October 16, 1973 – Burning down the house

It’s easy to get a little blue when you’ve been blown up, left for dead, turned into a science project gone horribly right, kidnapped, threatened, starved, kidnapped again, almost murdered, stuck in a place where you can’t watch the Tropics games and seventy percent of the people around don’t speak a language you know, you haven’t had a solid bowel movement in a month, you’ve got split ends like a bastard, and your most comfortable pair of shoes are ninety-four hundred miles away.

But as my grandma said, it can’t rain every day.  Which I think isn’t true if you live in a rain forest but the point is well made.  If you don’t look at the bright side, you create your own demons. The bad news is now this Mr. X character and his deadly assassination squad are probably after me in addition to the Shadow Lords and probably some pirates.  But the good news is that I’ve discovered a new power that probably makes me a really great bowler. 

I dashed into the kitchen while Betty and Veronica were tending to their fallen psychopathic beau.  The big guy came after me, but he was so big he had to slow down to come through the door sideways.  That has to be really annoying.  While he was doing that, I hurled a 1963 Cavalier Coca-Cola machine at his melon.  I believe it was the CS-55-E model which was the first push button multi-select Coke machine.  We had one at the diner I worked at when I was in HS.  I’ve seen that from time to time, I guess they’re kind of cool, but why would you want a vending machine in your house?  It makes no sense to me.  You want Coke around, keep it in the fridge.  I dated a guy in Memphis for a while that was crazy into Coca-Cola memorabilia.  He got into a big fight with his parents because he sold a Christmas gift they gave him so he could buy more Coke shit.

The big man was knocked out cold by the machine, as cold as the delicious soda inside of it.  Irony?  No.  I flipped on a couple burners and tossed some towels onto the flames, figuring that a good house fire would help cover my escape.  I dated a guy back in Chi-Town who turned out to be a big time flamer.  We were at dinner one night and these dudes in trench coats came in and dragged him away.  He was terrified because he thought they were mobsters, but it was the FBI.  I think he ratted out a bunch of people and ended up somewhere in Taiping under an assumed name.  He was way too enthusiastic in bed.  Calm down dude, act like you been there before.

I turned left three times and right once, finding myself in what I assume is the bedroom of one of Mr. X’s private security force/murderous gang.  I slipped on some way too big around the waist pants (good thing I have long legs or I would have been tripping too) an obligatory “I’m a faceless goon” black t-shirt and some extra shoes (good thing I have big feet or they would have been slipping off).  A belt would have been nice but the place was starting to fill with smoke – and not the good kind that comes from cigarettes, the bad kind that kills you – so I ran in a crouch holding a fistful of pants-wad to keep them from sliding down my ass.

I was coughing pretty soundly when I found myself in a room with a window.  I annihilated said window by throwing a hideous couch through it (one handed, not to brag).  It must have been a custom job because the ends (What is the end of a couch called?  Must have a name) looked like sexy cat ladies.  I mean they were supposed to look sexy.  They didn’t.  I knocked out the rest of the glass with an ugly yellow vase and hopped through to freedom.  And by freedom I mean two dudes wearing armor vests pointing assault rifles at me.  Despite the fact that I may have been wearing one of these guy’s spare clothes, I admit that I had kind of forgotten about all the armed men I had seen standing around outside when I was brought here.  But as my grandma said, when the plane is going down, you jump and worry about a parachute later.

I gestured wildly (and pulled up my stolen pants) “People are killing your boss, what the fuck are you doing out here?!”

Neither one of them moved.  It’s hard to find good goons these days isn’t it?  Although the plume of ugly black smoke coming out of the window may have been a factor as well.  I shoved one of the men towards the window admonishing him to go do his job and protect his boss, and he very tentatively crawled inside.  Where most likely he was immediately overwhelmed with smoke.  His friend was still giving me the evil eye though and when I made to get out of there, he jabbed his gun at me.  I don’t know why he did that.  The bullets come out buddy, you don’t need the barrel right against my ribs to shoot me if that’s what you’re going to do. 

My intention was to snatch the rifle away from him like Kwai Chang Caine grabbing a pebble but I hadn’t counted on the strap.  When I yanked the rifle in a downward motion, his head came with it.  I’m not sure exactly what happened but he passed out instantly.  Is that what whiplash does?  I kind of thought that whiplash was just something people said to get more money out of a personal injury lawsuit.  Is it really that easy to smack your brain around?  Seems like it should be better protected.  Although on the other hand, I am as strong as twenty very strong men. 

I probably should have grabbed the rifle, to sell if nothing else, but I just boogied on out of there.  At one point, I jumped over a low wall and tried to roll like they do in the movies.  I tell you this much – it’s a bunch of bullshit.  I hit the ground like a drunk duck.  I think I messed up my shoulder bad.  If only I was as tough as twenty very tough men.  I didn’t cry though.  Anyone who says they saw me crying is a damn dirty liar. 

I had a horrifying vision of skulking around the rich part of Madripoor for days trying to find a way out but serendipitously I saw Say’s friend Meylupa coming out of a nearby mansion where she works as a maid.  I’m surprised she remembered me since we only met once, but I suppose I am pretty memorable around these parts.  Using a pidgin of French, English, and what little Malay I’ve picked up (pantomime helped too, some gestures are universal), I told her I had been making sweet, sweet love to a rich man nearby when his wife came home and I had to make a run for it.  Hence my makeshift clothing and my disheveled appearance. 

I’m pretty sure she said something about me being a whore but she said that I could hide in the laundry room until she was done with her work.  I told her that if she found me some clothing, I could help her out and she’d be done that much faster.  It’s a funny old world you know?  One moment you’re fighting a lunatic and his motley crew of killers in a battle to the death, and then an hour later you’re pulling a wad of hair out of a shower drain.  There’s probably a lesson there. 

Once we were done at mansion number one, Meylupa and I walked over to another mansion and helped out her friend working there, and then the three of us headed to another mansion to repeat the process.  At the end of the day, this left us with an hour to stand around and gab (well they gabbed, I missed 90% of the conversation) until a fellow came to pick them up in a 1961 Checker Marathon that had been repaired so thoroughly I wonder how much original car was in there.  Seeing that car made me understand the “grandfather’s axe” thing one of my teachers droned on about. 

You see, this is what I’m talking about.  Even in a place like Madripoor that seems like a total indictment of the human race as a whole, you find good people.  Some folks like to say that people are only as good as the world lets them be, but that’s hogwash.  Plenty of people get the shaft and they don’t get bitter about it.  We’ve only got one life to live and we’re all here together, don’t be an asshole.  Whatever mistakes you’ve made or compromises turned you away from your original path, that’s fine – just turn back.  It’s not so complicated. 

I started out the day with a kidnapping and I ended up at a bar on the beach getting drunk (well, they were getting drunk, I think I’d need several gallons of high proof booze to do anything to me these days) with new friends.  You never know how things are going to turn out. 

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