Theodore Hunnicutt the Third hadn’t taken it well after he didn’t hear back from the team of cleaners he sent to eliminate the kidnappers and their hostage. He kept calling his Pinkerton contact. The scene at the Presario was all over the news, with dead bodies and prisoners reported. The devil was in the details, most of which the press weren’t mentioning. Maybe the police were keeping it to themselves. It’s even possible the Presario was using its pull to keep gory information from leaking. In any event, he had no idea if his people succeeded in killing anyone they set out to.
The Pinkertons still hadn’t gotten back to him since the day he received the video. He had to resort to his usual private methods. There were always people with criminal records or a military past who needed money. A little more cash made questions irrelevant. With that having failed, he hoped the Pinkertons would listen to reason and his wallet enough to come in. They could fix this. They had specialists for this sort of thing, and they were supposed to be brought in to take over this job from the police. He could still salvage this, if only they would play ball.
Theodore’s call was interrupted by a text message just as someone knocked on his door. “Police,” his assistant had texted him. He grabbed his burn pile of documents and slid them into his hidden door before standing up. “Come in!”
Uniformed officers entered, people whose superiors owed him favors or owed their positions to him. He thought he’d have this settled in no time. That thought disappeared when Chief Johanssen hobbled through the door using a cane. “Chief, how good to see you!” Theodore feigned happiness at the failure. He held out his hands in greeting, at which point Johanssen nodded to one of the officers. That man stepped forward and slid handcuffs into place. “What is this all about?!” Theodore asked indignantly, face turning red.
Johanssen let out a single laugh, then winced and raised his free hand to press against his side. “Theodore Hunnicutt, you’re under arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to kidnap, and any other charges I can damn well remember for the shit you tried to pull. I’m sure your attorney will be along shortly, but not before you see the inside of a cell. Get him out of here.”
Theodore tried to stand his ground, but a second cop grabbed him and helped move his uncooperative mass out of the door. His assistant stood against the wall, looking on sheepishly as if there was anything else she could have done. Theodore called to her as he was dragged out the door, “Ms. Worthing, call my lawyer!”
He turned toward the street to see who was watching this unprecedented humiliation and found himself a deer in the headlight of a newspaper cameraman.
“Hunnicutt In Hot Water!” the newspaper declared. The Mad Waxxer grinned as he looked it over. He’d had the paper copy sent to him, having left town after the arrest of Hunnicutt had gone off without a hitch. He liked the physical version, as old-fashioned as that was, but he’d also wanted to pay back the Brazilian by spending money on the newspaper. The man had saved his life, and sometimes old-fashioned ideas like owing someone weren’t so bad. The Waxxer read the story over before setting it on the towel next to his beach chair and rooting around in the bag he’d brought for his phone. “Just read the good news,” he texted the other kidnapper.
“Good 2 hear! Hope your having fun down there. Im taking care of the Gold Coast. Don’t worry.”
The Waxxer shook his head, but just then his phone was snatched out of his hands. “No work, all play makes Jack healthy, wealthy, and wise,” said Theodora, who leaned over and gave the Waxxer a hell of a view and a hell of a kiss.
“Mmm, two out of three ain’t bad,” he said after the kiss, looking into her eyes.
She booped his nose. “One out of three. We’re not going back home until you’re healthy, and you’ve got me to be wise for you. Until then,” she slid into his lap on the beach lounger. “You’ve got all the money you need by marriage.” She played at giving the phone back to him, then tossed it a short distance away into the soft sand of the beach.
“I hoped to save up so you wouldn’t be marrying so far down. If your father finds out, you’ll be as poor as me. For all that I play at being cultured, dear, I’m but a poor plebeian.” he said as he pulled her legs up further. He held her with one arm while the other traced over her bright blue toenails and the strap of a flip-flop.
She laughed and patted him on the head. “Is that what took you so long? Don’t make the same mistake my father did. I’m a big girl. I know how to do more than spend money, just like you know how to do more than tie people up. Besides, my father’s not going to be in any position to cut us off from anything.” Something buzzed. She reached into the right cup of her bikini top and pulled out her phone. “Daddy’s finally out on bail, so it’s only a matter of time before he finds out the bad news.”
“Bad news?” asked the Waxxer, pretending to pout.
Theodora kissed his forehead. “Bad news for him. Hey!” she reached for the phone he plucked out her hands and tossed off into the sand by his.
“We’ll worry about him later, you gorgeous, smart woman. For now, you have bigger problems to deal with,” he grinned wickedly. The hand at her foot tossed her flip-flop away and began tickling the bottom of her foot.
“Ahh!” she yelled, happily, as the couple fell into a tickle fight on the sands of Paradise Beach, in Paradise City, Florida.
Back in his office, Theodore Hunnicutt the Third cursed the lack of response from his daughter, then tried the Pinkertons. Again. This time, they picked up. “Mr. Hunnicutt, we didn’t expect to hear from you again.”
“This is partially your doing, you know. If you had called me back… ergh, we’re not on a good phone line. I need to meet with you in person!” He yelled. He stomped over to the liquor cabinet of his office and poured himself a glass of Scotch. “I’ll whatever it costs to fix this for me.”
The woman’s voice took an apologetic, mocking tone. “Surely a man such as yourself has other, cheaper ways to get out of this trouble. I was under the impression you were well-connected and could even replace a Chief of Police if need be.”
Theodore set the glass down on his desk, hard. “Nobody’s speaking to me. Things are in the newspaper, but it’s only connecting me. They’re making a scapegoat of me so none of this comes back on them. I have my own leverage, but it isn’t about that now. He marched me out in handcuffs! It was in the news!”
“Have you checked the news today?” the Pinkerton asked.
“I just got out. I’m too busy.” He walked around to his chair and turned on the lamp. He pulled a notepad over and grabbed a pin. “Name a number.”
“Not everything has a price, Mr. Hunnicutt. The integrity and good name of the Pinkertons is one of those things. You paid us and engaged our services without telling us the full story. Whatever else we are, we are not a criminal organization. It’s important we assure the public of that in these chaotic times. That’s why we’re cooperating fully with the police investigation, to clear the name of our agency. We were falsely accused of providing the manpower for that unfortunate business at the hotel. That left us no choice but to set the record straight. In turn, we are unable to contract for any other business with you at this time. Thank you ever so much for your interest, and feel free to call us again if you turn out to be innocent.”
She hung up. Ted almost threw the phone, but settled for tossing his empty glass against the wall. “Everyone wants proof of the record, do they?” he muttered to himself. He reached down for the hidden drawer on his desk and pressed the release. He pulled it out and looked.
It was gone. All of it, except a card-shaped envelop with the word “Dad,” on it in his daughter’s handwriting. He picked it up, looked around underneath as if the proof he hadn’t yet burned could have been hiding. Finally and quite furious, he tore open the envelop to see what his daughter had to say for herself.
The card was a sentimental “Thinking Of You” card, with a message scrawled underneath easily-forgotten platitudes. “Daddy, I know this must come as a shock to you, but it won’t be the only one. You never knew me as well as you thought. You wanted a son. You had me instead. I had to be a pretty, silly girl to attract your real heir. I was used to that, but then you tried to have the man I love killed. I will keep him safe. And speaking of safe, check yours. Love, Theodora.”
He threw the card to the desk as he launched himself from his chair. He pulled a painting of his grandfather open on its hinge to see the wall safe. He kept a large amount of cash and valuables in there for when he didn’t want a paper trail. He punched in the combination and held his handprint to it. It clicked open. It had been emptied, except for a polaroid and a scrap of newspaper. He checked the polaroid first, which showed his daughter in a simple white dress, standing with a tuxedo-clad man he didn’t recognize at a tacky wedding altar. The altar looked like they were in Vegas, but he had no idea who the man was at all. He set the photo aside to pick up the scrap of newspaper.
It was a story with no date attached. It used sensitive information from his documents to pin the blame for the entire fiasco with Johanssen entirely on him. Theodore’s mind raced. Whatever his daughter was talking about, she must have used the information she stole to convince his friends and the Pinkertons to throw him to the wolves. He had to talk her out of this. But first, he was going to visit a country that wouldn’t extradite, like Ricca.
He turned to leave and found himself staring at a shirtless man with dark skin. “Good God, who the hell are you?”
The Brazilian smiled. “Hell of a story, isn’t it?” He snatched the newspaper clipping out of Theodore’s hand. “Think of me as an insurance policy. I’m here to make sure you stick around.”
That concludes our brief intermission. We’ll be back to the usual murder and mayhem soon, folks.
The Mad Waxxer, laying low and keeping an eye on the Chief of Police, did so from the comfort of the hot tub in the bathroom using cameras and a tablet. Modern technology made it so much easier to enjoy simple pleasures like hot, bubbling water on the body while he helped himself to a sirloin sandwich. He’d have preferred a good burger, though not just any fast food. Unfortunately, the Presario’s burgers left something to be desired.
