Heathcliff vs Garfield: Dawn of Catnip

 
Prologue:

 

Heathcliff sat on his bed in the house he shared with his human family in Westfinster. He looked at the mirror on the other side of the room. His body was no longer the temple it once was. Years of eating plump birds and fish from Mr. Shultz’s Elite Fish Market combined with lazy days on the windowsill left his orange and black-striped body fatter than he would have liked.

But it wasn’t his body keeping him awake at four in the morning.

There was another fat, orange cat who had finally taken things too far. His name was Garfield, and he lived with his owner, Jon Arbuckle, and dog Odie. Garfield was fat, lazy, and complicit. There was nothing worse than an uncle tomcat.

Heathcliff had waged a never-ending war against dogs. He single-handedly got Westfinster to forcefully neuter and spay any dog not owned by a listed breeder (it was just the start), and he worked part time helping animal control catch and gas stray dogs.

Then there was Garfield.

Garfield lived in gluttonous bliss alongside this dog, Odie. Odie. The name brought bile tinged with sardines to Heathcliff’s throat. Garfield was possibly more famous that Heathcliff, and he was portraying dogs and cats living side by side, taunting him with their sin. It was sickening to even think of the two, sleeping side by side in their pet beds while their disgusting, pet-mixer owner slumbered soundly.

“He needs to be taught a lesson,” Heathcliff said to the silent darkness. He clenched his fist and opened it, letting his retractable claws out, knowing he’d relish the feel of opening Garfield’s veins.

“Soon,” Heathcliff said, smiling.


Round 1


“GARFIELD!” Heathcliff shouted, standing on the garbage cans outside Jon Arbuckle’s home in Muncie, Indiana. There was no response, so he took two metal garbage can lids and banged them together. “GET YOUR FAT ASS OUT HERE!”
 
“Well that was uncalled for,” Garfield said in his dull, deadpan voice. He was sitting on the grass, looking up at Heathcliff. “You could’ve just called if you wanted to chat.”

Heathcliff jumped down from the garbage cans, letting the lids fall to the ground with a clang. “I’m not here for a chat,” he said. “I’m here to put an end to you and your dog-loving ways.”

Garfield turned to look at Odie, who was sitting in front of the large living room window with his abnormally huge tongue hanging out, fogging up the glass with his hot dog breath.  

“Come on,” Garfield said. “I know he’s a moron, but he’s a really lovable moron.”

Heathcliff lashed out, punching the garbage can on his left. It dented inward before falling into the street with a racket. “You think this is a joke?!”

“You’re classless.” Garfield said, his droll voice becoming mixed with his growing anger.

“Excuse me?” Heathcliff said.

Garfield sighed. “I’ve left turds at the bottom of my litter box with more class than you,” he said. “You came to my house, called me out, and picked a fight. I’ll give you this one chance to walk away. Go back to Westfinster, forget about me, and live your life far away from me.”

“Fat chance,” Heathcliff said. “Head over to the kitty korner and fuck yourself.”

Garfield took the first shot, punching Heathcliff in the stomach. “I’ll squash you like a smart-ass spider!” he exclaimed, following up with a punch to the side of Heathcliff’s head, sending him to the ground. He kicked him in the ribs while he tried to rise. Heathcliff had to roll out of the way before another kick came.

Heathcliff was surprised at how hard Garfield hit for a fat cat. He figured he’d be soft under all that orange fur and blubber, but he punched like he was made of bricks. Heathcliff didn’t think it would be easy to win the fight, but he had been scrapping since he was kitten. He stood from the ground, moved his feet, and started throwing jabs.

Garfield’s head rocked back again and again as Heathcliff’s left jabs found their marks on his chin. Heathcliff hit him with a hard right, sending Garfield’s head back. Garfield responded by charging Heathcliff, tackling him to the ground. The two fell into the trashcans, making a ruckus as they brawled on the street.

“SHUT UP!” a neighbor shouted from his window. “Friggin’ cats!”

Garfield rolled, hitting the ground on his back. Heathcliff was on him in less than a second, barraging him with his fists. “Feel that, fat boy?!” Heathcliff exclaimed. “That’s what justice feels like, you dog-loving fuck!”

Garfield lashed out with his claws, scratching Heathcliff across the face. His head rocked to the left as fresh blood filled three scratches along his cheek. He reached up, feeling the warm blood on his hand. “So that’s how you want it?” he asked. “Fine.”

Heathcliff brought out his own claws, racking them along Garfield’s face and body over and over, hissing as he gleefully cut fur and skin. Garfield screamed as he tried to push Heathcliff off of him, but he was relentless with his savage attack.

“I SAID SHUT THE FUCK UP!” the neighbor shouted, throwing an old boot at the fighting cats. It hit Heathcliff in the side, and he fell off his foe. Garfield took advantage, tackling Heathcliff as he did before. Now Garfield was on the offense, punching Heathcliff with a renewed veracity.

Heathcliff put his fists in front of his face to block the punches from hitting him in the head. Just of a few of them would daze him. A few more and he may actually go unconscious. He was straddled by Garfield, so he couldn’t roll free.

“You feel that?” Garfield asked, struggling to catch his breath while he kept up the pace of his punches. “That’s what your classless ass gets for starting a fight you can’t hope to win.”

Heathcliff smiled behind his fists. Garfield was getting tired. He could hear it in his voice, and he could feel the power of his punches wane. Nobody that fat could keep up such a pace. He would start to slow, and all he had accomplished with his latest barrage was bruising Heathcliff’s forearms.

Heathcliff’s assessment was right, and Garfield’s fists slowed. There was enough time between punches now for Heathcliff to reach over and grab an old pan that fell from one of the garbage cans. He brought it up in an arc, striking Garfield in the side of the head. He fell off of Heathcliff, landing on the ground.

Heathcliff stood over Garfield, kicking him in the side to roll him on his back. He was definitely dazed and may have had a concussion. His orange fur was read with the blood oozing from his scratch wounds. Heathcliff raised the pan over his head, ready to finish the fight.

“DO IT!” Garfield shouted. “Finish it!”

“You’re not going to give me the satisfaction of you begging for your life?” Heathcliff asked.

“I have feline AIDs!” Garfield said, tears swimming in his swollen eyes. “Do me a favor and end my life before this disease does it!”

Heathcliff looked at Garfield for a moment before throwing the pan to the ground with a clang. “Fuck it,” he said. “Let the AIDs get you then.” He turned, walking away and feeling like he was the one defeated. He worried that some of Garfield’s blood had gotten in his wounds when he was attacked from behind.

“I don’t have AIDs!” Garfield said, wrapping a thick arm around Heathcliff’s throat. “Look at how fat I am, you idiot!”

Heathcliff struggled to free himself, but Garfield’s grip was too tight. He started to try to walk away, but he just dragged his fat opponent with him. He fell to one knee, then his hands hit the ground. The world swam out of focus as he lost consciousness. His one moment of stupidity was likely going to cost him his life.

“There’s no such thing as a fair fight,” Garfield said as the world melted away. “I want you to remember that next time you show up at someone’s house, shouting your ugly face off.”

Heathcliff tried to crawl away, but the world went black.


Interlude

Heathcliff awoke in blackness. His first thought was that he was dead, but he soon realized that wasn’t the case. There was no heaven or hell for cats, first of all. Second: he was defiantly sitting on cardboard. He reached over and touched something furry. He immediately pulled his hand back when whatever he touched moved.

“You’re awake,” an extremely feminine, yet male, voice said.

“Who are you?” Heathcliff asked, trying to get his bearing through his migraine, “and where are we?”

“I’m Nermal,” Nermal replied. Heathcliff knew him, but not well. He couldn’t see in the blackness, but he knew he was a grey tabby cat, and he was fascinated by his own cuteness to the point of being guilt of the sin of pride. “You’re in a box with me, on our way to Abu Dhabi.’

“Abu Dhabi?!” Heathcliff exclaimed. “That damn Garfield fights dirty.”

“He wanted me to give you a message,” Nermal said. “He says to walk away. Otherwise, the next box he puts you in will get buried in a backyard in Westfinster.”

“He can’t mail cats,” Heathcliff said. “It’s illegal! It’s cruel!”

“I’m used to it,” Nermal said. “He’s mailed me to Abu Dhabi more times than I can count. It’s one of his go-to gags.”

“Has it ever worked?” Heathcliff asked.

“No,” Nermal said. “The mailman usually hears me crying and lets me out, but this time is different.”

“Why’s it different?” Heathcliff asked, “because I’m here?”

“No,” Nermal said. “It’s because Jon…”

“Go on,” Heathcliff said. “You’re talking about Arbuckle, right?”

“I can’t say,” Nermal said. “He’ll kill me!”

“Not if I kill him first,” Heathcliff said, opening his claws. “This will end badly for you if you don’t start spilling the beans about Arbuckle. I’ll rip that adorable face off your head.”

“Alright,” Nermal said. “I’ll tell you. It’s not like Garfield cares about me. He sent me in the box with you after all.”

Heathcliff listened as Nermal spoke, his shock growing as the short tale reached its end. “Oh my God,” he said. “That’s unreal.”

“It’s as real as it gets,” Nermal said, on the verge of uncontrollable sobbing. 

Heathcliff’s head spun, reeling over what he had just learned. The spinning stopped, and a plan formulated from the chaos. It was almost too perfect. He’d have to call in a few favors, but he would best Garfield on every level.

“Can you do one thing for me now that I’ve told you?” Nermal asked. “Can you free me from Garfield forever?”

“Sure thing,” Heathcliff said, “but you’ll have to do one more thing for me.”

“Anything,” Nermal said.

Heathcliff approached Nermal, and turned him around so he was facing the corner of the box, pushing his face to the ground.

“What are you doing?!” Nermal exclaimed.

“You said anything,” Heathcliff said, positioning himself behind Nermal.

“But I’m a guy!” Nermal cried.

“Does it look like I give a fuck?” Heathcliff asked.

“Stop!” Nermal pleaded. “Please!”

“Scream more,” Heathcliff said. “I like it better that way.”


Round 2

Lightning forked the night sky of Muncie. Garfield sat on his kitchen counter, tossing handfuls of lasagna into his gullet. He tossed the empty pan to the ground when he was done, letting Odie lick the remains. “Enjoy that,” Garfield said.

Heathcliff stood outside, uncaring that he was getting drenched from the rain. He picked a rock up from the ground and hurled it. It spun through the air, smashing the front window of Jon Arbuckle’s home.

Odie yapped inside at the noise, and Garfield came to the window, looking through the broken shards at Heathcliff. “Do you ever learn?” he asked.

“You should have killed me,” Heathcliff said. “Come out and finish this.”

Garfield left the window and emerged from the front door, hands balled into fists. “I warned you to walk away,” he said. “I won’t let you live and put you in the mail twice. You’re going to end up buried behind the tree in the backyard.”

Heathcliff had no use for Garfield’s manipulative words. He walked toward his foe, fists ready to pummel the fat wad of orange and black into a red mess. Garfield walked too, murderous intent also on his mind. The two met just ten feet from Garfield’s front door, and they began fighting as soon as they were within range of each other. Heathcliff’s fist battered the side of Garfield’s head as his own face rang out in pain.

The fight became more savage than the first. It was no longer about Heathcliff’s disdain for Garfield’s life with a dog, and Garfield was no longer trying to defend himself from the classless brawler who came into his life to pick this fight. Neither one of them wanted to be in a world where the other existed, and they both knew only one of them would walk away from this one.

The two orange cats scratched and punched and clawed as they rolled down the sidewalk. Heathcliff mounted Garfield, punching him in the eyes, but Garfield used his bulbous body to roll, gaining the advantage. He wrapped his hands around Heathcliff’s neck, squeezing as hard as he could. Heathcliff punched Garfield’s face and neck, but his grip was too strong. A sly half-smile appeared on Garfield’s face as his eyes swelled from the fight.

“I told you to stay away,” Garfield said. “I’m bigger and smarter than you, you thuggish punk. You could never win.”

People were coming outside of their homes to see what was going on. Soon, there were dozens of people on the rainy street, watching Garfield choke the life out of Heathcliff on the front lawn of someone’s house. Garfield felt his triumph was at hand when a dark blue truck pulled up in front of his house with lights flashing on top.

Heathcliff took advantage of Garfield’s confusion. His hand found a stone on the ground, and he swung it in his fist, cracking Garfield in the side of the head. Garfield fell off, finally releasing his grip on Heathcliff’s neck. Heathcliff thanked God the truck showed up when it had. Another ten seconds, and he would have been unconscious and dead another few seconds later.

Two men got out of the truck and went inside the house. “What the fuck is going on?!” Garfield said.

“I called them,” Heathcliff croaked, breathing fresh air. “There’s no such thing as a fair fight, right?”

“What are you talking about?” Garfield said, turning to Heathcliff.

Nermal told me about Arbuckle,” Heathcliff said, rising from the ground. Nermal was there as well, watching with the crowd.

“I had to tell him,” Nermal said. “He did things to me. Horrible things.”

“They’re here to take Odie,” Heathcliff said. “A dog needs a human. He’ll have to go to the pound until they can find him an owner. I don’t think anyone would want a dog his age with an intelligence problem though. Something tells me his trip to the gas chamber will be fast tracked.”

A police car pulled up next with its lights flashing. “Looks like the police are going to pay Arbuckle a visit,” Heathcliff said.

“No,” Garfield said, running toward his house. Heathcliff followed, scurrying into the house behind him before the police were out of their car. They two of them went up the stairs, and Garfield crashed into Jon Arbuckle’s bedroom.

Heathcliff looked in from the hallway. There on the bed, Jon Arbuckle lay, dead. From the look and smell of the room, he had been dead for a while. Maybe even weeks or months. There were scented candles all over the room to mask the smell, but the aroma of a human being decomposing into a mattress was overpowering the flowery scent.

“It’s over,” Heathcliff said. “The police are going to find this, and they’ll take you like thy took Odie. How long did you think you could live here before someone found out that Jon Arbuckle took his own life?”

“I should’ve hid those damn pills,” Garfield said. He turned to look at Heathcliff, and his rage was renewed. He looked as if he realized he was actually standing there. Heathcliff seeing Jon like this was a sin. Nobody should have been in that room. Nobody should have to see Jon like this. Nobody.

Garfield screamed in a rage, rushing Heathcliff, but his foe was ready. He dodged the coming tackle, letting Garfield’s momentum slam him into the wall. The dresser nearest to them shook with the force of it, sending the burning candles to the carpet.

Heathcliff punched Garfield in the back of the head, following up with a throw into Jon’s nightstand. More candles tumbled down, landing on the bed and the carpet. The smell of burning fabric filled the room as fire began to spread on the floor and bed. Garfield landed and uppercut on Heathcliff’s chin, sending him outside of the room and into the upstairs hall.

Garfield screamed as he punched Heathcliff, switching from his left to his right hands. Heathcliff walked backward down the hall as smoke began to pour from Jon Arbuckle’s bedroom. Heathcliff tried to block the punches like a boxer in a peek-a-boo stance, but the forces of the blows were too much for him. They pushed him back, further and further down the hall.

The policemen shouted to call the fire department as smoke filled the house. The house had become cluttered with trash and feces since Arbuckle died, and the fire spread quickly. The downstairs became ablaze while the cats fought, knowing they would both likely die in Jon Arbuckle’s makeshift pyre.

Heathcliff’s throat burned from a combination of his strangling and breathing in smoke. Garfield wasn’t slowing down as he did before, but his body had to have been growing weary. Even the rage now fueling him could only push him so much. His heart couldn’t handle this much. Heathcliff knew he just has to outlast his opponent, and he’d likely drop dead of a heart attack.

The floor opened up before Heathcliff’s theory could be tested. A smoking crack opened up behind Garfield. Heathcliff took advantage, shoving Garfield. Garfield lost his footing, falling into the hellish chasm with a horrible scream.

Heathcliff wasted no time with a witty remark to commemorate the death of his enemy. He used what energy he had left, leaping out a window and into the branches of a tree. He nimbly climbed down, relishing the feel of the cool air in his lungs. He took one look over his shoulder at the burning house where Garfield’s corpse burned before leaving, walking past the flashing lights of the police cars and fire engines.


Interlude

Garfield’s eyes fluttered open. The last thing he remembered was falling through the floor and hitting his head as he landed between the flames in the kitchen. He didn’t know how he escaped death, but someone had to have pulled him out of the house before it was completely burned to the ground.

Garfield sat up, wincing at the pain in his body. He was bandaged where he had been burned, and he was placed in a box-bed with a blanket over him like he was used to. He sat up and looked around, realizing he was in the home of Dr. Liz Wilson, Jon Arbuckle’s former love interest and paramour.

Dr. Liz had blown up at Jon and stormed out months ago, causing Jon to slip into a deep depression. Garfield heard from Snoopy what it was like when he found Charlie Brown hanging from a electric cord from the basement ceiling, but it still didn’t prepare him for finding Jon after he downed an entire bottle of sleeping pills.

Garfield knew what he had to do to avoid the animal shelter. He had to hide Jon’s death and go about life as if he were still alive. He only needed to buy enough time to come up with a more long-term plan, but he got lazy and complacent. No plan came, and Heathcliff came storming into his life, looking for a fight.

Heathcliff.

Everything he had left in this fucked up world had been taken from him by that bastard cat, Heathcliff. Jon’s home was destroyed, Odie was in the pound and on the short list to be gassed if Heathcliff could be believed, and he had been left for dead. The only saving grace was that Heathcliff had no idea Garfield survived.

“That’s right,” Garfield said, getting out of the small bed. “He thinks I’m dead. I can destroy him, and he won’t even see it coming.”

Garfield moved quietly, listening in case Dr. Liz was around. He would have to leave quickly. She would never let him go if she found out he was up and about. She may have learned what happened to Jon as well. For all she knew, he decided to never contact her again after their breakup. She may now know he killed himself shortly after.

The sound of snoring came from upstairs. He knew he needed to plan his attacked on Heathcliff, but he was unable to stop himself from following the sound. He walked silently into the bedroom. He climbed on the bed, looking into the face of the woman who took him in after Jon’s house burned.

“You broke his heart in a billion pieces,” Garfield said to the sleeping Dr. Liz. He moved a pillow in both of his hands, placing it over her nose and mouth as soon as she was done exhaling. “He never got over you.”

There was a small struggle from Dr. Liz once her body relished its air supply had been cut off. She was awake a few seconds later, looking into the face of Garfield as he held the pillow with all of his might. She tried to fight him off; but he was too tenacious, and she had no air in her lungs. Her fighting became labored as the life left her body.

Garfield smiled as he tossed the pillow to the floor. “Your next, Heathcliff,” he said. “I’m going to take it all from you.”


Round 3

Garfield watched from afar as Heathcliff went about his morning, taking a bottle from the milkman, greeting the Westfinster dog catchers, and giving a nod to a group of female cats. He was enraged by his display of cool after all that had happened. Heathcliff still had everything, and he didn’t deserve any if it.

“Good morning,” Garfield said, approaching Heathcliff and keeping a calm attitude.

“No,” Heathcliff said, the smile fading from his face. “You died in the fire.”

“Check for a pulse next time,” Garfield said. “My fur was singed, but I am otherwise fine, unlike you.”

“What are you talking about?” Heathcliff asked.

“Did you think I’d come all the way to Westfinster empty handed?” Garfield asked. He held up an electronic device with four red buttons. “Like my new toy?”

“What is that?” Heathcliff asked.

Garfield smiled, pressing the first of the four buttons. There was an explosion a few blocks behind him. Heathcliff jumped, but Garfield stayed perfectly still. Fire and black smoke filled the morning sky. “I’m so sorry,” Garfield said. “Looks like the Elite Fish Market is a crater in the ground.”

“You bastard,” Heathcliff said. “Mr. Shultz was inside!”

Garfield pressed the second button, and there was and explosion off in the distance. Heathcliff turned to see where it was. “Is that the junkyard?” He asked.

“Your friends the Cadillac Cats won’t be helping you,” Garfield said.

“They had nothing to do with this!” Heathcliff exclaimed.

“Two more buttons,” Garfield said. “Do you know what comes next?”

Heathcliff ran at Garfield, but he pushed the last button anyway. There was explosion behind Heathcliff, and a house blew into flaming debris, sending shrapnel of wood and glass into the street. 

“You destroyed my home,” Garfield said. “I wanted to return the favor.”

“My family was in there,” Heathcliff said, looking at the burning hole where his home used to be. “They’re dead. You killed them.”

“You started this, Heathcliff,” Garfield said. “You wanted to pick a fight about Odie, and he’s dead now. That’s right. I went to the pound to spring him after I woke up from my fall, but it was to late. They had already gassed him. You took everything I had left in the world – even Pooky burned in the flames of Jon’s house. You made me very dangerous when you turned me into a cat with nothing to lose.”

“You’re insane,” Heathcliff said.

“Then end this,” Garfield said. “Finish what you started the day your screamed for me in front of my home.”

Heathcliff approached Garfield, ready to do exactly what he was asking.

“Wait,” Garfield said. “I have one more button!”

Heathcliff stopped, watching Garfield as his paw poised over the last button of his remote. “What’s that one blow up?”

“Not what,” Garfield said. “Who. Nermal!”

Nermal came from an alley, pushing a wheelchair. Sitting on the chair was Heathcliff’s girlfriend, Sonja. She had a vest of explosives chained to her. “I’m sorry,” Nermal whispered.

“Don’t do this,” Heathcliff said, putting his paws out. “Let her go.”

“There it is,” Garfield said. “I wanted to make sure I’d see you suffer as I have.” Without any more warning, Garfield pressed his final button. Sonja’s vest exploded in a ball of flames, killing her along with Nermal. The smell of burning cat fur filled the air. Garfield tossed his useless detonator to the ground, spreading his arms. “Ready?”

Heathcliff thought the rage he felt when he thought about Garfield living in sin with a dog was bad, but what he felt now put it to shame. His insides burned with white-hot rage, and he became wrath incarnate. He pumped his legs, charging Garfield with all he had.

Garfield braced himself for Heathcliff’s attack. Heathcliff was blinded by his rage, choosing to tackle him around the midsection rather than punch or claw. Garfield brought both his fists together, slamming them on Heathcliff’s back. Heathcliff pushed as Garfield hammered, neither one of them relenting. Finally, Garfield fell back, and he had to twist to avoid Heathcliff getting on top of him.

Heathcliff punched out, jabbing at Garfield’s plump body with speed and ferocity. Garfield couldn’t block blows that fast, and opted to strike out as well, aiming for Heathcliff’s head. He found his mark a dozen times before he realized they weren’t slowing the cat down. He began to think fueling him with rage was a mistake.

Heathcliff landed an uppercut, sending Garfield back. He then brought his foe down by the gut, scratching and clawing at him like the first time they fought. Garfield put his arms up to block the claws, but Heathcliff was satisfied ripping flesh and fur away, regardless of where it was on Garfield’s body.

“DIE!” Heathcliff shouted, balling his fists once again, pummeling Garfield. “YOU SON OF A BITCH! DIE!”

Garfield knew Heathcliff would get his wish if he couldn’t get him off. He wanted Heathcliff to get sloppy in his anger, but it had put more power into his fighting. Heathcliff was the better fighter, so Garfield was forced to fight with his mind. There was nothing he could say that would stop the barrage of punches that would soon end his life.

Garfield summoned his strength, lashing out with a claw, raking it across Heathcliff’s face. Heathcliff screamed as one of the claws scratched his eye out, causing a torrent of blood to pour from the socket. He finally relinquished his punching, giving Garfield the opportunity to push him off with both of his feet. He fell back on his back, and Garfield took advantage by kicking his fallen foe in the ribs as many times as he could. He didn’t know how long he’d have the upper hand in this fight, and he planned on keeping it as long as possible.

“You have nothing!” Garfield shouted, landing a kick to Heathcliff’s neck. He brought his foot down, stomping on his temple next. He could feel his eye swelling up and blood pouring from his wounds, but he didn’t care. He intended to finish off Heathcliff if it meant his own life would be forfeit as well. He gave one last kick to Heathcliff’s ribcage, sending him rolling.

Garfield limped after Heathcliff, feeling the ware of the fight weigh his body down. He needed to finish the fight soon, or his body would betray him. Heathcliff was luckily hurt as well, and he was slow to crawl away. One of the kicks or stomp to the head had to have done some real damage. 

Garfield knelt next to Heathcliff as he tried to get up, slamming his face into the street. He did this three more times before Heathcliff threw an elbow, hitting Garfield’s arm. It did little damage, but it cause Garfield to loosen his hold. Heathcliff swung his elbow again, hitting Garfield in the chest this time. He did this one more time, swinging his whole body with the motion, knocking Garfield off his feet. He stumbled as he tried to keep his footing.

The rubble of Heathcliff’s house was all around them. Heathcliff’s hand brushed a large shard of glass as he moved to get back on his feet. Garfield was on him again, punching him in the kidneys and spine, desperate to keep him on the ground.

“You won’t win,” Heathcliff grunted, getting to one knee, despite the the pain. “You tried to take it all from me; and you succeeded, but you won’t leave here alive.”

Garfield ignored the taunt, kicking Heathcliff in the side, sending him on his back across the wood and glass. He straddled him, wrapping his hands around his neck as he had before. He squeezed Heathcliff’s neck, cutting off the air. He was sweating and panting. He had pushed his body too far, and he was paying the price for it. His heart was going to give out any second, and he just wanted to kill Heathcliff before cardiac arrest claimed his life in the process. A lifetime of sloth and gluttony would kill him before Heathcliff could.

 Heathcliff’s hand moved swiftly, thrusting the shard of broken glass into Garfield’s eye. He screamed as he let go of his opponent, allowing him to breath freely again. Garfield fell backward, grasping his chest rather than the glass protruding from his bleeding socket. He heaved once, falling to the ground on his back.

 Heathcliff stood and watched with his remaining eye as Garfield convulsed one more time, then stopped, lying still as he died. “Ashes to ashes,” he said. “Enjoy Hell, you fat fuck.”

