to carry it through the air towards
"Sorry you ... have to see it that way," said Iceman, just before
he turned and spat a big chunk of slush full in Hank's face. He grabbed
the Beast by the underarms and unloaded two whopping helpings of freezestuff
along his old friend's sides.
"Ahhhh!" gasped the Beast, his eyes widening in shock. "Why, Bobby,
that's ... positively tundraic!"
"You said it, big buddy," replied Iceman, and ducked under the Beast,
running between his legs as Angel splintered the table against the
wall where his head had been.
Bobby spread more ice before him, skidding on it with his booted
feet like a champion skater. The room was beginning to resemble a
Christmas scene set in a Popeye cartoon. Champions of the Coffee-A-Go-Go
and the Coffee Bean slipped, slid, and still punched away like crazy.
It was pure, unadulterated hell.
And, as he saw out of the corner of his eye, Bernard looked like
he was loving it. The guy who ran the Coffee Bean was trading licks
with him like John Wayne and the Irish brawler in The Quiet Man.
Where the hell were the Maha and Mesmero?
A heavy thump told him that the Beast had leapt nearby. Bobby turned
to see Hank charging, just before he got grabbed from behind by a
diving Warren. The two of them skidded across the floor on ice before
Bobby managed to splatter a snowball across the Angel's eyes and kick
Hank tore up a plank from the floor and narrowly missed whacking
Bobby with it. This was getting dangerous.
Cartwheeling across the floor, Iceman finally saw the two villainous
mutants near the jukebox. Both of them were holding onto each other's
necks and staring into each other's eyes, and yelling as if giving
each other the mother of all migraines. He stretched out a hand in
preparation for an iceblast in their direction.
The Angel grabbed it, forced it down.
The Beast, grinning an idiotic grin, loped forward, his plank-weapon
But on the way, he tripped over something somebody stuck in front
of his ankles, fell flat on his face, and let the board go skidding
across the floor.
Bernard looked up, gesturing with the cane he'd used to trip the
Beast with. "Go," he said to Iceman. That was all he had to say before
Simon Simms jumped on his back and started belting him with an empty
Iceman looked at Warren, grimly, and said, "You gonna let go, pal?"
"No way," said the Angel, grinning, starting to lift them both off
"Sorry," Bobby said. He had been holding his free hand behind his
back. When he brought it out into full view, it was covered with enough
solid ice to make it the size of a sledgehammer.
With surprising force, he brought it cracking across Warren's jaw.
The Angel's eyes crossed, and he fell back to the floor, sending Bobby
sprawling for a moment. From his vantage point, he could see a brown-haired
kid managing to make it into the restrooms. He could also see the
Maha and Mesmero, still grappling, yelling, and mind-blasting by the
The Beast leapt before him, a bit snow-laden, and apparently very
angry. "Well, Bobby," he said, "time to pay the proverbial piper."
His great hands loomed before him, at approximately the level of Iceman's
For answer, Iceman sent a shaft of cold energy between his hands.
In seconds, a shaft about an inch in diameter and six feet in length
was in his palms.
He leapt up, jammed one end of it in the floor just before the Beast,
and, with a great cry of "Alley OOP!", vaulted right over him.
Making a two-point landing on both booted feet, Iceman crouched to
take the impact, only a few feet from the brawling masterminds. Both
were about to go to their knees, but neither one wanted to give up
As it was, they had to interrupt hostilities when two helmets of
ice splatted about their heads.
Mesmero said something in a muffled voice that wasn't very nice.
To which the Maha, who was awfully glad to be free of the pain induced
by the brain-blasting, said, "Oh, shut up, you pipsqueak! I'll have
us out of here in a moment."
And he did, with an application of mental force that punched straight
through the icy coatings, over both his and Mesmero's heads.
The problem was that there was an application of physical force that
came their way directly afterward, in the form of Angel's and Beast's
fists. To their credit, it didn't take more than once to do the job.
Mesmero and the Maha slumped to the floor, right in front of the silent
juke, leaning against each other.
"Out cold," said Iceman, permitting himself one pun.
The other two turned and looked at him with pained faces. "Bobby,"
said the Angel. "You know that--"
"Bobby, m'lad," said the Beast, "I hope you'll forgive me--"
The Iceman grinned. "Forget it, guys. I know you were under control.
How much do you remember?"
"Too much," allowed Angel. He jerked a thumb towards the patrons,
who were picking themselves up from the shambles. "How much do they
The three looked at each other, then at the crowd.
"Let's check on the girls," said the Beast.
Behind them, seen by probably nobody, Spider-Man peeked his head
through the ceiling portion of the hall that led to the restrooms.
He took the scene in at a glance and scurried back in.
