Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Flights and Fancy: Part 3

“Bring her in,” the Mountebank said. He glanced down and nudged a spilled chip with his foot. “And somebody get me a bag of Doritos. Cool Ranch.”

“Sure, boss.”

“I don’t get involved in these things,” I said. “So you can leave her out of it.”

The Mountebank leaned in close, his breath surprisingly minty. “But you did once, back in Fre-“

“Hey,” I said. “I don’t go dredging up your past and using it against you in some semi-crazed scheme for world domination, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t do it to me.”

The Mountebank nodded. “A reasonable point, but unfortunately, I’m not a reasonable man.”

The cleaver started up again, short intermittent strikes, as if someone was trying very hard to hit a very fast cockroach. The saxophone switched to the theme from Gilligan’s Island, but slow and somewhat mournful.

There was the sound of heels scrambling on concrete and a woman in handcuffs was deposited in the Mountebank’s chair. She had a Cheeto’s bag on her head and at every breath, orange dust poofed out of the bottom of the bag.

She was also wearing an orange and pink uniform that looked very familiar.

“Ta-dah!” the Mountebank said, as he yanked the bag off of the woman’s head.

I looked at her. She looked at me. 

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey,” she answered, a small poof of Cheeto’s dust rising from her lips. She looked around, and then shrugged. “What’s the deal?”

“World domination, with a side dish of the bat-shit crazies,” I said.


The fly that had been sitting on the Mountebank’s shoulder flew back to my head as the woman and I looked at each other.

Birds chirped in the distance. A car backfired. A myopic priest walked into a bar.

“Well?” the Mountebank finally said.

“Well what?”

“This is the Dame. The woman you’re in love with. The woman I’m going to torture unless you do exactly as I say.”

I took a deep breath. “First of all, I’m not in love with the Dame. Sure, she’s the only woman in the last five years who’s actually talked to me of what I assume is her own free will, but love is a little much. It’s more like a ‘friends with shooting’ arrangement. And secondly, this isn’t the Dame.”

The Mountebank blinked. “She’s not.”

“Nope,” I peered at her nametag. “Apparently, she’s ‘Donna.’ Similar, I know.”

“Oh,” the Mountebank said, managing to combine glee and anger into one weird, therapy-intensive, syllable. “Someone’s going to die.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Flight and Fancy: Part 2

I didn’t say anything. The Mountebank was wearing what I presumed to be a very stylish and expensive black suit. His black silk tie alone looked like it was worth more than my truck, though the tie-pin, which looked like a faithful silver replica of bird-poop, was not to my taste.

“Hi,” he said again, with a little wave. He was on the slim side, not quite what I’d expect from the Harlequin’s enforcer. He leaned forward. “Hello?”

I raised an eyebrow at him. Behind me, the cleaver stopped, to be replaced by a saxophone doing the theme from ‘Bewitched.’

The Mountebank looked over my shoulder. “He can talk, right? I was told he could talk.”

“He was talking earlier,” Donald said from behind me.

“Huh.” The Mountebank turned back to me. “Playing it tough, I see. Well, I can respect that.” He fished inside his coat and pulled out a shiny silver corkscrew. “However, I should tell you that the last guy who didn’t talk got this,” he waved the corkscrew at me. “We played ‘Places You Don’t Want a Corkscrew’ for almost an hour.  Granted,” he continued, “he was a Mime which should have been a huge clue.” The Mountebank snorted. “He kept making these hilarious facial expressions until I got bored and just screwed this into his skull.” He tapped me on the knee with the corkscrew. “What about you? Should we start making Monopoly pieces out of you? Seriously, we’ve got a board around here somewhere.”

I did a head nod over my shoulder at Donald.

“And you’re nodding at . . . him?” The Mountebank pointed over my shoulder.  “Did you whack him on the head or something?”

The saxophone missed a note, which sounded strangely like a duck farting.

“No, sir,” Donald answered. “I just told him to shut-up.”

“Huh.” The Mountebank turned back to me. “Really? And here I thought you were some sort of ninja stomping badass. Fine. You’re free to talk.”

“Well,” I said. “He asked nicely.”

“I see.” The Mountebank stroked his chin. “A polite one. Mommy taught you well.”

“When your Mom can kill a bull with a rolling pin, you tend to pay attention.”

“Indeed.” The Mountebank was suddenly on his feet. “Now, you’re probably wondering why I had you brought here,” he said, as he paced in front of me.

“Not really.”

The Mountebank paused, looking sideways at me. “Really?”


The Mountebank put one foot up on the chair he had just been sitting in. “’I’m confused. ‘Really’ as in you really are wondering or ‘really’ in that you really don’t care.”

“The latter.”

There was a pause. “Is that the first one or the second one,” the Mountebank asked. “I can never keep it straight.”

“The second. ‘Latter’ rhymes with ‘later’ so it’s the second one. It’s a little mnemonic device.”

“Nice, I’ll have to remember that. Now then, why don’t you want to know?”

“Simple,” I said. “I already know.”

“Go on.”

“If you’d wanted to kill me, you’d have just done that. If you’d just wanted to torture me, well, I’d be screaming a lot right about now. So, that only means one thing: You’re coupe didn’t go quite as well as you wanted and now you want me to help you.”

