Empowered: Act 1, Part 3
Time for Act 1, Part 3 of Empowered! This may be my favorite part so far of Act 1 as it marks the full appearance of The Gemini Brothers! As the glue that binds my two stories together, let’s see if they treat Carl the same way they treated Legno. Why were they so callous with him anyway? Time will tell, but for right now, let’s get this party started:
Licking his wounds, Carl began to slink away. And El, seeing his friend with that all-too-familiar blank stare of disappointment, edged up to comfort him.
“So what happened, killer?” El asked, throwing his right arm around Carl’s shoulders.
“Ah, shit, you know, man. Same ‘ol story. She’s afraid I’d be too much man for her and all that. My cock’s just way too big.”
“I hate it when that happens!” El yelled, throwing back his head. “Come on,” he then gave Carl a slap on the back, “I’ll buy you a drink.”
“You mean the free punch on the table over there?”
“Someone’s salty!” El exclaimed jovially. “Better make it a double.”
“I don’t know, man,” Carl sighed, his voice heavy with regret, “I think I’d rather just kinda head back.”
“It’s only been twenty minutes! Don’t be a bitch,” El chided.
“Oh, shit! I’m a bitch? Now I totally want to stay here and hang out with you.”
“Ah, sarcasm. It’s a wonder why you’re not more popular,” El quipped with a slightly annoyed smirk.
“Whatever, man. You stay; I’ll walk home.”
“You sure? Come on, man. Mingle. The music hasn’t even started yet!”
“Nah, I’m tired anyway,” Carl lied, hoping it’d get El off his back. “Call me tomorrow, alright?”
Accepting defeat, El finally acquiesced to Carl. “You got it, brotha,” he said, half-heartedly.
The two shook and brought it in for a slight hug and parted. “Later, man,” Carl replied as he began to walk away.
“Later,” El responded, saddened to see his friend go.
As Carl began his exit in to the main hallway, he turned back once more to see Spore, still snapping away, and El, who, within seconds, was already in the middle of getting a number from a tall Indian girl whom he didn’t recognize. Carl was always baffled at how easy El made it seem.
He briefly paused, holding the heavy metal door slightly ajar. He closed his eyes, breathed deeply in and out through his nose, turned, and finally walked out.
While moving towards the exit and past the sign in table, all Carl could hope for was to get home in time to watch something decent on Adult Swim. Hopefully, it’d wash the taste of this night out of his mouth.
“If you’re leaving, you can’t come…” a dull, flat voice began to say.
“I know!” Carl yelled as he continued towards the front door. But before he could get very far, he was stopped by Ms. Hawkins, who was unable to find a teacher to help out the band.
“Excuse me, you there!” she called out.
Turning around to see who it was, he met eyes with the principal, who responded, “Oh, Carl, it’s you. Great! Do you have a quick second to help the band set up? They’re running late enough as it is, and I want to get them on stage before everyone starts rioting,” she said with a slightly forced laugh.
“I actually wanted to…”
“Oh, perfect, thank you!” she said, hearing what she wanted to hear. “No good deed and all that, right?”
With a heavy sigh, Carl responded, “Yeah, right. Sure.”
Visibly relieved, Ms. Hawkins replied, “You’re a lifesaver. Listen, I need to get back inside, but they’re out in the parking lot.” Rushing towards the gym entrance and back to chaperoning, she exclaimed, “Thanks again, Carl!” with her voice trailing off as she ran.
Walking outside and making a right towards the parking lot instead of a left to go home, Carl, annoyed, resolved to help these two as quickly as possible and just head the hell back to his house. Seeing the two men with their van filled with equipment, he approached them and unenthusiastically muttered, “Hey, Ms. Hawkins told me that you guys needed some help.”
The two men turned around simultaneously, and Carl was surprised to see their identical features: Both men had shoulder-length brown hair, bright copper-colored eyes, and thin faces painted with three days worth of stubble. They only difference appeared to be which side their hair was parted on.
“Thanks, kid,” the one brother said, “What’s your name?”
“Hello, Carl. I’m Giovanni; this is my brother, Giuseppe.”
“That’s…interesting. Um…” he began, intrigued by their names.
The brothers stared at Carl as he toyed around with something that he was clearly hesitant to ask.
“What can you two…do?” Carl finally blurted, fully understanding the irony of his question.
Part of him was hoping they could do nothing.
With a big grin on his face, Giuseppe, who was clearly elated that Carl had asked that question, exclaimed, “Well, we rock all the boys and girls as the world famous…” he then paused for effect, threw back his head, stretched out his arms, and finished with “GEMINI BROTHERS!”
Carl turned to Giovanni, “Why is he yelling?”
