Monday, August 26, 2019

The Miller Family

Prairie City, Kansas was founded in Douglas County by William Graham, L.F. Green, Salmon Prouty, and James Lane in 1855. There were big plans for Prairie City with the Catholic Mission, the Heber Institute, and the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad but those big plans never materialized due to the opening of Baker University and founding Baldwin City a quarter mile to the east. Most of Prairie City was vacated by the county in 1883.

A prominent family in the area, the Millers, settled just southwest of the Catholic Church in 1860. Not only were the Millers farmers--mostly animals and fruit--but George, the patriarch, was a stonemason who constructed many stone buildings and structures around the Baldwin City area.

Ever since I discovered this family in 2000, I have been working to get their story and history down. I'm close to having everything I need but still have quite a bit to do. Here's what I have so far.

George Miller, originally Meunier, was born December 28, 1832 in Mariesville, Quebec to Ignace and Marie Desange Meunier. George was the youngest of eight children which probably influenced his decision to leave Canada and come to Kansas. A stonemason, which was probably a family occupation based on the Meunier's dit name, Lapierre, George arrived in Lecompton, Kansas Territory in 1857. He married Margaret Lowery on February 22, 1859 and the two of them moved to Prairie City. It's possible that since Lecompton had its own celebrated stonemason in Mark Migliario, George had to move away to make his own mark in the state.

George's land on Section 5 in Palmyra Township was on the southern slope of Liberty Hill just southwest of where the Catholic Mission had been built. He built his house and started his family and career. George was a well-respected builder and farmer and contributed to numerous public and private projects in and around Baldwin City including several house foundations, at least two bridges--including the Women's Bridge over East Tauy Creek, Pulliam Hall, Parmenter Hall, Centenary Hall, and Rippy Gym on Baker University campus, the old United Methodist Church, old Baldwin High School, and the IOOF Lodge. The stone was quarried from George's property and the local newspapers routinely praised his work. George was ill the last couple years of his life and died July 5, 1909. He is buried in Prairie City Cemetery.

Margaret Miller was born in Frostburg, Maryland to Robert and Juliana Glanville Lowery in 1842. Juliana passed away in 1843. I assume Robert and Margaret came to Lecompton together where Margaret met George. Margaret opened up her house for her neighbors and took care of the property even organizing social events for the Prairie City community. After George passed away, she remained on the farm but was in ill health for most of the end of her life. She lived in Siloam Springs, Arkansas for a short time for her health but moved back to Kansas within a year. Margaret passed away on April 6, 1925 and is buried in Prairie City Cemetery.

George and Margaret's firstborn was Adele, born on January 23, 1860. I have little on Adele's early life but know that she married Francis Xavier Jardon on December 5, 1883. They lived in a stone house in Baldwin and had a farm in Willow Springs Township. Sadly, Adele would pass away on April 8, 1889. She is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Baldwin. F.X. Jardon would remarry on April 15, 1893 to Virginia Elliott. He died in 1930.

Second-born Lucy (August 13, 1861) is also a mystery. Lucy helped out with many social functions around the community and taught at the Oak Grove School in the 1880s. She is recorded as living on the farm in the 1895 Kansas Census and is mentioned as "being of the home" in her mother's 1925 obituary but I have no information on her after that.

George Xavier was born February 2, 1864. Named for his father, George X. died young on July 1, 1865 and was buried near the southwest corner of the house. Ignace, born April 2, 1871, was named for his paternal grandfather, also died young on his first birthday in 1872 and buried next to his brother. They are the only Millers buried with the name MEUNIER. An excavation in 2018 yielding no remains so the exact location of the burial is unknown. The stone has been removed, kept on private property with the hopes of having it installed in Prairie City Cemetery.

Julia was born June 16, 1866. Like Lucy, she was a schoolteacher working for various districts around southern Douglas County including Prairie City, Worden, Independence, and Vinland. Julia then taught at Baldwin High School where she eventually became assistant principal and then principal. Late in her career she served as principal of the Berryton Rural School in Shawnee County. She continued living with her brother Robert until he sold the farm in 1942 and he died. She then lived with her younger brothers Fred and Elmer for a couple of years before moving back to Baldwin City. The last couple years of her life she lived at the Topeka Methodist Home. She passed away on August 22, 1955 at the Security Benefit Hospital a couple weeks after a fire at the Methodist Home displaced its residents. She is buried in Prairie City Cemetery.

Robert, born September 17, 1874, followed in his father's footsteps running his own farm and eventually taking over the family farm until selling the land in 1942. In 1903, Robert gave the land to the Prairie City School District to open a new school which still stands today. Robert died December 18, 1949 and is buried in Prairie City Cemetery.

Elmer was born July 7, 1878 and moved to Lincoln County, Oregon where he became a dairy farmer and breeder. He married Gertrude on December 1, 1917 and they had one son, Robert. His farm still stands along the Siletz River on Elmer Miller Road. Elmer passed away on March 5, 1964. Gertrude passed away in 1995. Both are buried in Eureka Cemetery in Newport, Oregon.

George Frederick, or Fred, was born May 28, 1888. Fred moved, originally, to Boise, Idaho where he married Margaret Johnson. Fred ran a farm near Pocatello, Idaho. Fred passed away on October 27, 1976 with Margaret following in 1997. Both were cremated and interred in Prairie City Cemetery.

The house that George built came under new ownership in 1942 and has sat abandoned since about the 1970s and is currently private property. Nearby is the Midland Railway and the ruins of the Prairie City Catholic Mission. The house was built facing east in National Folk style, or I-house. Three additions were built onto the house over the years: the front porch, columns, and upstairs porch, an open porch that became enclosed around 1972, and a remodeled kitchen area. For years, the house and graves attracted trespassers and vandals ultimately leading to the house being demolished in early 2019.

The doorway to the back stairs.

April 2019.

If you would like to support my writing and research, you can buy me a cup of coffee over on Ko-Fi.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Winnie #2

It was almost three o’clock in the morning when the smoke alarms went off in the hallways of Cottage Grove Towers. Tenants raced out of the fire doors and fire escapes. Heather and her family evacuated their apartment and met across the street. Roy, her father, took a head count—his wife, Jasmine, Promise, Heather, Holly, and Marcus but there was an extra head with the family. “Nathan?” Heather exclaimed. Heather knew Nathan as he was Savannah’s brother. “What are you doing here?”

