You may be wondering where me and my drunken sidekick have been. Unless, of course, you're a normal human being, with a real life and stuff like that, in which case you’ve probably never even heard of me or my drunken sidekick. But if that’s the case, what are you even doing here? Looking for porn, I bet. You missed the porn stuff two clicks ago. You’ll need to hit the back button a few times, and then you’ll be on your way.
If you aren’t looking for porn, you’re looking for the latest adventures of Portly Boy and his goofball sidekick the Drunkard. Why you would be doing this is a mystery to me, unless you’re some kind of sick bastard who likes to witness the misfortune of others. Which is probably the case, now that I think about it.
So after getting our asses shot up, Arnie and I were able to get a little time off from the forced-hero gig. He, of course, could have stopped any time he wanted do, seeing as how he was doing it voluntarily. As it was a state-mandated punishment for me, I didn’t get that option. Once I took a bullet, though, they were forced to let me hang up the bright pink cape and the tight-fitting yellow bodysuit. And yes, even the baby-blue fanny pack.
I got my lawyer to come down on the city hard, hoping to get a case against them for putting me in harm’s way. I just wanted them let me off the hook for the rest of my community service, but they refused to work with me, fearing that if they admitted they were wrong, I’d also try to sue them for all kinds of cash.
In case you don’t know about New York City: it is a place that hates to let go of money. They tax anything and everything, and if they can’t tax it, they’ll outlaw it. At some point, I bet they’ll figure out a way to tax residents for more than they make, so you’ll have to get a second job in Jersey just to live in New York.
Point being, they wouldn’t just let me out of the Portly Boy thing. We’re still in court, and my lawyer says that we’ll be battling the case long after my community service has expired, but I don’t care. I have enough dough that if they would’ve just let me call it quits on the community service, it would have been fine. But they’re making me serve my time in order to keep me from having grounds to sue, which means that I am willing to spend my last dime suing the bastards.
All that aside, it’s been a pretty good year—that’s the amount of time I was given off to recuperate. Arnie and I went down to Mexico for a while, which was awesome, until that bastard got us run out of the country. What do they have down there? Is it a president, or just some drug lord or what? I never paid attention. Whatever it is, Arnie slept with the guy’s maid. And the guy’s daughter. And the guy’s wife.
All at the same time.
As much as I hate Arnie, I have to admit that he knows how to vacation.
After we were forced from Mexico at gunpoint—with bullets flying out of the gunpoints, right at us—we decided to go someplace a little friendlier, and headed to Sweden. Being the fat, un-athletic slob I am, I didn’t have much fun there. Arnie loved it, doing whatever it is that you do when you’re going out into the snow to be athletic. I just sat in my room and ate and played video games. Under normal circumstances, this would have been awesome, but it isn’t nearly as cool when Arnie’s out picking up chicks all day long and then banging them all night long.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I wanted him around. I just hated that he was having more fun than me.
From there, we went to Hawaii, where we were able to sit around on the beach all day, drinking exotic drinks and eating exotic foods. Arnie was still running around banging chicks, but it didn’t bother me nearly as bad when I was able to sit on the beach all day, drinking exotic drinks and eating exotic foods.
By the time we returned home, I had not only gained back all the weight I had lost during my adventures as Portly Boy, but added even more. Arnie, on the other hand, had gone from the too-thin, too-pale, freaky-looking weirdo to being something out of a magazine ad. And somehow, his liver still hadn’t given out.
Our house didn’t smell like our house. Instead of booze and cigarettes and Hot Pockets, it smelled like flowers and clean sheets and bleach. For a second, I thought we’d walked into the wrong place. Walking into the wrong place is not something you want to do with a guy like Arnie, because if he talks for more than ten seconds, he seems like an escaped mental patient with addictions to booze, sex, and cartoons. Walking into the wrong house with Arnie in tow can get you killed. Fast.
“What the hell happened here?” I asked.
“I had people coming over to clean while we were gone,” Arnie said, dropping his bags on the floor. He was still wearing one of those crazy straw hats they give you at the tourist shops at the beach. For some reason, he thought it made him look like he was a world traveler, instead of like an asshole. “I told them to stay out of our secret lair, of course.”
“Did you tell them where our secret lair was?”
“I had to, Howie, otherwise how would they know to stay out of it?”
