October 23, 1973 – You scream and you holler, ’bout my Chevy Impala

I don’t remember the events leading up to whatever happened to me that resulted in me being here in Madripoor where they have shitty smokes, weird booze, and strange food.  According to the official non-official reports, I was blown up in a terrorist attack.  I don’t remember that.   

I remember that a few days before all this, I went to see a movie at the Grenada.  I don’t remember the name because I was just walking by and went in on a lark.  I missed the first few minutes, but the movie was about this businessman and some spies or someone had kidnapped his wife.  In order to save her, he had to do something at the office for them but everything kept going wrong.   He kept coming up with plans to salvage the situation and save his wife – and they were good plans.  He was a smart and competent protagonist.   

But the exact right/wrong thing kept happening to screw up those plans, things he had no control over.  There was a scene where he’s sitting at his desk trying to keep it together because he’s running out of time and eight people stop by in succession to tell him some piece of bad news that ruins everything.  He’s screwed sixteen ways from Sunday but he keeps fighting.   

In the end though, it turns out that his wife was actually the ringleader of the whole scam and she was getting down with one of the spies or whatever they were and all his suffering and hard work was for nothing.  So then he kills himself. 

Pretty harsh.  But what I want to know is — why did someone make it?  Making a movie isn’t easy.  You don’t just bang that out over lunch one day.  The amount of work and money and effort and resources and people’s time that went into making that is something.  I don’t know how to quantify it.  With that many human effort units, could you have made a hundred cars?  Feed a thousand people?  I don’t know.   

Someone wrote a script and someone hired actors and someone built sets and someone scouted locations and those actors learned their parts and performed them and guys recorded it and a ton of other stuff happened to take the idea of “guy gets screwed and then kills himself” from an idea in someone’s brain to a thing I saw before my eyes.   

And for what?  Why did any of those people think that was a worthwhile thing to do?  Why do we as a society allow resources to be used for that?  At no point did anyone ask “why are we doing this?”  At the time I saw the movie, I didn’t think about any of this.  I just walked out, went across the street for a beer and a late night snack, and I went home.  But now, standing in an illegal doctor’s clinic in Madripoor where everyone has vanished into thin air, I thought about that movie.  Why did they do it?  Why? What was the message?

I nosed around the clinic for a while.  Everyone was gone.  I wandered back outside to where the flying red Aussie was pinned under a car.  One of his robo-arms was hanging out the side in a pool of some kind of blue grease – looked like alien blood – and I nudged it with my foot.   

“Are you alive?” 

I heard his non-robot voice coming from under the Impala “Oi, I think you broke my short ribs.” 

“Short ribs?  What are those?  Also we get it, you’re Australian, you don’t have to keep saying oi all the time.”  His only response was a wracking cough-groan, it sounded like the noise I heard a guy make in a pick-up basketball game when he tore his groin.  “Does your stupid suit have radar or something?  What happened to my friends?  Where did they go?” 

“Rack off, you bloody drongo!” 

“Drongo?  Is that the dog from Buck Rogers?  Was there a dog in Buck Rogers or is that the Lone Ranger?” 

I reached under the car until I felt something that seemed like a robo-suit and I pulled with one fifth of my might until something came out.  It was the helmet, which luckily for both of us didn’t have a head still inside it.  A torrent of groaning and cursing came from under the car. 

“I’m blind, you’ve blinded me!” 

The helmet smelled like a jockstrap soaked in old wine so I didn’t put it on, I held it at an angle and tried to peer inside expecting there to be some manner of lights or buttons or something but it was too dark to see inside.   

“How the hell do you use this thing?” The only response was a stream of incomprehensible Australian gibberish, so I tried a new tactic. “Look, use your sensors or whatever to tell me where my friends went, and I’ll get this car off you.” 

I heard more grunting, groaning, wheezing, and the car shifted – the hairy avenger crawling out from under like a crab emerging from under a slimy rock.  Although crab shells usually aren’t leaking weird fluids and emitting sparks and smoke.  As far as I know anyway. I’m no expert on crabs.  You’d have to ask my friend Molly about that.  Burn!  He dragged himself to his feet, the armor seeming like dead weight, and started cursing at me.  I grabbed the front of his suit – that’s the breastplate I guess, and ripped it off like I was shucking corn.  A goodly portion of other bits and bobs went shooting off into the night as well, but at least the sparks and smoke stopped. 

“What have you done?!” 

I gave him a look “Shut up, you know if I punched you right now you’d die, you know that right?” 

His eyes bulged precariously “Murderer!”

I sighed “Not yet.  Look man, we’re on the same side here.  Don’t you realize what this is?  Every time two superheroes meet for the first time in comic books, there’s some kind of mix’em’up and they end up fighting each other while the bad guy gets away.  Then they have to overcome their initial distrust to team up and get the bad guy in the end.  We’re only a few pages away from the advertisement for sea monkees, buddy, so let’s kiss and make up already, what do you say?”


I frowned “Do they have comic books in Australia?”

He scowled “Comic books are tools of the Devil.”

I rolled my eyes “Jesus.”

He pointed at me as best he could in his busted suit “Blasphemer!”

“God . . . . damn it.” 


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