In short, the Mad Waxxer was, at the moment, the Mad Relaxer. He’d even left his mask on the side of the hot tub, further exposing himself to the world consisting of his bathroom. It was a world with only himself in it, though he accepted calls from those who knew him well enough to have his number. That meant Theodora, whose voice made an already-pleasant day all the more pleasant. He pressed a button that took the call while he kept an eye on the cameras. “Have I died? An angel calls me.”
Her words didn’t lighten his mood. She spoke in a rush of concern. “You need to move. Dad has people coming for you.”
“How do you know?” He tried to set his sandwich down, but knocked the plate onto the floor, shattering it. He stood up, tablet in one hand, sandwich in the other, and tried to hit the switch to turn off the jets with the back of his foot. He nearly slipped when loud knocking at the door of the hotel suite startled him. He didn’t ask who it was.
“Housekeeping!” called a gruff voice. Unless housekeeping had taken to wearing nondescript tan and black clothes while delivering a load of shotguns, his visitors were here to clean him up instead. The Waxxer eased himself out of the hot tub, then scrunched up his face and forced his mouth shut before he could yell at having stepped on broken shards of plate. He hopped on one foot over to the sink and counter.
He let out a “Shit!” when he heard the door shatter under the heavy boots of someone meant to kil him.
Relax off, wax on. He set the tablet down, then lifted it back up. He realized that would be more useful than the sandwich. The tablet let him track the men flooding into the suite with guns. He set the sandwich down and dressed in towel and mask.
The door burst in, shotgun leveled at him. The man wielding it took a sirloin sandwich to the face and fired widely. He missed the Waxxer, but not the Waxxer’s ear drums. They fucking hurt. It felt like the pain was embedded deep in the tissues of his ears and causing the intense ringing he heard. Gritting his teeth, he balled up his fist, reached way back, and asserted himself on the man’s face. The soldier’s head bounced off the doorway and he fell down. That left plenty of time for the Mad Waxxer to yell and rub his hand.
The pain in his ears and hand was joined by a sting from a projectile whizzing right past him. He ducked to the side, suddenly wishing he’d ordered a salad, or fries, or anything else he could toss in the face of this assailant. “This diet’s going to be the death of me,” he said to try and cover up the overwhelming fear as more and more shots were fired into the bathroom while he stuffed himself as far underneath the sink as possible. He thought he wet himself at one point, but it turned out to be the water from the perforated hot tub.
At one point, the man by the doorway stirred and tried to stand, but the others didn’t halt their fire quickly enough. The Mad Waxxer was surprised how hot the man’s blood was, but he was quickly getting used to being surprised. He reached back to get whatever was pressing in on him out of the way, figuring he could at least die in comfort, and pulled out the bathroom trash can. He looked around, wondering if there was anything else he could use to help himself. He he saw shards of plate as well as pieces of the broken mirror.
When the shots died off and the first man entered, he shoved the small trash can over the man’s face. He barely even thought when he shoved the mirrored glass up again and again, cutting into the underside of the man’s face, between the chin and throat. He blinked as the man fell, looking down at his bloody, cut hands and the glass. He dropped it, looking at the blood that had covered him.
He had never taken a life before. Now, some man just like himself was… gone. Not disappeared, but he had ceased to be. It all happened so suddenly.
“It gets easier,” said the next man through the doorway, who saw the Waxxer’s shocked expression and met it with the barrel of his gun.
The Mad Waxxer looked him in the eye and puked. He was surprised when the other man didn’t give him a faceful of buckshot in return for the vomit, but after a moment, he realized he could do more than stare at the thing. As the man wiped at his face, the Waxxer grabbed the shotgun, his hand landing on the pump along with the man’s. He moved his body out of the way and tried to pull the gun away. It didn’t come free of the assassin’s grip, so he pushed it. That didn’t loosen it either, so he pulled it forward again to drive it into the man’s belly. He missed the first time and the man tried to take control of it. After a few seconds of struggle, the man threw his shoulder into the Waxxer and knocked him back. He raised the shotgun, squeezed the trigger, and nothing happened. Cursing, the man looked down at the gun’s pump, then at the floor, where unfired shells rolled around.
The Mad Waxxer saw his opportunity. He tried punching the man in the face, reasoning that it went so well the first time except for his injured hand. He was out of his element, though, and the punch nearly missed. It clipped the man’s nose instead, which had more give than the Waxxer expected. When the man glared at him, he realized his nose no longer lined up correctly.
The man yelled and raised the butt of his shotgun for a downward swing. The Waxxer ducked and tried to crawl under the man’s legs as the assassin struck, but tripped the man up instead. He tumbled into the hot tub, the shotgun skittering out of his grip. The Mad Waxxer grabbed the towel rack and ripped it off to beat the downed man over and over.
He was surprised by another shot from behind. It was easy enough to do with as many unprotected shots as he’d heard by now. He thought there would be pain at least. Or holes. He looked down at himself, and while he saw an amazing amount of blood, only a little came from his winged arm. He turned around to see if the person’s warning shot was about to become the non-warning variety and saw the man looking up. The Waxxer couldn’t see what he was looking at, but he saw another shotgun swing from above and smack the man in the head. He dropped. After a moment, a flower pot fell on him as well.
“Hello?” asked the Waxxer, stepping toward the bathroom. He glanced back to make sure the man in the hot tub was in no hurry to get back up, then ducked and looked out.
The Brazilian clung to the ceiling. “Wassup?” he heard from far away and through all the ringing.
The Waxxer let out a breath mixed with a sigh. “I can’t believe I’m happy to see you!”
The Brazilian looked around, then motioned with his hand to lower something. The Waxxer didn’t quite catch what he said next. He turned his dominant ear toward the other kidnapper. “What?”
The Brazilian’s eyes widened and he dropped down, pressing his lips close to the Waxxer’s ear. “I said, stop yelling or you’ll alert the rest.”
The Waxxer pulled away from his rival and looked around. Spotting the tablet down under the sink, he bent to pick it up and checked the cameras he could see on the device’s cracked screen. “I think that was all of them,” he told the Brazilian, who took the tablet away from him after the announcement to check for himself.
He trapped through as well, then turned the tablet toward the Waxxer. The room they were keeping Chief Johanssen in had been breached. The intruder and the Chief were both down, the Chief possibly even dead. “Grab your gear,” the Brazilian said. The Waxxer didn’t argue.
They both rushed into the holding room, Waxxer in his mask and smoking jacket only, to begin checking over both of the men on the floor. The Chief had one hand free of his handcuffs and some bruises forming already, but he was breathing. The other man wasn’t. The Brazilian jumped back as Johanssen lunged at him suddenly, but was able to grab the man’s arms and hold him.
“They tried to kill you too?” the Waxxer asked.
Johanssen swallowed, then grimaced in pain. “Yeah. I identified myself when he burst in, but he attacked anyway.”
“Theodora said her father sent people. He’s trying to clean all of us up,” the Mad Waxxer said.
The Brazilian nodded. “We need to take him down.” He looked between the two other men, then asked Johanssen, “Are you in favor of the Pinkertons?”
The Chief of Police looked down at the body next to him. “I think that answer should be fairly obvious at this point. No. I didn’t get into this so people could do whatever they want without any justice. Even when I came here, I thought I would just look the other way on some harmless stuff. I didn’t think they’d start killing whoever was inconvenient.”
The Waxxer shrugged, “You didn’t stop their small crimes. Why did you expect them to follow more important laws?”
The Chief wiped some blood off his face that had begun to trail toward his eye as he looked at the Waxxer, but the Brazilian spoke up, “Actually, there’s some controversy over the efficacy of Broken Windows Theory. At it’s worst, it’s a neutral-sounding way to be racist. The rich can always pay their way out of being held accountable. I bet they’ve threatened to fire Chief Johanssen here many times.”
“A few. And they could. They bumped me up to Chief of Police out of nowhere,” Johanssen said, then grunted. “Ow… nobody needs all of their lungs, do they?” That got a smile all the way around. “The things they do to control the police around here are legal, because they made sure the politicians left it legal. Someone who cares about law and order can’t do anything to them without breaking that law themselves. I’m sorry. I’ve really fucked up. I let the money go to my head.”
The Brazilian put his hand on the Chief’s shoulder. “It’s fine. We are all just folks here. We’ve been pushed down, kicked down, and, from time to time, we’ve fallen. You have the opportunity to find out if you’re the kind of man who stays down when you’ve been kicked, or if you’re the kind who stands back up and faces it.”
He offered his other hand. The Chief took it and they both stood up, with the Waxxer helping Johanssen when he started to falter and trip over the body next to them. He could have said something snarky about the short speech the Brazilian gave Johanssen, but something about it reminded him of his insecurities over Theodora, and his desire to never be without her. “First, we put an end to Ted Hunnicutt’s plans,” the Waxxer said. “Then, perhaps, I take a long vacation to make my life about that which I love, instead of that which I hate.”