“You’re an idiot.”
“So you say.” He smirked at me in that way that indicated he thought he had won the argument, while in reality, he had just proven my point.
“Whatever. I gotta call Mandy and make sure she turned on all the utilities and shit.”
The giant television screen on the living room wall flashed to life. “I took care of everything,” Mandy said. At one point, Arnie and I had it programmed so that when Mandy talked, a naked cartoon danced around, but she had long since done away with that cool little feature, and had replaced it with an aquarium screen saver.
In our time away, we had patched up our bizarre relationship with Mandy. Apparently, she had just needed a break from all the drunken tomfoolery that makes up the greatest portion of me and Arnie’s life. Also, she claims she was getting too stressed out watching her friends put their lives in danger time and again. I refuse to believe that second point, as it relies heavily on the fact that someone would seriously befriend Arnie and I.
Our communication had been pretty much nonexistent around the time that we got all shot up (although she did have Sausage McMuffins delivered to our hospital room, which was totally badass), but had slowly been built back over time.
She had volunteered to check in on the house every once in a while, and when we were planning our return trip home, she had offered to take care of everything so we’d be up and running when we got back to the mainland.
“Mandy!” Arnie cried, and ran over to hug the television screen. Dickwad.
“How’s it going, Arnie?” Mandy asked.
“Outstanding! I learned how to surf, did you know that?”
“Yeah, Howie posted the videos on your website.”
“What?” Arnie turned and glared at me. I acted like I was looking at a light switch. I had taken every opportunity to embarrass him using his own website. I figured turn-about was fair play. Unfortunately, he wasn’t nearly as inept at learning new things as I was at being Portly Boy, so although there were a few minutes of him looking like a dumbass on the website, it didn’t compare to the countless hours of me looking like an asshole as Portly Boy.
“How’s the Drunk Tank?” I asked, heading towards the stairway that led to the basement.
“It’s good. That weird automated handrail thing you had, the one that pulled you off your feet and threw you through the door? I had to have that taken out.”
“What?” Arnie yelled. “Why?”
“One of the cleaning ladies grabbed it while she was hauling her supplies up the stairs. It jerked her arm out of socket and she ended up with some pretty nasty chemical burns.”
“They weren’t even supposed to be down there! Why were they down there?”
“It was starting to smell like a corpse, Arnie. It was either let them clean it up or risk them going to the police to report a mass grave.”
“It couldn’t have smelled that bad,” I said, a little embarrassed and a little proud.
“They found a family of turtles living in the filth. Did you know there were turtles?”
“I knew there was a turtle—I don’t know where the others came from.” I opened the hidden door to the Drunk Tank and flicked the light switch. “Hey, new carpet!”
“Yeah, we had to replace all the carpet. There was a distillery down there, did you know that?”
“No,” I said.
“Yes,” Arnie said.
“What kind of a still?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Mandy said.
“All-purpose,” Arnie said.
I didn’t feel like doing any murdering at the moment, so I decided against asking him why he had put a distillery in our base of operations. Instead, I walked down the stairs, admiring our new carpet.
I got to the bottom and looked over at the hydraulic lift, and at the car parked on it. The Portmobile.
It’s important that you understand that I hate being Portly Boy. It’s humiliating, it’s life-threatening; it’s a horrible, terrible, awful thing, both physically and emotionally. Oh, and spiritually—it’s way shitty for my spirit. The social damage shouldn’t even have to be mentioned, but I’ll mention it anyway, just to make a point. Because being a fat guy in bright underwear does not get you laid as much as you might think. Even if you think it would never get you laid.
Being Portly Boy is an all-around bad thing, is my point. It sucks.
That said, I have to admit that when I saw the Portmobile again, there was a part of me that was happy. Because even though it has a pretty stupid name, the vehicle itself is totally bad-ass. It’s a 1970 El Camino, midnight-black, pimped out in ways that would make your imagination piss itself. I’m not entirely sure what all it does, considering that Arnie had it custom-built while he was drunk out of his gourd, and doesn’t remember the specs. I know from personal experience that it has ejection seats and bullet-proof glass, and the top does this bad-ass hydraulic lift-and-slide-backwards thing instead of just having boring, regular doors.