The Montebank stared at me, his blue eyes wide and unblinking. “Very clever,” he said, slowly. “I’ve heard that about you.”


“I’ve also heard that you can be incredibly stupid.”

My brain went from fourth to first without the benefit of the intervening gears. “You didn’t,” I finally said.

“Oh,” said the Mountebank, smiling. “I did.”

The fly on my head took off and circled around me, before landing on the Mountebank’s shoulder.

Next: Part 3

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Flight and Fancy: Part 1

NOTE: This is a continuation of the story begun in Never Trust a Woman in a Mask, and then continued in El Payaso and The Best Side. If you read (or have read) all of those, this one will make more sense. Well, more-ish sense. It is, after all, about my part in the Clown Wars, wherein the Clown Mafia fought the Ninjas and Mimes for control of the underworld. And yes, the doctor said if I keep taking my medication the music will stop. Eventually.

 Flight and Fancy: Part 1

I woke up handcuffed to a chair with a potato-chip bag over my head. “Is it Christmas already, mom?” I said, as I blinked my way back into consciousness. The handcuffs rattled against the chair’s metal frame as I tried to move my arms, so I settled on scratching my nose with my foot. I could dimly hear a polka version of Don McLean’s Starry Starry Night, but there were no other sounds aside from a meat cleaver being sharpened on a leather strop by a left-handed man in his mid-forties with a cauliflower ear and a receding hairline.

Yeah, I know my meat cleaver sharpening.

“Hey,” someone said. “He’s awake.”

The bag was pulled off my head and a shower of Cool Ranch Doritos cascaded around my shoulders.  I sneezed. “Y’know,” I began, as chips slid off, “you could have emptied the bag before you put it on my head.”

The man in front of me was wearing a dark suit, tie, and a Donald Duck mask. “Shut up,” he said, as he flicked a Dorito off my head.

“Ask nicely.”

His eyes narrowed behind his mask. Mine narrowed as well, mainly because another sneeze was coming on. Donald’s hand went into his coat and the sound of the meat cleaver being sharpened abruptly ceased behind me.

“Shut up,” Donald said again. “Please.” He pulled out a handkerchief and held it politely to my nose as I sneezed again.

“Okay,” I said. Donald started to refold his handkerchief, then thought better of the idea and tossed it into a nearby trashcan. It made the distinct ‘ping’ of metal hitting metal. Donald didn’t appear to notice.

The room I was in was seemed small, maybe ten by ten, with a blank concrete wall in front of me. Other than the trashcan and a few scattered Doritos on the floor, there was nothing else in view.

Behind me, the meat cleaver began to make quick, precise cuts in a staccato rhythm.  I turned as much as I could, but couldn’t see the source, though I did notice a stack of hula hoops. Donald seemed content to lean against the wall a few feet away, leafing through a copy of Tiger Beat.

I tested the handcuffs. They were clasped firmly around my wrists and the chain was looped through the frame of the metal chair I was on. I tried to snap the chain, hoping that getting knocked out had granted me super-human strength. No dice. I then tried telekinesis, telepathy, starting fires mentally, flight, invisibility, and talking to fish.

The last one actually worked, but sadly, there were no fish around, so I never realized I could do it.

Behind me, a door opened and there was a hushed conversation I couldn’t quite make out. A fly buzzed by and then settled on my head.

A man in a black suit and a domino mask strode into view. He placed a chair in front of mine and sat down.
“Hi,” he said, rather amiably. “I’m the Mountebank.”

Next: Part 2

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Bed Gone Bad

As some of my regular readers may know (all three of them), I own a variety of evil devices. My keyboard was forged in some hellish nether-world. My GPS wants me to harvest Leigh for his organs, and I once had a toothbrush that I called Mr. Stabby for a variety of reasons.

Now I fear that my bed, the frame specifically, has gone to the side of evil. A Sith bed, if you like. Specifically, in the last three weeks, I’ve broken two toenails on it and once cracked my shin hard enough to almost make me pass out.

Yes, I know exactly what it feels like to almost, but not quite, pass out. It’s a weird feeling, best described as ‘BWAAAAAAH’ in a sort of vibrating bass. I know this because my old kung-fu instructor, Dave, had what we would euphemistically describe as ‘heavy hands.’ Ie, he felt that pain tolerance was an essential skill and he would not hesitate to ‘train’ us.

Oh, it’s not like you would walk into the school and he’d punch you in the face. It was slightly more subtle. Sometimes, he’d feel the need to demonstrate something to the class.

“Hey, Jason,” he’d call out.

“Yeah,” I would answer, innocently enough.


I would, of course, walk over. “What’s up?”

“Throw a high right.”



I would regain my senses usually at the point where he was saying something like “and that’s how you use that move.”

NOTE: It may be Stockholm Syndrome, but man, I do miss that school.

So, at any rate, my only conclusion is that my bed has turned to the path of evil. As I said, two cracked toe-nails and one shin-on-wood BWAAAAAH do not lie. Now, I don’t know what would make a good bed go bad. Money, perhaps. Fame. Fortune. The chance to have someone other than a large, hairy, gaseous man lying on it.

All I know is that it’s (technically) inanimate and I have three axes of varying sizes scattered around the apartment. I figure I’ll give it one more cracked toe-nail and then it gets to find out what BWAAAAAAH feels like.