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Category: Ricochet


Fiction Fragment Friday

Ok, this week is a bit of catharsis. It is an exaggerated tongue in cheek story to get out a personal frustration. It seems like no matter what the issue is if I try to use my homeowners insurance there will always be some reason the issue is not covered. If it is for some reason covered they will want the cheapest patch job and not to pay for a proper repair. It is infuriating and like most things that frustrate me it has inspired this story.

                “Why do I bother paying a fortune for homeowners’ insurance when it literally never covers anything?”

                “Sir if you could please just calm down.  I understand how this could be upsetting, but your policy is quite extensive.  This one outlying case just doesn’t happen to be covered.”  The voice on the other end of the phone was exceedingly chipper, giving me the indication that she in fact did not understand how my situation could be upsetting.  Either that or she found enjoyment in the various contractual loopholes that always seemed to make my claims invalid.  I really needed to learn to be more careful in how much information I volunteered on these calls. 

                “Please help me understand how that could be the case.   I specifically increased my supervillain damage coverage to half a million last year.  A man crashes through my gazebo leaving a pile of rubble in my back yard and you are saying that isn’t covered?”   

                “That is correct sir.  I do see that you increased your policy last June.  However, you mentioned that this damage happened during the Ricochet vs the Global Defense Force fight this morning.  The problem is that neither of those parties are supervillains.  They are all categorized as heroes in our system.  If a villain were involved then your policy would have covered the damages, but as this was just one of those wacky cases of mistaken identity well, we just can’t approve your claim.”  I could just see the smugness in her voice as she lectured me like a schoolteacher with a slow learning student.

                “They were fighting because Ricochet has been helping a known felon.” 

                “Actually, as the suspect has yet to be apprehended, she has thus not been convicted of anything.  She technically is not a felon as we are innocent until proven guilty in this country.  There is a warrant out so Ricochet may have been committing a crime, but as of yet he has not been charged with anything.  So, you see no supervillains and your claim does not meet the requirements.”

                “What if they do charge him?  Would my claim be covered then?”

                “Oh no, he would have to be found guilty before a request to have his classification in our system updated could be filed.  Then it would go through a review process.  Generally, it takes four to six weeks to process a change of alignment form.”

                “Wait a minute there are a ton of supervillains that have never been caught.  Are you telling me that if any of them caused damage to my house I wouldn’t be covered?”  After numerous failed claim attempts over the past five years, I thought I was finally starting to understand just how stacked against a paying customer the system really was.

                “Well, that depends.”

                  “On what?”

                “Well, there are multiple ways an individual can be classified as a supervillain in our system.  If they, for example, describe themselves as such in a public setting we could update our listings.  Also, if the national registry of supervillains managed by the FBI were to include them that would meet the requirements.  The criteria is up for interpretation by one of our insurance claims adjusters.  If you would like to put in a request to have an adjuster review Ricochet’s status, we could start that process.”

                “The process that would take four to six weeks?”

                “No that that is the reclassification process once criteria are verified to be met.  The average assessment takes thirty to sixty days.  Would you like me to start that paperwork for you?”

                I stared out my kitchen window at the pile of wood and watched my dog pee on what used to be the roof of my gazebo.  I was worried about leaving him alone out back amidst the rubble, but so far, he had not hurt himself.  “I suppose so.  That means I’m going to have a big pile of dangerous wood splinters and nails in my backyard for a while.”

                “Oh, I don’t recommend that.  You should have that fixed and the debris hauled away immediately.   Just save the receipts for reimbursement.”

                “If I could afford to do that, I wouldn’t need insurance now, would I?  I thought I had insurance to protect me when things like this happen.”

                “Sir, please just be aware that what you described is a safety hazard.  I have made a note in your file that you are aware of it.  If someone were to be injured after the first week and you have not made an effort to remediate the issue it would not be covered by your homeowner’s policy as it was an unattended known hazard.”

                “This call is me trying to remediate it.”  By this point I was struggling to not just yell into the phone.  I’ve been through this before though.  That’s what she wants me to do.  If I yelled, she could say I’m being belligerent an she can hang up on me.  No, I wasn’t going to play into her hand like that.  “Please start the paperwork to have an adjuster review my case and his classification.”

