Tim and the Caped Avenger

By Cecily Nabors

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    Tim Connors took a big bite of his after-school peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich and considered his problem. The Caped Avenger doesn’t really exist, not even in books. How can I do a book report on a book that doesn’t exist?

    He wished he’d been paying attention in class. Then when the teacher asked who his favorite character was, he wouldn’t have blurted out, “The Caped Avenger.”

    “Tell us about the Caped Avenger,” said the teacher.

    “He fights evil,” Tim said, “and has lots of adventures—like the time the mad scientist had a laser gun pointed at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.”

    “Sounds serious,” said the teacher. “What did the Caped Avenger do?”

    “He went up on top of the Capitol dome and set up a special mirror to reflect the laser back at the bad guy,” Tim explained. That adventure was one of his brother Mikey’s favorite Caped Avenger stories.

    “Boy,” said Norman with a sly grin, “I’d sure like to see that book. Why don’t you bring it in, Tim?”

    “I think everyone would like to see it,” the teacher agreed. “Bring it in tomorrow and do a book report on it, Tim.”

    Now Tim understood why Norman had grinned. Norman knew that there was no such book and that the Caped Avenger was just a character in the stories Tim told Mikey at bedtime. Norman knew, too, that Tim would be too embarrassed to tell his teacher. If he did, the whole class would laugh at him.

    Tim looked at his sandwich. As usual he’d eaten the crusts first. The round, white sandwich looked a little like the spaceship whose occupants the Caped Avenger had foiled when they tried to take over the earth. Mikey hadn’t liked that story as well as the one in which the Caped Avenger had captured the dragon that ate all the ornaments off the Christmas tree. Tim had told his brother that story last year after Mikey had accidentally broken a whole box of glass ornaments.

    Carefully Tim bit the sandwich into a rectangle so that it looked like a white book with brown pages. If the Caped Avenger were real, he’d probably consult his book of magic spells to find out how to turn wicked witches into toads—or sandwiches into books for boys who needed them for book reports! Or maybe the Caped Avenger would merely write the book himself. …

    Write the book himself! “I’ll do it!” said Tim. “That’ll show Norman.”

    When Mom and Mikey came home from the store, Tim was hard at work, cutting out magazine pictures that would illustrate a new Caped Avenger story.

    “What’s it about?” asked Mikey, looking at the pictures of a big explosion, an airplane, and a scientific laboratory. “And where are you going to get pictures of the Caped Avenger?”

    Tim paused. He shuffled the pages of the notebook that already had some pictures taped in it, just waiting for the story. Mikey was right. There were no pictures of the Caped Avenger in magazines or anywhere else. Tim knew exactly what he looked like, but he also knew that he could not draw such a daring hero. Suddenly he brightened. “The Caped Avenger has a new cape,” he explained. “It makes him invisible.”

    Mikey’s eyes grew big. “Please, Tim, tell me the story.”

    “Not right now, Mikey. I have to write the whole story for a book report for school tomorrow.”

    The title page was beautiful. THE CAPED AVENGER AND THE BOMB and BY TIM CONNORS were in big, bold letters. But writing the story would have been much easier for the Caped Avenger than it was for Tim. Words that fit together in his mind seemed to get muddled on the way to the paper. His notebook pages became so smudged and sticky that he kept crumpling them up and starting over.

    Tim was still struggling with his book when Mikey sadly went to bed without a story. Tim felt bad. He wished that he could just tell Mikey the story without having to write it down. Telling stories was easier.

    Tim sat up straight. He ran upstairs, rummaged in his closet, then tiptoed into Mikey’s darkened bedroom. “What are you doing?” Mikey asked sleepily.

    Tim put something on the dresser. “Telling you a story. It’s about how the Caped Avenger saved the world when the bad guys stole plutonium. They said they’d blow the earth’s crust apart unless the government gave them eighty spaceships.”

    “Wow!” exclaimed Mikey happily.

    Being careful to speak clearly, Tim launched into his story. By the time the Caped Avenger had been thanked again by a grateful nation, Mikey was asleep.

    Tim took his tape recorder off Mikey’s dresser and carried it downstairs. He rewound the tape and played it back. “Silent and invisible, the Caped Avenger crept past the guards into the secret laboratory,” said his voice. He turned it off and picked up his pencil. Smiling, he wrote it all down, listening to a sentence or two at a time. There would be a book to take to school after all. Tim and the Caped Avenger had won another victory!

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney