A Tale to Astonish

I composed most of this amazing story about our friendly neighborhood web-slinger and Charlie Brown during my R.E.M. cycles. Told in the Mighty Marvel Way (i.e. without restraint or good taste)!

The Players in order of appearance:

Myself, Charlie Brown, Peter Parker, Sue Storm Mary Jane Watson, and the Silver Surfer.

Manhattan Island.

I was killing time feeding a jukebox in a cozy little place called The Coffee Bean, as Pete and Chuck sat drinking coffee in a booth nearby.  Chuck sat round-shouldered, brooding over his cup o’ Joe, while Pete sat across from him leaning back with his arm slung across the back of the booth.

“I dreamed about that little red haired girl again last night,” Chuck said.  “Every time I see her I act like a bassoon – even in my dreams.”

“I think the word you’re looking for is buffoon,” said Pete.

Chuck’s face flushed.

“Hey, I’ve been there,” said Pete, ” but things turned around when I bought my motorcycle.  You should consider it.”

“I’m only eight—I’m not even old enough to drive,” said Chuck.

“Oh yeah…” said Pete, “Say, how’s that cup o’ Joe?”

“It’s black – bottom-of-the-well, no-hope, end-of-the-world, what’s-the-use kind of black.”

Pete rubbed his temples.  “Tell me about it, kid.  I handled the Lizard with one arm tied behind my back, but I­­ can’t make my utility bill.  If only I had stopped that burglar, I wouldn’t be in this mess,” he said.  “There’s probably a moral hidden away in all that but I’m too tired to worry about it,” he said sipping from his cup.

Chuck mumbled something under his breath, while still peering into the small, black abyss floating in his coffee cup. “Have you ever tried flying a kite?”

Pete cocked his head. “No—at least not in this continuity, but there’s usually a reset around every panel, so I can’t honestly say.  You know how desperate writers get?”

“What do you mean writers?  What are you?  A polytheist?”

“No,” said Pete, “I’m talking about writers and artists – some good, some bad, and some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed.”

It was then that I felt something brush up against me, and suddenly a woman materialized.  At first, she was nothing but a curvaceous contour of dotted lines, but she filled in and very nicely too.

“Cripes Sue! You know how that creeps me out!”

“I know,” said Sue, “but I had to get out of the Baxter Building and away from the plastic man.”

“Trouble with Reed?”

“There’s always trouble with Reed—I can’t figure him out!”

I put my hands gently on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes. “Sue darling, it’s a classic case of sublimation*.”

“You know I never considered it, but now that you mention it—”

Chuck leaned in and whispered: “Hey Pete, what’s sublimation?”

“Look kid, you’re only eight, besides there’s this thing called the Comics Code Authority—I couldn’t explain to you even if I wanted to,” said Pete.

Sue smiled and slipped her arm around my waist.  “Kent, darling?”

“Yes, darling?”

“Remember the night in Central Park when we lay under the stars naked and you told me how much you loved me?”


“Did you mean it?”

“Gosh—probably not,” I said.

“That’s what I love about you – your integrity,” Sue said smiling.

At that moment, Mary Jane coolly breezed through the door.  “Hello, beautiful people!”

Chuck’s jaw dropped.  Standing up in his chair, he pointed.  “THAT’S HER!!!

“Who?” asked Pete.

“Her! The red haired girl!” said Chuck.

“Forget it, kid!  You’re only eight remember?  You can’t even legally drive,” said Pete.

Mary Jane – oblivious to her two suitors – glided past us, making her way to a booth in the back where a silver-skinned being sat, krackling with cosmic energy and brooding over his cup o’ Joe.

Mary Jane slid into the booth beside him. “Hey there!  How’s my little fallen Sentinel of the Spaceways?”

“Too long have I displayed restraint!  Too long have I refused to flaunt my power!” said the Silver Surfer.

“Wow, you seem a little wound up today, Tiger!  How many cups o’ Joe of did you down?” she asked.

“Too many cups o’ Joe have I downed today!”

I lean closed to Sue.  “He seems a touch dramatic,” I said.

“No kiddin’,” Said Sue, “but you’d be dramatic too if they cancelled your book on a cliff hanger.”

“I have her pencil,” Chuck said as he turned to Pete. “She dropped it in the hall.  It even has her teeth marks on it!”

“You wanna know what sublimation is, kid? THAT’S SUBLIMNATION!” said Pete.

“Hey Tiger, how about we go back to my place and unwind?” said Mary Jane as she stroked the Surfer’s cheek with her finger.

The Surfer produced a silver dollar and slammed it to the table.  “No longer will I resist their earthly madness!  No longer mine a lonely voice!”

M.J. and the Silver Sentinel stood up—she slung an arm around his waist and as they strolled out.  “See you later, beautiful people!”

“Good grief!” said Chuck.

“Now what does he have that I don’t?” cried Pete.

“Guys,” said Sue with a smile, “he’s the only surfer in NYC.”

“Spidey-Sense, where were you when I needed you?” I’m going home and bag my comics.” said Pete.

“Sue, wanna come over to my place?” I asked, “I have the new Coltrane record.”

“The one where he sounds like he’s playing broken instruments?” she said.

“Oh no!  The other one!”  I said.

“I love that one!  Let’s go, darling! ” said Sue, “See you around, beautiful people!”

“Nuff said!


*Editor’s Note:  In psychoanalytic theory, sublimation is the theory of diverting or modifying an instinctual impulse (especially a sexual impulse) into a socially acceptable activity.  — Cathartic Kent


2013 Kent Gutschke.  All rights reserved.

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