I had a small bit of drama lately. Lovely. Not from the mess with the Basford family, either. I just finished looking over the map my mutated minions made regarding the Basfords. Their faces appeared where they lived. If they had a job, it was represented as well.
I looked it over, glad the others were getting something done. My own efforts with Faustus didn’t go as well. Before I could get back to them about their ignorance, I had to deal with the dog licking my hand.
I pulled it back instinctively. In my life, more things have attempted to eat me than have licked me in a friendly way. Nothing should express friendship by tasting you. Instead, like cats, they should show ownership by rubbing their scent on you.
Tried to slide my armpits over Moai once, actually. He expressed his displeasure with the idea using a knife.
Back to the puppy. There was a fucking puppy in my base! And my base was a fucking leftover video store!
I grabbed my rocket sax off the shelf and picked up the pup. I carried it through the curtained-off area surrounding the map and into the main area. The Rejects sat around on beanbags, chatting and taking turns fighting each other on a video game.
“What is this?” I asked, holding up the wiggling pup by the scruff of its neck.
Zane, the man with the macro microencephaly, spoke up. “We’re not sure, but we think it’s part Labrador, part Pit Bull.”
Roberta flopped her mouth tube over her body to address me while she played. “We call it Mr. Smooshyface!”
Tom, the guy with the shriveled-looking head and the lack of eyes, shook his head with a rattling and scratching noise. Mika, looking sullen with her lack of hands, spoke up as if to translate, “We’re not calling him Mr. Smooshyface. We’re calling him Spike.” She pointed a bony spine at Roberta as if to emphasize the name.
“Smooshyface!” yelled Roberta and Zane. Moai moved to stand on their side of the room.
“Spike!” countered Steve, the man with the see-through body. Mika shouted along with him, and Tom rattled his head as if in support.
I looked around and noticed Larry concentrating on the game. “What about you, Larry?”
Without looking up, he said, “Um…Switzerland.”
Placing my hands on my hips, puppy now pawing at my leg from my grip, I glared at him. “That’s disgusting. What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?”
The puppy barked, so I set it on Larry’s head. He tried to dodge as it gained its bearings and licked him, interrupting Larry’s attempt to break Roberta’s winning streak. I pointed my sax at the squirming, makeshift wig. “What are you doing getting a pet? Y’all are driving me crazy, and I’m a homicidal maniac. I can barely keep track of all y’all as is. In fact, weren’t there like two others who came with us? What happened to them? I don’t even remember their names.”
Steve answered that one. “Oh yeah, Malcolm and Lu. She got a job as a radio host, and he’s a stuntman. He said they got him doing some cool stuff related to this kaiju movie about the pacific. Don’t worry, they’re not coming back.”
I facepalmed. “This is the kind of stuff that turns me into a pirate with a motorized ballsack. I’m not the ‘team’ kinda guy, so this is driving me nuts. Unless y’all get comfortable with the idea of killing people who aren’t related to what happened to you, we’re going to have to figure this shit out.” I paused for a moment, looking around at each of the Rejects. Even Larry and Roberta met my gaze, though Roberta tapped away at the control pad in her claws.
The silence was broken by Roberta finishing off Larry’s character, eliciting an “Aww, man,” from him. It was followed by a growl as the puppy, Spike Smooshyface, chewed on one Roberta’s other claws.
Finally, I continued, “Now, first thing to figuring this all out…is y’all get started deciding where y’all are going off on y’all’s own without me. Moai, I need another ‘plus one’ for this brunch I got invited too. It’s someone on our list, too. Wear your poker face so they don’t get suspicious. Yeah, just like that.” I shot him finger guns, then walked to the door and then the trailer without making eye contact with anyone. Not even Spike Smooshyface.
Moai and I took the car. With the old movie store’s power on, it could handle the trailer. I can’t be completely sure, but I think Moai glared at me the whole way. He certainly stared in my direction, that’s for sure.
The directions from the invitation took us up a building and around to a sparsely-occupied restaurant. The windows faced out over the ocean. It would have been a nice view if I had a water fetish.
“Here’s your table, sir. I’ll send the waitress around momentarily.” The host motioned to a table with an older woman busy reading the menu. To her credit, she hadn’t resorted to plastic surgery. Even for a guy used to a world where people make use of genetic engineering and cybernetics, I never saw so many plastic-looking people until recently.
“Hello there,” I said to the woman I came to meet. “You must be…” I raised up the letter I’d gotten. I never figured out how they found my current address. Yet another unanswered question. “Wilhemina Ponson née Basford.”
“I’ll have another glass of wine.” She didn’t look up, just held up a glass that hadn’t yet been fully drained of wine. I took the glass from her and tossed it overhead behind me. Then I pulled out chairs for Moai and myself.
“I’m sure you will, and we’ll have something too. Until then, I’m Psycho Gecko and this is my associate, Moai Moaingson the Third, Esquire. You can call him Moai.”
She took a moment to get this all figured out. When the notes on her said she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the torture shed, I figured it was just an insult. Seeing how she really acted, I wondered what kind of threat she could actually pose. Then I remembered that she could have been an idiot with access to enough power to destroy half the world. Even if she didn’t destroy my half of the world, I didn’t want her anywhere near that kind of mojo.
After all, if the other half of the Earth goes, how will I get vodka and sake?
“I beg your pardon, Mr. Gecko. Or should I call you Psycho? Oh, please, make yourself at home. Waitress! Oh waitress! I swear, the service here is normally top notch, but they have a new girl today…” She snapped her fingers and looked around for the waitress.