When we last left our heroes, they were nowhere to be found. Instead, the villains had just stolen a hostage from a group of dickweeds who stole him to make them look bad. The Brazilian and the Mad Waxxer escaped successfully, but what of their plot to hold the hostage even more hostage and force the important people in the community to reverse their decision to hire the Pinkertons..
The Mad Waxxer wanted to send a DVD with a video on it to put the screws to Theodore Hunnicutt, but the Brazilian kept ragging him about that being old-fashioned. “You don’t understand,” the Waxxer explained. “We can send the video with Theodora.” Here, he nodded toward his girlfriend and Theodore’s daughter before continuing. “It’s an implied threat toward her.”
“It’s still behind the times. What would we do if she had broken it? She’s supposed to be a ditz, remember? No offense,” the Brazilian said to Theodora, who smiled warmly and gave him the finger.
Theodora spoke up next. “I love this discussion, but how about you two do a video, I send it from my email, and you pretend you got access to it somehow. It’s digital and it’s still threatening. It would even throw them off the scent of how I found where they were keeping the Chief by making it seem like one of you is a hacker.”
“That works,” the Waxxer said, glad he had Theodora.
“Fine by me,” the Brazilian said, glad that at least the Waxxer knew Theodora.
Theodora rolled her eyes at the smoldering intensity of the rivals, wondering how much friendlier the pair would be if they fucked. She concluded it wouldn’t change much, and the pair would probably get into an argument over whether or not Brazilian spanking Waxxer’s ass got her boyfriend off. At least it made an attractive image for her to think about while the pair argued again. “When you two are done showing off your professionalism, we have a video to shoot,” she said.
Theodore Hunnicutt the Third wasn’t having a good day. He had asked to speak to a supervisor, and now that supervisor was in his office, flanked by a pair of guards. “When I hired the Pinkerton Agency, I thought I ws getting the elite of private threat management companies. You have a sterling reputation for dealing with superhuman threats. I fear your reputation is overblown.”
“Mr. Hunnicutt, I appreciate your time and, more importantly, your money. Rest assured, we are the best. And the reason we are the best is because we know to study each unique situation involving the exceptionally-abled and we have the resources to react accordingly. While you did hire a team to deal with the two individuals causing problems for your family, the team hired to obtain the Chief of Police was not chosen in order to deal with them. They were chosen to obtain and hold a trained and experienced police officer. Their failure was due to circumstances outside their control and knowledge they couldn’t have had. Two people with the power to stick to things found the safehouse you provided. There was no leak on our end.”
Theodore leaned forward in his chair. “I didn’t hire you to talk about why you can’t solve the problem. I hired you to solve the problem! Your men were supposed to guard the Chief of Police in a situation where you were hired to deal with supervillains who kidnap people. You said that your job is to figure out what needs to be done to handle the problem. My role is to pay you and tell you what to do. I’ve paid you, so figure it out and get Johanssen back!”
With such an important meeting going on, it’s understandable that Theodore Hunnicutt didn’t interrupt it over an email from his daughter. He figured it was about some silly thing she was doing now. He also thought it would be a good way to take his mind off the failures of the Pinkertons, so he looked at it after they’d left his office. He nearly broke the screen texting his secretary to stop the Pinkerton representative and direct her back to his office when he realized what had been sent to him.
The representative found the whole situation quite amusing when he started up the video. She held her hand out for it as it started up. “May I?” She accepted the phone to watch.
It began with an image of the Chief of Police, handcuffed, sitting in a chair. The man’s head was still red, but the gash had been treated and bandaged. He’d had a bath and a shave as well. “My name is Captain… Chief Phil Johanssen,” the man could have sounded worse while discussing the promotion that had been prompted by the rescue of high profile hostages from the two warring supervillains before they’d joined forces.
The Chief went on, his eyes moving from side to side as he read. “I am saying this of my own free will and am not being forced to read this by my captors, the magnificent Mad Waxxer, whose skill at kidnapping is matched only by his skill at lovemaking and writing. And the Brazilian, who is also present.”
“Fuck you, numbnuts,” the Brazilian said as he stepped into view. “You couldn’t have done it without me. We’re here to say we did not kidnap the Chief.” He looked down at the handcuffed Chief in question, then looked back up at the camera. “…initially. We didn’t kidnap him initially. Someone else took him in order to allow the rich and powerful the excuse they needed to bring in the Pinkertons. A private police force in service only to the rich and powerful? What could go wrong, right?”
“Not only that,” said a voice from off screen as the camera jittered. “But it was one of the area’s rich, favored sons in whose warehouse we found Chief Johanssen here.”
“It’s true,” the Chief said, “These two had nothing to do with attacking me at HQ. They took me from the people who really grabbed me, ex-military people. They’re treating me well, treated my wound, but they have a demand they would like me to pass on. All you have to do to get me back is cancel the plan to bring in the Pinkertons. It saves you money, too.”
“Read the room, dude,” the Brazilian said, leaning on Johanssen’s shoulder.
The Mad Waxxer spoke again, jostling the camera even more. “If a moral argument worked on them, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Sometimes, you have to be pragmatic and appeal to their greed.” The camera turned to look up at the Mad Waxxer’s mask. The man smiled his pearly whites and went on, “Besides, it would be too coarse to resort to obvious threats. Hmm… how to send this to you, though?”
The video cut out there, but Ted Hunnicutt spoke, “That video was sent to me from my daughter’s email account.”
The Pinkerton representative clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “That is unfortunate.”
“We have to get him back,” Hunnicutt said.
The rep raised her eyebrow. “It’s admirable that you’re willing to stick with us after we failed you so badly.”
“Can you find them?” Hunnicutt asked. “This isn’t over yet. They won’t beat me.”
“There is an astonishing amount of metadata available in video and images. If you can provide my people a copy of the video, we can find the phone that shot it and trace its location. You said this was sent from your daughter’s account? The one he keeps taking?” She asked.
“Yes, that’s the threat he mentions at the end. He wants me to know she isn’t safe,” he said.
The rep looked up at one of her guards, then back to Mr. Hunnicutt. “Have you ever considered that she might be involved with him?”
Theodore snorted. “That’s ridiculous. She wouldn’t date some thug like that.”
“Uh huh…” the Rep said. Her other guard leaned down and showed her something on his phone. “In light of the full situation, while we can find where the video originated, we will have to save that for a more formal renegotiation of terms.”
“Vultures! What are you doing?” he called after them as the Rep got up, left the phone on his desk, and walked out. Wasting a second on incredulity that they’d walk out on him, he tried to follow.
His assistant met him at the door, her phone in hand, asking, “Sir, you need to see this.”
When his phone alerted him to the breaking news, the Mad Waxxer very nearly spat out his celebratory wine. Theodora handled it much better, finishing her sip before asking after what happened. She took one look and called out to the other room. “Brazilian! What did you do?”
The Brazilian entered, wearing a shirt and flip-flops now. “You know already?”
The Mad Waxxer very nearly tossed his glass at the man, but set it down. “I have been keeping abreast of developments regarding the wealthy and our little dispute this entire time. Did you think I would miss it?”
The Brazilian smiled, wide but close-mouthed. “Glad to hear you say that. I have friends at that paper. Circulation’s never been better than during this fight we had. Now they get the scoop on us nabbing the head cop and making demands of your dad.” He nodded toward Theodora.
She shook her head. “You work at the paper.”
“You said that, not me,” the Brazilian said, not her.
“This is what you were doing the entire time. It’s not about kidnapping. It’s about keeping your job open,” she said.
“It’s so open, it hung us out to dry. These sorts of negotiations with these sorts of people require privacy. The deal’s going to be off now,” said the Waxxer. The article leaked the contents of their video.
The Brazilian shook his head. “Public opinion will force them to comply.”
The Mad Waxxer started to throw up his arms, remembered his glass, and set it down first. “He’s rich. He doesn’t care about the public.”
“Well see about that. Are we done here, or do you want to yell at me more?” asked the Brazilian.
The Mad Waxxer just shook his head. Theodora shooed him off and said, “We can handle Johanssen for now. We wouldn’t want you releasing him to get an exclusive interview.”
The Brazilian rolled his eyes. “That would raise too many questions. Give me some credit here.”
The Waxxer put his arms around Theodora and rested his chin on her head. After the Brazilian left, he asked quietly, “How do you think this is going to go down now?”
“My father’s an asshole,” she answered. “There’s only so much he cares about looking good. I hope that’s not true of whoever else is working with him from among families here. Otherwise, if it’s just him and everyone realizes it? He’ll have nothing to lose.”
The Mad Waxxer tried to maintain his calm. He’d faced police and guards before, right? He got a bad feeling about this one. He, and the Brazilian, were going into some warehouse. Theodora said the ones outside had handguns, but what about inside? He didn’t much care for going into it with his rival at his back, either. It was entirely that he didn’t trust the man.