“It’s…” Giovanni then sighed as he closed his eyes and rubbed his face with his hand, “it’s just what he does.”
“Anyway, what I meant was your names don’t describe your powers like everyone else’s.”
Raising his left eyebrow, a befuddled Giuseppe, who up until now was still staring upward with his arms outstretched, brought them to his side and met eyes with Carl. His question to the boy was a mere “What?”
“Your names,” Carl said, speaking more slowly and in a somewhat condescending manner, “what do they mean?”
“Hm,” Giuseppe pondered, “I don’t think we follow.”
Carl shot them a confused look and asked, “How don’t you know how it works?”
The two men turned to each other and shared a smile. Giovanni turned back to Carl and simply replied, “Humor us.”
A look of uncertainty pranced across Carl’s face, but he did as he was asked and explained, “Okay, well, as most people know, before you’re born, doctors are able to detect your power set, and your parents or whoever name you based on that. Like, my brother can hypnotize people, and he’s named Mesmer, and my sister can produce different kinds of EM waves out of her eyes, so she’s called Iris.”
“Giovanni, did you know that?”
“Of course I knew that, Giuseppe. Did you know that?”
“How wouldn’t I know that? Carl, did you know that?”
What the fuck is going on?
“Sorry. It’s just for a second, I thought…”
This never gets any easier.
“…you were like me.”
“Like you how?” questioned Giuseppe
“I…” he breathed in and then let out of heavy sigh, “I don’t have any powers.”
“Are you sure?” Giovanni asked.
“Are. You. Sure?” he asked again, more deliberately.
Mockingly, Carl responded, “Pretty damn sure, man…”
“Maybe you do have powers, and you don’t even realize it,” Giuseppe suggested. “Maybe you have something along the lines of superlative cheese-digesting abilities.”
Carl gave Giuseppe an annoyed stare.
“Lactose supertolerance,” he elaborated.
“Okay, forget it. You two need help bringing this crap in, right?”
“On second thought,” Giovanni answered, looking in to the open van, “I think we can manage.”
“Are you guys for…you know what? Never mind,” he said, throwing his hands up in the air. Facetiously, he added, “Good luck with the show.”
He swiftly pivoted to finally start his long walk back home but was stopped half a moment later.
“Why ‘Carl’?” Giovanni inquired.
Turning his head back slightly, Carl asked, “What?”
“Why ‘Carl’?” questioned Giuseppe this time.
“I really don’t get what you guys are asking,” he said, now completely turned around.
“If your brother is ‘Mesmer’…” started Giovanni.
“…and your sister is ‘Iris’…” continued Giuseppe.
“…then why are you ‘Carl’?” they both finished in unison.
Carl gave a quick, annoyed shrug and hastily responded, “I…I don’t know. My mom just liked the way it sounded. It doesn’t mean anything.”
Again, he tried to walk away but was stopped once more.
“Might be the opposite, don’t ya think?” Giuseppe called out.
“What my brother means is,” Giovanni said, “maybe it’s not that it doesn’t mean anything; maybe it’s that it could mean anything.”
“Still not getting it. Anyway, later. Good talk,” he replied with a sarcastic wave of his hand. He then finally managed to get away, grateful that they didn’t try calling him over for a third time.
Once he was completely gone, Giovanni turned to his brother and said, “At least this one’s not an objektophile, Beppe.”
“True,” Giuseppe said with a nod, “but he’s also not as much fun, Gio.”
Carl looped around the building and started making his trek home. His eyes were pointed downward. His hands were in his pockets. He had that overbearing feeling of depression again.
Upset over being shot down.
Jealous of his best friend.
Angry at himself.
It’s never me. It’ll never be me. I don’t get it. What am I doing wrong? I’m nice. I’m funny. I think I’m good looking.
Whatever. Fuck it. I don’t care.
Fiercely staring at the ground, these thoughts repeated in his head over and again until he got in to his house. He walked in and wasted no time in going up the stairs and collapsing on his bed.
As Carl looked around his room, he saw posters of action stars, statues of superheroes, and bookshelves filled with tales of knights and cowboys and wizards and warriors.
All things he wished he could be.
I hate my life.
TO BE CONTINUED
Solid advice The Geminies gave to Carl, right? But why? What do they care? You’ll find out one day (probably three or four stories down the line…I have a lot planned for you jokers), but for now, just enjoy the ride.
Next week is the Act 1 Finale, and after spending the weekend writing, we may have to bump it up to four (or even five) acts. If you guys keep reading, I’ll keep writing. So let me know how much more you want to see on Facebook or Twitter. And I’m super interested in knowing how this compares to Wood You Be Mine?!