Alright, who’s ready for an update?
First off, our buddy Black Raptor is not sleeping in the dog house. I went back to see how things were going. There was some tension there. Raptor’s wife kept staring at him. She dropped hints too, mentioning that song “Jenny (867-5309)” so she didn’t fall for it being another woman’s number. Naturally, he didn’t respond.
He didn’t hold up well under his wife’s gaze. Ole Willy-boy looked apologetic, but he forced that off his face. “Hon, I told you. I couldn’t sleep and I took a walk.”
Wife woman raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t feel like using the door?”
I wanted to hear his response to this one, but the kids bounded in, bundles of loud energy. Very loud energy. The terror of the previous night was forgotten, apparently. They were a little let down that mom got called in to work, but dad going to take them to see a movie and have ice cream. Yay! And while they were causing a ruckus, I slipped daddy’s cellphone away for a few minutes to slip my glove off and merge with it. When I replaced it, it was all set up to stay on and transmit everything the receiver picked up to my armor.
My spying outsourced to a phone, I let the family head off to have their fun.
Bah, kids these days. Back when I was that age, I was too busy to have fun childhood experiences. I was having my fun the old-fashioned way, out of a pill. Experience, they called it. Ex or X for short, and no relation to your Ecstasy. The different colors let you experience different emotions, but it overwhelms that whole section of your brain and you lose your natural ability to feel emotions before too long. They wanted us to learn control over our emotions and harness them or we’d get more fried in the brain and until we didn’t have any. The Ex was also presented as a good way to fake emotions if you needed them.
Those were good times. It wasn’t even lethal if you failed and they only had to give me the Fear Experience twice.
Enough waxing nostalgic. Huh. Our hero is a stay-at-home dad. You’d think they’d put that in the info they gave me…yep, they did. Paying a visit to his place of work is out then.
Once they were out of the house, I checked the fridge to see what they’d bought since my last visit. Nothing good. Ah well. I slipped the salmon out of my belt and pulled the detonator out of its mouth. I began to check for a good spot on the wall that is covered by something. Then I was like “Maybe there’s a good spot like that on the wall behind that mirror,” so I checked. I was right. I lifted the mirror with my left hand and punched into the drywall with my right, then released the fish into the wall. Then I realized I had something to work with after all and drained the family’s milk into the hole in the wall as well.
I left the house to ripen and there was nothing interesting from Raptor’s phone, so I began to scope out the city. I didn’t pay much attention to the noises from the phone, only occasionally bringing the conversations to the fore when someone said something that seemed important. Taking the kids around, dropping them off somewhere, heading somewhere else for awhile, leaving the phone somewhere. A boring day in the life of a dad.
I had better things to do, like work on the rest of his humiliation. I wanted to waltz into Raptor’s place of employment and trash it, but that’s not an option it turns out. I found a few good buildings, including a hotel right by the local civic center. There was a Bank of America a pretty good size, too. Most of the buildings in the city aren’t built very tall though. ParadiseCity has had far too many hurricanes to want to scrape the skies.
My scheming was interrupted by a call Raptor was receiving from his wife. “Hi hon.”
“Don’t you ‘hi hon’ me. Where are the girls?”
“Hon, what’s wrong?”
“I just saw you leave that house. What were you doing there and where are the girls?”
“I dropped them off at my aunt’s. It’s not what it looks like, hon.”
“I don’t know if the note was some sort of half-assed clue, Bill, but I need to know where you keep going? You’re lying about it and I just want the truth.”
“Ok, but not over the phone. There you are. Let me tell you face to face.”
Just when I thought the seeds of doubt wood grow into a weeping willow, everything turned out oakay. He revealed his identity as Black Raptor. There was crying and hugging and the wife asking why and him answering that it gave him more purpose to help people that way than anything else he’d ever done in his life. He felt like the world his daughters grew up in needed more people like him.
“What does all that have to do with that house?” asked the wife. She had a point. As far as she knew, he could be making up being a hero to get away with an affair. That’s happened before on that TV show Cheaters. Good show. It had to go off the air when one of the guys turned out to be a villain named Lungtaker. He had a thing about ripping out body parts. With the Cheaters crew dead, they pitched Lungtaker his own show. There were no survivors.
I love ending stories that way. It adds an air of finality to the situation. How was your day at work? “There were no survivors.” I heard you went and sang karaoke last night. “There were no survivors.” Sorry I missed the cookout last night. How did it go? “There were no survivors.” Whoa, dude, I told you. You shouldn’t serve deep fried hotdogs.
That house, by the way, was paydirt. “That’s where this old hero lives. Raggedy Man. I owed money to a Yakuza loanshark and they were coming to collect. I’m lucky the old man got nostalgic and went out that night. He’s been training me ever since.”
Perfect! This was just the guy to kill in a big flashy way to show the hero I meant business. Most people think it’s a mark of shame to be the expendable person, but the point of killing off someone to get to a hero is that their presence is so important, it throws the hero off his game.
It’s a shame I’m not going to be killing this guy. There would be no survivors.
I pinged the phone’s GPS via my remote link and ran for Moai and the deconverted Sheriff’s SUV he was waiting in.
By the time I got there, the couple was gone. They were too busy discussing how Raptor’s extracurricular activities would affect things with the family. For starters, it was agreed that the Raptor’s mother-in-law wasn’t coming to visit next month after all.
The house wasn’t particularly big. It had white vinyl siding, red shutters, and a red door. It was neat, the grass was trim, and the suburb was probably a little on the old and poor side, but nothing illegal would go on here during the day either.
