“Yo, Carl, how’s it hangin?” I asked, taking a call from my recently-rescued minion in my helmet. Meanwhile, I was busy mapping out the list of targets given to me by Basford.
“It’s alright, boss. Things were tense at first. I missed a few visits.” He didn’t sound too happy at that.
“Your ex didn’t try to take away visitation or force you to pay a lot more, did she? I’m telling you, say the word and I’ll see what dripping hellbeast we can summon from the depths of Tartarus to take her to court. Preferably something with slick hair-like spines and relatively straight fangs.”
Basford had given me a list of names and addresses for his extended family. I also responded to a few invites or called some of them up. They all wanted to offer me the same job of slaying their family. By putting in multiple appearances, I confused any understanding of my intentions for everyone but the main son of a bitch himself.
“No, boss. That’s alright. I smoothed things over with my back pay. They don’t know what I do, but now they know somebody imprisoned me. They don’t think it was the cops, either. They checked. Boss, I’m not sure I want to head back so soon. Is there anything you need over here?”
Good question. I missed him. I couldn’t wait for him to get back here and help Moai and I out. But I had a few too many people already with the Rejects still inexplicably hanging around, taking up all kinds of space. The final frontier. These were the voyage of the USS Enterguys.
But I digress. Do I ever digress.
I also thought of something Carl could do for the near future, at least until we got back to Empyreal City.
“Real estate,” I said. “We need a new base over there. My own apartment building at least. I need places I can build a base under or inside of. You buy me somewhere new to keep my stuff and then we’ll meet up again. If I give you access to an account, do you think you could do that for me?”
“I think I’m gonna need the help of a real estate friend of mine, boss.”
“That’s fine, Carl. What’s one more person? Somehow I’ve become a popular guy recently. Sometimes I feel like a rattlesnake in a dildo. Know what I mean?”
“Something’s wrong with you, Carl. You seriously need to expand your horizons.”
“Boss, you’re expanded enough for the both of us.”
“That’s what she said. Heyoooooo!”
That got a laugh out of him. “I gotta run, boss. It’s movie night with my girls. Don’t get too corporate over there, you hear?”
“Me? Corporate? I’m the same lovable scamp you’ve always known. Slay ya later, Carl.”
I took a moment to pull up the account of Gekko Tech-o Incorporated and made some changes. I named Carl as the Coordinator of Acquisition. It sounded impressive and it left a legal-looking paper trail to cover over his work for me. Plus, it’s only fitting that the owner of a corporation be a supervillain. It just made more sense that way.
Aside from keeping up with Carl and making a map, I had other projects. I needed information about magic stuff. As a general rule, few people gave me the time of day. Of those that did, none knew enough about magic to bother with. That left me with one good option: try my enemies.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the Faustus communication protocols, which meant I had to contact them the old-fashioned way: an innocuous-seeming email to the their website front. If someone didn’t know better, it was merely a site for the buying of various mystical or homeopathic cures. Just like my email looked like someone innocently asking for some assistance on identifying which of their products a friend was using recently.
Hopefully they picked up on the bit about having gotten sick while visiting Six Flags over New Orleans. That’s the park where they used to have a base, until I went off the rails on a crazy train.
Then I had to leave for my doctor’s appointment. What, can’t a guy go see a psychiatrist? Let me correct that, can’t a guy go see a psychiatrist who happens to be named Eugene Basford?
The good doctor liked to serve the rich and famous. It sounded lucrative. He got to listen to the secrets of celebrities and prescribe them drugs. I got an appointment by pretending to be a movie star who preferred to keep my mental issues out of the limelight. The person I spoke with let me reserve my time under an alias.
I arrived in armor, though that’s not what I looked like. I needed to blend in. This was an office that normally saw movie stars, singers, and amateur sex tape stars. And not just any stars. Stars of Hollywood.
I’ve noticed that anytime a member of some group is among his peers in private, you’ll get behavior that seems eccentric to nonmembers. Like butchers. Get a bunch of butchers together, and soon they’ve wrecked the room with a water balloon fight, only with flank steaks and chicken gizzards instead of balloons.
Or if someone hosts a party for sculptors, don’t be surprised in the morning if it turned into nothing but bodybuilding and dick measuring.
That’s just how people are.
I’ve spent a lot of time attempting to figure out what happens when female porn stars get together in a convention. All surveillance footage I’ve seen leads me to believe they know they’re being watched. Plus, the videos show evidence of extensive editing.
They even added music.
So how would I possibly look like someone at ground zero of this sort of behavior from celebrities?
A bright purple suit, with a leopard print vest. But only on the vest. For the wide brim hat, I went with zebra stripes. Around my neck was a blinged-out version of a pine tree air freshener. On my way from the parking lot to the door of the office, people kept stopping me and talking about my amazing Saint’s Row cosplay.
That’s how I countered my persistent smell problem. My full-body halitosis, if you will.
I hid my face behind a veil. As soon as I walked in, the secretary looked up and said, “Oh, I didn’t realize one of the Jacksons was on the schedule for today. Sir, or ma’am, you can’t go in there, he’s waiting on a client!”