Heathcliff walked away from his dead opponent, his body aching from the fight. He looked around his neighborhood. Smoke rose in the distance from the junkyard where the Cadillac Cats had died, a fire raged where the Elite Fish Marked used to be, his own home was in ruins, and his family and girlfriend were dead. He had beaten his foe, but he felt like he had lost.

“This was what he wanted,” Heathcliff said, feeling guilt for all that Garfield had done to his loved ones in the name of revenge. “Son of a bitch. This is what that fat mother fucker wanted all along. I did to him what he couldn’t bring himself to do. He let me take his life from him in every regard, and then he took mine.”

The sound of police cars and fire engines filled the morning as Heathcliff looked at the ruins of his life. His enemy was defeated, but he had paid a high price to do it.


The End

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President Trump

President Trump sat in the Oval Office for the very first time on a chilly January day in 2017 (even though he was nice and toasty in his best suit). He propped his feet on the desk and looked out the window. “I did it,” he said to the empty room. “Son of a bitch, I really did it.”

What started off as a personal prank quickly snowballed into something incredible. When Donald Trump ran for president in 2012, he accused President (former president as of now) Barrack Obama of not being born in America. He also vowed to kick all illegal Mexicans out of the country and keep them out for good. That race didn’t last long for him, but the next one would prove to be epic.

Donald Trump challenged himself to be more boisterous and obnoxious the second time around, laughing all the way to the proverbial bank. He once again vowed to keep all illegal Mexicans out of America, claiming this would somehow make the country great again. He even went as far as to mock their speech in a crass imitation, insulting their very culture in the process. He thought he’d be ousted by the Republican Party and American people, but they were eating it up.

“Fuck it,” Trump said into a mirror before one of the many televised GOP debates. “Let’s see how far I can take this thing.”

Trump had the money, and he had the time. He ran a campaign based on everything the rest of the country holds against the Republican Party. He had previously stated the both parties had lost their ways, and he’d run as an independent if he ever ran. When it came down to actually running, he ran as a cartoonish version of the far right wing politicians.

He told them he wanted to build a wall on the southern border of the United States, and the right wingers loved it. People were offended (especially when he mocked a Hispanic reporter during a debate), but enough people supported this whacky idea to keep his numbers strong. They pointed out that his employees at his hotels were hispanic immigrants, but he ignored them and kept going.

He told them the liberal’s idea of gun control stripped them of their second amendment rights, and the right wingers loved this too. Even in the face of yet another act of gun violence, he stood strong. He said this kind of crime was only preventable by putting more guns in the hands of civilians rather than exercising any kinds of regulations on firearms or ammunition.

He said he wanted to stop Muslim immigrants from entering the country in any way, and the right wingers once again loved what he was telling them. He used attacks by ISIS in Paris and the shooting in San Bernardino in 2015 to fuel a new kind of disdain for American Muslims, and more and more people joined in. He used fear and hatred to push himself further than he even thought possible. He had started out amusing himself, but he had tapped into something he didn’t even know was inside him.

They said he was going against the United States Constitution, but he ignored them. They said he was disqualified as a presidential candidate, but he kept on running. They even chastised him for mocking the disabled community, but he didn’t care. They demanded that President Obama take action, but he didn’t do a thing, scared of being called out by the runaway train named Donald Trump.

It was at this point that Trump had started to believe his own hype.

They compared him to Adolf Hitler on the internet; pointing out that Trump was doing to the Muslims exactly what Hitler had done to the Jews. Trump couldn’t argue that some of the points were valid, but his supporters touted that the Jews hadn’t been responsible for any violence like the Muslims. They brought up the Japanese interment camps, claiming he wanted to do the same to Muslims. Once again, Trump ignored the naysayers, and he kept on pushing for the presidency.

His claims became wilder. He demanded that Bill Gates shut down parts of the internet to stop Muslims from communicating. Anyone who thought they were internet savvy told him this wasn’t possible, but he argued that they were wrong. Bill Gates did nothing, and Trump chastised him publicly for it.

Trumpmania went to a whole new level in 2016, and the other GOP candidates were almost forgotten by the end of January. He started getting more media coverage than Obama (whom he had publicly called a pussy soon after the New Year began). Foreign news outlets were translating his speeches, and people in the far reaches of the world (who knew little of American politics) already started to believe that he had become president. They became outraged and violent, bombing embassies and rioting in the streets of any country who still supported America.

Again, Trump used this to fuel his campaign. He was now insisting that all Muslim-Americans have a more thorough background checks and start carrying IDs if they were cleared as safe. In Trump’s plan, any who had any tie to any known or suspected terrorist or extremist would be deported immediately or held in prison camps until they could be cleared. President Obama pleaded with the Muslim community that this would not happen under his watch, but they were not satisfied with the promise of a president who had less than a year left in office.

The Republican candidates dropped one by one. Soon, it was just Jeb Bush and Donald Trump for the nomination. Bush slipped up too many times during debates and speeches, and Trump pulled off an upset victory, becoming the 2016 Republican nominee for President.

Hatred against Trump reached its critical mass in the Middle East. The Trump International Hotel & Tower in Istanbul was attacked by suicide bombers soon after the news of his Republican nomination. Forty seven people were killed, and twenty five more were injured in the blast that took out the lobby and a chunk of the first four floors. It seemed Muslim countries had once again assumed he was elected president already, and they were sending him a message in fire. Barrack Obama addressed the world to reassure everyone he was still the president of the United States, and this kind of attack would not go unpunished.

Donald Trump gave his own televised address. He bought time on every major network with his own money, declaring war on ISIS or any terrorist group that thought he would not retaliate in a tear-filled tirade. The American flag was draped behind him as he promised never to forget those that lost their lives in the Istanbul bombing, vowing vengeance against the ones who committed the atrocity.

Trump was seen as a sympathetic figure after these events. His supporters claimed his speech was more heartfelt than Obama’s, and they questioned, more than ever, if Obama’s loyalties truly lay with the Muslim people. Trump fueled this by tweeting about President Obama’s ties to the Muslim faith (which were mostly imagined).

Vladimir Putin came out in support of Donald Trump, and Trump took his own plane on his own dime to meet with Putin to discuss the developing situation. Putin treated Trump like a dignitary, ignoring the UN’s pleas to stop and continue discussions with them instead of the presidential candidate. Putin promised to aid to any war the United States was dragged into if the people elected Trump as their next president. Trump, of course, accepted with a handshake that was on the cover of every newspaper the following day.

It was at this time that Iran announced out of nowhere that they were on the brink of war with the United States. The UN once again got involved, pleaded with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani not to wage any kind of war, but he ignored them. Kim Jong Un of North Korea came out in support of Iran and Rouhani, claiming that he would be their allies in glorious wars against America. Their handshake made every newspaper in America.

Trump’s numbers were stronger than ever as Barrack Obama and Democratic nominee for President, Bernie Sanders, tried to calm the world-wide chaos that surrounded Trump whenever he spoke. Soon after the attack in Istanbul, terrorists finally took the fight against Donald Trump to US soil.

They called it the Massacre of Atlantic City on every news channel. Nobody knew the exact number, but dozens of Muslim extremists and terrorists converged on the city most synonymous with Donald Trump. Hundreds of Men, women, and children were executed in the streets. Buildings were burnt to the ground or bombed. The chaos ensued for two whole days as President Obama declared marital law, sending the National Guard and Marines to quell the violence. Three separate terrorist organizations took credit for the attacks.

Barack Obama once again addressed the world, urging an end to the fighting, but Trump once again bought time for his own speech. He promised to fund his own war against the terrorist groups, even if he wasn’t elected president. Once again, Trump’s speech reached more people than the President’s.

Trump beat Bernie Sanders in the election November of 2016, and the people of the United States readied themselves to make America great again as it poised itself on the brink of World War III. He stayed quiet for the months between November and January, keeping the American people, along with the entire world, in suspense as they awaited for him to take the office.

Trump was ready to send the armed forces into battle. His plans for the Mexican border wall and Muslim intermittent camps were being formulated. His repeal to all current gun control laws was being written by his top men, ready for Americans to defend their homes against the Muslim threat his predecessor failed to extinguish. He’d had just gotten off the phone with Putin, and he was able to invade three separate countries at a moment’s notice, salivating over the prospect of a glorious war. 

More than half of the country stood with their newly elected president, but the other half were beginning to talk about taking the country back from him before he destroyed it. Let them try to impeach or march on him. He had the guns and the bombs, and they knew he wouldn’t be afraid to use them.

President Trump pulled a cuban cigar from the gold and velvet box on his desk. They were a gift from the now Vice President Jesse Ventura. He lit the end with a wooden match, turning it as he started to suck the smoke from the other end.

“It’s good to be the president,” Trump said, blowing out a cloud of gray while looking out of window of his Oval Office. “Goddam, it’s fuckin’ good.”

The League of Unimpressive People

The League of Unimpressive People

The League of Unimpressive People

Prologue: New Year’s Eve

“Do we have a visual?” Rachel Dolezal asked into her walkie-talkie. It wasn’t as good as using her trusty smart phone, but it would have to do in a pinch. The cell network was too congested thanks to the humongous party at Times Square. Besides, the man she was talking to wasn’t allowed any device that could get him onto the internet.

“Not yet,” Jared Fogle, Rachel’s tech expert, said. He ran along side Kim Davis, the team’s demolition expert. They were in a buisness park plaza, only a few miles from Times Square. If there was a bomb (which they were sure there was), then she would be needed.

“Will our actions save any homosexuals?” Kim asked.

“Dammit, Kim,” Jared said. “This will save the entire City!”

“I’m not doing it if it saves any homosexuals,” Kim said. “So you better find out.”

“Rachel,” Jared said into his walkie-talkie. “Kim wants to know if she’ll accidentally save any…”

They stopped as they approached a cage. The door opened, and a lion stepped out, roaring as it began to circle. “Jared…” Kim said timidly.

“Rachel,” Jared whispered into the walkie-talkie. “We have a lion here. What do we do?”

“I got this,” a man said, walking between Jared and Kim. It was Walter Palmer, and he was dressed in his safari gear complete with hat. He was the marksman of the team, and he carried his trusty crossbow with him. “This ain’t my first lion hunt.”

Walter took aim and fired an arrow into the Lion’s neck. The lion took off and ran away, trailing blood on the plaza floor as it left.

“Dammit,” Walter spat. “Every fucking time!” He ran off in the direction of the lion to finish it off.

“How are we looking?” Rachel asked on her end.

“Almost there,” Jared said as he and Kim started to move again. “How are you doing on your end?”

“No word of where Clockboy is hiding,” Rachel said. “But we’re closing in on him. Just find that damn bomb and disarm it.”

Kim snatched the walkie-talkie from Jared’s hands as they ran passed the empty lion’s cage. “Dammit, Rachel,” she said. “Why can’t anyone tell me if disarming this bomb will save any homosexuals?!”

There was silence on the other end for a moment. Finally, Rachel answered. “Sorry,” she said. “I was waiting on confirmation. There are no homosexuals in the blast radius. You can go ahead and disarm it, saving only heterosexuals.”

“Thank you!” Kim said, nearly throwing the walkie-talkie at Jared. “Was that so fucking hard to do?!”

Jared and Kim didn’t have to go any further. They were stopped by a figure in a black cape with wires coming from all over his body. A large, digital clock was mounted on his chest. His name was formerly Ahmed Mohamed, but now the teenage villain only went by the name: “Clockboy”.

“Cancel your search,” Jared said into the walkie-talkie. “We found Clockboy.”

“It’s almost time for the ball to drop,” Clockboy said with an evil grin. “I’m so glad you can make it to my party.”

“Sorry I’m late,” Walter said, coming from behind. He was aiming a fresh bolt from his crossbow directly at Clockboy. “It’s half past time to shut this thing down, Clockboy.”

“So I guess you didn’t like your gift, Palmer,” Clockboy said. “It’s no matter that you weren’t eaten as I had hoped. You think the three of you can stop what the Crimson Syndicate has already started?!”

“I’ll put a bolt through your eye, Clockboy,” Walter said.

“The clock-bomb on my chest will detonate as soon as it senses my pulse stopping,” Clockboy said. “I have it wired to my Fitbit.”

“Stop this!” Jared called out. “It’s not too late!”

“Is it not too late?!” Clockboy shouted mockingly. “I was on a good path until I was arrested for nothing more than building a clock!”

“Then you turned out to be a huge asshole anyway!” Walter exclaimed.

“Not this again,” Kim groaned. “Shut up and tell us where the bomb is, kid!”

“It’s not going to be that easy,” Clockboy said, grinning menacingly. “Not one bit. You and your silly league, along with everyone ringing in the new year within my clock-bomb’s blast radius, are done for after tonight. Next year will be the year of Clockboy!”

****

Chapter 1: Six Months Earlier

George Zimmerman looked through the crowd of people. He was light-brown skinned and only a little chubby with black hair. “Do you see him?” the voice of Casey Anthony said in his earpiece. She was working surveillance, but whomever they were supposed to be tracking had slipped by. A potential terrorist was now running about with no net to catch him other than George and his trusty 9mm.

George had become a member of The League of Unimpressive People following the public’s disgust and exile of him after he defended himself from a suspiscious-looking hooligan. The League approached him and asked him if he’d join their team, giving him a chance to redeem himself. He told them he needed no redeeming (seeing as a Florida court decided that he was right in picking a fight with a suspicious looking teenager he saw walking down the street and killing him). The League had been new and different, unlike anything George had ever experienced. Amy Fisher had just retired, and they needed to fill positions.

“I got nothing,” George said into his cuff. He looked around when something caught his eye. “Wait.” A black man in a hoodie over his head walked through his line of sight. He looked suspicious, so George pulled his gun from his back and fired once. The man went down.

“You shot him?!” Casey blared in his ear.

“Calm down,” George said, walking to the body of the man he just shot. “You know my suspicions are never wrong.”

“Dammit, George,” Casey said, coming up next to him. She was thin with long, reddish-brown hair. “If you blow this operation…”

“I won’t!” George exclaimed. He knelt next to the lying body and flipped it over. “I’ll call you when our suspect is a baby.”

“How dare you!” Casey snapped. “We never did find out what happened to little….”

“Save it for Howard Stern,” George said. “Something ain’t right here.”

Casey leaned in closer to the body. She had been an agent with the League since 2011. They had convinced her to do something good with her life, even though she, like George, was found innocent of her alleged crime of baby-killing. She had over a year of service on George, but he still acted as her superior in every way. “What’s that on his chest?” Casey asked.

“I don’t know,” George said, unzipping the hoodie. There was a round emblem of a red falcon on a black background.

“Holy shit,” Casey said. “The Crimson Syndicate.”

“I told you my suspicions are never wrong,” George said. “I could tell from a mile away that he was Crimson.”

“Sure,” Casey said. “But why was a Crimson Syndicate member not only running around in broad daylight, but wearing their emblem just under the hoodie.”

“That’s easy,” George said. “They’re -“

There was an explosion from the body lying on the ground, instantly killing George Zimmerman and Casey Anthony. Their bodies, blackened from intense flame that painfully killed them, fell backwards, lying next to each other. Sirens blared as the police and ambulance came onto the scene, but it was too late.

The League of Unimpressive People just lost two more members.

***

Chapter 2: Rachel Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal sat in the chair outside her new boss’ office in the Washington DC office building. She got the call from something called the League of Unimpressive People around two weeks ago, looking for someone to take over supervisory duties. She dismissed it at first, thinking it was a prank from some radio shock jock to prank her after she had been in the news this last year when her parents outed her for being what the media had tagged as “transracial”.

Her superiors at the NAACP urged her to take the job. They had stood beside her after the fiasco that followed her outing, but she was again skeptical. It wasn’t until she was told she would be fired if she didn’t leave on good terms that she finally returned the call from the League. They offered her a job with a substantial raise, and she accepted.

The door opened and a man stepped out. “Miss Dolezal,” he said, extending his hand. He was an older man with white hair and a black suit. “My name is Mr. White. Welcome to the League of Unimpressive People.”

“Thank you,” Rachel said, extending her hand. She had dark tan skin and a poofed-up mess of a makeshift afro. “I have to admit: I’m a little mystified by this whole experience. I never even heard of your organization until you reached out to me.”

“You were worried we were a joke,” Mr. White said with no question in his tone. “You thought that this was some elaborate prank due your social media attention you had earlier this year. It’s understandable. It’s also why we wanted you to lead our new team.”

“But why?” Rachel asked. “I’m not trying to talk you out of hiring me, but I don’t understand what you are or what you do.”

“We combat a special kind of terrorism,” Mr. White said, walking down the hall as Rachel followed. “The kind that’s so trivial and taken away from the mainstream, it’s hard to spot with normal conventions. Bill Clinton secretly founded us in the nineties to combat this kind of terrorism that frightened him, and we have been fighting it in the shadows ever since.

“You see, Rachel, our teams are very special. The are composed of people like yourself. People who have been in the media’s spotlight, but are soon forgotten. We don’t know why President Clinton’s League of Unimpressive People works; we just know it does work. We lost some members in an attack some months back, but the league must stay strong.

“Are you ready to meet your team?”

“Sure,” Rachel said, still trying to put the pieces together in her head. Mr. White opened a door and led her in to a dark room with a one-way mirror. She was able to see the three people on the opposite side, but they couldn’t see her. They sat at a rectangular table, unspeaking to each other.

“Here’s your team,” Mr. White said. “The man on the left is Walter Palmer AKA The Dentist. He’ll be your marksman.”

Rachel looked at Walter. He was mostly bald, and the hair he had left was quickly turning gray. He wore a pair of round spectacles.

“Walter inadvertently became famous when he killed the now famous Cecil the Lion,” Mr. White said.

“That was him?!” Rachel said. “He doesn’t look like much of a marksman. The man next to him… Is that the Subway guy?!”

“Jared Fogle,” Mr. White said. Jared was thin, had dark brown hair, and glasses. “He’s your tech expert. You’ll have to keep an eye on him. He’s been banned from using any computer with an internet connection because of his troubles with child pornography. The FBI will be all over him if he does.”

“Then how is he our tech expert?” Rachel asked.

“Finally,” Mr. White said, motioning to the woman all the way to the right, who was chubby, bespectacled, and had messy dark hair. “She is your demolition expert: Kim Davis.”

“Kim Davis?!” Rachel exclaimed. “The woman that refused to permit gays to get married? How is she a demolition expert?”

“You’d be surprised,” Mr. White said. “We were.”

Rachel sighed. “OK,” she said. “Let’s go meet my team.”

****

Chapter 3: The Team

Rachel walked in the room to meet the three that would make up her team. When she entered, Kim was having a lovely conversation with Jared, and Walter was sitting by himself. “Hi,” Rachel said, trying not to sound nervous. “My name is Rachel, and I’ll be leading this team.”

“I’m telling you right now,” Kim said, turning from Jared. “I won’t do anything if it benefits any homosexuals in any way. It’s against my religion to do my job in that scenario.”

“OK,” Rachel said, calculating how she intended to pass any hurdle that would cause. “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

“I ain’t crossing any bridge if there’s homos on it,” Kim said.

“Hi,” Jared said, reaching his hand out. “I’m Jared Fogle.”

Rachel shrank back from Jared’s hand and immediately felt bad about it.

“It’s alright,” Jared said, pulling his hand back. “I’m getting used to that.”

“It’ll follow you forever,” Walter said with his arms crossed. “Some stenches don’t wash off.”

“You watch your mouth!” Kim snapped as Jared looked downward. “He’s been through enough.”

“How are you and Jared best friends between your super religious heroism and his child banging?” Walter asked.

“He wasn’t meeting up with boys,” Kim said, giving Walter the stink eye.

“So it’s alright in the bible for Jared to hook up with teenagers if they’re female?” Walter asked.

“It’s alright in my bible,” Kim replied, not breaking her glare.

Rachel’s head was spinning. She didn’t know how she was going to deal with these three when Mr. White came in with another. “I hope you guys are getting along,” he said.

“Who’s this with you?” Rachel asked, glad for the distraction. “Another team member?”

“Not yet,” Mr. White said, beaming at the brown-skinned boy. He was tall, had black hair, and glasses. “After high school maybe. This is Ahmed Mohamed.”

“The clock kid?” Rachel asked.

“Yes,” Ahmed said with a sneer. “The clock kid.”

“I’m sorry,” Rachel said. “This is just so unreal.”

“What I went through was no joke, black-white lady,” Ahmed said.

It was Rachel’s turn to be offended, but she held her tongue. Ahmed was only a teenager, and she called him clock kid first. “Ahmed will be interning for us,” Mr. White said. “I’ll be showing him around. We hope to have him here when he’s old enough.”

“I’m getting out of here,” Walter said, getting up from his chair. “We done?”

“We’ll call if we need you,” Mr. White said. “Don’t stray too far from the compound.”

Walter gave Mr. White a nod as he exited. He passed Rachel, not even giving her an acknowledgement. Rachel watched as he passed.

“You going by Subway?” Jared called. “Can you bring me back a sub? I’m not allowed inside, and I’m dying for a cold cut combo.”

“I’m not bringing you a sub,” Walter said. “Damn pervert.”

“Nobody ever brings me Subway,” Jared said, sulking.

Kim left next, shoulder-checking Rachel on the way out. “Sorry,” she mumbled, walking down the hall. Jared just sat at the table, staring at Rachel.

“They’re your team,” Mr. White said. “Better start whipping them into shape before they’re needed. Come on, Ahmed. Let me show you our labs.”

****

Chapter 4: Coffee

Rachel checked her emails in her quiet office. She had been leading the team of three for the last few weeks with little to no luck. They wouldn’t function as a team no matter what they did. Walter was snobbish, Jared was timid, and Kim was a straight up bitch. Not one of them respected Rachel as a leader.

“Wow,” Rachel said, reading a news alert. “The pope just came out as gay.”

“Knock knock,” Mr. White said. Rachel looked up from her computer, expecting Mr. White to fire her for failing as a team leader. “I heard you’ve had problems with your team.”

“The three of them are just so different,” Rachel said. “They clash in every way.”

“Coffee,” Mr. White said.

“Coffee?” Rachel asked, genuinely confused.

“Coffee,” Mr. White repeated. “You’ve kept them cooped up in this compound since you became their leader. Take them out and treat them to some coffee. They’ll respond.”

“You think so?” Rachel asked.

“Helped with Octomom and Ray Rice,” Mr. White said. “Until her uterus exploded and he quit to train because he though the Dallas Cowboys were going to sign him.”

“Coffee,” Rachel said, thinking.

***

“I don’t want to go to Starbucks if a gay works behind the counter,” Kim said.

“How am I supposed to know that?” Rachel asked with a sigh, driving the truck around a corner.

“You should have called ahead and asked,” Kim said, disgusted. “Those places are crawling with them.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Rachel said, pulling into the Starbucks parking lot with the League’s van. She got out of the car and walked into Starbucks, followed by the others. 

“What does everyone want?” Rachel asked. “It’s on me.”

“Nothing for me,” Walter said. “Everything here is terrible for your teeth.”

“I’ll take an Italian BMT from the Subway across the street,” Jared said.

“That guy making the coffee has a rainbow pin,” Kim said, giving a long-distance stink eye to the barrister (who wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to her).

“Four coffees it is,” Rachel said, putting her laptop on a clear table and turning towards the counter.

“I’ll be by the van,” Kim said with a grunt. “I’m not staying in this gay-mongering gay hole. Don’t bother bringing me anything. That gay boy probably had his gay hands all over everything.”

“I’m leaving too,” Walter said. “I saw a sporting goods store in the plaza next door. Pick me up there when you’re done here.”

Kim and Walter both left, leaving a bewildered Rachel to watch them. “You going to head over to Subway?” she asked Jared.

“Nope,” he said, sitting down. “Not allowed inside. Remember?”

“Oh yeah,” Rachel said. “Wait here. I’ll get us some coffees.”

“Thank you,” Jared said with smile.

“Hello, sweetheart,” a tall, black man said as he fumbled passed Rachel.

“Hello yourself,” Rachel said with a wide smile.

“Oh, sorry,” the man said. “I was lookin’ at’cho home-girl.” Rachel turned to see Kim in his line of sight, standing just outside the window. “She ’bout my size, if you know what I mean.”

“Coffee,” Kim mumbled as she left to go put in her order. “I’m going to strangle Mr. White.”

Jared looked at Rachel’s laptop on the table. She must have brought it in case any work emails came through. He then noticed a sign in the window for free wifi. “What the heck,” Jared said with a shrug. “It’s been forever since I’ve seen any cat vids on the YouTube.”

****

Chapter 4: Cat Vids

“You still hanging around?” Kim asked Walter as he walked by in front of Starbucks.

“The sporting goods store didn’t sell any crossbow accessories,” Walter said. “So I’m back. They about done in there?”

“No idea,” Kim said with a nasty look. “I won’t even look through the window into that zest pool.”

“What’s your problem with gay people anyway?” Walter asked.

“What’s your problem with lions?” Kim retorted.

“They aren’t bothering you,” Walter said.

“Neither are lions,” Kim retorted.

Walter sighed. “This whole thing again,” he said. “I don’t know why I bother trying to figure you out.”

“I’m a married woman,” Kim said. “At least I think I am. Not sure if the last one was completely legal.”

Walter had a comment about the irony of her statements regarding marriage, but he bit his tongue. The last thing he needed to hear was about how Kim’s bible said multiple marriages and random pregnancies were OK in her bible, but two men she didn’t know getting married wasn’t.

Four black sedans with tinted windows raced into the parking lot, screeched their tires, and stopped. Two men came out of each one, carrying a rifle and wearing dark blue windbreakers with FBI on the back in big, yellow letters.

“What’s going on?” Kim asked. “Are they here to arrest that gay for touching straight people’s coffee?”

“Oh shit,” Walter said, looking through the window. “Jared got onto the internet again.”

***

Rachel turned from the Starbucks counter holding two coffees after thanking the very nice barista that Kim wanted nothing to do with (she even dropped a ten in his tip jar out of guilt, even though he never heard any of Kim’s homophobic comments). She dropped the coffees out of shock when the FBI agents charged in, guns aimed at Jared as he put his hands on his head.

“Jared!” Rachel snapped, walking through her puddle of coffee and back to the table. “What the hell are you doing on my laptop?!”

