You know, folks, I’ve seen a lot of stupid things. Politics tends to top the list. Though, perhaps higher, are those who decide that there’s no difference anyway. Of course, delving into politics in-depth is usually seen as a pretty good way to alienate people. Funny thing is, everything’s politics. The word is made up of two parts. “Poli,” which is Latin for many, and “ticks” which are bloodsucking insects. But as long as there’s more than one person alive, there’s politics.
The other reason I said it’s all politics is because everything gets dragged in. Every major project, like NASA, has major effects and provides hundreds or even thousands of new inventions. Little things also have big effects, like when the Advanced Research Projects Agency starts working on a worldwide network of computers to share information between government scientists and winds up with the internet. Or people studying cuttlefish come up with monitors and screens as thin as, well, cuttlefish skin. Flippin’ glorious little sausages, aren’t they?
The overall reason for me to talk about all this boring crap is because it interfered with all my boring crap. I first heard about it, incidentally, while taking a crap. I often read on the toilet. A guy has to keep up with the world’s news. Heck, Long Life’s accelerated their human trials and might get their own nanites out on the market as early as this year. But what really caught my eye was the announcement that the new U.S. Congress is crafting a bill to hold superheroes accountable through some sort of licensing program. A new bureau or cabinet position might be in the works, also.
I’m sure that’ll work out well. While they’re at it, maybe they can provide a directory of undercover cops and Non-Official Cover Agents for the CIA. Next time an agent hears, “This message will self destruct,” it might be due to an angry man with a RPG-7 pointed at it.
And to all that, some folks choose to say, “Oh well, I’ll ignore the problem until it goes away.”
As Empyreal City’s resident problem, I wasn’t going away. Pink Pixie didn’t either, not yet. In the meantime, Venus wanted to negotiate. The heroine had to have realized her attempt at containment failed. That status quo couldn’t be maintained. As Dr. Horrible once eloquently said, “The status is not quo.” I figured at some point she’d have to try and bargain with me. Welcome to Crazy Psycho Gecko’s Used Corpse Emporium! Every body must go!
The meeting started off on the wrong foot when Venus walked into my lair, flipped over the table I sat at, pinned me under it, sat on it, and kicked me in the face.
I ran my tongue over my bleeding lip and looked up at her. “Venus, how insert adjective here it is to see you. Welcome. Come on in. Have a seat. Make yourself at home. Are those new boots? Why don’t you introduce me to them?”
She gave me another kick. Carl pulled his mini pistol on her, but stayed at a distance. Moai pulled a cricket bat out of nowhere. Venus kept her eyes on Carl’s gun. He tapped the trigger, spinning the barrels. “Now, Venus, you’ve posed me quite the conundrum. You picked a bad time to get sassy. I could talk, but why do that when Carl’s right there with a gun?”
“You still want something from me,” she said. Bow chica honk honk. Nah, she maintained that idealistic optimism of someone who the world hasn’t yet disappointed. “If that’s not enough, my armor is rated to withstand small arms fire. That includes the visor. Handguns are notoriously inaccurate, and so are miniguns.”
“Carl, Moai, put ’em away. But be prepared to whip ’em out and hose her down if things get too hairy.” I smiled up at Venus. I couldn’t see her eyes, but I knew she rolled them under that visor. “So, Venus, are you letting me up anytime soon, or do you prefer a full spread of me on my back?”
“I want you to stop. I didn’t put you in jail or lead an army to your doorstep, but I can’t keep letting you do this. I said I’d kick your ass if you did this.” She stomped on my face.
“Hard to do that here alone and in private, eh? Feels wrong to beat a guy who can’t fight back, doesn’t it? It gets easier, believe me.”
Venus let out a frustrated growl and let the pressure off me. Then she stood up and let me pick myself up from under the table. “Why are you going after Pixie? Is this about pretending you have standards?”
I made myself comfortable on the floor, but checked my lip. Eh, more blood. Blood happens. It’s a good way to make an exclamation point on a statement. If you’re a woman, it also makes a period every month.
Well, y’all know what they say. The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. It doesn’t apply to this situation in the least, but it’s what they say.
“It’s a job, Venus. Someone offered it, I took it. Someone didn’t appreciate that some guy’s life was ruined by an overzealous hero following him home. Why does that sound familiar to me all of a sudden?” I feigned confusion.
“Well how much to buy you off?” she asked.
I put my hands behind my head. “Why, Venus, you want to hire me to not kill someone? I didn’t think you had the money. Been stealing wallets from muggers?”
She crossed her arms. “I have friends.”
“Yeah, you think they’d appreciate you paying me, of all people?” A character in a movie once outlined a strategy I sometimes use. If they try to appeal to my morals or honor, play the mercenary. If they offer me money, play up the moral reasons. I believe it was Rum Tum Tugger’s song from Cats. For I will do as I do do, and there’s no power in the ‘verse can stop me.
“If it’ll stop you from killing people, yes,” she said.
I kipped up to my feet, then slipped on a paper plate on the floor and tumbled back to my ass. I made it on try number two and brushed myself off. “Well then, if you’ve got the green, I suppose I can leave your pink alone. I won’t start anything, but don’t think I refuse to defend myself if she starts something. I don’t suppose I can interest you in any extras while I’m at it, eh? Happy ending, perhaps?”
She shook her head quickly. “Uh uh. That’s not happening.”
“Awww, poor me. I shall die poor, celibate, and alone,” I threw my forearm against my forehead.
“From what I heard about you and that Tricia woman, I doubt you’re celibate,” Venus said.
I shrugged. “I thought she could fast track me to the top of an acting career, a journalist like that. For something like that, I’m fully prepared to wind up on the bottom. But then she left me. She left me so cold, Venus. I just need someone to hold me…” I reached out as if to hug her.
