I slipped into the booth and closed the door. After a few seconds of silence, the man on the other side of the wall asked me a question in Italian. That’s when I learned that my recent reformatting erased the Italian files in my translator program. “Sorry, priestly dude. I don’t know the Olive Garden speak. I know we’re in Rome, so let’s do what Romans do every time I see them in the movies… speak English.”
“Oh, finally, for God’s sake,” the man on the other side of the screen said with a hint of a Scottish accent, though it might have also been Canadian. “I have got to tell you, man, I been sitting here day in and day out, and it’s nice for once to hear my native tongue. Do you have anything you’d like to confess, my son?”
“I’ve done unspeakable things to people, Father. People…goats…the English language. I’m not picky. I’ve killed people, sometimes in amusing ways. I’ve bludgeoned a man to death with his own skull, which may have broken some scientific laws. I’m a man on the edge. I blew up a building because heroes almost beat me. I also blew up a nuclear reactor because villains were going to try and beat me. I once molested a sidekick with a hard sausage. I’ve coordinated to create global climate change for some reason I can’t remember. Most shamefully, I may have the hots for a hero.”
After seconds of flabbergasted meditation and contemplation, the priest spoke up. “That’s…a lot to take in, my son.”
“I’ve done a lot more than that, believe me. The reason I’m here is I once took money from the Vatican to help them deal with a succession crisis involving Pope Palpatine.” That’s why I stopped here, after all. Might as well squeeze the people I knew in the Catholic Church for information. If they play nice, that would remain a metaphor.
“Oh, you’re one of those. I suppose it’s no accident you picked this confessional.” He sighed. It’s true, certain subtle marks are used to indicate which confessionals are there for business and which are for pleasure. The business ones just do double duty rather than ask every random person who walks into them if they did anything clandestine for the Church lately.
“I actually hoped to catch Father Poffo,” I told him, referencing the guy I’d met in the past. Not that he probably enjoyed the relationship, but I figured it would be easier to go through him.
“Father Poffo’s not available. I’m Father Toombs. What brings you to our neck of the woods, mister…?”
“All roads lead here. My name’s Gecko. Psycho Gecko.”
“Fuck me with a five-legged pogo stick.”
“No thanks. I’m all fucked out for now, and have none to give you. I just want information on a unique individual in this general area. A fellow by the name Buttero. Dresses like a cowboy. Know where his home on the range is?”
I heard him shift over on the other side of the confessional. “I’m not at liberty to discuss the whereabouts of assets or potential assets.”
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, counted to ten, then said. “Ok. I’d like to let you know that this makes me angry. And while I could threaten you like you’re expecting, I’ve decided I’m going to be better than that in this instance. I’m pooling my sanity here, and it’s taken a lot of effort. I’m tired already.” I stood up to go.
“What are you going to do, my son?”
“I’m going to do what I do.” I kicked open the door of the confessional, almost knocking over a little old lady. “Whoopsie, almost gave you quite a fall. Sorry about that.” I kicked her cane out from under her, sending her the rest of the way down. “There, all fixed now.”
I skipped down the aisle, wondering how to make a really big scene in Rome. Perhaps grab some lions and reopen the coliseum? But first, I had to give a shout out. I stopped beside some nuns who had stepped into a row of pews to avoid my skipping, clearly baffled at somebody looking happy and guilt-free in the place. I gave them and the rest of the cathedral a little bow, then said to one and all, “I have something to say! It’s better to burn out than to fade away!”
I jumped through the doors of the cathedral, brimming with energy. Homicidal energy. Homicidal energy joined soon by the fusion-powered energy of the sun as it burned through the cosmic void to penetrate Earth’s protective layer and inundate the lifeforms covering it in damaging radiation.
It knew my dark desires. And the son of a bitch blinded me briefly as I walked outside.
Chat stood out by our little rental car with a grin on his unmasked face, easily maintaining the masquerade that we weren’t criminal powers of the night.
“Somebody looks happy to see me. Should we restock on condoms?” But apparently not maintaining other masquerades publicly.
At least one passerby looked up between us and giggled to himself. But really, what’s a passerby but a walking target? I started gauging how to jump off the steps to catch him and bite off a body part, when Chat approached. More quietly, he said, “I found our elusive friend with the leather fetish.”
