One thing I really hate about my life is how often I get knocked out. Like if you went to work every day, and you constantly found yourself waking up next to the coffee pot, a big bruise on your head, and your co-workers standing over you, laughing, talking, pointing, and shaking their heads in disapproval, don’t you think you might think about getting a new job?
I’ve been waking up without a clue for twenty-something years now, and I’ve never really had a problem with it. I mean, you open your eyes, you’ve got some ugly chick next to you, mumbling something about how she’s never even heard about that thing with the spatula, that sucks, but it’s all part of the lifestyle, you know? You wake up in your underwear on the third aisle of the grocery store, covered with raw vegetation and syrup, it’s embarrassing, but you learn to deal.
But this Portly Boy shit. I just don’t know, man. Passing out is one thing, blacking out is another, and then you have getting knocked out, which is a whole different ball game, in a whole different ball park, in a whole different country. The thing about getting knocked out that I don’t like is that it involves pain, trauma to the head, and waking up to really screwed up circumstances. Generally around really screwed up people.
This time was no exception. I opened my eyes and found myself staring at a ceiling that I had never seen before, and Arnie was looking down at me. “What the hell are you doing?” I asked him.
“What the hell are you doing?” He asked me.
“Touché. What am I doing just waking up?”
“I clipped you pretty good with the bathroom door.” So that was the ceiling I was looking at.
“Why did you do that?”
“I heard screaming.”
“Before or after you hit me with the bathroom door?”
“Odd. Why was I screaming?”
“Uh. It wasn’t you.”
“Odd. Who was it?”
“It was…um…well, it’s sort of a long story.”
And then it all came crashing back into my brain. The Judge, in my bathroom, on my toilet. Naked!
“I think I’m going to throw up!”
“I know how you feel,” the Judge said from the door.
“You let her into the house?” I screamed at Arnie. “What were you thinking? What the hell is the matter with you? Mandy! Mandy, where are you?”
“I had to disable her connection,” Arnie said.
“She was tracking me, man. I didn’t want her to find out I was back at the house.”
“Because I didn’t want her to tell you. I knew you would react like this.”
“Dude! Like, two days ago, that bitch was trying to kill me!” I pointed at the Judge. “How would you suggest I act?’
“We could all talk about this like sensible adults.”
“Oh bullshit! None of us are sensible adults! She’s a freaking psychopath, and you and I are both a couple of degenerates that should be locked away in rehab somewhere. We all dress up in costumes and run around the city! What the hell is ‘adult’ about that?”
“I think you’re over-reacting,” Arnie mumbled.
“Over-” I threw my hands up in the air, and stormed past the Judge, who was now dressed in a respectable pant-suit. Arnie was wearing a silk robe that made him look even more like Bruce Wayne than usual. I was in my boxer shorts, my stained wife-beater shirt clinging to me like a kitten clings to your arm when you hold it out over a high ledge. “We’ll talk about this more when I’m dressed.”
“We were going to grab something to eat,” Arnie called out to me as I stormed down the hall. “You want something?”
“Yeah, I want you to lose psycho-bitch and try to get your brain out of your pants, you imbecile!” I slammed the door and tromped down to the Drunk Tank.
I was just pulling on some sweat pants when Arnie tumbled to the bottom of the stairs. He stood up, shook his head a little, and walked over to me. He was dressed now, too, which was good. He had jeans, a black t-shirt, and a Tom Collins in his hand.
“Listen, man, that is uncool,” he said to me.
“What? What did you just say to me?”
“I said that’s uncool, man. I bring a girl home and you call her a bitch? Messed up.”
“I’m messed up? You dildo! You brought our enemy home! Batman would cut your throat for this! You realize that, don’t you? That Batman would kill you for this?”
“Batman doesn’t kill, Howie.”
“That’s my point, Arnie! For this, Batman would kill you. You’re lucky I already have so much community service, or I would do it myself!”
“Look, it’s just-”
“She’s the bad guy, Arnie! And I don’t care how much Batman wanted to nail Cat-Woman, he never would have taken her to Wayne manor, no matter what that shit-head Tim Burton says. Do you understand, Arnie? I am saying that you know less about being a super hero than Tim Burton!”
He sucked in his breath, hurt. It was a below-the-belt shot, I admit it, but I had to do it.
“Get your head on straight, podna,” I told him. He looked like he was about to cry. “Hey, while you’re down here, can you connect me to Mandy?”
