MEANWHILE, THE DREADED EVIL NEURON SHORTSTOP SENT NODDLE BUNGLEDRIP TO FETCH THE SECRET DUMBSDAY WEAPON WHILE HE BOUND AND GAGGED MISS SALLY SCONCE AGAINST HER WILL! HE SLUNG HER OVER HIS SHOULDER AND SNUCK DOWN THE HALLWAY, BUT, BY A STROKE OF GOOD FORTUNE, SMART MAN, FROM WITHIN AN ADJOINING CLASSROOM, SPIED THE NEFARIOUS VILLAIN. HE WAITED UNTIL THE MASKED IMBECILE PASSED, THEN HE LEAPT INTO THE HALLWAY TO CONFRONT HIS ARCH-NEMESIS ONCE AND FOR ALL!
"WHAZZUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP," Smart Man croaked. The Masked Imbecile barely had time to turn around when Smart Man snatched him by his collar and slammed him up against a wall of student lockers. "WHAT'S MY NAME?" he demanded and punched The Masked Imbecile in the mouth. Miss Sally, moaning through her gag, tumbled from his shoulder and rolled away.
The Masked Imbecile was furious. "Your name is obviously something trifling and unimportant," he said with distaste.
Smart Man socked him in the jaw. "WHAT'S MY NAME, PUNK?"
"Do you know how many different ways you're going to die for this?" The Masked Imbecile said, putting his fingers tenderly to his chin. "Ok, I give up. What's your name?"
"SMART MAN! REMEMBER THAT NAME, PUNK. REMEMBER IT BECAUSE IT'S THE NAME OF THE BAD BOY YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE AGAIN, DO YOU? DO YOU?"
"Smart Man," The Masked Imbecile repeated. "So who are you, some kind of a mental case, or did I just hit you over the head last night?"
"I," Smart Man said proudly, "am a superhero. I am the the scourge of stupidity. And I am gonna whup your butt and take you down."
"A superhero? Don't be preposterous. You're wearing a sweater."
"WHAT'S MY NAME?"
"That's it," The Masked Imbecile said and with a quick motion slugged Smart Man in the gut and sent him reeling backward. "So you are my arch-nemesis. I'm disappointed. Deep down inside, I was hoping for a challenge of some kind, but you -- the smartest thing about you is your name. Don't tell me you're the best this city can offer me." He kicked Smart Man in the face, and Smart Man toppled backward on the floor. The Masked Imbecile walked toward him, confident and poised, his cape billowing gently behind him.
"Wherefore the hell are you doing this?"
"Because I want to!"
"You'll never get away with it," Smart Man threatened.
"Of course I will!" The Masked Imbecile declared. "I've got it coming to me!"
"Justice will prevail!"
"Justice will most certainly prevail," The Masked Imbecile agreed, stalking his prey. "Justice will right the wrongs that have been done to me all my life. Justice will tear down those who sneered at me, those who dismissed me as a freak of nature. Justice will render the haughty into sniveling witless jobbernowls."
"Who are you to judge?" The Masked Imbecile sneered. "What do you know of me? What can you possibly know about justice when you know nothing of injustice? Where were you, oh mighty and righteous superhero, when injustice was perpetrated against me? Do you even know what I have lived through, you unsightly dunderpate?"
WHAT MADE NEURON SHORTSTOP SUCH AN AVATAR OF EVIL, SUCH A MALICIOUS SCALAWAG OF SCUMDOM? LET US TURN BACK THE CLOCK 30 YEARS, TO EVENTS SO TERRIBLE THEY DEFY MENTION. LET US ANSWER THAT AGE-OLD QUESTION: WHO IS NEURON SHORTSTOP?
Mrs. Shortstop sagged back in her bed, sweat glistening off her forehead. Her breathing was heavy, but, after an agonizing 56 hours of labor, relief was the dominant expression on her face.
"Call Mr. Shortstop in," the doctor said gravely, holding the newborn in his hands like it was something less than human.
"What is it?" Mrs. Shortstop breathed, worried but too exhausted to show it.
The doctor said nothing until the nurse returned with Mr. Shortstop, who moved quickly to his wife's side and held her hand.
"Your baby is healthy," the doctor began, "but deformed. I've never seen a case like this."
"Is it...bad?" Mr. Shortstop asked, his brow furrowed and his hands clenching Mrs. Shortstop's all the harder.
"Mr. and Mrs. Shortstop," the doctor sighed. "I regret to inform you that your son is born with his pinkies and his big toes...swapped."
MEANWHILE, 30 YEARS LATER....
"And do you know what suffering I endured through my childhood?" Neuron Shortstop raged, his robes flying out in all directions almost as far as his gesticulations. "No!" he rasped. "You do not. You don't know what it's like to have big toes for pinkies and pinkies for big toes. You do not know the constant barrage of ridicule I received from the kids in school. You do not know the horrified looks from the adults, sometimes from even my own parents, who would look upon me and say nothing with their mouths yet say everything with their eyes. 'What is that thing?' they would say to themselves. And though I had the most brilliant mind of my generation, never was I taken seriously. I wasn't the boy wonder who constructed a keychain with a small nuclear warhead on it, oh no! Nor was I the child prodigy who invented the compact disc packaging alternative to that little strip of plastic on the top edge that cannot be removed in less than eight sticky pieces even in the controlled environment of a scientific laboratory! No, I was the guy with big toes for little fingers. Look at this!" Neuron Shortstop slipped off his characteristic gloves from his hands.
Smart Man reeled backward in horror and brought his arms up to shield his eyes. "No!" he pleaded.
"Look at my legacy!" The Masked Imbecile demanded. "Look at my feet, too!" He tore off his boots and socks.
"It's too horrible!" Smart Man squealed. He stumbled to his feet and fled down the corridor. His screams faded in the distance.