Mourning a New York Yankee hat

By Mitchell Slepian

About 12 years ago, maybe longer, I was with my dad in Tampa, Fla. We drove up to Legends Field, now Steinbrenner Field. It is the spring training field for the 27-time World Champion N.Y. Yankees and home to their single-A team, the Tampa Yankees.

It was my first time there. In the main lobby were several championship trophies. They are now in the museum in the Stadium. I was having a religious experience. We purchased tickets for the next day’s minor league game and I bought an official NY Yankee baseball hat.

I wore that hat nearly daily. It was like a body part. It has been to many Yankee games, including playoff games, Old Timer’s Day and Mariano Rivera’s last home game, BBQs, picnics, amusement park rides, etc. It was worn and torn for how much I wore it. And loved it.

Last week, it was on my head as I boarded Coney Island’s Cyclone. As the great coaster climbed the tracks it blew off my head. I got sick. Not from the ride. I’ve been on the Cyclone countless times. It is fun. But it is harmless. I was ready to puke over my missing hat. I figured it wound up in the empty seat behind me.

As soon as we pulled in after the ride, I looked and told the ride attendants. They looked in each car. It was missing. They told me to fill out a missing item report at guest services and they’d try to find it when they swept the tracks when the park closed at midnight.

I did exactly that. I was so sick. In tears, I filled out my form. I walked away. Five minutes later, I went back to make sure my awful penmanship was completely legible. The staff made some edits to make it easier to make out my phone number and email.

I went right back for another Cyclone ride. I don’t blame it. I blame me. The hat has survived many Cyclone and other rides. Perhaps its number was up. I don’t know.

For the next few hours, I droned around Luna Park like a dead person. I wound up winning a poop emoji and two Deadpools in the arcade. The emoji cheered me up. But not much.

A few hours later, I was seeing Echo and the Bunnymen and the Violent Femmes in the dump of a theater they built last year. The concert rocked. When it concluded, I went back to guest services. They said they called it in and they’d find it.

Days have passed. No word from Luna Park. My hat is somewhere along the tracks or in heaven for Yankee hats.

To help ease my depression, I went to the Yankee store on 49th Street, NYC and bought a new one. I tried on dozens of official hats to find the one with the best fit. I asked everyone in the store, which looked best. I explained my situation. They all consoled me. I walked up to register, swiped my credit card and put the new one on my head. I hope this one lives up to the old one.

I am not done mourning my old hat. But the new one is striving to take its place.Newhat copy

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Bleach Monster, Part XII

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Their dead on deep stare was very scary.  Neither Murray nor Mark moved. It was like a dual to see who would break first.  Murray would never break. Too much was riding on this.

 

It was business as usual for everyone else in the area, while the two men stood there. Mark was telling himself to remain strong. His stomach turned and he was drenched in sweat.

 

Murray was cool as a cucumber. Mark then suddenly realized he had a key position in D.C. He could have Murray removed from the area. But he had to act with prudence. Failure to do so would wreck everything he worked for.

 

Mark’s eyes moved slightly.  Murray’s did not.

 

Mark waved his arms toward his buddy, Jerry, a capital police officer.  Leisurely Jerry strolled over.  Mark wanted to do this on a friendly basis. He figured he’d make introductions. Say Murray is an old friend and a sports freak. The two would get engaged in a conversation about baseball and Mark would sneak on into the House.

 

Mark was trying to prove how grown up was.  But why should he have to prove anything?  Yeah, he had a very rough teenage life. But he turned everything around. He got a good job, made new friends that really care about him and did a lot of interesting things. But for some reason, these blasts from the past unnerved him.  He was much stronger. But he was not strong enough.  Or maybe he still had hidden fears of his past lodged deeply within him.

 

Anyway, Jerry came by.  Quick introductions were made.  But Murray was onto Mark. Murray quickly brought up his pain over all the injuries his beloved Bronx Bombers had. But then he brought up how it was such a beautiful summer day and the memories he had of spending his teen years in summer camp.

 

Mark panicked.  He started to shake.  About 10 feet away, Dani was watching this all. She was ready to strike if need be. But somehow she knew Murray was in control.

 

Mark’s body was twisted.  His conscience was telling him to stand tall. Tears were coming out of his eyes in buckets.

 

Jerry was perplexed.  Murray smiled. Jerry asked Mark what was wrong. Mark tried to speak. But all that came out of his mouth was gibberish.  He put his head down into his hands.

 

Jerry was thinking about radioing for an ambulance.  Murray chatted with Jerry for a brief moment.  They spoke about A-Rod’s constant mishaps.  Of course one could discuss that for much more than a brief moment.  A guy was having convulsions in front of them. But bring up baseball and that takes the stage.

