It began, as most Wednesdays do, with a sojourn. The work day complete, I depart from my hole-in-the-ground and set forth along the cow paths of Massachusetts Avenue, passing by the Christian Science Center Reflecting Pool and continuing along past Berklee, up over the Mass Pike to The Otherside and within ten minutes I’m standing outside the door of Newbury Comics, awaiting the days’ haul. I enter the store and approach the front desk and without saying a word I receive a stack of fresh comic books from the cashier, the newest issues, just released that date. I thank her, then walk towards the back corner of the store to check the New Release racks to make sure I’m not missing anything.
That’s when I discover the truth: Animal Man #16, Unwritten #45, and Wolverine & the X-Men #23 are all missing. They were not in the pile that was handed me when I walked in, and they are not among the racks with the other new releases.
Breathlessly I dash back to the front desk. “Jesse,” I say to the manager (because obviously I’m on a first name basis with the comic book guy), “There’s an emergency! I’m missing 3 comics!” Before I finish speaking, he’s at the inventory computer, fingers racing across the keyboard, clock ticking fervidly, each passing second echoed deeply in my head. After 83 seconds that feel like a lifetime, Jesse turns to me and says, “It looks like Animal Man and Unwritten were undershipped from the distributor, but they’ll be here next week. I’m not sure why Wolverine & the X-Men wasn’t in your box, but I have an extra copy here that you can have. I’ll put it in the computer now to make sure we don’t forget again.”
“Awesome! Thanks so much, man. Sorry to be a pain.”
“No problem dude! She’ll ring you up at the register,” he says as he enters the information. I handle my transaction with the other cashier and as I type my secret PIN into the code box I hear the tinny ding!ding! of the metal detector at front of the door. This of course attracts my attention, as it does the entire staff. “Let me just check your bag real quick?” Jesse asks the customer. His manner is pleasant and unaccusing as he steps out from behind the computer at the front desk, but it doesn’t matter; the guy makes a run for it, slamming through the door, stutter-stepping at the sidewalk, and bolting down the street. Jesse follows as quickly as human legs can take him, but by the time he’s hit the street, the thief has already lost himself in the throng of early-evening shoppers.
This all happens in the time it takes me to enter my 6-digit PIN to complete my transaction. Jesse walks back into the store, defeated and enraged, and immediately the phone to call the police. It was in that moment that I knew: this would be the last time I stood idly by as twisted criminal scum had their way with my comic book shop. For I was too engrossed in entering my PIN, too wrapped up in myself to take the necessary action, and because of my selfishness, my recklessness, who knows how many innocent used CDs have been lost?
As a wise man once told me, “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility,” and from that day forth I have committed myself to justice. I have recreated myself as a symbol, because symbols have the strength to battle evil.
I am Regular Wednesday Comic Book-Buying Guy.