“You heard it on the X. I’m Tim Bertolucci, one of the interns at the station. I don’t have a fancy name because I’m not a supervillain. I’m a college dropout with lots of debt. I studied history. Sorry, I’m not good at this. Rebel Rebel was supposed to be on the radio today, but Outlaw X needed her to bring some big guns. I was the only person we could get in time to run the show tonight. Um, I like the Emo Revival Hour playlist, but some of the other interns here told me that might be a bad idea, so we’re going to open the phone lines and take requests while I play one of these stories that we share.
Sometimes I wonder if some of these stories are people trying to troll us or make themselves look better than they really are. I think this one is real, though. It sounds real. I’ve heard of this service and thought about joining it myself before I got the internship job. All the death lately really worked out for me. It sucks to say. The pandemic and the weird deaths a month back opened up a lot of positions or I might have done something like this. Anyway, here’s one of our stories for Outlaw X Presents. Outlaw X Presents: LootShare.”
Like a lot of people, I got roped into the college racket. And like a lot of people, the work I could get didn’t pay enough. Over time, making ends meet meant caring less about the legality of the work. I’ve done things I’m not proud of, like online trollwork. I wish I could say I stopped that for morals, but the work dried up and I had to go find something else. Cash for the Debt God!
I’ve done Uber, UberEats, UberCollegeEssays, UberAlibi, UberMarioWorld, UberUberRevolution, and DoorDash. One time, a friend wanted me to go in on an AirBnB where we kill the people who stop by, steal their stuff, and sell the bodies, but that was too far for me. It got him a job working for a Congressman. I got to move back in with my mom who called me a lazy failure even working two jobs while she laid around collecting my dead stepdad’s life insurance. Unlike her, I couldn’t lay around doing nothing and trying to get unemployment in between going out of town to party with friends. And being with her there meant taking care of my grandpa who had two strokes and can’t speak because his daughter can never be bothered to see about a speech therapist.
One day you look up and your twenties are gone because you spending all your time working, taking care of family, getting yelled at, and crying yourself to sleep.
When LootShare came out, I was at the point of begging instead of choosing. I was nearly to the point of murder, but only of one person. I don’t have a violent bone in my body otherwise. Besides, no criminal rideshare service like this would really have you do anything too dangerous, because dangerous things are also important. Who would call one of these services for someone you needed to do something important? You get caught doing dumb shit like that. But just in case, I signed up as a driver.
In the movies, the driver is the guy who knows the precise torque and engine specs needed to do crazy stunts, with a tricked-out car that can outrun cops. In real life, I’ve driven people and things all over the place without learning a stick shift, which also seems important in the movies. And how often do supervillains need getaway drivers?
The very first LootShare ride I ever gave was this sad guy in a red costume with a pair of points up top. I think he was supposed to look like a devil. He had a staff with a top that spiraled in on itself like those things sheepherders are supposed to use. It wasn’t as tall as he was, so I thought to myself we could put it in the backseat. He looked pretty dejected, standing across the street from a bus stop. I guess if I think about it, no supervillain worth the name is going to be caught taking public transportation. Maybe a train. Trains are a classic, right? You tie a woman to the tracks?
I stopped off at the guy. “Hey, Fiendor?”
“Yeah,” he sighed.
“I’m Lee, I’m your LootShare driver.” I unlocked the door for him.
Fiendor climbed in without a word. He hadn’t put a destination down on the app, which is a normal feature in case someone gets pulled over. “Where to?”
“The nearest tall bridge,” Fiendor said. After a deep sigh, he changed his mind. “3rd Street is fine. I’ll tell you more when we get there.”
I didn’t pry and he didn’t volunteer anything. 5 star review, tipped me $50 on top of what I got from the app. Nice and easy, no crimes committed. It wasn’t as constant work as the Uber and DoorDash apps, but it was good money.
Most of my rides were mundane. I drove people to and from meetings, with the app adjusting my fee and theirs according to the danger. I don’t know how it figured it out, but it’s possible they had a computer analyzing who was who. There was one time I drove a guy to the meeting and the other guy there, Johnny Peacock the mob boss, used the app to hire a ride out of there. He tipped me $1000 to not worry about the guy I drove there. “Don’t worry. Someone else will give him a ride,” Mr. Peacock assured me.
“I’m not paid enough to worry,” I blurted out quickly.
The mob boss smiled. “You remind me of the babe.”
“What babe?” I asked.
“The babe with the power.”
“What power?” I asked, feeling like I was being led into something.
