I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends.
Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? Do they have character arcs? How do they pay their bills, pay their taxes, buy their clothes and food, keep themselves in the manner to which they are so fantastically accustomed? Which one is the hero and which the sidekick? How can they both be sidekicks without a hero to define them? What’s their job description? What do they write on their census forms and which boxes do they tick when filling out a credit card application?
Better to ask what superhero would bear being outshone by them? Better to ask where and when don’t they live? Better to ask why would people bound by such considerations warrant a story, and who are we to decide the significance or otherwise of such things, and how can we ask these questions of them, when we know nothing of why we ask or why we fear not knowing? Better to ask what is a sidekick, if not the everyman complement to the hero, the straight man to the comic, the human face to the masked sociopath, the grounding force to the misunderstood demigod – and who is to say those roles are locked, forever and always, to the same individual in any dynamic? Does that not deny the very concept of dynamism?
Better not to ask, perhaps.
Census forms and credit card applications? Once, when filling out a credit card application, Creepy accidentally wrote a rune of summoning that opened … well, they’ve promised not to tell for the good of the public, but did you ever think Bill Gates was a real person, and that it’s a complete coincidence he and his operating system were both named after things you open to let stuff out (or in)? Where was your precious insistence on the framework of reality then?
Creepy and Hatboy live in a world they never made, by physical laws they never agreed to, eating food they often can’t pronounce and sometimes can’t digest. They rebel against normality not out of trendiness or contrarianism, but because they’ve been taught not to believe in anything they’ve never seen with their own eyes. They make their money by taking advantage of bank errors in their favour, one-time grand opera night seat-sales, and beauty contest second-prize pools. Occasionally, because desperate times call for desperate measures, they even stoop to passing Go.
Their social security numbers are 1-800-BITE-ME and 1-800-BITE-HIM.
Who are these giants striding among the crumbs, wrappers and empty cans of humanity’s dénouement, these enigma-stuffed riddle tortillas sprinkled with a zesty salsa of caffeine and charisma? And where do they get those wonderful toys?
They’re Creepy and Hatboy and Yool, the maddeningly buff Christmas tree who has been here the whole time.
And now you know.