Wonderful Kingscrow, how sweet the smell. Old beer, or possibly trash. It has been awhile, and I’ll have to talk to Good Doctor at some point about that whole “promise” thing but this is a very important matter. Max is in jail. Not voluntarily either. This is a situation that has to be rectified. And I take rectification to a whole nother level. There’s a reason for the similarity between the words “rectify” and “rectum” when I’m involved. Rectum? Darn near killed ’em.
While I enjoyed the laid-back urban decay of Memphis and the shift between day and night life in Paradise City, there’s something appealing about a city with gothic influences and steady corruption. I was even able to buy a new trenchcoat. I prefer them in tan. People expect worse things from a guy in a grey or black trench coat.
Looks like Shieldwall should have been more defensive on the homefront. You know you’re truly back in town when someone tries to mug you.
It was night and this fellow came up behind me from an alley. He stuck a gun in my back and demanded my wallet. I was in my armor but he couldn’t see that. What he saw was that his gun did absolutely nothing against me. The he saw the brick wall next to us. He got a real close view of it. From the snapping sound, it’s obvious he got a little too nosey about the brick. Then I threw him into the alley and introduced him to Mr. Dumpster. Mr. Dumpster is our friend! I taught him all about the benefits that Mr. Dumpster can give people who like to mug. Mr. Dumpster has food! Om nom nom. Mr. Dumpster has bottles to drink from! Ok, I was off on the acceleration and distance, but the liquids wound up on his face anyway. And finally, Mr. Dumpster is a convenient place to dump a body when you’re done with it! Or to dump a sobbing, broken shell of a man who was just forced to eat garbage and get beat up when all he wanted to do was indulge in a simple mugging.
Though the broken man one could just be a wild rumor I’ve heard. Maybe I’ll test it some day.
At least the cops of Kingscrow haven’t much changed. I waved to a pair of them parked across the street as I left that particular alley.
My suit was essential for visiting the Low Earthy Bar.
It would have been awfully convenient if what I was looking for just happened to be present when I walked in. Awfully convenient. Things just don’t seem to be so awfully convenient anymore. I know I got some strange looks as I entered and dropped the illusion of normalcy. There were some mixed signals from the mess in Paradise City, of course.
“What are you staring at, four eyes?” I barked at a guy sitting nearby, smoking. He raised his lower pair of arms defensively. I shrugged and walked off. My thoughts on the matter were that anyone who had a problem with me ought to take it up with me after I’ve had a drink.
“Sister Moonflower, some vodka, two glasses,” I told the hippy dippy chick manning the bar. She smiled at me as she served me, always seemingly genuine even when her clientele are murderers and thieves. Which reminded me of something I needed to do. Once she had poured me a couple drinks, I grabbed them both and walked over to the smoker I’d snapped at earlier.
Beside him, I told him quite earnestly, “I’m sorry for snapping at you. I don’t even know you and I really ought to treat you like I’d treat anybody else. Here’s to you,” I said, then smashed him in the face with both glasses, causing him to cry out and cover all four eyes with his four hands. I then turned to the rest of the bar and announced, “You can’t say I wouldn’t ever hit a guy with glasses!”
There were a few groans and everyone went back about their business. I stepped up to the bar and Sister Moonflower stepped right up, “Hey there, sissy poo. I’ve always wondered, the glasses aren’t quite even and sometimes they have bubbles in them. Where do you get them?”
“I have a friend who makes her own environmentally conscious glassware. Gaia needs every bit of help she can get.”
I dropped a couple hundred dollars on the bar, “That ought to pay for the glasses. Do what you love, that’s what I always say after hitting someone with four eyes with a pair of glasses. Do what you love.”
“You must love to send a message,” she said as she took the money.
“Hmm? No, just wanted to hit him. He was close and nervous. This isn’t a good place to be nervous. I’m not nervous. Why do you ask? What do you mean paranoid?” I turned to the guy standing next to me at the bar who had started to pick up my accelerated talking, “Who you callin’ a psycho, huh?!”
He got up and got well away.
“So, anyway, now that I have some privacy for us, I was wondering if you know about Max’s companions, Holly and Sam? I don’t think the articles I read mentioned they were caught too.”
“They stopped by once. Got heckled without Max here. I had to drop your name to get them out of here ok. I think they’re still laying low at one of his bases. They were trying to sell off some of his product in here at the time. You might try the drug dealers.”
I gave her a good look before asking my next question. Hair unwashed in who knows how long, held back by a tie-dye bandana. Baggy shirt with wood buttons. Baggy skirt with a flower pattern sewn onto it. Sandals. The bar’s tip jar was a clay jar from her shop upstairs, painted with the likeness of Jimi Hendrix pointing to a space shuttle that was carving a peace symbol into the moon. Apparently the man was a giant who hated aliens so much, he ordered the moon pacified. Ridiculous. Everyone knows the closest offworld alien colony is on Mars. I mean, people have their suspicions about the planet Venus, but that place is so cloudy that if any aliens are there, they’re far too baked to worry about invading Earth. Well, unless they got the munchies.
