It feels nice to turn the tables. I’m not sure where that phrase comes from, but if I had to guess, it had to involve someone meeting someone else for a deal. Like a chef and an air conditioning installer. Now, this is a tense deal. Tense as shit. If something goes wrong, the AC man can turn up the heat or put the chef on ice. The other way around, the chef knows a few people who can make the AC guy’s life miserable. Like the muffin man and his buddy the cobbler.
So the AC guy decides he needs to bring along some protection. Let’s say a flamethrower. He’s real proud of that flamethrower, by the way. He keeps trying to think of good puns for when he whips it out. So he sneaks in ahead of time and straps the flamethrower to the underside of the table where he’s going to sit.
Problem is, the chef turns the tables on him. When the air conditioning man goes to whip out his flamethrower and yell “Freeze!” he reaches down to find nothing.
Instead, it’s the chef who has the flamethrower. Also, the chef’s puns are better. “Baked to perfection,” he’d say over the smoldering corpse of the AC guy.
I still have to figure out “Now the shoe is on the other foot,” though. I’ve already worked out that it’s a clown shoe, but the rest has been indecipherable.
It was certainly more worthwhile to think all this through than what was on Dame’s TV wall. She had a place on the upper lower east Westside, or whatever they call it. All this time and I still don’t have the best understanding of how Empyreal City is laid out, but that’s what satellites and bombs are for. Either way, it’s just a few miles from the spiffy neighborhood where the rehab clinic is situated.
This penthouse was nice, too. I don’t know what kind of tile that was, but it could take a refrigerator thrown onto it without cracking. And the bed! That thing was so soft and fluffy that I started moaning just from throwing myself down on it.
That was how Dame found me.
I was all stretched out in something like a curved, floppy F at that time and happened to look up in the direction of the doorway while in mid-groan. Dame just had her arms crossed, irritation smoldering in her eyes. There was no sign of Dipstick Von Micropenis.
I wasn’t in my armor, so there was less chance she knew who I was, but that still meant I was a stranger rolling around on her bed in nothing but boxers. I believe I know where boxers come from, actually. It has to do with this rebellion in China linked to opium or something. You know how those rebellions are about increased freedom. Freedom of jumbly bits, in this case.
“Damey wamey! There you are!” I slid off the bed and landed on my knees, walking over to her like that. I reached over where my stuff was piled up by the door and grabbed my helmet. I held it in front of my head to indicate who I am. I just change my face so damn often, you know? They might as well have a question mark in the database for my composite drawing. “It’s me, the lovable neighborhood sociopath! Well, one of them these days. You and I need to have a little date about that scumbag you’re dating, whatshisname, Dieter Fartsnsvallows.”
“What are you doing?”
“Calm down. I didn’t come here to fight,” I told her as I gave what I hoped was a disarming smile. I could tell that some shit eating had slipped into it, but I couldn’t help it. That bed was damn relaxing. I grabbed the gift basket I had brought from where it lay next to my armor and held it up. “Here, see? I come bearing gifts. Perhaps you would care to partake of this fine selection of cheeses or panties?”
You know, it had been a long time since I’d been kicked in the face by a designer shoe. For something called Prada, it sure does a hell of a lot more than just prod.
Dame and I have a complicated relationship. We met at a schmoozy function. I stole a guy’s wallet for some reason…maybe to tip a waiter? She was gorgeously attired and in catching my eye, she easily distracted me from how she was pickpocketing the guy’s wallet back from me. I don’t know what she was there for, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she had a legitimate invitation. I was just there to kill a guy with swan’s head.
She’s a nonviolent thief, punt to my head notwithstanding, and I like to blow shit up. She’s wealthy, likes to steal art, and doesn’t want the limelight. I have a little bit of money, burned down one or two of her favorite art galleries, and I’m an attention whore. It was my own actions at the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art that attracted her attention to my criminal enterprises. She has a knack for finding my lairs and breaking into them. She also gave the heroes the location of my base at one point.
Water under the bridge. I even agreed to not touch her or harm her. I still kidnapped her, stole her little phase shift bangle that allowed her to pass through solid objects as long as they weren’t high energy or electrified, and had her there on top of the Empyre State Building when many a bad thing happened. She also went back and forth between the heroes and myself while we worked on a ceasefire.
By the way, I don’t have the bangle any more. Lost it in the ashes of the Empyre.
Perhaps, given all that, a love tap to the nostrils was not unwarranted, but dammit I worked hard on that gift basket and it was really hurtful of her to not even look at it! And no, I wasn’t crying. My eyes were just watering from the kick.
