You know those people who walk around spouting clichés, making nonsensical remarks that are supposed to make the world seem like a better place, and just being idiots in general? They’re the ones that are always saying dumb shit like, “Look at the bright side,” and “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” and “Every cloud has a silver lining.” You know those people? Yeah, you know ‘em.
You know what I think of those people? Yeah, you do. So we can skip that particular step, that part where I talk about how annoying and obnoxious those people are, and how I think that we should legally be able to tie them to big blocks of raw meat and then throw them into pits of carnivorous beasts until they come up with a pleasant outlook about that whole situation. And then if they come up with a pleasant outlook, we pull them out and jab them in the back of the neck with sharp number two pencils, just like that dick who used to sit behind you in the sixth grade and drive you crazy until you finally turned around and screamed, “Quit poking me, you jerk!” And then you got sent to the principal’s office.
We’ll skip the part where I talk about those people.
Suffice it to say, I’m not one of those “bright side of things” people. But when you’re about to sneak down into the hideout of a couple of certified lunatics, you take joy out of whatever you can.
I generally just take joy out of Arnie’s misery, and this time was no exception. I took consolation in the fact that even though I was going to have to sneak down into the hideout, he was going to be shot at by the Judge and Jimmy Flicks. That was going to suck for him, and that made me feel a little better. Not much, but a little.
We were currently parked about two hundred yards away from said hideout, contemplating our next move.
“How far do you think their motion sensors go?” Mandy asked.
“You think they even have motion sensors?” I asked her. The Judge and Jimmy, although very evil, were still pretty goofy and inefficient. I mean, the Judge would set about trying to kill me without wasting a breath, but she was still prone to big elaborate plans that made about as much sense as drinking raw sewage.
“Yeah, dude, they got motion sensors,” Arnie said. “Also several different cameras. When I was down there last time, I looked around as much as possible, trying to see everything going on in their lair.”
“And you remembered?”
He looked at me like I had lost my mind, and poured himself a large tumbler full of what really smelled like moonshine. “I recorded it with the cameras on my suit. Mandy studied it.” He laughed. “Yeah, dude, I suddenly conquered years of alcohol-induced brain damage and started remembering things again.”
“Shut up, Drunkard. So they have motion sensors. What else?”
“Tons of cameras, but that’s about it,” Mandy said.
“So. What now?”
“Now’s where I do my thing,” Arnie said.
“Not so fast,” Mandy said. “Okay, if you get captured again, you’ll notice that there’s an electronic keypad on the wall—it’s just to the left of the door. The code is 3845. I have a theory that they’re using the same sort of thing as a garage door opener to get the lift to open while they’re outside. I imagine they’ll leave it open when they run out to try to get Drunkard, but if not, I should be able to duplicate the wave pattern and open it up for you to run inside.”
“What if they don’t take the bait?” I asked.
“They’ll take the bait. Make sure you go around on the opposite side of where Arnie starts out, though.”
“Why is that?”
“Because if they see him, they’re going to assume that you’re somewhere behind him—like you just got winded and he outran you. So they’ll look for you to come from the same direction as he just did.”
“You know, that’s some good reasoning, but I’m still a little offended.”
“No time to be offended,” she said. “Good luck, guys.”
“Launch me,” Arnie said. I hit the eject button and he shot from the Portmobile, waving his arms and screaming. It’s still pretty funny, but not nearly as fun as when he doesn’t know you’re going to do it.
“What do you think our odds are, here?” I asked Mandy.
“Considering the fact that everyone on the playing field is pretty inept, I think your odds are pretty good.”
“I bet you five bucks we never make it out alive.”
“No way am I taking that bet.”
“I knew it.”
“Hey, man, if the bad guys don’t kill you, the cholesterol will,” She said.
