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Battle of a Hero (Portly Boy pt. 5) by Ray Printer Friendly

What happened was, I got busted for mooning some chick in a park, right? She turned out to be an evil judge, and because Lady Fate hates me, this evil judge also ended up being the one to sentence me for my crime against humanity. She sentenced me to something like two thousand hours of community service, dressed up in neon yellow tights and shiny pink boots made of plastic. Instead of calling this what it is (inhumane treatment and public humiliation), she called it serving my time as a hero for the people. If you have to ask why I call this chick evil, just quit reading, because you obviously don’t understand the world in the same way as the rest of us. And you’re probably the devil, so I’m sure you have better things to do.

I agreed to let my friend Arnie tape the whole terrible ordeal, one forced minute at a time, on the condition that I got most of the profit. What Arnie wanted to do was put it on his web site. Until the hero thing, Arnie’s site was just your typical porn site, with one exception. See, he got lucky, in more ways than one, when his maid let him video a little feather-duster fornication. Luck is a fickle tramp, though. The bad part was, Arnie’s wife walked in and busted him and the maid getting dirty with cleaning products. The wife took most of his money and the maid left him because she somehow managed to win a spot on one of those shows where America votes for the next huge music star, a.k.a. one-hit-wonder. The bizarre twist is that Arnie put the tape of him and the maid on his site after she won first place, and he ended up making tons of money. The second bizarre twist is that his wife made herself super-famous using Arnie’s former money as a springing board. The third bizarre twist is that Arnie stuck the piles of home-made porn that he and his ex-wife had made during the tenure of their marriage onto the site and made even more money. Maybe “bizarre twist” isn’t as accurate as it should be. Maybe “vengeance” is a better word to use.

Anyway, Arnie was rich again, and I was still a freeloader, which is why I was out drinking with him the night I got busted—free drinks, man, you always pay for them one way or another. Arnie, because he’s such a lucky bastard, ended up passing out by a tree while trying to perform the difficult task of urinating. Me, because I’m pretty much the complete opposite of lucky bastard, ended up mooning a judge.

Caught up? Good. It’s nice to know that somebody is.

Arnie decided to be my sidekick, and if you want to know anything more specific, you’ll just have to pay to read the back-story. I’m pretty sick of explaining everything over and over again. Plus, my short-term memory ain’t what it used to be, if you know what I mean.

Me and Arnie, we’re cruising in the Portmobile (he bought the car, so I guess he gets to name it whatever he wants to), he’s thinking we’re looking for crime to stop, and I’m actually avoiding all the shady neighborhoods because the last thing you feel like doing while you’re all dressed up in yellow and pink is surround yourself with criminals.

The Portmobile is some pimped-out El Camino that Arnie financed, modified with about everything an alcoholic superhero needs, from passenger-side barf bags to automatic braking system. No air bags, though, as Arnie has some conspiracy theory about how it’s just another way for “the man” to hold us down. We’re both white guys, both creeping up on middle age as it hurls itself at us, and what Arnie fails to realize is that we’re pretty much the textbook definition of “the man.” I don’t ever mention this to him, though, mostly because he would probably spend all of his money trying to change the situation instead of just buying me drinks all the time.

As you’ve probably figured out, I’m not much good as a hero. The thing is, I really don’t like people very much. In fact, I’m kind of of the opinion that crime is a necessary product of the environment to weed out the suckers. But when I don my yellow tights and pink boots, I’m forced to think differently (rule number twelve).

So we were cruising in the Portmobile, and I started wondering about my profit. “Where’s Jimmy Flicks?”

Arnie, he looked all confused for a second, like he had never heard of a guy named Jimmy Flicks. Arnie has all sorts of burned out wiring in his head, so he’s always forgetting important stuff—dentist appointments, birthdays, his name. On the whole, if you had to forget something, Jimmy Flicks is as good a thing as any. In fact, he’s a pretty good thing to forget even if you’re not in the habit of forgetting things. The kind of guy that’s absolutely of no importance to the real world, really. He was born under the name James James, but after seeing one too many gangster movies, he changed it to Jimmy Flicks. This would have made some sense if he was Italian, maybe, or if he made movies all the time, or if he really liked watching movies. Or something. Really, he just picked the name out of the blue because that’s the kind of moron he is. The only kind movie career he ever had was a few short days while Arnie was trying to make actual porn for the website. Arnie hired Jimmy Flicks because he thought it would look cool to have someone named Jimmy Flicks in the credits after “cameraman.” Arnie’s a moron, too.

