Chapter 4 – Why Can’t We Be Fiends

Chapter 4 – “Why Can’t We Be Fiends?”

February 14, 1974 – Central Park West, New York, New York

Current Odds – 1:150

They chased the Brinks armored truck in a taxi of all things. Why couldn’t crooks stay in one place? It was mildly embarrassing making small talk with a driver who was wondering why the costumes.

Eli’s red mask, gloves and tights stood out during the day. He would have to tone it down, get a darker shade for daytime outings.

Phoebus looked like an athlete or one of those disco dancers Eli had been seeing more and more of at the clubs. With the exception of the half-face mask, the white and green costume might have been a that of a Giant’s fan (in fact, Braden had complained about that very thing, preferring the Vikings colors until he saw himself in it with purple trim).

Maya, of course looked incredibly sexy to Eli no matter what she wore. She was up to four…or was it five now? He couldn’t remember. They were all distinctive and stylish. The young woman had a sense about fashion. This one was black, white, and gold.

“Okay, you can let us out here, Pablo.”

“They shooting the movie here? At Central Park? Oh, I canna wait to tell the wife about this! Wait, what’s the title?”

Maya replied while staring out the window , “Attack of the Flying Thing.”

Eli paid and he and Braden hopped out.

“Oh…very nice. I’ll take the kids to see it. Thank you.”

“Take care, Sugar.”

“Eli. This is crazy. What if the cops show up?”

“Red Fox! Remember, Phoebus? We go by our assumed identities any time we’re in costume.”

“Why?”

“Because…

“What are you looking at, M… Ebony Avenger?”

“There’s something flying around up in those trees.”

“Ah. ‘Attack of the Flying Thing.’ Get it now. Well, whatever it is, right now we need to get that armored truck back. Roarke, stealing out of his own workers’ union’s fund. What a dick!”

They headed over and found that the robbers who held up and hijacked the truck were gone. Maya just caught sight of one of them ducking into the subway entrance.

“There, Red Fox! Wait. I don’t get it. Why would they leave the money?”

“Maybe they’re afraid of Phoebus… and us. We have been making a name for ourselves around town.”

Eli poked around in the back of the truck, which was open. The money seemed undisturbed.

“Maybe we should take one bag. A small one. You know, as a reward. Use it to, among other things, buy us a vehicle of some kind so we don’t have to rely on public trans. Yes, I think we—”

Maya had her hands on her delicious hips.

“Put it down, Red Fox. Or do you need to recall who wears the pants in this relationship?”

“Ha…heh. It’s the fact that you rarely do wear pants, and when you do they are so, so tight, well that keeps me on the straight and narrow.”

“Very funny. Look, the cops are on their way. Let’s lock it up. They was scared. End of story.”

“I guess s—”

There was a horrible screeching-clicky sound coming from the trees in the park. The thing that was hiding up there suddenly fluttered out and landed next to Ebony Avenger.

It was an insect the size of a man. It had long pointed wings, large mantislike eyes, and six legs, four of which were moving around in a threatening manner. It also had mandibles like a beetle’s, from which part of a pigeon was dangling, bitten in half.

“Holy s***!”

Instinctively, Maya lashed out with a kick to get create distance between them. Eli looked on a little disappointed.

“‘Holy s***’? That’s your battle cry? That channels your chi? C’mon! Br—uh, Phoebus! Get it.”

The muscly guy was already moving. Braden wasted no time in swinging at the thing. It dodged his punch easily.

Undeterred, Phoebus grabbed one of its legs and moved to heave it over his shoulder and throw it to the ground, as he had seen Maya do to Eli during one of their pre-mating rituals.

Crack!

The leg came completely detached. There was an oozy green sticky substance on the end of it. The limb was also still twitching. Braden threw it down in disgust.

The thing stepped back and hissed. The pigeon piece fell off and rolled to Phoebus’ feet. Braden thought he might puke.

“C’mon, Phoebus! Don’t take that! Get it!”

Eli was starting to annoy Braden greatly. Shouldn’t he have had a freezing raygun or something? A net that he could fire and tangle the thing up? What about the shockstick?

Not wanting to get anywhere near the thing, Braden reached over and pulled on a streetlamp and popped three of the bolts holding it erect in one pull. Another abrupt yank, and the fourth came off as well.

“That’s it! You show ‘im. It. Whatever.”

Must…not…hit…friends with the pole…

The thing squared off with the man. As Phoebus tried to swipe it in a wide arc and failed to connect, it jumped on his back. Braden could hear the thing chirp decisively. Then it was trying to bite him on the neck or pop his head off with its mandibles. It couldn’t break his tough skin, of course, but he could feel and smell a sticky, putrid liquid coming out of the things mouth and trickling down Braden’s back. He shuddered at the thought of bug saliva making its way down to his undies.

Phoebus dropped the streetlamp and reached behind and grabbed the mandibles, one in each hand. Then he tried the throw maneuver again.
This time the bug hit the ground with a thud. It writhed on its back for a second and tried to flutter its wings to flip over.

Braden grabbed up the streetlamp again. The bug had managed to flip over and was just lifting off the ground when he brought the streetlamp down on its shoulder or where one should be. The thing fell to the ground again.

“Yeah!”

Eli was ecstatic.

“Way to go, Baby!”

Maya was glad as well.

Braden lifted the streetlamp and the thing moved. So he brought it down again.

It twitched and writhed. He brought it down again. And again. A pastelish-green gooey substance started oozing its way from the thing. Maya stepped back to avoid getting it on her boots.
Still Braden brought the streetlamp up and down, up and down. Pieces of the thing sometimes stuck to the metal and flew in random directions. A small chunk of something landed on Eli’s shoulder but the man didn’t seem to notice.

Again and again Braden brought the metal down on the pieces. A foot twitched! Or is that its hand? A claw? No matter. He crushed it. When some unidentified organ shuddered or seemed to slink, he squished it. A piece of carapace was still the size of a fist or larger, he shattered it.

“Ok. Now… That’s enough. Phoebus. Phoebus, that’s enough. Phoebus? Braden! Jesus Christ!!!”

When he finally stopped a few seconds later, he looked over at Eli. Out of breath, he shrugged.

“What?”

“What if that was an alien lifeform trying to make contact, not able to understand human customs? A new undiscovered species from deep in the Amazon and the last of its kind? Some poor schmuck that Roarke experimented on and it struck out madly in its torment of the realization that it is no longer human?”

Braden just stared at Eli in disbelief. He dropped the streetlamp pole and it looked like an argument was coming. Maya, realizing this, interjected.

“What’s next? Giant alligators and ratmen in the sewer system?”

She daintily picked up the chunk that landed on Eli’s shoulder with the tips of her fingers and held it closely to his face.

“It was a bug, E.”

The Red Fox looked at the piece. He stared at it passively for several seconds before speaking.

“Okay. Who wants a beer? I’m buying.”

“Me, me, me!” Maya said tossing the piece over her shoulder.

“It was disgusting,” Phoebus offered as he dropped the streetlamp at last satisfied there was nothing left to harm them.

“Let’s never speak of this again.”

Eli put one arm around Maya and they made their way to Hurley’s and a change of clothes. He put his other one around Braden’s broad shoulder, which sloshed the bug saliva around. Braden did his best to ignore the sensation. Eli lifted his arm momentarily and wiped his gooey hand on the back of Braden’s costume.

Across the street, hidden inside a furniture truck, a movie camera had captured the entire battle on film. Once developed, the celluloid would have only a very, very, limited, private showing for a millionaire and his business associates.

—–

©2011, 2012 Christopher C. Knall

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