by Martin Maenza
At a small bed and breakfast near Catalina, a nicely dressed man with short, cropped reddish-blond hair and bushy eyebrows stepped into the front office. The bell rang as the door closed behind him.
An older gentleman behind the counter looked up from his morning paper. His hair was thinning, and he was dressed in a green polo shirt. “You’re the last of our guests to check out this morning, sir. How did you find your accommodations?”
The man with the red hair frowned slightly. “The bed was just a bit too soft for my taste.” He paused, then added, “And my eggs were a tad too runny.”
The man behind the counter pulled the bill from the file holder and placed it before the patron. “I’m sorry to hear that…” He glanced down at the check-in information. “…Mr. Smith. Is there anything I can do to make it better?”
The younger man began to smile wickedly. “Yes, there is. Kestrel.” As the last word left his lips, the handmade Italian suit began to change form and color to that of a purple body suit with black gloves, boots, and trim. The man’s head was now covered with a purple and black mask. “You can die!”
The now-costumed man leaped over the counter and toppled the man behind it to the floor. His black-gloved hands moved at lightning speed, their razor-sharp-clawed fingers slashing at the innkeeper’s torso, over and over, back and forth, until the small office’s wood-panelled walls were splattered in blood and the carpet floor soaked up the last bit of life running from the body.
The costumed man effortlessly leaped back over the counter. As his feet hit the floor, the costume faded, and the man was once more dressed in his neatly pressed suit. He reached for the bill on the counter, pocketed it, and headed for the exit. Before closing the office door behind him, he flipped the sign in the window to closed and pressed the lock on the knob. He stepped outside into the late morning sun, removed some designer sunglasses from his breast pocket, and put them on. “My, what a beautiful day for a drive,” he said nonchalantly.