Jimmy Flicks is this skinny little dude with a long nose and a giant mustache that always looks wet. He’s skinny and tall, but not in any good kind of way. He looks like those cartoon characters that are supposed to look like weasels. He looks like a weasel, too. Another thing about him is that he always looks a little greasy, even though he’s not. I blame it on his personality, really, because he’s a slime-ball. And he always wears way too much cheap cologne. But really, can you ever wear cheap cologne without it being too much?

“Oh, I was supposed to go by and pick him up.”

I looked around the Portmobile, seeing if maybe Arnie had picked up Jimmy Flicks and just forgot about it. There isn’t much room to hide in the front of an El Camino, though. “Did you forget?”

“Yeah.” Arnie sipped his drink, some sort of greenish thing that smelled like gin.

“Do you think we should go get him?” I didn’t really want Jimmy Flicks along, but one of his main character flaws is that he has a violent temper. Plus, the guy hates me for some reason, I don’t know why. So I figured that he was going to blame me if he got ditched, and I didn’t want him coming after me with a knife or something. I can think of a few ways I would like to die, but getting stabbed by that skinny little goof isn’t one of them.

“I don’t know, man.” Arnie looked around. “Where’s he gonna sit?”

“Well where you planning on putting him in the first place?”

“Well at first, it was just me. I was going to put him up front while I drove over to pick you up.”

“And then after you picked me up?”

“I figured it would work itself out. And see? It did.”

“Look, Arnie, if you ditch him, he’s going to end up blaming me. And I don’t want that angry little psycho sneaking into my house while I’m sleeping.” That actually wasn’t my main concern, seeing as how it’s really hard to pinpoint where I’ll be sleeping at on any given night. That’s one of the joys of alcohol is that you’re not picky about where you crash. “Besides, how are we going to get this junk on the website if we don’t have him filming?”

“Don’t worry, man, I took care of it. There are cameras all over this thing.”

“All over what thing?” I felt my skin start to crawl in a really terrible way. You see someone eat a worm, your skin might do that lightweight crawl, just to let you know that things are amiss. You see an old man naked, and if you’re normal you generally get a goodly amount of crawl going on, and maybe a shiver to boot. Now imagine that the naked old man is your grandpa. And imagine he’s making sweet love to your grandma. If you’ve got a pretty good imagination and a pretty sick mind, your skin should be crawling pretty hard core, and that’s kind of how I was feeling as I thought about Arnie having cameras “all over this thing.”

“All over everything, man. Just where ever I could think to stick a camera.” That love scene between your grandparents? Add a giant tub of Crisco and a room full of mirrors.

“Arnie, maybe you should tell me a bit more about these cameras. Like right now.” You know that first girl you fall in love with? And things are going along real good, you’re getting laid on a regular basis, life’s great. And then you ask about past history? You don’t really want to know, but it’s like there’s some part of your mind that absolutely hates you for some reason or another and wants to avoid your happiness at any cost. I didn’t want to know about the cameras, I wanted to forget them or live in denial or something. But I couldn’t stop myself from asking.

“Well, I can’t really remember all of them.” Huge surprise. “I know there’s one attached to my mask somewhere. There’s a couple on the Portmobile that run live feed to the website, one on the outside and one on the inside. I think it’s by the air conditioner control.” He waved to the dash. “A few more that we can edit later before we put them out there to the public. I don’t know where else. Just kind of all around.”

“I hate you, Arnie.”

“Who’s Arnie, old chum?”

“Just some dead man I know.”

“Sounds like a nice guy. And handsome.” He lifted his glass, kind of saluting the dash, and winked at the air conditioner control. He had finished off the green stuff at some point and was now drinking a pink concoction of I don’t know what. It was the same color as my boots.

