Introducing Mr. Leed

Geld Times journalist Barry Leed is an unacknowledged hero. Although he failed to anticipate the triumphal rise of the orange menace, he retrospectively writes of its inevitability. There’s nothing about this shocking election victory that Mr. Leed cannot explain. “It’s obvious to me what happened,” he says. “Hardly a surprise, given the clear and abundant facts.” As for what lies ahead, Mr. Leed can explain this, too. He is a restless watcher of President-elect Crusher, a restless fact-checker, and a restless defender of democracy.

The ceaseless work of heroism exacts its wages. Mr. Leed is so restless that he needs a rest. So he devises a plan. He creates for himself an alter-ego, The Ordinary Man. When the burden of saving democracy from peril becomes too much, and when he wishes to slip out of his hero-role and into anonymity, he clothes himself from crown to instep in blue, form-fitting spandex. He wears a black utility belt and boots. Not even the whites of his eyes are visible. The Ordinary Man thus blends into the background noise of the city’s many eccentrics. This provides our hero Leed a break from his awesome responsibilities.

The Ordinary Man queues at the grocery shop. His phone rings.
– “You have to come immediately,” says the voice. It is Heddi Line.
– “What’s going on?”
– “It’s better if I tell you in person. Come to the office, quickly.”
The Ordinary Man abandons his basket and rushes to the alley. He tears away the spandex, becoming Barry Leed, defender of freedom, dashing to the car.

At the newsroom, Heddi Line tells him of the latest developments. The orange menace, President-elect Crusher, has appointed the bacon magnate Shive White to White House Chief Strategist.
– “Good god!” says Leed.
– “There’s more,” says Line.
She shows him a just-leaked White Paper drafted by Mr. White. It is labelled Top Secret White Paper White House Only.
Leed scrutinizes the document.
– “Nothing pops out at me right off the top,” says Leed, “but I’ll comb through it for some clues.”
– “Do you really think they are going to make bacon of us?” says Line.
Mr. Leed tugs at this chin.
– “Mr. Crusher’s threatened our newspaper many times,” says Leed. “But it’s anyone’s guess what he has in mind.”
He thinks to himself: If only this White White House White Paper would give me a clue!
– “I think we really need to look into this new bacon angle,” says Line.
– “I’m on it,” says our hero. He grabs a pencil and notebook and exits.

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