When I barged into the office of the Hollywood Walk of Fame Trust, swinging a saxophone ahead of me and wearing a fruit hat with full armor, I thought the man at his desk would accommodate my unique need to maim people hilariously. Laughing maniacally, I stomped up to him and pulled him close with the end of the saxophone. One push of the rocket button was all that separated this man from discovering what barbecue thinks in its spare time.
The slick-haired middle-aged man spoke into the phone he held, “I’m going to have to call you back. Something just came up. Thank you, buh-bye!”
I leaned in close, strawberries dangling in front of my face from the corner of the hat. “Good, now we can..talk…” I trailed off and blew a dangling strawberry out of my face. A couple of puffs proved fruitless, due to the helmet. It just fell back, so I grabbed the hat and rotated. Finally, I could begin again. “As I was saying, we can now thppppppppppPHPHTHPPP!” Rolling my eyes and holding up a finger, I now pulled the dangling raspberry out of my face and tossed it onto the brim of the hat.
“Now that I’m done with raspberries, onto the talk. When a man and a woman really, really like each other…wait, wrong talk. Oh, yeah, I know what I came here for. I want two things. Two.” I held up two fingers in a V sign, palm toward me. “I want to hurt you ‘til it’s funny. And it can be funny. Lowest bum, down on his luck…a victim of a poodle named ‘Froo Froo’ dropped out a window by a housewife who had enough of all the shedding. We’re getting slightly off topic. Thing Two, I want a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Give me a star, or give me death. Your death.”
He shrugged and nodded. “You got it.”
I stopped my hand in mid-swing. The papaya in that hand was, sadly, not smashed in the man’s face. It didn’t depress me because I got a star. “Really?”
“Yeah, really. Why not? You’re not the first person to come in here like this.” He grabbed a clipboard and pen off his desk. “What’s your name?”
I sat on the desk and oversaw his spelling of my name. “Psychopomp Gecko. Really? It’s that easy?”
“Psychopomp…Not the first alias we’ve put on there. Parkyakarkus was a strange one. Liberace. Houdini. Muhammad Ali, technically. He got his the same way. Walked right in and threatened to punch the first person who objected to his getting a star.”
After he finished, I grabbed the guy’s pen and stuck it in the brim of my fruit hat. “How’d that turn out?”
“We put it on a wall so no one will ever walk on his name. Howard’s nose still whistles when it’s cold.”
I clapped him on the shoulder. “Well, thanks. Good to know I’ll be remembered amongst names of famous actors like Harrison Ford from Star Wars and Harrison Ford from the silent era. It’s a somber occasion when I need to uphold my end of a bargain, but I am a man of my word when it’s convenient.”
I stood up and began to walk out the office. His words followed me out. “Stars are worthless anyway, not like the handprints outside Graumann’s.”
“GRAUMANN’S!” I yelled, charging out of the office.
The next day, I led a group by the TCL Chinese Theater, also known as Graumann’s Chinese Theater. Few of the tourists showed any worry about their guide being dressed in power armor. Neither did they mind the fruit hat or the saxophone. “Alright, people, I know you’re still obsessed with Christopher Walken’s hands and John Wayne’s fist, but I have a real treat for you over in this square.”
I indicated a fresher square of dried cement. Instead of the normal signature and handprint in the cement, this one featured human body parts. Not indentations. A cement-covered hand dug its nails into the next block over. I pointed out the various intricacies of the monument to the tourists, who snapped photo after photo.
“Here is a special monument to the chairman of the committee that determines which actors get immortalized here at Graumann’s. It was created just recently in special thanks to the chairman for his emphasis on exclusivity in selecting the best actors to go in the courtyard. Most notably, he refused to give a block to Psycho Gecko, the infamous supervillain with the most prestigious new star on the Walk of Fame. Maybe I’ll take y’all by there later for the low, low price of an extra hundred dollars a head. Now, does anybody have questions about how stupid this person was to not give Psycho Gecko a square? You, in the back, you have a question?”
The man spoke with a thick German accent. “It looks quite lifelike. I almost imagine I see a screaming face in there. Why did he choose this?”
I projected a large and obnoxious smile. “He didn’t so much choose the form of this memorial as have it forced on him. He really wasn’t in a mood to fight back when they gave him a preview of the final form. He had a hard day of work, which included his daily ritual of having a watermelon shoved up his anus. Let me tell you from personal experience, it’s hard to complain with a watermelon riding in your ass like a green Martian butt baby. Anyone else? Any questions at all?”
Next up was a young Latina popping bubblegum. “Why’s it look so fucked up?”
I nodded toward her. “That’s because it was made fucked up on purpose. You can tell from the positioning that they started to put them in all the right places until the artist was inspired to mix it all up. That’s why you have his head coming out from between his legs, and why one hand is giving the universal hand sign of peace and love to all passerby.”
Another Latina next to the first one spoke up then. “That’s the finger, not some hippie symbol.”
I raised my voice to talk over her. “Universal hand sign of peace and love! Go ahead, everyone who is not from here, feel free to use it on the angriest looking person you see on your trip today. I promise your positive attitudes will bring the stars out for you to enjoy. And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for ninjas.”
They stared blankly, trying to process the majesty of that statement. Meanwhile, I plucked a banana off my hat and threw it at the ground. It burst open, spewing smoke that concealed me. I called Moai and the others who had been waiting for this moment. When the smoke cleared, I stood alongside Moai and the Rejects. We all wore the stereotypical and historically inaccurate ninja pajama outfits.
