It’s pretty cool being a superhero who lives in a castle.
Now, you can be nit-picky and say Portico Reeves isn’t really a superhero, and he doesn’t live in a castle. You can smirk and say he’s just an average kid who lives in a regular old apartment building and has a hard time standing still.
But that would make you short-sighted.
Sure, Skylight Gardens is technically an apartment complex, but think about it: It’s a huge building with, like, fifty-plus doors, fifty toilets and bathtubs, more than a hundred windows and maybe a million stair steps. And it’s made of the glassiest glass and the brickiest bricks on Earth. That’s pretty castle-worthy, if you ask me.
This castle-like structure is also just a little magical. I mean, it’s like living right inside a TV, where behind every door is a new show with a new cast of characters. OK, the bullying kid down the hall from Portico, named Herbert Singletary (the Worst), isn’t so fun to be around. He’s one of the things that causes Portico’s anxious “Frets” (debilitating anxious feelings) to pop up. But, by and large, everybody else is pretty amazing.
Zola, Portico’s bestest besty, sure is. She’s amazing times special, if you ask him. In fact, she’s the person who helped Portico create his secret identity called Stuntboy! (See, I told you he was a superhero. Just don’t spread it around.) When he gets particularly Frets-filled, he simply transforms that debilitating anxiety into action that he can use to save the day.
No, Portico can’t fly or drop-kick baddies with an iron boot. (Besides his mom would never let him stomp around with iron shoes.) But he does distract bullies with his famous Zamarama Zig Zag! And he can leap over obstacles with his incredible Plaster Blaster! move. Once, he even used his super inhaling powers to breathe in the foul air when somebody broke wind on the school bus. It was all in an effort to keep the smells from hurting others. Portico called that super move the Never Again, uh, for obvious reasons.
Lately though, there’s been something nefarious afoot. His parents have been arguing. They get this fiery look in their eyes and fight over things in their apartment and what belongs to whom. And they’ve started stacking those argued-over things in separate piles.
When Portico walks in on one of those fights, his mom and dad pause. He asks what’s going on and they tell him, “Nothing.” But then they add, “In the meantime, why don’t you go play with Zola,” or “In the meantime, you could run to the corner store for milk.”
Portico is pretty sure those Mean Time arguments aren’t going to go away. So, even though he keeps his Stuntboy identity secret, he’s gotta feeling that he’ll need to start being the hero. He’ll need to pull out his best stunts and tricks if he wants to save his parents from the mean times.
It won’t be easy. But it’s what a hero does. And even when his heart drops to where his stomach was and stomach jumps up to his heart space and the Frets come on in a rush, Portico will always do his best to be a hero.