As soon as Dan saw what lay inside the folder, he instantly knew why Cyrus had asked to see him.
It was a comic book, its title in letters large enough for him to read even upside-down. ADVENTURES INTO TERROR. Beneath the titles was a picture of a man driving a car, drawn from the perspective of the vehicle’s back seat. The driver’s face was a profile of fear as he stared up at the comically large rear-view mirror, which displayed a reflection of a gray-faced man wearing a tall hat.
Dan spoke with confidence. “Your son brought this home the other day.” He looked up at Cyrus, who nodded silently, his smile vanished. “Tuesday. After fencing practice.”
As Cyrus nodded again, he lifted the comic book from the manila folder, twisted it so that it now faced in Dan’s direction, and laid it on the table in the middle of the table. Dan now saw the gray face drawn in the rear-view mirror was mummified, and grinning evilly.
“Butch brings home comic books all the time.” Cyrus sounded like a doctor informing a patient that surgery would be required. “Like I said, he’s all boy. We won’t buy them — ” Dan saw him tap the price on the cover — “but his friend, that Banks boy, Hugh, he lets Butch borrow them.”
Dan nodded as he stared down absently at the comic book. He remembered seeing Butch and Rune (that Banks boy) sitting cross-legged on the cafeteria floor, hunched over comic books. You here to read, or fence? He nearly jumped when Cyrus resumed speaking.
“It’s my responsibility as a parent to know what my children are being exposed to. And, to be truthful, most of the comics that Butch brings home are harmless — superheroes, science fiction. Trite and insipid, but harmless, truly.”
Dan looked up quickly. “Harmless, yes.” And then he looked down at the image of the mummified man in the rear-view mirror. It seemed to be laughing at him.