He was standing still, just standing there, staring at the wall, I don’t know. I was about to smack him when he got himself under control. “Holy crap, man. I brought our sworn enemy home to our base.”
“I’m aware of that. In case you missed it, I’ve been throwing a fit about it for something like two days. Now, can you connect me to Mandy?”
“What?” He still looked even more dazed than usual. Watching Arnie trying to think is a strange and disturbing thing. Of you’re really quiet, I’m pretty sure you can hear the synapses firing, and you can see the short circuits as all kinds of things misfire.
“Mandy. The smart one of this little team. The girl on the other end of the computer. Can you hook me up, or what?”
“Hook you up? Yeah. Yeah, I can do that.”
“Can you do it right now?”
“Yeah.” He nodded, dazed.
“Okay, then do it, man. Right now. Quit standing there like a zombie and get to work.”
“She’s upstairs, man,” he whispered.
“Who? Mandy?” What a pleasant surprise.
“No, man. The Judge. Our deadliest of enemies. She’s got free access to our house right now!”
“No shit, man. Why do you think I’ve been so angry? Now hook up Mandy, and then take the Judge out to dinner or whatever—just get her out of the house.”
“Go upstairs and make sure she’s not doing something sinister,” he stage-whispered at me.
“Oh, bullshit, Arnie! You’re the one that brought her home. You’re the one that slept with her! You clean up your own messes!”
“Dude, I’m vulnerable to her charms! She could seduce me with her evil ways. We can’t afford to take that chance!”
“You are such an asshole. Get Mandy hooked back up, okay?” I marched up the stairs, pissed of that I should have to feel this way in my own house. Okay, I guess the house is actually Arnie’s, but he has it left to me in his will, and the way the son of a bitch handles his shit, he should be dead any day now.
I found the evil Judge sitting on the couch, in her evil-gear. Shit.
“So,” I said, “What’s up?”
“You had the intercom on,” she said as she fastened a latch on one of her wrist blasters.
“That sucks.” What I didn’t mention is that it sucked a lot more that she was now fully armed and I was still in my weekend clothes. Although, when you think about it, my weekend clothes are actually much more preferable than my actual crime-fighting outfit. “But I’ve never really hid my feelings from you, you know?”
“You’re always ruining my dates.” She stood up, in all her leathery-fetish glory.
“Maybe if you dressed like all the time, you could get more dates.”
“That first time I saw you in the park, I wanted to kill you.”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“That’s not a positive way to feel, you know. Maybe you should work on your anger management.”
“Oh, I have.” She smiled that evil grin, and I knew that I was dead. “Now I’m positive that I want to kill you.” She messed with something on her arm, and I heard this deep sort of hum that really seemed to mean that her blasters were powering up. “Literally.”
“You’re kind of a bitch, you know that? I mean, you fooled Arnie good. He fell for it, you know? That’s not nice.”
“What’s not nice is a pig like that running around making money off my friend. He cheated on her all the time.”
“She cheated on him all the time, too. And friendships aside, I don’t blame either of them. They were like a couple of little kids running around playing house—they had no business being married in the first place. He made money off her, she made money off of him, it all evens out. And besides, what they did with their lives, that’s none of your business, it’s none of my business. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t play with people’s emotions. It’s bad karma.”
“Very stirring speech,” she said, and pointed her blasters at me.
“Glad you enjoyed it.”
“I just hope you did—they’ll be your last words.”
“Now, Arnie,” I screamed, and looked over her shoulder. She looked back at him, but he wasn’t there—stupid bastard was probably down in my room playing X-box or something. My distraction worked, though, and I caught her right in the jaw. She fired a bolt of electricity into my ceiling, and I took off running.
The thing is, I’m not much of a runner. I made it to the kitchen before she had regained her footing, and she caught me pretty quick. I stood there by an open box of Cocoa Puffs, my only two options being: 1) try to jump through the kitchen window in a moment of John Woo-like stunt diving or 2) fall to the ground, cowering and begging for my life.
Neither one of these options seemed like they would work. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t fit through the window, even with a can of Crisco and a step ladder. To try throwing my fat ass through it in a moment of blind panic seemed like a really terrible idea. The Judge wouldn’t even have to shoot me—I’d probably break my neck on the window frame. And begging for my life? Honestly, it’s really not worth begging for, you know? Like what? “Oh, please, please spare me so that you can try to kill me again tomorrow?” Nah.
