November 28, 1973 – The Challenging Challenge of the Challenger!

I try to spend as little time in our “apartment” as possible.  I never noticed it before because I wasn’t sleeping on top of him, but Blue has an unpleasant acrid scent to him.  And given that I’m sweating (sorry, girls don’t sweat, I mean glistening) through my clothes every three hours I probably don’t smell like roses myself.  Martialla surprisingly seems to have no odor at all, probably it matches her bland personality. 

And, smells aside, it’s pretty claustrophobic when we’re all in there, you know because it’s a utility closet.  As a result, we spend a lot of time walking around the city and sleeping in shifts when possible.  Blue and Martialla keep calling it “hot bunking” which is gross sounding and not accurate because we don’t even have a bunk.  Their insistence on using military jargon annoys me, Blue hasn’t been in the army for years and despite all her gung-ho commando bullshit, I’m pretty sure Martialla was like a secretary or something.  Anyway, we were strolling down a little strip between the part of town where all the vice places are by the docks called the Flats.

“So I don’t think we’re going to see Fred (editor’s note: she means Frank) anymore, he was pretty pissed that we stuck him with the bill.”

Martialla smirked, which is awful with her dumb fish-lips “Why was he upset, wasn’t it a standard food to sex deal?”

I scowled at her “Don’t be like that Martialla.”

She nodded “Ah, so you slept with him for free, you’re not a hooker, you’re just easy.”

“I thought Canadians were supposed to be nice, what’s your problem?”

“I grew up in Canada but I’m Russian.  Lucien is actually from Canada, that’s why he’s such a good natured doormat.”

“That explains it.”

We had to pause our perambulation because in the middle of the street there was a shirtless man in karate/pajama pants with a torso covered with tattoos of red and green dragons (not dragons like you think, here dragons are skinny snakes that have no wings and weird tentacle mustaches) attacking a breakdancer.  The one guy was breakdancing for his life while the shirtless dragon guy was trying to kick his head off.  In standard Madripoor fashion, most people were ignoring this and going around it, one enterprising fellow was taking bets.

“What’s this?

Blue pointed “The guy with the tattoos is called the Challenger.  He goes around the world attacking martial arts guys to prove he’s the best fighter in the world.”

“Isn’t that Mr. X’s deal exactly?  How many of these ever loving people are there traveling the world trying to fight everyone?”

“Enough that they have a tournament where they fight to the death every year and there’s still more of them the next year I guess.”

“Good point.  Why is he attacking a street dancer?  What does that prove?”

Blue flicked his tongue out in confusion “He’s not a dancer, he’s a capoeirista.”

“What?  He looks human to me.”


“You said he was a capybara, isn’t that the giant rat-pig they have in South America?  The ones they tried to import into the swamps around New Orleans and now they’re everywhere?  Our tour bus hit one of those damn things back in seventy-one.  Nearly sent us off the road.  Of course the driver was also drunk so that may have been a factor as well.”

“What are you talking about?”

“What are YOU talking about?” We both looked at each other cluelessly for a moment before turning back to the fight “Should we do something?”

“Like what?  Do you want to fight a guy who goes around the world picking fights with the best fighters he can find?”

“No, but can’t you shoot him or something?”

Martialla snorted bitterly “With what?  We had to give all our guns to the doctor for Elvis, may he rest in peace.”

Blue crossed himself “May he rest in peace.  We’re just here with our dicks in our hands unless you want to go hand to hand with this guy.”

I looked at him curiously “Do you still have a dick?”

His eyes bulged, which I didn’t know could happen with his lizard-head “What?!”

I glanced at his pants crotch area “I mean to lizards even have dicks?  What’s going on down there?”

He turned away “This is not a productive area of discussion!”

I snapped my fingers “Is that why you’re so mad at those aliens?  When they turned you into a lizard you lost your penis?  That makes a lot of sense now that I think about it.”

Martialla slapped me on the arm “What if he’s a lizard but he still has his normal human penis?  That would be so freaky!”

“Eeeeew, is that what happened?!”

Blue stomped away in a huff and Martialla followed after him with a grin.  I stayed behind to watch the two men fighting, or really one man attacking and the other trying desperately to stay alive.  If two men (or women, although I think they’re generally too smart to do it) mutually and consensually decided they want to karate fight each other to the death I guess that’s fine, but it didn’t look like that to me, it looked like the breakdancing guy was just trying to live his life and the dragon guy attacked him. 

I picked up one of those three wheeled delivery bikes (I guess that’s a trike, but you know not the thing for kids) with the big cargo area and threw it at the dragon man.  There’s not enough heavy things laying around on the street for me to throw at people.  Maybe I should start carrying around a satchel of metals balls I can throw, made out of some really heavy metal.  What’s a heavy metal?  Tungsten?  Where do I get Tungsten? 

Unfortunately for me, and for the breakdancer, the dragon man – even though there’s no way he could have seen it coming – Fosbury flopped over the flying bicycle and it continued on its way to flatten the poor dancing guy.  It hit him so hard the frame bent around him like a hula hoop. 

“Oh!  Oh . . . shit, sorry man.”

Upon landing the Challenger spun to face me with an angry look, whipping his hand into an imperious point “You!  You have interfered in my affairs for the last time!”

“For the last time?  Have we met before?”

His response was to charge at me like they do in those Sunny Chiba movies.  The actor karate guy, not the dirty movie lady.  I threw a kiosk at him.  Not sure what it was, it looked like Lucy’s stand from Peanuts – honestly.  It was just a couple pieces of wood with a “marquee” above it advertising something not on English (or French or Spanish).  I heard someone exclaim what I assume translates to “My kiosk!”

Remember that time I threw a couch at that dumb lady with a sword?  I expected her to cut it in half but she didn’t.  This guy met expectations, he jumped in the air and karate-kicked the thing in half.  Well not literally in half but it broke is the point.  He didn’t fly through it though, he kind of bounced backwards and landed awkwardly.  Whereupon I threw one of those big stick things that I see people carrying two huge baskets on at him that I think broke both his legs.  He fell amongst the kiosk debris with a shout of pain.  I looked around for the breakdancing guy but he was gone.

“Well that’s not very gracious.”

The Challenger hauled himself up to his hands, looking up at me with fury “I’m going to kill you!”

“Yeah, once you learn to walk again I’ll be sure to watch out for that.”


  1. Modern plastic milk carton debut in 1960. Fill a couple of those up with concrete and you’ve got yourself some cheap and effective cannonballs with handles for throwing.

    Secondly, I would be far more fascinated with Martialla’s reproductive life cycle, considering fish lay eggs for external insemination. Hows that for a mental image, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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