It wasn’t like he gave a sly smile or told him to wear a red shirt. The Brazilian acted as near to normal as he knew of the man. The problem being, his normal behavior meant invading the Waxxer’s territory, kidnapping his victims, and ratting out his holding sites to the cops. It would be to his benefit if the Waxxer was injured or worse.
The pair rode along in the Waxxer’s van, which the Brazilian had dubbed “The Waxmobile.” He’d laughed at it when the Waxxer picked him up, and said it a couple more times while he drove there. The Waxxer didn’t care for the name, and got his revenge by offering the man some fruit from a bowl sitting up front. The Brazilian tossed a grape in his mouth, bit down, then spat it out. “Wax fruit? You really play up a theme.”
“I really don’t,” he responded.
“How do you make that wax work, anyway? I’ve seen waxxing done. You heat it up, drip it where it goes, and rip it off once it cools and solidifies. What you do shouldn’t be possible,” said the man who can stick to anything he touches and crawl on ceilings and walls.
“It’s a formula developed by the CIA. How I came by it is my own business,” the Waxxer answered.
“The feds made wax?” the other villain queried.
“No, they were making chemical weapons in the Cold War and someone discovered a formula for wax with special properties. I found it later,” he said. There was more to the story, involving the CIA, rumors of the chemicl being based on Dr. Resolute’s old formula, and the need to vibrate it at certain frequencies to detach it prematurely. He felt no need to explain everything to the first person to ask, however.
“They did a lot of crazy stuff. I wonder if we’ll ever find out everything they were up to,” the Brazilian mused.
The Waxxer shrugged, “I’d rather focus on the guys we have to deal with. Are you any good at fighting?”
The Brazilian turned to look at him. “I used to get beat up a lot as a kid.”
“Great,” the Waxxer said. The Brazilian’s powers needed him to put his hands on people, but he was a bad fighter. “Did you bring any sort of weapon?” He eyed the Brazilian, who once again wore nothing put a pair of shorts. The other man’s chest and arms glistened; the Waxxer wasn’t sure if that was due to sweat or oil. He hoped it was the former for the sake of his seats.
The Brazilian shook his head. “No. I thought I would improvise when we got there. Perhaps I can find something heavy, hide on a ceiling, and drop it on someone’s head.”
“Improvise? That sounds like a terrible plan,” the Waxxer said.
“I understand why your girlfriend didn’t go inside, I do. But she couldn’t send us a picture?” the Brazilian asked.
“That wouldn’t look suspicious,” the Waxxer responded.
“Fuck, it would be something,” Brazilian said. They drove past the warehouse on purpose, not turning in or slowing down. They waited until they were down the street, in front of the next one, before the Waxxer stopped and the Brazilian spoke again, a smirk adding to the sarcasm of the statement. “It looked normal. Have you thought of a plan already?”
The Waxxer took his hands off the wheel and steepled his fingers. “Yes, I have. It requires cunning, skill, trust, and my van. It probably won’t work.”
When he finished telling the Brazilian, the bronze Adonis smiled. “It’s missing one thing.” He pulled out his phone and pushed a few buttons. “Get what you need. I need to make a stop, but I will be back with everything you need of me.”
The Waxxer swung over the fence and landed on the inside perimeter of the warehouse, completely unharmed by the barbed wire topping the obstruction. He’d had to break out some spare wax, but it was easy enough to coat the barbs with it and clamber over. He checked again to make sure there were no obvious cameras or patrols he missed, then jogged to the warehouse. Wary of the sound of his soles, he stopped at the wall to make sure nobody was scrambling, then pulled out his whip. He took aim, hit his mark on the edge of the roof, and set about climbing the structure.
Having done everything as stealthily as he could up to that point, the Waxxer made his way past solar panels to the center of the roof. It seemed the best place to start without knowing where to look. He’d prefer a corner to be inconspicuous, but that was where the Brazilian came in. If the Brazilian came in. The Waxxer stopped laying out wax on the roof and glanced around for the distraction.
Squealing tires alerted him to it. He saw his van doing donuts in front of the gate to the warehouse. If he was’t trying to be stealthy while wearing a smoking jacket on the roof of a warehouse at midday, he’d have yelled at the man. He told him to get a car. Steal one, borrow one, call a taxi. His van wasn’t part of the plan!
However, he was a professional. He finished affixing part of the roof to itself. When he saw a gang of men and women heading out to the front gates of the warehouse compound, he used his tools to noisily remove the roof. Just the part that was inconvenient. The wax prevented it from falling inward. Lifting a paper strip off, he set his makeshift trapdoor on the roof.
The Mad Waxxer noticed two things while climbing his strip whip down. The first was that he, van or no van, he owed his life to the Brazilian’s distraction. He was painfully exposed to sight, but nobody was around to see his budget Spider-Man impression. The second thing he noticed was that the only thing big enough to hold a person who hadn’t mastered yoga was a large shipping container. Once he’d made it to the floor, he rushed over, hoping nobody had left it locked. In this, he was lucky as well.
The reason became apparent when he opened the door. Chief Johannsen was tied to a cot in filthy conditions, a gash on his head that was swollen and red with infection. The Waxxer winced and set about undoing the straps. The groan from the first one alerted him that the man was actually conscious. “Easy there. You’re not well.”
“Who… the Mad Waxxer?” asked Johanssen.
The Mad Waxxer shot him a roguish grin. “The very same. I’m here to kidnap you.”
“Don’t you mean rescue me?” asked the captured Chief of Police.
“Whatever helps you feel better. Now, up you go. Easy.” The Mad Waxxer helped the man up and they began to hobble out. He grabbed his phone and texted the Brazilian that they needed a way out. The plan called for setting the stolen car to ram through the gate, driving the van in, and piling into it to try and escape without getting shot. That would never be an option if only his van was involved. At least the Chief could still walk on his own after he got him outside the container.
“Get to the roof,” was the Brazilian’s advice. The Mad Waxxer looked at Chief Johanssen and marveled at it.
The Waxxer pulled out a long wax strip . “I’ll need you to be calm and not choke me for this next part. We’re going to have to climb.” He looked up to find the Chief, who he suddenly realized wasn’t beside him. The swaying of his strip whip alerted him to the other man trying to limb it. “Oh. Good then. This works, too.”
The Waxxer walked over, grabbed the handle, and pressed the button to reel it in. As the other end of it was firmly stuck to the roof of warehouse, it instead reeled him in. He grabbed the Chief as it got to him, Johanssen being fully cooperative in the escape. Once they got to the roof, the Waxxer realized the air was alight with the booming sound of gangster rap. And it was coming from his van. “My speakers!”
Furious, he pulled out his phone and texted to the Brazilian that they were out, they heard the music, and they needed to get out right that instant! The Mad Waxxer looked up with dawning horror as his van stopped racing up and down the street and turned down a road to drive away. His stream of expletives could have alerted the guards standing around at the perimeter of the fence, and went on long enough that he was surprised when the van came hurtling back toward the gate. It crashed through, and kept on going.
“Look to the sky,” the Brazilian responded via text message. The Waxxer looked up quizzically, and so almost missed when the Brazilian landed on the edge of the roof. “Hey, man. I got your escape right here.”
Rather than the crude gesture he expected to accompany that statement, the Brazilian had a couple of bags with him. He opened them up and performed a quick setup on a pair of hang gliders. “See? You can’t spell ‘improvise’ without ‘improve’,” he said with a grin.
The Waxxer rolled his eyes, but listened intently as the Brazilian gave them the basics so they didn’t crash and die. That the alternative was sticking around and probably dying made the risk easier to cope with, though that didn’t help the Waxxer any as he ran off the roof of the warehouse after the Brazilian.
The three men landed near each other, which in this context means the Waxxer almost smacked into a bus, the Brazilian touched down perfectly on a roof, and the Chief hurt his tailbone after after falling out of the tree he smacked into.
He groaned, but laughed as he stood up with the aid of the Waxxer. “I can brush off a few hurt bones. I owe you boys a lot for what you’ve done today. I won’t soon forget it,” he said. He turned to offer a handshake to the Brazilian, who hopped down from the roof.
The two kidnappers looked at each other, then at the Chief. The Brazilian covered the Chief’s mouth with his hand while the Waxxer pulled out wax strips to bind the man’s hands.
“Don’t worry, we’ll have you back to your family and job in no time. You just have to help us rectify this whole horrid situation, first,” said the Mad Waxxer.
The Brazilian whipped out his phone and tapped the screen a few times. “Our Uber will be here in minutes. Don’t worry, those guys will take extra cash for anything as little as they get paid.”
“When’s my new van getting here?” the Waxxer asked.
“I don’t know,” the Brazilian responded. “Have all my hostages drive it back.”
“This is going to be a great partnership, I can tell,” the Waxxer grumbled.
“Stop being so stuck up,” the Brazilian said before nodding and waving to a woman walking by who oggled him.
“I’ll tell you where you can stick something up,” Waxxer responded.
