“Uh huh. Yeah, I get that it happened, I’m just a bit curious on a few aspects of how it happened. You say they stole the van?” I grinned wide, looking over at Carl, Moai, and Crash in my office. They listened in on speakerphone along with me.
“Well, you see, we, uh, we picked up the van like you said we could for the heist. Then we stopped for some burgers and Mikey needed to pick up some laundry his girlfriend, well his ex, she dumped him because she thought he was cheating. He’s been helping us instead, so we figured ‘Fuck her’ you know, like ‘You can buy a dozen just like her,’ but she threw out his favorite shirt. Then we parked it outside Mikey’s mom’s place for the night and someone musta took it because he said it was gone when he woke up. There’s glass on the street and everything.”
“That’s really too bad,” I told him, hiding my urge to laugh. “So that’s half the score and the cost of a new van. Wow. You’d better be able to carry a lot of cash in your bike handlebars.”
Crash snorted and I quickly took the phone off speaker so the unfortunate would-be robbers wouldn’t hear her and then Carl start laughing at them. “What’s going on over there?” asked the voice on the phone.
Too late on that part. “I just have a show on in the background. They just had a really funny moment, so the laugh track was especially loud.”
“Oh? What’s the joke?” he asked. Either the person on the phone was dumber or smarter than I expected from someone whose plan to rob an armored car had been foiled by not having transportation. Luckily, I know a few jokes.
“Oh, you know. They had this child predator walking with a little boy through the woods at night. The boy said ‘This is so spooky!’ So then the older guy’s like ‘You think you’re scared, I’m the one who has to walk back alone!’ Anyway, I’ll expect to hear from y’all when the job is through. Ta ta now, boys.”
I hung up quickly, because I figured there was only so long before they realized no tv show on the planet would include that joke and because the two humans in front of me were laughing a lot more than any laugh track. Also, Crash’s color was beginning to worry me. It’s important to stop and occasionally take a breath when laughing. I’ve been in that situation before, though that’s now how I’ve heard people died from laughing. One old guy suffered something like a seizure or heart failure or something while laughing too much. His widow sent the TV show a letter thanking them. Now, I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger…
I pointed at Crash. “You laughed first. Moai, pay Carl.” Moai handed over the money from the betting pool. Carl bet that Crash would laugh first. Crash bet on me. I bet on Carl. I would have bet on Crash, but Carl got to pick before me and I didn’t want to split the pot with him. “By the way, you busted out the window getting it back?”
Carl shook his head. “No, I dropped a beer bottle. They left it unlocked.” Yes, we stole the van we let that bunch of incompetents borrow.
“That’s so mean!” Crash said, eyeing the twenties Carl pocketed from our little wager. “I almost feel sorry for them.”
I rolled my eyes. “Don’t. It’s like a test. If they get caught, they should realize they aren’t cut out to do this. If they succeed, I’ll know they’re worth putting money and time into. You got tested too, remember?”
She grimaced, tilting her head back just a little. “Don’t remind me. I get nightmares about that.”
“You know, there’s stuff you can take for that,” I told her. “I think the van’s moving some of it right now.”
She raised an eyebrow, so I continued explaining. “I’m not sure what it means, but I’ve been introduced to some people, a little fraternity you might say. I’ll do some favors for them, they’ll do some favors for me. We’ll see how far they go. Supervillains. Right now, we’re helping this guy move who makes…well…toys.Very advanced toys.”
If it sounds like I’m using baby speak to avoid going in depth, that’s not exactly the case. The crazy-haired man in the suit turned out to be an eccentric named Giuseppe. “This guy Giuseppe isn’t making robots or steampunk creations, nothing like that. And as far as I can tell, he’s not a bad guy. He’s just really passionate. Obsessed, even. So he crosses lines that others wouldn’t.”
“How does someone get too obsessed to know wrong from right?” Crash asked.
I shrugged and pointed at her, then Carl, then Moai. “That’s the easy part. Just a matter of deciding that the driving force in your decision-making is making the best toys ever, instead of what’s right or wrong. You, I, and everyone else do it. Buddha, Jesus, and Zeus all have it in common. Animals, too. Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it.” I slapped my hand on the desk before jumping up on it. “Let’s do it! Let’s fall in looooooove!”
Carl threw a couple dollar bills on the desk. I glared down at him. “Easy there. And cut that you.” Still looking at Carl, I pointed at Moai, who held up a phone. I erased the little picture he’d taken before it could spread. Then I sat down on the edge of the desk and looked back to Crash. “Anyway, we’re helping him move, except he has a bunch of drugs he’s stolen. We’re going to sell them out of the cafes and chop shops. In fact, get me Ms. Jackson on the phone. Tell her, ‘I’m sorry, Ms. Jackson, but I am for real.’ I need her Wonder boy to help me figure out what we’re working with.”
I jumped up from the desk and walked over to my door, kicking it open! Actually, just hurting my toes a bit. Damn you, open-toed heels! Whether seeing them on the womenfolk or wearing them myself, you remain my nemesis! Well, one of them, anyway.