Dame turned and walked over her plush cream carpet and down the stairs. I tossed aside the gift basket and began to pull on my armor as I followed. I only stopped long enough to slip a nanite syringe out and give my nose a jab. As I was pulling my torso armor on over my head, I seemed to take a wrong turn down her straight flight of stairs. A beautiful wood floor stopped my fall. I’m sure she can fix those scratches with a marker or something.
So I stood up and got the rest of my armor locked in and sealed, then turned to find her in the kitchen area. She was busy adjusting a TV I’d turned on. It was built into a counter top that ran behind and higher than the sink. She settled on the news.
“…so the asteroid strike on our planet was averted barely minutes after we first learned about it due to Dr. Dementoid’s hidden moon laser, which was then disabled by Lunar Khan, who claims sovereignty over that portion of the moon…”
Why can’t they ever have anything interesting on the news?
She slid a rag ice in it along the counter toward me. “For your nose.” Then she waved a little gadget at me that resembled a communicator. “This is for if you try anything. This panic button goes straight to the Shieldwall heroes if you want to try anything.” She waved a little communication gadget at me.
“Thanks, but my nose is fine.” I tossed the rag and ice behind me at the breakfast area. It clattered on the table and arrangements. I held my hands up, “And about that other thingy there, I’m just here to talk, Little Miss Threatypants. I think you know what about.”
“You tried to kill my date.”
“No, I tried to kill a complete asshole who has a price on his head. And he is bad. A real motherfucker. Okay, so he’s not that bad, but he’s a dick. Also, he’s underage.”
“Whoa, how old is he?” she asked, flustered. I’d put her in her early to mid twenties, so things might have been statutory without her realizing it.
“Sixteen or seventeen, I think.”
“I didn’t know that. He was dressed very well, and we met at the gallery.”
“Don’t care, though it’s a good reason not to hide him. By the way, where is the lil devil?” I looked around, then walked over to the cabinet. “Nope.” I checked some sort of container on a countertop. Nothing but sugar.
“He’s not here and if he listens to me, you won’t be able to find him as easily by his phone.”
“Damn, was hoping I could nab him here.”
“Are you in some sort of hurry?” she asked with crossed arms. “Is there a reason you need to kill him quickly?”
“If I don’t get him, someone else will. Client made it a casting call because your boyfriend came to town for his rehab.”
She raised an eyebrow at that. “What is the story on all this?”
“Well, it all started when he decided to replace the brake system on his truck with poor people…” and so I told her the tale of why so many people wanted him dead.
“…and that’s why you should always Google your underage boyfriend before saving him from a Rube Goldberg device.”
Hate burned in Dame’s eyes as they bore into me. She looked like she was about to grab a knife too.
“Yep,” I just said, filling the silence between us. She had turned down the volume on the TV, which was busy showing Smokey Bear spraying a campfire with some sort of freeze ray. “He’s got plenty of people who want his head, and some of them hired the rest of us. Though, may I ask, why you never seemed to look at me quite that way?”
She blinked and her head jerked backwards slightly. It was an unusual question, but it tickled me to think she was more comfortable with me killing people and tearing cities apart in a mask.
“The system… however you want to take that… doesn’t protect you,” she said haltingly, picking through her words to make sure they matched the thoughts she wanted to express. “Or me, for that matter. If you went to court for what you did, they’d lock you up in a heartbeat. He did some of the same things you did; I mean, he killed people and admitted to it. They just let him go. That’s not right.”
“Well, don’t worry about it. I’m on the case. And the new ‘let’s murder a murderer’ playset comes with all your favorite action figures including: Curtain Call and his disposable minions, Hanged Man with five different types of rope, and the Butterfly mafia. Wow, I just realized how ridiculous that sounds. Butterfly mafia.” I affected a slow Italian mafia accent, “Don Monarch, thank you for inviting me on this, the day of your daughter’s cocooning. Or would it be cement cocoons? I need to think about this. This could be a cartoon. Leave the gun, take the pollen. No, Fat Pollen, and I knew it was you Lepidoptera. I knew it was you.”
At least Dame cracked a smile at that. Didn’t let me go for the full tongue action like Michael had with Fredo in the second movie. Or even touch her. Or get near her.
She waved the communicator again. “I’m not going to interfere again, and I don’t think our mutual hero friends will find out in time to do anything either.” Then, she shooed me out the door with a broom.
Hey, at least I can still have a civil conversation with someone about ripping someone else’s head off. Plus, she kept the gift basket. Kinky, kinky. I wouldn’t be surprised if she puts that cheese to good use.