 

Dani was in awe of Murray and the control he exhibited. It was almost as if the Force was truly channeling through him.  She knew know that their little group was unstoppable.

 

Murray shook Jerry’s hand, told Mark to calm down and said he’d text him later and wandered off to a hot dog stand.

Bleach Monster, Part XI

 

 

Mark woke up from a miserable night’s sleep.  He had an important committee meeting today. It could make or break the legislative work he’d be involved with for the last few months.

 

His poor night’s sleep had nothing to do with that. He had dreams of his teenage years.  He dreamt about his years in summer camp.  They were awful. He had very few friends. He was very awkward around people.  He got caught doing things that really made him look like a sicko. He wasn’t really a bad kid. His parents loved and supported him.  They still do.

 

Years of therapy paid off. He had a good job that paid well. He had a few friends that he trusted.  He had moved so far away from those dark times. But suddenly they were back. He thought he was stronger. But when he saw Murray inside he cringed.

 

Murray strolled over to the Supreme Court Building. He had his reservations about his next steps? Should he really have made Dani bring the troops to DC? Or should he have handled things the way he usually did, on his own? But what’s done is done. He now had to live with the consequences. He walked toward the Capitol Building.

 

Mark arrived at the Capitol Building. He lingered around the tourists before he went in.  Murray, Dani, Danny and Tony were mixed in with the tourists. They had their cameras, maps, bottled water and were wearing baseball caps.

 

Murray used his keen hearing to listen into a conversation Mark had with a security guard. Nothing important was said. They were talking about last night’s Nationals game.  Mark mentioned how much he missed being in NYC, where his beloved Bronx Bombers played. At least Mark likes the Yankees. Probably the only thing he and his adversary shared a love for.

 

Mark stood outside for a few minutes and sipped his coffee. He calmed himself down.  He knew he had work to do.  He truly believed he was serving his country and that Americans benefited from his toils.

 

He was about to go in when he heard someone scream out his name.

 

He turned around.  But he saw no one.  He waited about a minute and went back to the door. He brushed this off to nerves.  He figured with all the tourists one of the parents was yelling at one their kids, who just happened to share his name.

 

Of course, Dani was calling Tony, Mark. It worked.  They didn’t get him to look around more carefully. They slowed him down. That was all they needed.

 

Murray snuck around to the staff entrance and hid in an alcove near the door. As Mark was about to walk in, Dani once again screamed out his name.  Mark stopped dead in his tracks.

 

He started to shiver.   He saw Dani and Tony. But thought it was a boy named, Mark with his mom. He smiled and walked toward the door. They smiled back.

 

He got closer.  Just as he got to the doorway, Murray jumped into his path.

 

The two froze.

Bleach Monster, Part XIX

Dani woke up and hopped on the Staten Island Railway with Tony. Audrey stayed home with her dad. They were en-route to Murray’s meeting place.

She was not pleased that he requested their presence in front of the Yankees’ store at the South Street Seaport. He did that on purpose. Nothing in his mind topped the Bronx Bombers.

She had been a Yankee fan. Then she converted and began to root for the Mets.

Sad.

Very sad.

The train pulled into the SI Ferry Terminal and they boarded. She hoped the boat was not laden with roaches. She meant in terms of the real ones and the riders that often resembled them.

The ferry sailed along. All was quiet. The usual preachers were preaching. The deckhands were drinking coffee. People were reading their papers and chatting away with their friends. It docked. They walked off and headed down Water Street.

People seemed distressed. The market was not doing so well. As they approached Wall Street they noticed several people acting crazy. But not in a sense that the usual NYC crazies acted.   Dani wondered if it was the market downturn or something else?

Despite Tony’s new found tear-water power he was nervous. He is still young and hasn’t spent much time in the city. He clutched Dani’s hand. She smiled and told him this is the norm for the City. It is packed with a lot of crazies.

A religious crazy approached them and started preaching and begging. Dani pulled Tony away. She told him not to go into defense mode. She further explained that most of these people are harmless. They just need to help. Such a shame the appropriate care isn’t available to them.

Murray and Danny were in the store buying Yogi Berra t-shirts, World Series collector baseballs and some other stuff. “Uncle Sam” and the “Statue of Liberty” were standing outside the store posing for pictures and begging for money.

Murray and Danny sat on a bench. They sipped bottled water. A few minutes later Dani and Tony arrived. They exchanged greetings. They began walking toward Pier 17. They planned to sit out by the boats and discuss life. Murray was pleased it looked like his plans were finally going to come to fruition.