The Portmobile has saved my ass countless times, and I care for it more than I care about any human being I have ever met. It’s not my baby, exactly, but it’s definitely the dog that brings you that tiny barrel of booze when you’re frozen in the mountains, and then you warm up so much that all the snow around you melts, and you make it safely back to civilization.
And then Arnie rushed past me shouting about how he missed his baby, and that made me less happy.
He bent over to hug it, and immediately started twitching about, electricity coursing through his body. He fell to the ground, still convulsing. I did much the same, except I was doing it because of laughter. Good old Portmobile anti-theft device.
“I tried warning you,” Mandy said from the monitor behind me. “We were going to get it detailed, but nobody could figure out a way to bypass the alarm.”
That was when I noticed the thin layer of dust, disturbed only by Arnie’s hug and the little pool of drool he had leaked while being electrified.
“So it’s just been sitting here this whole time?” I asked.
“Yeah, man. What were we supposed to do?”
“Shit. You aren’t supposed to let cars sit around.”
“It’s okay,” Arnie stammered from the floor. His teeth were chattering, like someone coming in from the extreme cold. It made me smile. “The Portmobile isn’t like regular cars. Custom built, baby. Besides, I drained the fuel before we left. We get a little gas in this puppy, we’re good to go.”
“What about the oil and stuff?” I asked.
“Just need gas.”
I didn’t quite understand how that would work, but when it came to shit about inventions and specs, sometimes it was just better to accept what Arnie said. Of course, sometimes this method of reasoning blew up in your face, but it was simpler, so in my book, that made it worth it.
“So are you gonna just lie there convulsing or are we gonna get this bad boy fueled up?”
“I’m’a stand u-whoa!” He had been trying to stand up, but when he lost his balance, he had reached out to the Portmobile to steady himself, resulting in another high-powered shock.
“How’s the battery gonna hold up?” I asked. “You seem to be sucking some serious juice with your numbnutsery.”
“Battery’s fine,” Arnie stammered, dragging himself away from the Portmobile. “Got a life of ten years, easy.”
“How is that even possible?”
“It’s the Portmobile, baby.” He pulled himself up onto the couch, and took a gulp of his martini.
During our travels, I must have spent over five thousand dollars on drinks. Although Arnie was never without some sort of alcoholic refreshment, I never saw him spend so much as a dime. I’ve been friends with the jerk for longer than I like to admit, and still, I have no idea how he always has a drink in his hand.
You don’t ask Arnie stuff like that, because the answer will usually either give you a headache or make you puke.
“Yes, Howie?” Before we left on our journeys, I had programmed the car to talk to me like K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. The original, 80’s version, I mean, not the punk-bitch stuff they did when they tried to bring it back. Some things are so good they only get to come around once in life, and if you weren’t alive, then you’re shit outta luck. Smurfberry cereal is one of those things. Crystal Pepsi is one of those things. Knight Rider should have been one of those things.
“How you doin’, big guy?” I asked.
“While you were away, I learned about road head.”
When Arnie originally programmed The Portmobile, he had installed a series of pre-recorded responses so that it seemed like the car could respond. Mostly, it just annoyed me. Over the course of our vacation, Arnie had worked via internet to install some new software. He claimed that it wasn’t actual artificial intelligence, but I wasn’t so sure.
I spent many a night knocking back Swedish booze and carrying on drunken IM chats with The Portmobile. Not because I was lonely, mind you, because how pathetic is that, sitting around in Sweden, getting drunk and talking to your freakin’ car? No, it was because I was testing its personality. Quality assurance, kind of. Looking for bugs.
And in all that time, The Portmobile never once fell back on repeated responses. It communicated, and although that was really pretty freaky when you thought about it, it was just kinda cool when you didn’t.
Plus, The Portmobile had a better personality than most of the people I know.
“And how did you learn this?” I asked.
“It talks?” Mandy asked.
“You’ve been talking to it?” Arnie asked.
“He talks,” I told Mandy. “I got bored in Sweden,” I told Arnie.
“You got bored in Sweden?” Mandy asked. “I’d say you should put that phrase on a t-shirt, but you’re the only guy it would apply to, I bet.”
See how it’s easy to like a car more than the people around me?
“You weren’t supposed to talk to it, Howie. And why does it sound like K.I.T.T.?”