“I just signed into the YouTube to see cat vids,” Jared said in tears. “That’s all, I swear!”

Rachel stood with her mouth agape. “Jared, you mother…”

“Step away, ma’am,” an FBI agent said, ushering Rachel backwards. “We have to take him in.”

“I just wanted to see cat vids!” Jared pleaded as his face was pressed against the table and the barrel of a rifle was pressed against the back of his skull. Another agent cuffed him.

“Is this really necessary?!” Rachel shouted as the other customers of Starbucks hid under tables or behind counters.

“He was looking at a video called ‘playing with my little kitty’,” the FBI agent cuffing him said.

“It’s a cat vid!” Jared shouted as the agents picked up him to lead him to a cruiser outside.

“It’s literally a video of a kitten,” Rachel said. “I can see the screen from here!”

An agent closed the computer and put it in a black bag. “Hey,” Rachel said, walking towards them. “That’s my…”

A rifle was aimed at Rachel’s head. “One more step or word and you’ll be taken in as an accomplice,” the agent holding the rifle said. Rachel stopped moving and closed her mouth.

“Good idea,” the agent said. “Move it out, people!” The FBI agents left with haste as they nearly dragged Jared outside, roughly putting him in the back of a cruiser as he sobbed about how he was too soft to go back to prison.

Rachel’s cellphone rang, and she answered immediately when she saw Mr. White’s name. She thought he had already heard about Jared’s arrest. “You got Dolezal,” she said.

“Get your team to the Sycamore Pines Mall ASAP,” Mr. White said. “There’s been a bomb threat, and your team is the closest.”

“But…”

“No buts,” Mr. White said. “Just go. Find the bomb, disarm it, and get back here for debriefing.” He hung up.

“Well shit,” Rachel said, putting her phone into her pocket. “This day just keeps getting better.” She turned towards the barista as he stood back up from his hiding place behind the counter. “I’m going to need my coffee to go.”

The barista stared at her. “You’re going to need to get the fuck out.”

****

Chapter 4: The Sycamore Pines Mall

Rachel raced in her van towards the Sycamore Pines Mall. “Are we going without Jared?” Kim asked from the back seat.

“We’re going to have to,” Rachel said. “Let’s just pray that we don’t need our tech expert on our very first mission.”

“I’m ready,” Walter said, pulling back the string of his crossbow and inserting a bolt as he sat in the passenger seat.

“Jesus!” Rachel said. “Don’t load that thing in the van. Why’d you bring that to Starbucks anyway?”

“I never leave it behind,” Walter said, lovingly looking at his crossbow.

“I don’t know if you’re going to need it,” Rachel said. “I want to do this as cleanly as possible. Kim, you’ll be going into the mall to find the bomb and disarm it. Walter, you go with her and back her up in case any bad guys are lurking about. I’m going to make sure the mall gets evacuated.”

“Roger,” Walter said, looking out the window as Rachel sped into the mall parking lot towards the police barricade.

“Will disarming the bomb save any homosexuals?” Kim asked.

“For fuck’s sake, Kim!” Rachel snapped. “I have no fucking idea!”

***

Rachel left her car and showed her badge to the officer in charge of the scene. “Rachel Dolezal,” she said. “League of Unimpressive People.”

“Knew you were coming,” the police lieutenant with the name “Masters” on his tag said. “You going to tell me what a bomb is doing in this mall?”

“I’m hoping to get everyone out and the bomb disarmed first,” Rachel replied. “Kim. Walter. Get in there.”

“Roger,” Walter said, jogging behind Kim with the tip of his crossbow pointing skyward.

“Is that a crossbow?!” Lieutenant Masters asked, watching the two enter the mall flanked by police.

“Yeah,” Rachel said with a sigh. “He’s worried the bad guys will send lions after us.”

***

“Where’s this bomb of yours,” Kim said with a sneer as they were led through the mall. He head of security had joined their small escort.

“We found it while you guys were en route,” the head of security said. His tag said his name was Collier. “Looks like a time bomb to us.”

“How can you be sure?” Walter asked, looking at the tiers above him through the sight on his crossbow.

“Because of the clock on it,” Collier replied.

Kim and Walter were led into a watch shop. The door to the back room was open, and they were led inside. Kim slowly approached the large bomb that sat on the floor. It had a large digital display, and it showed the correct time.

“This is definitely Crimson Syndicate,” Kim said, putting on white gloves. She pulled a kit with little tools our of her pocket. “Except for the clock. That’s new.”

“They don’t put those on time bombs?” Walter asked.

“No,” Kim replied. “The countdowns are done with digital timers. Clocks are only put on bombs in movies.”

“Can you disarm it?” Collier asked.

“Depends,” Kim asked. “Are there any homosexuals in the mall?”

“What?” Collier asked. “Why does it matter?”

“Will disarming this bomb save any homosexuals?” Kim asked.

“I guess,” Collier said. “There has to be at least a few in here after all.”

“Shit,” Walter said under his breath, looking downwards and shaking his head.

Kim sighed, zipping her tool pouch back up.

***

“Can they disarm the bomb?” Lieutenant Masters asked.

“I don’t know,” Rachel said, starting at the mall and waiting for it to explode. She knew she should sound more confident in her team, but she didn’t feel it. She could betray Kim and and Walter, but she couldn’t betray herself. “Has it been evacuated?”

“It has,” Lieutenant Masters replied.

“Good,” Rachel said.

After a few silent moments passed, Kim and Walter walked towards her from the mall. Rachel couldn’t believe her eyes. They did it. The defused…

An explosion rocked the air, sending waves of heat at everyone still in the mall parking lot. Kim and Walter were thrown forward, and a plume of smoke and fire filled the sky. Walter and Kim got themselves up and walked towards Rachel as the police scrambled the fire department to get in and put out the flames.

“What the fuck happened?!” Rachel exclaimed as cut up and dirty Kim and Walter finally got to her.

“Next time,” Walter said, staring daggers into Rachel’s eyes. “Just fucking tell Kim that there’s no gays within in the fucking blast radius for Christ’s sake!”

****

Chapter 5: The Aftermath

“WHAT THE HOLY FUCK HAPPENED?!” Mr. White shouted into Rachel’s face as she sat in his office.

“It’s this team…”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT THE TEAM!” Mr. White exclaimed.

“What do you want from me?!” Rachel shouted in return. “Jared got arrested for logging onto YouTube to download cat vids, Walter was running around with that fucking crossbow, and Kim refused to even try to defuse a bomb because mall security told her they might be a homosexual in the building. This is what you gave me to work with!”

“Look,” Mr. White said, calming down. He pulled a bottle of scotch from the his desk drawer along with a glass. He poured himself a small amount and poured it down his throat. “You have to take responsibility for your team. You left your computer in front of Jared in an establishment with free wifi. You didn’t tell Walter not to bring the crossbow, and he accidentally shot a mall security guard in the leg. You couldn’t lie to Kim about whether or not her actions would save any homosexuals, and she refused to do her job. This was all on you.”

“When did Walter shoot a mall security guard?” Rachel asked.

“Do you know why we chose you to lead?” Mr. White asked. “You’re one of them, Rachel. I know you don’t see it, but you are. You all had your moment of being vilified by both social media and real media. They’ll look to you to lead them. They’ll look for you to mold them into what they need to be.”

“And what do they need to be?” Rachel asked.

“They need to be heroes,” Mr. White replied.

“You want to make a lion killer, a pedophile, and a hardcore homophobic self-martyr into heroes?” Rachel said.

“No,” Mr. White replied. “We want you to do it.”

***

“I bet they fire her,” Kim said, cutting her baloney sandwich in two. “I wouldn’t blame them.”

“It was your fault,” Walter said, cutting his apple with a pocket knife like he was some kind of bad ass. “I’ve seen you and Jared defuse bombs twice that size in training.”

“What kind of bomb?” Jared asked. He was recently brought back by the FBI after Mr. White made a few very heated phone calls.

“Crimson Syndicate special,” Kim said. “Except that damn clock on the top.”

“Like a countdown clock?” Jared asked.

“No,” Kim replied. “Just displayed the time. Wasn’t even wired into the bomb.”

“What’s it mean?” Jared asked.

“I don’t know,” Kim replied.

“You could have found out if you disarmed it and had it analyzed,” Walter said.

“Hey,” Kim said. “I don’t tell you how to shoot lions, so don’t tell me how to do my job.”

Rachel walked in and took a seat at the break room table. “Hi guys,” she said, looking frazzled. Even her fake afro seemed to be drooping. “I’m sorry I dropped the ball today. I let you guys down.”

“Apology accepted,” Kim said, taking a bite from her sandwich.

“No,” Walter said. “Rachel, don’t apologize for their screw-ups. Jared knows he’s banned from the internet, and Kim had one job to do. Hell, even the Pope is gay now!”

“He’s not my pope,” Kim mumbled.

“Speaking of screw-ups,” Rachel said. “When were you going to tell me that you shot a mall security guard in the leg with your crossbow?”

Walter coughed and turned away.

“Did you come here to chastise us?” Kim asked. “Because I could get that exercising my right to not let gays marry at my old job.”

“I came here to do my job,” Rachel said. “I’m lucky they didn’t fire me for what happened at the Sycamore Pines Mall, and I’m not going to let you three put my career in jeopardy again. From now on, you three will work as a well-oiled machine, or I’ll throw you back to the social media wolves myself.”

Walter rolled his eyes.

“Is that right, hashtag: Cecil the lion?” Rachel asked.

Walter glared. “You dirty b…”

“Say that last word and I’ll have suspended without pay,” Rachel said. “The fuck-ups end here. Go home. Tomorrow we work on being the team they hired us to be. Dolezal out.”

Rachel left, letting her chair fall to the floor. The others watched in shock as she left.

“You think she’s mad?” Walter asked.

“Sure is,” Jared said.

“Shit,” Kim said. “Once again; I’m being persecuted for my religious beliefs.”

****

Chapter 6: A Well-Oiled Machine

The League of Unimpressive people held their annual Christmas party on December twenty-third, but it wasn’t a happy night. The League and its employees had a lot to be nervous about. Ever since the Crimson Syndicate had succeeded in blowing up the Sycamore Pines Mall, the bigger agencies had started looking into them (even though nobody was killed). This meant that The League was becoming a joke on the lips of the high-ups in Washington DC. The rumor was that there could be a shut down and layoffs coming any day now.

“Merry Christmas,” Jared said to a sour-faced Rachel. She had been harsh with them ever since the Sycamore Pines incident. She had driven them to the Christmas party, but she hadn’t made much conversation. Most of what the others got from her were now orders.

“Look,” Jared said. “Nobody blames…”

“Everyone blames me!” Rachel snapped. “This place is going under, and they all think it’s my fault.”

“Can I speak with you?” Mr. White said, coming up behind Rachel. She turned around and looked into his face. “Chances are we’re going to be absorbed by Homeland Security, Rachel.”

“What does that mean?” Rachel asked. “Absorbed?”

“It means they’ll take our assets and as many people they see as valuble,” Mr. White replied.

“What about my team?” Rachel asked.

“They don’t find your team valuable,” Mr. White said.

“Merry fuckin’ Christmas,” Rachel said, holding up her rum and coke and taking a sip.

“Do you know why President Clinton started the League?” Mr. White asked.

“I think I could guess,” Rachel replied. “Seeing as the first person who ever held my job was Monica Lewinsky.”

“You’d be only half right,” Mr. White said. “Clinton had a dream. This dream included those who had been ostracized by the media. Yes, Monica Lewinsky was a team leader, and OJ Simpson worked for us until he went crazy tried to get his memorabilia back with force. John Bobbit, The Menendez Brothers, Tonya Harding…. The list goes on and on. They all played their parts in our missions against the Crimson Syndicate.”

“You’re not telling me a reason why he started the League,” Rachel said.

“Because he believed that these people were the ones meant to save us!” Mr. White said. “Can’t you see that? He thought people were at their best when they were coming up from their lowest. Hell, we almost got Tom Brady on your team until the NFL lifted his suspension.”

“I think those days are over,” Rachel said, looking at her team of three.

“Maybe,” Mr. White said with a shrug. “Everything ends I guess. It was a good run while it lasted. I’m heading back to the compound. This party is a bust. Also, don’t let me find out that Walter had something to do with the lion that went missing from the Bronx Zoo.” He chuckled to himself as he left.

Rachel spent more time at the party, mingling with people who saw her as the enemy. Finally, it was time to leave, and she drove her team back to the compound in the League’s van. Most of the drive was awkwardly silent until Kim broke it.

“I’m leaving the team,” Kim blurted. “I’m going to have my brother-in-law’s baby.”

“You’re pregnant?!” Rachel exclaimed.

“I didn’t say I was pregnant!” Kim snapped. “I just said I was going to have my brother-in-law’s baby. I haven’t even started making it yet. Geez you’re uptight.”

“I’m leaving too,” Walter added. “This wasn’t what I signed on for, and I’m going to reopen my dental practice. Enough people have forgotten about that whole Cecil the Lion business. It’s time for me to move on as well.”

“What about you, Jared?” Rachel asked. “You going back to Subway?”

“I can’t,” Jared said. “They banned me. Can’t even get a tuna sub on wheat with american cheese, lettuce, and tomato any more.”

“You just said eating all that Subway is what made you into a child molester,” Walter said. “Why would you still eat it?”

“That was my lawyer’s idea,” Jared said. “Something about getting a measure of revenge against for the way they dropped me. I just went with it.”

Rachel sighed as she pulled down the long driveway that led to the compound of the League of Unimpressive people. That was it for her. The League was going to be dismantled, and her team was leaving her before it even happened. It was a cluster-fuck of epic proportions. She figured she could spend the rest of her holiday time updating her resume so she could have a new career in 2016.

Rachel stepped out of the van when the compound exploded, sending her backwards with a blast of hot hair. Shrapnel fell around her and her team as the League’s headquarters was engulfed in flames. She looked, and saw a figure in black walking towards them. The only thing she could see through her squinted eyes was the red display of the clock on his chest.

“Good evening,” the figure said.

“Who the fuck is that?” Walter asked, fumbling with his crossbow.

“I know him,” Rachel said, recognizing Ahmed Mohammed from when she met him while he was interning with Mr. White. She could clearly see the wires that came in and out of his costume, and his black cape nearly touched the ground. “That’s Ahmed.”

“I am Ahmed no longer,” Ahmed said. “You can call me…”

****

Chapter 8: Clockboy

“…Clockboy.”

“Clockboy?” Kim asked. “You’re the one the bombed the Sycamore Pines Mall! That’s why the clock was on the bomb.”

“Correct!” Clockboy said. “You may have also guessed that I have joined the Crimson Syndicate, finally giving them the recognition they deserve.”

“Didn’t you move to Qatar?” Jared asked.

“That’s just what I wanted you fools to think!” Clockboy replied.

“But you’re not one of the bad guys,” Rachel said. “I read your story. It wasn’t fair what happened to you, but you’re no terrorist!”

“I wasn’t,” Clockboy said. “But they did this to me. I became what society wanted, didn’t I? I’m good with electronics and have dark skin, so I must be a terrorist, right? Why should I hide what the people want me to be? This is who I am now. I am terror. I am Clockboy.

“They arrested and humiliated me for nothing more than making a clock. Who is the real villain here? I didn’t make Clockboy. They did! I saw it was on the news for a day or two when it happened, but they have no idea the amount of pain I went through over that stupid viral campaign. I saw the arguing back and forth about my predicament. Was it racial? Did the school act appropriately? Is he a home-grown terrorist?”

“Your clock looked like a bomb,” Walter said. “They would have tackled a white kid.”

“Would they have?!” Clockboy exclaimed.

“Probably,” Walter said with a shrug. “We’re not living in Sweden. We’re in constant danger from stuff like this.”

“I may just feed you to a lion some day,” Clockboy said. “Anyone else have any commentary for me?”

“Do you have any sisters?” Jared asked.

“Enough!” Clockboy shouted. “I have destroyed your League of Unimpressive people. I built a clock bomb right under the noses while posing as an intern. Your building is gone, your bosses are dead, and you have nowhere to go. What will you do now?”

“We’ll endure!” Kim shouted, walking forward. “I did six days in prison for my beliefs, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and let you get away with blowing up a building.”

“Didn’t you just let one blow up?” Rachel asked.

“Let her go,” Jared whispered. “She’s on a roll.”

“Fuck this kid,” Walter said. “Not literally, Jared.” He fired a bolt from his crossbow at Clockboy. It hit the digital clock in the upper right corner and sparks shot out.

“You bastard!” Clockboy shouted. “You know how long it took to make that clock?!”

“The next one’s going through your brain,” Walter said, reloading his crossbow.

“I think not,” Clockboy said, tossing an alarm clock under the van.

“DUCK!” Jared shouted, hiding behind a car. The others did the same. They heard laughter as Clockboy made his escape. There was no explosion.

After a minute or two, the team got up and looked around. What was left of the building was crumbling to bits. “They’re going to blame us,” Rachel said. “Just like Sycamore Pines.”

“What do we do?” Jared asked.

“Go underground,” Walter replied. “I’m taking this Clockboy fuck down, but I can’t do it with social media putting me through hell again.”

“We’re done anyway,” Kim added. “Let’s take this kid out and get knocked up by my brother in law.”

“Rachel?” Jared asked.

“Fuck it,” Rachel said. “You’re right. Get back in the van. We’ll find a place to hide while we figure this one out.”

****

Chapter 9: Safehouse

Rachel took the back entrance into the basement apartment she had rented with cash. It wasn’t much, but they’d have to keep in hiding while they tried to track Clockboy. They were right about the media as well. They were being blamed for the bombing of their own compound along with the mall.

Rachel put the bag with their fast food dinner on the table. “No Subway?” Jared asked.

“Can it,” Rachel said. “How much closer are we to finding Clockboy?”

“Not by much,” Jared replied. “I’ve been telling Walter and Kim how to search for him on the web, but it’s tough without being able to do it myself.”

“Can’t you go on without signing in as Jared Fogle?” Rachel asked.

Jared just looked at Rachel.

“I guess that’s why you got caught,” Rachel said.

“I can do this better without the attitude,” Jared said.

“Uh-oh,” Walter said, looking up from his laptop. “Look who just grew a pair.”


“He’s right,” Kim said. “Even after we took this to the underground, she’s been demeaning and insulting us. You’ve said it too when she’s not here.”

“Stop it!” Rachel shouted. “All of you! Look at you three. You’re all completely flawed. A lion killer, a homophobe, and a child molester. Why did I even bother taking you under my wing?”

“You’re us,” Walter said, standing up in anger. “Call us what you want, but you’re just a white bimbo, posing as black to work in the upper echelon of the NAACP. You used the guise of being transracial to make your nut. You got a tan, dyed your blonde hair black, and made it into an afro. You might be the worst of the four of us except for Jared.”

“Hey!” Jared said.

“I am not transracial,” Rachel said through gritted teeth. “Not once have I used that term to describe myself. I am a black woman that happened to be born from two of the whitest, cracker-ass people on earth. I’m a proud black woman trapped in a white woman’s body.”

“Then what are we, Rachel?” Walter asked.

“Oh my God,” Rachel said, moving her hand to her mouth. “I can’t believe what I’ve been doing. I’ve been talking down to you for who you are like I have been since I was outed for being born white.

“Walter, you’re a big game hunter trapped in the body of a skinny jewish dentist.”

“You’re Jewish?” Kim asked.

“And Kim,” Rachel continued. “You’re a gay basher trapped in the body of a…”

“What?” Kim asked.

“Never mind,” Rachel said. “This analogy doesn’t work for everyone.”

“Wait,” Jared said. “You didn’t even try to do me.”

“I got this one,” Walter said. “You’re a pedophile trapped in the body of a sandwich mascot. Either that, or a sandwich mascot trapped in the body of a pedophile.”

“Neither one of those are good,” Rachel added. “That’s why I didn’t say it.”

Jared looked down. “I’ll never live that down,” he said.

“We will take down Clockboy,” Rachel said. “We just have to find him.”

“I got something!” Kim exclaimed. “Come here, Jared.”

Jared rushed over to Kim and looked over her shoulder. “What’s that?” he asked. “Is that a Facebook invite?”

“Yeah,” Kim said. “He posted it a week ago.”

“You’ve been down here this whole time looking for Clockboy, and you didn’t start with his Facebook page?” Rachel asked.

“We figured it’d be the last place he’d post something,” Jared said.

Rachel sighed. “What’s the invite say?” she asked.

“He said there’s going to be a blast of a bash on New Year’s Eve,” Jared said, continuing to read over Kim’s shoulder. “Right after the clock counts down to the new year.”

“He needs a new pun,” Walter muttered.

“Where?” Rachel asked. “Can you triangulate the address from the IP address he used to make this posting?”

Kim scrolled down while Jared read from the screen. “Just off Times Square by a few blocks,” he said. “Address is right under the header.”

“Shit,” Rachel said. “Finding him is still going to be like finding a fucked up needle in a haystack. I’m sure we’ll find the bomb at that address, but not Clockboy.”

“I’ll bring my crossbow,” Walter said, smirking.

****

Chapter 10: New Year’s Eve (again)

“Watch it, nigga!” some large, white guy in a hoodie said, bumping into Rachel with his shoulder as he passed her on the cold New York City street.

“Thank you!” Rachel said, smiling and blushing at the sentiment. It was just after eight PM on New Year’s Eve. She went back into the lobby of the over-crowded hotel. Jared had someone talk the manager into letting them set up in the basement. Some words were exchanged about him using it in the past, but she didn’t even want to know what Jared was doing in a New York hotel’s basement. She was met outside by her team.

“What are you doing out here?!” Rachel exclaimed. “If the Crimson Syndicate sees you…”

“They already have,” Walter said. “This place is crawling with them. They aren’t exactly hiding either. Look around for the black hoodies with the red falcon logos.”

Rachel looked around, and noticed that Walter was right. They were all branded as if they didn’t care.

“They’re hiding in plain sight,” Walter said. “Steven Seagal always preached about that before he died. It’s genius.”

“There’s too many of them,” Rachel said, looking around. “And we have nobody to call for back up.”

“Leave that to me,” Jared said, walking across the street. Rachel followed his trajectory with her eyes, spotting his destination.

“An Internet cafe?” Rachel asked rhetorically. “Oh, Jared.”

“There he goes,” Kim said. “Sacrificing himself for the greater good like me and Jesus Christ.”

“We could’ve tried calling 911,” Walter said, rolling his eyes.

***

Jared knelt in the ground with his hands behind his head as an FBI agent held the barrel of a rifle inches from his face. “Give me an excuse to pull this trigger, child toucher,” Agent Stern said.

“Stop it,” Rachel said, stepping behind Jared. “We needed you here, and this was the quickest way. You’d respond quicker to stop Jared from looking at cat vids than answering a terrorist threat on New Year’s Eve.”

“Make more sense, or I’m dragging your ass in too,” Agent Stern said.

“The Crimson Syndicate!” Rachel snapped. “They’re everywhere. Black hoodies with red logos on the chests. Clockboy, the bomber of the Sycamore Pines Mall, has a bomb in the area. We need to find it, but I need you to let Jared go and round these fuckers up.”

“And who are you?” Agent Stern asked.

Kim and Walter stood behind Rachel. “We’re the League of Unimpressive People,” Rachel said. “Bitch.”

“Let me call my supervisor,” Agent Stern said, lowering his rifle and walking towards his black cruiser.

“Be quick about it,” Rachel said. “You’re wasting precious time, and Clockboy is as unhinged as they come.”

“Holy shit,” Kim said.

“That’s how you fuckin do it,” Walter added.

***

“You win,” Agent Stern said, cutting the zip ties around Jared’s wrist. “Your Clockboy threat is credible, and I’ve been instructed to act on your tips.”

“Ain’t that a bitch,” Rachel said. “Proud white FBI agent taking orders from a black chick.”

“Don’t push your luck,” Agent Stern said. “You said black hoodies with red logos?”

“I did,” Rachel said. “Crimson Syndicate. Round them up and take them In. Feel free to use excessive force.”

“And Clockboy and his bomb?” Agent Stern asked.

Walter, Kim, and Jared stood behind Rachel. “You leave Clockboy to us,” she said. “Bitch.”

****

Chapter 11: Rachel’s Play

Rachel ran across the road as people kept pouring towards Times Square. Her team was blocks away, but they had found Clockboy by accident (she heard pieces of their conversation on the walkie-talkie). He hadn’t led them to the bomb like they thought. He had led them straight to him. He wanted to see their reaction when the bomb went off. She understood where the bomb was and hoped she could catch up with Clockboy and ask him to disarm it before everyone in Times Square was killed.

***

“I’m going to put a bolt in this prick’s head,” Walter said, taking aim at the smiling Clockboy. 

“Don’t!” Jared snapped. “We don’t know where the bomb is yet!”

“You haven’t figured it out?” Clockboy asked. “I put it in the biggest clock in New York City.”

“Big Ben?” Kim asked.

“No, you moron!” Clockboy exclaimed. “The clock that counts down to the new year. It’s set to go off one second into the new year.”

“That’s not a clock,” Jared said. “It’s a timer at best. All it does is show numbers counting down from twenty.”

“Yeah,” Walter said. “It pains me to agree with Jared about anything, but it’s just display of numbers any four-year-old knows and a glowing ball. It doesn’t even display the time.”

“There’s a clock in the mechanism!” Clockboy shouted.

“Probably not,” Walter said. “I’m betting there’s a fat teamster that hits a button when his supervisor tells him it’s time to drop the ball.”

“I’ve had enough of your wit!” Clockboy said, pressing a button near his hand. The red and black display on his chest changed from the current time to a countdown until the new year began.

“Your fancy electronics are the devil’s work!” Kim exclaimed.

“What’s your status?” Rachel huffed through the walkie-talkie.

“We’re stalling Clockboy,” Jared replied.

“You fuckin idiot,” Walter sighed.

“Stalling me?!” Clockboy said, laughing. “It’s a countdown! How are you going to stall a countdown?”

“Like this,” Walter said, firing his bolt. It hit Clockboy’s display, causing it to turn completely black.

