Never give up.
If there was ever a man who embodied that statement most it would have to be the recently deceased Arnold Schway, more well known to the world as Bucket Man.
Often nicknamed "Defender of the down trodden" Arnold spent the last ten years of his life acting as one of the Earth's most prominent superhuman defenders despite being ridiculed for most of that time.
One of the reasons Arthur faced such ridicule may have been his costume. While others resorted to capes, cowls and trench coats Arthur instead opted for a more unique choice, choosing to wear a Situla bucket atop his head accompanied by an admittedly garish green and yellow outfit. When compared to his peers in the hero community, most of whom sport some form of weaponry or battle armor Arthur may have been found to be somewhat lacking.
Then there were the man's powers which were never the most dynamic nor the most flashy. During an interview with Smearton's Daily Duty the hero gave an explanation of his abilities stating: "I can summon a bucket of energy. It's within me all the time and when I call it I can use it to give myself a sort of boost until it runs out." Despite this sounding quite impressive on paper in actuality all that this 'boost' did was increase Arnold's physical abilities to that of an Olympic level athlete, a relatively minor feat in the world of super heroics.
Yet despite these apparent setbacks in not only his physical abilities but his general appearance Arnold did not let them hinder his self esteem. Quickly making a name for himself in his hometown the man became well known as a local adventurer and inspiration. The man not only served as your everyday superhero, fighting crime and saving kittens, but he also actually helped the people he protected. Arthur would volunteer at local soup kitchens, visit children's hospitals and generally follow up on all the mall details that most other costumed adventurers seem to forget... and it's a tragedy he's no longer with us.
When it comes to the never ending crises our world seems to face every other week there are many who would understandably falter at the sheer scale of threats faced.
Despite his small upbringing the man rose to every challenge, whenever asked he loaned a helping hand and he was the greatest friend a man could ask for.
Smearton is infamous for its supernatural activity, boasting one of the largest cemeteries in America as well as a number of Satanic cult incidents in the 1940s. The small town was often frequented by the spirits of the deceased largely due to a number of sources including:
- A Native American burial ground located under the town's veterinary.
- A long abandoned and haunted manor house.
- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton's summer house.
Due to these factors Bucket Man often faced threats of quite a significant magnitude, most notable among these being the ghostly Briar Twins, psychopathic Hookslack and of course, the monster Mister Warrington.
At the time of writing it's only been several weeks since Arnold's death at the hands of his greatest foe. His death came from a knife wound to the chest accompanied by heavy internal bleeding. Arnold's passing leaves behind many grieving friends and family, while many in the superhero community can say they knew the man there's only one who can say they knew him best, that being Arnold's wife of 8 years: Danger Girl.
The two met during the 'Inevitable End' crisis in 2010, the heat of battle forced the two to become fast friends, but thankfully following the conflict the two stayed that way getting married on the Christmas Eve of 2011. Following the birth of their daughters the two heroes semi-retired, though both would occasionally don their costumes again when the need arose. Danger Girl was recently interviewed by superhero reporter Shutter where she stated: "Arnold was the greatest man I ever met. He was a loving father, husband and role model. His loss leaves his family utterly devastated."
Finally we'll discuss the one who did the deed.
When Mister Warrington returned to Smearton following a lengthy stint in prison Arthur didn't even hesitate as he went to face his greatest foe for what would unknowingly be the last time. They met in Smearton's square where a statue of the hero now stands and after some brief discussion only the two of them may ever know, Warrington proceeded to detonate an explosive device he'd planted within Smearton's popular dance club: 'The Goodge' where a number of patrons were hiding.
Arnold proceeded as expected, and as he turned towards the explosion Warrington took advantage of the confusion and threw one of his knives into Bucket Man's heart.
Now for any other man this would have been the end, a killing blow for most beings that live. Yet in his final seconds of breath Arnold used his powers one final time and gave himself enough stamina to make it over to the dance club and help those trapped inside, using his remaining strength to remove a piece of concrete that had been blocking the exit. Then the man sank to his knees and died, the world immediately becoming an infinitely worse place to live in.
One thing I remember from that evening is how Arthur's eyes looked through his helmet as he lay dying. There was a dazed confusion to him that showed just how far he'd fallen and as he died a crowd had begun to form around him, none of them, not even Warrington quite believing what they were seeing. Many of the crowd had been inside the club when it exploded and owed their lives to him, seeing Arnold draw his final breath struck a cord with me and a light that had been in my eyes seemed to flicker and die.
That's why I'm writing this now, to describe the triumph that quickly turned into despair. As Arnold died so too did my hate for him, and as his soul left this plane with a sad, glazed look I realized just how much I had needed the man.
So now I'm sat here alone, my tiny cell nowhere near the punishment I deserve nor near the punishment in my soul. There's a darkness forming around me, one that knows what I've done. When my eyes find sleep they're greeted only by nightmares and when I awaken it's Arthur who lurks in the corner of my prison in constant judgement.
There's no peace for my mind just as there's no purpose for my soul... and when I find the sweet dark of death it will be the spirit of the Bucket Man that leads me on my way.