As they were walking past the Gap and getting ready to cross the street a crazed cyclist was riding through the shopping crowd. She was slamming into people. A few elderly people got knocked down. A group of people started to chase her. But she cycled away.

Murray kept his eyes fixed on the route she took. He pointed in that direction. Despite Murray’s dark leanings, he still has a lot of good in him. One day this mix of good and evil will kill him.

They picked up their pace and walked near J. Crew. They saw the crazy biker picking up so much speed. However, she was no longer attacking anyone. She was just cruising at a speed too fast for her surroundings.

She started pedaling even faster. She tried to turn left. But her wheel got caught in the sidewalk and she flipped off the bike and landed on her knees. Murray and his group surrounded her. She started screaming out unintelligible words. But none of them could decipher the language she was speaking. They didn’t think she was an alien. They figured she was just a nut.

Dani asked her if she was ok. She nodded, yes. They didn’t want to leave her. They walked over to her and tried to help her out. As Danny moved forward, she pulled an ax out of her bag. Danny ducked and shot pieces of blubber. She went down.

Murray’s gang retreated. They found a nearby bench to sit on.

Murray began addressing why he called them together

Bleach Monster, Part VIII

Dani woke up. Today is her birthday. She was pondering the text from Murray. She knew it was cryptic for a reason. She expected him to call with birthday greetings. He always called early. He is not vermin.

On Murray’s 18th birthday not one friend or family member called to say happy birthday. He spent the day with his parents and Dani. No one called. Not even his grandmother, who’s notorious for calling at around 6:00 a.m. on big days in one’s life. He decided they were all vermin.

Back to the text, she knew she had to meet Murray. He offered two choices. There was no way she was going to 161 Street. Sadly her days of going to the Stadium ended. She became a traitor and rooted for the Mutts.

She knew Murray hated coming back to the Island. Not sure it was that he hated that place so much or the harrowing commute to get there. A train, to a filthy ferry, another train and then being picked up in Annandale took longer than going to Boston. Our hearts are with them today.

So, she said she could meet him in two days at Wolfe’s Pond Park. Murray loved that place. He learned to inline skate there. Audrey came running into her room with a homemade birthday card and a cupcake. It was a little early for the cupcake. But Audrey was wearing such a loving smile when she handed it over to her mom. Dani ate it.

Audrey was excited that she got to spend the day with her mom. But she was more excited that she was going to the Staten Island Zoo. She loves animals. Unlike her mom, she isn’t afraid of snakes. Of course, that fear is Murray’s fault.

The trip to the zoo was easy. Everything was calm. They had pizza for lunch, watched Disney DVDs and got ready for a birthday dinner with Robbie, her husband and an ever-doting father to Audrey.

The day came. Murray stood in front of the restrooms at Wolfe’s Pond Park waiting for Dani. He decided to take the SI train or trolley as he called it to Huguenot. He walked down Huguenot Ave. to Hylan Blvd. to the park. He barely looked at Tottenville High School. That dump wasted four years of his life. Boy did he hate that place with a passion. He has no care in the world about that institution now. It was a faded memory of his past.

Dani drove in and parked in Murray’s traditional parking spot. He is very ritualistic and always parked in the same spot in the park and just about anywhere else. She knew he’d be standing by the park’s latrine.

He smiled and pulled a bottle of Segal’s Fusion Red out of his knapsack. He opened, decanted and poured. He was laughing and smiling every step of the way.

L’Chaim.

She reluctantly sipped her wine. She knew exactly why he did this. Even he though fought with bleach. He was a Sith at heart. The Force was always strong within him.

They chatted for about an hour. The bottle of Segal’s was finished and tossed in the recycle bin.

The two siblings agreed to get their little “weapons,” Danny and Tony together to start their “empire”. They would meet in two weeks at the South Street Seaport.

Over the next few days, Murray and Dani worked out and made sure Danny and Tony followed suit.

All were anxiously waiting for the rapidly approaching meeting date.

Bleach Monster, Part IV

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Danny woke up with lots of energy. He had a healthy breakfast, some fruit, a glass of low-fat milk and some whole grains. After Murray rescued him at the movie theater he was determined to stay in shape. He needed to rescue himself.

But today was a special day. He had the note that Murray left him hidden under his bed since he got it. It was like his bible. He’d been reading Murray’s words since he ran out of the theater.

The note said, “Meet me in three days at 161 Street. Do not show up at the new “Disney style” stadium. You must make your appearance on the hallowed grounds of the real “Stadium”. I will be waiting for you where right field used to be.”