“I was…uh…” Nathan stammered.

“He was with me,” Promise said. “We’ve been seeing each other for the last couple of months or so.”

“What?” Roy and Jasmine shouted.

“I know we should’ve told you and we were going to soon. I definitely didn’t want you to find out during a fire evacuation.”

Firefighters were waving that it was all clear and the tenants began returning to their apartments. “We’ll talk about this in the morning,” Roy said. “You’re going to stay here, Nathan. On the couch. We’ll call your parents in the morning.”

“Yes, sir,” Nathan agreed.

“And put some clothes on,” Heather crinkled her nose.

It was the sixth fire to happen in this manner in three weeks. The method was always the same. A bag was placed in the entryway or front hallway and lit on fire. The smoke would set off a smoke detector and the fire department would arrive. The most damage would be a burnt mark on the floor. Nothing was ever in the bag and no evidence ever left behind. There was no security in the buildings so there was no leads on who the would-be arsonist could be.

“And no one’s been hurt?” Winnie asked Heather as they sat down at lunch next to Savannah.

“Not yet but who knows what the next fire will bring,” Heather said.

“Talking about the fire?” Savannah asked.

“Yeah. It was hard getting back to sleep after that. By the way, did you know your brother is sleeping with my sister?” Heather asked.

“I knew he was seeing someone. I didn’t know it was someone I knew,” Savannah smiled. “How did you find out?”

“He snuck over after we all went to bed and had to evacuate with everyone.”

“Hell of a way for people to find out,” Winnie laughed.

A tall black girl with bushy hair tied into a ponytail purposely ran into Savannah. “Watch where you’re going,” she said angrily but soon a smile was on her face. “You excited for tonight?”

“Oh, yeah. I’m just excited to start getting some money and the experience isn’t bad either,” Savannah answered.

“I’ll see you at the diner tonight. I look forward to working with you,” the girl smiled at Savannah and walked off to sit with her friends several tables away.

“Who’s that?” Winnie asked.

“It’s Seonna Toomey,” Savannah began. “We have English and cooking together. We were both hired at Ol Mac’s Diner at waitresses. We start tonight.”

“What was with the smiles and the playful running into your chair?” Heather questioned.

“Seonna’s the one I have the crush on. We’ve been getting closer in class and I think…I hope…that she likes me. I like her.”

“Seonna…” Winnie thought for a moment, picking at her food with a fork. “Seonna. Isn’t she really athletic and kind of mean? I think she tried to stuff someone into a locker last year.”

“She is athletic. She participates in football, basketball, track, volleyball, and soccer over the summer. I’ve watched her practice and play—you should see her legs,” Savannah said as she blushed, getting a lilt in her voice, her eyes glistening in the light.

“Nah, I’m good,” Heather said.

“She’s really nice. I can’t wait to start working with her,” Savannah turned to look at Seonna. Seonna, who was looking at Savannah as well, opened her mouth to show her chewed up food and gave Savannah the finger. “She’s so cute.”

Candace was sitting outside in the grass during lunch, wanting to be away from people for a few minutes while she ate her sandwich. She watched the cars drive by and the other students wander the campus, most coming back from grabbing lunch somewhere else. She liked to people-watch and there was certainly plenty of entertainment when she was out here.

“Want a burrito?” someone behind her asked.

Candace turned around and saw a guy holding out a burrito to her. “No, thanks,” she smiled.

“Are you sure? The place gave me one extra,” the guy offered again.

“David, right?” Candace said, taking the burrito from him. “You’re in my math class.”

“May I sit?” David started to sit down but Candace started standing up.

“I’m thinking about heading inside. Lunch is almost over anyway,” Candace said.

“Oh, okay. Well, I will see you in math class,” David said good-bye. He watched Candace walk away back toward the school. “Enjoy the burrito.”

Ol Mac’s was a dinghy diner a few blocks away from the school. Ol’ Mac was a large black man who had been slinging hash and making the best soul food in this part of Chicago for nearly 50 years. Savannah and Seonna were hired to work Tuesday through Friday 3:30 until 9:00 and Sunday 11:00 to 5:00. The two girls tied aprons around their waists and got to work.

It got hot in the diner, especially when you were working and very little cool air came out of the air conditioner installed above the door. Sweat poured down everyone’s forehead and arms and after only a couple hours, the girls looked beaten and worn out. They were in a back room, hanging up their aprons and grabbing their backpacks after the diner had closed. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I did tonight,” Savannah said, hanging up her apron.

“Not outside of a sporting event, for me anyway,” Seonna replied, taking her shirt off. Savannah watched closely as the shirt came off to reveal Seonna’s bare torso except for the sweat-stained sports bra she wore. She noticed the little bit of stubble underneath her arms and the almost six-pack of her stomach. Seonna sniffed her shirt before cramming it in her backpack. Seonna noticed Savannah looking and smiled a crooked smile. “What’s up?”

Savannah broke her gaze. “Nothing. You’re walking home like that?”

“I do a lot,” she replied. “It’s a short walk and it’s a lot more than I really want to be wearing. Boys are so lucky,” she shook her head. “How much did you get in tips tonight?”

“About forty bucks,” Savannah answered.

“I got about seventy. Come on,” Seonna put her arm around Savannah. Savannah shivered and nonchalantly sniffed in the general direction of Seonna’s armpit that was resting right by her neck and shoulder. “I’ll treat you to an ice cream cone at G’s.”

Another apartment building. Another fire. A small fire set in the hallway by the entrance. The building was evacuated and everyone gathered outside. A group of firefighters were going through the building, checking for stragglers and making sure no other fires were set. “I got a body over here,” one shouted.

“Looks like he was evacuating. What happened?” another asked.

“Oxygen. He left without his oxygen tank, I’m assuming,” the firefighter pointed to the tube coming out of the man’s nose. “Get the paramedics up here. If this fire was caused by the same person starting all the others, they just became a murderer.”

Monday, August 19, 2019

Tauy Creek Digest #54: Fire Breathers

The two monsters rose out of the oceans. The one from the Pacific was lizard-like, almost like a dinosaur, reminiscent of what a real Godzilla would look like. The one from the Atlantic was slightly different, more dragon-like than dinosaur. Both were the size of a skyscraper and both were immune to whatever attack humans threw at them. They easily walked off missiles, bullets, and bombs as they caused a path of destruction across the country until meeting in the middle of the country.

