- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.