Danny raced out of his Forest Hills Gardens abode and caught the trains to the South Bronx. He knew this would be good for him. How good he had no clue. His life was going to change forever. Danny had no idea how good it was gonna get.

Funny thing is he has no idea that Murray is the “Bleach Monster” and Dani is the “Wine Girl.” Funny most of Murray’s girlfriends are “whine girls”.   Remember Danny was on the floor crying and bleeding when Murray and Dani unleashed their wrath on his tormentors.

Danny hopped off the 4-Line. He glanced at the new Stadium. He walked over to the spot, Paul O’Neill used to man in the good ‘ole days. He was so excited. He was short of breath from all of his running around.

Murray snuck up behind him and put his hand on Danny’s left shoulder. Danny jumped back in fear.

“That’s what I thought,” echoed Murray. We need to wack the fear out of you. Don’t worry. That’s my job.

“How?” inquired, Danny.

“Just leave that to me.”

The two guys talked and walked around this holy site. Both were dressed in N.Y. Yankees apparel from head to toe. Murray sleeps in Yankees pajamas.

Murray bought Danny a bottle of water.

“Ok, Danny, I know you want to lose weight and get your butt into shape. We need you to be healthy.”

Danny smiled. He felt like Murray was the big brother he never had. He finally had someone other than his mommy and daddy to take him under their wing.

Murray told him to forget about what the doctor and nutritionist said. He said you are now my project. I will train you. Danny was happy. However, he was nervous.

One of the crazies that hung around this sacred site came up to them. At first Murray ignored him. The guy got a little antsy and was starting yelling at them. Murray told Danny to start walking.

The nut job spits at them. They kept walking. The guy threw and empty soda bottle and hit Danny in the back.

“Be calm,” Murray yelled to Danny. The poor kid just stood there lifelessly. Murray looked at the deranged man and said hit me.

The guy ran toward Murray with his hands clenched into fists. Danny got so scared he shut his eyes. The guy threw a punch at Murray. Of course, he missed. But Murray countered with gallons of bleach. He drenched the loony. The guy hit the floor. He was breathing. So Murray figured that was a good sign. He probably learned his lesson. He likely needed a hospital. Murray pulled out his iPhone and dialed 911 and reported a grungy guy who passed out near the Stadium. An ambulance was on the way.

Murray grabbed Danny and said it is time to walk. They hiked over toward the row of stores that were at one time directly across the street from the House that Ruth Built.

Danny told Murray his favorite food was pizza with olives and sun dried tomatoes. Murray said “WTF. Let’s get a small pie. But remember if we were at a ballgame and we will be at many, you will only eat the things, I allow you to. I have a very strict ritual at when I go to ballgames. Consider it part of my Yankee Commandments.”

“Why do you like me?”

“I saw you in pain at the theater. I help people. I don’t want your problems to continue. We’ve all been in scary situations. Yours will soon end. I just need to figure out what powers you have.”

“I have no powers. I’m just a chubby high school kid who gets picked on. I try to lose weight. But I cannot keep it off.”

Murray smiled and took a bite of his slice.

“Maybe you don’t need to keep it off. I mean we will have you lose the weight. But maybe you need to gain it back once in a while.”

Murray’s eyes were glowing. Danny was perplexed.

Tomorrow you will run a few laps on the Forest Hills High School track. You will eat healthy for the next four weeks. I will be checking on you each Sunday. I will text you the meeting location about two hours before.

The next month went by. Danny was getting slimmer and stronger. Murray was often watching him run. Danny had no clue he was being watched. Murray saw the poor kid’s blubber bouncing up and down as he jogged. Each footstep made him stronger. The fat was wearing off.

It was like just falling right off him.

Murray wondered if he could use his falling fat to his advantage.

It was just rolling off the kid.

They had their Sunday meetings. Everyone was happy. Danny’s grades, which we always good had become even better. Murray wanted to add this kid to his army. Dani still had no idea Murray knew of her powers. One day he’d confront her. But for now he wanted her to think she was keeping a big secret.

Danny’s mom was so proud of her son. She saw how hard he was trying to be healthy. She had no idea about his mentor. She took him to the Gap to buy a few new pairs of jeans, khakis and some smaller piques, t-shirts and sweaters. Everyone was happy. She was completely healed from her gardening accident.

As they were walking down Austin Street toward Continental Ave. The kids that were bleached in the theater were hanging in front of McDonald’s. They never bothered him. No one did. The girl who attacked him in the theater asked if she could take him to the movies. He told her no. This was a first for her. No one ever turned down a date with her.

Danny was becoming a man. He knew this girl was superficial. If he got fat again, the girl would dump him.