The dragon monster made the first strike by shoving the dinosaur into a building, completely knocking it to the ground. The dragon quickly got on top of the dinosaur and they began wrestling, rolling around on the streets of this city. The dinosaur erupted a plume of fire from its mouth, singing the dragon and causing the dragon to push away from the dinosaur. In retaliation, the dragon brought out his own breath of fire, not just burning the dinosaur but also a couple of buildings nearby.

That's then what the fight became. Breathing as much fire as they could in hopes of racking up damage on each other but instead causing damage to the buildings and people around them. People ran in terror, dodging the crumbling buildings, leftover spits of fire, and the feet of the monsters. The monsters didn't even seem acknowledge that there were small, living things in what they were destroying and below them on the streets.

The dragon monster plowed into the dinosaur monster with its head and the two stumbled backward into a skyscraper, bringing it and them down to the street, nearly causing the street to collapse underneath them. The dinosaur monster tossed the dragon monster off of it. It rolled over several buildings, crushing them, people, and the street before catching itself and bringing itself to their feet.

Their fire breath erupted from their mouths and collided as they moved closer to each other. The dinosaur monster grabbed the dragon monster and picked it up, spinning it over its head before throwing it into several buildings. As the dragon monster stood up, wings sprouted from its back and it roared, fire spewing from its mouth. The piercing screech echoed across the country, the eardrums of everyone within fifty mile rupturing.

The military arrived but their bullets and missiles were no match for the impenetrable skin of the monsters and what did get through left no more of a mark than a pin prick on human skin. The monsters continued crushing and destroying the streets and buildings of the city as more of the military arrived. The punches shattered windows and the roads buckled and collapsed into the sewers underneath the city. After almost two hours, the monsters moved out of the city and into the suburbs.

Luckily, most of the residents of the suburbs were evacuated but most of the houses were destroyed. Long after revealing them, the dragon monster used its wings to fly the dinosaur monster into the air and drop him. A sinkhole the size of a small lake crumbled the earth as the dinosaur monster went through the crust. Enraged, the dinosaur monster jumped hard and fast, colliding head first into the dragon monster, launching them several miles before crashing in a field outside of a small city about eighty miles away from where they started.

The dragon monster smashed the dinosaur monster's face into the town's giant concrete grain silo, destroying it like the ocean destroys a sand castle. The dinosaur monster used its tail to trip the dragon monster, sending it hard to the ground. The dinosaur monster jumped on top of the other monster sending them both into the ground causing another sinkhole that swallowed part of the western area of the small town.

For several minutes, nothing moved or made noise. People, military personnel and first responders approached the hole with caution and assumed that both monsters had perished, either due to each other's blows or the pressure near the center of the Earth.

The earth started to rumble and shake, the hole spread, engulfing several people standing near and some more of the town. The dragon monster erupted from the hole, sending rocks and other debris in numerous directions. In its claws, he held the dinosaur monster who was trying to swat the dragon off of it. The dragon threw the dinosaur as hard as it could sending the monster another hundred or so miles away. The dragon quickly flew off after it, finding it came to a rest inside of a sprawling department store in another city.

As the dragon flew closer, the dinosaur spun around and hit the dragon with its tail, sending the dragon into a collection of buildings, starting the rampage and destruction over in a new metropolis.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Bobbo #2

Bobbo approached Brooke and Max in the park, covering his eye with his hand. “Hey, guys,” Bobbo said. “Sorry I’m late. I had to finish something up.”

“Hey, Bobbo, how are you?” Max asked and then looked up at Bobbo. “What’s wrong with your eye?”

“Nothing. It’s fine. What do you want to do today?”

“I kind of want to continue talking about why you’re covering your eye,” Max said. “Don’t you, Brooke?”

“Yeah. Kind of. I would like that,” she answered.

Bobbo rolled his eyes and took his hand away. A large bruise covered his eye and it was half closed. Max and Brooke looked hard at the black eye and then fell over laughing. “It’s not funny,” Bobbo said. “It hurts and my face is how I make my money.”

“You don’t have any money. How’d you get it? Get hit by a doorknob again?” Brooke asked.

“Yes, I was bending over and, once again, someone opened a door and wham, right into my face.”

“Really?” Max asked, not convinced.

Bobbo hung his head. “No. Someone hit me. On purpose.”

“Who? I want to shake their hand,” Max laughed again.

Brooke stood up and went over to Bobbo. “Oh, I’m sorry, Bobbo. Seriously, who did this?”

“Veronica. You know, that shrill girl in home room.”

“The one who has the book about how much she likes or hates her classmates at any given moment?” Max clarified.

“Yeah, that’s her,” Bobbo confirmed.

“What’d you do?” Brooke asked, crossing her arms.

“Nice of you to blame the victim,” Bobbo said.

“Victim? Pfft. I know you, Bobbo,” Brooke said. “What’d you do?”

“I…” Bobbo hung his head lower. “I farted on her.”

“Oh my God,” Brooke rolled her eyes, threw up her arms, and walked away from Bobbo.

“You farted on her…kudos by the way, very classic…so she hit you?” Max exclaimed. “That’s not a fair trade. The fart doesn’t hurt anyone but
he could’ve done some real damage with her punch. You need to get back at her. Tell her that and say the only fair thing is to let her take a punch from you.”

“How do you even fart on somebody?” Brooke asked from several feet away. “Did you just run up to her and sit down on her? Why do we keep boys around even?”

“Go back to her place and explain that you should get to hit her or something equal to her hitting you,” Max said. “You just can’t go around hitting everybody who farts near or on you.”

“Yes, you can,” shouted Brooke from nearly across the park.

“Hey, Veronica,” Bobbo approached the brown-haired girl. “Max says I have to get even with you.”

“Even with me? Why?”

“You punched me. All I did was fart on you. That’s not an even trade.”

“I don’t care. Now leave.”

“Sorry. I have to do this,” Bobbo walked up to Veronica with his fists clenched.

“It’d be a shame if I had to blacken your other eye and maybe knock a couple of teeth out,” Veronica said, not even looking at Bobbo. Bobbo stopped moving and unclenched his fists. “I’m going to that shaved ice stand; do you want to come?” she asked.

