Saturday, October 08, 2005

"Yes, Doctor, But He Has a Rich Fantasy Life..."

"I beg to differ." The suave voice cut through the night like a bowie knife slicing the uncut pages of a first edition of Framley Parsonage. An all-too-familiar figure emerged slowly from the nightlamp glare of the foggy street. The gang froze, thawed. What was that sudden click? Had it been the sound of his lighter as he'd fired up the seven cigarettes that dangled insouciently from his lower lip -- or had it been the cocking of the forty-five he might easily have hidden in the folds of his trenchcoat?

"You are...whom?"

"Mouse," said the figure. "Bleak Mouse." Then he added with a wry smile, "Perhaps you've heard of me."

Of course they'd heard of him. Half the men here had been sent up the river by this private dick. Three-eighths had been sent down the river. Another sixteenth had taken a long walk off a short pier. One thirty-second of them had been sent for a swim with cement flippers. A sixty-fourth didn't want anyone to know they were wearing ladies' undergarments. The rest had stories, too. They all had stories. But Bleak didn't care. That was why they hated him.

"Gentlemen," he continued with thinly veiled sarcasm. (His thinly veiled sarcasm was one of his most irritating qualities.) "I'll take your weapons."

"Yeah," snarled Deep Red, the leader. "You and what army?"

A shot instantaneously split the night. Red gave a grunt of mingled pain and disbelief as he clutched his belly and crumpled to the ground.

The moonlight gleamed melodramatically on Mouse's smoking gun. "Anybody else?" he asked sharply. No response. The gun swerved suddenly. "What about you, Scarcheeks?"

"Um, sure, Mr Mouse," sputtered Scarcheeks, carefully backing up. "You and
which army?"

"You miss my point," said Bleak dismissively, twirling his gun and smoothly returning it to his pocket.
But not before a thin blade, speeding its way through the night air faster than the speed of perception, buried itself to the hilt in Scarcheeks's massive forehead. Scar, an expression of slightly disdainful befuddlement still clinging to his features, keeled over backward. Several sets of two-toned shoes nudged the corpse into a nearby manhole. A series of implausible sound effects followed, with a resounding glumph and a few stray notes on a squeezebox at last echoing with unmistakable finality.

By the time Bleak looked up from the pocket where his pocket watch was cleverly hidden, the gang had disappeared. The only signs that they had ever been here were a tommy gun, a few stray condoms, a water pistol, a severed hand, a few broken moral compasses, 437 cigarette butts, and a well-thumbed men's magazine. Bleak chuckled to himself. The coppers in this town might be powerless, shackled by red tape and taped by red shackles, their already overworked legal advisers collapsing under the strain of processing proper documentation, but he, Bleak, was not. He was quick to anger, quicker to kill, and quickest of all to love, and he operated in the nether playground between the long arm of the law and the short end of the stick. (Insert backstory here.)

"You fool!" she screamed, rushing towards him, her sequined velour skirt slit from here to Minnesota, Mercatur projection.

Bleak grinned ruefully, which was pretty much his reaction to everything, casually twirling his swagger stick as he removed his pipe from his mouth, dislodging several cigarettes.

In a moment she was upon him, her nails raking his diamond stickpin, her pliant feet kicking furiously within his pockets, her blood-red rips palpitating at his clavicle, her breast heaving with animal rights while her other one rose and fell with a gaseous plop. Bleak deftly moved to disengage himself as her muscular legs moved to entwine his sleek yet elusive torso.

"Bleak!" she screamed again, her impassioned squeal entering one ear, exiting the other, and ultimately coming to rest after shattering several windows at a taxi stand two blocks distant. Her voice now lowered into a gravelly souplike emulsion as she cooed, "Bleak, you fool. You gallant, handsome, wonderful fool..."

But she was suspended in midair, and Bleak was snarling from several yards away, "It's been thirty years, Vera. Get over it."