A Story by Peter Rogerson

There are all sorts of super-heroes, and here's a new one.


Joshua Clarkson was eleven when he first discovered he could do it.

He had a most annoying and possibly sceptic spot on his chin, a dirty great explosion of spottiness, and he was supposed to be taking part in a group photograph to go in the school magazine.

We can’t include you,” grated the Headmaster, whisking his cane convincingly, “not with a growth like that on your face. It would ruin the picture and then what would your loving parents say? So you’d best sit this one out, Joshua my boy, and wait until next year, it should be gone by then...”

And he whisked his cane one more time, just to underline his point. The trouble so far as the Headmaster was concerned was the way he whisked it against Joshua’s bottom. Hard. Hard enough to make Joshua cry out.

And the sudden burst of pain, anger, the sense of total injustice and even hatred did something inside Joshua and somehow, he never worked out how, that dreadful growth of his, that vast ugliness on his face, disappeared in a whisper and reappeared (oh glorious justice) on the Headmaster’s face.

We can’t include you,” said the photographer to the Headmaster, shaking his head, “not with a growth like that on your face… it would ruin the photograph and everyone, absolutely everyone, would know what a wretchedly evil school this is and that they should never let their precious offspring within a mile of the place...”

Somehow, then, the boil or whatever it was on Joshua’s face had migrated in the blinking of an eye to the Headmaster’s far uglier face. And it had settled there as if it had always been there, even the well-picked crusty bits.

And that was when Joshua discovered that he could do it, aged eleven and fighting back tears. And it was when that particular Headmaster, in a pain-prickling instant, remembered what it was like to have the embarrassment of teenage spots when there was somebody precious he wanted to impress. Now it was a photographer with a salt and pepper moustache. Back then it had been Susie at Sunday School. But as Susie doesn’t enter any further into this saga I’ll content myself by saying that her one positive attribute was the simple fact that she was, in teenage parlance, well-breasted.

This is a power,” thought Joshua when he discovered what had happened, and he was was into powers in a big way. He was, as has been established, only eleven and at the age of eleven the tendency to believe arrant nonsense still survives in the human spirit. In truth it survives in some people a great deal longer, but that’s by the way.

Maybe,” thought Joshua, “I’ll grow up to be like Spiderman or Batman! Maybe they’ll call me Spotman and I’ll have powers so mighty that I’ll become famous and the queen will knight me and everyone will beg me for whatever it is I can do for them!”

Meanwhile, the Headmaster retired to his office where he tried to squeeze his spot, harder and harder and harder until it really hurt, but to no avail. A few microscopic drops of watery stuff oozed out, and nothing happened except that the spot grew redder and bigger. Them in frustration, that headmaster sat at his huge oak desk and burst into tears.

The photograph, (minus Headmaster in the middle) was taken, the photographer retired to wherever it is photographers retired to in those days in order to develop their photographs, and time passed. Joshua grew older and forgot that he was an embryonic superhero called Spotman.

And one day he was sixteen and had his eyes on Jane, who lived next door. Jane was almost a year older than him, which in general might have put her out of range for a lad as young as him, but she had the most beautiful brunette tresses, a peaches-and-cream complexion and she seemed to like saying “hiya” to him whenever they passed on the street, all of which made her almost unbelievably desirable to a boy whose hormones had been jostling in an insane dance for a year or two by then.

And he caught the flu on the very day he saw her hanging about on the road outside their houses, not doing anything more obvious than gazing almost continuously at the window he was looking out of and semi-accidentally lifting the hem of her pretty frock so that he caught an eyeful of her splendid thighs.

You can’t go out,” said his mother when she saw him pulling his jacket on.

But mum...” he whined.

You’ve got the flu. It’s going round and you’ve caught it, so you’ll do as you’re told, my lad or I’ll tell your father, and you know what he’ll do, all six foot six of him with his leather belt, and it’ll be for your own good, you know it will,” she said harshly.

He became overwhelmed by a feeling out total injustice bordering on detestation coupled with an intense desire to say hiya to the girl next door and a wretched hatred of all things disciplinary. In short, he felt like exploding.

And you know what happened next because a similar thing had happened before. His head, which had been feeling fuzzy, became clear, his face lost the pallor of sickness and the high temperature that automatically seems to accompany influenza, and he felt so bright and cheerful all of a sudden that he even surprised himself. Meanwhile his mother collapsed with a sudden and debilitating bout of flu and took to her bed, though he didn’t know because he was already outside by then, with Jane, who decided that at her age it would be a good idea to get in a bit of snogging practice.

Afterwards, and with lips that felt they might have been massaged by the very lovely angels he liked to think dwelt in the Afterlife, Joshua got to thinking.

Not Spotman, but Fluman,” he told himself, gratefully, and he made mental plans to get to know Jane a great deal better. She, on the other hand and unsuspected by him, nurtured dreams of someone hairier, hornier and using one of those newfangled men’s deodorants to replace the less pleasing aroma of natural armpits, and went off to search in different pastures.

And so Joshua’s life proceeded to follow an insignificant course as do most of our lives until he was standing at the front of a church facing its altar in his brand new best suit waiting for she who was his bride to join him there.

She’s late,” whispered the vicar, “and we’ve got another wedding in half an hour.”

She’ll arrive,” assured Joshua, wishing he felt confident enough to know his words were true.

She better had,” grated the other.

Joshua could have punched him, but didn’t.

He had what his (now late lamented) mother had called the collywobbles, an intense gastric sensation that suggested that his stomach was about to lift off and leave the rest of him behind. And the nervousness of this vicar bloke wasn’t helping. If he’d had his own way they’d have gone to the Register Office and done the whole thing in a wholesomely secular way, but she (Kathy, his intended) had wanted all the trimmings and all the trimmings included church.

She’d better hurry up then, or else,” hissed the vicar,, the Reverend Josiah Pyke, a not very Christian christian, underlining his point.

And that hissing combined with the aforementioned collywobbles made a blind red anger rise up inside poor old Joshua who was already shaking with nerves, and he stared at the vicar with a kind of anguish in his eyes just as the organ struck up with here comes the bride and a general hush fell over the small but intense congregation.

And at the precise moment when he felt his beloved arrive next to him his stomach, which was about to distribute its contents just about everywhere, settled magically down, and the good Reverend Pyke suddenly exploded into a noxious and very toxic effluvia of stomach matter that appeared to the congregation to have about it the concentrated odour of an excessive accumulation of communion wine, and it ran in tiny steaming rivulets all the way down the bride’s beautiful white gown.

© Peter Rogerson 26.12.17

© 2017 Peter Rogerson

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Ahh Peter, it's a beauty, a masterpiece. Reach around and pat yourself on the back. You have tapped into the mother lode of what it takes to please the young adult, a term almost as oxymoronic as jumbo shrimp. This is every-kid and every-kid knows two things, those aren't really my parents and I am different (better) than the other kids. Bravo!
Ever read any stories by Saki,(H.H.Munro) try Sredni Vastar if you haven't already.

Posted 11 Months Ago

Peter Rogerson

11 Months Ago

Over embarrassingly long years I've read quite a lot. Thanks for your review. I'm trying to unwind m.. read more
I enjoyed this story. It was very interesting and very well written.

Posted 11 Months Ago

Peter Rogerson

11 Months Ago

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.

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2 Reviews
Added on December 27, 2017
Last Updated on December 27, 2017
Tags: teenage spots, nerves, sickness, wedding


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 75 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..