A few seconds later, Peter Parker came out to check on Flash and
Mary Jane and Gwen.
The mutant trio came down from the office, Candi and Vera and Zelda
in hand. The latter was still coming back to herself, blinking and
looking around at the place.
There was slush all over the floor, and people sprawled in and around
it. Tables were knocked over or splintered. Chairs were much the same.
A plank was torn out of the floor. Bits of busted crockery and dented
metal kept company with pizza dough and raw hamburger and spilled
The former combatants who were still awake (thankfully, nobody seemed
badly hurt) looked at their opponents, looked at themselves and their
upraised fists or makeshift weapons, and wondered what in the hell
had just gone on here, even though memory was flooding back.
They caught sight of the three X-Men with the women.
Somebody started to clap.
Somebody else joined him.
Before long, the place was filled with applause, both from those
folks on their feet and those who were conscious but occupying the
floor. The Coffee a Go Go rang with cheers, and the Beast couldn't
resist doing a handstand on one finger for the crowd. Iceman grinned
and gave a big hammy wave. After Candi elbowed him, the Angel did
Zelda finally ventured to speak. "Are you Bobby?"
Iceman looked at her, thought about putting up a front, and then
sighed and said to her, "What do you think?"
"I think ... I don't know what to think," she said.
"Yeah. Well, that makes two of us."
The Beast bounded back to them. "I think it urgent that we telephone
the Professor and see if a mind-blanket can somehow be applied. It's
a long distance and I don't know that it'll be effective, but it's
worth a try."
The New Journalist materialized before them. "Sorry, I couldn't help
seeing you looking like you'd had a bad pizza. Secret identities,
"Uh, yeah," said Angel, holding Candi's hand tightly. "Say, are you--"
"Got just the thing," said the scribe. "Wait here. I'll be right
The Journalist stepped out the door, walked briskly three blocks
down, one block west, and clanked the clanker in front of a certain
door. It opened. A bald Asian man looked out. "Yes?"
"Wong? Tell the Doctor who's waiting. And tell him I need him to
make a house call."
...And with a little memory treatment that proved just to be what
the strange doctor ordered, both yours truly and all the survivors
of the Coffee A Go Go Massacree were left without knowledge of who
the Tres Mutantes really were, but at least when somebody said, "Hey,
who were those masked men, anyway?", we could smile with Pride and
say, "Why, son, those were the famous Beast, Angel, ‘n' Iceman of
them thar X-Men! And one of ‘em wasn't wearin' a mask!"
...And Bernard and the Amazing Simon Simms actually got a chance
to take another poke at each other after it went down, which they
did, but as for who walked away On His Own Two Feet and Under His
Own Steam But It Won't Be Me, I ain't tellin'...
...And Mesmero of the Chartreuse Face and the Maha I'm-smarter-than-the-average-Yogi
were taken in hand with a little help, we trust, from the very strange
doctor and placed in Brainbuster Helmets designed by SHIELD itself
during the Mentallo Mixup of some years back, which leaves both of
them unable to even guess what patterns are on cards held by some
dude who asks them, "Star, square, or circle?", and while the crime
of weed will buy you two to five in the Tombs, the weed of crime in
their case bears bitter fruit, ‘cause both mental mutant maniacs are
up for twenty to life, we hear, on Riker's Island, that marriage of
Alcatraz and Stark Industries technology, where super-villains are
Al Caponed for a long time, or at least till their next gigs...
...And as for me? Well, for taking part in the dust-up, what little
I did, and becoming an Action Hero In My Own Right, and facing two
dreaded super-villains with only my number two pencil and a Scripto
writing pad for weaponry...
...I figure I've earned the right to call myself an Honorary Good
--Tom Wolfe, "Coffee-House Mutants and the Big Green Showdown",
Bobby Drake, in a fresh suit of clothes, was walking with Zelda in
the early morning and neither of them were holding hands. There were
a few people out but Bobby didn't feel that what he was going to say
was going to tip anyone off to his freeze-dried identity.
Finally, he said, "Thanks for letting me walk with you."
They kept walking.
"I wished it'd been some other way, Zel," he said. "I really wish--"
"You really wish there hadn't been two super-villains out there and
that I didn't know who you really were," she said, standing still.
He stopped, not far away from her. "Right. More or less."
"What's more or less, Bobby? You're who you are. That changes everything."
She looked at him. "Almost everything."
"Zelda, I'm sorry."
"You should be."
"Well, I am. I am, Zel. It's just that..." He grabbed hold of an
iron fence nearby, with both hands. "What am I supposed to say? I
thought I was in love with her more. But she wasn't in love with me.
And now I don't think she was the right girl for me."
"Oh, I'm glad you noticed. Was it before or after she ran off with
"Before," he admitted. "I guess it was before. But I didn't want
to admit it."
