Mark Budman ~ Super Couple

  1. Soupmann is Superman’s third cous­in twice removed. Unlike his rel­a­tive, Soupmann set his pri­or­i­ties log­i­cal­ly and suc­cinct­ly. He fights for truth and jus­tice, and some­times for truth and the American way, and some­times for jus­tice and the American way, but not for all three at once. Otherwise, he’d be stretch­ing too thin. He goes into a phone booth and turns into chick­en soup. He smoth­ers the bad guys and nour­ish­es the vic­tims. Despite the soup being chick­en, Soupmann is not Jewish. He has two Ns at the end of his name. He’s not even human. He’s out of this world. He is a Kryptonian, and the soup is flu­o­res­cent-green. 10% kryp­tonite and 90% secret ingre­di­ents. No one knows how it tastes, because who­ev­er tast­ed it is either dead or turned mum with awe.

  1. Soupmann meets Saltwoman at a Superman’s par­ty for super-weirdos. She is Superman’s sec­ond cous­in thrice removed. She goes into a phone booth and turns into kosher salt because she is kind of Jewish, in a very reformed, Kryptonian way. Also, the kosher salt’s prop­er­ties make it eas­ier to sprin­kle it on bad guys. She rais­es their blood pres­sure. She is dan­ger­ous in high dos­es, but zesty in small. Her par­ents thought she was salt of the earth, er, of Krypton.
  1. They first meet when he is in his soup form. She falls all over him in her salt form. They fall in love. It’s zesty. They get mar­ried. Superman and Spiderman are guests of hon­or. A rab­bi and a priest offi­ci­ate. After the cer­e­mony, they walk into a full bar. Spiderman acci­den­tal­ly push­es Superman who spills some soup on his cape. Soupmann rubs salt into the wound by telling a Superman joke. Why is Superman’s shirt so tight?  Because he’s wear­ing a size S.  Superman glares at him. Soupmann boils. He’s not sure if mere 10% kryp­tonite can hurt Superman. The guests pan­ic. They expect super trou­ble. They know that the bystanders get hurt in this case while the super­heroes always sur­vive.  Saltwoman gets between Superman and Soupmann and says, “Let’s not fight at my wed­ding. Come on, Superman, let’s dance instead.” Everyone is hap­py, espe­cial­ly the guests who thought they would nev­er get out alive.
  1. Soupmann and Saltwoman coör­di­nate their efforts. The bad guys are unhap­py. They pan­ic. They scream and pull out copi­ous amount of their own and bystanders’ hair. They con­sid­er quit­ting their trade and going into pol­i­tics. But one of them invents cell phones. The inven­tion goes viral. Everyone gets the cells now. The phone booths quick­ly dis­ap­pear. Soupmann and Saltwoman can’t find a place to turn. Without turn­ing, they can’t fight the crime. Soupmann turns sour. Saltwoman crum­bles. They pan­ic.
  1. Saltwoman spends her days spilled all over the car­pet. It’s a bad omen. She is a mess. Soupmann soaks in the tub or, rather, soaks the tub. He pock­marks the enam­el. The bad guys are hap­py. They chat on the cell phones, telling Soupmann and Saltwoman jokes. Saltwoman is a salt with a dead­ly weapon. Hah-hah-hah. What’s so spe­cial about twit­ter alpha­bet soup? It has only 140 let­ters.  Hah-hah-hah. They post on Facebook and they tweet. They give each oth­er likes.
  1. Soupmann has a Eureka moment. He comes out of the bath­room, drip­ping. He’s lost weight and is all bones. “Forget the phone booth. We should go to a Wal-Mart and turn there,” he says. “No one pays any atten­tion to any­one at Wal-Mart. It’s full of weir­does and it’s open 24/7.” Saltwoman pulls her­self togeth­er.
  1. They turn suc­cess­ful­ly in a Wal-Mart. No one pays atten­tion to them though one asso­ciate makes a half-assed attempt to mop them. They resume their fight again. The bad guys are unhap­py. They pan­ic. They form a secret group on Facebook and give each oth­er ‘sad’ emoti­cons.
  1. Soupmann meets Goyawoman in the International Food isle of the Wal-Mart. She’s a spicy beau­ty with a green card. They are hav­ing a one night stand on the emp­ty shelf every night. Saltwoman catch­es bur­ri­tos on Soupmann’s breath. Soupmann con­fess­es. Saltwoman files for divorce. The bad guys are hap­py.
  1. Goyawoman has no pow­ers except for her beau­ty, abil­i­ty to speak 100 words a min­ute, and cook­ing skills. Soupmann gets bored. He goes back to Saltwoman and asks for for­give­ness on his knees. Saltwoman tells him she is preg­nant with twins. She takes him back. They fight the bad guys togeth­er again.  Meanwhile, Goyawoman meets Ramenman. They fall in love. They open a restau­rant “Spicy, Tasty, Confused.”  Perhaps they meant “con­flat­ed.” Everyone is hap­py except for the bad guys. They go through so many cycles of being hap­py and unhap­py that they can’t stand it any­more. The pol­i­tics is sat­u­rat­ed. No new politi­cians are need­ed. So the bad guys reform and join the law enforce­ment.
  1. Saltwoman gives birth to a boy and a girl. They have pow­ers right in the crib. The boy can crawl up the wall and pro­jec­tile-vom­it through steel plates, and the girl can dou­ble the lev­el of lead in Chinese-made paci­fiers to 100%. Saltwoman can’t sleep. What if her kids won’t find the bad guys to fight? They would be bored. There is noth­ing worse than bored superkids. Saltwoman pan­ics. She’s ready to fall apart. Soupmann assures her that the kids’ future is bright. New bad guys are born every day. So, the kids won’t be bored for long. Saltwoman is hap­py. Soupmann and she make love. It’s even tastier than before, tak­en with a pinch of salt.

~

Mark Budman was born in the for­mer Soviet Union. His writ­ing has appeared in Five Points, PEN, American Scholar, Huffington Post, World Literature Today, Daily Science Fiction, Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, The London Magazine (UK), McSweeney’s, Sonora Review, Another Chicago, Sou’wester, Southeast Review, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Short Fiction (UK), and else­where. He is the pub­lish­er of the flash fic­tion mag­a­zine Vestal Review. His nov­el My Life at First Try was pub­lished by Counterpoint Press. He co-edit­ed flash fic­tion antholo­gies from Ooligan Press and Persea Books/Norton.