I was perfectly concealed beneath the hologram of my ninja costume, except for my fruit hat and sax. “Ready?” I said back to the others. Roberta in particular nodded back to me, and they swung into the air on grappling hooks hooked onto the theater and surrounding buildings. That’s how they got there so quickly. I jumped high into the air and caught a pair of large brass and terrazzo stars. I spun in midair and threw one. The Walk of Fame star of Gene Autry stabbed into John Wayne’s cement block. The other four from the actor soon followed.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame was a poor supplier of shuriken, unless the wannabe ninja had super strength.
Before I could fall, Larry swung out and offered me the end of a spare line. I laughed. Well, I think we all laughed. Most people don’t get the opportunity to swing around a Chinese theater dressed as vengeful Japanese ninjas, flinging local monuments into one another.
At the end of my swing, I fell against the theater itself. Zane, the guy with the huge microencephalitc head, landed beside me. “How’s villainy treating you, Zane?”
He stuck Michael Jackson’s star in the side of the building and pulled down his face wrap. “I guess it’s okay. I thought by now I would be getting more out of life. I don’t remember my old life very well, but I think I wanted a family. Kids. A wife. A home with trees and little red mulch in front of it. Hey, wait a minute. How did you know it was me?”
Below us, a man ran out of the theater. He was speaking into a phone and shaking his fist at our antics. I held out a hand toward Zane. “Shush, I need a star. You got a spare?”
He reached behind, to a large backpack, and pulled one out. I took a glance at the name and said, “Very appropriate.”
I dropped to the bottom of my line as I swung pushed off to cross in front of him. The star made a poor cutting instrument, but I knocked the phone from his hand and a hole in his cheek using the star of Slash the guitarist. Before I could come back for another pass, Cecil B. DeMille came out of nowhere and caught him in the gut. Well, DeMille’s star.
I turned to the perpetrator of this stolen kill. I found Moai finishing a flip as smugly as any moving statue could flip without the ability to change its facial expression. It landed in the middle of the courtyard. I hung there and crossed one arm over my chest to indicate my irritation. I also also projected a hologram of a harlequin stabbing a little girl and her teddy bear over my head. “No fair, dude. I wanted him. Besides, I should have had DeMille’s star. I’m probably the only person to match his kill count.”
Moai shook his head at that. I let go of the line and dropped to the ground. I shrugged. “Alright, you’re right. That was a lame and dated joke, but you like Blazing Saddles too!”
The sound of approaching sirens caused the entire group to perk up. “Aha! Time put these costumes to good use. We must be sneaky, Moai. We must think like ninjas. Now, what would real ninjas do?”
So we ran away while getting rid of the stupid pajama outfits that stood out too much.
The entire group reconvened back at the old video store we were staying in. The first thing I did when I got back was crank up the air conditioning, which was also tied into the car. Then I stripped out of my armor and laid down on the cool counter top.
Moai walked up and draped a pine-tree-shaped air freshener around my neck. Roberta then crawled in, holding a bunch of envelopes in a pair of claws. “Guess who’s got mail!” she cheerily exclaimed.
I didn’t bother looking up until her clacking claws approached and she dropped the mess on my chest.
“The fuck?” I grabbed the envelopes. They were all addressed to me at that address. I expected junk mail or old creditors for the business that used to be there, but there was no good reason any of my group should have gotten mail. Yet there were the letters. I sat up and adjusted myself where my skin stuck to the counter. “Alright, looks like we might be moving soon.”
“Awwww. What do they say?” Roberta asked. She lifted herself partially onto the counter and partially to the ceiling.
“Well, looks like we got a whole lot of people with the same name sending us mail. I don’t think I know any Basfords. Anyone here a Basford?”
The collective of irradiated people shook their heads, shrugged their shoulders, and otherwise indicated the negative.
Tearing open the letters, I read the main points aloud. “Let’s see…dear handsome killer person with a big dick except when it’s really cold on the counter, blah blah blah, invite you to a dinner to discuss a mutual business relationship.” I picked up the next. “Invite you to a weekend at our estate for a wine tasting and discussion of an exciting opportunity.” I tried another. “Would love to take you out for a night of hookers and blow.”
Larry scoffed at that one. I held it out to him. “That’s what it actually says. All these guys want something from me for some reason.”
I let Larry keep that letter and grabbed another. “Dear man who killed my daughter…I have a feeling I know who this one is from…I understand you may be hesitant to accept a proposal from me, but I wish to have you over for a fundraiser I am throwing for a senator I own. This is not a trap. My spoiled malcontent of a brat was worth little to me in comparison to your skills. Enclosed you will find an engraved invitation to the fundraiser, set to be held within a few days. Unfortunately, bull costumes are inappropriate for this social function. P.S.: do not accept the offers from the others of my family. The vultures who call themselves my cousins and uncles only court you because the thought occurred to me first. They will turn on you in an instant.”
I set it and the invitation down, then glanced at the pile of letters from the assorted Basfords. “Hmmm, shit’s going down. Confusing shit. What do y’all think?”
I looked up, making Zane start. He had been bent over the fruit hat, which was still on my helmet. I must have spooked him in the middle of a snack because he started choking, his eyes bulging out. I grabbed a coconut off the hat and threw it into his stomach. He clutched at it where the nut hit, but the pressure caused him to expel the fruit that had lodged in his esophagus on me. The fact that the fruit turned out to be a pen better explained his inability to chew it and made things less messy for me.
Holding the pen in one hand, I grabbed another coconut from my hat with the other. Looking between the two, I figured I might as well have a good time with all these invitations. “The pen is mightier than the sword, but nothing takes your breath away like a nut,” I mused quietly to myself.
“What was that? Nevermind. Thank you so much, Gecko.” Zane held out a hand to shake. I gave him the pen, then held up the fundraiser invite.
“Yo, Moai! I’m going to walk into a trap. You want to be my ‘plus one’?”