“The power of voodoo. Her name is Madame Voodoo. Gorgeous body, but don’t even imply surgery’s involved or she’ll make you crap scorpions for days. That’s not a metaphor.”
I opened my mouth, wondering how I remind me of that that woman, then shook my head and thought better of it. I saw a gout of flames in the rearview mirror, back around where the meeting took place.
Peacock’s smile broke into a wider grin. “That’s what I mean. When I say she knows when to ask a question and when not to, it probably sounds bad, but she lets people ramble until they give her an edge. Then comes the scorpion crapping.” He shifted uneasily. “Changed my mind. Drop me off at the Peacock Grill instead.”
That was a mob-owned restaurant of him. It was a front, but I hear it serves great Brazilian cuisine. Johnny Peacock is not Brazilian, but I guess that’s part of the front. They have franchises around the country because it does so good. I think he didn’t want to hang around a restaurant with crappy food. I had the guy in the car so I could have asked, but I didn’t want to be the guy caught prying too much into the business of a mob boss.
He gave me that big tip, and a card. “In case you want to do similar work. Work like you’ve been doing. I can always use reliable people.”
I didn’t take him up on it. Instead, I had the Incident.
I was called to give a time-sensitive ride. I’d heard of those, but never had one.
I pulled up outside a bank, and instantly regretted accepting the job. There were a couple of guys there, as well as various robots scattered around. The big one wore a suit of white armor, like dirtbike gear maybe, with blobs of black all over. He had a snarling bear helmet with the visor in the mouth. Also had a pretty kickass cape that came down just above his butt. He stumbled and turned to a cop laid out on the ground. He pulled a golf ball-sized black ball off his belt. It flew out of his hand and attached to the cop, electrocuting the guy. The cop fired a few more wild shots before his pistol clicked out of ammo.
The other guy wore a suit with a knitted panda cap and ski mask hiding his identity and had been tapping away on his phone until he got close. He ran down to my open window.
“Are you..?” I checked my phone. “Pandamoniac?”
“He is. I’m the plus one passenger. Glad you got here on time.” He turned. “Pandamoniac!”
“Coming,” Growled the armored supervillain.
The helper swung a case he was carrying around from behind him and opened the door, jumping in and sliding across quickly enough that Pandamoniac didn’t have to wait. I gunned it before the door got all the way closed. We just missed cops at the intersection, but one of them spun the car around and came after us.
“I’ll get rid of them,” Pandamoniac said. He reached around and…
“You’re out of stingers again, aren’t you?” His henchman said. “I told you not to be so careless with them.’
“There were heroes!” Pandamoniac declared, pointing a finger in his assistant’s face.
“And now we’re going to get nabbed by cops unless this guy punches it.”
Meanwhile, I was pissing myself as I ran stoplights and stop signs and nearly hit an old lady crossing the street. The cops were on me briefly, but they got caught in the crashes and traffic in my wake.
“Good driving!” Pandamoniac complimented me.
He thought I was a professional, but I screamed inside. Just all over my head. I couldn’t think straight until I heard a thud from above. A face wearing one of those masks like Robin from Batman leaned over the front windshield. I pushed in the windshield stick and sprayed cleaner at him. He disappeared back on top of the car.
“Good thinking,” the assistant said. He was on his phone again. “I’m trying to look up some help. Checking LairBnB listings.”
“Got anything for superheros?” I called back.
“That’s what I’m for,” Pandamoniac said, rolling the window down. He stuck his helmeted head out. “Hey, this feels kinda nice- ow!” There was a metallic thunk and Pandamoniac flopped before pulling himself back into the car. I heard a scream and the rear dash cam showed a man in spandex rolling off the back of the car, clutching his leg.
“Good job, boss,” the assistant said. He glanced up at me. “You get us out of this and I’ve got five Gs on it. Look out!”
He pointed up as someone ran out into the road for the car. He had a blue costume on and wheels on his boots. He looked like he was maybe almost going to get to us, but I was thinking recklessly with the thought of all that money. I swerved slightly to avoid him.
“What was that? Did we just run over something?” the henchman asked.
“Nope,” I said. “We didn’t run over that hero with the rear wheel.”
Things were silent until the henchman got a notification on his phone. “Sweet. I got us a LairBnB. You’re welcome to hang out while the heat dies down. Turn right up here at the taco stand.”
Sure enough, there was a small street that direction. I slowed down enough not to crash into the brick buildings on either side and pulled in, following some graffiti around a corner and under a brick wall that opened up and then closed behind us.
When the app gave us an option to opt out of high-danger notifications three weeks later, I took one look at the bundle of cash I’d made, and opted the fuck out.
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