My Superpower

My son, Billy, had this Camaro that he had been working on for nearly two years. It was his pride and joy, and it almost ran. Artwork from and used under a license.
Artwork from Flickr and used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

I can pretty much find anything. It’s my superpower. It was always below the surface, in the backwaters of my brain, just waiting. I’m dead certain it was my kids and husband that finally forced it into the open.

“Hon, have you seen my garpledeybip?” Like I knew what that was.

“How should I know? I don’t even know what color it is.”


“You lost it; you find it, dammit,” But I’d always give in and look. I’d wander around the garage, dish towel in my hand, lifting up the dead batteries and swishing around the half-filled oil pans, and sure as little green aliens it would appear. “It’s right here, next to the weed whacker.” It was a puzzle to me, how I could find things and they couldn’t.

The Camaro incident was the first real inkling that finding was my superpower. My son, Billy, had this Camaro that he had been working on for nearly two years. It was his pride and joy, and it almost ran. He would barrel into the house every day after school, throw his bag on the floor, shove a sandwich into his face, dive out the front door, and slide home under the long hood of that car. He wouldn’t emerge until his dad extracted him like a sore tooth, with nearly as much wailing.

One day he actually got it running. It sat in the driveway shivering and moaning like an ailing armadillo.

“Good Lord, it runs,” my husband said.

“No?” I peered out the kitchen window, and sure enough the hood of the car was vibrating and colored smoke was billowing from the back. “Is car exhaust supposed to be yellow?”

My husband looked alarmed. Billy climbed into the driver’s seat and buckled his seat belt, checked his rear-view mirror, and inched the scaly beast out the driveway. I craned my neck to see him round the turn at the end of the block.

“Well, he made it to the end of the street,” I said.

“Yep, and he may make it around the block,” my husband said, but I could tell he didn’t believe it.

A couple of hours later, Billy dragged himself into the kitchen. I had not heard the engine; I was not surprised.

“Where’s the Camaro?” My husband spun a cup of coffee in a wet ring on the kitchen table. The chair creaked as he leaned back on two legs.

“It’s gone,” Billy slumped into the opposing chair.

“Did it die?”

“No, it just, stopped,” Billy sighed. “And it wouldn’t start, so I left it on Maybell Ave.”

“It’ll be fine. We’ll get it in the morning.”

Of course, that car wasn’t there in the morning, and no, the cops hadn’t towed it. I didn’t think it was stolen, or if it was they didn’t drive it off; after all, it’s not like it ran. It had gone missing, like things sometimes do.

The next morning Billy looked at me across the breakfast table.

“Ma-ah-am, puh-leeeze.” Billy’s face had that lost teddy look around his eyes.

“Billy, I can’t find your car.” I had no idea even how to start. It’s not like it was under a cushion in the living room couch. His eyebrows crinkled together and he sniffed. “Oh, all right,” I grabbed the dish towel and stomped out onto the driveway. He trailed along behind me, head down. I looked at Billy and got real mad. After all, how do you lose a car, for Pete’s sake? These kids, I started fuming, good lord, look at me, standing out here in the driveway trying to figure out where this fool kid lost his car. I twisted the dishtowel in my hands and wandered over to the azaleas, my anger spluttered away. The flowers were lovely, but would need trimming soon. And just like that, I had it.

“The Botanical Gardens, left parking lot, back under the big cypress trees.” Billy’s eyes were shining as he and my husband jumped into the car to rescue the wandering Camaro. I gazed down at my towel; I had a superpower.

We never did find out why or how the Camaro wandered off, but then you don’t ever find out why the scissors you put down just there moved two rooms away and fell behind the couch, do you?

So when the three men appeared at the door, my husband was not surprised. “You can find anything,” he stated with absolute assurance, and ushered them into the kitchen. My son, following behind him, nodded solemnly.

I could tell these were serious men. They had trim hair, dark suits, and their shoes were very shiny. Two sat at my table, while the third — he had to be the boss — paced back and forth across my kitchen. He looked down so hard, I kept sneaking a peek to see if there was a novel or the word of God inscribed on the new vinyl floor. I wished he would just sit down; he was making my cat nervous.

“Can I get you some coffee?” I motioned toward the half-filled carafe. “It’s pretty fresh still.”

“No, Ma’am.” The boss looked over at me, “We heard that you might be able to help us.”

I shook my head more in consternation than refusal. Finding car keys or even the car that ought to be attached was one thing, but this was another indeed.

“You sure you don’t want any coffee?” They shook their heads. I sat down and folded my towel on the table. “Well, it’s not much in the way of superpowers. You should really talk to that lady with the lasso or Superman even. I’m sure one of them can help you better, but if you want me to try I will.”

They nodded in near unison.

I took a deep breath and grasped my dish towel. “So, this rocket ship that you lost, what color is it?”