It’s really sad that that’s the closest thing I have to a battle cry. I jumped out of the car, and starting running around what I hoped was the perimeter. The greatest thing about being a low-class, second-string hero is that the expectations bestowed upon you are very low. You can run around screwing everything up, but it really doesn’t matter because nobody expected anything else from you. Peter Parker is always having some internal conflict or another, wondering if he’s doing the right thing as Spider-Man, with great power and all that. And because he demands so much from himself, he’s constantly failing, always doing the wrong thing. Arnie and I don’t have that problem. When you’re expected to suck, everything you do naturally is the right thing.
I tripped a couple of times on the uneven ground and beer bottles, but I didn’t ever fall down. Apparently, the defenses at the evil lair weren’t all they were cracked up to be, because Arnie made it right up to the front door—the scrapped remains of a car that cleverly disguised the secret entrance to their secret lair.
“What now?” He asked. I was wearing my stupid headgear—my headphones for communication and my giant night vision goggles. “Should I try to use the code or something?”
“No, man,” I said into my headgear. “We don’t want to tip them off.” I stood on the outskirts of the property, right next to the river bank, and waited, watching Arnie.
“This sucks,” he said. And then he yelled, “Come on out here, evil doers, you’ve got a steaming hot plate of justice that needs to be served up.”
Arnie had modified all the same night vision and communication stuff in his suit, only he had made his night vision goggles to where they auto-dimmed in case of sudden bursts of bright light, and he did the same thing with his earpieces in caser of loud noises. I didn’t have that option, though, so when he screamed down to the Judge and Jimmy Flicks, I got about two billion decibels right into my ear hole. I fell to my knees in agony, which would have been very stylish and hero-looking, except for my knee landed in a pile of dog poop. I jerked my leg up in surprise, real quick, and lost my balance, tumbling down into the river. My night vision goggles immediately shorted out, and I was left waste-deep in the polluted river, blind, and my communication device was shocking the hell out of my earlobes. I tossed the whole set-up onto the bank, and climbed back onto dry land just in time to see the secret entrance open.
It was lit by a greenish glow, and you could see the Judge’s silhouette against the light. She’s an evil bitch, but you have to give her points for style. I mean, she looks good in her suit, she looks sinister rising up out of her secret lair. She also has the cool weapons, and a real desire to kill. She loses points because of her sidekick, though—using a crack-head off the street to help you with your evil plans would be more intelligent than using Jimmy Flicks.
“Come out, and get your just desserts,” Arnie yelled. His voice echoed through the silence of the vacant lot. A giant burst of electricity shot from the Judge’s hands, knocking Arnie back about twenty feet. For a second, I thought maybe he was dead, and that would have screwed up the whole plan. I mean, I’m not real big on this running thing, and I had pretty much pushed my lungs to their quota just getting into position. The idea of running all the way back to the Portmobile with bad guys chasing me and shooting at my ass with their crazy weapons was a distressing one.
He sat up, though. “Hah! I’ve taken worse jolts than that just trying to get into my car!”
The Judge stepped out of the elevator, and Jimmy followed her. “I’ll watch over this pile of waste,” she said. “You go find the fat one.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that. But, um, there’s one thing I would really like to discuss when we get a chance,” Jimmy told her.
“What? What are you talking about? Just go look for fat boy.”
“See, it’s about that, actually. We’re both supposed to be villains, you know? Like partners. But you’re treating me like a henchman, see?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Well, see, the big villains, they always surround themselves with lots of low-level henchmen. The henchman is just hired muscle—he doesn’t do any of the thinking, he doesn’t get to do any of the planning, anything like that. He just does what he’s told.”
“But the thing is, I’m not a henchman. See, I have this suit, I have mastermind plans, I’m supposed to be a partner. But you’re treating me like I’m a henchman.”
By this time, Arnie looked like he had recovered. He had pulled himself up off the ground, and was sipping a glass of wine while watching the exchange.