"Big of you," she said, hands on her hips. She walked past him. He
She whirled. "Well, what about me? I mean, what about me, Bobby?
Am I just some old sponge mop that you can throw down when you're
done with it, and, and pick up the next time you need it, or what?"
"Zelda, please." He lay hands on her shoulders. She took them off.
He still stood before her.
"You were never that to me," he said. "Never. Even when I ... when
that happened ... don't you think I still had a space in my heart
She didn't look at him. "Not as big a one as you did for her."
"Damn it, will you listen? Will you just please listen, Zelda? I'm
trying to tell you I love you."
"Like that makes it all right," she said. "Like that makes everything
"Well, no. No, it doesn't. But I ... Zelda, two people can start
over again. If they want to. Don't you believe that?"
She walked down, towards a fireplug, then turned. "If both of them
want to, Bobby. And don't ... don't pretend that what I know about
you now, doesn't change things."
He caught up to her. "I wouldn't expect it to. Don't you know that
if we'd gotten much further than we had, I'd have had to tell you?
Because I would have been asking you to marry me."
"Oh, jeez." He put a hand to his eyes. "What have I just said?"
"You said you would have been asking me to marry you."
"Yeah." He looked at her. "Well?"
"Oh. Just great."
"I mean, not a total no."
He looked at her. "What do you mean, not a total no? Isn't a no a
no? I mean, is there a less than negative no? I don't understand."
"Of course you don't. You never understand. Don't you think I loved
you, Bobby? Don't you know what I felt like when you ... when you..."
She turned her head.
"Oh, Zelda. Please." He touched her shoulder.
"Don't touch me," she said. "You haven't earned it." Her voice was
"Then ... how the hell do I earn it?"
She whirled, looked at him with blue-steel anger, and slapped him
across the face.
He rubbed it for a moment and worked his jaw. "So," he said. "Is
that a down payment?"
Zelda turned and ran in the direction of her walk-up. He started
to run after her. She turned her head and yelled, "Don't! Don't you
dare follow me, Bobby Drake!"
So he didn't.
He stood and watched as she ran a block and a half down, went up
a flight of stairs and through a door, and was lost to sight.
After awhile he turned and started walking back.
The Coffee A Go Go was closed for repairs, understandably. So the
war council took place in the flat Bobby and Hank were renting. Vera
was there. So was Bernard.
"San Francisco, then?" said Hank, holding a wine glass over a spread-out
map of the United States.
"I guess that's it," said Vera. "You've got an interview with Roxxon's
branch out there, and I think I can find a secretarial job while I
night school myself into oblivion."
"Or a degree," smiled Bernard, over a cup of mocha.
"Whichever comes first," she said.
"So," said Bernard. "When will, um, the blessed nuptials be forthcoming?
Not that I'm trying to be premature, but..."
"You'll be the first to know, Bernard," said Hank. "We want you to
come with us."
"Me?" The poet almost dropped his cup. "Why, I'm ... I mean, I ...
great grief, Hank, I'm no super-hero, I'm a ... a great last veteran
of the Beat Generation! The city needs me."
Hank laid a great hand on Bernard's shoulder. "The city has a lot
of coffeehouses, Bernard. But friends are hard to come by. Think of
it ... the city by the proverbial Bay."
Bernard considered it. "The City Lights Book Store."
"Concerts in the park. Grateful Deadsters waiting to hear the True
"Allen Ginsburg," said Bernard, wistfully. "Not that I'd ever, really,
put myself anywhere near his league."
"You're in a league of your own, Bernard," smiled Vera. "Really.
Come on. What's holding you here?"
"Only a ... well, I suppose I could call it a silver umbilical. My
interest in the Coffee a Go Go, for instance. Half ownership."
Vera and Hank looked at him.
"But," he said at last.
"But ownerships can be sold. And umbilicals, well ... they're useful.
But they're made to be broken."
Both of them smiled at him. The Beast held out his hand. "Welcome
to the family, Bernard."
For once, he didn't have anything to say. Until he looked at Bobby.
"Excuse me," he said.
"Understood," said Hank McCoy.
Bobby Drake was sitting cross-legged by the telephone book under
a flexible lamp. It was open to the M's and a black dial phone was
by his side. He hadn't taken the receiver off the hook.
"Call her up," said Bernard.
"She doesn't want me to," Bobby answered.
"Oh? So you have the mental abilities of the Maha Yogi, in addition
to your other powers? Call her up."
"Bernard." Bobby looked at him, angrily. "This is not. One of. Those
things. You make a freaking. POEM. Out of."
"Oh?" He drew himself up to his full height and looked down at Bobby.
"They've stopped making poems about love?"
