Staffing Requirements

A black panther has found me lying on the floor—grimy, hungry, and reeking of neglect. My clothes are torn in fifty places; the soles of my flip-flops almost worn off. The harsh light of the street lamp glares off my platinum blonde hair. He sniffs at it, irritated.

“Thought I told you to wash this off.” A calm statement loaded with disapproval, I am uncertain whether a reply is required or not.

“Sorry. I forgot.”

Not that I recall ever being told. Not that I even know who I am or how I’ve come to be lying in the street with such ridiculous hair. The only thing obvious to me is the superhero’s identity.

One powerful hand grabs a hunk of my collar and drags me across the floor. How far we proceed, I cannot determine, for my groggy brain is yet to awaken fully. I am hauled into an alley where there sits a panel of two middle-aged Black men in curious, almost royal garb. If the Black Panther is the ultimate African superhero, then these surely are his tribesmen, sage chiefs selected to provide counsel or intelligence of some sort. I am thinking, strange locale for a secret meeting of such extravagantly-attired crime fighters, but okay. A third man, much younger, walks up. Very handsome, he has the air of someone who’s extremely smart—genius maybe—and is completely aware of it. In short, he wears arrogance as a second, complimentary cape to the grand one he already has on. I get barely a once-over by this fella before he begins spewing facts about me, looking to my captor for any contest to his discernment.

“Twenty-eight.” A nod from the big guy.

“Dark brown hair.” Another nod. How the hell–

“Cyclic bleeding just concluded.” Further assent. My dignity rejects the idea that they mean what I think they do.

“Fifty-four kilogrammes.” With intense, furrowed brows, the superhero shakes his head and corrects, “fifty-two.”

The young man’s eyebrows shoot up sharply, as he turns to challenge this apparent insult on his judgment.

“Fifty-four kg is what I said, T’Challa,” he insists impatiently. That’s right. How odd that my captor isn’t even in costume, yet I recognize him as the Panther. Also, this dude is on a first name basis with the hero. He must be important.

T’Challa eyes me accusingly, boring into my soul until I give in. “Well I have been er…idle…a while now. Pretty easy to gain weight so…” He sighs, obviously disappointed at my incompetence. I am secretly wondering what I mean by idle, but obviously I’m responding on instinct rather than actual memories of anything.

The young man, seated now with his colleagues, makes a suggestion: “Put her on the treadmill.”

Raised eyebrows, from T’Challa now.

“They’re doing it these days. Put her on, in a few hours she’ll lose the extra two.”

I am nodding ceaselessly, willing them to give me a try. “Yes. I can do it. Put me up for it,” I hear myself say, looking from one to the other with an alien confidence I cannot fathom. They silently consider this option with shared looks of their own.

I don’t know who these people are or what I’m doing here, but I realise I want, REALLY BADLYto undergo this physical training. I want to impress them and be within spec for whatever they have planned for me.

Strange dream, considering I’m by no means a comic book aficionado. Hope you had a laugh reading it at least.

Photo credit: ©Sven Schiffer via Flickr

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