“Do you really think that’s going to stop the new year and my bomb from exploding?” Clockboy asked.

“You’ll stop your bomb,” Rachel said, entering the scene and aiming her gun at Clockboy’s head. “No more of this nonsense. You’re not a criminal, and you know it, Ahmed.”

“DO NOT CALL ME AHMED!” Clockboy shouted.

“We didn’t make you like this,” Rachel said. “I understand more now than when we first met. You’re a super villain trapped in the body of a skinny Muslim nerd.”

“What are you talking about?” Clockboy asked.

“Disarm your bomb,” Rachel said, approaching Clockboy. “I know it’s too late to evacuate Times Square, but I don’t think you want this. I can help. We can help.”

“You don’t know me,” Clockboy said, taking a step back from Rachel.

“I know you, Ahmed,” Rachel said. “You’re so much like us. We are all just trying to find ourselves in this fucked up world after our dirty laundry was aired out on social media. My blackness, Walter’s lion-killing, Kim’s gay-bashing, and Jared’s love of having sex with little girls and eating subs.”

“Hey!” Jared exclaimed.

“I am not like you!” Clockboy said, tears now streaming down his cheeks. “I am not!”

“You are!” Rachel said, not lowering her gun. “If you plan on killing all of those people in Times Square, I am going to pull this trigger. You’ll die with them. You invited us here for a reason, Ahmed. You wanted us to talk you into stopping this. Deactivate your bomb and come with us. Otherwise, I’m blowing your brains out and giving your corpse a wedgie.”

Clockboy looked into the furious eyes of Rachel, and he knew that she wasn’t joking. “OK,” he said. “I’ll do it.”

“Thank you,” Rachel said, putting her gun down.

Clockboy pressed a code into a keypad on his left wrist and a voice spoke from a speaker near his shoulder. “No coverage available,” the voice said. “Have a great day, Clockboy.”

“There’s too many people on their cellphones,” Jared said. “The wireless networks are too congested.”

“There’s another way,” Clockboy said. “There’s still time to…”

A lion with a bolt jutting from its neck came out of nowhere, pouncing on Clockboy. It pinned him to the ground, tearing his jugular with its huge teeth. Walter fired his bolt into the lion’s left ear. The tip came out of its right eye.

“I was wondering where that fucker ran off to,” Walter said as the team looked at Clockboy’s corpse with the dead lion on top of it. “I bet I come out looking like the asshole on this one.”

“I thought you killed that thing!” Kim said, turning on Walter.

“Fuck no,” Walter said. “I can’t run after a lion on foot. Do you have any idea how fast they are?!”

Clockboy’s clock-bomb exploded on his chest, sending pieces of the lion everywhere. The entire team was covered in red.

“Shit,” Walter said. “I forgot he said he’d explode if he died.”

****

Chapter 12: The Dropping Ball

“What the holy hell happened here?!” Agent Stern asked, looking at the team covered in lion guts. “Was this you, Palmer?!”

“I’m here for a reason,” Walter said, resting his crossbow on his shoulder. “Blame the nut who set a lion loose on us. Oh wait. You can’t. He’s dead!”

“Is that Clockboy?” Agent Stern asked. “You got the bastard.”

“But we’re not done yet,” Rachel said. “There’s still a matter of the bomb. All we got out of him was the location before his own lion killed him.”

“Where is it?” Agent Stern asked.

“It’s under the ball,” Rachel said, looking towards Times Square. “It’ll go off when the countdown reaches the new year.”

“There’s too many people around and not much time,” Agent Stern said. “Which one of you is the bomb disarmer?”

“That’ll be me,” Kim said, stepping forward. “Get me up there, and I’ll disarm that bomb. I can’t let all of these heterosexual people die.”

“I’ll make some calls,” Agent Stern said, taking his phone from his pocket.

***

“Chopper is en route,” Agent Stern said, putting his phone back into his pocket. “There’s only one snag.”

“What is it?” Rachel asked.

“All that was available on this short of notice is a Coast Guard rescue chopper,” Agent Stern said. “We’ll basically have to carry Miss Davis over Times Square with a rope.”

“Do it,” Walter said, smiling.

“Don’t!” Jared said. “It’s dangerous!”

“There’s no time to argue!” Rachel interjected.

“This is the only way,” Kim said. “Hoist me up like the Lord above.”

***

Kim dangled from the rope of the helicopter as she was hoisted over Times Square and towards the ball (which was set to drop in mere minutes). “There sure are a lot of people down there,” Kim said as they screamed and cheered, thinking she was part of some show or another. “Are you absolutely sure that none of them are homosexuals?”

“What the fuck did she just say?” the agent sitting next to Rachel asked. They were still near the business park where the FBI were cordoning off Clockboy and the lion’s corpses. Rachel was set up in an FBI van, so she could communicate with Kim. Walter was busy asking if he could keep the lion’s head and skin, and Jared was cuffed after he got caught trying to buy a meatball sub from a nearby Subway.

“We’re sure,” Rachel said into her own headset. “We used the FBI’s database and scanners to confirm just now. You are clear to disarm the bomb.”

“You guys are fucked up,” the agent said. “You know that right?”

“I’m approaching the bomb,” Kim said as she was lowered to the side of the large display atop the roof. She unhooked the rope from her safety harness as the helicopter flew off. “I see it. He put that damn clock on top of this one too. Holy shit. Is it really eleven fifty-three?!”

“It is,” Rachel replied into Kim’s headset. “The quicker you get this thing disarmed the better.”

“I’m going to work,” Kim said, taking her tools from her fanny pack and laying them out on top of the bomb’s casing. “May God guide my hand and let them cut the right wires.”

Kim unscrewed the top portion of the bomb, revealing the menagerie of wires beneath. “Typical Syndicate bomb,” she said. “Wait… Only it’s not. Clockboy changed up the circuits. He knew what I’d be looking for!”

“You have to try,” Rachel said. “That bomb is going to rain fire and debris onto the crowd in four minutes!”

“Shit,” Kim muttered as she started tracing wires with her fingers. “There’s clock parts all over this damn thing. This kid was twisted. I don’t know what any of these damn clocks are for.”

“Three minutes,” Rachel said.

Kim took her pliers, and forced the face off a digital alarm clock. She looked inside with her mini-flashlight to see what was inside. “Nothing,” she said to herself, letting it drop back into place. She pulled an alarm clock up, finding that the the wires went to the side and into the bomb. “What is all this mess?!”

“Two minutes,” Rachel said.

Kim saw something near a heat sink. The wires were soldered sloppily, and the insulation was bare on a few of them. There was no clock wired to this part. She knew from her theory lessons what components they were attached to. “I’m going to shock the system,” she said, taking a screwdriver out of her kit. “It will short out the bomb’s mechanisms and only cause damage up here.”

“One minute,” Rachel said. “Don’t! You’ll die!”

Kim breathed in and closed her eyes. “I’ll sacrifice myself for the greater good,” she said. “There’s no time to try and disarm this thing the right way.”

“Kim!” Rachel snapped.

“I know what I am now, and you were wrong before,” Kim said. “I’m a martyr trapped in the body of a municipal employee. It’s time I broke free from my chrysalis and do what God put me on the planet to do.”

The crowd below started shouting their countdown from the number twenty, and Kim knew it was time. She put her hand deeper into the bomb’s mechanics, closing in on the heat sink and wires.

“FIFTEEN!”

“Don’t cry for me,” Kim said. “I’ll be dining in the halls of our Lord tomorrow evening.”

“TEN!”

Kim moved her screwdriver closer to the bare wires, slowly. “Please tell my brother in law…”

“Just short it out already!” Rachel exclaimed.

“FIVE!”

Kim braced herself and pushed the screwdriver against the bare conductors.

“ONE!”

A small puff a smoke came up from the heat sink along with the acrid smell of burning plastic. The bomb was shut down, and the crowd roared as the new year began.

“Looks like I didn’t die after all,” Kim said. “Can someone get me down from here?”

****

Epilogue: Valentines Day

Rachel walked past her coworkers of the newly reformed League of Unimpressive People at their Valentines Day party, carrying her rum and coke. The government shut them down despite their disarming of Clockboy’s bomb on New Year’s Eve, but a private funder stepped in and brought them back from the ashes.

“I’m glad to see things are moving along,” Walter said to Rachel as she stopped near him and Jared. “I’m almost sorry I won’t be around to see how the new team does.”

“You have your dental practice now,” Rachel said. “Besides, there’s going to be an entire new team coming up this year. That lady who sued her twelve year old nephew and the deputy that dragged the black girl out of her desk both start on Monday.”

“I’ll be around to help with the transition,” Jared said. “I have nowhere else to go.”

“Hi, Jared,” Kim said, approaching the others. “I got you a little something for Valentines Day.”

Jared took the box from Kim and opened it. He looked inside. “Is that what I think it is?” he asked.

“It is,” Kim said, smiling.

“A foot-long cold cut combo from Subway!” Jared said, close to tears. “With lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, and mayonnaise! You nearly sacrificed yourself to save all those people, and you still brought me a sub.”

“It’s amazing that you’re still with us at all, Kim,” Walter added.

“What can I say?” Rachel asked, rhetorically. “God loves me.”

“And how goes your quest to have your brother in law’s baby?” Rachel asked. “Will you be having a little martyr soon?”

“Turns out my insides rotted,” Kim said. “So…”

“Oh,” Rachel said. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Kim said. “Probably would have been a homosexual. That’s why God took away my uterus and ovaries, and I’m grateful.”

“For God’s sake!” Walter exclaimed. “Thanks for reminding me how much I’ll miss you.”

“Thanks for killing our Lord!” Kim retorted before walking away in anger.

“How long do you think she’s been sitting on that gem?” Walter asked, rolling his eyes and walking away.

Rachel laughed. 

“What’s funny?” Jared asked.

“We’ll probably actually all miss each other,” Rachel said. “Even Kim and Walter will wonder what each other are up to from time to time. We did an amazing thing on New Year’s Eve, Jared. We couldn’t have done it without each other.”

“We did,” Jared said smiling.

“Look,” Rachel said. “Our new boss is here. I better introduce myself since I’m the only one who took a permanent job.” She walked towards the front door, through the security detail to meet her new boss.

“Mr. Trump,” Rachel said, extending her hand. “I’m Rachel Dolezal. I’m your head recruiter slash trainer.”

“Make no mistake, sweetheart,” Donald Trump said without shaking Rachel’s extended hand. He had on an expensive suit and his best hairpiece. “There’s going to be some major changes around here now that I’m in charge. You did well on New Years, but I want you to start doing better. Now be a dear and get me a dirty martini.”

Trump walked away, continuing to rudely greet part guests.

“Get your own damn martini,” Rachel muttered under her breath to Trump’s back. “You honky-ass mutha fucker. Dolezal out.”

 

THE END

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Vs. The KKK

This is the unaired episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air titled “The Fresh Prince Vs. The KKK”. NBC refused to air this episode due to its controversal content, but BudgieBigelow.com has obtained the original transcript and put it in short story form for your enjoyment.

Without further ado; The Fresh Prince Vs. The KKK

***

Carlton Banks brought his father’s car to the car wash on a sunny Friday afternoon. Class was out, and his cousin Will was hanging out with Jazz, beat boxing in front of some cardboard boxes while other kids spun on their heads or whatever black teens did in the nineties. He had some free time, and decided to spend it getting the family car washed.

“What do you think you’re doing here, boy?” a fat man in a blue trucker hat said. He had messy hair and looked like he hadn’t shaved in weeks.


“I’m just getting my father’s car washed,” Carlton replied with a smile. “I would like the interior detailed as well.”


“I don’t work here, you damn moon cricket!” the man exclaimed.


“Come on, Earl,” another man said, pulling his friend back. He wore a similar hat and wore a black vest jacket. “He ain’t worth it.”


“I guess I’m not getting that detailing done after all,” Carlton remarked to himself as the two left. He looked down at the floor at the pamphlet one of them had dropped. Some pages had been ripped out, but the title on the front was still there. He picked it up. 


“Are you worried about your neighborhood being taken over?” he read aloud. “Well I am now that I read that!” He read the back of the pamphlet and saw an address for some kind of a rally. “I better go to this. I want to make sure our neighborhood stays safe.”


***


♪ Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air ♪


♪ In west Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground was where I spent most of my days
Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool
And all shootin some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys who were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
She said ‘You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air’ ♪


♪ I whistled for a cab and when it came near
The license plate said fresh and it had dice in the mirror
If anything I could say that this cab was rare
But I thought ‘Nah, forget it’ – ‘Yo homes, to Bel Air’ ♪


♪ I pulled up to the house about seven or eight
And I yelled to the cabbie: ‘Yo homes, smell ya later’
I looked at my kingdom
I was finally there
To sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air ♪


***


“Come on, Will!” Carlton said, following his more street-wise cousin out of the kitchen of the family’s  Bel Air mansion. “This thing is at night, and I don’t really want to go alone. The safety of our neighborhood is at stake here!”


“I have plans,” Will said, trying his best to get away from his over zealous cousin. “I have a date tonight.”


“Come on,” Carlton replied. “You haven’t had a date in ages, and you know it!”


“That’s not true!” Will said, stopping and turning around. “Just last Sunday I had a hot one.”


“You spent all day watching tapes of old 76ers games and eating meatball grinders,” Carlton said.


“And they were hot,” Will replied. “I’m still not going, and nothing can make me.”


“Take your cousin to whatever the damn thing is he wants to go to,” Carlton’s father and Will’s Uncle Phil said from behind his newspaper. “It won’t kill you two to spend some time together.”


“It might,” Will said defiantly. “You don’t know that.”


“You’re going to go with Carlton to his thing,” Phil said. “That’s final.”


“I’m a grown man, and you know it,” Will said, puffing his chest out. “I go where I want; when I want!”


Phil put his paper down and gave his nephew an angry glare.


“What time we leavin’?” Will said, turning to Carlton. “We gotta keep our neighborhood safe after all.”


***


“I hope we’re not too late!” Carlton said, entering the Elks’ hall with a notebook and pencil. Will followed with a bored swagger.


“I don’t get what you’re so worried about,” Will said. “This neighborhood is a lot safer than the one I grew up in. I used to have to fight gangs to buy my moms a loaf of bread.”


“Is that true?” Carlton asked.


“I had to wrestle it from an old lady once,” Will said with a shrug. “But she was tough. I think she was a blood.”


“What are you doing here?” a man in a button down shirt asked the two as they walked down the hall towards the hall where the rally had already begun.


“Sorry we’re late,” Carlton said. “My cousin needed to stop for some dinner before we came. We’ll sit in the back if you let us sneak in. I promise nobody will notice.”


“Oh, I think they’ll notice,” the man said with a menacing look in his eyes.


“We can just go,” Will said, putting his hand on Carlton’s shoulder. “Come on, C.”


“Nonsense!” Carlton said. “I’m just as worried about my neighborhood as the next guy. Please just let us in.”


“Fine,” the man said, pushing the door open after a shrug. “Have it your way.”


The door opened to the hall, and the man at the podium stopped speaking. Everyone turned to look at Carlton and Will. They were all wearing white cloaks with pointed hats.


“I think we should leave now,” Will said.


“You’re telling me,” Carlton said. “We’re the only two that didn’t know this was a ghost party!”


***


Phil sipped his tea across from from his wife, Vivian. “Would you like some more?” their butler, Geoffrey said, carrying the teapot to the table.


“Just a bit,” Phil said smiling. “Thank you, Geoffrey.”


“What has you in such a good mood tonight?” Vivian asked.


“Can you hear that?” Phil said. “Nothing. Ashley is doing her homework upstairs, Heather is out, and Will and Carlton aren’t bickering all day and night. It’s peaceful.”


“Don’t jinx it, sir,” Geoffrey said, putting a tray of small sandwiches on the table between Phil and Vivian.


“Come on, Geoffrey,” Phil said. “How can you possibly think that my quiet night of rest and relaxation will be ruined by my commenting on how much I’m enjoying it? How, I ask you, Geoffrey. How?!”


Geoffrey and Vivian looked at each other and then towards Phil, waiting for something to happen. Moments passed in silence. 


“See,” Phil said. “Now clean the dishes before I make you put the dress on again.”


“Yes, sir,” Geoffrey said.


Phil sipped his tea and ate one of Geoffrey’s tiny sandwiches. Vivian looked at him (it was the newer, hotter Vivian, not that ‘other’ one… I don’t care which one would have actually been on the show at this point. Fuck canon!). She sighed. 


“What is it?” Phil asked.


“It’s a shame to waste this quiet night sipping tea and watching Geoffrey clean the dishes,” Vivian said. “Why don’t we head to bed.”


“But I’m not tired,” Phil said. 


“Don’t be silly,” Vivian said. “How about I get the leathers on, and you can take me while Geoffrey  watches.”


“Dear me, no,” Geoffrey said. “Don’t make me watch again! It’s horrid!”


“You’ll do as your told and like it,” Phil said, getting up. “Lay out my leathers, Geoffrey. Vivian and I will be up soon.”


“Yes….”


“LOCK THE DOOR!” Carlton shouted as he and will rushed inside.


“Oh thank God,” Geoffrey breathed.


“I put on the deadbolt!” Will said. 


“What in the hell is going on?!” Phil exclaimed, stepping into his living room. “Why the hell are you two screaming up a storm?!”


“What’s going on?” Ashley said, coming down the stairs in her sweatshirt and pajama pants.


Hilary came in next, wearing her designer clothes and heels. “Who are all those people driving up to the house?” she asked. “They almost ruined my date.”


“I told you the followed us!” Carlton snapped.


“You’re the one that dragged me to that damn rally!” Will said. “Don’t blame me!”


“SOMEONE BETTER TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON RIGHT NOW!” Phil shouted.


“So I found this pamphlet at the car wash,” Carlton said quickly. “These two guys were giving me problems, but I thought they were just disgruntled car wash employs. Anyway, Will and I went to the rally and the guy there didn’t want to let us in…”


“WILL YOU GET TO THE DAMN POINT?!” Phil roared.


Will stepped between his cousin and uncle. “Carlton took me to a damn KKK rally,” he said. “They got pissed off and followed us home.”


“What?!” Vivian said, rushing to the window. “Oh my God. They’re all over our front lawn.”


“I want to see,” Ashley said, rushing to the window next. 


“Get away from that window,” Phil said, moving towards his wife and daughter and nearly falling over. He was beginning to sweat. “I don’t want them to see you.”


“What do they want?” Hilary asked, making a face.


“What do they ever?” Geoffrey said. “To get ‘them’ out of their neighborhoods.”


“Who’s ‘them’? Ashley asked.


“Them is us,” Phil said. “They want us out.”


The Banks family (and Will) all looked at each other. The klansmen outside began to shout and chant.


***


“I can’t believe it,” Geoffrey said after the commercial break. “All this time I’ve spent in America, and this is the first time I’ve seen the KKK in person. My cousin Cecil isn’t going to believe this.”


“Get me a glass of water,” Phil said, sitting down. “Please Geoffrey.”


“What’s wrong?” Vivian said, sitting down next to Phil and putting a hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright.”


“I don’t know,” Phil said, grasping his chest. “I saw those men outside, and I got so mad that something must have broken inside.”


“Call 911!” Ashely said. “Dad is having a heart attack again!”


“It’s not a heart attack!” Phil said. “It’s stress related chest pain.”


“That’s a heart attack,” Will said.


“The phone’s dead!” Hilary said, putting the phone down. “Those men outside must have disabled it so we couldn’t call the police.”


“Are cellphones invented yet?” Will asked.


“What’s a cell phone?” Ashley asked.


“Don’t be silly,” Hilary said. “Of course they’re invented, Will. We’re just not important enough to have one.”


“I guess that’s not an option then,” Will said.


“They’re surrounding the house too,” Carlton said. “What’s that their putting up?”


A yellow-orange glow filled the den as the klansmen outside lit the giant cross ablaze and renewed chanting. Will and Carlton looked out the window while Vivian, Ashley, and Hilary tended to Phil. “We need to get Uncle Phil outta here,” Will said quietly to Carlton.


“But how?” Carlton asked. “They aren’t going to let us out of the house.”


Phil grimaced and held his chest again. “Phil!” Vivian shouted. “You’ll be OK. One of the neighbors will see what’s going on outside and call the police.”


“I don’t know,” Hilary said, looking out of the window. “I’m pretty sure that’s them standing on their lawns and watching. The Reagans just put some marshmallows on sticks. Maybe we’re really not welcome here after all.”


“Don’t talk like that!” Phil said through the pain. “We have just as much right to be here as anyone else. I worked hard to get where I am for he sake of my family, and I’ll be damned if I let those white cloak wearing nut jobs tell me where I can and can’t live!”


“Calm down, Phil,” Vivian said. “It’s not worth your life.”


“The hell it isn’t!” Phil shouted. “Those bastards will know that a black man lived and died in a white neighborhood. They can’t take that away from me!”


“I have an idea,” Will said, turning from the window. “Get Uncle Phil in the car. Carlton and I are going to distract them and you’re going to get him to the hospital.”


“Why me?!” Carlton said.


“This is your fault!” Will said. “You dragged me to that messed up rally and pissed them off!”


“Stop fighting!” Phil said. “Just do it, Carlton. You pansy-ass bitch.”


“OK,” Carlton said. “What do I do?”


“G,” Will said, turning to Geoffrey. “Get me all of the white sheets from the linen closet.”


“Surely not the good ones,” Geoffrey said.


“ALL OF THEM!” Will shouted.


***


The KKK stood outside of the Banks’ residence, chanting as the cross burned. “Do you think they get the point yet?” Earl asked his brother, smiling behind his white-hooded mask.


“I think so,” Earl’s brother Tom said. “Ready to douse the lawn in gas and surround them in fire?”


“I thought you’d never ask,” Earl said, picking up a canister of gasoline from behind him. He got ready to start pouring the gas over the grass when someone shouted from the other side of the lawn.


“Hey!” Will shouted, dressed in the Banks’ white sheets with a hastily made white hood and pointed hat. “I’m here for the ghost party!”


“Ghost party?” Earl asked. “What the hell are you talking about.”


“The ghost party y’all are having on the lawn here,” Will said. “Shows ’em how you do it at a Bel Air ghost party, C.”


Carlton (dressed in an even sloppier made hood and cloak out of the Banks’ bedsheets) started waving his arms to and fro as he did the same with his hips. “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone,” he sang. “It’s not unusual to have fun with anyone. It’s not unusual. It happens all the time.”


“What the hell is going on?!” the Grand Wizard shouted, walking passed the burning cross. “Why aren’t you two over here with the rest of us?”


“Oh snap!” Will said, yanking off Carlton’s hood. “This guy’s black!”


“Will!” Carlton snapped, pulling off Will’s hood.


“What’s wrong with you?!” Will asked.


“You did mine first!” Carlton said.


“Get them darkies!” the Grand Wizard shouted. As they started to charge Will and Carlton, a car came down the driveway, speeding off down the street once the KKK’s attention were on Will and Carlton.


“Uncle Phil and the others are out,” Will said.


“But what about us?” Carlton asked. “We’re still here!”


“What?!” Will shouted. He had already started running the opposite way.


“Dammit, Will,” Carlton said, running from the coming hoard of klansmen.


The klansmen ran, passing a large and wide bush as they trampled after Will and Carlton. They were an entire house away when Will’s head popped out of the bush. “I think they’re gone,” he said.


Carlton’s head came out of the bush a few feet next to Will. “I hope so,” Carlton said.


“Yo,” Will said. “I know you’re scared, but stop rubbin’ on my leg.”


“That’s not me,” Carlton said.


Will looked town into the bushes. “SKUNKS!” he shouted, running out of the bushes.


“Wait for me!” Carlton exclaimed in return, following Will.


“There’s them coons now!” one of the klansmen shouted, giving chase once more.


“It wasn’t raccoons!” Carlton shouted over his shoulder as he ran. “They were skunks!”


“Shut up and run!” Will exclaimed.


The klansmen nearly trampled over the family of skunks that came out of the bushes, getting sprayed by the frightened animals. “Aw dammit!” one klansman said, throwing his hood off to the side. “These were my good robes!”


***


“It’s good to be home,” Phil said, walking into the den and plopping down in his favorite chair. “I’m glad that’s all over.”


“I’m just glad you just gas and not a heart attack,” Vivian said, sitting down across from Phil.


“It’s those little sandwiches of Geoffrey’s,” Phil said. “I swear he’s trying to kill me.”


“You rang,” Geoffrey said, coming in with a tray of little sandwiches. “You’re probably famished from your trip to the hospital, so I took the liberty of making you a snack.”


“Thank you, Geoffrey,” Phil said, picking up seven mini sandwiches. He began popping them in his mouth as he rested the others on his protruding belly.


“Phil,” Vivian said. “You’re going to get gassy again.”


“I’ll be fine,” Phil said. “As long as that damn KKK doesn’t show up again.”


“Don’t be so sure we’re gone for good!” Will said, coming in the room in his makeshift KKK cloak and hood. “I’m going to burn a cross on your lawn. Don’t fart near it, or you’ll blow up your house.”


“That’s it!” Phil said, getting up. “I’m going to teach you a lesson.” He jumped after will and farted loudly before falling over on the floor.


“Oh dear, Phil,” Vivian said. “I told you not to eat too many of those sandwiches.”


Carlton walked in the room. “I knew he wouldn’t find it funny, Will,” he said. “I told him, dad. Dad?”


“Get up, Uncle Phil,” Will said. “This isn’t funny anymore.”


“Phil?” Vivian asked, kneeling down.


Geoffrey came running in, dropping the tray of tea and sugar cubes. He took off his glove and put it against Phil’s throat. “Oh my,” he said, looking up at the others.


“Phil?” Vivian asked in a trembling voice. “Is he…”


“Vivian,” Phil said, looking up at his wife. “Get the plastic pool and the hose. I had an accident.”


“That’s my Uncle Phil,” Will said. “Always fillin’ up dem drawers.”

THE END


***
Next time on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air:
Will gets shot in the back by a white cop for jaywalking.