He didn’t know of Murray’s plan. But Murray had to run some tests to see if it’d work. The tests would occur in a few weeks if all went to schedule.

The girl ran to the obnoxious kids with her head down. She said go after him. The kids didn’t want to. But she told them if they wanted to be her friend they had to attack him again.

They got nervous. But followed orders. These mindless boys thought with only one thing. They started taunting Danny. His mom told him to walk faster. He did and was doing well. Murray and Stacey were walking out of Banana Republic. He just spent a boatload of money on his princess.

Murray saw what was going on. He knew Danny wasn’t ready for this. He needed to work out some more. His mom tried to make him walk faster. But he held his ground and yelled back at the kids.

“You can’t beat me this time. Hey, you didn’t even beat me in the theater several weeks ago. You may have knocked me down. But as I remember it was you and the dumb bitches that you were with that got your you know what’s kicked. I am stronger than all of you now.”

The kids charged him. He lost his breath. They knocked him and his mom down.

“No one messes with my mom,” he bellowed.

Within seconds globs of fat start rolling off him. These globs got rock solid. But had a bounce. They smacked right into all the nasty kids and knocked them down like dominoes.

Dani was on the corner. She saw all of this. She knew Murray had been working with troubled teens. She was now wondering if this was his “work”. She knew it had to be. But waited patiently. She saw the “cool girls” and their boyfriends rolling toward Forest Gardens in pain. The girl Danny turned down got up and tried to lunge herself at him. He was caught off guard, as he was wiping his mom’s face.

He couldn’t let her get hurt again. None of the good people would get hurt as this girl ran toward Danny, Dani shot her between the eyes with wine.

Murray watched all this from about ten feet away. He was so happy. Stacey was oblivious to it all. She was too busy staring at the bags of clothes she just got. She was already begging him to put this stuff away in his apartment and to take her to Bloomingdale’s.

We all know Murray is a sap. Of course, he told Stacey he would do whatever she wants.   That was something one his new superheroes would have to work on with him.

Danny got up from mom and saw Murray by his side. “I see you got into a fight.”

“Are you mad at me?”

“No. You had to defend yourself and mom. Did you know that globs of your fat spun off you? They took out the kids who were going to beat you.”

“I know. Was this your plan?”

Murray smiled and broke into a laugh.

He explained to him that it was. He did say it was very early to tell if his powers would work. He also said that he would have to keep working out. But every so often he had to put on some weight.

When it was time for that Murray would text him when they would meet at the pizzeria by the Stadium.

They shook hands and everyone went their separate ways.

Dani saw Murray and Danny chatting. She was onto them. Or was she?

 

 

 

 

Bleach Monster

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It was a sunny, but cool early spring afternoon. Murray was sitting in his Bay Terrace apartment reading the Wall Street Journal and getting ready to do one of his favorite activities, laundry. Yes, he was laundry boy. He lived in his apartment complexes’ laundry room.

 

He couldn’t explain it, but washing clothes were therapeutic to him. Yes, it took time and cost money. Most things do. He went to the closet and grabbed his overfilled laundry basket, bleach, detergent and fabric softener. Of course, he had a big collection of quarters, another one of his favorite things. He hoped he could get three machines so he wouldn’t have to keep running back and forth waiting for people to empty their machine and move the wet clothes to the dryer. He liked getting it all done at once.

 

He hiked over to his home away from home. The door was shut and the lights were off. That was a good sign. A big smile was on his face as he turned on the lights and got to load his three favorite machines. He started them off and went back to his apartment to listen to music and surf the web.

 

With a big grin on his face, he strolled back to the laundry room. He tossed his towels and whites into the dryers and carried his t-shirts back to the apartment. Murray never dried his clothes. He was so afraid they’d shrink. So he hung them up all over the apartment, off the refrigerator, on the microwave, every doorknob had a t-shirt or pique polo dangling.

 

He was smiling every step of the way. Then all of a sudden his eyes were aghast. He saw bleach stains on some of his favorite concert and baseball tees. He knew he didn’t bleach them.

 

He hung them up and looked at his laundry basket and searched the closet he kept it in. He didn’t see any bleach.

 

His next step was to follow his usual pattern.

 

“Mommy, I have a question.”

 

“Don’t you always?”

 

“Yeah, but you always have all the answers.”

 

“I just did laundry and have bleach stains on several of my t-shirts. I know I didn’t put any bleach in the machine. I checked out the places I keep my laundry and there was no bleach. I store this potent liquid away from all clothes. I’m perplexed.”

 

“Aren’t you always. I don’t know what to tell you. But I will think of something.”