I grabbed a handful of Cocoa Puffs out of the box and ate them. “Guess that’s that,” I said.
“Yes it is,” she said, and aimed her hands at me again.
And then she got hit right in the back with Arnie.
He stood up, shaking his head, and took a sip of his drink. “What the hell did I hit?” He asked.
“That,” I said, and pointed at the Judge. She was out cold, man, sprawled out all on the kitchen floor.
“Oh, shit,” Arnie said, surprised. “Hey—she has on her Evil Judge outfit.”
“No kidding, man. I was about two seconds from getting deep-fried.”
“I saved your life?”
“Oh, hell no. I was just waiting for her to fire and then I was going to throw these Cocoa Puffs out in front of me to disperse the energy. At the same time, I was going to dive under the electric bolt, catching her in the abdomen, and then I was going to sleeper-hold her until she went out. Basically, I was going to do the same thing you just did, but with more style.”
“Would that have worked, the thing with the Cocoa Puffs?”
“Have I ever had a plan fail?”
“Have you ever had a plan?” Mandy asked.
“Where the hell were you, that you just get to pipe in with your hurtful remarks?” I asked her.
“Dipshit had me cut off,” She said.
“Yeah, he’s a real favorite around here, too. So what should I do with her?” I pointed at the unconscious Judge.
“I hit her with Arnie.”
“I try. Are the cops after her for anything?”
“Not really. The thing with the monkeys, I guess, but that wasn’t even her.”
“Didn’t she rob a bunch of banks or something?”
“I haven’t been able to prove it yet.”
“Look, you have about ten minutes to prove it. I’m loading this chick up in the Portmobile, and if I can’t dump her off in the police station, I’m dumping her off in the Bronx.”
“I’m checking some stuff as we speak.”
“Things like what?” I asked as I dragged the Judge through the front room. Arnie had taken off to wherever he takes off to.
“Tapes, things like that. Maybe there’s a clue in the stuff from their base that you burned down.”
“That was good times.” I dropped the Judge off the porch, and she began to stir. “Hey, do we have anything that will knock her out again?”
“There’s chloroform in the kitchen. Third drawer down on the right side of the sink.”
“What an odd thing to have in the kitchen,” I said. “What do we use this for, normally?”
“Normally? Absolutely nothing. And you made me promise never to tell you what you use it for.”
“Probably for the best,” I said, dumping a little on a rag. I made it out just as the Judge started coming around, and I gassed her real good before heading back down to the Drunk Tank.
Arnie was sitting in the Portmobile, waiting. “You’re useless, you know that?”
“I feel that I contribute to the team in other ways,” he said.
“Bite it, Arnie.”
“Who’s Arnie, old chum?” Oh, yeah, did I mention that he was in Drunkard uniform? He was.
“Let’s do this,” I said, not feeling like explaining to him don’t call me old chum.
“You know,” Mandy said, “What you’re about to do, it might constitute kidnapping. I’m not real sure just yet, but we’re definitely in tricky water here.”
“She tried to kill me—I’m not letting her sleep over.”
“Maybe you should just call the cops.”
“Yeah: ‘Hey, so this lady came over and slept with my friend. We drugged her and dumped her out on the stoop. Could you guys come lock her up?’ Yeah, that would go over real well.”
“It’s better than some of my dates have ended,” Arnie said.
“You people terrify me,” Mandy said.
“Be that as it may,” I said, “What are we going to do with this lunatic on the stoop?”
“I think it’s a moot point,” Mandy said.
“Because she just got up and ran away.”
I didn’t know whether to be pissed off or relieved. “Did you tell her the code?” I asked Arnie. “Did you show her the code to unlock the house?”
“Don’t worry about it, man—I reset the locks as soon as I got back online.” Good ole' Mandy.
“It’s cool that you’re on my side and all, but sometimes you terrify me, too.”
“Yeah, I get that a lot.”
“Come on, man!” Arnie shouted at me. “We have to try to catch her!”
“The Judge! She’s getting away!”
“Good deal,” I said, and climbed out of the Portmobile.
“We have to apprehend her.”
“Dude, we had her apprehended, we didn’t even know what to do. Now that she’s gone, I know exactly what to do.” I held up a bottle of vodka.
“Here, here,” Mandy said, and I heard the clink of a glass.
Arnie, never one to turn down a drink, was already slurping down a beer.