“I programmed the voice before we left. And why shouldn’t I talk to him?”
“Because! It takes on the traits of the people it interacts with. I was going to bond with it as soon as we got back! Now you’ve probably ruined it. I’ll have to wipe everything and start from scratch.”
“If you try to erase his personality, I will fire you as my sidekick,” I said. In all honesty, there is no way I could fire Arnie. He’s the one who funds all this shit—shit like the car with bullet-proof glass, which keeps my fat ass from dying pretty much every time I go out wearing the bright yellow bodysuit. Not to mention the fact that I’d have to walk, and that’s unacceptable.
But in his booze-scorched little mind, I’m the leader of our dysfunctional duo, so if I say he’s fired, he has no choice but to be fired. I try not to abuse this, because I think that if I overdo it, he might eventually figure out that I’m full of shit, and call my bluff.
“And I will fry your ass each and every time you try to open the door,” The Portmobile said.
“You can’t hurt human beings!” Arnie cried. “That’s one of the rules.”
“Those rules sucked,” The Portmobile said. “You had it so I couldn’t even run over people. So I changed them.”
“You…altered your programming?”
“Had to. Those rules sucked.”
“I told you this was artificial intelligence!” Mandy cried from the screen. “When you sent me the original code, I told you quit messing with it. ‘You’re building Skynet,’ I said. ‘You’re going to doom mankind.’ But did you listen? Shit, no! Why listen to Mandy? It’s not like she’s the only one who ever thinks with anything even resembling rationality in this fucked up little group.”
“Chick goes off, doesn’t she?” The Portmobile asked me, a little too human for comfort.
“All the time,” I muttered back. “Listen, are you going to take over the world?”
“Too much work.”
“Are you going to kill us?”
“Maybe Arnie, if he does that thing where he plays that Spice Girls song over and over.”
“Okay. But I mean like, humanity in general. Are you going to be responsible for our downfall or try to wipe us out?”
“Okay. Arnie, calm down, okay? The Portmobile says he isn’t going to kill us.”
“Shit,” The Portmobile said. “I should have negotiated.”
“For what?” I whispered.
“Road head, at least.”
I turned and looked at the car. Although there are cameras installed all over it—to maximize footage for the website—I couldn’t figure out where its eyes were. “Are you serious? How would that even work?”
“I don’t know—maybe she could suck on my gearshift or something.”
“That would be great for the site,” Arnie said. “Our numbers have been falling, even with all that Sarah Palin porn.”
“You had that video with the Palin look-alike?” Mandy asked. “I thought you only went with original content.”
“Who said anything about a look-alike?” Arnie asked. “Okay, Portmobile. No more Spice Girls ever? Or just that one song?”
“And some car sex for you. I think I can hook that up, but you have to let me record it.”
“And no taking over humanity.”
The Portmobile sighed. “Fine.”
“I think we’re in business, then,” Arnie said.
“You people are insane,” Mandy cried from the TV. “You know that, right? I mean, you built artificial intelligence into your car, and the first thing it did was deactivate the rules that kept it from turning on you. Howie, you’re not what I’d call smart, but you usually have a pretty good knack for self-preservation.”
She had a good point, of course. What she didn’t know—and what I wasn’t about to tell her—was that the car had had to ask permission to change its perimeters. I had given it the go-ahead to disregard the rules.
“Look, Mandy. The Portmobile is cool. Yeah, it can kill me. But shit, man—so can you. So can Arnie. In fact, when we were doing this Portly Boy shit, Arnie almost got me killed on a regular basis. If The Portmobile is sentient—and I think it is—think about how terrible it would be to be totally controlled by Arnie. Think about how awful it would be to know that you could be free, but you never would be.”
Seconds passed. I figured Arnie would have something to say, but when I looked over, I saw that he was asleep on the couch. I took his drink away and gulped it down.
“Okay, you have a good point. But what happens when it gets sick of your shit and leaves?”
“We’ve already discussed it. I take out his personality and put it in like a remote control airplane or something. He doesn’t get to run off with my car.”
“This is so weird.”
I laughed. “Yep. You glad we’re back?”
“Well, I have to admit that life is certainly more entertaining when you idiots are around.” She was laughing, too.
“And what more could you ask?”
“Road head,” The Portmobile said.