“Sister, I don’t suppose you know any drug dealers, do you?”
It cost a few thousand dollars worth of charity to some tree planting organization and a promise not to kill her dealers, but I got the names of some guys who knew some guys who maybe knew how to get me what I was looking for. The guys she sent me to were more involved with the less harmful stuff. LSD, Ecstasy, pot. Hell, the LSD and Ecstasy people want me to find Max’s stash too. The guy was crazy, but he knew how to cook, and a reliably safe drug, like if it was made under proper pharmaceutical conditions, is a valuable thing to a drug dealer.
The next set of guys dealt with stuff a little harder and they were the ones who knew who sold the exotic stuff. As I was looking for information instead of drugs, they started to clam up. Some of these shrimps even tried to get crabby with me. Now, I don’t eat seafood, which is more due to the parasites, mercury, antidepressants, and birth control that build up in the fish, but I have learned a thing or two about dealing with seafood. For example, to get clams to open up, you have to put them over some steam until they can’t help but get that hard outer shell pried apart. And crabs? Well, to get the goods from those guys, you bring out the shell cracker.
Hell, after my recent adventures involving Honky Tonk Man, little miss trust fund plastic surgery superwoman, and the walking fireworks display named Bright Star, I know all about crackers too.
The guy who told me he had a number for one of the girls was one of those types with black lights strung up and a pet boa constrictor. He didn’t seem to like his pet so much when I had his head shoved into the terrarium while it began to climb his body. The important thing is that I didn’t kill him. When I left him, he was healthy and well enough that I’m sure he’d have no problem fighting off a boa constrictor with one hand tied behind his back. For his sake, he’d better be.
When I showed up at Puppy Yippy, a former pet store, I found I wasn’t the only one looking for the girls. There was a rather large man with bulging muscles under leather straps who was tearing a wall apart to get in. Super strength, and higher level stuff at that. Everyone has their weaknesses though.
He wasn’t facing me so he was caught offguard as I jumped onto his back, wrapped my coat around his neck, and hauled back on his neck. It took some fancy footwork to dodge his large hands. Finally I just kicked him in the sides and yelled “Giddyup!” He obliged and tried to smash me into the wall. I let go and jumped off. He smashed through himself and I followed him in. He realized I was on the ground and tried to hit me, but found me a difficult target. He then found himself sprayed in the face with a fire extinguisher. Nailed my rodeo ride right in the bullseye. He was hacking at the fumes but had enough sense to raise one foot up, a little too high considering his loincloth, and brought it down to stop me off my feet. It brought the fluorescent lights down on our heads and caused me to stumble into an old countertop. My plan was unchanged, though. When fighting large oily muscle men, you have to fill their mouths with something.
That something wound up being the fire extinguisher. He grabbed me soon after I stuck it too far into his throat. His gag reflex was trying to chuck it up, along with his last meal, but I kicked the nozzle off the end sticking out, sending it firing even further into him. He was forced to let me go to save his own life. I fell on my back just in front of him and hit the jump enhancers. I then drove both my heels up under his loincloth.
Bells rang, which I found out later was due to a nearby church, and the giant dropped. From there, I hopped on his back again and applied a sleeper hold. Yes, it’s a real hold, not just a wrestling time waster. The secret behind it is to cut off the flow of oxygen to the brain. It’s dangerous because if you don’t hold a sleeper hold long enough, you may fail to cause brain damage and death, instead only knocking the person unconscious.
After a couple of minutes, I let go and turned to find myself looking down the syringe gun held by Sam. Beside her, Holly held a vial of clear liquid that appeared to be sparking. Not sparkling, sparking. “Gecko!” I expected Sam to fire anyway. Instead, she ran forward and put her arms around me. It was odd. Like some sort of gesture of gratefulness or something. Weird.
“I found out Max was caught a little bit ago, but didn’t have time to get up here and deal with it. By the way, who’s your friend?” I nodded my head toward the passed out gay bodybuilder centerfold as I put some pressure on my leg where Ouroboros’s body double stabbed me. I’d forgotten how slow natural healing is.
“No clue,” said Holly as she slipped the vial into a pouch on her belt. Who knows what vial concoction that was?
“We can call him Morty for now, but we might have to move y’all’s operation. I tend to attract hero trouble and it would be bad if they knew I was after the prison.”
Sam looked up at me, “You here to break Max out?”
“When I’m through, there’s not going to be a place left to break him out of.”
So far that’s the only time when women were happy that I mentioned breaking a prisoner out and bringing him to them.