“So what’s your mom’s book about, Flower?”
“It’s a tell-all about the time she worked as the Council’s stenographer. There’s a lot of dirt in there.”
“Are we in it?”
“It ends when Mom and Thundergirl announce their pregnancies so I guess we are, at least as fetuses.”
Vixen giggles. I love when she does that because she only does it for me. She’s my best friend, and one of a very few people who are totally unaffected by my power to fade into the background. While she’s parking the Foxwagen I realize where we are.
“The mall, Vix? It doesn’t open for another hour.”
“We’re here on business, Wallflower. While we were busy playing sleepover like ten-year olds, somebody broke into B&N and stole every copy of Council Confidential. Your mom called my mom, and here we are.”
The security guard lets us in the bookstore. Sure enough, two hundred copies of mom’s book are missing. In their place is a jack-in-the-box, PrankMeister’s calling card.
Vix winds it up. PM is a C-lister, barely more than a vandal, and unlike other famous clowns he’s not a psychopath.
The ‘box pops up and says, “Flowers are pretty, violets don’t bend, I kidnapped the books, and you’re up next my friend.”
Kidnap my mom? Why would he do that? It’s totally off character for him. Vix seems to be thinking the same thing. We race to the Foxwagen and drive to my home.
The super’s lying unconscious in a pool of confetti on the front step of the building. Vix alerts EMS and then we take the elevator up to the seventh floor.
When we get there the living room looks like the site of an epic battle between Clowns and Librarians. There are books and toys everywhere and Mom’s lying on the floor bound and gagged with party streamers.
She shakes her head ‘no’ as I rush to her. I stop when I hear a voice behind me.
“Hello, Wallflower; it’s been a long time.”
He’s about forty with a bit of a paunch, dressed like a black biker except for his clown-paint face and pink afro. I can see why he’s considered public enemy number one by both the NAACP and GQ.
“We’ve never met, weirdo.”
“Sure we have! Nineteen years and thirty-nine weeks ago, to be precise. Happy birthday, baby girl!”
My jaw drops. “You’re my…”
“I believe the word you want is ‘father’, dear. Anyway, I just stopped by to drop off your present; gotta run now. You should save your friend.”
Vixen is being mobbed by animated toys. They’re not much of a threat but by the time we’ve stopped them all and untied Mom, PrankMeister’s long gone.
“Mom, is he really…?”
She nods, “I made him promise not to say anything.”
“Why? It’s obvious I’m mixed race; so’s the President.”
“It’s not that. The whole villain-hero thing wasn’t really sorted out back in the 90’s. I didn’t want you to be stigmatized by his choice. This year we decided, since you’ve taken up an ‘alternative’ lifestyle, …”
“Mom, Vixen and I are friends. There’s nothing sexual about it.” Well, not from Vixen’s point of view.
“She gave you a ring!”
“What? No she…” I whirl toward Vixen, who’s looking really embarrassed. She’s holding a tiny box with two rings in it, each set with half a ruby heart.
“They’re friendship rings, one for each of us. You’re the other half of my heart, Rose. Happy birthday.”