“Ok, I have a plan,” I told Moai. He nodded. “I’ll get out and knock on the door. When he answers it, I punch him in the balls and kidnap him. I’ll need you in the car here because if he punches me in the balls instead, you should gun it and aim for his balls. If he gets the better of me, I expect them to be too large and heavy for him to run for it, but they might wreck the car. In that case, we’ll call in a domestic disturbance over here, something about a man slapping his wife’s balls, then kill the cops and throw grandpa in the trunk. You clear on all this?”
Moai gave me another nod. Good man. Well, good statue. It’s good to have someone dependable backing me up. Someone with balls.
I got out, my armor presenting me as just a regular guy in a tank top. I approached the door and knocked a couple of times. There was no answer after a couple of seconds so I rang the doorbell. Still nothing. Crafty bastard was playing hard to get. I banged on the door with my fist.
“He’s not home!” said a neighbor as I turned to her swiftly. I’d spotted her opening her screened-in porch door. She was old and hunched over, like the wrinkles were weighing her down.
“Oh?” I asked, “I was just looking for him to say thanks on behalf of a friend. He helped pull his butt out of the fire once and I wanted to thank him.”
The old woman regarded me with a stare that almost had me believing she could see through my hologram, but she finally spoke up, “Yeah, he does that. He’s off gambling in Biloxi for a few days though. Don’t you think of taking nothing. Mr. Ray has a man come by to check on the place while he’s away and if I see you do anything, I’ll find my switch and bust your bottom myself.”
“Will he be back soon?” I asked.
“Mhm. A day or two. I’ll tell him you came by if you give me your name.”
“He won’t know my name, because it was my friend he helped, but it’s a little unusual.”
“That’s ok, people name their kids all kinds of things these days.”
“I guess they do. I’m Tokay,” I told her, putting a smile across my face.
“Oooh, that’s not bad at all,” she said with a grin, showing teeth missing.
I was temporarily thwarted. Biloxi’s going on my shit list. I had to revisit the place a few days later, long after I had to shut off the link to Raptor’s phone due to family angst and drama over his heroism. This is a no drama zone. There shall be no angst in my villainy if I can help it. None. There’s no reason hurting people should be anything other than fun here.
So I went back earlier today to beat up this old man.
This time, Moai parked and snuck around the back while I knocked on the door in disguise again. This time he answered. He was old, but held himself well. Still had more meat than fat on his bones. The remaining puffs of white hair stood out from his dark brown skin and reminded me a little bit of a clown. I told him about how a friend of mine said he saved him and that I just wanted to show my appreciation. “You’re Tokay?” he asked.
“Come on in, lady next door told me about you,” he said as he waved me in and turned away. I stepped in and shut the door. When I turned back around, he was gone. Quiet old fart.
“Hey, where’d you go?”
“Vietnam,” I heard from nowhere. “I learned a lot there. I learned how to spot when someone’s hiding shadows behind a lighter exterior.”
I dropped the disguise. He was on to me. You don’t get to be a retired hero by being an idiot. “Nam, eh? Was that something to do with why you started? It’s been a long time since you started having fun in the 70s. Care to learn a few new tricks, old dog?”
He appeared from the shadows suddenly to my rear, flowing out of them like an illusion of his own. A fist gloved in iron and rags slammed into the back of my neck. I turned to chop at where his hooded face would be, but he faded back into the shadows. I don’t mean sneaking either. He actually disappeared physically into the shadows. That’s pretty cool.
“Care to catch an old school beating, young bitch?” he said, his wizened voice becoming harsher and grating as he got back into his old act. I created an illusion of myself still facing that way and glancing to the sides a bit as I took a few steps back to cover my rear. Raggedy Man appeared from above the real me again, slamming his boots into my head. I went down, grabbing for him, but he disappeared. He keeps too many lights off in this house. The entry hallway limited my movements but his power let him come from any angle pretty much.
I headed down the hall and found the living room, which had more space for me to move in.
“I don’t know who you are, but I have a guess thanks to your name. Another thing I learned in Vietnam is another name for a Tokay gecko,” he said, his voice coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. I closed my eyes, letting myself focus on the overwhelming 360 degree visuals from my helmet. “We called it the ‘fuck-you lizard’,” he said just before appearing again, appearing at my right rear.
I caught his chin with my right hand, put my weight on my left foot, and threw my right foot into his balls. He wrenched my grip loose from his face with both hands face and grabbed at his crotch, doubling over as he fled into the shadows. “Hey old man, I ain’t fucking you. Speaking of fucking, how’s your old girlfriend Raggedy Mandy doing?” I looked around for where he’d come from next.
The mention of his one-time partner got his attention in a hurry, but his leg was in mid swing as he appeared before me. The metal shin guard hidden under the sewed up rags slammed into my throat and sent me stumbling against the back door on one wall of the living room and next to the kitchen. He stayed there this time, moving to stand against the wall in front of me. “What do you want here?” he asked in a voice that bit down rage.
“I want some mo,” I said.
He tilted his head, “Some more what?”
The door burst into splinters and light flooded in to cut off Raggedy Man’s escape, revealing his costume. It was a patchwork of rags with hidden steel reinforcing his favorite limbs to swing at people and an old, human-sized Raggedy Andy head for a mask. Moai flew through it, head first, and knocked him against the wall. With a grunt, he left an imprint of his body in the drywall and slid down to the floor.
I stood up, brushing myself off, and patted our captured hero on his red yarn hair, then I gave Moai a thumbs up. “Some Moai. Good timing, dude.”