Franklin always joked about being a superhero. He had it all down: the name, the pose, even the workout. He was a good fit for it, too, with broad shoulders that shaped his body into a hard V. Especially after that stylist got ahold of his hair and he started walking around with that tailored, nice guy haircut. You could almost put him on a poster, right up there with Captain America.
It was hard to poke too much fun at him, though. Franklin’s had a hard life. I was around when his mother died and his dad committed suicide. Shotgun to the chest — bad way to go. Didn’t die instantly. Franklin didn’t walk in on him, though. A neighbor heard the shot and got the bastard to a hospital so that his own son could see him before he died.
That’s what got Franklin on that superhero kick. Batman was visiting the hospital that day. Walked right up to him with the cape whooshing behind him, picked him up with one strong arm, and told him that everything would be okay. Did it even though Franklin’s dad was dying in the other room.
Franklin never forgot that. Read every superhero comic he could find, every single one his grandparents brought home from the store. He knew everything about them and what they were supposed to stand for. I suppose anyone looking from the outside in would’ve pegged him for a career police officer, soldier, or some kind of government worker. That’s who the real heroes are, right?
Not Franklin. He got it in his head that he could be a real-life superhero, and I’ve never seen someone work so hard to make that dream a reality. He became an accomplished martial artist in his teenage years. Used to spend hours going on and on about how weapons were overrated and how there was no honor in them. An ex-Marine judo instructor set him straight — thank God — before he went out and got himself killed.
As you might expect, the superhero thing never quite worked out for Franklin. That’s not to say he didn’t try it once or twice. But looking the part isn’t the same as having actual superpowers — something he found out after a group of thugs rearranged his face one evening. He was lucky to make it out of that scrap alive.
He still found a way to make it work, though.
These days, Franklin focuses on his looks. He parades around the hospital in all manner of costume, doing for others what Batman did for him that day. Most importantly, I think, Franklin finally gave in to his own desire to help people and became a social worker. It’s a problematic job, but he’s happy.
For a kid like that, who lived through a horror like that, it’s hard to ask for more.