“Sure,” Bobbo shrugged.

Bobbo and Veronica walked to the shaved ice stand a few blocks away. They got their ice and sat down on a bench. Bobbo got a grape and blueberry swirl and Veronica got mango. “Why’d you fart on me?”

“It’s weird hearing you say fart,” Bobbo said. “I just did. I had to fart and you were there.”

“That’s not a good excuse,” Veronica said. “Why do we even keep boys around?”

“That’s what Brooke said. Hey, when we’re done here, do you want to go to the comic shop? It’s just across the street. I like looking around at things I can’t afford.”

“Sure, I’m not doing anything.”

Max and Brooke walked by Veronica’s house. “Where’s Veronica?” Brooke asked.

“Where’s Bobbo?” asked Max.

“You don’t think they’re…” Brooke raised her fists and did a boxing move.

“They better not be. Not without an audience. I wonder where they went.”

“I’d say the old quarry. That’s the place to be if you don’t want people watching what you’re doing,” Brooke said.

“How do you know that?”

“It doesn’t matter. Come on, let’s go.”

“Bobbo!” the comic store guy exclaimed when Bobbo and Veronica walked into the store.

“Hey, Jason,” Bobbo answered.

“The new Blast Man is out. Want me to get your copy?”

“Sure, why not. I have the money on me,” Bobbo said.

“Blast Man?” Veronica asked.

“It’s a superhero. He died and was given power to shoot plasma blasts from his hands from the Devil to fight evil,” Bobbo explained.

“The Devil gave him power to fight evil?”

“Yes, in this comic the Devil is good and God is a villain. That’s why Satan was banished from Heaven. God likes watching us suffer,” Bobbo explained.

“How long has this comic been around?”

“Since 1992,” Bobbo took the issue that the comic store guy held back for him. “See? It’s on issue 319. I have every issue.”

“Every issue? All 319?”

“Plus, the 24 annuals, the five specials, the short-lived spin-off series Blast Man Chronicles, the zero issue, the half issue, and the weird Blast Man and Frankenstein graphic novel.”

“Wow,” Veronica gasped. “Can you show me?”

“You want to see my Blast Man collection?”

“Sure,” Veronica shrugged.

“Okay,” Bobbo and Veronica went to the counter to pay for the comic.

“Where’d you get that black eye, Bobbo?” the comic store guy asked.

“She hit me.”

“He farted on me.”

“We’ve looked for them at the old quarry, the abandoned school bus, and the junkyard and there’s no sign of them,” Max said. “This is our last hope.” Max and Brooke stood on the porch of Bobbo’s house. Max knocked on the door. After a few seconds, Bobbo’s mom answered the door.

“Is Bobbo home?” Brooke asked.

“Yeah. He’s in his room with that girl, Veronica.”

“What?” Max and Brooke pushed past Bobbo’s mom and ran toward his bedroom.

“Sure, come on in,” Bobbo’s mom said.

“What’s going on in here?” Max and Brooke charged into Bobbo’s room and saw Bobbo and Veronica sitting on the floor with stacks of comic books sitting around them. “Uh, what?”

“We’re reading. She was interested in learning more about Blast Man,” Bobbo said.

“Weren’t you going to hit her back?” Brooke asked.

“He clenched his fist like he was going to,” Veronica said.

“Veronica talked me out of it.”

“She threatened to blacken my other eye.”

“And knock out teeth. Don’t forget knocking out your teeth. That’s my favorite part,” Veronica smiled.

“So, everything’s good?” Brooke asked.

Bobbo and Veronica looked at each other. They both shrugged. “Yeah, we’re good,” they said in unison.

"Well that’s…lame…” Max sneered.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Comic Comics #1: Superman: Identity Crisis

The covers to "Identity Crisis" by (clockwise from
top left) Alan Davis & Mark Farmer, Dave Johnson,
Kieron Dwyer, and Howard Chaykin.
One of my favorite Superman stories was a four-part story that appeared in each Superman title with a July 1996 cover date. What's interesting is that none of the issues were done by the regular creative team. It was special guest month and I'm fairly certain the regular team was unavailable because of the death of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel in January.

In "Identity Crisis", Brainiac puts himself in Superman's body and proceeds to...learn everything he can about everything. This was the first story that made me write a letter to the editor. It actually saw print in Action Comics #727 and, well, let's just say I've grown as a writer since then.

"Identity Crisis" was written by Tom Peyer and Mark Waid; penciled by Chris Renaud, Curt Swan, Steven Butler, and Chris Marrinan; inked by Dick Giordano and Pam Eklund; lettered by Albert de Guzman; colored by Glenn Whitmore and separated by Digital Chameleon; and edited by Mike McAvennie and KC Carlson. As always, Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

We open on Superman saving a girl from getting splatted on the highway while trying to vandalize a sign with her friends. We then cut to Brainiac, as Milton Fine, at a psychiatric hospital getting treatment when he escapes his bonds and goes looking for a fellow 15-year-old resident who thinks he's Superman--Chas Cassidy. Creating a distraction to lure Superman to the hospital, Superman does arrives and Brainiac creates a mindswap putting Superman's consciousness into Chas and Brainiac's consciousness into Superman's. Believing even more now that he is Superman, the doctor sends Chas to electroshock therapy.
Chas and his friend, Aminah.
Superman to the rescue!
Whoops! Spoke too soon.
After the therapy, Chas' friend Aminah takes Chas/Superman up to the roof for a few minutes of "freedom." He actually kinds of convinces her that something's wrong before the evil orderlies, who like to beat up on the younger patients, arrive. The next day, Chas is able to place a call to Lois Lane but when she arrives at the hospital, Chas/Superman is unable to figure how to convince her what has happened so he fakes a seizure and she leaves.

Brainiac, meanwhile, is trying to figure out how he can gain access to as many people as possible. Using Superman's senses, Brainiac decides to address the nation on television. Chas, not able to wait around anymore, decides to escape. Unfortunately, one of the mean orderlies finds him and Aminah and runs to catch them, slipping on the wet roof and falling to his death. A security guard sees this and let's the hospital know that Chas has escaped and that he killed an orderly.
Aminah shows Chas the world.
Looks like Chas/Superman has gotten himself into a sticky situation.
To her credit, Lois does feel that something isn't right with the call she got from the hospital or with Superman--as Superman would never address the nation on TV like he's a president or king. Lois goes to WGBS to talk with him. Instead, Brainiac goes on TV, reveals a giant dome has been placed over Metropolis and proceeds to hypnotize the citizens of Metropolis. This includes Lois and everyone else who could help Chas so he's on his own to defeat Brainiac who has secured himself inside LexCorp Tower.