We had been cruising for about three hours, crime-free, but during the camera conversation, I had gotten a little distracted with my driving. The thing about driving without paying attention is, I end up just driving where I normally go. Say that you went to church all the time, or maybe the library or something, right? You go everyday, dressed in your khaki pants that don’t really fit you very well, but whatever, and your button-down shirt with the starched collar. And you never encounter any trouble. You go to these places, you know the other people that go to these places, everything’s cool. But then say that one day you show up naked with a scantily-dressed hooker in tow. Those same people, they probably won’t like you very much, even though you’re one of them, you know?

Okay, so say that you really aren’t the type of person that goes to church all the time, and say that maybe they won’t even let you in the library anymore, not after that last incident with the National Geographic magazines. Maybe you were just sixteen, but until that rotten librarian finally kicks the bucket (what is she, like a hundred and two years old by now?), let’s just say that you can’t go to the library for some reason or another. So say you generally go other places to hang out, and maybe these places aren’t as socially acceptable, but there are still good people present. And maybe good people is pouring it on a bit thick, but so what. You go to these places, maybe you drink a beer with your buddies, I don’t know. It’s fine, even if you’re dressed in a stained t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans that you can’t positively remember ever washing. What’s not fine is the yellow bodysuit, what’s not fine is the bright pink boots made of plastic. What’s not fine is the powder-blue running shorts with the huge rip down the back.

What I’m saying is, we ended up in a pretty seedy neighborhood, and by the time I realized it, the only thing to do was to keep driving until I could get back to a part of town where people would only laugh at you if they didn’t approve of the way you were dressed. You know-as opposed to killing you.

A few things that I may have mentioned earlier: A)Arnie’s an alcoholic; B)Arnie’s a moron; C)the Portmobile was decked out perfect for an alcoholic moron; D)my short-term memory ain’t what it used to be, if you know what I mean.

What happened next is the stuff that bed-wetting nightmares are made of. The Portmobile was driving along, just like it was supposed to, and then it just stopped. Not only did it just stop, but it just stopped and then turned off. Me, I’m hitting the ignition button so hard that I feel my finger-joints popping. I’m covered in even more sweat than normal (fat guys sweat, so what?) and I’m having a pretty rough time controlling my bladder. I like to think all the shaking was because of fear, but who knows. You remember that guy who trained his dogs to salivate when they heard him ring a bell? Pavlov or whatever? Interesting story, you should really check it out. Not here, though. This is my story, so pay attention.

Anyway, then the car chick, who had been wonderfully silent since stopping us from crashing to our deaths when I first was trying to learn how to drive the Portmobile, she goes, “Copper Gate Pub.”

“No shit!” I screamed. “Drive! Drive, drive, drive!”

The car didn’t listen to me, or if it did, it was just being spiteful, because the top of the Portmobile did that cool trick where it lifts up and slides backwards. This was cool when I was getting in, anyway. At the moment, it was basically the opposite of cool.

“Arnie, what’s going on?”

“Who’s Arnie, old chum?”

“Drunkard, what the HELL is going on?”

“Auto-brake. I messed with it and kind of mixed it with the GPS so that it would stop at all our favorite bars, but only if we pass by them. I couldn’t find a way to make it drive us there.”

“How do you make it go?”

“Go?” Arnie was already taking his seatbelt off. “What do you mean?”

“I mean the car won’t start.”

“I think you have to close the roof or get out or something. Can’t really remember.” He was holding a shot glass full of whiskey, and he was smiling. I noticed that my hands were moving, and realized that they were trying to pull the pepper spray out of the little blue fanny-pack that passed as my “utility belt.” I’m not sure if my subconscious thought I would be needing the spray any second now or if I just wanted to blind Arnie. Meanwhile, he was over there wrestling with the door handle, trying to get out. The doors, being welded shut, did not open. Instead, the robot hand reached out to take Arnie’s drink. He tried to outwit it for a couple of seconds, but the robot arm won out in the end, so he had to suck the liquor out of the glass with a straw. Don’t ask me where he got the straw.

“We’re not getting out here.”