“It opens the other way, boss,” Carl informed me after I kept kicking at it.
I pulled it open wide and pointed through the threshold. “Thank you Carl. Now, allons-y!”
Crash remained seated, but looked up from her phone. “I just texted Shasta Jackson. She says Wonder’s in the middle of a project and a little high, so we’ll have to meet with him tomorrow.”
I walked over to the calendar on my wall which showed a bit of artwork. Just a classy nude of a young lady with big boobs and this red fishnet thing on. I pointed to the next day, Tuesday, and said, “Allons-y!”
The next day, Crash drove me in her new car to get some coffee. Sure. Let’s say that’s all it was, both for the purposes of lying about my actual purpose and because that’s all it turned out to be. We got there to find out van never showed up the day prior.
The cheeky bastards in charge of moving for Giuseppe must really like their drugs. They’d have to be on something to think it would turn out ok for them.
Still, Crash insisted on making some calls in order to prevent any deaths due to miscommunication. I put in a call to Giuseppe while she saw to that.
“Hey there, old fellow. This is is the person who helped you with that thing yesterday. The moving. Yesterday. With the van and the guys. It’s Banshee. Yeah, should have just said so, but I’m in public. Just curious, the last van out of there yesterday, the one with the products. You know, the special stuff. The drugs, man! Did they take anything else with them? Any of your equipment, anything like that? Oh yeah? Hey, think I can borrow a few toys to make sure you get them back?”
The old man may have a pretty bad grasp of inference and implication, but he was more than willing to lend me a hand finding his drugs and his favorite set of tools. I noticed Crash was still talking, so I took a seat in her car and connected to the company’s network. I would swear we left in a tracer of some sort. Aha! Carl! I had him meet us somewhere with my costume and the tracer. I used the opportunity to teach Crash some basics of self defense. She practiced holding Carl in a full nelson while I changed. Then I jumped in the passenger seat of her car and pointed ahead. “Quit playing around, Crash. You want to keep this car forever?”
Crash asked as she took us to our destination with a lot less speed than I expected. It’s hard to feel badass in a car only going regular speed. We found the van just leaving the Mask and Garter, as if they were warned. “You know, I totally forgot to pick up anything from Giuseppe. And gadgets.” I glanced over at Crash, then popped open the glove compartment. “I don’t suppose you have a grappling hook in here.”
“Nope.” She said. I noticed she wasn’t really gaining on the van.
“You know, if you want to get into a high speed chase, we’ll have to go faster.”
“This is my new car! I don’t want to wreck it!”
“Well, I hope you can afford to fix the hood,” I told her, then rolled the window down. I crawled out onto the hood, which is probably why Crash’s driving got real erratic when we had to weave around some traffic. Slowly, she inched up on the van until I could jump…and then scramble to hold onto something. I thought the gap on top of the rear doors would be enough.
The rear doors opened, which almost knocked me off. I held onto the top of one of the doors as the guy who opened it and fired at Crash’s little car. The door reached the end of its range of motion and I put my weight into its return swing. The shooting stopped when it slammed close. The other side stayed open, so I jumped in there and landed on my ass against a bag of cash, one elbow up on it. “Hey there, handsome. Is that a gun in your hands, or did you get tired of waiting for me?”
He didn’t have a lot of room to turn what turned out to be an SMG on me, especially once I kicked him in the nuts and throat. Then I kicked him in the nuts some more. And then I kicked him there again. You know, once you don’t have a pair yourself anymore, it’s a lot easier to hit someone there and not feel the phantom pain.
I stood up and grabbed the gun, training it on him. “You know, it’d be a really mean person to kick someone when they’re down, so I just want you to know…” And then I kicked him in the balls again.
I pushed the gun against the temple of our driver to bring the van to a halt, nearly getting us hit by Crash, who FINALLY got into the spirit of the chase. I had him grab his friend and the money and led them out to shove the bags of cash into Crash’s trunk. “Now, get in with them,” I ordered.
The driver supported his limping friend and gestured to the trunk. Since it was a smaller car, the money took up most of the room. “There’s no room.”
“Yeah? The fuck you want me to do about that? The money’s more important than you two. Maybe you should both…anyone else hear that?” I looked up, attempting to discern the sound of an odd little buzzing sound. A small airplane zoomed closer, a model B-29 Superfortress bomber.
No longer caring about the gun, I threw Crash over my shoulder and ran surprisingly fast in those platformy shoes. It’s a challenge. I seriously don’t know how hos do it. Ho-ing ain’t easy.
And neither is outrunning the blast from the miniature nuclear bomb that dropped out of the Enola Gay toy onto the thieving employees.
After standing back up and clearing my throat with one hell of a coughing fit, I said to no one in particular, “Thanks a lot, Giuseppe.” The combination of tinnitus and EMP didn’t help matters. “Ah, this fucking headache! This is horrible.”
“My car!” Crash screamed.
“Crash, geez, quiet the fuck down! My head is feeling bad enough as is. Have some compassion, please.”