                “Excellent.  Please hold.” 

                Why is it that they pick the worst earworm songs for insurance agency hold music?  If it isn’t The Girl from Ipanema it’s this ridiculous song about working all day.  This time though it was a song about a camel liking to dance.  It made no sense at all, but there it was running through my head, and I just couldn’t get it out even though I didn’t know the words.  It’s bad enough when you know the lyrics, but when you only know a few words that part of the song will just loop over and over until you want to throw something. When I was finally ready to scream, she came back on the line.

                “Hello sir, are you still on the line?”

                “Yes, I’m here.”   That is obstacle two.  If they can get you to hang up because you are sick of the hold music, then you have to start the whole process over again.

                “I have started the process and have a case number for you.  It is RBC728512.  You will of course get an email that summarizes our call an provides you this as well.  It looks like your adjuster will be…  oh my that does not bode well for you.”

                “What now?”

                “Well, you have been assigned Connie Vera.  Excellent adjustor.  In fact she is one of our best.”

                “Why is that a bad for me?”

                “Normally it wouldn’t be.  Last week though she was in Reignsborough National over on second street when Honey Badger tried to rob it.  He got hungry and decided that she looked tasty.   She was seconds away from being eaten, but then..”

                “Let me guess.  Ricochet showed up and saved her life.”

                “Busted right through the skylight and kicked him in the face.  I’m glad they aren’t insured with us because that elaborate of glasswork would have to be expensive to replace.”

                I groaned in exasperation.  “Oh, I’m sure you would find some loophole to make sure it wasn’t covered.  Perhaps a clause that the damage was done by the hero and not the villain.”

                “That’s good.  I’m going to write that one down.”  I think she realized what she said a moment after it came out, because she sounded flustered as she backpedaled.  “Uhm, to make sure that no one tries that on one of our customers.  We are here to help after all.  Speaking of which now that your claim is filed is there anything else I can help you with?”

                “No, not at this time.”  I was done and just wanted off the phone at that point.

                “Then thank you for calling Mutual of Reignsborough.  Remember when bad things happen we will also be there.” 

A Serious Talk

Fiction Fragment Friday

I had multiple ideas for a story this week, but settled on my first sentence as an inspiration. I don’t know where I came up with that sentence, but I liked it and decided to see where it went. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was writing a Ricochet story. It was not my intent, but it made complete sense with the conversation that was happening. I thought about using another superhero I created called Cobalt, but I struggled to decide what the difficult conversation would be with him. I also find myself not wanting to return to that character because when I created him he has a terrible tragedy in his past and having written a Fiction Fragment Friday prequel to that story I just don’t want to put him through it.

                “It’s long past time we had a serious talk.”  I have faced off against some of the most terrifying supervillains Reignsborough has to offer, but none of them caused the kind of fear that hearing those words come out of a girlfriend’s mouth does.  It may not always be phrased exactly like that, but I think I’ve heard pretty much every version of that particular conversation starter there is.  None of them are ever followed by anything I would call pleasant. 

                “Uh, ok Susie what’s on your mind?”  I figured I would try to get straight to it.  Avoiding the conversation wasn’t going to make it any easier. 

                “You canceled the last three dates we were supposed to have and each time it was at the last minute with an excuse as flimsy as those cheap paper plates you buy.  I know it isn’t work keeping you out at night because you haven’t had a decent gig in months.  Stand up comedy doesn’t exactly lend itself to work emergencies.”

                “Now hon you know I do odd jobs and pick up extra work when I can get it.  Sometimes that stuff just pops up at a moment’s notice.”

                She reached over to my counter and picked up a pile of bills.  “If that were it maybe you would have the money to pay for these, but no you are just as poor as ever.” 

                “Ouch.  I know my act hasn’t really taken off, but that’s kind of harsh.”

                “You want to talk about harsh?”  At this point she was yelling and threw the pile of bills against my chest.  “How about sitting in the middle of a restaurant with my parents trying to convince them that you wouldn’t possibly stand me up when you were supposed to meet them.  Then trying to come up with reasons why I actually like you when you do just that.”