Where Are They Now: Saved By The Bell

Do you remember spending Saturday mornings with Zack, Kelly, AC, Screech, Jessie, and Lisa on Saved By The Bell? Does it make you feel old to know that the characters would be entering their forties this year?! This begs the question: Where would these six best friends be twenty-two years after graduating from Bayside High?


Screech

Samuel “Screech” Powers worked for Bayside High for a few years after college, helping Mr. Belding usher in a new class of students. As a side project, he began to develop his own computer operating system originally designed to help his robot companion, Kevin, learn new chess moves. After Bayside was decimated by the fire, Screech went public with his project, Screech.0. A bidding war between Apple and Microsoft ensued, and Screech.0 sold for seventy-five million dollars.

Screech’s only regret in life is that he is no longer in contact with his friends from Bayside. He even sold his Kevin to NASA to run digging equipment on Mars. He lost touch when everyone went their separate ways, only catching up every now and then at random times in their lives. The only time he heard from his former best friend, Zack, was when he got the phone call for the two to catch up, but it turned out that Zack needed a large loan to get him and Kelly back on their feet. The two have only spoken a few times since Screech cut him a check for sixty thousand dollars, and he doesn’t expect to ever get the money back. He just hoped it helped.

Where is Screech today? Screech is sitting in the study of his New Mexico mansion while his wife, Dominique, is lounging poolside. He looks at the picture from high-school he keeps framed on his desk. His eye lingers on Lisa for a moment. He watches her TV show as a guilty pleasure when his wife isn’t around. The photo is of the six of them in the band they all took part in, Zack Attack, and they had just wrote and performed the song Friends Forever. Screech laughs at the irony before getting to work on a group of apps that will be sure revolutionize tablet programing.


Lisa

LIsta Tuttle didn’t stay still after school ended. After dropping out of college in her third year, she entered into the world of acting. There weren’t many roles that she fit, and she lived off of her father’s money for as long as he allowed it. Once he began threatening to cut her off if she didn’t start making a living for herself, she latched onto a pro football player named Rossi LaCosta. The two were together for eight months before they were married. 

Lisa’s marriage to LaCosta resulted in her appearance in the reality series “California Football Wives“, where she was teamed up with four other wives of NFL players living in California. Lisa became the star of the show after telling off one of the other wives and dumping a pot of goulash into the sunroof of her car. She was able to turn this into personal appearances and a book deal as well. Zack had called her numerous times over the seven seasons the show ran, and each idea to promote his ventures through her seemed more far fetched than the last. Inevitably, it all came crashing down around her.

Rossi LaCosta was caught cheating on Lisa and was arrested for his involvement in a canary fighting ring. The show was cancelled, and Lisa divorced LaCosta. She started her own reality show called “Lisa Out Loud” on a lesser network. She even had AC Slater on an episode when she visited a wrestling show where he was performing. 

Today, Lisa is clinging to what little celebrity she has left. She has gotten very used to signing on the dotted line, and has a contract in front of her to release a sex tape she made when she was thirty-four with rapper Lil’ Queef that was leaked to TMZ. She bites on her pen, deciding whether or not to sign. She thinks back on her days at Bayside High and wonders what her friends would tell her to do. Ignoring the argument they were making in her head to not do the tape, Lisa signs the paper in front of her.


Slater

AC Slater tried out to wrestle in the olympics some years after High School. He did well, but he was told he was out of his prime, and he should concentrate on something else. He started professionally wrestling for a friend’s budding league out of San Diego, and he was quickly noticed by a WWE (WWF at the time) scout. Vince MacMahon was looking for Californian character, and signed AC on the spot. He started wrestling for the WWF as Awesome AC.

Awesome AC was Slater’s version of what he thought Zack Morris sounded like. He’d flex his muscles and give all the women wrestlers a “cool dude” line as he pranced around in bright neon swim trunks. He knew his character was a joke, but the fans loved him, and he was making more money than he ever would have wrestling in the olympics. He even held the Intercontinental Championship for five and a half months. Zack had even called, wanting AC to join him in some business venture or another, but his WWF contract luckily prevented him from doing it.

Awesome AC’s wrestling career took a huge hit when a german suplex damaged his spine. The surgery to correct the injury took him out of action for over eight months. When he returned during theRoyal Rumble, the fans were excited, but they never really got back into his character.

Due to poor crowd reaction, AC was forced to wrestle in non-televised events. When his contract was up for renewal, the WWF turned it down. AC kept his head up, though. He began wrestling for small, independent wrestling federations across America. He never stayed in one place for too long, so he only rented. He was happy to see Lisa Tuttle at one of his events, but his happiness turned sour when he found out that it was only a stunt for one of her reality shows. He didn’t realize until later that she was trying to help him breath life into his career, and he felt awful for the way he had snapped at her.

Awesome AC is still wrestling. He has settled in New Jersey and travels up and down the east coast for his matches. He misses California, but there is no place for him there now. He was shocked when he heard the news about Jessie, and he was even more shocked when he started calling the others to find out that they hadn’t heard (the few that he still had numbers for anyway). If you’re in a crowded school gym on a Friday night, watching a wrestling show, you might just get to see Awesome AC in action.


Kelly

Kelly Kapowski was married to Zack Morris while the two were still in college. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the mistake of not waiting until they were older became clearer and clearer as the years dragged on. Zack was never a nine to five kind of guy, and Kelly never thought he’d end up tied down to a corporate gig. He was smart, but he just had no ambition to sit at a desk all day. She had faith that he’d make it on his own, and Zack was determined enough.

Kelly was pregnant with their fourth child when Zack finally had his break down. He was involved with several get-rich-quick schemes or business ventures. His surfboard radio company went belly-up, and Zack’s mental state deteriorated for years to come.

Kelly worked while Zack stayed home with the kids. Their credit card debt finally caught up with them, and Kelly begged Zack to ask Screech for a small loan. She would have gone herself; but Zack and Screech had been best friends, and Zack needed a friend in his life. He was supposed to ask for twenty thousand to pay off their debt, but Zack asked for sixty instead. She had every intention on paying Screech back every dime, but Zack spent all of it on another scheme that failed as soon as it took off, leaving them completely broke with no way to pull themselves out of debt.

Kelly now lives on her own with her six children in a cramped apartment, living off the state of California and any money she could make under the table. She curses the day she met Zack Morris and wishes she chose Slater.


Jessie

Jessie Spano had to get her life back on track after college. She spent way too much time experimenting with pot and lesbianism to concentrate on making the world a better place. She said goodbye to her girlfriend, Sandra, and joined a commune in the midst of a forest with no electricity, phone, or outside government. There she stayed for the bulk of her life, living off the land and praising mother Gaia.

When she finally returned to society, she was shocked to see what had happened. The world had given into digital slavery. Nobody could walk ten feet without some electronic device in their hand and against their heads. Threats were everywhere, and nobody seemed to have their heads out of the sand. She decided it was time to take up her old causes once again.

After a failed attempt to promote the Yes All Women movement, Jessie sunk into a deep depression. She had given into the cellular demons to promote her causes, and she had nothing to show for it. She was able to land a job at non-profit company in San Francisco, but it paid just enough to pay rent on a one-bedroom apartment. She knew a life of changing people’s mind would be difficult, but she didn’t seem to be changing everyone’s mind.

Then her boss had an idea that could change everything.

Jessie’s task would be simple. She would go to the Middle East with a small group of people, spreading the word of peace and love throughout. The world would see what they were doing, and they would start to change minds from the heart of all the hatred. She was in Saudi Arabia for three days before her group was captured by Isis. She was beheaded in a video that was released to all media outlets. Barely anyone say it, because Kim Kardashian had changed her hair color that same week.


Zack

Zack Morris had a rough life once he was out of college. He and Kelly started their lives together with a baby six months after graduation. Zack celebrated by starting his first business venture: Buddy Bands 2. The company he started in his garage failed immediately, and he moved on to the next one.

Zack’s father floated him along for a while, and Zack hit up all of his friends for loans or partnerships (except for Jessie since she seemed to fall off the face of the earth). Nothing panned out as Kelly kept pumping out baby after baby. It was finally too much and Zack threw a television through a store window before running from the cops and hiding in a dumpster for six hours.

Boyish looks and a charming smile was only able to land Zack a waiter job (which he had to work at night since Kelly now had a day job at a supermarket), but he got fired for deciding it was the right decision to pull a prank on his mean boss. He thought he would get a slap on the wrist from the management and the praise of his coworkers, but he was fired on the spot and found it hard to find another job doing even the most menial of tasks.

Kelly had talked him into seeing Screech for the first time in years and asking for a loan to help pay off a chunk of their debt (since he had made such a huge sum of money in computer programming). Zack asked for three times what Kelly said they needed to get out of the hole they dug themselves into. He figured he could pay off the debt and have enough left over to open his own food delivery business that catered only to the beach. The people he went into business with took the entire sixty grand Screech had lent him and disappeared.

The news of all of the money being squandered in another scheme was the last straw for Kelly. She took all of their children and left, moving into a small apartment. Today, Zack lives alone in the basement of a church. He has to leave before anyone comes in the morning to find him squatting. He can still be found near the beach, trying to pull a scam or a get-rich-quick scheme to get back on his feet. He hopes that he could win Kelly back if one if successful.

Jazz and Legaes: Hard as Fuck Vendetta

Prologue: The Amazing Survivalist, Celebrity Edition 

Former Utah Jazz basketball player Karl Malone sat in his beach chair along side his young wife, Nina. She had light brown skin and short, shoulder-length black hair. The two had recently married after a brief courtship. There was a lot of flack about a man in his fifties marrying someone so young. It didn’t help that she was from a rich family, and they saw Karl’s involvement with Nina as a washed up basketball player’s stab at making a mint. Despite the odds stacked against them, the two fell in love almost instantly, and Karl knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with this woman. So the two were married, and they began their life together.

Then Karl received the offer to be in the reality TV show, The Amazing Survivalist, Celebrity Edition. His first inclination was to say no and ignore the offer, but Nina insisted. The show was filmed on a remote tropical island in the pacific, and the celebrities were allowed to bring guests for a small vacation before the show began taping. Karl found it dreadfully hard to say no when Nina asked with those big brown eyes. So Karl accepted, and was flown by private jet to the small island alongside other celebrities who had also accepted.

Karl felt Nina’s hand land on top of his own, and he turned to see her moonlit face. He had been continually harassed by action film star Steven Seagal (who had also accepted the invitation). It turned out that he was a huge fan, and took every opportunity to spend time with Karl. Luckily, it seemed like Steven had better things to do tonight.

“I have something to tell you,” Nina said, breaking Karl from his thoughts of Steven Seagal and his tenacity. “Now seems like a good time.”

“What is it, babe?” Karl asked.

“I’m pregnant,” Nina said.

“I love you so much,” Karl said with a tear rolling down his cheek and past his well-groomed mustache. Suddenly, a thought came into his mind. “I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?” Nina asked.

Karl smiled and ran back into the small shop and bar area that was just off the beach. Anything he wanted was paid for by the network, and Karl knew just what to get. He grabbed a bottle of champaign from behind the the bar along with two glasses. He gave the bartender a thumbs up, letting him know that the network would pay. He left the small shop and began walking back towards the water and his waiting wife.

Nina turned to look at him coming back onto the beach. She smiled at the sight of him wearing only his blue and black swim trunks and carrying the champaign and glasses across the sand. Karl was thinking about how much that smile lit up her face when fire began to rain down from the sky.

There was a thunderous commotion all about the island. The palm trees bent towards the ocean as the blast behind Karl sent him flying into the sand. He crawled despite the fire toward Nina. The left half of her body had been taken by some shrapnel, and Karl was able to get a good look at her right eye as a piece of tile flew from the shop and hit him in the back of the head, knocking him out.

He dreamt.

Karl was playing for the Utah Jazz once again, wearing his trusty number thirty-two. He dribbled the ball form half court, uncaring that the arena was burning and those watching him play were the crisped remains of those who had died in the fire. He dribbled to the free throw line and took to the air. He twisted his arm in an arc, aiming for the the center of the rim. The ball was about go through with a satisfying swish when the scene disappeared.

“Shit,” a voice said in the blackness. “Can we take a rest?”

“There is no rest when you are in war,” a deeper voice said.

“Fuck you, Seagal!” the first voice said. “Jim and I are lugging this guy around. I agree we couldn’t have left him on the beach, but we need to rest.”

“I once body-slammed King Kong Bundy,” a slurred voice said. “I can carry Karl on my shoulders if you need me to, boss.”

“Not necessary,” Karl said, easing himself up. He opened his eyes to see that former wrestler, Hillbilly Jim and former NFL and college football player, Brian Bosworth were dragging in him a makeshift stretcher made from sticks and debris. Hillbilly Jim was wearing his overalls with no shirt underneath. He had considerably less hair than he did in his glory days, but what he has was untidy on the sides of his head, matching his beard. Brian Bosworth was wearing his white and blue Seattle Seahawks jersey, which he had cut a shape of a V under his neck. His graying blonde hair was shaved on the sides. Karl guessed that he had done it for the show.

“What the hell is going on?” Karl asked.

“I’m glad you’re awake,” Steven Seagal said, stepping in between Hillbilly Jim and The Boz. Steven had on a black kimono with red trim. He was doughier than he had been in most of his action movies, but his stare said that he would still fight. “We were under attack. Some people died. As far as I can tell, we are the only four that have survived.”

“They’re dead!” Hillbilly Jim wailed. “All of them! Rosie! Gilbert Gottfried! Paulie Shore. That Baldwin Brother. Sarah Palin. Even Robert Griffin!”

“They got RGIII?!” Karl spat. “Who the fuck bombs a reality show anyway?”

“It was ISIS,” Steven said. “We’re going after them. We’ll cover more ground now that you’re awake.”

“What the fuck makes you think we can take on ISIS?” Karl asked.

“Nothing makes me think anything,” Steven said, stepping up to Karl and looking him in the eyes. “But they killed friends and family. Did you not lose someone too.”

“Nina,” Karl said, looking downwards. “Those mother fuckers killed my Nina.”

“Do you hunt?” Steven asked.

“Mother fucker, you know that I do,” Karl replied, looking into Steven’s eyes with fire in his own.

“Then we’re going hunting,” Steven said. “For ISIS scum.”

“Woo-HEE!” Hillbilly Jim shouted. “I like the sound of that!”

“I think Jim got hit in the head a little too hard during the blast,” Brian whispered to Karl. “He thinks he’s his wrestling character from the eighties.”

“Show him the guns, Boz,” Steven said.

“With pleasure,” Brian replied. There was a damaged and scorched cooler attached to the back of the stretcher. Brian opened it, revealing a cache of handguns and a couple of semi-automatic weapons.

“Holy shit,” Karl said, picking up a .44 magnum and checking the chamber. “Where did you get all of this?”

“We’ve been busy while you were napping,” Steven said. “Sorry Karl, but we started hunting without you.”

“Shit,” Karl said, inserting the chamber back into the side of magnum. “Then it looks like I have some catching up to do.”

The four of them snuck around the back of the island, armed with whatever they could carry (except for Hillbilly Jim, who preferred to fight without a gun). They found the ISIS base easily, and silently snuck inside.

“What’s this?” Hillbilly Jim said, picking up something from the ground that he nearly tripped over. In the dark, Karl thought it looked like a rounded pineapple.

“Jim, that’s a head!” Karl said, realizing what it was.

“It’s Adam Sandler!” Hillbilly Jim exclaimed, tossing the head aside.

“What was Adam Sandler doing here?” Karl asked. “He’s too big to do a reality show like this.”

“They were filming his next movie on the other side of the island,” Steven said, not breaking his normal tone of his voice. “I was going to swing over to make a cameo, and now he’s dead.”

“I was in The Whole Nine Yards with him,” Brian said. “I was a prison guard.”

“You mean the Longest Yard,” Hillbilly Jim corrected.

“Oh shit,” Brian said. “That’s what I meant.”

“I liked that movie until Stone Cold called that rapper guy the N-word,” Hillbilly Jim added. “That wasn’t cool.”

“Quiet,” Steven whispered. “They’ll hear us.”

The quartet followed the path that Steven had set them on until they came across an opening. “Holy shit-balls,” Brian whispered as they entered the cave that ISIS had turned into a base for their operations on this island. “I forgot that Leno was the host of this show.”

The others looked in horror as Jay Leno stood, tied to a log that was protruding from the ground. “This extermination of American celebrities is just the beginning!” the man in the black turban and matching face-shroud said. “We have already destroyed the infidel reality show and the movie set! Soon, we will set our sights on Hollywood, eradicating all the filth that you have poured into the world!”

“You’ll never get away with this!” Jay Leno said.

“You are in no position to stop us,” the man in the black turban and mask said. He nodded to one of the guards on Leno’s side, and his head was removed with the swift motion of a sword.

“They killed Leno too!” Brian said. “I’ve had enough. I say we strike.”

Summoned by Brian’s voice, two guards came down the cave’s path. The others were too stunned to move, but Steven moved like lightning. He chopped one ISIS guard in the throat, took him to the ground in a quick motion, and swept the legs of the other. He then climbed on top of the second downed guard and snapped his neck with his hands.

“I told you to be quiet!” Seagal said.

“Fuck it,” Karl said, holding two .44 mags. “They know we’re here. It’s time we take care of the rest of them.”

“Agreed,” Steven said. He pulled one of the uzis from his kimono. He stepped into the open side by side with Karl. “Fire at will.”

Karl obliged, barking fire with the guns in both of his hands. The ISIS guards scrambled to find their own weapons, but it was too late for them. Karl’s aim was true, and each of the bullets he fired found its marked in the flesh under their burkas and turbans. Steven sprayed in a wide berth, cutting down the charging soldiers. 

Two more soldiers came from behind, and Brian sprung into action. He charged the pair, clotheslining them both to the ground. One tried to get up, and The Boz dropped his knee into his throat. He grabbed the other one by the neck and strangled him until he gurgled his last breath, trying to claw at Brian’s big arms to get free.

Hillbilly Jim shrieked as he ran past Karl and Steven. “Hold your fire!” Karl said to Steven. “You’ll hit that crazy mother fucker!”

Hillbilly Jim charged the soldiers, body slamming or suplexing all that were unlucky enough to get in his way. He came across a guard trying to unjam a gun. Jim put his head between his legs, fell backwards, and pile-drove the soldier’s head into the hard cavern ground, breaking his neck. The gun finally became unjammed, went off, and fired a single bullet.

“AH FUCK!” Brian shouted as the bullet bit into his arm. “I’M HIT!”

“We’re done anyway,” Steven said, looking around. The bodies of the small ISIS cell were strewn about the ground. “I thought they’d put up more of a fight.”

Karl looked about the bodies as well. “I wish I could kill these mother fuckers again,” he said. “Rest in peace, Nina. I’ve avenged your death.”

“We should leave in case there are more coming back,” Steven said. “We fall back and wait in the jungle. If more come, we will do the same. Grab what you can on the way out. See if there’s a first aid kit for Boz’s arm too. I’m going to tie the wound so he doesn’t bleed out. If anyone is still twitching; put a bullet in their head.”

Karl nodded and started looking around for guns, ammo, and a first aid kid. Hillbilly Jim came down with a large bag and started carrying anything that Karl picked up. He didn’t like using guns, but he didn’t seem to mind carrying them.

“Hurry up!” Brian shouted from the mouth of the cave after Steven was done tying a piece of ripped turban around his arm. “My arm is killing me!”

“Don’t stand in the way of a bullet next time,” Karl said, exiting the cave with Hillbilly jim and the bag of guns. The four of them went out of the cave and into the jungle that surrounded. They got far enough away so they could light a campfire and tend to Brian’s wound. Steven extracted the bullet and sewed the wound shut with the first aid kit that Jim had found. Brian was sitting against the tree while Karl cooked up some of the food they took from the ISIS camp.

“That smells like donkey asshole and curry,” Brian said.

“It’s what we got,” Karl said. “Be grateful that Jim found it and thought to grab it.”

“I ain’t never ate donkey before,” Hillbilly Jim said. “I’ve had squirrel, though. Tastes good.”

“Do you think Jim will come out of character if we hit him in the head again?” Brian asked.

“I’m more worried about getting off this island and getting home,” Karl said.

“We did something tonight,” Steven said, staring into the fire. “Do you really want to go back to your old lives after what we’ve done?”

“What are you talking about?” Karl asked, turning toward Steven.

“We avenged the fallen,” Steven said. “We made a difference. We killed bad men. The world is a better place without them.”

“I’m not arguing that,” Karl said. “I’m just trying hard to see your point.”

“How can you ever make that big of a difference again?” Steven asked. “Doing a documentary? Visiting the troops? Funding some politician who’s looking for reelection? I tried to make a difference before when I became a sheriff, but the network’s camera crews turned into one big joke.”

“You signed the contract with the TV people,” Karl said. “Nobody forced you to televise yourself like that.”

“I wanted people to see me make a difference in other’s lives,” Steven continued. “But more people watched clips of me on The Soup and laughed than saw what I really wanted to do. I have the opportunity now. We have that opportunity. What can we do as celebrities? We can’t go around without the cameras in our faces. If we do this, then we do this as vigilantes.”

“Are you out of your damn mind?” Karl asked.

“I’m in,” Hillbilly Jim said.

“What’s left for you, Karl?” Steven asked. “Your wife is dead, and the kids you have are all grown. Mine too. Everyone here has an out to get out of their old lives. We let the media report all of us as dead, go back to America, stay underground, keep moving, and make a difference.”

“I’m in too,” Brian said.

“How?” Karl asked.

“The only way we know how,” Steven said. “By kicking the shit out of the bad guys.”

Karl looked into the hardened face of Steven to gauge whether or not he was serious.

“Here’s how I see your situation,” Steven said. “You can throw free throws to raise money for hungry children through a corporation that will take a large cut of the money you raise, or you can take down a drug ring and use the money to feed those children yourself.”

“You have to think about the bad guys too,” Brian added. “ISIS would know it was us that killed their cell here, and they would seek revenge. We put those we love at risk by resurfacing.”

“I’m in,” Hillbilly Jim said.

“We know,” Brian replied.

“I know you can do this, Karl,” Steven said. “Leave your life here and start a new one. It will be thankless, but we can actually make a difference in people’s lives.”

Karl looked into the flames of their small campfire, deciding on whether or not to join the others as underground vigilantes. Nina and his unborn child were gone, and his other children would thrive with or without him. He raised them to be independent after all.

“Fuck it,” Karl said, looking up from the flames. “I’m in.”

“Excellent,” Steven said, showing the hints of a smile. “Our next step is getting off of this island while keeping up the illusion that our bodies were vaporized by the explosion that killed the others. I have just the plan for that.”

“I’m in,” Hillbilly Jim said.

—-

Chapter 1: Eighteen Months Later


“GET THOSE TWO MOTHER FUCKERS!” Carlos Perez shouted amongst the gunfire. The nude hispanic women all hid under the tables that were covered with tubs of the white powder they were ordered to weigh and bag for distribution. The drug pushing business was good to Carlos up until these two vigilantes decided to pay him a visit.

“We’ve been found out,” Steven said to Karl as he crouched behind a large wooden box, holding his trusty uzi. Splinters of wood flew around him Carlos’ men pumped bullets towards them.

“No shit?!” Karl spat, reloading his twin .44s. “We need to thin the herd. Give them a good spray and I’ll aim for their heads.”

“I have a better idea,” Steven said. He lifted up the large automatic weapon that Brian had modified for them. “I’ll mow them down with this, and you can clean up the scraps.”

“Just use the mother fuckin’ uzi!” Karl said. “We don’t have time to fool around with Brian’s mods!”

Steven ignored Karl, and lifted himself up. He aimed the large barrel of The Boz’s modified weapon towards Carlos’ guards and squeezed the trigger. A fireball shot form the side of the gun, and the ammo spilled onto the floor.

“Fuck,” Steven said, throwing the weapon to the ground as it smoked. “Fuckin’ Boz!”

“I told you,” Karl said. “Now get that uzi and…”

“Spray!” Steven said, finishing Karl’s statement. “This isn’t my first fire fight.” He rose again, this time spraying randomly with his uzi. The guards stopped firing to look for cover. Karl rose next, putting a single bullet in the head of the guards. When he was done, Carlos was the only one left.

“You can’t stop me!” Carlos called, stepping out with his gun to a woman’s head. “You’ll never stop my product from hitting the streets, you fools! I am Carlos Perez! I am invincible!”

There was a tap on Carlos’ shoulder. He turned around slowly to look into the face of Hillbilly Jim. Jim smashed Carlos’ face with his replica WWF Intercontinental Championship belt, knocking him to the floor.

“Woo-WEE!” Hillbilly Jim shouted. “He’s down, guys!”

Karl and Steven came out from their cover and walked over to Carlos. “What do we do now?” Karl asked. “Should we leave this one for the cops?”

“He’d be back on the street in a week, and you know it,” Steven said. “Do what we came here to do.”

“With pleasure,” Karl said, pointing the barrel of his gun towards Carlos’ head.

“Wait,” Carlos said. “Don’t kill me! I can make you rich.”

“I already was,” Karl said, pumping a bullet into Carlos’ skull. “I like this better.”

“I hate that part!” Hillbilly Jim said. “It’s so messy!

“How many women did you count?” Steven asked, hiding his uzi under his kimono.

“Seventeen,” Hillbilly Jim replied. “I had to count on most of my toes, but I counted seventeen.”

“They won’t all fit in the van,” Steven said. “Unless we make two trips.”

“We can’t come back here once we leave,” Karl said. “We’ll have to make an anonymous call after we’re gone.”

“Oh, can I do it?!” Hillbilly Jim asked, shooting his hand in the air. “I can make the call on my way to Springfield.”

“Give us a little bit of time first,” Steven said. “Karl and I have to clean out whatever cash and guns is in this place before we go.”

“Will do, boss,” Hillbilly Jim said with a big smile on his face. “I’ll give you plenty of time.”

“Not too much,” Karl added. “We want the police to come pick up these girls before any of Carlos’ buddies stop by.”

Hillbilly Jim left through a side door and left Steven and Carl to their business. Vigilante work didn’t pay, so they had to clean out any drug dealer, pimp, or criminal they took down or killed. Any money they didn’t spend on their crusade was put back into the community. Karl believed in carrying a zero balance in cash, and Steven agreed.