Just like now, only without phones in our hands.

Brainiac's plan is very strange. His goal is to collect all known knowledge but Superman's brain, while not a terrible vessel, still has its limitations so Brainiac is using the people of Metropolis to store the excess information. It's an odd plan especially coming off his illusion that Superman is still dead just a year prior. Anyway, Chas makes it into LexCorp Tower but is immediately confronted by Brainiac. Now, instead of just killing Chas, Brainiac throws him out the window but then flies down and saves him. That act causes Chas to realize that Brainiac is not the only conscious in Superman's body. Brainiac needed Chas to make Superman seem more like Superman.

Brainiac takes a look inside Chas--at why he has seizures and sees his abusive and distant parents and Superman on the TV. Chas escaped into Superman. While Brainiac is lost in Chas' mind, Chas is able to switch everyone back to normal. Superman and Brainiac duke it out real quick before Chas figures out how to reverse Brainiac's plan and sends all the information into Brainiac rendering him the smartest being in the known universe and just as helpless.

In the epilogue, Superman deduces that since Chas wasn't having seizures when he was in Superman's body, then they must be due to a chemical imbalance. Chas is wheeled into surgery and everyone lives happily ever after.

This would be Brainiac's last appearance for nearly three years. He would return in Superman: The Doomsday Wars having gotten Doomsday's body from the end of time but he was defeated trapped in another body, Brainiac 2.5. This story also takes place when Clark and Lois have separated and are no longer engaged. We never see Chas again but all-in-all it's a decent story and if you are able to, worth a purchase if you find them in the back issue bin.

This story was originally published in The Adventures of Superman #536, Action Comics #723, Superman: The Man of Steel #58, and Superman #114. Published and copyright 1996 DC Comics.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Tank N Tummy #18

Harvey came into the store carrying a box. He saw Lauren standing at the counter. “Where are Idiot and Moron?” he asked.

“They’re in the office with Ned and New Guy,” Lauren answered.

“Good. You’re all here. Come with me. I have task for you.”

“We aren’t going to try to smuggle something over the border again are we?” Lauren asked.

“Hey. This country was built by immigrants,” Harvey said.

“I agree but I just don’t think they should be brought here in a windowless truck through a hundred degree desert,” Lauren said. “I still have nightmares.”

“Idiot should’ve drove faster,” Harvey and Lauren went into the office. “Idiot, Moron, New Guy, my entrepreneur brother-in-law is looking at kid’s games to import. He wants me to help him test one out and since you three are the closest to children that I know, you will do it.”

“What do we have to do?” Dominic asked.

“Play with this all day and let me know what you think,” Harvey handed Dominic a small burlap toy. It was heavy and the cheap burlap made Dominic’s hand itchy.

“What is it?” Aaron asked.

“Wacky Sack,” Dominic read. “From the makers of Joey Shank and Bag O’Glass.”

“You squeeze it and it starts counting down. After a while, it goes off and whoever is holding it is the loser. Well, more of a loser,” Harvey explained.

“So it’s like a hot potato,” Ryan said.

Dominic squeezed it and the Wacky Sack started ticking and making a strange “Guh” sound. “Why does it make the same noise as Ryan during sex?”

“Ha ha. Here. Toss it,” Ryan held out his hands. Dominic threw the Wacky Sack and Ryan caught it. Ryan immediately threw it to Aaron who threw it back. Ryan then threw it back to Dominic. The three of them kept passing it to each other until it began whooping and vibrating in Aaron’s hand. For some reason it made him laugh which made the other two laugh.

“Aaron’s out,” Dominic said. “Let’s go into the store so we have more room to throw.”

“You know you are still at work,” Ned said as the three of them left the office with the Wacky Sack.

“Ned. How are the raises coming?”

“End of the day. Promise.”

“It better be done,” Harvey wagged his finger and left the office.

“Raises?” Lauren asked.

“Harvey wants me to figure out who gets a raise but he has very specific considerations,” Ned pulled a piece of paper out of his desk drawer. “See? Everyone gets a raise except Alice because she will happily work no matter what. Everyone else is graded on how much Harvey likes them, their work performance, and sales they bring in.”

“Sales? He’s seriously using customer traffic to figure out our worth?”

“He believes there should be a steady stream of people in this store all day every day. If no one is coming in at three in the morning then you need to figure out what you are doing wrong,” Ned said.

“The way that some companies treat employees should be a crime,” Lauren said. Suddenly, the Wacky Sack flew into the office and landed on Ned’s desk, knocking over his coffee. It was still making its “Guh” sound. Ryan ran in, laughing like an idiot to retrieve the Wacky Sack. As he was leaving the office, the Wacky Sack began whooping and vibrating causing Ryan to laugh harder. Lauren looked at Ned. “Although sometimes I get it.”

Ned and Lauren were still in the office working on raises and they could still hear the “Guh!” of the Wacky Sack being thrown around the store. “Can you believe they got customers to play with them?” Ned asked.

“Really?” Lauren was astonished. “How do they stay employed here?”

“I think Harvey likes them,” Ned said.

“Likes them? He doesn’t even know their names. He always calls them ‘Idiot’, ‘Moron’, and ‘New Guy’. Aaron’s been here for a year. We were hired after him,” Lauren pointed out.

“I think those are terms of endearment,” Ned shrugged.

“But their employee files are under Idiot, Moron, and New Guy,” Lauren held up the files that were on the desk.

“I still think they are terms of endearment,” Ned commented.

“Speaking of terms of endearment, how are things with MaryJane?” Lauren asked.

Ned and MaryJane’s relationship had entered its second month which was almost two months longer than anyone expected. “It’s fine,” Ned bobbed his head. “I think the honeymoon period is over. She’s thumbing through her Tinder and Grindr again.”

“MaryJane has a Grindr?” Lauren asked. “I haven’t known MaryJane for long but she never struck me as the relationship type. Even Dominic and Ryan were baffled by your relationship.”