 

They hung up. Murray flipped on the YES Network and got ready for the Yankees to play the Mariners.

 

His mom immediately dialed her daughter, Dani. They were one in the same. They loved to make fun of Murray. They were on the phone 24/7 telling stories about him. He did do a lot of dumb things. Dani and her mom cracked up over his bleach story.

 

Dani lived in the same complex as Murray, as much fun as she made of him. She liked her brother to be nearby.

 

Several innings later, Murray was deep into the game. Thankfully, the Bronx Bombers were winning 5-2. Dani walked into his apartment without knocking with a smirk on her face.

 

“I hear there’s a problem with bleach.”

 

She then walked right into the closet where he kept his laundry, she looked at the cabinets where he stored the laundry detergent and other items used for cleaning. She was a little detective.

 

“I can’t find any bleach.”

 

She smiled and walked out.

 

He just sat there and watched Rivera close out the game.

 

The next two weeks nothing changed. He continued to do laundry and was attacked by the “Bleach Monster.”

 

He spent hours upon hours in his head going over his laundry process. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Then he went to the laundry room only to do whites. He loaded the machine with socks and undershirts. He poured some bleach. He was grinning. All of a sudden he dropped the container of bleach while it was still open. It spilled all over him.

 

He wrecked another outfit. But he started to twitch and he was making strange sounds. Murray wasn’t the tallest guy in the world. But all of a sudden he grew taller and his jet-black hair turned fire red.

 

His legs grew, out of his nostrils and hazel green eyes bleach spewed. Was Murray the bleach monster?

 

He was afraid to leave the laundry room. He wasn’t sure if he could walk back to his apartment. Would he make it? Would he hurt anyone? Would someone call the cops? Not knowing what to do he squished himself into the corner by the slop sink.

 

He was pale. But feeling strong. His head was spinning. But how could he expect it not to be spinning? His body was still shooting bleach from his nose, eyes and now his mouth started to. He tried to scream and bleach shot of out his mouth like lighting bolts.

 

He stood for hours by the slop sink. Strange enough, no one entered the laundry room. He thought he was going to cry. But knew he’d shed bleach, not tears.

 

All of a sudden, he turned back into himself. His clothes were bleach stained and he was dying of thirst. He raced back to his apartment and stripped out of his clothes and jumped into the shower. He was petrified that the water would turn into bleach. But low and behold it was water. He wrapped himself in a towel and ran into the bedroom and passed out in bed.

 

About three hours later he woke up and got dressed. He decided he’d skip doing laundry for a little while and maybe just drop off his clothes at the Laundromat. But he still had to figure out why he became a bleach monster.

He woke up the next morning and drove to the office. Everything seemed normal. He has his usual conversations-the Yankees, politics and music He hacked away at his job.

 

He went to the gym and went home. The next few days were more of the same. About a week later he was at work and really pissed off, nothing was going his way. He loved the place, but it was just not his day. One of the idiots from the marketing department annoyed him. He went outside, walked around a bit and had some junk food.

 

He got back to his desk and saw an obnoxious email from that guy who was bugging him. As luck would have it the bozo walked right by Murray. All of sudden, Murray’s eyes started shooting bleach at him. His hair turned fire-red again and out of his mouth lighting bolts of bleach attacked this chump.

 

People gathered around and didn’t know what to do. They were afraid to go near Murray. In their hearts, they were pleased to see this freak of nature writhe in pain. No one liked this guy, who was now rolling on the floor. But they were not sure what was happening to Murray?

 

He always told them he wasn’t from Earth. Some of them thought he was nuts. Most believed him. The nervous people went back to their desks and just sat there dumbfounded. Murray ran out of the office and went to his vehicle. He sat in it with the A/C pumped and chilled.

 

He put the car in drive and decided to go home. As he pulled out of the parking lot he was looking exactly as he always did. His head was spinning.

 

As he crossed the Driscoll Bridge he realized he really was a bleach monster. He wasn’t sure if he should see a doctor or tell anyone. He was afraid he’d be locked up in a government research lab for experiments. What fun.

 

He wanted to figure out how he could use his newfound powers for good. He needed to be able to channel them and use them at his command.

 

He wasn’t sure if he should go back to work. But he needed the money. So he hopped into his car and headed back. No one mentioned a word. The marketing jerk wasn’t in. That wasn’t unusual. He rarely showed. He was taken to the local hospital after the bleach incident. No one at the office bothered to see how he was doing. It was not like they cared.

 

Murray worked away and left around 6. On the ride home they way home he stopped at McDonald’s for a shake. While walking out of the Golden Arches he saw a group of crazy teens attacking an old man. The poor old codger was down on the ground and bleeding. The kids kept kicking him.