Once the safe was cleared out and a trash bag full of cash was in Karl’s hand, the pair left, made their way to their van quickly, and drove off. They were blocks away and clear when the police cars started pulling into the old warehouse where Carlos Perez had set up shop and eventually died.

The four men that left the island after taking down ISIS separated soon after making their way back into America. Brian Bosworth was the first to leave the group, opting to stay in the shadows and provide the team with weapons and devices of his own making. He never stayed too far behind Karl and Steven, although he still went in missions if an extra man was needed.

Hillbilly Jim stepped back into the squared circle since the head injury that caused him to revert to his old in-ring character never healed, and he began wrestling as a Hacksaw Jim Dugan imitator when he wasn’t helping with the bad guys. The others never knew when or where he would be going to these shows most times, and they had no idea how he kept finding them afterwards since they never stopped moving. He always seemed to show up to help in a scrape.

Karl and Steven were the only two that stayed together. They drove around in a van dedicated to feeding kids and their families in low income areas. They would lay low, using the money they stole from drug dealers or sex traffickers to buy food or clothing for those in need. They found that the street police tended to look the other way on what they were doing since they were doing so much good for the communities.

Two days after Carlos Perez’s death and the liberation of the women he held captive to cut and measure out his heroine, the van driven by Karl Malone pulled into the Grand Court Projects in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Steven opened the back of the van marked “FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY” on its side. The slogan on the van changed as often as Brian could get it repainted so they could remain under the radar as they traversed around the country. Steven dragged one of their tables out while Karl set up the grill.

“What are you guys doing?” a man from the Tulsa Housing Authority said.

“Look,” Steven said, reading the mans tag. “Tom. We provide a service for the downtrodden. We are going to set up, cook some food, hand out some goods and clothing to anyone who wants it, and we’ll be on our way.”

“Do you have a permit for that?” Tom asked, looking past Steven’s shoulder to Karl.

“Since when does one need a permit to do some good with his life?” Steven asked. “We have been blessed, and we want to share the blessing with the people here.”

Tom looked around at the gathering crowd for a free lunch and some goods to take home. “You two got names at least?” he asked.

“Legaes,” Steven said. He pronounced it ‘Le-Gaise’. “My partner over there is named Jazz.”

“Legaes?” Tom asked. “How do you spell that?”

“It’s spelled like ‘Seagal’, only backwards,” Steven said. Tom began to give Steven a questionable look.

“Why don’t you get the tables set up and I’ll talk to your new friend,” Karl said, hoping to break the moving gears that were going around in Tom’s head. “We aren’t doing any harm. We’ll only be in this space for a couple of hours at most.”

“Well OK,” Tom said. “But I better not hear about any trouble.”

“You won’t,” Karl said, turning back towards Steven who was getting the grill lit. “Why the hell did you do that?”

“Do what?” Steven asked.

“The ‘Seagal’ backwards bullshit,” Karl replied. “You wanna get busted?”

“Steven Seagal has been dead for a year and a half, my friend,” Steven said. “Nobody is going to make the connection.”

“At least wear something other than your damn kimonos all the time,” Karl said. “You’re acting like a walking bullseye. You and Boz with your ‘hiding in plain sight’ shit.”

“Sure thing, ‘Jazz’,” Steven said, opening the container of paper plates. “Let’s do what we came here for.”

Steven started cooking up the burgers and hotdogs and handing them out one after another. Karl handed out the boxes of food and other home goods. After less than three hours, they were just about out of stock.

“Hey,” a teenage boy said, coming up to Steven. “You that guy from those action movies?”

“I get that a lot,” Steven said, cleaning the grill as it cooled down. “You’re thinking of Steven Seagal. He’s dead kid. I just happen to look just like him.”

“You sure do look an awful lot like him, though,” the kid said. “Mind if I take your picture?”

“I’m all over the internet, kid,” Steven said. “People with their ‘Steven Seagal never died’ theories. Get in line.”

Karl ignored the annoying conversation that happened way too often, focusing on a young, black girl who was sitting on the curb and staring at the ground at her feet. Karl stopped what he was doing and walked over to the girl. “Hi,” he said. “Is everything alright?”

“I’m not s’posed to talk to strangers,” the girl said. She couldn’t have been older than eleven or twelve.

“It’s alright,” Karl said, sitting next to her. “My name is Jazz. I like to help people. Are your parents around?”

The girl started crying again. “They’re gone!” she sobbed. “My mom and dad got taken away!”

“Do you have someone to stay with?” Karl asked, making a mental note to look into this girl’s parent’s disappearance. “I can help you find someone.”

“I’m with my auntie,” the little girl said. “Over in building six.”

“Building six,” Karl said, making another mental note.

“Tricia!” an older woman yelled. “Get off of the ground and get home!”

“I gotta go,” Tricia said, running off in the direction of building six.

“I’m sorry that she bothered you,” Tricia’s aunt said, smiling at Karl. “I’m Nancy, by the way.”

“The name’s Jazz,” Karl said, extending his hand and shaking Nancy’s lightly. She was either in her late twenties or early thirties. Something about her face reminded him of Nina. “Tricia said something about her mother and father being taken away. Is everything alright?”

“Not really,” Nancy said, looking away. “But you’ve done enough with your food and clothing drive today. There’s nothing you can really do about her parents.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Karl said. “My friends and I help people in need. Maybe we can lend you a hand.”

“I don’t want to impose,” Nancy said.

“I insist,” Karl replied. “My friend and I will come by later tonight around seven.”

Steven took a bump of cocaine from his false ring. While Karl was busy with Perez’s safe, taking the money and whatever guns he could carry, Steven took a small amount of the cocaine for himself. He usually only took the pills that he pillaged from various criminals, but a bump of coke helped for the longer days.

Karl returned after talking to the little girl and the woman.

“What was that about?” Steven asked as Karl came back to the van. He had everything but the grill packed up.

“A job,” Karl said. “Girl’s parents have been kidnapped. Maybe they’re in bad with drugs or something. Might be a lead to another dealer we can take down and get the kid’s folks back to her.”

“Maybe it’s a lead to another Carlos Perez,” Steven replied. “You want to go get some more info from the lady and the kid?”

“Tonight,” Karl said. “We need to find Boz to see how he’s spending the cash we gave him.”

“Help me get the grill in the van,” Steven said. “Boz is probably back at the hotel.”

—-

Chapter 2: Plain Sight


Karl and Steven entered the old hotel where they knew their friend Brian Bosworth was staying. He had a knack for making connections and getting the materials he needed to keep them all going throughout their arduous task of putting criminals in body bags and keeping the streets safe for people. They couldn’t find Bosworth anywhere in the hotel, so they went outside to leave. That’s when they found him.

The Boz was standing across the street from the old hotel. He was wearing his old Sooners #44 jersey and had shaved the sides of his head again. He was wearing dark aviator sunglasses and was having a blast with the locals who thought he was a nut doing a tribute to deceased Oklahoma native, Brian Bosworth.

“Have you lost your goddamn mind?!” Karl said, approaching Brian. “Aren’t you from Oklahoma? This is just plain stupid, Boz!”

“Hiding in plain sight,” Steven said. “It’s genius.”

“Get the fuck out of here, Steve!” Karl snapped. “You have any idea what’s going to happen if the three of us are photographed together?! We were all supposed to have died on the same island during the same bombing!”

“Jeeze,” Brian said, leaving the curb and walking across the street to the hotel. “I didn’t want to stay cooped up in this place!”

“You could have come to Perez’s drug warehouse,” Steven said. “Your damn mini-gatling gun broke and spilt the bullets on the floor. Luckily, Jim was able to come in and stop Perez from killing one of the kidnapped girls.”

“Where’s Jim now?” Brian asked. “Another gig?”

“He went off to Springfield,” Steven said. “He’ll find us again. He always does.”

“What have you been working on for us?” Karl asked as they went back into the hotel and followed Brian into the basement. Brian was using recent funds to rent the place from the slum lord that wanted nothing more than to tear it down. Brian was able to convince him to keep it for a little longer (with the help of a few stacks of dirty money).

“Something big,” Brian said. “I may have finally figured out how to get The Bozinator to work.”

“Really?” Steven asked.

“Not this Bozinator bullshit again,” Karl said, rolling his eyes. “You’ll kill us with those things!”

“Not if it works!” Brian retorted. “Anyway, I’ve got your general guns and ammo. I have that sawed-off shot gun you wanted, Karl. Got you a holster and plenty of ammo to boot.”

“Sweet,” Karl said, taking the gun from the table and looking at it. “My grandma had one just like it.”

Brian looked at the gun as well. “I can add some mods…”

“No thank you,” Karl said, trying on the holster. “This won’t be easy to conceal. I’ll stick with the .44s until the time for the sawed-off is right.” Karl had kept the twin .44s he used to kill ISIS back on the island. He took care of them and oiled them regularly.

“Can I have a sawed-off too?” Steven asked.

“I have something better for you,” Brian said. “I know your aim isn’t as good as Karl’s, so I got you a pair of uzis with modified clips. They’ll hold twice as much ammo.”

“Any word on our van?” Karl asked.

“None,” Brian replied. He kept his ear to the police scanners and his connections to find out if the police were closing in on them and their vigilantism. They didn’t know how he did it, but The Boz was able to have them ditch any vehicle that the cops started looking into.

“I still want to get rid of it quickly,” Karl said. “The guy from the housing authority gave us some shit this morning. I wouldn’t throw it past him to make a few calls to see if we’re legit or not.”

“I’ll work on getting something new,” Brian said. “Anything else?”

“Yeah,” Steven said. “Karl has a lead on a couple who was kidnapped. We are going to pay their daughter and her aunt a visit tonight. We think they may have been taken by a dealer or a drug lord. We want you to come.”

“Sure,” Brian said. “What are we doing in the meantime?”

“Steven needs to go to the Post Office,” Karl said.

“I don’t have any mail to deliver,” Steven replied.

“Not the actual post office,” Karl said with a sigh. “The gym. You’ve got some sparring to do, mother fucker.”

“Fine,” Steven said. “But don’t blame me if you get hurt. My hands are registered as deadly weapons after all.”

“I think I’ll be OK,” Karl said, smiling. “You need to keep your cardio up, dude. You’re in your sixties. You coming with us, Boz?”

“I need to hit the weights,” Brian said, flexing his arm and staring lovingly at it. “So count me in.”

There was a ruckus from the floor above them. It sounded as if someone had knocked something over. “Mother fucker, I told you that this ‘plain sight’ plan was a bad idea,” Karl said. “Who knows that you’re here?”

“Nobody,” Brian said. “I’m dead too. Remember?”

“We’re in your home state, Boz,” Karl said. “You need to be more careful.”

“He needs to be in plainer sight,” Steven said. “He’ll be better hidden. That gives me an awesome idea for a script: Plain Sight Vigilante.”

Karl took sawed-off shotgun from the table and loaded it. “You guys stay here and continue to sound smart,” he said. “I’m going to shoot the dick off of whoever thinks they can roll up on us like this.”

Karl left the other two and headed up the stairs, holding the sawed-off shotgun in his right hand. He got to the top of the stairs and almost fired at the figure that was stumbling around the hotel’s lobby. “Shit,” he said. “It’s only Jim!”

“I found you guys!” Hillbilly Jim said. There was dried blood on his forehead and he was only wearing his overalls once again.

“Did you come all the way back here right after your match?” Karl asked.

“Ayup,” Hillbilly Jim said. “Hitchhiked the whole way here right after. Nice guy gave me a ride in the back of his truck. Had a pig named Froggy. Who names a pig Froggy?!” Hillbilly Jim held his stomach and laughed loudly.

“Jim!” Brian said, coming upstairs. “Did you win?”

“Nope,” Hillbilly Jim said with a smile. “I body slammed a King Kong Bundy look-alike and nearly pinned him too until his midget kicked me in the head.”

“I thought wrestling was fake,” Brian said.

“It is?!” Hillbilly Jim said, genuinely surprised.

“We’re heading to the Post Office,” Steven said, coming up the stairs as well. “You’re welcome to come if you’d like.”

“Nope,” Hillbilly Jim said. “I have an achin’ head, and I think I’m going to sleep it off.”

“You sure you don’t have a concussion?” Brian asked. “Sleep might not be the best thing for you right now, big Jim.”

“Bah!” Jim said, waving a hand. “I got into a moonshine drinking contest with that damn pig. I’ll be fine once I sleep it off and piss it back out.”

“Did you win the drinking contest at least?” Brian asked.

“Nope.” Hillbilly Jim replied. He took a cushion from one of the hotel lobby’s chairs and curled up on the floor with it like a large, moldy-smelling teddy bear. “Goodnight.”

Karl, Steven, and Brian watched as Jim slept on the floor, snoring loudly. “He’s as unpredictable as ever,” Steven said. “Making him completely predictable.”

“At least he wrestles as a different wrestler than Hillbilly fucking Jim,” Karl said. “He’s the only one out of your three that doesn’t think hiding in plain sight isn’t a terrible idea when you’re supposed to be a dead celebrity.”

“If you’re so concerned, why don’t you shave off that mustache,” Steven said. “Then you’d be even more incognito.”

Karl walked up to Steven. “Don’t you ever fuck with my mustache,” Karl said.

“You’re going to need to back up a step there, Karl,” Steven said. “We’re the best of friends, but I won’t hesitate to karate chop that mustache off your face.”

“What did I just say about the mustache?” Karl asked.

“Come on guys,” Brian said. “Save it for the bad guys.”

“Save it for your mustache,” Steven said, not breaking his menacing tone.

“Say ‘mustache’ again, mother fucker, and see what happens,” Karl said, taking one more step towards Steven.

Steven took a step towards Karl. “Mustache,” he said.

The two stared into each other’s eyes for a moment before breaking down in a fit of laughter. “Come on,” Karl said. “Let’s get your ass to the Post Office.”

Chapter 3: The Post Office


Steven sat in the empty locker room of the gym that Karl dubbed “The Post Office”. Brian had found them these gyms in every major area they visited, and Karl had dubbed every one “The Post Office”. Brian had somehow gotten them private hours as well. It has something to do with the piles of money that Brian required to do what he did. Steven opened his laptop and connected to the gym’s wifi.

Steven opened Skype, signed in, and had the program dial up his contact. While he waited for the call to connect, he popped six Xanax. Finally, the image of Lhamo Donrub, the fourteenth Dalia Lama appeared on the screen.

“Namaste, Legaes,” Lhamo said, keeping up with Steven’s false identity. “What can I do for you on this lovely day.”

“I need guidance,” Steven said. “I have set my self on the path of violence and death to make the world a better place. I don’t know if I can ever stop.”

“Your fate is yours to make,” Lhamo replied. “I have told you this in the past. I abhor your use of violence, but I believe it was why you were put on this earth. Are you still using drugs?”

“I am,” Steven said, lowering his head in shame. He would lie to everyone else, but he couldn’t lie to the face of the Dalai Lama. “I can’t stop that as well. The pace we have set for ourselves is too much for me to take without them.”

“You must find a happy in-between, Legaes,” Lhamo said. “I believe that you can change your bad habits. We have spoke of this before. I also believe that there will be a time when your bad habits will come between yourself and your team.”

“What of the prophecy?” Steven asked. “Does it still hold true?”

“The prophecy of the elders will always hold true,” Lhamo replied. “But you have to go now. Your friend has much to say to you, and he can only speak true while he spars. You know this.”

“I do,” Steven said. “Thank you again. Namaste.”

“Namaste,” Lhamo repeated, closing the connection.

“You ready?” Brian asked, coming in the locker room as Steven was closing his laptop. “Karl is waiting.”

“Yeah,” Steven said, getting up. “Let’s do this.” He waited for Brian to leave the locker room before taking a quick bump of coke from his ring. He took the ring off and set it on the top shelf of his locker. He needed the coke to keep up the pace during the sparring. Karl was intense when he worked out, and didn’t care that Steven was more than ten years his senior.

Steven followed Brian to the boxing ring in the center of the gym. Karl was waiting in the corner, wearing his dark blue shorts and black tank top. His boxing helmet was dark blue like his shorts, and his gloves were white. “What are you doing?” Karl asked. “You can’t spar in your kimono. You don’t even have your gloves or your bucket on! Mother fucker, you aren’t even wearing shoes!”

“I don’t need gloves or that padded helmet to fight,” Steven said, stepping into the ring with Brian (who was now holding pads for the pair to punch if they weren’t punching each other). “I promise to go easy on you, but you still might die.”

“Yeah yeah,” Karl said, jumping back and forth to loosen up. “You ready, Boz?”

Boz took out the locket under his shirt, opened it up, and kissed the picture inside of Barry Switzer, his college coach. “Ready, Karl,” he said, holding up the two black pads.

Karl started by giving the pads two quick left jabs. He followed up with a heavy right that had Brian step back a couple of feet. Brian then turned towards Steven who gave the the left pad two quick karate chops and a swift knee. Brian had to step back once more.

“Ready?” Karl asked.

“Ready,” Steven replied, getting into a fighting position. Steven put his right fist in his left palm and bowed towards Karl. He then swung a kick, towards Karl’s mid-section, which was blocked by Karl’s forearm.

“Not today,” Karl said, throwing a jab. Steven knew that Karl was faster, but he didn’t want to hurt his friend who refused to wear his in-ring gear. Steven stepped back before moving forward again, answering Karl’s jabs with a fury of open-handed chops to Karl’s chest and shoulders.

“Damn, you know how to hit,” Karl said, backing up a couple of steps and swinging his shoulder. “After this job with the girl, I think it’s time to move on.”

Steven knew this was the reason for sparring. Karl seemed to open up more when they were in the ring. “I agree,” Steven said, dodging an overhand from Karl. “We shouldn’t tarry here after busting up Perez’s ring.”

“We’ll ditch the van and get some other mode of transportation,” Karl said. “I think we should head north from here. First, we’ll go through Kansas and then Nebraska. There’s probably a ton of meth labs up in those farm areas. Should keep us busy.”

“No way!” Brian said. “I am not going to Nebraska. You can go if you want, and I’ll meet you on the other side!”

“Come on,” Steven said. “What’s wrong with Nebraska?”

“Fuck Nebraska!” Brian said, getting agitated. “Fuck those Cornhusker fucks! Fuck corn altogether! I haven’t eaten a piece of corn since I was six years old! You know what? Fuck that band Korn too! Fuckin Nebraska can suck my dick!”

“Alright,” Karl said. “We get it. You can get over it or meet us when we get out of the mother fuckin’ state.” He threw a punch at Steven that connected with his forehead. It was clear that he was mad about Brian spouting off about his hatred toward Nebraska, but he was taking it out with his gloves on Steven.

“We work as a well-oiled machine,” Steven said, sending a pump-kick into Karl’s abdomen to force some space in between them. “I would rather have you with us. I am sorry you feel so strongly.”

Karl and Steven continued to punch and chop at each other in silence until Brian announced that time was up. They stepped away from each other, sweating from the workout.

“You still move fast for a big man,” Karl said.

“The tiger is my totem,” Steven said, taking a drink from his sports bottle. “It cannot be caged; not even within myself.”

“That’s deep,” Brian said, pulling Karl’s gloves off for him.

“He probably stole it from a fortune cookie,” Karl said, propping himself on the top rope of the ring.

“No,” Steven said, tapping his chest. “That’s pure Seagal right there.”

Chapter 4: Little Tricia and her Auntie

Brian read the note that Hillbilly Jim left while they were sparring at the Post Office. “What’s it say?” Steven asked, tossing his gym bag on the sofa that still had its cushions on the floor from Jim’s nap.

“He’s gone to Branson,” Brian said. “He’s going to wrestle against a midget Andre The Giant impersonator as a Hillbilly Jim impersonator.”

“He’s impersonating himself?” Steven asked. “I hope he does a good job. Hate for him to do his own memory an injustice.”

“Are we really going to leave without him?” Brian asked.

“He’ll find us,” Karl said. “You know he will. Besides, we still have this matter with little Tricia and her Auntie to focus on. I want to find her parents before we head north.”

“Agreed,” Steven said. “We don’t leave things unfinished. That’s not our style.”

The three got ready to head out (Brian had to ditch his Sooners jersey on Karl’s order). They travelled back to Grand Courts in Brian’s SUV and walked from the street to building six, where they found Nancy waiting outside for their arrival.

“Come in,” Nancy said, opening the door to the cramped apartment. “I have some chicken on in the oven.”

“We can’t take any food from you,” Karl said.

“I insist,” Nancy said. “If you’re going to help up, the least I can do is give you a proper meal!”

“I can’t argue with that,” Steven said, taking a seat at the round table. Tricia was already there, coloring a picture on a piece of notebook paper of Karl and Steven handing out boxes from their van. “What are we having with the chicken?”

“I made some corn on the cob,” Nancy said.

“Fuckin’ corn,” Brain said, under his breath as he sat next to Steven. Karl took the seat at the end of the table.

“My name is Jazz,” Karl said. “You met my associate Legaes this morning. This is our other associate.”

“Boz,” Brian said, getting a dirty look from Karl.

“Boz?” Nancy said, looking over Brian. “You do kind of look like that football player from University of Oklahoma with your hair shaved the way it is. What ever happened to him?”

“He died,” Karl said before Brian could open his mouth. “He was one of those celebrities that got killed on that island by ISIS.”

“Oh right,” Nancy said. “That was so tragic. I sure do miss Maury Polvitch in the mornings. I loved that show!”

“I’d like to know what happened to your parents,” Karl said to Tricia as Nancy began to place chicken on all of their plates. “Any idea who would have taken them?”

“The bad man,” Tricia answered, not looking up from her drawing. “He used to come ’round to see mommy and daddy sometimes. Used to say that daddy owed him. Daddy promised he’d pay him back, and the man would only say that he would.”

“Any idea where this bad man is?” Steven asked. “I’d like to ask him a few questions personally.”

“You’ll find him here after midnight most times,” Nancy said, sitting down. “But he won’t come out if you guys are around. He only sells to those he already knows.”

“And what is it that he sells?” Karl asked.

“Cocaine mostly from what I hear,” Nancy said. Steven perked up a bit. “His lower-level dealers might talk to you, but they won’t snitch easily.”

“I didn’t plan on asking nicely,” Karl said. “Where can I find the lower-level dealers?”

“Between eight and midnight,” Nancy said. “They’re usually by the parking lot. They’ll hide in the backs of the SUVs if they think you’re a cop, so you’ll have to be careful.”

“How do you know all of this?” Karl asked.

“I’ve been here a long time, dear,” Nancy said. “These dealers are a plague. I begged my sister to tell that husband of hers not to borrow money from them, but she couldn’t convince him to listen. He thought he’d have his wife and Tricia far away from here before they came to collect.”

“Do you know where Tricia’s parents are?” Steven asked.

“Head to your room for a minute, dear,” Nancy said, motioning towards Tricia. She got up without and argument and headed for her room, stopping briefly to hand Karl the picture she was drawing of him and Steven unloading the van. They were stick figures, but the figure of Steven was drawn fatter. He was carrying a box while Steven was cooking on the grill. Karl smiled at the picture, folded it in half, and put it in his pocket.

“Knowing how things work,” Nancy started once Tricia was in her room. “My sister is working as a prostitute and her husband isdealing on the other side of the city. Why risk a loyal dealer when you can send someone with no value to jail for dealing drugs, right?”

“What’s this scum’s name?” Steven asked.

“I don’t know his real name, but they call him Lil’ Diamond,” Nancy said.

“Lil’ Diamond,” Karl mused. “I’m going to find that jive-ass mother fucker and make him spill everything.”

“Just to me one favor,” Nancy said.

“Sure,” Karl said.

“Don’t kill him,” Nancy said. “Just make sure he can’t walk ever again.”

“I can’t promise that,” Karl said. “Scum is scum; on legs or in a wheelchair. The world is better off without men like Lil’ Diamond.”

Chapter 5: Now it is Night

The night following their dinner with Nancy and Tricia, Steven, Karl, and Brian sat in Brian’s SUV in near the projects. After much debate, they decided to have Brian be the one to try and score the drugs.

“Why do I have to do this?” Brian asked. “You guys are better at the face to face stuff than me.”

“According to Steve, I look like a cop,” Karl said. “And he talks like a cop.”

“I was a cop,” Steven said.

“Besides,” Karl continued. “If any of us looks like he’s looking to buy some cocaine, it’s you with that haircut and tee-shirt with no sleeves.”

“You must stay strong, Brian,” Steven said, putting a hand on Brian’s shoulder from the back seat. “If I can’t fight beside you in my material form, then I will fight from within you with my spiritual form.”

“Really?” Brian asked.

“I will always fight from inside you,” Steven said.

“Bring this,” Karl said, pulling a revolver from under his seat. “It’s a small one, so it won’t matter if they take it.”

“What if I get frisked!” Brian exclaimed. “They’ll get pissed if they see I have a gun.”

“They’ll be more worried if you didn’t come into the neighborhood to buy coke and didn’t have it,” Karl said. “Trust me. If they ask, tell them you’re carrying and give it to them. We’ll be watching and waiting.”

“Fine,” Brian said, stashing the gun in the back of his pants. He pulled out his locket with Barry Switzer’s picture and gave it a quick kiss. “Don’t go too far.”

“We won’t,” Steven said. Brian left the car and started walking into the dark projects.


“You ready?” Karl said.

“Ready,” Steven said. Karl turned the car on and drove a block over. Karl drove into some bushes in an alley and got out. He started putting together his sniper rifle while Steven watched Brian with his binoculars.

“What’s he doing?” Karl asked, snapping the last piece into the place and putting the stand at the end of the barrel on the hood of the SUV.

“He’s just looking around,” Steven said. “Wait.. He’s moving north near the light poles. You see him?”

“I got him,” Karl said, looking into the scope of the rifle.

“Those must be Lil’ Diamond’s dealers,” Steven said. “Boz found them easily enough.”

“Remember what Nancy said,” Steven said. “He uses the low level guys as fodder so he doesn’t do any time himself. Start heading down that way. Pop your earpiece in and I’ll let you know if the dealer moves. Remember, we need him alive.”