"They've stopped making poems about women who shout out their anger
at men, and then go to their rooms to cry by the phone, waiting for
the demon of Alexander Graham Bell to sound its clarion call?"
"They've stopped making poems about men who are too stupid to do
the simplest thing in the world, which is give the woman they love
a second chance?"
Bobby looked down at the floor.
Bernard held the reciever out as he walked past.
Bobby took it.
Bernard continued on, gently herding Hank and Vera with him into
the kitchen. Vera decided to fry an omelet.
"How long do you think we'll have to wait?" said Hank.
The sound of the door slamming was heard.
"About that long," said Bernard.
Later that week, after the final ends had been tied and the hands
had been shaken with the relatives and the blessings had been given
by the professor, the intrepid little crew boarded their two rented
orange U-Haul vans and began their trip cross country. They waved
at those who came to see them off. Those who came to see them off
Bobby, at the wheel of the second vehicle, looked across the seat.
Zelda looked back. She ventured a smile, for a second, then looked
out the windshield.
"Thanks, Zelda," he said.
"Hey, wait until we get there to thank me," she said. "At this point,
I'm just along for the ride."
"You can have your own room. I mean, we agreed to that."
"I'm going to have my own apartment," she said. "To live in."
She nodded, shortly. "But that's maybe not an absolute alone."
"Oh. Okay," said Bobby, who was learning.
"Ask me that when we get there," she said. "Again, that is."
"Okey dokey." He watched the signs on the bridge go by overhead.
Then he took the mike of one of the two new CB's Hank had bought and
activated it. "Breaker breaker. This is the Icebreaker. Over."
Hank's voice came back. "Ah, pository on that, Icebreaker, this here
is the Erudite Immigrant. Is my fifty-four catchin' you on the flip-flop,
O cold worm of the Big Apple?"
Bobby smiled. "I think the patter could do a little improving, Hank.
How's it look from your viewpoint?"
"All I can say right now is something I've been waiting several weeks
to say," replied Hank. "Farewell, New York!"
"Yeah," breathed Bobby. Then he said it louder. "Farewell, New York!
San Francisco, here we come!" He felt a pressure on his arm. He looked.
Zelda was holding his arm. She was smiling. Shyly, but she was smiling.
He smiled back. Vera's voice was the next one heard. "How's your copilot
doing over there, Bobby? Still awake?"
"Oh, yes," said Zelda. "And hoping there's a Stuckey's somewhere
in the next hour or so."
Bernard was heard next. "Thank you, Vera," he said. "I've composed
a poem in honor of our escaping the surly bonds of Manhattan. And,
just because we are escaping ... I won't read it."
All four of the others cheered. Hank said, "Isn't it usual on movies
about the road for the cast to break into extemporaneous song?"
"So what should we sing?" said Vera. "Any ideas?"
"If you're goin', to San Francisco," started Zelda, "Be sure to wear,
some flowers in..."
"Oh, no, not that song," said Bernard, with distaste. "Forgive me,
dear Zelda, but I've had enough Scott McKenzie to last me for a lifetime!
The only flowers I'll plant will be on his grave. Gah! Makes Rod McKuen
"Hmmm," said Bobby. "Then what? ‘I Left My Heart In...'"
"No," said Bernard. "No. I ... ahem. Well, that's a possibility.
A good one, at that. A verse written by my own personal inspiration,
"Woodrow?" said Hank.
"Guthrie, to be precise," said Bernard. And he began to sing:
"If you ain't got that Dough-Re-Mi, boys,
If you ain't got that Dough-Re-Mi,
Then you better move back to beautiful Texas...
Oklahoma, Kansas, down to New Orleans...
California's a Garden of Eden,
It's a pleasure to live in or see,
But believe it or not,
You won't find it so hot--"
At the next line Zelda joined in with him.
"--If you ain't got that dough-re-mi!"
Bernard started singing the song all over again, and by the time
he got to the middle most of the rest had the hang of it. So they
kept singing it.
They made it last all the way to lunchtime, and then a little longer,
and found some other songs along the way.
There was a lot of way to go, and probably a lot of songs to sing.
But that was okay, Bobby thought, as he looked across the seat at
Zelda, and she back at him.
They had time.
They had plenty of time.
For those of you who don't believe Tom Wolfe was
a Marvel Comics character, check out DR. STRANGE (first series) #180
and INCREDIBLE HULK #142. It's been about thirty years since then,
so I figured it was high time to give him another shot at it. He didn't
write the article excerpts cited above. There is no Easter Bunny,
But Woody Guthrie did write "Dough-Re-Mi". Really.
Who says this isn't the Marvel Age of Happy Endings?
Next: Probably something about Scott and
Jean. Or maybe something else.
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