She pushed me away by my face. “You’ll get paid. We can hash that out another time over the phone. So no attacking Pink Pixie.” When I nodded, she left.
So then I went and found Matatoa where he napped on the couch, watching Westerns. “Hey Matty,” I said, dipping my face down close to his. “Matty, Matty, Matty, Matty, Matty. Are you sleeping, Matty?”
“No,” he answered, keeping his eyes closed. “I’m practicing being dead. You should try it.”
I stood up then and clenched my fists as I strained. After great exertion and reddening of my face, I held my arms out and thrust my tented pants forward. “Behold! Rigor mortis has set in!”
“What’s that smell, Gecko?” Matty asked.
I lowered my hands as I sniffed and looked around. Then, holding them out again in all their dramatic glory, I announced, “Behold, the bowels have been voided!”
Five hours later, I stood at an intersection, waiting. After a quick clean up and pants burning, Matty gave me the low down on when and where I could accidentally run into Pink Pixie. That’s why I stood on a street corner in a purple velvet jacket with tiger stripped trim and interior, with a wide brim purple hat sporting a peacock feather. Pimp Man on patrol!
A few minutes before Matatoa predicted Pixie’s arrival, screeching tires led into the slam of a car getting t-boned by a truck. That explained why Pixie would be there, I realized. This, in turn, gave me a brilliantly malevolent idea.
I leaped into action, transforming before everyone’s very eyes from a pimp to the super pirate disguise I used when I confronted Pixie last week. I ran over to the car. The driver’s side was stuck, so I tore the whole door off.
“What are you doing?” asked a man with his arm around his crying wife. They stood on the other side of the car, by the open passenger door. Man, I sucked at being heroic. Then again, being heroic isn’t my job anyway.
Then the wife gasped and started banging on the rear window. “My baby!”
There in the back, a car seat sat strapped into the rear. Seatbelts were everywhere and the rear door looked like a mess. Pimp Man to the rescue! Or Pirate Pimp Man, as it may be in this case. I came in through the driver’s side, tearing through belts to haul the child out. Except he wasn’t breathing.
The mother and father both scrambled to get around the car. Blinded as they were by fear, tears, and mucus, they didn’t think to crawl through it.
I held my fist up to the sky. “You’re not getting this one, Lord!” Then I lowered the baby to the ground and bent over it. Pulling out a syringe, I popped one end off it and slid my other hand out of its glove. The regenerative nanites inside attempted to go to work on me, but I bonded enough to give them new orders that they passed on to the others. Then I poured the syringe into the baby’s mouth and pretended to give it mouth to mouth and CPR.
After a couple seconds, I stopped and raised my head up, the hologram showing me licking my lips. “Mmm, ma’am, that is some delicious breast milk. Would you mind if I had a-?”
I didn’t get the question out all the way because the baby began wailing. That got applause from the crowd, including the drunk guy finally stumbling out of his truck. The parents hugged me as I stood up, their eyes dripping tears of relief instead of fear and grief. Disgusting, snotty tears of relief.
I held the baby up, then dropped it, but I caught it before it hit the ground. Being extra careful now, I held it up above me. “The circle of liiiiiiiiiiife!” I sang.
That’s when someone punched me from behind. Anyone could be forgiven for not paying a lot of attention to their surroundings in those circumstances, but I would have let this happen regardless. I stumbled forward, careful to keep hold of the baby, as the Pink Pixie glared and pulled back to get another swing in at me. Before she could, the father jumped on her and the mother swung her purse at Pixie’s head.
I reiterate, an unpowered human man and his wife attacked a superhero. Folks, break out the Genesis puppets. We were now in a Land of Confusion.
Confused and seriously ticked off, the Pink Pixie lashed out. The dad went flying onto the front hood of the truck that wrecked his car. The mother backed off and I handed her the baby. She stood behind me, using me as a shield. Before Pink Pixie could start anything more, though, a shoe came flying out of the crowd around us and smacked her in the face.
All around us, regular folks gathered, yelling at the hero for daring to attack me, led by a rather tan fellow who hopped on one foot to avoid getting his shoeless one on the ground. Pissed off and perplexed, the Pixie took to the air and escaped rather than make things worse.
The day saved, I hopped up onto the car and posed with my hands on my hips. “Let this be a lesson to everyone: even heroes have their flaws. They can go bad, like anyone else. But hear me now. Fear not, America, for you will always have allies in the never-ending fight against evil, as you saw here today. And to the children, I’d just like to add: study hard, eat your veggies, and don’t drink and drive.”
Then I looked up and raised my fist to the sky while powering up the jump boosters. “Excelsior!” I yelled as I took off into the sky.
They didn’t see that my “flight” ended when my arc landed me on a building the next street over.
That night, back at the lair, Carl turned from the news broadcast of the events, and from his hot dog, to ask, “Do you really have to talk like that when you’re pretending to be a good guy, boss?”
“Carl, once you’ve decided to put on a mask and a colorful skintight outfit, there’s really no room left for shame. Seriously, where am I supposed to keep the shame? Do you think I have special shame pockets in those tights, where I can keep it?”
Carl rolled his eyes at me, then took another bite of his hot dog. His face scrunched up as he chewed. “Ugh, for some reason these dogs taste pretty bad.”
“You grilled them, right?” I asked, holding in a smile.
“The one with the burnt pants in the bottom with the charcoal?”
“Yeah.” Carl nodded.
“Nope, can’t think of what might have caused it, Carl. If anyone needs me, I’m going to go up on the roof and do an evil laugh.”
Like y’all would have kept a straight face. Mwahahaha.