“Got it,” Steven said, putting his earpiece in and clicking on the radio on his belt. “Testing.”

“We’re on the air,” Karl said. “Get your ass over there and pick up the dealer.”

Karl watched through his scope. Brian kept the dealer talking like he was supposed to, giving Steven the time to sneak around them. Karl could tell that the dealer was getting twitchy. “Legeas,” Karl said. “Hurry up down there. I don’t think Brian is going to keep his interest for much longer.”

“Roger,” Steven replied though a lot of panting. 

*

Steven was sneaking as best he could, but there wasn’t too much cover in the area. He had a .45 with the safety off in the holster under the back of his kimono, but he didn’t want to draw it and fire it unless it was absolutely necessary. Boz put a silencer on Karl’s gun, so he would rely in him to do the shooting.

Steven saw that Karl had been right. Brian was now trying to hand the dealer his money, but he dealer was refusing. Stalling him for time had been a mistake after all. Steven saw that the dealers were now reaching towards their backs for weapons, and that’s when he went into action.

Steven caught up while Brian was trading punches with the dealer. He went down after a quick right, and he he moved on to one of this buddies who was rushing him. Steven’s hands moved like lightning, chopping at the heads and necks of the dealers. More started coming out of the homes, and he had to move faster to take them down. He wondered why Karl wasn’t providing them any cover from the rifle.

*

Karl stashed the rifle int he back of the SUV after the barrel exploded due to Brian’s silencer. He jumped back in the front seat and started the SUV back up. It roared to life, and he hit the streets in the direction of Brian, Steven, and the drug dealers. With luck, he’d be able to help them out before the police showed up.

*

Brian swung a huge arm, connecting with the head of one of the dealers. He fell in the pile with the two others he had already punched out. “Steven!” Brian said. “You OK?!”

“I’m fine!” Steven said, kicking a dealer in his stomach and sending him to the ground. Steven followed and snapped the dealer’s neck. Brian turned to see another coming at him quickly. He turned his body, hitting him with a clothesline and sending him to the ground unconscious. He saw the man on the ground he had originally tried to buy cocain from get up and scurry off.

“Steven!” Brian shouted. “We got a runner!”

“I got him!” Steven said, pursuing.

*

Steven ran after the dealer, but it didn’t take him too long to catch up. The dealer had tripped over the curb and skid on the ground. “Where is it?!” Steven said, holding the man by the front of his shirt and shaking him. “Where is the coke?!”

“Fuck you, cop!” the dealer said, spitting in Steven’s face.

“Do I look like a cop?!” Steven asked, slapping the dealer with a hard backhand. “Give me the coke!”

“Here!” the dealer said, throwing a baggie full of cocaine into the bushes. “Just take it and let me go, man!”

“I’m not done with you,” Steven said. He leaned over to get the baggie of cocaine from the bushes, giving the dealer the chance to get free from between Steven’s legs. Steven cursed as his fingers finally grasped the baggie, pulling into his pocket. He ran back after the dealer towards where left Brian.

*

Brian looked around the mess of unconscious bodies around him and huffed a sigh of relief. He thought the stream of them wouldn’t end, but he finally got the last of them. He turned to see his SUV pulling up quickly with Karl at the driver’s seat. He waved at Karl, but Karl was yelling something and pointing.

Brian turned as the dealer was on him. He leaned into Brian, letting his blade cut into Brian’s abdomen over and over. He pushed Brian down as Karl got out of the driver’s side of the SUV with his gun drawn, shouting at the dealer to get on the ground. The dealer turned to make a run for it when two shots rang out, but they weren’t from Karl’s mag. They were from Steven’s .45, and the two bullets found their home in the stomach of the dealer.

*

“You idiot!” Karl said. “We needed him alive!”

“Did you see what he did to Brian!” Steven shouted, crouching along side Karl who was pressing a cloth onto Brian’s wounds. “How bad is he?”

“I don’t know,” Karl said. “A couple of these look deep. We need to get him some help. This is more than what we can sew up for him.”

“Karl,” Brian said, opening his eyes. “Steven. Fighting with you this last year and…”

“Stop it,” Karl said. “You’ll be OK.”

“No,” Brian said. “I won’t. You need to know…”

“I don’t need to know a mother fuckin’ thing,” Karl said.

“I met Bo Jackson once, Brian,” Steven said in a calm voice. “You know what he told me?”

“What?” Brian asked, focusing on Steven.

“He said that Brian Bosworth was a fuckin’ pussy,” Steven said. “Do you want to prove him right?”

Brian smiled. He coughed, spraying blood on Karl’s shirt. He closed his eyes.

“Dammit, Bosworth!” Karl said, slapping him in the face.

“What?!” Bosworth snapped.

“Don’t you die on me!” Karl said, unravelling a roll of duct tape with his teeth.“You think I have a choice here?!” Brian said. “You can’t take me to the hospital. We’ll all get busted.”

“Where’s the underground guy you found?” Steven asked. “The retired mob guy.”

“Shit,” Brian said, thinking as Karl duct taped pieces of cloth over his stab wounds. “I forgot about that guy. Corner of Fourth and Smith Street. Basement door is on the left side.”

“You should make it,” Karl said. “I stopped most of the bleeding. Steven, pick up that guy you shot. He’s still squirming.”

Steven moved his .45 to the dealer’s temple. “Steven!” Karl snapped. “Pick him up and put him in the car. You need to tape those bullet wounds while I drive.”

“He’s a drug dealer,” Steven said, sweating. “Let’s put him out of everyone’s misery.”

“He’s low-level, dude,” Karl said, helping Brian in the back. “Get him in the truck so we can interrogate his ass and find Lil’ Diamond!”

“Fuck,” Steven sighed, putting his gun back in its holster and lifting the dealer up in a fireman’s carry. He unceremoniously tossed him in across the backseat of the truck on top of Brian.

“Hey!” Brain said. “This guy is bleeding all over me! His blood is going to get in my wounds!”

“Move that fool to the way back,” Karl said. “We don’t have time for this shit, Steven!”

“Fine,” Steven said, dragging the dealer to the back of the SUV and laying him next to the sniper rifle with the blown-out barrel. “I guess this is why we didn’t get any cover fire.”

“Thank Boz for that,” Karl said, tossing Steven the duct tape. “Get back there with him. I’ll get us to the doctor.”

“Better hurry up,” Brian said, leaning upwards to see out of the windshield. “The cavalry is here.”

—-

Chapter 6: Pursuit and Prescriptions

Karl put his foot to the floor as the police pursued him from the Grand Courts projects. “Fuck!” he spat, turning a corner to avoid a busy intersection a block up the road. “I told you not to fire that gun!”

“It’s not my fault!” Steven shouted, taping up the dealer’s abdomen with duct tape. “I saw the guy that stabbed Brian running away, and I made the same decision you would have made.”

“It really wasn’t Steven’s fault,” Brian said, wincing at every bump or pothole that Karl drove over. “Where was our cover fire.”

“That damn silencer you put on the gun exploded,” Karl said. “So shut the fuck up about your cover fire.”

“Oh,” Brian said. He stopped talking and tried to focus on something other than the pain of his stab wounds.

The SUV ran a red light, barely hitting a pick-up truck full of chickens. One of the three police cars chasing them skid to a halt, hitting the back and spilling the chickens into the road. The other two made it through, after they slowed to go around.

“Shit,” Karl said, looking in the mirror. “Still got two of them on me.”

“I might be able to shoot out their tires,” Steven said, looking out of the back window.

“No,” Karl answered. “I don’t want any cop’s blood on our hands.

“Not all cops are good,” Steven said, closing his eyes slightly as he watched the pursuing cars.

“Until we know if they are bad cops, we will treat them like good cops,” Karl said. He turned down a dirt road that led into someone’s backyard. He drove on the grass past an above-ground pool, crashed through another fence, drove over a sandbox, and came back out onto the streets. The police did not pursue him through the yard. They started to circle the block.

Karl took the opportunity, and turned down a dirt road between two huge trees while the police couldn’t see him. He pulled into a parking space near a picnic area and killed the engine quickly. He lowered his head and watched out the window as the police sped by.

“We don’t have long until they decide to check this place out,” Karl said. “I’ll give it a bit before driving to the doctor’s. We’ll have to torch this car, obviously. How are you doing, Boz?”

“Better now that you stopped hitting every pothole in Oklahoma,” Boz said.

“How’s our friend back there, Steven,” Karl said, ignoring Boz’s joke.

“Still alive,” Steven said. Karl wondered if he sounded disappointed.

There was no other conversation in the SUV. Karl watched the minutes tick by until he thought it was safe to leave. He backed out of the dirt road, and drove in the direction of Brian’s underground doctor. Luckily, he was able to pull in behind the building without incident. The fact that it was a moonless and cloudy night helped as well. Karl rug the bell three times before someone answered.

“Yeah yeah,” an old man said, answering the door. “Do you have any idea how late it is!?”

“I got two injured in the car,” Karl said. “One’s been stabbed and the other was shot twice. I need you to fix them.”

“I don’t think you have the right place,” the old man said. “This was on the news too. They’re looking for you right now. You’ll have to leave.”

“Wait!” Brain called, coming out of the back of the truck and holding his stomach. “It’s me.”

“Fuck,” the old man said. “You did pay an advance. Get them in here. I’m Doctor Gashberg.”

Karl got Brian out of the car, and helped him inside. Karl draped the dealer over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry and roughly brought him in. “Get them on the tables,” Doctor Gashberg said. Karl and Steven did as they were asked. Karl brought out a set of handcuffs and cuffed the dealer to the table.

“I take it that he’s someone we don’t like?” Doctor Gashberg asked.

“Yeah,” Karl replied. “But we need the mother fucker alive.”

“I understand,” Doctor Gashberg said. “Excuse me. I have to call my assistant to help me with these two. GRETA! GET YOUR ASS IN HERE, YOU LAZY BITCH!”

A woman who couldn’t have been of drinking age came in wearing a pink nightgown and fluffy slippers. She had long blonde hair. “What is it?” she asked.

“Get your scrubs on and sew up the stabbing victim here,” he said. “I’ll work on shot-up drug dealer.”

“You wanna trade?” Greta asked. “The dealer is kind of cute.”

“What am I?” Brian asked. “Chopped liver? I’m bleeding here!”

“You’re not ready for bullets yet,” Doctor Gashberg said. “Now get in your fucking scrubs before I strip you out of your undies and put them on you myself.”

“Fine,” Greta said, turning and walking out of the room. “I’ll get my scrubs on in one minute, Doctor Pushy-Pants.”

“Nice girl,” Steven said, watching her leave. “Your daughter?”

“You’re a sick mother fucker,” Doctor Gashberg said, cutting off the dealer’s shirt. “That’s a friend of a friend. Don’t let her slutty appearance or bitch attitude throw you. She’s a good doctor, and she works great under pressure. Not bad in the sack too.”

“Fuck!” Brian said. “Why’s it hurt to get a boner?!”

“I thought you were almost dead before,” Steven said. “What are you doing over there getting boners and whining?”

“You’ve been awfully talkitive for a guy that got stabbed a few dozen or so times too,” Karl said.

“Oh yeah,” Brian said. “If I die, I left you guys some stuff in a warehouse north of Tulsa. The sign out front says Jazz Shipping.” With that, Brian turned pale white and passed out.

“GRETA!” Doctor Gashberg shouted. “GET YOUR ASS IN HERE EVEN IF YOU’RE BUTT-NAKED, AND BRING A BAG OF O POSITIVE! YOU’RE LOSING YOUR PATIENT.”

“I hope she comes in to operate naked,” Steven said.

“It’s going to be a long fucking night,” Karl said.

The hours ticked by as Doctor Gashberg operated on the dealer they picked up and Greta operated on Brian. Karl knew he and Steven had to move quickly to destroy the car that the police pursued, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave Brian alone. Finally, Greta came in to wake them.

“Both of your patients are stable,” she said. “The white guy lost a lot of blood during the untaping and stitching, but we don’t think anything major was hit. We’re not a fancy hospital, so we did our best.”

“And we thank you,” Steven said. “How is he?”

“He’s asleep,” Greta replied. “Doctor Gash-breath says he could be out days while he recovers from the blood loss. The dealer is awake and pissed off that he’s handcuffed to a bed. Do you want to go see him?”

“Brian first,” Karl said.

“The white guy?” Greta asked.

“Yeah,” Karl replied. “The white guy.”

Karl and Steven walked into Brian’s small room. He was on the table with what little equipment Doctor Gashberg had to monitor his recovery. His eyes were closed and he looked to be in a very peaceful sleep.

“I should have been there with him,” Steven said.

“It’s not your fault,” Karl said. “It’s his. You didn’t know that stupid-ass silencer of his would fail and I couldn’t give you any cover fire.”

“I left him.” Steven said. “I went after the dealer, and I let him give me the slip.”

“We needed the dealer,” Karl said. “I would have done the same, and you had no idea how greasy he is.”

“Brian wouldn’t have,” Steven said. “He’s not as cold as you and me. He would have stayed to fight the hoard. The dealer could have waited.”

“Don’t forget what we’re doing here,” Karl said. “This isn’t a game. People get hurt, Steven. People die.”

Steven turned and left. “One day, your soul will warm up to rest of humanity,” he said. “Maybe then, a friend on his deathbed won’t seem like something that just happens.”

“You think I don’t care?!” Karl exclaimed. His words were for nothing as Steven didn’t even bother to stay to argue.

Karl went into the dealer’s room alone. The dealer looked at him with fire in his eyes. “You better change that stare,” Karl said. “I’m pissed off enough already.”

“I won’t talk,” the dealer said. “I won’t give up Lil’ Diamond.”

“You will,” Karl said, pulling a chair up to the dealer’s bed and turning it around. “You’re only alive because I need you to talk right now. What’s your name, son?”

“Jimmy,” the dealer said, beginning to look more scared than angry.

“Good to meet you, Jimmy,” Karl said. He swung his arm and hit Jimmy across his face with the back ok his hand. “Where the fuck is Lil’ Diamond?”

“He’ll kill me!” Jimmy wailed.

Karl punched Jimmy in the ribs. “You have bad luck,” he said. “My associate usually plays the good cop, but he’s not here. I’ll ask again: Where the fuck is Lil’ Diamond?”

“With regular Diamond!” Jimmy said. “I mean Diamond. He runs the whole operation. After what you guys did at Grand, Diamond will be keeping his best men close to him.”

“Where can I find this jive-ass turkey, Diamond?” Karl asked.

“If I tell you, will you put me in witness protection?” Jimmy asked.

Karl hit Jimmy with another backhand. “Mother fucker, do I look like I’m with the FBI?” he asked. “I’ll let you walk out of here when you heal. That’s the best I can do. Tell me where to find these fools.”

“There’s a barn,” Jimmy said. “It’s right off the main road. It looks a little out of place, but it’s been there forever. I can give you the address.”

“Good,” Karl said. “Let me get a pen.”

—-


Chapter 7: Diamond in the Rough


The sun was high in the sky, and Karl drove the SUV with Steven driving the white “FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY” van behind him. He was glad Steven wasn’t currently in the car with him. The two were heated since they left Brian in the care of Doctor Gashberg, and he needed the time to let his own head cool.

Karl pulled into the empty parking lot behind an abondoned supermarket with no issue. Steven backed up behind him, opened the back doors of the van, can came out with two five-gallon cans of gasoline. “Ready?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Karl said, taking the gas. The windows of the SUV were open, and they poured the gasoline inside, generously throughout. When they were done, they tossed the plastic cans into the windows and Steven lit a cigar. 

“Stand back,” Steven said.

“I can take the heat,” Karl said.

Steven flicked the cigar into the window. Flames erupted before the cigar even hit the floor. Karl and Steven both felt a wave of heat him them as the car burned with black flames billowing from the top. “Let’s go,” Karl said, getting in the van. “Drive.”

“Where?” Steven asked, climbing back into the driver’s seat.

Karl reached in his pocked and pulled out the paper from Doctor Gashberg’s office. He handed it to Steven and looked out the window. “This address,” Karl said. “We have enough guns in the back for this job. I’m not giving them the chance to scramble now that they know we’re after them.”

“Alright,” Steven said, turning the ignition and driving away from the burning SUV as it exploded in the morning sun.

The drive to the address that Jimmy gave them took the better part of an hour, and the barn that Jimmy had described stuck out like a sore thumb. “I don’t like this,” Steven said as he pulled up the long driveway and pulled off to the side. “This smells like a trap.”

“I know,” Karl said. “But when has that ever stopped us?”

“True,” Steven said, checking the clip of his .45. He was satisfied and put it back in the holster behind his back. “I still wish Hillbilly Jim could be with us since Brian is in a coma.”

“Jim went all the way to Branson,” Karl said. “We’ll have to do without him for a bit.”

“Does this feel weird to you?” Steven asked. “It’s always been you and me in the shit, but we’ve never been without Brian and Jim completely.”

“It’s only weird because you’re making it weird,” Karl said, putting his twin mags in the front of his belt. He took his sawed off shotgun from behind his seat and pumped it once. “Let’s go rough up this Diamond.”

Karl and Steven approached the front doors of the barn, looking around for any sign of trouble. None was too be found, and they both found it odd. They gave each other a look and a nod before Steven kicked the door of the barn in, leveling his .45 in both hands. Karl came up Steven’s left, holding the sawed off shotgun in front of him. Neither of them fired when they saw what was waiting for them.

They were surrounded in a crescent of men holding uzis. Karl figured his life was about to end and considered killing as many of them as he could before it did. “Our boss would like to have a chat with you,” a man said, stepping between the guards. He wore a black suit with a tie. “He’s expecting you.”

“Shit,” Steven said, lowing his gun.

“I’m not giving up my gun,” Karl said. “As a close, personal friend once said: You’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

“You won’t need to,” the man said. “My boss doesn’t think you will plan on using it.”

“Fine,” Karl said. “Lead the way.”

The two followed the man in the suit through the guards. There was silence in the barn as they were led up a set of wooden stairs to a door that looked too nice to be in a barn. Karl looked around for drugs or women like in Perez’s hideout, but he didn’t see any. This Diamond character didn’t seem to do use this barn for anything except luring enemies.

“What are we going to do?” Steven asked, looking around was well.

“We play it by ear,” Karl replied. “Follow my lead.”

The door opened, and Karl entered with Steven right behind him. He almost dropped his gun when he saw who was sitting in the chair. He had aged a bit since the two had last seen each other, but there was no mistaking the face of Karl’s old friend and tag team partner; former wrester and WCW champion Diamond Dallas Page.

“Hello, Karl,” Page said. “And you must be Steven Seagal. I don’t believe we’ve ever met, but I’ve been a fan of your movies.”

“Thank you,” Steven said.

“What the fuck,” Karl said. “Diamond? I would have never guessed that you were part of this.”

“I would have never guessed that you were alive,” Page said. “I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me while I watched the footage from Grand Courts. Oh yes, I have surveillance all over my operations. I saw you and then realized the big man fighting with his bare hands was Steven Seagal. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the third one with you was Brian Bosworth. I wonder how many of your guys survived the attack from ISIS on that island. How is the Boz doing, by the way?”

“You shut the fuck up about Brian,” Karl said. “What are you doing, pushing drugs in Oklahoma? Aren’t you supposed to be running for governor of Iowa?”

“Can’t I be both a drug kingpin in Oklahoma and a candidate for governor in Iowa?” Page asked, shrugging. “Never shit where you eat, Karl. I wouldn’t dare push my drugs in Iowa.”

“Where are Tricia’s parents?” Steven asked.

“Lil’ Diamond!” Page shouted.

“Wha’chu need, boss?” A tall and lanky black kid said, entering the office. He couldn’t have been older than eighteen.

“Where the hell are these girl’s parents?” Page asked.

“From Grand Courts?” Lil’ Diamond asked.

“Yeah,” Karl said. “Her name is Tricia.”

“Fucked if I know,” Lil’ Diamond said. “Fools must’ve owed me money. I send the men from up here down to Oklahoma City to deal, and I send the women to Dallas to hook. I dunno what happens after dat.”

“There you go,” Page said, smiling. “Happy?”

“What about Perez?” Steven asked, taking a step forward. “He work for you too?”

“I actually wanted to thank you two for that,” Page said. “Perez was like a cockroach, and he kept overstepping his turf. I’m assuming it was you who took him out for me.”

“What do you want Page?” Karl asked. “I highly doubt you had us brought here just to thank us for taking out that scumbag.”

“You’re right,” Page said. “I want to give you this one opportunity to walk away. We go way back, Karl. We wrestled together. We hunted together. You fucked my wife while I watched that one time at your ranch in Louisiana. If you leave now, I won’t pursue you, and I won’t leak the secret that you three are still alive. If you plan on fighting, then I will go all out.”

“You’re a dirty mother fucker,” Karl said.

“Oh,” Page said. “There’s one more person who wants to say hello.” Page made a signal with his two fingers and the door was opened again. A tall, black woman came in the room with long, blonde hair. She had tattoos on her arms and a nose ring. She batted her eyelashes at Karl.

“Who’s the hottie?” Steven asked, looking the woman over.

“That’s no hottie,” Karl said. “Dennis Rodman?! Is that you?”

“Call me Denise,” she said in a dark brown voice. “Denise Rodwoman. Diamond paid for my operation with his wonderful drug money. I’m all woman now, as you can see.”

“You’re no woman,” Karl said. “You’re just a sick fuck that had his balls mutilated.”

“Whoa!” Page said. “Not cool!”

“Really,” Steven added. “I know they’re the bad guys, but that’s how she wants to he identified now.”

“Whatever,” Karl said.

“That was really hurtful,” Denise said.

“Oh shut the fuck up, you attention starved tranny!” Karl exclaimed. “You’re a big man. You can take it.”

“Dude,” Steven said. “That’s so uncool.”

“You need to make your decision,” Page said through folded fingers. “Do you ride off into the sunset, or do you attempt to fight me and die?”

Karl and Steven looked at each other. They knew what they had to do.

“One last thing before you decide,” Page said, putting off the final, epic gunfight that was about to ensue. “Did Steven tell you why he left Brian to get stabbed?”

“He went after that little shit dealer,” Karl said. “That’s why we were there.”

“Oh really?” Page said. He turned the computer monitor on his desk and pushed a button. Karl watched as Steven wrestled with Jimmy on the ground. Jimmy threw a bag of white into the bushes, and Steven leaned into the bush to get it. Jimmy squeezed out and ran off. Steven stayed to retrieve the baggie before giving chase.

The image changed to Brian. He turned to see the dealer coming at him, but it was too late. The knife was plunged into his abdomen over and over. Karl rushed towards the scene, and Steven finally came from the path, blasting Jimmy with two shots from his .45. The screen went blank.

“What the fuck was that?” Karl asked. “Did you let that dealer run off while you fished a bag of coke from the bushes?”

“I have a problem,” Steven said, looking embarrassed.

“Fuckin’ right you have a problem,” Karl said. “We’re supposed to be getting this shit off the streets, but nobody told you to store it up your nose!”

“Fuck you!” Steven snapped. “You don’t know how it is. I was on the top of my game, and now I’m struggling to keep up with the rest of you. So what I pop a few pills and snort a little coke. It helps me keep in step with you, OK!”

“Don’t blame me for this shit,” Karl said. “This doesn’t mean shit to you, does it? You just wanted to play action star for real. That’s what that whole ‘hiding in plain sight’ bullshit was about too. You want to get caught doing this vigilante thing, don’t you!?”

“You don’t know what you’re saying,” Steven said with a serious look in his eye.

“Yes I do,” Karl said. “I’m walking away from all this bullshit.”

“You can’t walk away!” Steven said.

Karl threw his keys to Steven. “Take the van,” he said. “This shit was bigger than us, and we ain’t shit now. I didn’t leave my life behind to play action hero with a coke head. I’m out.”

“This shit is intense,” Page said laughing.

“Fuck you!” Karl said, turning on Page. “You didn’t even invent the self high-five!”

Diamond Dallas Page stood up from his chair. “I believe you were leaving,” he said.

“Fucking right I am,” Karl said. “Goodbye, Steven. Goodbye forever.”

Chapter 8: Separate Paths

Karl walked to the outside of the barn through a side door. He found some guards smoking amongst their motorcycles. He pumped a quick shot into the chest of one of the men. The others scrambled for their guns. “Relax,” Karl said, bending over the guy he just shot. “Mother fucker’s wearing Kevlar. I’m taking his bike. Ask your your boss for a new one.”

Steven came running out the same door. He caught up to Karl as the bike roared to life. “Wait!” He shouted over the engine. “Can we talk?”

“We got nothing to talk about,” Karl said. “I’m through buying into your bullshit.” He hit the throttle and drove off in the direction of Tulsa.

Steven walked towards his vans while the guards helped their friend from the ground. He sat in the front and sighed as he turned the key. He had nowhere to go except to Brian’s hotel. He intended to wait for Brian to wake up from his coma before making a decision on whether or not to move on without Karl. He wondered if Karl would head to the hotel too, but he knew the answer would be a definite no.

***

Karl drove north, the way he intended to when they were done in Oklahoma. Too much had come to light at once, and he needed time to clear his head. It felt good to be on the back of a hog again too. He longed to be back in his home in Louisiana, but his life there was over as soon as he let the old persona of Karl Malone die with over a dozen other celebrities. For the first time since the attack by ISIS, Karl actually felt vaporized by an explosion.

He knew he should stop at the hotel and get some things for his travels, but he knew Steven would be there. The last thing he wanted was to blow up at Steven again. Steven was the one who made the mistake, but Karl was the one choosing to walk away instead of fighting.

Diamond Dallas Page was right about one thing. They had meddled in something bigger than them. They had survived the attack from ISIS and made their way back to the states unnoticed. They took down many drug lords and kingpins in the year and a half since The Amazing Survivalist attack, but nothing had prepared Karl to see an old friend sitting in the chair, behind the biggest operation they had come across. 

“Page,” Karl muttered. He couldn’t even hear his own words over the motorcycle’s engine, but it didn’t change the rage he felt behind them. He didn’t know if the rage was for Page, Steven, or himself. He revved the cycle’s engine and sped off towards a safe-house that Brian had already set up for them north of Tulsa.