                “Oh, that was tonight wasn’t it.”  I had been dealing with a supervillain hostage situation downtown and had completely forgotten about the dinner.  When I got back to my apartment, I had to take a shower to get rid of the smoke smell from when they lit the office building on fire.  I had no idea how I was going to get the smell out of my costume.  After that I was so tired, I was just going to collapse in bed until I heard a loud banging on my front door.  That led to this rather unpleasant conversation. 

                “Yes, it was tonight.  I’ve been reminding you every day for the last two weeks.  I tried calling you all night and you didn’t answer.  I have to ask; do you care about me at all?  Are you trying to push me away or are you just so self-centered that other people never even cross your mind.”     

                “Of course, I care about you.”  I needed an excuse fast.  “Look I’m really sorry about tonight.  I promise I’ll make it up to you.”  Even I knew that line wouldn’t work.  It never had before. 

                “That’s what you always say, and you know what?  You’ve never made anything up to me.  You just keep letting me down over and over again.  This is your last chance.  I want an honest answer with none of your usual deflections.   Where were you tonight?  What was more important than meeting my parents?”  She crossed her arms over her chest and stood there waiting for my answer.  I knew that the next words out of my mouth would determine my relationship status.  The one thing I couldn’t tell her was the truth though.  I couldn’t risk giving away my secret identity. 

                “Nothing is more important than you.  I just fell asleep, and my phone battery died.” 

                When she slapped me, my powers took the kinetic energy and absorbed it to feed my strength, agility, and healing.  I knew that she put all her strength into it, but the hit barely registered.  I think my perspective might have been skewed after a night of being hit by the Bash-em brothers.  They are actual brothers with super strength.  They went into professional wrestling when they first got their powers but decided that it was too much work when they could just rob banks.  “You are a terrible liar, but you just had to try, didn’t you?  Your phone is right here on the counter with a 50% charge.  Plus, I called Mrs. Wilson and had her come over and bang on your door.” 

                “Who’s Mrs. Wilson?”

                “Your neighbor.  How have you lived here for over a year without learning any of your neighbor’s names?  No, don’t answer that.  You are just deflecting again.”  It might have looked like I was deflecting, but I’m really not that clever.  I actually don’t know any of my neighbors’ names.  To be honest I can’t remember the last time I had gone out my front door instead of out my window in costume.  It’s just so much faster to bounce around the city and change when I get there than it is to take the train.  It’s a lot more fun too. 

                For a moment I thought about opening up and telling her I was Ricochet.  It would be so nice to have someone to talk to about it and maybe get some support.  On the other hand, I wasn’t sure how serious she was about us and I didn’t want an angry ex out there knowing my identity.  Just knowing had a habit of putting people in danger.  At this point I wasn’t sure if even the truth would be enough to make up for all the missed dates and my inability to get her anything nice. 

                “I don’t know what to say.  I must have slept through it.”  Even I heard the resignation in my voice.  I knew what was going to come next.

                “Well, you’re going to have plenty of time to sleep now.  I’m done.  I deserve someone who is going to make me feel important to them.  I deserve to not have to make excused to my friends and family about why my boyfriend isn’t around.”  She punctuated her final sentence with pokes to my chest.  “I deserve better than you.” 

                I didn’t try to change her mind or beg as she headed to the door.  It had never helped in the past and I knew it wouldn’t this time.  A couple pictures fell off the wall as she slammed my front door on her way out.  I didn’t bother picking them up.  They would always be there to deal with in the morning.  Unlike my love life which was once again dead.  That left me with two choices for the night.  I could think about what had just happened and really take a look at my life.  Examine my choices and ask myself those difficult questions about my future.

                That was not going to happen, so I went with option number two.  In a few minutes I was suited up in my smoke smelling costume and climbing out my window onto the fire escape.  Sure, I could examine my life and self-evaluate, but I’m sure there were bad guys out there that needed punching.  It wouldn’t hurt that using my powers had an intoxicating effect that would keep me from focusing on much of anything.  Nope never let it be said that I was a self-aware superhero, not when I have any other option to avoid that.   