“Gee, thanks. That’s great to hear,” Ned said, sarcastically. “No, I get it. Everyone told me and even MaryJane warned me. I figure that I might as well just enjoy what’s happening and just play it out. I do like MaryJane so it’s not like I’m unhappy.”

“Well, that’s good. I…”

A loud crash occurred in the store. Ned and Lauren jumped up and ran out of the office. Shelves had been knocked over after a customer jumped to catch the Wacky Sack. Dominic and Ryan helped the man up. “Are you okay?” Dominic asked.

“Yeah, I’m good. That was awesome,” the man exclaimed. “Sorry about your aisle.”

“No problem,” Ryan waved it off. The Wacky Sack then went off and everyone playing--Dominic, Ryan, and Aaron, and four customers--laughed hysterically. “Alright, next game.”

“Wait. You can’t play that in here anymore. It’s distracting and now it’s causing things to break,” Ned said. “You can’t play with the Wacky Sack in the store anymore.”

“Okay. That seems fair. Let’s go up on the roof,” Dominic suggested.

Everyone agreed ecstatically.

“Really?” Ned raised his arms in defeat.

Dominic, Ryan, Aaron, and about six customers, now, were on the roof of the Tank N Tummy. Everyone took a position on the roof. “Okay, keep the Wacky Sack away from the sides of the roof, nothing fancy that will cause someone to fall over the edge, if you’re out stay by the air conditioning unit,” Dominic threw out some rules. He squeezed the Wacky Sack and it started to “Guh!” “Let’s go,” he said and tossed the Wacky Sack to one of the customers.

The Wacky Sack was passed around the roof from person to person. They were all yelling and shouting at each other as they tried to distract each other and get the Wacky Sack to another person before it went off. When it did, one of the customers was holding it. He passed the Wacky Sack to Aaron and went to the A/C unit. The game started back up again.

This time Aaron lost and joined the customer at the A/C unit. Another customer got out and joined them. Another game started up. “Hey, what the hell is going on?” someone called from the ladder.

“We’re playing with a Wacky Sack,” Ryan called from the game.

“It’s like a hot potato,” Aaron filled in.

“Well, can someone come down here? I wanna get some cigarettes,” the guy yelled.

“Lauren’s down there,” Dominic said.

“I don’t know who that is. All I know is that I want some cigarettes and no one is at the register.”

“Give us a minute and we’ll be down,” Dominic said.

“Screw that. Come down now and pick up your stupid game later.”

“Give us a minute,” Dominic demanded and caught the Wacky Sack. Before he could throw it, it went off.

“You suck.”

“It’s not a talent game, it’s a game of chance. It all depends on luck,” Dominic said.

“You weren’t fast enough. You suck,” the man pointed angrily.

“Come up here and say that. We’ll see who sucks,” Dominic said.

“You’re on!” the man climbed up the rest of the ladder and got on the roof.

“One-on-one. Whoever is holding the Wacky Sack when it goes off is the loser,” Dominic explained.

“We all know how to play,” the man angrily responded.

Dominic squeezed the Wacky Sack and tossed it to the man. They passed it back and forth, throwing it high, low, fast, slow, just off center. After a while, the man caught the Wacky Sack and then threw it as hard as he could into the backyard of a house in the neighborhood behind the gas station.

“Aw, crap. That’s old man McGuirk’s yard,” Aaron said.

“We’re not getting that Wacky Sack back,” Ryan sighed.

Harvey walked into the store. “Idiot. Moron,” he looked around and saw Aaron at the back freezers. “New Guy. How did you like Wacky Sack?”

“We all really enjoyed it. Sadly, we lost it. Someone threw it in a fit of rage and we couldn’t get it back.”

“No problem. My brother-in-law isn’t going to import the Wacky Sacks. Apparently the burlap causes third degree burns if held too long and many of the Wacky Sacks have tick eggs inside them.”

“Third degree burns? So it’s literally like a hot potato?” Aaron laughed.

Harvey laughed as well. “Ha, ha! You’re funny,” Harvey walked past Dominic, Ryan, and Aaron and went into the office where Ned and Lauren were still working. “You have the raises all figured out?”

“Yeah. We just got done.”

“Excellent,” Harvey glanced over the list. “You didn’t put yourself on here. You don’t want raise. Way to sacrifice,” Harvey turned and left.

“No, I want a...Oh, farts. Oh, well. Thanks for helping me today.”

“No problem, Ned. I should go help the guys with what my actual job is.”

“Yeah, I have a couple other things to do and then I’m going to head out. Thanks again.”

“You’re welcome,” Lauren went out into the store and went behind the counter. “What the…? That shelf is still knocked over?”

“Yeah. We saved it for you,” Ryan said.

“Me? You guys knocked it over,” Lauren argued.

“Technically it was knocked over by a customer and we clean up the mess customers make,” Aaron said.

“And since you’ve been, well, not doing your job all day today, we thought this could be the one thing that you do today,” said Dominic.

“Yeah, I gave you three too big of raises,” Lauren muttered to herself.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Liberty #2: All Star

“A-W-E. S-O-M-E. Awesome, awesome’s what we are, we’re the reigning football stars,” the cheerleaders sang as they practiced on the football field. The girls began to get in formation to throw their two head cheerleaders into the air.

“Don’t drop me this time,” Kaitlyn Danvers snarked as she got between two other girls and put her arms around their shoulders. The first time they practiced this, they had dropped her as soon as her feet were off the ground. They argued it was better to drop her then than opposed to when she was up in the air. Kaitlyn still told everyone that they made out in the locker room after practice.

Within seconds, Kaitlyn was up in the air, being held by the other two girls. Then, in synchronization, Kaitlyn jumped as the others pushed and she went up into the air, twirling as she did but instead of falling down, she hovered. The other girl was already back down to Earth and looking up at Kaitlyn with the rest of them. Kaitlyn then opened her eyes, realized she was still in the air, then fell to the ground.

She landed hard and the other girls were afraid she was injured or dead but Kaitlyn easily got up and got in their faces. “What the hell? Why didn’t you catch me?”

“You…You were floating in air. Didn’t you notice that?” they said. “Are you okay? You hit the ground pretty hard.”

“Kaitlyn. Oh, dear. Are you okay?” the coach ran over to her. “Are you hurt? Anything broken?”