 

Murray raced over to the guy and asked him if he was ok. One of the teens kicked Murray. He jumped right up and all of a sudden he started shooting bleach out of his nose. The kicker was bleached. The other teens started running, but not before Murray nailed them with bleach. People were gathering around Murray and the old man. Murray shot out a few extra gallons of bleach at the obnoxious kids and ran out of the parking lot.

 

An ambulance arrived and took the old man to the hospital. The bleached kids were on the ground wheezing. A few other ambulances arrived and rushed them to the hospital. The police followed the ambulances and placed the kids under arrest while they were being treated in the ER.

 

Murray calmly walked back to the parking lot and everything was back to normal. Shoppers were going about their business in the shopping center’s stores. He went into the drug store, bought a bottle of water and jumped into his car and drove home.

 

He was pretty satisfied with his efforts. But he needed to learn how to use his new power without getting attacked first. Next time he sees someone getting hurt he wanted to stop it immediately. He had some research to do.

 

He needed to find his friend, Adam, a genius. He hadn’t heard from him in years. He knew more about superheroes than anyone. He Googled Adam Tilapia and found his email.

It took Adam, days to write back. But when he finally did, Murray got the answer. He thanked Adam and they promised to keep in touch.

 

Adam told him not to tell anyone else of his special powers. But he may have to tell Dani, since she may suspect something when she doesn’t see him in and out of the laundry room on a regular basis. Some people hung out in bars. Murray hung out in the laundry room.

 

He was only supposed to go there when he needed to recharge on bleach. Adam did ask him what his kryptonite would be. Murray wasn’t sure. But he had an idea. He needed to test it first. Murray would have to do more research with his friend, Adam.

 

For the next few weeks, Murray went about his business at work and lived his usual lifestyle. The only thing he did differently, was he had his laundry done.

 

He went to the Stadium and cheered his beloved Yankees. Skillfully, they beat Boston. Big Papi struck out four times and Manny stared at the ball he thought was a homer for so long that Johnny Damon nailed him at first after he grabbed it off the leftfield wall.

 

The next morning he was in the supermarket and chaos broke out. A deranged man with a gun was holding a group of people hostage in the dairy aisle. You could hear sirens blaring in the distance and people were rushing out of the store or hiding in other aisles.

 

Murray raced to the dairy aisle. To get there he had to run through the aisle that stocked bleach and other cleaners. He eyed the containers of bleach and stopped at the foot of the dairy aisle.

 

“You what are you doing? Get over there with the other people and keep your hands where I can see them,” shrieked the gunman.

 

Shots were fired into several gallon containers of milk.

 

“If anyone fails to obey they will be my next shot. You will see pools of blood, not milk.”

 

People were screaming. Little kids started to cry, as their moms held them.

 

He stared at Murray.

 

“You in the white t-shirt.”

 

Murray looked the gunman straight in the eyes and belted out, “Yes?”

 

“That shirt is gonna be pretty red if you keep staring at me like that.”

 

Murray started laughing like a hyena.

 

“I’m not concerned as I walked over to this aisle, I walked right passed the one that sells bleach. It’ll come out.”

 

The man made like he was going to pull the trigger. Murray opened his eyes as wide as he could. He sneezed next.

 

“Bless you and you sure will need your blessings.”

 

As the gunman cackled out his last words he was sprayed with bleach. It shot out of Murray’s nose. He was sneezing bleach aimed like a projectile into the gunman’s eyes and hitting him all over the face.

 

The gunman fell to the ground, Murray stood over him and bleached his whole body.

 

The police were pulling into the parking lot and the now relieved shoppers were cheering Murray on. Of course, he was figuring out how to run out of the supermarket before the cops waltzed in.

 

Murray had to act quickly. The gunman was down for the count. At this point, the cops and EMTs could handle him. He had to run. He was out of breath. He couldn’t let that hold him back.

 

People were moving their heads to stare at Murray and the gunman. Some were hurrying out of the store. Murray’s perfect vision caught everyone staring at the pools of bleach and he raced out of the dairy aisle.

 

Slowly he was turning back into his human form. He caught his breath and headed for the door. Several cops were running in. He walked right passed them toward his Altima.

 

He put the key in the ignition and drove away. He just kept driving. He had no idea where he was going. Eventually, he went home and logged on to the Net.

 

He was aghast when he saw a story about his little episode on his hometown newspaper’s Website. Jessica, an intern penned the story.

 

He immediately dialed Dani.

 

“Hey Dani, did you see the story about what went on in the supermarket that’s about a block from us?”