I was lying flat on the ground, hoping that I wouldn’t get noticed. The only light was coming from the entrance of the secret hideout, and although I could see everyone, I was really hoping that they couldn’t see me. The bad thing about fluorescent yellow is that you don’t really need much light to see it. It isn’t a color you would generally choose for secret ops, if you know what I mean, unless you were planning on infiltrating a Skittles factory. Or maybe whacking out a Care Bear:
“Sunshine Bear has gotten completely out of control. He’s been snorting fairy dust like it’s going out of style, he’s pimping out Smurfette, and he beat the shit out of Scooby in a club the other night. The Decepticons from Jersey put out a hit, but we just haven’t found anyone who can get close enough without getting spotted.” Enter our favorite hero.
Anyways, the whole plan depended on Arnie drawing them away from the entrance, and that wasn’t working out so well. I opened up my fanny pack and grabbed a Snickers. I tried to think up the Snickers catch phrase—it was better than listening to the idiotic exchange going on between my enemies—but couldn’t quite remember it. After a few seconds, I figured screw the commercial tag line—if they wanted me to remember, they would have come up with something better—and ate my candy bar.
“Enough of this!” The Judge cried, and that drew my attention back to where it was supposed to be. “Just go find Portly Boy!”
“That’s a good idea,” Arnie said. “If I were you, I would start at the Dunkin Donuts over on Forty-Eighth. I think he got bored with your dumb asses about twenty minutes ago and went to get us some coffee.”
The Judge fired a bright blue bolt of electricity at him, like her own personal stock of lightening, and he dodged by performing some stupid-complicated, but very cool-looking dive roll. He was up on his feet again in no time, and eating a maraschino cherry from the drink he had finished off sometime during the acrobatic display.
“Hey, is your name Shannon?” Arnie asked her.
“What? No!” She fired another bolt at him, and he dodged again, rolling another three or feet closer to where she was standing.
He squinted at her and said, “Yeah, I didn’t recognize you before. I don’t think I ever caught your last name, but your first name was definitely Shannon. I think it was the suit that reminded me—I don’t know why I didn’t catch it sooner.”
“Shut up, you drunken fool!” Another bolt of energy, then another, and another, all in rapid succession. Arnie dodged them all, and I was kind of thinking that maybe all of his evasive maneuvers practice was starting to pay off.
Jimmy Flicks was still kind of wandering around the empty lot with a flashlight, half-ass looking for me, but mostly being pissed off because he was being treated like a henchman. He shot a dirty look over his shoulder, and then started walking back towards the evil lair. “He’s not out here,” he said. “I bet he really did go to get some donuts.”
“It was that Christmas party, something like 1999, you were at our party. I was real drunk, and so were you—I think that was before you were ever married. And you and my wife were all giggly and-”
“Shut up!” She sounded really mad, and she shot bolt after bolt at him. He was rolling around, looking like a real pro, right up until he tripped on his cape, and crashed into her. They both fell back into the elevator, and there was a second of silence…and then she screamed.
It was a horrible sound, like something straight out of those nightmares where you get accused of killing that jackass at the grocery store that always decides to write a check for like thirty-eight cents. And they send you to a jail full of angry fat people and you suddenly realize that you’re a Hostess Apple Pie. Come on, man, I know I’m not the only one that has that dream.
Then Arnie shot out of the elevator. “I grabbed her boob! I grabbed her boob!”
“What did it feel like?” Jimmy yelled to him across the abandoned lot.
“It was very supple!” Arnie yelled back. I saw another charge of electricity shoot from the elevator, but it seemed like the swear words and name-calling was even more deadly. She was not a happy woman. Arnie didn’t do anything to dodge, but the shot was wide. The Judge erupted form the elevator, and began chasing him. Jimmy Flicks looked all confused for a second, and then he joined in the chase.
“Supple? How supple?”
I didn’t hear Arnie’s reply, though, because I was already up and running, and the only thing I could hear was my labored breathing and the sound of my heart as it threatened explosion at all this running around nonsense. By the time I reached the elevator, Arnie, The Judge, and Jimmy were all out of site, lost in the darkness, and my lungs had joined up with my heart to protest this wicked torture of exercise.
There was a keypad by the door, and I punched in the code that Mandy had given me. The elevator door shut, and I felt myself being lowered down into the ground.