“You have a one track mind with all this sex talk. Now, get out of my way. I need to murder someone.” I looked over his shoulder to check the location of the giggler. Unfortunately, he’d gotten a pretty good distance away. However, a woman pushing a stroller got pretty close. Killing babies is so easy, it’s like shake and bake. I know, cheap joke; easy to make as taking life from a baby.
Chat moved to block my view. “I meant Buttero.”
I raised a hand to silence him. “I’ll play with your Buttero later, ok? But first, I have some urges I need to work out.”
“I mean the cowboy!” he yelled at me, then slapped me across the face. He could just as easily have done that the other way around. For half a second, I didn’t recognize him anymore except as a person who just hit me. I don’t think he noticed my hand clench into a fist or my body almost winding back to throw it at his face. I stopped myself, though, and he relayed that his people in town knew where we could meet Buttero.
He kept his hideout in the Italian countryside. It didn’t take long for us to find, its main line of defense being its anonymity in an out of the way spot. I stood on a cliff, hidden by my armor’s holographic projectors, looking down on the old-fashioned town built in a rough and sandy part of the Italian countryside.
Chat approached the middle of town, which looked barely big enough for just the two of us. Despite the sun beating down overhead, Chat wore his dark azure costume. Which probably makes it another shade than azure. Midnight blue, maybe? Either way, it blends in better with the night than with high noon at the Not-So-Ok Corral.
Buttero stepped out of the tavern, of course. He reached up and tossed away his cigarette, squinting down the street at Chat. Between translation problems and the distance involved, I couldn’t make out what he said. Or what Chat said when he responded in Italian. Damn Europeans and their multilingual skills!
You know what? I didn’t need to wait on negotiations anyway. I pulled out my most reliable long-ranged weapon, the laser potato peeler. Sure, it’s primarily a short-range long-range weapon that I never use and which inevitably ends up stolen or destroyed until I make a new one, but this was its time to shine.
I whipped it out and aimed it at Buttero. Nope, a little too unsteady. I reached down to my belt to see what else I could use. After a couple minutes of improvisation, I sighted Buttero with my rubber chicken-butted laser potato peeler rifle.
Buttero spun and fired in my direction like a dashing British secret agent, though I thought it strange that he knew I was there and my assumption that he missed fell apart along with the cliff under my feet. The good thing about it is I wound up mostly on top of the rock pile on the bottom of the cliff. Unfortunately, Buttero fired twice, burying me under more. I wouldn’t call it overkill, though. Overkill means the target died.
Pissed means I didn’t. I just took several minutes to shift around and crawl my way to freedom through the shifting weight pressing in on me.
I hauled my head out to find Chat and Buttero standing there, smiles on both their faces. Or I assumed Buttero smiled. The mustache made it difficult to tell what his face was doing. I looked up at Chat specifically. “Et tu, Chattus?” He shook his head. “I knew you were helping me too easily. This was all a trap, isn’t it? Who paid you off? Or is it personal?”
He said something to Buttero at his side. I squeezed my torso out of the pile. “Enough with the Italian! What was that, anyway? You’re laughing at me. I can tell by your Frenchness.”
“I told him ‘The fun ones are always crazy.’ He’s our new partner.” He clapped a hand on Buttero’s shoulder. Buttero held up the Pink Petal diamond.
“Dammit, Chat, this is a heist, not an orgy.”
They both stepped back to give me more room as I pulled myself free, neither bothering with the futile effort to help me free. “This isn’t an orgy, either, Psycho. This is a way to get the diamond without killing anyone.”
“Oh, sure, trust the guy who shot at me.”
Buttero spoke up, in Italian-accented English. “That’s the sniping cliff. I ain’t getting sniped off the sniping cliff, pardner.”
He had a point there, I suppose. I had to respect the savviness long enough for Chat to explain to me they’d worked out a deal. We get the diamond to return to Anatole the Turk, along with a small tracking device. We get the information we want, and Buttero gets to pull off a daring raid on whatever vault Anatole used to store stolen goods. He gets the diamond back with interest.
The only one who doesn’t get what he wants is me, apparently. No homicide, none. No matricide, patricide, fratricide, regicide, morticide; you know how messed up this situation is? I went into a store and read a box of condoms, and there isn’t even spermicide!
Anyways, I’m ending this update now due to hunger. I could kill for some alfredo.
And knowing these pacifist sons of bitches, they’ll probably give me all I can eat just for voicing that sentiment.