When the Mad Waxxer had been left unemployed after funding cuts to the college lab he worked at, he knew he couldn’t take it. He’d moved across the country for that job with nothing but hopes, and saw himself laid off before he could receive his first paycheck. He had been left with nothing, so he took a formula and basic equipment. His first victims secured his finances. He took revenge on the donor he blamed for his failed career, then he secured a new one. Rather than live as the downtrodden, he wanted to build a life of the finer things that his victims enjoyed.
Falling in love wasn’t part of his plans. He wasn’t entirely sure he was in love, but the Waxxer still found his thoughts turn every day to Theodora Hunnicutt. He never thought the young woman he kidnapped would show herself to be a cunning and intelligent mentor into the world of America’s old money. He owed a great deal of his success to her, and the rise of his savings.
Theodora seemed to value him as well. Perhaps she saw in him a way to take revenge, or perhaps he was another person whose station in life made a mockery of his intelligence. It has not been her story up to this point.
The Mad Waxxer found her staying at her townhouse just as she was leaving on an errand. He waited until she returned to sneak inside and lounge on her sofa in the living room. She jumped when she saw him, her hand reaching for her purse. “Oh, you,” she said playfully, her face alight with a smile.
The Mad Waxxer hopped to his feet and started toward her, arms outstretched. “Like a blinded man whose sight was returned in time for the sunrise, my life is enlightened again.”
“If only every girl had a master flatterer to welcome her home. It’s good to see you again, but I didn’t expect to see you in the middle of the day,” she wrapped her arms around the Waxxer and the pair shared a kiss.
Too shortly for their tastes, their greetings ended and he revealed the purpose of his visit. “I wish I was here to see you for your own sake, but it’s the bad news that brings me.”
“Bad news?” Theodora asked.
“You haven’t heard?” Mad Waxxer asked, then explained. “The Chief of Police was hurt and kidnapped. They say a note was left by myself and the Brazilian, the new villain who steps on my territory.”
Theodora took her phone out to check on the news as he told her the story. “They’re blaming you? Have they paid attention to anything you’ve done?” she asked. She pondered a moment. “No, they’re too busy thinking the worst of anyone who gives offense. The Pinkertons? I see what’s going on here. My father has spoken about them. You humiliate them, but you’re only a threat to their overstuffed bank accounts. Have you ever seen the Brazilian?”
The Waxxer nodded. “I was there when he took the model in the first place. He’s a real person with real powers.”
Theodora’s eyes glazed over as she thought it over. “So he’s real, but they’re taking advantage.”
“To what end?” asked a voice that startled them both. Theodora turned to see a barely-dressed man walk out of a hallway, hairless skin shining in the light.
The Waxxer’s whip was out like a flash and would have caught the Brazilian in the face if he hadn’t rolled beneath the blow and come up with his hands raised. “I mean no harm!” he said, while the Waxxer released the whip from sticking to the hall wall. “I came here to talk about our scapegoating.”
“Did you take the Chief of Police?” Theodora asked.
The Brazilian shook his head. “I was as caught off guard as well.” He looked between them both. “I thought you two would meet, so I waited in hope of a meeting. Mad Waxxer, both our names are being dragged through the mud.”
The Waxxer cocked his head. “We’re criminals who kidnap people. It’s bad if we clear our names solving crimes, too. It’s a win-win for them. We can’t solve the crime for them.”
“That attitude didn’t stop either of you before,” Theodora said. “You turned each other’s hostages over.”
“We did that anonymously,” Brazilian said, Waxxer nodding along. “We didn’t help our reputations, but we hurt each others’.”
The Waxxer thought it over. “They will still have a reason to bring in the Pinkertons anyway, unless we admit we didn’t take him.” He glanced at Theodora, whose smile grew wide across her face. He loved that smile. “Someone has an idea.”
“We still need to find who has him, but once we know that, you two can kidnap him. You expose what the other people did and show you’re better,” she said.
The Mad Waxxer snapped his fingers. “And the ransom is the removal of the Pinkertons, with the knowledge that we can get at anybody if they try to bring them back.”
The Brazilian smiled at Theodora, and the Waxxer noted his brilliant white smile. “As smart as you are beautiful. No wonder the Waxxer basks in your company.”
“Easy there,” the Waxxer said, moving to put himself between the two.
Theodora giggled. “Relax, both of you. I’m perfectly happy already.” She patted Theodora on the shoulder. “Let him waste breath on flattery if he wants to. You two have to learn to get along while I find out what I can from my family connections. You two, behave.”
The Brazilian smiled at her before looking the Waxxer in the eye. “We should check as well. You know more of the underworld than I do in this state. I have my own sources I can speak to.”
“You have sources?” the Waxxer asked.
“I have sources,” the Brazilian reiterated. “They don’t overlap with the people you both know, but I have them. If there was a struggle, there’s evidence that won’t match what they have on file for us.”
“I suppose it beats going to Paradise City in the middle of the Summer,” The Mad Waxxer conceded.
Theodora knew her father had talked about the Pinkertons before. He’d talked about it around her, cautiously at first, then more boldly. She didn’t like the assumption that she was a ditzy party girl. Her family didn’t want her pursuing studies or a career more fitting to her desires and abilities. They underestimated her, and spoke too much around her as a result. She thought it too likely he had some hand in this, or knew who did. She also knew he preferred to keep notes in paper. He claimed to be old-fashioned, but she’d known him to have inconvenient documents burned without a digital copy left to embarrass him.
She thought about what she knew of her father’s schedule. He would be at his office this time of day. It would be wrong to assume he did no work, but it was work in a luxurious office, drink and snack nearby, with hours of his choosing. The family’s fortunes grew and all it required of him was the push of papers and a few words.
She traipsed in like she owned the place. The secretary managed to alert her father before she walked into his office and dramatically dropped her purse on a chair. “Hello daddy!”
“Sweetie!” he stood up and held his arms out. She moved around the desk to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you. Daddy, I want to go on vacation. Everybody’s getting kidnapped here,” she pouted.
He chuckled. “That’s a splendid idea, dear. It would set me at ease. Where did you want to go?”
It was easy enough to giggle and play the spoiled heiress until her father’s bladder got the best of him. She had only a short amount of time, but she knew where he kept papers he didn’t want casual visitors seeing. She just hoped nothing she needed to see had already been sent to the fire.
The tax evasion and embezzlement were common enough. Withdrawal slips didn’t give anything away, which was the point of paying people in cash. Helping to pay the Pinkertons was hardly comparable to those crimes and he wouldn’t keep it secret, but perhaps the payments had connection to the Chief’s disappearance. Then she stumbled across paperwork about a bonded warehouse. She remembered her father laughing at a young lawyer who suggested the investment upon the election of the nationalist a few years back. The younger man had reasoned that the president-elect would turn to tariffs to try and punish other countries, and that the value of a bonded warehouse would go up as importers would rather wait out the tariffs than pay higher rates. Her father hadn’t taken it seriously at the time.
She snapped a photo of the address and continued looking, finding little else of use, until her father returned. She smiled at him, and adopted a flighty tone to excuse herself.
She adopted a more business-like look when it came time to check on the address. It was an inauspicious warehouse, but then she couldn’t expect a moat and a chained up dog with three heads guarding the gates. When she pulled up to the guardhouse at the gate, she rolled the window down and eyed the guard through sunglasses.
The man looked at her, clipboard in hand. “Can I help you, ma’am?”
“My client asked me to check on something.” She presented a card taken from the large law firm her father employed. She’d caught the eye of an attorney there in college. The romance had come and gone, but she’d kept a number of stolen business cards in case she ever needed them to get out, or into, trouble. They did business in every major city in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe. A few cards wouldn’t be missed, and no one would know all of their staff by heart.
She didn’t know if gaining admittance should reassure her, or lead her to suspect the law firm as well. Her explorations didn’t get far, though. She went to exit her car and enter the warehouse, but men stepped out of the entrance, eyeing her. They were dressed as if unload the house, but she noticed the way they looked at her, and caught the sight of bulges under their clothes. She had experience dating a soldier, too, and he’d taught her how to recognize a soldier in civvies with guns hidden on them. He didn’t know she’d learned that at the time.
“Can we help you, ma’am?” asked one of the men.
She smiled at him. “My client wanted me to check and make sure you boys were on your guard is all.” She got back into her car, firing off a text message to a number that looked like any other friend in her contact’s list. She didn’t get a good look inside, but now her boyfriend and his rival would learn where they needed to check, and that there was an armed guard.
“Luck be a lady,” was the Mad Waxxer’s response in text. “A lady like no other.”
She smiled as she drove off, imagining taking a vacation with him anyway. Perhaps to Paradise City, where they can see if his luck waxes or wanes with his Lady Luck on his arm.
