They say you should never meet your heroes.
But you’ve met a few
None were what they were cracked up to be.
Some had merely cracked.
Not like a statue.
More like an egg.
You didn’t want what was inside
To seep out.
Because you didn’t know the right way to mop it up
And put it back in
And search for in that drawer marked Emergency Hero Repair
For the glue that would make the crack disappear.
But you tried with one.
You had seen him in his glory
Quiet, dignified, drinking beer:
A published author who wasn’t worried about who was paying.
Then you found him broken and
Angry at those who shunned him
Who couldn’t understand why
Partial paralysis and brain-damage had prevented him from being a hero.
He swore he would recover someday, and
He sensed that everything around you had lost its meaning.
He invited you to visit him. He promised beautiful sunsets.
He said he’d put you back together.
The sun sets were beautiful but his maid had quit months ago. The kitchen sink held a leaning tower of dishes and his referigator reeked from spoiled food.
You cleaned his house, mowed his lawn, cooked the food, fetched the mail and marveled how he had learned to drive a car with one hand.
You weren’t speaking properly, he said. He hated your writing.
He told you that you knew nothing about old cars, model airplanes, Swedish furniture, German beer, history, Puccini’s operas, Sibelius’ symphonies, science fiction stories and Raymond Chandler novels.
Could this be why,
You asked yourself as you watched the sun set,
His wife and children
Then, before you had to leave, you saw his car slide down into a lake
You went in, freed him from the car, pulled his head above the water, put his one functional arm around your neck, dragged him to the water’s edge and carried him out.
He said you saved his life, then he yelled at you for not being as astonished as he was,
That you had done something right.
A few weeks later
He said he’d dedicate a book to you.
He was writing again.
You thought you found the glue.
You wrote letters.
He told you the sunsets were even more beautiful and
That book was at the publisher
And would come out, soon.
So you bought a hardcover edition
Saw it was dedicated to someone else.
After a while you read it.
It wasn’t his best.
You decided not to meet any more heroes
Until you became one.