Fiction Fragment Friday

Sometimes I might struggle with coming up with an idea because something else get’s stuck in my head. I think when that happens it’s best to go back to the stories and characters that I’m the most comfortable with. This time is a slightly different perspective. Hope you enjoy.

     “You know everything was going pretty well, but life kind of sucks now.  My best friend had to leave town so she could hide from a super powered gang boss.  The scientist that made all my cool stuff got a job in New York.  My girlfriend left me days before I got superpowers, and my first ever high paying job turned out to be working for a super-villain.  Makes a guy think he might just have bad luck.”

     “Please I’m begging you just arrest me already.”  The mugger was hanging upside down over the edge of a roof with Ricochet holding him by is left ankle.  He had lost track of how long he had been there having to listen to this supposed superhero rambling on and on.   “I’ll confess just please stop talking.”

     “Well, that’s kind of rude.”  Ricochet tossed him onto the roof where he rolled until smashing into the air conditioner.  It sputtered, sparked, and then the fan stopped spinning.  “Oh, I am not paying for that.”  He leapt through the sky and landed in a crouch next to the mugger.  “Uhm if anyone asks that was your fault ok?”

     “Sure man, whatever you say.”  He hurt all over.  First the hero head tossed him around the alley, then dragged him up the fire escape backwards, and now he was pretty sure the air conditioner had cracked a rib. 

     “You know this talk was good.  I think I needed it.  Thanks for that.”

     “That mean you’re gonna let me go?”  The words came out with a grunt.  It was starting to hurt to breathe.

     Ricochet laughed.  “Oh, that’s a good one.  Wait you were serious?  No man I’m gonna drop you off with that patrol when they get out of the convenience store.  I would take you in, but they kinda banned me for too much collateral damage.  I mean really some people have no appreciation.  Jeremy over on twelfth gave me free fountain drinks for life, but this guy no. 

     Tears of pain and frustration filled the mugger’s eyes.  “Do you every shut up?”

     Ricochet tossed the man over his shoulder and sprinted across the roof.  Just before the edge he leapt into the air and spun.  As soon as his feet his the next roof he rebounded and moved onto the next.  After making a loop around the neighborhood he flung them from the roof towards the convenience store wall.  His legs compressed against and pushed off.  As the two spun over the patrol car he dropped the mugger onto the front hood.  He was happy to notice that it barely dented the car this time. 

     “Hello officers, have a great day.  Enjoy your gift, from the rambling Ricochet.”  With those parting words the hero disappeared into the night.  He didn’t go quietly though as the mugger and police officers could hear him singing something to the tune of “Gummy Bears” as he bounced away.

     Officer Mendel rushed to his car to check on the man.  His partner officer Melvin threw her coffee against the ground while cussing.  “So help me if the car doesn’t start I’m going hunt that bouncing idiot to the ends of the Earth.  Last week the blamed fool dropped one right into my windshield shattering it.  He’s worse than the actual bad guys.”

     “He just wouldn’t shut up.  He dragged me around just rambling on and on and on.”

     Mendel helped him to his feet.  “Wanna confess now or wait until we get to the precinct?”

     “What makes you think I’m gonna tell you anything?”

     “Let me tell you about the last guy that didn’t.  See as soon as we let him go Ricochet grabbed him and bounced around until they were on top of the tallest building in Reignsborough.  Then he started singing.  Said he was working on an album.  Called it ‘Bouncing Back: Songs to Punch Bad Guys To’ Apparently every song was just a theme song about him.  Said he couldn’t get it narrowed down to just twelve, so he made the guy listen to all thirty-seven.  Every time he reached a big moment in a song, he would do a pose and drop the guy.  Caught him before he hit the ground and took him back to the roof each time.  That’s not the worst part though.”  Officer Mendel paused for effect.

     “What was the worst part?”  The mugger’s voice was cracking now.

     “Well each time that happened he had to restart the song from the beginning.  Sometimes it took three tries to get through the song.”

                “Do you want my confession verbally or in writing?”    

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