“Who’s Next?” was crossed out as the headline and replaced by “Who’s Left?” The story underneath told the tale of the escalating territorial conflict of the past few days. More and more of Gordon Hart’s extended family and business associates disappeared. The Mad Waxxer himself skimmed the story again before turning to the man he’d caught. Some lawyer, next in line with power of attorney. He crumpled the newspaper up and stuffed it in the man’s mouth as he squirmed in the spiderweb of wax strips he’d run into while fleeing.
“I must apologize, my good man. It is difficult to maintain decorum as quickly as I must work,” he reassured his latest victim. The man was the second in the same day. He had already taken his next logical victim, but this man was the Brazilian’s next target. This had become a farce, one that the Waxxer intended to stop. It had damaged his mystique and that of his operation. He’d had to arrange more hiding places for his own guests. It was becoming a strain to care for all of them. He had to change diapers, deliver food and water, provide entertainment. He never cared for indeterminate detention, nor pets.
So he’d kidnapped the Brazilian’s next prey. He reached into the inner jacket of his smoking jacket and withdrew a pill. He’d paid to have a small GPS tracker encapsulated. He turned to the man he’d ensnared. “I will require you to swallow this. I assure, it will not harm you. If you do so, I will release you. Another man will come along, my rival, to kidnap you. This pill is your salvation from his grasp.”
The Waxxer withdrew the improvised gag and presented the pill to the man. “You’re a criminal!” shouted the lawyer.
“And were I to steal a man every month for the rest of my life, my crimes might someday equal those you committed and abetted,” the Waxxer answered. “A person’s worth or trust is not decided by the number of speed limits they violate. I have bargained fairly in every transaction. Trust me now and it will end this silly game between myself and the man who would kidnap you. You will be the one to defeat him with this.”
The lawyer looked at his captor, defiant, before saying one word. “Water.” The Mad Waxxer grinned and produced a bottle of spring water to help the tracker go down. Then he set about removing the man from the strips as delicately as possible, leaving as little mark and taking as little hair as he could.
The Mad Waxxer would not be without his own setbacks. He was in his home chemistry lab, creating more of his special wax, when his phone began to beep with alerts. As always, he hated the interruption. It took time to get to a safe stopping point. The law had some give to it; the deadliness of the chemicals he worked with didn’t.
Perimeters were breached. The mobile storage pods he’d rented were scattered around the city so that the discovery of one would not compromise the entire lot. Despite precautions, they were being found. Discreet cameras left to monitor the sites provided a view of SWAT teams breaking into all of them. They dragged out every captive, all the way back to Gordon Hart.
The Waxxer clenched his phone, tempted to throw it, but reluctantly set it down. He tossed his mask instead, and decided to settle in with a bottle of his least favorite wine. Some days, sobriety is a curse. And while he could no longer work in his lab while indulging, he was sure he was in no state to further mix hazardous chemicals. The Waxxer reassured himself, as he looked over a bottle of fermented grape juice, that wonderful things can still come from being crushed underfoot. He somehow managed to keep himself from being soused enough to miss the report that soon came out online about the recovery of his hostages.
The victims were telling everyone the Waxxer kidnapped them. He didn’t like to think how little reputation he’d be left with before the day was over. He wished he knew how they’d discovered him. Perhaps so many abductions in such a short amount of time left a trail of suspicious rentals for detectives to figure out. In that case, he counted himself lucky he’d always thought to maintain fake accounts for those purposes. The criminal accountant he relied on didn’t come cheap, especially in days when the man could be snapped up for a White House cabinet position.
His inebriated sorrow-drowning turned to amusement as the news cut in with reports of another shot fired in the war between the pair of them. He had begun to wonder if his bait had been taken. The release of his own captives increased the value of the Brazilian’s, and meant the other villain didn’t need to take the man he’d fed a GPS pill to earlier. Perhaps it was meant as one last insult to him, but the Waxxer was the one who laughed. The lawyer had been nabbed. The GPS showed him in a location he wouldn’t normally go to, an air-conditioned storage unit in an area none within the orbit of the wealthy would visit.
He had enough sense to wait until he’d sobered up more before sending a friendly anonymous email with the signal’s location to Chief Johanssen. He congratulated the man on his success against the Mad Waxxer, and offered him a chance at further glory. At first, his only regret was not having popcorn. When he sobered up, he reflected on the fact that he could have taken the hostages for himself. But he’d been buzzed and humiliated. He wanted to return that humiliation on the Brazilian. And he had. The news that the Brazilian had also been beaten would help alleviate his own woes, and the more recent disgrace would hopefully chase his own from the news.
And besides, he realized, the Brazilian hadn’t stolen his hostages either. That left the board cleared in this game. It also left the Mad Waxxer no closer to a worthwhile payday to maintain his lifestyle or to save up and treat his dear Theodora. With a jolt, he realized how badly this entire rivalry had destroyed his livelihood. People will actually have confidence in the police to rescue the hostages. What is to be done about that?
Chief Johanssen could breath a sigh of relief, if he thought everything was over with. His office had been bombarded ever since the rash of kidnappings began. The game of one-upsmanship the supervillains had been playing with each other had caused him no end of headaches and lost sleep. He never thought transferring to the wealthy part of Connecticut would entail passing out at his desk. It had happened again this night. A glance at the clock showed it was two in the morning.
The calls for attention from the aristocracy soon turned to calls for commendation when they were rescued, but Johanssen knew better than to think they were out of the woods. He suspected the anonymous tips he’d received were part of the war between the two villains. That war wouldn’t end until one or both of them were behind bars or run out of town.
If only he had the first clue to go on that would allow him to do something proactive. He was in no hurry to hire the Pinkertons or to bring in the Feds. The former abandoned duty for a paycheck. They rubbed him the wrong way the times he’d seen them in action. They had their own secrets.
The latter, the Feds, would step on a lot of toes without regard to secrets his local bosses wanted kept. The local gentry saw his duty as protecting their closets from anyone prying for skeletons. They’d have much rather had the Pinkertons. In fact, a few of them had come forward over the past few days offering to pay to bring them on. He’d made it clear that private detectives wouldn’t be tolerated by him and his men.
Even if he had a superhero he could call, how could he direct them? They had fingerprints from both the Mad Waxxer and the Brazilian, but they didn’t match any in the database. He’d chewed the lab techs out and made threats he didn’t like to issue until they expedited DNA analysis of hairs found by the CSI crew. Just like the fingerprints, there were no hits in the system. Neither of the villains had been arrested before, or otherwise entered into a database that shared fingerprints and DNA with law enforcement.
A knock came to his door. “Who would be here at this hour?” he wondered, then shook his head and chuckled. “Other than me.” Louder, he called out, “A moment!” He checked himself over for anything embarrassing sticking to himself, made sure his clothes weren’t too wrinkled, then said, “Come in!”
The Mad Waxxer arrived at police headquarters bright and early to scope it out, having left his costume at home. He found the press there as well, including the local paper. National news was one thing, but they didn’t have the same familiarity or level of access that the locals had with themselves. The families here paid good money to keep their names off the lips of anyone on twenty-four hours news networks. Sometimes, they did so because, like the Vanderbilts, their relative is the reporter for such a network. The Waxxer doubted Anderson Cooper reports too negatively about Gloria Vanderbilt, his own mother. The kidnapper sipped on his cappuccino and cut away from his thoughts on the lifestyles of the rich and famous to wander over to a man standing by himself among the gathering press.
“Good morning,” he greeted the bean pole of a young man in plastic glasses. “Do you know, by chance, what all of this is?”
The man smiled and adjusted his glasses. “Hi. Yeah, there’s been a development in the Brazilian-Mad Waxxer War. The Chief of Police is going to brief the public.”
The Waxxer cocked an eyebrow curiously. “Well, that sounds interesting indeed. I should love to stay and listen.”
“By all means,” the man said. “I’m here with the Gazette.”
“Ah, the local fishwrapper. This has all been good for your business, I suppose,” the Waxxer commented good-naturedly.
The reporter looked down and nodded, then eyed the Waxxer. “When I joined the paper a few months back, the editor made it sound like we wouldn’t have a year. It’s been incredible to see the jump in sales and views from this supervillain fight. I don’t know how it can keep going, but it saved my job.”
“Greetings,” said a man the Mad Waxxer didn’t recognize, from the podium. Perhaps he was meant to introduce the Chief? “I am Acting Chief of Police Martz. I’m here to announce that early this morning, we discovered that Chief Johanssen has been kidnapped. The office was in a state indicating a struggle. The presence of blood leads us to believe the kidnappers may have seriously wounded Chief Johanssen. He appears to have become a victim of the supervillains who have menaced our community for too long now. The ransom note was signed jointly by both the Mad Waxxer and the Brazilian. In cooperation with prominent members of the community, we have decided to cooperate with the Pinkerton Detectives, who will be arriving shortly, in an all-out manhunt for the kidnappers. We will leave no stone unturned in the hopes of recovering Chief Johanssen alive or dead. Thank you for coming out. I will not be taking any questions at this time.”
