By Michael K. Hill
There he was. Just as big and mesmerizing as you would expect. Over six-feet tall, strapping and muscular, and just look at that face. Adonis personified. A chin chiseled from granite. Bright blue eyes, and dark hair cut short and styled over his perfectly sculpted head. The foundation of an empire.
Man/Myth/Legend: worldwide, a multi-billion-dollar machine, churning out clothing, sporting goods, cologne, luggage, and health and beauty products, all built on his image. Every woman wants him. Every man wants to be him. And on that night his wonderfulness was being celebrated, again. Seated on the dais were several captains of industry. A major car manufacturer had an exclusive M/M/L branded, limited edition, all-wheel drive vehicle, which was to be announced that evening, along with the marketing scheme – print, television, online – all prominently featuring the man of the hour.
They started with the usual biographical details of his innumerable exploits. How once, in the thickest part of the Amazon, his exploratory group was ambushed by savage cannibals. But he single-handedly fought back the barbarians. Or the time he climbed Everest with a group of adventurers and were besieged by a vicious storm and avalanche that destroyed the group’s supplies. He braved the weather for help. But when he returned, only his wife had survived.
She was the one constant in his life of adventure; he never went anywhere without her. A diminutive woman of Japanese descent, under five-feet tall and small-framed she was dwarfed beside her husband. On this night she was dressed modestly, wearing her long dark hair in a tight bun at the back of her head. She shared with the crowd the well-known story of their wedding, and how their limo was ambushed by mysterious assailants, killing their driver. She recalled with great detail how her husband leaped behind the wheel and deftly navigated the wedding party to safety. The accolades and adoration would have continued in that manner, but something unexpected happened.
The doors to the banquet hall burst open, and a phalanx of armed men in commando gear stormed into the room. Their faces covered and they held automatic weapons. People began to panic as they spread around the room. The leader stepped forward. Unlike the others, his face was not concealed. He was handsome, with a dark complexion and penetrating grey eyes. A deep, jagged scar stretched diagonally across his left cheek.
“WE HAVE UNFINISHED BUSINESS!” he shouted toward the dais.
For a moment there was stillness.
The man of honor sat rock-still, looking at the invaders. He assessed the enemy, calculating his move. The anticipation among the attendees was palpable. They had front row seats to another one of his historic moments, seeing his prowess and bravado on full display. They considered how they would tell their friends and family, “I was there. I saw him do these things with my own eyes.”
The man, the myth, the legend.
The whole room held its breath.
He made his move; he hid behind his wife’s chair.
The crowd gasped.
His wife rolled her eyes.
The leader laughed. “Do you see? He is a charlatan. They are deceiving you. Man/Myth/Legend is run by a woman. You people should be celebrating me, a real man.”
Behind him, several of his men unfurled a banner emblazoned with the logo “Real Man” and images of various branded products, all in the vein of M/M/L, while others set down their guns and unzipped their commando gear, revealing fashionable outfits of menswear and began strutting around the tables, removing blazers, and draping them over their shoulders.
“When word gets out of what happened here tonight, no self-respecting man will ever want to buy M/M/L items again,” the leader said. “Let’s talk distribution.”
With her husband still cowering behind her, the wife jumped out of her seat, somersaulting over the table and landing on her feet, just in front of the leader. “Nice to see the scar has finally healed,” she said.
“You did that to harm my marketability,” he said.
“Nah, I was aiming for your throat,” she said and winked.
He snarled and charged her, pulling two daggers from his stylish vest, and slashing wildly.
She back-flipped multiple times, avoiding the blades, but he kept rushing at her. She reversed direction and slid under him, driving her elbow into his fully exposed crotch. He crumpled to the floor, writhing in agony.
She jumped up and spun her focus onto the remaining men. “Who else wants to be a real man?”
After a quick assessment of their leader sobbing on the floor in the fetal position, they dropped the banner and unanimously fled.
Later that evening her lawyers got non-disclosure agreements from each person in attendance. In exchange for never discussing the things they saw, everyone received free lifetime supplies of M/M/L products.
When they got home, she put her husband to bed early with a mild sedative, before sitting down and writing what would be the official version of the night’s events, how his heroic actions saved the day, dispatched the invaders, and inspired him to design a new athletic supporter for men.