I kicked in the door to the inner office. “Grab your sphincter, motherfucker, ‘cause I’m here to play!”
The holographic version of myself ran right at him while I skipped over to the side, cloaking myself in invisibility. Dr. Eugene jumped up from his desk chair and raised a fist. What fired from it resembled the top half of a skeleton covered in thin tattered rags. This wraith turned out to be more a projectile than some sort of summoned being. It tore through the illusion like there was nothing there. Then it caught the secretary as she ran to the door.
She froze, then opened her mouth as if to scream. The only sound was like old paper crumpling. It was everything between her skin and bones was sucked out of her, the way she suddenly became thinner. Then she dropped in a pile of bones held together by skin.
He swung his hand toward the hologram, confused. I had it shrug. It disappeared when I grabbed Eugene’s wrist and made damn sure that ring was pointed somewhere else. “Easy there, Black Lantern. Why do you have to get so hostile so quickly? Geez, magic isn’t a toy. Nuclear weapons, flamethrowers, miniguns, those are toys.”
“Whatever you’re here for, I have money,” he said with a whimper.
“Money, money money. Who said anything about wanting money? I’m here to deal with my scatological issues. By the way, doc, when’s the last time you were checked for colon cancer?”
I held onto his wrist with my left hand and wound up my right for a big uppercut. My uppercut was much like my goals in life: I didn’t aim high and often had to deal with a lot of crap in my way. Needless to say, Dr. Basford didn’t enjoy it when someone reached inside to find out what made him tick.
Organs, as always.
“Nnnnnnngh! Ah ah ah ah ah!” He tried to raise himself up on the desk to get off my forearm. In the process, he got his arm loose and took a swipe at me. An ethereal sword blade sprang forth from the ring as it swung at me. Because of the positioning, all he managed to do was cut into my shoulder. I grabbed his hand and yanked his arm further behind him than it was supposed to go. Something in the shoulder socket popped and then he wasn’t flailing it anymore.
“Aww, this is the thanks I get? I come in here to teach you all about full-contact improvisational ventriloquism, and this is how you repay me?”
I bobbed him up and down, moving my hand inside him as if it was a speaking mouth. I spoke with a higher pitch for his lines. “Gee whiz, I’m so sorry Psycho Gecko. I was going to answer some of your questions about how I got this wonderful toy, but instead, I must die. Goodbye cruel world!”
That’s when he spilled his guts, quite literally too. My hand burst out with them. I then angled it around to face him as I once again used the high pitch voice. “Ooooh, throw out your hands, stick out your tush, hands on your hips, give them a push. You’ll be surprised, you’re doing the French Mistake, voila!” By the end, I projected a top hat onto my hand.
Eugene, who had not yet died, didn’t show any appreciation for my performance. So I reached through even further to grab his neck and yank it violently to the side. Oh snap, as I’ve repeatedly said after such kills.
I left a small note on his body as I walked out of the office. It read, “Just say ‘No’ to laxative.”
I almost made it out, but then something else appeared from the ring. It was a nebulous glow cloud at first. Then it took the form of a priest spinning in midair, a knife sticking out of each wrist and its throat. I dropped an illusion in my place and dove behind the secretary’s desk to avoid whatever the hell that was.
A whining noise filled the air, high enough pitched that it felt like it was in my head. I couldn’t see in the office anymore, but the illusion was caught by a swarm of knives and daggers of all sizes. Just when I thought it was over, one last cleaver flew out and embedded itself in the wood floor.
Then I saw the shrink step out, looking at the illusion, which just stood there and gave him the finger. Before he could see me, I went invisible again. Eugene rolled his neck with a crack but no apparent injury. His stomach mended as well, with entrails snaking back inside. Eugene gave the illusion a middle finger right back.
I noticed the ring pulsing during his regeneration.
He bent down and pulled the cleaver out of the floor. “You’re a tricky villain. I’m tricky too. It doesn’t matter how good you are, I was born better. Do you know who I am? You’re fucking with the wrong family!”
I appeared in front of him, grabbed the cleaver from his hand, and took his ring finger off. He screamed, but I shut him up when I shoved the finger in his mouth. He spat the finger back in my face, minus the ring. He showed off the ring in a pained grin, then tilted his head back and swallowed it.
“The fuck was that about?” I asked.
“Good luck killing me now,” he said, laughing.
I raised the cleaver. “Really?”
He gulped. “Someone will show up before you can get it out of me. I know! I have an appointment that will be here any second! A movie star with a security detail and a phone and a press agent.”
“Bullshit. I looked up your appointments. Didn’t recognize the name for this time,” I told him. I had to set up the joke that would really knock him dead, after all. I grabbed Eugene by the collar. I couldn’t help but notice that whatever benefit the ring gave him, he wasn’t conjuring shit up to attack me anymore.
“They’re using an alias. They’re down there as Paul Iachi. You won’t have time to get it out of me. Or maybe you can grab them instead. Yes, take them hostage and leave me alone.” Hope glimmered in his green eyes.
I cackled as I raised the cleaver overhead. “But doctor, I am Paul Iachi.”
Good joke. Roll on snare drums.