The Mad Waxxer shook his head. He’d certainly had nothing to do with this. Perhaps the Brazilian had framed him. He himself had come to scope the place out to kidnap the Chief and assert his dominance and seriousness. Instead, the newbie had messed up and injured the chief. He’d tipped the scales enough to bring down the Pinkertons, who didn’t care about due process or prisoners’ rights. He hated the thought, but perhaps it was time the Waxxer took a vacation. He would be abandoning his territory to the Brazilian, but perhaps the Pinkertons would nab him and simplify the Waxxer’s life.
First thing’s first, however. The Waxxer wasn’t going anywhere without paying a visit to Theodora first, and charm her while waxing poetic.
The Mad Waxxer was, well, mad. That is to say, the threat of territorial usurpation left him angry. Even his scheduled session with the barber for a shave and a haircut couldn’t break the cloud of anger beguiling his mind. But it was the post-haircut shower that finally showed him the way forward, as the bathroom proved again to be the most inspirational and creative of rooms.
He didn’t mind other supervillains. They had been around before he got in the game and they would be around afterward. Other kidnappers would be a problem that could derail his career. But a kidnapper using the same gimmick? This was an affront, a direct and personal challenge even. The Waxxer scoured the newspaper article on the kidnapping for any information about his foe. There wasn’t much there, as the article was primarily the reprinting of a ransom note left at the newspaper and confirmation that Lauren Blanc was indeed kidnapped. The trainer confirmed the kidnapping, and the abilities of this Brazilian fellow, while also providing the scoop that the Mad Waxxer had been beaten to the punch.
If the Mad Waxxer was in the business of revenge, he thought he might go find that trainer and make sure the man’s drapes matched his ripped off carpet. The Waxxer had seen too many people sacrifice good business sense on the altar of revenge. Would it make him money and help his brand in the long run? No, therefore the Waxxer would leave the man be.
And as suspicious as the Waxxer could be, the author of the story didn’t seem a worthwhile target. At first, he wondered why the Brazilian had picked that particular newspaper, or any newspaper. The man could have made a video and uploaded it to Youtube. But then, why not the newspaper? A video is just a video unless the right people see it, but this note is the news. The Waxxer had better things to do than intimidate reporters because he didn’t like a story.
With a kidnapping, time was of the essence. The Mad Waxxer cursed himself for spending too much time wallowing and thinking when action was called for. He needed to get out ahead of the kidnapping. The police had their ways of dealing with these situations, but he could do things they wouldn’t.
The Mad Waxxer grinned to himself as he finished toweling off. It was time to fight fire with fire. Or a kidnapping with a kidnapping.
Lauren Blanc’s boyfriend, Gordon Hart, owns a number of properties all across the country. The apartment Blanc herself had been staying in wasn’t the only such apartment he owned in that building. It was an easy investment, and would make finding someone a nightmare if they were of the mafioso mindset. But the Mad Waxxer’s long and antagonistic association with Connecticut blue bloods and those who associate with them led him to believe Gordon wouldn’t think to go to the mattresses. Why should he? The person meant to pay the ransom isn’t generally in danger of being kidnapped as well.
Gordon was staying in his Danbury condo. The newspaper’s story caused reporters to hunt him down for comment. These types often preferred to handle scandalous problems privately to avoid attention, but now the Waxxer knew where to find him.
It was a beautiful building along Candlewood Lake’s shore and it was being watched by reporters. The influx of unfamiliar people hid the Waxxer’s approach in a van. Most of his kidnappings were not as consensual as Theodora Hunnicutt’s, nor could he simply swing from building to building to escape in every situation.
The Waxxer made his move at dark. Coming around to the side of the condo, he took aim with his whip. It latched onto a stone eave and held firm as the Mad Waxxer hauled himself up the side of the building. He found it helped to walk up the side, though it made him more visible. That’s why he took care to check the windows he passed by. He intended to enter at the top, but the second story window’s curtains weren’t drawn and revealed Gordon Hart in bed with someone other than his kidnapped girlfriend. On the plus side, the Waxxer was now confident he could enter an occupied room without being detected. They were far too busy to look at the window.
He cut the top of the window free, then spread wax and stuck a strip to it. Then, using a diamond-tipped cutter, he carved out a slightly smaller rectangle on the window. With a little effort, the Waxxer lifted it up, pivoting along the top where the strip still held it, and used another wax strip to pin it to the wall. Finally, he swung through, using the sonic oscillators to release his whip’s hold on the building and retracting it upon landing. To his amusement, both the noises and positions of the couple in bed kept them from noticing his grand entrance. He looked around to wear a snifter had been left on a sideboard and helped himself to a quick drink. As expected, it didn’t take Gordon long.
“Was it good for you too, baby?” the wealthy 29 year old retiree asked of the woman straddling him. Before she could lie, a wide paper strip was thrown over her mouth and she was pulled off him, causing Gordon some discomfort as not all of his body parts were soft and outside of her. It took seconds for the Mad Waxxer to affix her to the ground and turn his attention to the naked man in bed.
“Pardon me, Mr. Hart. I’m here to see to the release of your girlfriend. Not this young lady, though I suspect she would enjoy release as well. Come with me now, Mr. Hart. It wouldn’t do for this to become brutish and nasty.”
Gordon turned to the nightstand and pulled the drawer out. He produced a pistol from within, but fumbled and dropped the magazine. He stood to get it and that’s when the wax strip whip smacked against his forehead and pulled, spinning him toward the Mad Waxxer. The Waxxer whirled the whip around Gordon until the man was wrapped in it, taking extra care to wrap up the man’s midsection. That proved useful for when he needed to lift Mr. Hart onto his shoulders to carry him downstairs. He would prefer to drag him, but head injuries are no laughing matter when someone is going to be held against their will. A hostage in need of medical care means the hostage taker must also worry about resolving the crisis in a timely manner, and that is a poor bargaining position to be in.
The Mad Waxxer encountered a small problem when the doorbell rang before he had yet reached the door. He looked around for something to dump Hart on and had to settle for tipping him up against a wall. He got halfway to the door before he heard a thump from the wiggling hostage falling. The Waxxer sighed and continued on, checking the door’s peephole. There stood a man in a suit with a badge, and two regular police officers.
The Waxxer nodded to himself and muttered, “Perfect.” He turned to glance around the entryway, then got to work.
After a few minutes of prep work, he called out, “Come in!” The cops opened the door, then stared at the Waxxer, holding the same tied-up person they came to see. The detective in front pulled his sidearm. “On the ground, now!”
The Waxxer shrugged, tossed Hart on the ground, and laid down. “You got me. Good show.”
The detective nodded to the officers. “Come on.” All three stepped forward into the dwelling, then fell forward onto their faces when their feet didn’t come up again. The detective’s gun and his hands stuck to a set of paper strips on the floor. He tried to pull himself up, but he was stuck fast, as were the other two officers. A glance down at his feet and he saw more wax strips holding their shoes to the floor.
The Mad Waxxer groaned as he hefted the hostage once again upon returning to his feet. “This has been quite a workout, but I’m sure you’ll understand if I leave now. Fortunately, you’ve saved me the trouble of leaving a note. The Mad Waxxer has struck again. I will be in contact with the details of the ransom, but Mr. Hart here will be unable to pay the ransom for Miss Blanc. Tragedy and woe. I suppose there’s nothing left but for the fiend who took her to return her, harmed or unharmed, as the ransom is an utter impossibility now. It’s a shame. Ta ta, gents!”
He smiled as he stepped walked on the detective’s back to freedom right out the front door and into his waiting van. He speed off, a nearby reporter’s car cranking up to follow him. As it turned the corner, it found not a white van, but a large white shell of paper in the street as if the van had shed a coating held on only by some sticky substance.
The Mad Waxxer slipped away while the police were stuck.
The Mad Waxxer felt absolutely tops after his adventure the previous night. It was late news, online only, but the word soon spread that Gordon Hart had been disappeared by the Mad Waxxer. The Brazilian’s victim was worthless to him without someone to pay. It left the Waxxer feeling a joyful sense of having obtained revenge and more than made up for sticking Hart in a diaper and leaving him locked in a soundproofed mobile storage unit.
He felt twice as energetic during his morning swim and could barely lay still during his massage. To put his mind on something and prevent fidgeting, he decided to check his phone while he was on his stomach. When the Mad Waxxer saw the news, he was caught with his pants literally down as a result. He hadn’t yet sent his ransom demands to Gordon Hart’s trust or his father who could authorize the ransom, and now it wouldn’t matter. The Brazilian had kidnapped the man.
Details were sketchy. The elder Hart had been driven to his office in town, stepped out, and was pulled down into the embrace of The Brazilian who had somehow been waiting on a street luge. The Brazilian grabbed the man, held him close, and they disappeared into traffic. From what he’d seen of the man’s powers, the Waxxer was sure he’d latched onto the underside of a car for transport. He realized the younger Hart was now mostly useless to him unless the other villain held onto the model.
