Richard’s hands clasped each other tightly. Sitting at his desk, he studied Grant. His office seemed filled with Grant’s presence. A tiny fan oscillated in the corner, fighting against the summer heat. Joyce had come home quaking with fear earlier in the week. She felt like Grant was intimidating her, and she left it to Richard to address the problem. The pudgy, round man wringed his hands nervously. The stared at the eyes behind the mask; that seemed to be all that was left of the Grant that he hired four years ago.
“Grant,” started Richard. The masked man winced when he heard the name. His large hands clasped the arms of the chair he was seated on. The color seeped out of Richard’s face as he watched the man he knew as Grant stand up, nearly hitting his head on the low ceiling.
“I don’t use that name any more. I am now el Monstruo.” said el Monstruo in a gravelly voice. He felt his anger rising and worked to suppress it. “I see nothing wrong with the way I have been acting. I’m sorry if you think I did something wrong.” Richard smiled and bobbed his head like a horse. Richard was at a loss for words. Fear raced up and down his spine as he looked at el Monstruo’s arms; the shirt’s seams strained to contain the muscle bound frame of the man. The intensity of the moment shattered when both men heard Martha yell for help. El Monstruo crashed out of the office door to see a young man dressed in a polo shirt and a plastic Zorro mask tugging at the cash register’s open drawer.
Crime was not commonplace in the small seaside town of Little Arkham, though it was not terribly unusual for a trust fund punk to try a ’smash and grab’ robbery. Typically, the perpetrator would make off with twenty dollars and might end up getting a talking to by the police. However, the would-be robber that decided to thieve from Joyce and Richard’s Sea Side Shell Shop got much more than he bargained for. El Monstruo vaulted over the counter, kicking the thief in the jaw as he flew through the air. The thief recoiled as he heard the sound of his nose breaking as el Monstruo closed in on him with a right hook and an elbow. The young man threw a punch at el Monstruo, who dodged the punch and grabbed the thief by the forearm. Pulling the thief’s arm, everyone heard a sickening pop; el Monstruo let go of the arm and it dangled lifelessly at the thief’s side.
“Stop Grant!” yelled Richard. Tears dropped from Martha’s face as el Monstruo pulled at the collar of the thief’s shirt and tripped him, dropping him to the ground. El Monstruo buried his knee in his victim’s back and hooked an arm around his neck. El Monstruo pulled back with all his might, bowing the young man’s back unnaturally. Richard ran from the room and back to his office. He’d have to get the police to arrive quickly. When they did arrive, the young man was unconscious on the floor. El Monstruo had belted him hard across the back of his head and sent him into a dark, dreamless slumber. The officer worried that the boy was dead and threatened to arrest el Monstruo.
That night, Richard spoke to el Monstruo.
“I’m sorry, but even though it was a good thing, I can’t have you around. What if you killed him? You surely would have if the police didn’t show up. You’ll probably be charged with assault or something before this is all over. I’m sorry.” Richard waited in silence as el Monstruo’s fist clenched and un clenched.
“It was the right thing to do. What if he was armed, or worse?” replied el Monstruo.
“Nothing like that would happen around here.” insisted Richard.
“Not while I’m around.” interrupted el Monstruo. Richard watched as the man pulled off his green apron and tossed it onto the floor. El Monstruo left without another word or gesture. He walked out into the night, leaving the world he knew far behind.