“Oh, that’s right,” Arnie said.

“Damn straight.”

“No, I mean I remember now. It’s got a ten minute timer. So we can get out and look for crime.”

“In front of your favorite bars.”

“Yeah. We’ll be able to start it up in ten minutes, don’t worry.”

“Arnie, in ten minutes we’ll both be dead. Well, maybe with your body armor you’ll only be in a coma, but I’ll be dead! And you’re in no condition to drive.” Considering the condition he was in, being in a coma might have actually improved his driving ability.

“We’ll be fine.” That’s why everybody should drink, for that confidence. Hiding from reality is a wonderful thing, you know? I mean, me and Arnie, we were both going to be killed here, well inside ten minutes. I knew this because I was sober. Arnie didn’t because he was drunk. Now tell me, who was the happier person?

Arnie tumbled over the side of the car, not because he remembered about the welded doors, but because that’s how he usually gets out of a vehicle. Door handles are not what you would call user-friendly, not if the user is a chronic drunk without much of a brain to begin with.

About this time, another car pulled into the parking lot. The parking lot wasn’t much of a parking lot, if you want to know the truth. It was more of a dirt patch in the middle of a dark alley, with a bar close by. Streetlights and safety, these were not things of major concern to the bar owner. His name was Pete, by the way, and he’s a pretty good guy, as long as you don’t show up at his place all decked out in bright pink and yellow. If you want to know how he acts if you show up in that kind of get-up, you’ll just have to keep reading.

So this car pulls up, and a couple of guys get out. One of them, he decides he’s going to kill us right off the bat, I guess, because he doesn’t really even look towards the bar. The other guy, he decides a murder is a lot more fun when there are witnesses to laugh along with you, so he runs in to get bunch of guys from the bar to come out and watch.

“What the hell is this?” That’s the scrappy-looking fellow that just arrived, in case you’re wondering. He’s not particularly big, but he’s solid mean muscle. If you don’t know what mean muscle is, you’re lucky. That’s the kind where when you’re trying to impress a chick, you flex and then you say something like, “Yep, guns this big and I never even been to a gym. Got this tough by doing hard labor and beating people smaller than me.” If you’re the smaller guy, you learn to recognize mean muscle from about fifty yards away. Hopefully, this will give you enough time to run away, but usually it doesn’t.

“Nothing.” That’s me talking, I’m still fumbling with the seatbelt, trying to get out of that devious vehicle and run for my life. “This is nothing, just go about your business of having a drink.” The seatbelt finally unlatched, but he had closed most of the distance, and running just wasn’t an option at this point. I couldn’t remember how to get the roof to close, so I was just pushing buttons at random. Most of them didn’t do anything, but when I pushed one of them, it poured me a frosty glass of beer from one of the shiny metal things in the back.

“You’re that guy who wants to fight crime, right?” He started unbuttoning his shirt. To some people, this may seem a bit dramatic, it might seem like something they only do in movies. This kind of thing does actually happen in real life, though, and it’s never a good sign. When some guy is looking all violent and taking his shirt off, you’re usually in a lot of trouble. What this means is, he doesn’t want to get blood all over his shirt, in case you’re wondering. There are two really terrible aspects of this gesture. One is that the guy feels confident enough to strip down while approaching. He’s not worried about whatever is about to happen, he just doesn’t feel like paying a high cleaning bill. Which leads to the next terrible aspect: this guy’s thinking there’s going to be blood all over the place, enough to ruin a shirt that probably only cost him about four bucks in the first place. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this guy isn’t thinking that it’s going to be his own blood ruining his clothes.

“No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. I don’t want to fight crime at all. They’re MAKING me fight crime. Me, I like crime. I think it’s nice, you know? I just don’t like it directed at me. So let’s just forget you ever saw me, you can go in and have a drink, relax, that kind of thing.”

“I decide what I’ll forget I ever saw, and I’ll decide when I have a drink to relax. Not some government-sponsored freak.”

I looked around for Arnie, hoping he had some gadget that could help me out. He was standing by the bar, smiling and giving me the thumbs-up sign. “Kill him first,” I said to the scrappy-looking fellow.