He set his jaw and began looking up who would have the power to pay the elder Hart’s ransom, determined to show this wasn’t over. The world would soon learn that the Mad Waxxer cannot be dislodged by just any luger.
Dear readers, allow the Great and Devious one a brief respite. It’s been a crazy time lately. I am to blame for that, but even I occasionally want a short break. To that end, I’ve decided to let a few other stories be told. Yes, this town is big enough for more of us. Outlaw X, the pirate radio station beloved of villains everywhere, has more than a few stories to tell as well. Tales of a new age; others as old as humanity itself.
It was a humid night in Connecticut, why Captain Johanssen guessed Detective Staex wouldn’t have gone outside for a smoke. The detective had put on a few pounds, and like many people gifted with an excess of weight, wasn’t fond of added humidity or heat if they could help it. But the detective was fond of his tobacco. When he didn’t check in, Captain Johanssen’s aide found him and alerted him of it as requested. He’d been given orders to keep a close eye on proceedings at the charity dinner. It was his first since transferring to the Gold Coast of Connecticut, and he didn’t take the threat he’d been warned about as seriously as he did exerting his authority over his new detectives. So he left, and found Staex in a maintenance closet at the country club.
The detective was wrapped in wide, white, flat strips that held his arms against his body. He had begun mumbling through a similar strip wrapped around his bearded face when he saw light from the open door. He paused when he made out it was the new Captain, then started wiggling and murmuring even louder. What was impossible to make out through the strip was equally unlikely to have been heard outside the closet at all. The Captain bent down to the Detective and tore the strip off, taking off the man’s beard and sideburns everywhere the strip had touched them.
“Motherfuck me with a paddleboard!” yelled Staex.
“Later, detective. Who did this? What did they look like?” asked Johanssen.
“He was dressed as a waiter. I thought he was doing something weird. He had on a mask, tied me up in these things. They’re all sticky,” Staex explained.
Johanssen stood up and looked back. “I have to alert the rest of the force. Sit tight. I’ll send someone by when I’ve secured the club.” It was with no small amount of satisfaction at his subordinate’s predicament that Captain Johanssen left the detective at a brisk walk to alert his plainclothes people among the crowd to be on the lookout. It was only when he arrived back at the dining room and heard the gasps of those same wealthy socialites that he realized the threat had been real after all.
He arrived back at the dining room to see an open window on one wall and a pair of his detectives helping free a trio who had been stuck to Corinthian columns lining the room. A large and red-faced man approached, a volcano ready to blow his top. “Johanssen! You have this job because the last screw-up couldn’t stop this madman from his spree of kidnappings. This is the third time, Johanssen. Third! I want my daughter back, and so help me God, he better not have touched a single hair on her head.”
Johanssen gulped. Theodore Hunnicutt the Third had been the one to warn him. His family was old money, having been a smuggler during the Colonial Period. His money was so old, in fact, that the stink of crime had worn off it and the family was now seen as a pillar of the community. Johanssen had taken this job knowing a man like Hunnicutt could make a man’s career. Or break it. How was he, a seasoned officer who had encountered real villains before, to know how serious a threat was from a man calling himself “The Mad Waxxer”.
Room service at the Presario was as prompt as it was discreet. The staff wasn’t paid to gather evidence for the police, something appreciated by clientele ranging from wayward politicians and rambunctious aristocrats to the rare supervillain who could afford a stay in one of their exclusive suites. The concierge rolled in a tray containing chilled champagne, a pair of glasses, and a sampling of delicious desserts from the kitchen. The Mad Waxxer smiled from underneath his mask and shook the man’s hand, imparting a $100 to him as a tip.
The concierge smiled right back at the villain. It wasn’t his job to judge, not even when the client was a man in tights, a smoking jacket, and a mask that looked like the letter M on top of the letter W in a black design that almost looked look like the man had overly large eyebrows, sideburns, and a mustache like a lie detector test. If he looked close, he could make out that the “face” between and around the letters was actually a mask. He was paid well to not look closely, so he took his money and left.
The Mad Waxxer popped the champagne open and poured the bubbling drink into glasses. He sauntered to the bathroom and found his captive nowhere to be found. He smirked as he eyed the open balcony door and walked over. There, he found Theodora Hunnicutt, dressed only in a robe and looking up at the night sky. He barely heard her over the still quiet of the night as she commented, “Beautiful moon tonight.”
“A waxing gibbous, mon coeur,” the Mad Waxxer said, stepping up behind her. He kissed her on the back and side of her neck as his arms slipped around her and handed her a glass of champagne.
“Mmm… such pretty words. How many women have you kidnapped and threatened to wax? And men? Should I be jealous?” she asked, taking a sip of her champagne.
He chuckled. “How many of those who refused to pay were seen without a hair on their rich little heads, hm? No, I am not wining and dining fat bank chairs. I’m an extortionist, not a masochist.”
“Be a sadist for me?” Theodora said, allowing the robe to slip down and expose her shoulders. “Hurt me good.”
“For you, ma puce, it will be a pleasure to bring you pain,” the Mad Waxxer said, taking her arm and leading her to the bed, where his wax and strips were set up. Bikini season for his beloved demanded sacrifices.
The Mad Waxxer hadn’t intended to strike again so soon. One benefit of targeting the wealthy is that they pay so well; he didn’t need to work constantly and the heat died down between each kidnapping. His adventures with Theodora were a matter of love, not money.
The police received an anonymous tip and entered the hotel room at the Presario in time to “save” Theodora from being completely stripped of hair. Her brows and lashes were safe and Captain Johanssen could indeed report to the elder Hunnicutt that not a hair on the beautiful heiress’s head had been harmed. The new captain suspected she was missing fur above the lips that women were not supposed to be seen with, but he wasn’t about to tell someone as rich and powerful as Theodore Hunnicutt the Third that his daughter was supposed to have a mustache.
The Mad Waxxer’s work, his science, his art required preparation and his lifestyle required money. He didn’t like it, but it had to be done. Man was not meant to live without crepes and a beach house. The summer was a good time, however. There were many families who Wintered, Springed, and Falled away from home who enjoyed Summering in Connecticut. He settled on a French model, Lauren Blanc. She wasn’t old money or even new money, but it was a rare rich kid who would reject the company of a model. Her boyfriend of the month, a 29-year old retired from working in software whose sister married into old money, would pay dearly not to be embarrassed. And should he refuse, he’ll find it hard to attract any other girlfriends unless they want to risk being snatched.
Blanc’s boyfriend had set her up with a classy apartment near the beach. The balcony featured a table, jacuzzi, and lounges for the model to relax and enjoy a meal while looking out over the waves at sunset. A long strip of paper splatted against the side of the building and stuck fast. The Mad Waxxer arced over the rail of the balcony on the end of his wax strip whip and pressed a button. A vibration weakened the glue enough for it to come free. Another button rolled it up automatically. He slipped it into a hidden pocket up the back of his smoking jacket.
The Mad Waxxer helped himself through the unlocked balcony. Even in an age where men and women could leap tall buildings in a single bound and fly like a bird or a plane, few people were felt the need to lock every door and window that led to a twenty story drop. He knew Lauren would be home. He’d been watching her as tastefully as a professional kidnapper could stalk a woman. This was the time of day she would be working out in her home gym with her personal trainer.
He found the gym door open, an unusual purple splatter against the door. He frowned to himself. She didn’t seem messy. He reached back under his smoking jacket for the base of his whip as he made his way in. Greeting him was a wiry older man groaning on the floor, hands on his private parts. The Mad Waxxer looked around and saw no one else. He rushed to the downed man. “What happened?”
“He… he ripped it off. He ripped it all off!” cried the trainer, raising a hand to grab the lapel of Mad Waxxer’s smoking jacket. In the process, he exposed enough of the crotch of his pants that the Waxxer made out the missing fabric and complete absence of any body hair underneath it. The crude removal had left the man bleeding.
“What do you mean he ripped it off? Who did?” asked the Waxxer, wondering where his mark had gone. The trainer pointed up at the ceiling. The Waxxer raised his head. A bronze-skinned Adonis in nothing but hot pant clung to the ceiling with bare feet and one hand. The man’s other hand held Lauren Blanc close.
The man crawled along the ceiling toward an open window with the Mad Waxxer’s meal ticket. “Hey! I saw her first,” the Waxxer yelled.
“You’re too slow, oldtimer,” the beautiful brown man said, blowing the Waxxer a kiss. The Waxxer gawked, then remembered his whip. Too late, he hit the window the man was now on the other side of. He tried pulling it inward, hoping to stop the person in his territory, but it was useless.
He wouldn’t learn the name of his claim jumper until the next day, when the story made the news. “Introducing The Brazilian: Model Kidnapped By New Villain In Town.”
The Brazilian… the Mad Waxxer screwed up his face as he read the newspaper. He’d lost his target to someone diluting his entire game. He would have to show this impertinent newcomer who had called him an oldtimer that one does not put the Mad Waxxer in such a sticky situation.