“Yes, ma’am, how may I help you?” The waitress appeared suddenly, outfit a little ruffled. Her hair stuck out in places and her shirt didn’t tuck into her pants. Maybe they sent her to us because of her resemblance to Wilhemina. Either way, the old lady did get more wine. I got a screwdriver and ordered water on the rocks for Moai, with extra rocks.
“I understand your family really wants me to kill…well…your family.” I opened up the conversation right after our drink order.
“I see you have spoken to others already. You still came to me. Good move.” She smiled at me, then reached down to her purse. She set an ornate hand mirror on the table.
“Ah, that’s your artifact?” I asked her.
She nodded. “Yes, this one is mine. We each get to pick from the trove. As strong as these are on their own, imagine how powerful we could be if only we received the full inheritance of our family? I wouldn’t have to wait so long for wine, huh?”
She reminded me of a story I once read about a warmongering king whose adviser kept asking him what he’d do after conquering this kingdom and that kingdom. When they ran out of kingdoms to discuss, the king said that if he conquered all that, he’d probably spend all his time listening to musicians and drinking. The adviser then asked why he didn’t just do that instead of trying to conquer the world.
And that, they say, is the story of how Rolling Stones singer Keith Richards switched to cocaine. Or maybe it was Frank Zappa. Either way, it was a lovely allegory.
“From what I’ve seen, you’re rich enough that you don’t really have to wait.” Next to me, I noticed Moai looking at a nude marble statue. The sculptor went with a realistic Greek style, meaning it had a heaping helping of T and A. Moai nudged my shoulder when he caught me looking too.
I couldn’t help it. The sculpture had a rockin’ body.
It didn’t matter that I ignored Wilhemina, as the return of the waitress interrupted her.
“About time!” She took her glass directly from the tray to her lips. The waitress tittered, then set mine and Moai’s down. After gulping down a little of her wine, ‘Mina pulled her purse up to the table and grabbed a pen. Then she pulled a napkin closer and asked the waitress, “What’s your name, young lady? I want to know who to complain about.”
The waitress bit her lip. “Valencia.” I prepared myself to throw cash at her. I never noticed that sounds so much worse when the waiter is a woman.
“Valencia. I have a daughter with that name and I would hope she never turns out to be as irresponsible as- You!“ ‘Mina took a break from her lecture to actually look up at the waitress. Her eyes went wide. She opened and closed her mouth, doing an excellent imitation of a sea bass that drank like a fish. She didn’t play it so koi with her own daughter. “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?!”
The waitress stuck her chin out and held her head high. “I’m working, mother. That’s right. I’ve held done a full day’s work. In fact, I’ve done almost…” she held up her fingers and counted off four. “…almost a full week.”
It seemed the nut didn’t fall too far from the tree.
Wilhemina stood up, gathering her things. She shook with rage. “I have never seen anyone dishonor our family like this!’
“You’re just mad that I’m no longer completely dependent on you. You can’t stand that I have my own money. And who knows? Before long, I might have my own hopes and dreams, too!”
I stood as well, but stayed out of their little argument. I tapped Moai on the shoulder and led him over to the sculpture we were ogling earlier. I got the bottom and he carried it by the top while they were busy.
See? I’m not opposed to helping people pick up women. When I see people on the side of the road with corpses wrapped in chains, I’m always willing to help them seal the deal with a watery burial.
We hauled it toward the door when suddenly I slipped. And by slipped, I mean it was as much an accident as all those times I accidentally gave people prostate exams with my fist. I pushed the statue around so that it bumped Valencia and Wilhemina toward the fabulous view of the water. They stumbled toward it. I punctuated my continuing slip-up by yelling “Whoopsy daisy!” and kept pushing them toward the window.
The women braced themselves on the window, probably thankful for its strength. Then I swung the head of the statue against it. The glass shattered and the women couldn’t catch themselves too well on the sharp shards. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm overwhelmed my inertia and I wavered on the edge of the building. I saved myself by throwing my legs out from under myself and falling flat on my back.
“Did we get them? I didn’t check to see if the younger one was on the list.” I asked Moai. He didn’t answer, too busy trying to stabilize the sculpture. He swung around in a circle before it stuck out the window again and fell from his grasp. I rolled to my feet to join him in looking out over the edge as it fell. I also pulled up my copy of the map on my eye HUD.
The statue thudded and shattered as it smashed down on the two bodies far below. I threw a fist in the air. “Yeah…looks like we definitely got them. And good news, both of them were on the list. How do you like them apples?”
I turned to Moai and held up my hand for a high five. He didn’t return it. “Hey man, I’m sorry about the statue, but it’s not like we know many people who can bring that kind of stuff to life.”
Moai just looked at me.
I pointed my finger right in his face. “Besides, I just got done getting onto the others. Can’t have you bringing someone new into the group. I don’t know what to do with the people we got.”
Moai still stared.
“Whatever, be like that.” I turned and started walking toward the exit while shocked patrons and staff hurried to the window.
Moai followed. I tried to think of something to cheer him up, and that reminded me of something important. I snapped my finger. “That’s it! You’re right, I am being unfair.” I pointed my dangly broken finger at Moai. “Remind me to call up Carl and tell him to kill off whoever he gets to help him out when he’s done buying stuff. We wouldn’t want this turning into a criminal organization, now would we? Definitely not. I hate organization.”
Moai shook his head and just tilted down all mopey.
“Cheer up, won’t you? After all, we just killed two birds with one stone.”