The Carriage Driver 4 – The Marvel Stan Lee
Joan, at the Dialog Café on Holloway Drive, paused and watched the door as the Hulk and The Thing walked in and took the corner booth. Normally the booth would hold four, but not with these two sitting there.
Joan walked over with two large mugs and a pot of coffee and placed one each in front of them and poured. Inside a large bubble over her head with marble size bubbles leading to it, was lettering that said, “Hope that green does not rub off.” She said, in lettering within a speech balloon. “Are you ready to order?”
The two glanced down at the menus. “We are going to need a minute. We are going to need another cup, Invisible Girl is with us.” The bubble appeared above The Thing’s head.
Thor and The Black Panther walked in talking about the carriage and white horse waiting across the street. They took the booth on the opposite end of the café. Thor set his hammer down and opened and closed his hand. The arthritis had come on slowly over the years.
Joan walked over with a tray of cups and a steaming hot pot of coffee. “Any invisible people with you this morning?”
The two glanced at each other. “Bring each of us a foot tall stack of hot cakes. Just the two of us for now. There is a good chance that more of us will arrive. Keep the coffee coming.”
The Human Torch was pacing outside in front of the Café. The sight of The Carriage Drive sent a shiver through him.
Jack Kirby walked in and took a seat at the counter. His thumb, index finger and middle finger stained with black ink.
The Hulk finished his coffee and tried to get the waitress’s attention. When she finally arrived, in the speech balloon, were the words, “Don’t make me angry. You would not like me when I’m angry.”
Joan filled the cup, walked back behind the counter filling Jack Kirby’s cup as she passed. She stopped short; there was a man in a latex suit clinging to the far wall. “Get down from there.” Bold lettering filled the speech balloon.
The front door opened. Jack Kirby turned to see who it was. He looked around the room. The big booths were filled. He got up and moved to the last chair at the counter allowing enough space for the X-Men to have a set. Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Icemen, Jean Gray and The Professor took seats.
The Inhumans had arrived, but did not enter. They were talking to Nuelle and The Carriage Driver. They were very curious about what came next. They all were as far as that goes.
Spider-Man climbed down from the wall and took a seat at a table for two. Just then Iron Man walked in and took the empty seat across from him. “I told you, I don't want to join your super secret boy band.”
A young man stopped by the carriage. He pats a few of the Inhumans on the back. In a speech balloon above his head, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Words, directed at The Carriage Driver.
The Iceman got up leaving a seat for Stan Lee next to Jack Kirby. The Iceman joined Mister Fantastic who had quietly entered.
Pancakes and scrambled eggs were being served to various tables. A second waitress had arrived answering the call for help.
After being served coffee, Stan stood up and raised his cup. “I want to thank all of you. Through you I dealt with my every insecurity, addressed my many fears and lived the life of an explorer. You were all riddled with my insecurities. Together we fought overwhelming odds. We stood up to injustice and corruption. We turned over rocks and crushed the bugs that crawled out.” He put his cup down.
“During the decades that we worked together, wave after wave of villainous parasites stood up against us. Unlike the real world, those of us here in this room more often than not stood our ground and were victorious. We fought for peace and equality. He paused walked over and put his hand on Spider-Man’s shoulder.
“We have been doing this together for seventy years. Every bit of my life has been shared in one way or the other through the pages that you adorn.” He turned to Jack, “Together we entertained millions of people. We influenced the culture or perhaps, counter-culture. We suffered gamma rays, radioactive spiders, and mutants with the “X” gene.” He turned back to the room. “I poured my vanity into you. Together we raged along life’s highways. Is everybody here?” He looked around. “I don’t see Silver Surfer or Falcon.”
Hulk spoke up. “They are outside looking at the white horse and the guy who looks like he would have fit in on that old TV show Bonanza.”
Stan Lee pulled his attention from Nuelle. “There is good news. Just because I am moving along, does not mean that the lot of you will not continue on for years to come. Spider-Man, you are a superhero, among superhero’s. Your name is every bit as well known as Superman and Batman. And Hulk, every teenager feels like they are the Hulk with super strength.” He picked up his cup of coffee that had been refilled. “Here is to you.” He took a last seep of coffee. Thinking of all the coffee he drank in his career as a writer.
The Thing and Hulk slid out of the booth and stood up. Spider-Man and Iron Man also stood.
Stan waved his hand goodbye and walked out of The Dialog. He headed toward The Carriage Driver and Nuelle. “I know all the people inside. But you’re new.”
“We are your ride. Nuelle and I will take you wherever you want to go.”
“Introduce me to Nuelle.” Stan Lee asked.
The Inhumans stepped aside and the introductions were made. “There is a small ritual we do before each ride.” He reached into his coat pocket and retrieved an apple. With a pin knife he cut the apple into four pieces. He feed two pieces to Nuelle and handed a quarter to Stan Lee. The last piece he popped into his mouth.
When done, Stan Lee stepped inside the carriage. The Carriage Driver climbed aboard. “There is a blanket beneath the seat if you are cold.” As the carriage pulled into L.A. traffic, Stan Lee watched Spider-Man shooting out his web as he climbed one of the few skyscrapers in the city. Iron Man used the miniature rockets in his sleeves and near his feet to fly across the sunlight skyline. Hulk and The Thing ordered another stack of hot cakes.
Joan began clearing plates as The Fantastic Four vacated leaving a decent tip. Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey and The Professor stepped out the door of The Dialog and in a step or two blended in with the sea of humanity on the streets of L.A.
“Do you have an idea of where you want to go?” The Carriage Driver asked Stan Lee.
“First, I would like to catch up with my wife Joan. We have a lot of catching up to do. We were together for sixty-nine years. I miss her.”
Nuelle knew the way.