“I’ll decide who I kill first, not some government-sponsored freak.”

“He’s more government funded than I am,” I screamed, pointing at Arnie. Like I said, I’m no hero.

“I’ll get to him in a minute.” He was almost to the car now, and I was still pulling on the door handle, trying to get out. I forgot about the doors being welded, but I’m not like Arnie, so don’t start thinking like that. Besides, I was about to die, I had all kinds of stress to dela with. Arnie’s just an idiot. I gave up on the door and tried to pry the cheap little can of pepper-spray from my fanny-pack. The scrappy-looking fellow grabbed the handle, presumably trying to rip the door off the hinges, and was jolted backwards.

That same electric current had knocked me on my ass and left me dazed and confused for a couple of minutes, but I’m basically a weenie. This guy, though, all it did was make him mad. He shook the dirt of the parking lot off of his jeans and lunged at me.

I don’t function well in high-stress situations. I’m the type of guy who veers off the road because he sees a bird flying towards the windshield. It’s not that I’m a complete pansy, it’s just that I don’t work well under pressure. Usually what I do in a fight is curl into the fetal position and wait until my attacker gets tired of kicking me. Okay, so in a fight, I’m generally a complete pansy. But that doesn’t make me a bad person. The stuff that makes me a bad person, that’s too long a list to get into right now.

Anyway, so I went into my defense posturing, a.k.a. curling up into a ball, just as the guy jumped over the door. My foot hit the dash while I curled, and then something happened.

I didn’t really know what had happened next, but I heard a really loud thump, a really short yelp, and then a really nice thud. When I opened up my eyes, the guy was unconscious on the ground about twenty feet away from the car. Being the genius detective that I am, I immediately understood that I had hit the ejection seat button with my foot. Watching the video feed for the website later, I had a hard time controlling my bladder—this time because I was laughing so hard. The guy jumped at me and the seat caught him right in the chin. In hindsight, I’m really surprised it didn’t break his neck or knock his head right off or something. What it did was, it caught him right in the chin and knocked him out. It also knocked him about twenty feet away from the car, which is why I finally climbed out. I went over and looked at him, wondering if this is what dead guys looked like. He was still breathing, though, and I had mixed feelings about that.

“Great job, Portly Boy!” That was Arnie. “I had no idea what your plan was, but it sure worked out great!”

“My plan?”

“Luring him close enough to use the Portmobile against him. Genius. And good for toy marketing.”

“If you didn’t know my plan, why didn’t you come to help me?”

“I had faith in you.” Did I mention that Arnie is an idiot? To say something like that to a person like me, you have to be at least three-quarters brain-dead. I wanted to choke him, but instead I had to bask in the glory of my victory. Technically, that was the first fight I had ever won. I mean, once in third grade there was this kid who wanted to fight me, and he chased me all over the neighborhood until I finally ran out of breath and he caught me. He was about to start wailing on me, but his dad came out of the apartment building and starting spanking him, telling him how it looked bad to beat up on the fattest kid in the neighborhood. I actually counted that one as a win at the time, because the kid who wanted to fight me ended up getting hurt and I made out without a scratch.

But this was different. There was no father to save the day, there was only me and my wits. Sure it wasn’t actually planned, but so what. I mean, on a subconscious level, I was probably scheming the whole time, right? Right.

So I’m basking away, I’ve had this monumental victory, and I’ve even fought a little crime. I stopped a killing, and I don’t think it matters that I was the one who was going to be killed.

“And so ends the first crime-fighting adventure of Portly Boy and the Drunkard!” That was Arnie, yelling and smiling. He lifted a beer to me, and I noticed it was the beer that the Portmobile had poured for me while I was trying to escape. I gave him the thumbs-up, I was feeling that good, but I kind of wanted to pepper-spray him and drink that beer.

I felt good, like I had accomplished something. And also I had the adrenaline rush from almost being killed—fat slobs like me don’t get to enjoy that rush too often. I put one foot up on the unconscious guy and I beat my chest. Arnie drank his beer.

And so ended the first crime-fighting adventure of Portly Boy and the Drunkard.


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