 

“Yeah, one of the interns was there picking up milk and saw the whole thing. She texted the story into the newsroom.”

 

“Interesting. Anyway, I’m about to light the grill wanna come over for a burger?”

 

“Sure, I will be there in about 15 minutes, what’s my side dish?”

 

“Chips.”

 

Lighter fluid was poured on the coals and within seconds the flames were blazing. Billy Joel was cranking. Dani strolled in.

 

“Hey, Dani. So what’s with this Jessica girl? Have you taken her under your wing?”

 

“I talk to her. She’s a nice girl. Attends Rutgers. A junior I think. I was in the newsroom when she sent the copy in off her iPhone. She wasn’t able to get a photo. We would have loved that.”

 

“I’m sure.”

 

“Did she say what he looked like?”

 

“Well, she said he was wearing jean shorts, a white tee, and sneakers. His hair was red and he was about 5’2 and slim.”

 

“Was that when he was shooting out the bleach or before?”

 

‘In action, she didn’t catch him before he turned into the bleach monster.”

 

“Oh well. Do you think more stories will be written or is this a freak thing?”

 

“It is definitely freaky. You seem so interested. Oh yeah, I forgot you have problems with bleach. You better be good, there’s a crazy bleach monster out there now.”

 

Dani was giggling so much that she got caught in a pickle. The coals were ready for Murray to toss the well-marinated burgers on the grill. He tossed them on and Dani tore open the chips. Billy was singing about Brenda and Eddie.

 

The two of them sat on chairs on the tiny terrace and watched the burgers while sipping Sierra Nevada.

 

Murray flipped the burgers and tossed the buns on. They needed to be nice and toasty.

 

They sat silently for a few minutes.

 

“So are you still having problems when you do your laundry?”

 

“No, I have it done now.”

 

“Well, it’s about time. At least you won’t spill bleach all over yourself any longer.”

 

“No, I don’t think I will.”

 

He took the burgers off the grill and they wolfed them down. Dani was itching to leave. Her theory was come, be fed and run.

 

“Well, the burgers were great. Do you actually have any ice cream? I know you are not one for that. But sometimes you surprise me.”

 

He smiled and walked away for a minute or two. Or much longer.

 

“Here,” he said as he handed her Nestle Crunch ice cream bar. She smiled. He opened his.

 

“Tell me more about Jessica.”

 

“Please don’t let this become one of your stupid things you bug me about. You’ve been better lately.“

 

“I’m the bleach monster.”

 

Dani almost fell into a pickle again. But for some reason, she picked herself up and stared at him.

 

“Yeah right, I know you spill bleach everywhere, even though you think you are so careful. But come on how can you be the bleach monster? You are a monster, but I don’t think you’re that one.”

 

“I am and you have to be on my side. You can’t let this become a story. We can do some cool things to help people if you keep the paper away.”

 

“Hmm, so Lois Lane or Peter Parker we aren’t. If you can convince me you are the bleach monster. I will work with you. But I could win an award for bringing you out.”

 

“Wouldn’t you rather see decent people get some help when they are in trouble?”

 

“Yes, but you have to prove you are the bleach monster and I’m on your side. Does this mean I have to spend more time with you?”

 

“Probably.”

 

“How nauseating.”

 

“Glad you love me so much.”

 

“I do, later. Time to go home. Good night, Bleach Monster.”

 

Murray was pleased. As much as Dani would tease him, he knew she’d do everything she could to help him. She is a great sister, but a strange one.

 

Murray mapped out his Sunday and jumped into bed.

 

A few days later, Murray and Dani were strolling along 8th Street and Astor Place. Murray got a haircut and Dani just hung around. She was in and out of Barnes & Noble, Benetton, and the Gap. She was lugging around a few bags.

 

All of a sudden a deranged guy was attacking some NYU students. At one time Dani was one of them. He was holding a knife to a young girl’s throat. Her friends were panic stricken.

 

Murray calmly walked over to scene.

 

“Why don’t you leave the poor girl alone?”

 

The man was drunk and higher than a kite. He snarled, as his made a cutting motion with the knife in the air and then moved it back to her throat.

 

“All of you think you are so artsy. My artwork will be slicing open your throat and watching your blood pour out all over your clothes.”

 

Murray couldn’t take it anymore. He felt himself burning up. Suddenly, bleach shot right out of his eyes splattering the man wielding the knife, which he dropped onto the sidewalk.

 

Bleach was now shooting out his of ears. The man was screaming and screaming. Murray stopped shooting bleach and caught the subway. Dani was just steps behind him.

 

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