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The Rise and Fall of Metro Man

by  wahwah

Posted: Thursday, December 4, 2003
Word Count: 1564
Summary: Light hearted tale of a modern day super-hero

If it was good enough for Gotham City, then it was good enough for Fenby. Bobby Mclean had seen enough. Kids had no respect these days. Stealing, mugging and damn near anything else you could think of. No good calling the Police - If they turned up at all, it was always two hours too late. Bobby had taken to the streets of Fenby himself.

Bobby was in his early fifties and had moved down to Fenby from Scotland, when the mines in Fife had closed. He was five feet eight inches tall and around thirteen stone in weight. Not usual super-hero material, though he was still surprisingly strong for his age. Bobby had never planned on getting physically involved in any event. He saw his role as more of a concerned citizen, patrolling in his clapped out old grey Metro, reporting and recording what he saw: fighting crime in his very own way. Sometimes he would move around on foot, wrapped up in an old parka coat.

Bobby had latterly been employed as a security guard in a cereal factory. He would sit outside in his sentry hut, watching the silvery building, standing on stilts over the car park, twinkle as the stone reflected the moonlight. Previously, he had worked observing the town centre CCTV cameras, alerting the police to trouble – and there had been plenty of it. Fenby was a tough place, built as a new town in the fifties; it had attracted economic migrants from all over Britain, and not always the pick of the bunch.

The shifts he worked left Bobby free to patrol the streets at times to suit his purpose. Sometimes, he would talk nicely to his other shift members, who would let him nip out for an hour or two during work. He let them believe he was seeing a married woman, and sometimes he would return the favour and cover for them. However, he could not let them know the truth.

The town had a communal sense of humour though, no denying it. The “Metro Man” craze had started by accident. Bobby had been in town early one Saturday evening and had assisted in the arrest of a shoplifter. Bobby had leapt from his car to point out the unlucky felon, before jumping straight back in his car and heading for home. On another occasion he chased a daylight burglar down a street and reclaimed a video recorder for it’s rightful owner. Next, raising the alarm and foiling a pair of car thieves in the town’s largest car park.

Always, he would get back in his metro and disappear before anyone noted his number plate. Somehow, the small car would manage to escape in a direction not observed by the town’s CCTV cameras. Bobby’s efforts had not gone unnoticed though, and it wasn’t long before the local evening press was asking: just who is Metro Man?

What happened next offended Bobby’s strongly held views on crime and punishment. Before long, every young blood thought nothing of wearing their underpants over their trousers, or charging through town, late at night wearing ridiculous costumes, claiming they were Metro Man. Some comedian had even stolen the huge yellow ‘M’ from the local burger restaurant, to mock up a “Bat sign” for Metro Man. Bobby was not amused.

They couldn’t even grant him this one thing: just take him seriously for once. In the space of a few days, it looked like Metro Man had suddenly gained some marvellous new power to appear in many different places at the same time. It was a slow news week and the local press took up the story with gusto. By Monday, the hunt for Metro man had even reached page 2 of one of the more popular national tabloids.

John Clarke was a detective constable in the local force. He had worked and lived in Fenby for quite some time and knew the area’s characters well. It was for this reason he found himself sitting in front of Detective Sergeant Dave Hamilton discussing Metro Man.

Dave concluded the conversation “We’ve got to get him before he gets himself battered by some psychopath, John.” “Ask the CCTV lads to try and spot him.” “Look for a Parka, not a big red cape, and when you find him, get a squad car out to the silly sod.” “He’s making us a laughing stock”

John duly passed on the message to the staff of the CCTV centre, all of whom he knew quite well. They should be on the lookout for a middle-aged man, wearing a Parka, and possibly driving a Metro car. Not a character that would stand out, that much was obvious. John himself felt a strange kind of admiration for Metro Man, and decided to take an interest. After all, the guy’s heart seemed to be in the right place even if he was a little misguided.

Metro man was found much easier that might have been expected. It happened by chance as many of these things do. One member of staff had actually worked with Bobby McLean in the past as a fellow security guard, before Bobby’s calling to crime busting. Alex, the CCTV man had been bored witless on his middle shift and started to flick around some of the more remote cameras, to see if there was anything to brighten up his evening.

He spotted the car first. In fact, it was the way the car was moving so slowly that attracted Alex’s attention. Perhaps it was a courting couple seeking a secluded spot. Then when the car stopped and its passenger emerged and walked back in the direction the car had come from, the CCTV man knew he had something. The distinctive way the metro driver threw his left foot out while walking, and the Parka. CCTV man asked himself the question: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, came the answer - It’s Bobby McLean. It all fell into place. Following instructions, he gave Detective Constable John Clarke a call, and then settled down for a grandstand view.

Metro man had slowed down for a reason. He had spotted a suspicious looking youth walking with purpose into the roadside bushes. These bushes masked a well-worn mud path, which served as a shortcut into the local supermarket car park. Bobby stopped the car, disembarked and headed back to where the youth had disappeared from view. As he got closer he heard the youth shouting and another female voice that had suddenly started crying for help. He strained to see in the dark, but could only see streetlights flickering through from the other side.

Bobby dashed into the darkness, sharp branches whipping and scratching at his face. He headed towards the sound, heart thudding, down the winding mud path, until he came upon the scene of the crime. The youth was tugging at a handbag, which was still in the clutches of a woman lying on the ground in obvious distress. Bobby had seen the woman being dragged a yard or two, before the youth kicked her in the side. Bobby ran towards the youth shouting. The youth floored Bobby with a vicious punch to the right side of Bobby’s face, before turning and running blindly into the arms of two approaching policemen. One of them being John Clarke.

Back at the station, John Clarke took Bobby aside into an interview room for a word.

“Holy misguided middle aged men, Bobby”. “What were you thinking about?”

“Aye, very funny, Mr Clarke.” Bobby said, staring down at his own shoes.

“Jesus!” “I don’t know whether to give you a medal or throw you in the cells.” “What the hell will your wife think Bobby?”

“She died a couple of years ago, Mr Clarke. Cancer”

“I’m Sorry to hear that Bobby, What about your sons? How old are they now?” John asked, calming down now.

“Ach, they’re in their twenties now, Mr Clarke. I don’t see much of them since their mum went”

“You used to enjoy your allotment when you worked in the CCTV room.” “You keep that up?”

“I lost that as well, Mr Clarke” “Had to stay home and look after the wife, when she was ill.” “I let it go a bit - no time you see, and the council took it off me: neglect, they said”

“Christ Bobby, what can I say?” John paused for while. “You did well tonight mate, but Metro Man has to retire” “You know that don’t you?”

“Aye, Mr Clarke. Consider him gone.” Bobby replied, nursing his black eye and meaning every word.

“On the upside, I think you might have struck gold with the woman you rescued, Bobby. Her family own a string of garden centres and I’m sure she’d put you forward as the next tory candidate for Fenby West, if I asked her nicely.” “I’d bet she could find you something more interesting than sitting in a hut”

“I’d appreciate it, Mr Clarke. I really would”

“Get yourself next door to the Doctor Bobby, then I’ll arrange a lift home for you.”

Bobby left the room a little sheepishly. Detective constable John Clarke rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, before looking tiredly at the WPC standing across the room and asked the question on Fenby’s collective lips.

“Who was that masked man?"