“No. I need to new people to throw me into the air and catch me,” she sneered.

“We’ll see. Why don’t we call practice early? Head into the locker room and get washed up.”

In the locker room, Kaitlyn changed from her cheerleading outfit and into her normal clothes. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Annie came up to her. “You landed pretty hard.”

“I’m fine. I didn’t even feel it.”

“That’s even weirder,” Annie said.

“I’m fine,” Kaitlyn said angrily. “If Ashley and Britta had caught me, I wouldn’t have landed hard on the ground.”

“You were floating in mid-air,” Annie said. “That’s why no one was able to catch you.”

“I wasn’t floating. I was just launched too high so it just looked like I was floating.”

“We all know what we saw, Kaitlyn.”

“I wasn’t floating. Now, leave me alone,” Kaitlyn slammed her locker shut causing the row to tip over. Everyone looked at the lockers now on the floor. “I…” Kaitlyn
stammered and then turned and ran away.

Kaitlyn arrived at home where her parents were in the kitchen doing dishes. She assumed they were doing more than doing dishes before the door opened because why were they in the kitchen doing dishes together when they had a dishwasher at five in the afternoon? “Hi, Kaitlyn. How was practice?” Mary, her mother, asked, handing a plate to Harold, her father, to put into the dishwasher.

“My group dropped me,” she scoffed with a mixture of anger and sarcasm as she opened the refrigerator to grab a bottle of tea. “Idiots were paying attention to something else and couldn’t be bothered to catch me.”

“Were you hurt?” Harold asked?

“She’s here and she’s walking so she must be okay,” Mary said.

“Yeah, I’m fine. It didn’t hurt and didn’t feel a thing when I landed,” Kaitlyn said, cracking open her bottle of tea and taking a drink.

Harold and Mary looked at each other. “Do you think…?” Mary asked.

“She’s not paralyzed or dead.”

“Didn’t feel a thing,” Mary shrugged.

“Are you guys having a stroke?” Kaitlyn sneered.

“Think we should tell her?” Mary asked.

“If she wants to know,” Harold turned away from Mary and looked at Kaitlyn. “Kaitlyn, do you want to go somewhere with me tonight?”


“You don’t have to,” Mary said. “We just think you need to know and it will explain why you fell from twenty feet in the air and didn’t feel a thing.”

“It was just a fluke. I landed just right or something,” Kaitlyn waved and turned around to leave. “I don’t need to go hang out with my dad to know what happened. I was

As Kaitlyn left the kitchen, a coffee mug flew across the room and hit her in the head. It shattered on impact and the pieces fell to the floor. “Harold, don’t throw coffee mugs at our daughter,” Mary huffed. “What if our thoughts about her were wrong?”

“What the hell?” Kaitlyn turned back around to look at her parents and then down at the pieces of the coffee mug.

“She’s my girl so I didn’t really think they were wrong,” Harold smiled.

“You threw a coffee cup at me?” Kaitlyn yelled.

“But you barely felt it, right?” Harold asked.


“I think you need to come with me tonight.”

Harold and Kaitlyn climbed the stairs to the top of an apartment building downtown. There was an elevator but Harold said it didn’t go up to the top floor. When they got to the top, the stairs ended at a giant steel door. “What are we doing here? What is this?” Kaitlyn asked.

“I needed a place to go—to separate my home life from my other life,” Harold said as he punched in a code and the door opened up. It looked like a laboratory behind the door. It took up the entire top floor. Kaitlyn wondered if the tenants living below knew this was here.

“Other life? Are you a mad scientist?” Kaitlyn joked as she looked around the lab. “What are we going to do tonight, Dad? Try to take over the world?” she giggled.

When she turned back to Harold, he had pulled his shirt open to reveal a blue uniform with a giant gold star on his chest. As he removed the rest of his civilian clothes, he revealed the rest of his blue uniform and flowing yellow cape. “I’m Captain Starman.”

Kaitlyn rolled her eyes. “I knew it.”

“No you didn’t,” Harold argued.

“You are all over the news. I know what my own father looks like even with that stupid mask.”

“Your mom was iffy on the mask, too. Yet she demanded the cape.”

“Capes are cool. Anyway, why are we here?”

“Well, to tell you that I’m a superhero and, based on what you experienced today, you have powers, too.”


“I threw a coffee cup at your head and it shattered but you barely felt it touch you,” Harold said. “And I called your cheerleading coach about your fall today and you were floating in the air before the crashed down to Earth. You can levitate. You can fly.” To show her, Harold levitated a couple feet off the floor.

“I can fly?” Kaitlyn looked at her father and then at her feet. With limited concentration, she was able to levitate just like him. She went higher and then shifted her body so it actually looked like she was flying. “Oh my God, this is amazing. How are you…we…this way?”

“It’s the same old story. Strange visitor from another planet, a part of a space police force assigned to this planet, fell in love with an Earth woman, and had a wonderful little girl,” Harold explained. “We weren’t sure you had powers but always kept that thought in the back of our minds.”

“So what now?” Kaitlyn asked.

A light began flashing on a screen on the large screen against the wall. Harold looked over and frowned. “There’s a robbery in progress at Central National Bank. Want to come with me?”

“Last one there is strange visitor from another planet,” Kaitlyn laughed and quickly flew out the window. Harold, a couple seconds later, followed.

If you would like to support my writing or research, you can buy me a cup of coffee on Ko-Fi.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Gyrbynerjk #2

Brian walked into the main room of the satellite with a towel around his waist, a towel wrapped around his head and wearing a robe. “Hey, Barry, I have a question.”

“What’s up?” Barry answered.

“Where is the shower?”


“Something to clean myself with. Water, soap. I’ve been up here a week and I’m getting pretty stanky,” Brian sniffed his armpit.

“I don’t think there is one,” Barry said. “Dr. Anderson is evil so he probably didn’t put one in.”

“Mm. I’m gonna start getting itchy if I don’t get a shower,” Brian said. A light started blinking on the console. Brian pressed a button. “Hey, Dr. Anderson. Did you really not build a shower in here?”

“A shower? You have a sink that recycles your urine to give you water and that’s all you’ll get,” Dr. Anderson yelled. “Now, I’m sending you a classic board game where you judge people based on how they look. It’s the mystery face game: Guess Who.”

“Guess Who? I love Guess Who,” Brian smiled at Barry. “Wait. My drinking water is made from urine?”

“Guess Who is a simple game where you try to guess which character the other player has,” Brian began explaining. He shuffled the character cards and tipped over the character portraits on the board. “You use physical characteristics to narrow down who you think the other person has. Barry, would you like to play?”

“Sure. Why not?”

Brian picked a couple of cards and then stuck them in the card holder. “Now, you can ask just about anything. Eye color, hair color, face shape. Barry, does your person wear glasses?”

“What if they were contacts?” Barry asked.

“We don’t know that. They either wear glasses or they don’t.”

“Okay. They don’t,” Barry answered.

Brian knocked down all the characters who wear glasses on his board. “Now you ask me a question.”

“All right. Does your person have crippling depression?”

“Like wearing contacts, we don’t know that either,” Brian replied.

“Have you really looked at Herman?”

Brian got closer and squinted at Herman, a balding redhead with a huge nose. “Huh. Well, still, it has to be a physical characteristic.”

“Oh. Does your person…I don’t know, wear a hat?”

“No. Is your person Frans?”

“No. Wait, can we do that? Just ask if the person is that person?”

“Not really? I just don’t like looking at Frans.”


Brian closed his eyes, seemingly in pain. “Hey, Brian,” said a voice from dead in Brian’s brain. It was a slightly goofy voice with a German lilt to it. “Howzitgoing?”

“It’s fine, Frans,” Brian hesitantly answered.

“Wanna touch tips?”

“NO!” Brian screamed, startling Barry.

“What the hell?”

“Sorry, Barry. Frans is just…something I have to deal with.”

“Is your person Frans?”

“No. I’d rather die,” Brian snapped back. “Okay, does your person have a big nose?”

“What constitutes a big nose? I mean, clearly Peter and Max have big noses but what about Anne and Bernard?”

“They have big noses. It either is or isn’t.”

“This isn’t as fun as I thought,” Barry said. “Does your person have blue eyes?”

“Uh, no.”

Barry looked through his characters. “Wait a minute. Only six people have blue eyes. Everyone else has brown. That makes asking about eyes completely worthless.”

“Does your person have facial hair?”

“Facial hair? That gets rid of nearly everyone on my board,” Barry exclaimed.

“Narrowed it down to five,” Brian gloated.

“Uh, I don’t know. This is so stupid. Is your person a soulless ginger?”

“It’s 2019, are ginger jokes still funny?”

“I don’t think they were ever funny. Humans just like mocking people they feel are beneath them,” Barry said. “Now does your person have red hair or not?”


Barry knocked down two more characters. “That was a stupid question.”

“Does your person have long hair?”

“Argh. Yes,” Barry grumbled.

Brian knocked down George and Eric leaving only three women—Anita, Maria, and Susan. “Your person is clearly a female.”

“Mm,” Barry grumbled again. “Does your person have a beard?”

“Not going facial hair?” Brian asked.

“I have a plan.”

“My person does have a beard,” Brian nodded approvingly.

Barry knocked down several characters leaving only three—Philip, David, Richard. “Checkmate.”

“Does your person have a hat?”


“Damn,” and Brian knocked down Maria.

“Let’s see. I gotta make this count,” Barry sighed. “Does your person…have red cheeks?”


“Your person is Philip,” Barry smugly said.

“You got me. Is your person Susan?”

“Yes,” Brian took the character and threw it down.

They sat in silence for nearly a minute. “So that killed, what? Ten minutes?”

“Yeah, you have to play about three to five games before any time starts being killed,” Brian said. “It’s a good game for younger people but once you enter puberty, it’s
kind of boring.”

“You could, however, give each character a backstory and have the players figure out the character from that. Like Bill. Bill once tried to get microfibers like Donald Trump to hide his baldness but it was too expensive and who wants hair like Donald Trump?”

“I guess you could do that but I feel that if you have to start giving the players character information sheets then you might as well just play Dungeon and Dragons.”

“True, true. So tell me more about Frans.”


That night, Brian was lying in bed, just moments away from falling asleep. “Hey, Brian…” a goofy voice echoed in his head. Brian rolled over and attempted to force the voice back to the back of his head. “Brian…”

Brian’s eyes snapped open. The voice wasn’t coming from his head. “Hello?” he called into the darkness.

“Hey, Brian. Do you wanna touch tips?”

“I don’t even know what that means. Who asks someone that?”

“An ignorant young man curious about his sexuality,” the voice said. “You told everyone. You made me a laughing stock. Because of that, we’re going to touch tips. Touch tips forever!” The Frans card appeared around the corner holding a knife.

“What the hell?” Brian screamed and scrambled out of the bed. “I’m sorry. I’m not like that anymore. I was a stupid teenager and I understand the damage I did. Please, Frans. I’m sorry.”

The card lunged at Brian, who dodged relatively easily. “You’re trapped on a spaceship, Brian. There’s no running away from me.”

“You’re just a playing card. This isn’t really happening,” Brian ran out of the room and into the main part of the ship. Barry was powered down near the console. “Barry, wake up. We have a problem.”

He slowly powered on. “Hey, Brian, what’s going…What the hell is that?”

“The Frans card came to life and now it’s trying to kill me,” Brian explained.

“Oh, I’m not trying to kill you. I’m gonna chop your tip off. Touch tips forever!” the Frans card declared again. Another lunge and both Brian and Barry dodged. “You can’t escape me,” the Frans card began laughing maniacally.

Brian and Barry ran to another room and shut the door. There were only three rooms on the ship. They could still hear the laugh coming from the Frans card. “I can’t believe that I’ve been on this thing for a week and I’m already going to be killed,” Brian said to Barry in a hushed tone.

“He clearly just wants your tip. Just give him your tip,” Barry said.

“It doesn’t just come off, Barry.”

“Well, then, just let him cut it off. How much could it hurt?”

“I don’t really want to find out.”

The door flew open. “Guess who?!” Frans exclaimed and slashed at Brian.

Brian grabbed Frans and began wrestling with it and ultimately knocking the knife away. Brian began pinching the card between fingers and moving his hands apart. The card ripped in half and Frans went silent. Brian breathed heavily. “Does your person have a giant rip across his face?” Brian asked.

If you would like to support my writing or research, you can buy me a cup of coffee on Ko-Fi.