***

Steven sat cross-legged on the floor of the random hotel room that he had chosen. The place was eerily quiet without the others. He had hoped that Hillbilly Jim had returned from his wrestling show in Branson, but he still hadn’t. Steven wondered in Diamond Dallas Page had found him and taken him out, but he pushed the thoughts from his head. There was only one person he could turn towards for advice now. He opened his laptop.

“Namaste,” Steven said to the image of Lhamo Donrub, the fourteenth Dalia Lama. 

“Namaste,” Lhamo repeated. “You seem troubled, Lagaes.”

“I am troubled,” Steven said. “I’m all alone. Brian is in a coma, Jim is off in Branson, and Karl left me.”

“And why is that?” Lhamo asked.

“It’s my fault,” Steven said, holding back his tears. He almost lied to his oldest friend, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Besides, the Dalia Lama always knew when someone was being untruthful to him. “I tried to get a bag of cocaine, and the dealer slipped away from me. He stabbed Brian, and how he’s recovering from his wounds. Karl saw the video of me doing it, and he left.”

“You let all of this happen because of your addictions,” Lhamo said. “How many times have I told you that it would come between you and your team? Do you think my words of wisdom are merely words?”

“I was hoping you’d advise me,” Steven said. “Not give me the third degree.”

“Excuse me?” Lhamo said. “I have been advising you, but you’ve refused… You know what, Steven? I’m done here. Forget about the prophecy. I think I have the wrong guy.”

“You don’t mean that,” Steven said.

“Go fuck yourself,” Lhamo said, closing the connection.

Steven put his head down. He felt more alone than he did moments before. He didn’t think that was possible. He reached into his bag and pulled out the baggie of cocaine that he had stolen from Jimmy moments before he stabbed Brian repeatedly. He reached in again and pulled out the emptying bottle of Xanax that he had stolen from a bad guy’s medicine cabinet a month ago. He reached in one last time to find the remnants of a donut he had saved from when he had gotten coffee with Karl and Brian the other day. 

Steven was no longer interested in putting those things in his body. He finally understood what the addicts had called “hitting bottom”. He went into the bathroom, dumped all the stuff into the toilet, and flushed it. He then turned the AC in the room all the way up and got ready for the withdrawals. 

***

Karl spent the night in Brian’s safe-house. The was a cot stashed under some old desks, but it was brand new. He had slept in worse, and he was able to get a full night’s rest when his mind finally stopped playing back all that had happened. When he woke up, he ignored the truck that Brian had waiting for him and got back on his stolen motorcycle. He drove as short while until he found a small diner off the side of the road.

“What can I get you?” the waitress asked.

Karl read her name tag. “Coffee, Alice,” he said.

“How do you like it?” Alice asked.

“As black as I am,” Karl replied with no hint of a smile.

“That’s how I like it too,” Alice said with a lustful grin. “Anything to go with your black coffee, sexy?”

“Eggs,” Karl said, not bothering to even glance at the menu. Most diner fare was the same, and he didn’t give a fuck about the specials. “Sunny side up. Toast. Rye. Bacon. Burnt. Hash-browns. Also burnt. Ketchup. A shit-load.”

“You got it,” Alice said, scribbling on her pad. “If you need anything else, give me a holler.”

Karl nodded and went back to his thoughts. Steven could have repeated that order verbatim. He also knew what the others would have ordered if they were still with them. Steven would have had scrambled eggs with ham mixed in with a few donuts on the side with nearly an entire pot of coffee with a ton of sugar. Brian would have ordered eggs and ham with orange juice. No caffeine or carbs. Hillbilly Jim would have had six chocolate chip pancakes with a pitcher of chocolate milk.

Karl smiled at the sight of the waitresses when they made their orders. He wished they were there to put that look on Alice’s face, but they weren’t. He considered moving on that day, but he was reluctant. He didn’t know what was holding him back; the others or Diamond Dallas Page. 

***

Steven was sick of his withdrawals, so he walked the streets of Tulsa. He saw a drug deal going down and hesitated to do something. He was all alone, and Page had given them an ultimatum after all. Something had gone wrong with the drug deal, and the dealer was now slapping his customer around. He fell to the ground, and two others stepped in to kick him while he was down.

“Fuck Page and his ultimatums,” Steven said to himself, unaware of the old woman slowly backing away from him. “Karl took that bullshit deal. Not me.”

Steven walked down the alley, ready to fight despite the way he currently felt. The punks down the alley were in store for the ass-kicking of their lives.

The fight lasted only minutes, and ended with Steven in handcuffs. In his daze, he didn’t notice the police man that watched him go down the alley. It took three cops, but they subdued Steven and hauled him off in the back of one of the cruisers. Minutes later, he was being locked away in some cell in a tiny police station.

“Who’s this guy look like to you?” One of the cops said, looking through the bars. “Doesn’t he look like that guy from all of those action movies.”

“Oh yeah,” another cop said. “He’s the spitting image. What was that guy’s name again?”

“Jean Claude Van Damme!” the first cop said.

“Yeah,” the other cop said. “We caught Van Damme’s twin!”

Steven reached through the cell with lightning-fast speed and pulled the cop close to the bars. “Do not compare me to that dick-stain, Van Damme,” he said, pulling the cop tight up against the bars so the two were nose-to-nose. “Fuck that frenchie, ballet-kicking bastard.”

Steven was sent backwards from the bars as he was shocked in the ribs through the bars with a cattle prod. “Take his picture,” the guard with the prod said as the other backed away from the bars with his hands on his throat. “See if this is one of the guys that the boss said was disrupting his dealers.”

“Boss?” Steven muttered from the ground as his insides threatened to heave out of him. “Page.”

***

“Coffee,” Alice said, setting a full cup of coffee down in front of Karl without asking for his order. “As black as you.”

“That’s right,” Karl said. He hadn’t moved on like he knew he should have. Instead, he stayed another night and had come back to the same diner the next day. He knew the dangers of starting a pattern, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to move on just yet.

“I already put the rest of your order in, sexy,” Alice said.

“Thank you kindly,” Steven replied.

Alice looked at the television. “Did you see that on the news?” she asked. “They arrested some celebrity look alike during a drug bust yesterday.”

Karl looked up at the TV. It was on mute and there was no picture of who was arrested. Karl had a bad feeling in his gut. “Which celebrity was he impersonating,” Karl asked, already knowing the answer.

“Steven Seagal,” Alice said. “That action star that got killed by ISIS.”

“I know who he is,” Karl said, watching the TV as pictures of a kitten parade replaced Steven’s story. He found himself at moral crossroad and didn’t know which way to turn. He could go back and get Steven out, probably pissing off Diamond Dallas Page, or he could move on and let Steven get a bullet in the head for sticking his nose into Page’s drug operations again.

“My dad used to love his movies,” Alice said. “Too bad he died.”

“Yeah,” Karl said, looking down at the table and calculating his next move carefully. “It was a damn shame.”

—-

Chapter 9: The Breakout


Steven sat in his cell, waiting for the guards to come back to end his life. He was helpless in the small, metal cell. He had played characters in his movies that would be able to break out easily, but they were only fiction. In reality, Steven would die even before he had the chance to put up a fight. He only hoped that Karl had been smarter and moved on.

The sound of rattling chains broke Steven’s daze. He wondered if the crooked police in this backwater sheriff’s department had some kind of plans for him. The chains stopped and Steven let his mind wander again. He would have to utilize all of his mediations to take himself out of this cell and move onto a plane where he wouldn’t be tortured and eventually killed.

The chains moved again, except this time it was accompanied by the sound of a truck’s engine. Then, there was the groaning of the walls before the collapsed outwards into the sunny afternoon.

Steven stood up. The wall of the cell was gone! He didn’t have time to contemplate how his meditations had done it when Karl walked towards him in through the rubble. “Get in the truck, mother fucker,” he said.

“Karl!” Steven exclaimed.

“Save the tears,” Karl said. “Get the fuck in the truck.”

Steven did as Karl said, and climbed into the passenger seat of the eighteen-wheeler. “You think you can get away from the police in this?”

“Unless they got choppers,” Karl said, driving the truck onto the street. “But these are Page’s cops from what I gathered. They let it slip to the media that they arrested a Steven Seagal look-alike, but I bet they’d want to keep the rest of their little operation here a secret.”

“What made you come back?” Steven asked.

“We’re a team,” Karl said. “A well-oiled machine. I was wrong to walk away when I learned that Diamond Dallas Page was behind this, so I made a big deal out of breaking you out.”

“Why’d you do that?!” Steven exclaimed. “Now he knows we’re coming for him.”

“Exactly,” Karl said. “I’m not taking him out at that stupid barn of his. If we are going to take down the big man, then we are going to do it big. They’ll move him to his compound on the Oklahoma-Kansas state line, where he thinks he’ll be safe and secure. We bust in there, fuck shit up the way we always do, and take him out. The real police won’t be too far behind, and the world will know that the candidate for governor of Iowa and former WCW champion, Diamond Dallas Page, is nothing but a drug pushing kingpin-wannabe.”

“Are you OK with taking down your old friend?” Steven asked.

“He ceased being my friend when he decided to become what he is now,” Karl said.  He glanced in his side mirror. “We got company. Page’s cops are on our ass.”

“Shit,” Steven said. “You got weapons in here?”

Karl smiled. “Look behind your seat,” he said.

Steven looked behind his seat, and came back out with a gym bag full of weapons. “Holy shit,” he said. “Are those grenades?”

“Sure are,” Karl said. “Curtesy of The Boz. Mother fucker set us up. Pass me one of those.”

Steven passed Karl a grenade. He studied the cars following in his side mirror for moment, pulled the pin, hesitated only a moment, and released the grenade. It bounced off of the ground twice before exploding once it passed the back of the truck, sending the cruiser from the sheriff’s department flying off the road along with chunks of the highway.

“Good aim,” Steven said, loading an uzi. “I’ll get this guy on the right.” He unrolled the window and hung outside. The bullets from the police were ricocheting off the side of the truck, but Steven ignored them, breathing in and focusing his chi. He opened his eyes and sprayed the cruiser full of bullets. Steam issued from the holes in the hood, and he hit the driver through the windshield. He couldn’t tell if the shot killed, but the cruiser veered of the road and crashed into a tree.

Karl heard the bullets pinging to the left of him and saw another cruiser coming up on the left with another behind it. He looked in the passenger side mirror to see another. “Three more,” he said. “Hang into something.”

Karl ignored the road in front of him for a moment, aiming the side of the eighteen-wheeler instead. He cut the wheel, sidling the truck to the left. The cruiser closest to him ended up under the truck, becoming crushed by the back wheels. Steven held his hand on the roof and the truck shook and bounced. “Pass me another grenade,” Karl said. Steven did as he was asked.

Steven put down the uzi and brought out the rifle that was behind his seat since the cruiser on the right was getting closer. More bullets bounced off the side of the truck as Steven took aim at the driver. He pulled the trigger, but the driver hit the breaks right before, causing Steven to hit the street, sending pebbles into the cruiser’s windshield. “Fuck!” Steven exclaimed, taking aim and firing again.

Meanwhile, Karl watched his mirror for the perfect opportunity to throw his grenade. He pulled the pin and tossed it out. The cruiser rolled off the road into the grass as the grenade exploded to the right of it, spraying pieces of the road into the air. The cruiser rebounded onto the highway. Karl swerved again, but the cruiser was ready for this too, driving off the road. Karl took his belt off and tired the end around the steering wheel. He took his magnum in his left hand, and pointed out the window as he kept the truck steady with the belt. He fired one shot, hitting the driver in the head and sending the cruiser off the road, where it crashed into the side of a rock wall.

“The mailman always delivers, mother fucker,” Karl said.

Steven fired another shot, this time he was able to blow out the driver’s side tire of the cruiser. It swerved off the road, flying into aravine and exploding with a cloud of black smoke. “That’s the last one,” he said, sitting back and breathing a sigh of relief.

“Steven,” Karl said. “I want to apologize for what I said and did when I found out about your coke problem. It wasn’t cool to turn my back on you like that.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Steven said. “I dried out in lockup, and my meditation helped a lot with dealing with that. I’m sorry for letting my drug usage get in the way of the team. I just need to apologize to Brian for leaving him.”

“There will be time for that later,” Karl said. “Let’s get our asses to Page’s compound and take that mother fucker out!”

—-

Chapter 10: Diamond’s Compound

Diamond Dallas Page lit a cigar while he looked his main window towards the horizon. He knew that Steven Seagal had escaped from his sheriff’s cell when the wall was taken out by an eighteen-wheeler. He thought Karl Malone would be on his way after their chat, but he was wrong. He should have taken him out when he had come to the barn. It seemed he had a soft spot for his old friend, and it had proven to be an error.

“They’re coming,” Denise Rodwoman said, hanging up her cell phone. “They took out the cops that followed them.”

“Shit,” Page said, fighting the urge to throw something. That was an entire sheriff’s department that he had under his control gone. “They’re likely all dead.”

“What do we do now?” Denise asked.

“They don’t know about this place,” Page said, trying to think if he had told Karl about his compound and ranch on the state line. He may have mentioned it over whiskey and wife-swapping, but he couldn’t remember.

Page’s question was answered as the eighteen-wheeler busted through his front gate and crashed through the front doors of his compound, nearly taking down the entire front wall.

Page made sure the safety on his AK47 was off. “They’re here,” he said.

***

Karl jumped to the ground from the driver’s side door of the truck, firing his sawed off shotgun at the nearest guard and blowing his head off. Steven got out on the other side holding two uzis, spraying all that were unlucky enough to be around. The body armor was heavy on Page’s personal guard, so head shots were a must. 

Machine gun fire rained from above them as gunners took to the veranda. Karl and Steven found themselves behind a flipped desk, in a very familiar situation. “Why is it that we always end up here?” Steven asked.

“It’s a goddam shame,” Karl said. “You spray. I take the head shots.”

“Deal,” Steven said, turning and firing both of his uzis at the gunners above them. They began to pull back for cover, but Karl was faster, firing his .44 magnums like a gunslinger in the old west, and putting a hole in six foreheads. He ducked back down as the gunfire began anew.

“Good shooting,” Steven said as Karl reloaded his gun. “I got a couple myself.”

“I thought there’d be more,” Karl said. “We must have caught Page off guard. Maybe he figured we’d leave this place alone.”

“One more time?” Steven said, putting a new clip in one of his uzis. 

“One more,” Karl said. “Steven got up and sprayed again as Karl turned the guards into corpses. Karl dropped back down after only firing three bullets. “That’s it.”

“They’re backing off?” Steven said, falling next to Karl.

“They’ll be back,” Karl said. “Then we’ll be in trouble.”

“Oh Karl!” a not so womanly voice crooned. “Come and and play with me!”

Steven craned to see who was calling, and a bullet almost took off his head. “Is that….”

“That thing that used to be Dennis Rodman,” Karl finished, sneering.

“That’s still not cool,” Steven said.

“Shit,” Karl said. “We need to get to DDP before he escapes. We can’t be held up with Dennis.”

“Denise,” Steven corrected. “I’ll take care of Rodwoman. You go after Page.”

“You sure?” Karl asked.

Steven put his fist forward. “You guys have bad blood,” he said. “Go shed it.”

Karl bumped Steven’s fist. “You take care of that shemale freak,” he said. “For every good man and woman in this country.”

“Dude!” Steven said. “What the hell is wrong with you! I’ll take care of her because she’s a drug dealing murderer! The fact that she’s transgender has nothing to do with it!”

“Fine,” Karl said, getting ready to move. “Go distract Rodman. I’ll take care of Page.”

Steven jumped up again and sprayed the last clip of his uzi, giving Karl the cover he needed to run in the opposite direction to the stairs that would lead him up to Diamond Dallas Page’s offices. He took aim with his sawed off shotgun, blowing the head off a guard in his way. He then took to the stairs, three at a time. Within seconds, he was out of Steven’s line of sight.

“It’s just you and me, big boy,” Denise said approaching Steven.

Steven tossed his uzi to the ground. It was useless carrying it around now that he was out of ammo. He still had his .45 in the holster behind his back, but he wanted to keep that as his trump card. “I won’t go easy on you because you’re a woman, Rodwoman,” he said. “Wait a second… Rodwoman?! I just got that!”

***

Karl made his way to Page’s office, but he found it empty. He had run out of shells for his sawed off shotgun, and it was already tossed aside. He now held his mag in both of his hands, aching to get a clear shot at Page’s head.

He entered the hallway once more, and was surprised to find it empty. He looked around, trying to figure out where Page had gone to, but he saw what he needed from a large window. A helicopter was touching down on the roof outside. Page, flanked by his security, was waiting for it to lower enough to take him. Once he was on that chopper it would be hard to get another shot at killing him, and Karl knew this.

Karl ran towards the window as the chopper was coming down, picked up a metal chair as he ran, and hurled it towards the window as he fired his mag at the glass with his other hand.

***

Steven dodged a punch from Denise. Even thought she was a woman now, there was nothing feminine about the haymakers she was throwing. Steven answered with quick shot to Denise’s kidney and backed away.

“You’re still quick, old man,” Denise said, jumping back and forth like a boxer trying to pump himself up. “I was hoping to get a shot at Malone, but you’ll do just fine.”

Denise came in with a fury of jabs, and Steven wasn’t quick enough to dodge them all. He tried to stay focused as he spun around Denise and put her in a headlock from behind. “That’s not how we do things,” Denise said. “I’m not a bottom!”

“You’re all bottom, bitch!” Steven said, squeezing tighter. 

“You don’t have it any more, do you?” Denise said. Her voice sounded strained as she tried talking through Steven’s headlock.

Steven squeezed harder and harder, twisting Denise’s neck as he did. His biceps felt like they were going to pop out of his arms, but he had finally gotten Denise to shut up. She fell to one knee, and Steven didn’t let up. Finally, Denise’s head flew from her neck with a pop.

“What the fuck!” Steven shouted, as the bloody head rolled across the floor and the body fell to the ground. “That’s never happened before.”

He looked in the direction that Karl ran. He took the .45 from its holster and ran up the stairs, pausing only for a moment half-way up to catch his breath.

—-

Chapter 11: Showdown


Karl fired into Diamond Dallas Page’s security, taking one down with each bullet. They had thinned out, but Page was running towards the descending helicopter. He aimed at the pilot and squeezed off the last two shots. The pilot wasn’t hit, but he backed off, opting to go back into the air.

“You think you’ve stopped me?!” Page shouted as he took an AK47 from one of his dead guards. The others still stood around him. He fired at Karl as he was trying to quickly reload his mag. He had to take quick cover, dropping his bullets to the ground as he jumped behind a row of metal barrels.

“You can’t keep doing this, Page!” Karl shouted in return, digging in his pocket for more bullets. With what was in his gun and what he found, he only had four bullets left. It wouldn’t be enough to kill Page and his guards. 

There was more gunfire, and Karl stole a peek from his hiding spot. Steven was on the roof now, covered in blood and firing his .45 into the guards. Page shot the AK47 towards Steven, and he had to take cover behind a stack of wooden crates. The last of the guards were surrounding Page now. Karl made a quick count of around ten or eleven, but it would be tough to take them down with what little fire powered he and Steven had when they were pinned down like this.

“Give up!” Page shouted. Karl could hear the chopper approaching again. “Come on out and I’ll make your death quick!”

“We won’t surrender!” Steven shouted.

“No we won’t!” Karl shouted in reply. “We won’t give up until you’re dead or we are!”

“So be it,” Page said. “Pull them out of their hiding spots and bring them here. Shoot their knees out so they can’t run away.”

The guards started approaching the hiding spots of Karl and Steven. They nodded to each other once more and readied their guns to make one last ditch effort. They didn’t have enough bullets to finish this one, but they would go out shooting.

“Don’t go messin’ with a country boy!” A voice shouted. The guards turned, and Hillbilly Jim and a dozen or so midgets dressed as classic professional wrestlers were already on them. Jim was in his overalls with no shirt underneath. He banged two guards’ heads together, then he turned and punched another in the jaw. He stomped his large right foot on the ground as the midgets started punching and kicking anyone near them.

“Get them!” Diamond Dallas Page shouted.

The guards scrambled to get ahold of the situation. A King Kong Bundy midget grabbed the left the left leg of a guard while a Koko B. Ware midget grabbed the right. The guard tumbled to the ground where a mini Earthquake kicked him in the ribs along with a mini Macho Man. Another guard went down the same way, receiving a leg drop from a tiny Hulk Hogan on the back of his neck. The mini Macho Man dropped an elbow on a guard’s kidney, and he screamed in pain.

“You idiots,” Page said, taking aim with his AK47. “Kill them. They aren’t children.”

“Self high five!” A midget Diamond Dallas Page shouted at the real Page while giving himself a self high five. “It’s me! It’s me! IT’S DDP!”

“Enough of this fuckery,” Page growled.

Hillbilly Jim kicked the midget Diamond Dallas Page in his rump, sending him twenty feet away. He then grabbed a guard in a sleeper hold, using him as a human shield as he was fired at by the fully-grown version of DDP. The midgets ran in every direction when the bullets started firing. “You’re a sick man!” he shouted, holding the bullet riddled guard.

Karl and Steven were out of their hiding spots now. Karl used all but one of his bullets to put down some of the guards, and Steven used his .45 to take care of the rest. Hillbilly Jim gave the last man standing a pile-driver, cracking his skull. “Where’d all my new friends go?” Hillbilly Jim asked, scratching his head and looking around. “They must have run off back to their little car. I think I forgot to thank them for the ride here.”

“Good to see you again, Jim,” Steven said.


“I found you!’ Hillbilly Jim said, smiling widely.

“You sure did,” Karl said.

The helicopter came back down from the sky, and Page turned to run towards it. “You going to let him get away?” Steven asked.

“I didn’t plan on it,” Karl said, raising his mag.

“You got any bullets left?” Steven asked.

“Just one,” Karl said, taking aim. “But one is all I ever need.”

“Uh-oh,” Hillbilly Jim said, sticking his fingers in his ears.

Page turned around towards Karl after hearing the conversation. He tossed his AK47 to the ground. “You really want to finish me with one bullet?” he asked. “That’s not the Karl Malone I knew.”

“The Karl Malone you knew died,” Karl replied. “Like you’re about to do.”

“Then put down he gun,” Page said. “Fight me like a man.”

“Fine,” Karl said, handing his gun handle first to Steven.

“Don’t do this,” Steven said. “Just put a bullet in him and walk away.”

“This shit is personal this time,” Karl said. “So I’m going to finish it personally. Don’t interfere.”

Karl walked towards Diamond Dallas Page, who had his fists balled up and ready. “This isn’t a wrestling match,” he said.

“Those days are over,” Karl replied. He rushed Page, hammering at him with a barrage of jabs, but Page was blocked with his forearms. Karl hesitated for only a moment, but Page took the advantage and connected with a blow to Karl’s temple. Karl answered with a left hook of his own, nearly knocking off Page’s jaw.

Page jabbed, and Karl sidestepped it, swinging with his left and connecting with the side of Page’s head. Page kicked out towards Karl’s stomach. He then turned around quickly and moved his hands to sides of Karl’s head, trying to give him his signature move: The Diamond Cutter.

Karl shoved Page to the ground. “What the fuck are you doing?!” Karl shouted. “That shit don’t work in real life! Get the fuck off the ground!”

Page got up and wiped the blood that was coming from his nose with the back of his hand. “Force of habit I guess,” he said. “You ready to finish this?”

“I’ve been ready, mother fucker,” Karl said. “I’m just waiting on you.”

Page rushed Karl this time, tackling him around the waist and driving him to the ground. He pounded at his foe with his fists while Karl did his best to block with his arms. Page finally raised both his arms above his head to make his fists ready for a hammer blow, but Karl punched upwards, hitting Page in the jaw. He fell backwards and Karl moved quickly to get above his opponent.

“Is this what you wanted?!” Karl shouted, punching Page over and over in his face. “It’s over, Page!”

“Karl!” Steven said, pulling his friend off of Page. “It’s over. He’s done.”

“You’re just going to let him get back up?!” Karl asked.

“We can get enough here to put him behind bars for the rest of his life,” Steven said. “Death’s too good for Page. Besides, you and him were friends.”

Karl looked down at the bloody face of Diamond Dallas Page and sighed. “You’re right,” Karl said. “Jim, find something to tie this fool up with.”

“Sure thing, boss,” Hillbilly Jim said, looking at the ground around his feet and scratching his head. “You see any bungee cords around?”

Karl was about to say something else when bullets started hitting the ground around them from the helicopter. “Find cover!” Karl shouted. Steven and Jim ran off in opposite directions, and Karl did the same, finding cover from the small gatling gun behind some crates. He peeked from the side to see Page starting to pick himself up and walk towards the helicopter.

“You mother fucker,” Karl muttered. He looked across the roof to Steven, who was trying to signal him. Steven still had Karl’s magnum, but he didn’t have a clear shot. Karl held his hands out, and Steven threw the gun across the roof as Page climbed aboard the helicopter.

Page pushed the guard who was using the gatling gun out of the way and got into the helicopter. Karl only had one bullet and once chance to end Page. He took aim while the gunman tried to get his bearings, but the helicopter was already ascending and turning in air. Karl had no shot at hitting Page, so he aimed for the pilot.

Karl pulled the trigger, firing his final bullet. A hole appeared in the glass windshield of the helicopter as it passed through, killing the pilot. The helicopter tumbled through the air, coming down on top of the roof in a pile of twisted metal and smoke.

“Holy cow!” Hillbilly Jim shouted, coming out of his hiding spot. “What a shot!”

“We need to run away from the coming explosion,” Steven said.

“Fucking right we do,” Karl said. 

Karl Malone, Steven Segal, and Hillbilly Jim ran in the opposite direction of the helicopter, jumping into the window of Diamond Dallas Page’s compound as the helicopter ignited and exploded, sending shrapnel in all directions. 

—-

Epilogue:


Tricia sat on the steps of her building and kicked a rock off the path and into the dry grass next to it. Months had passed since those four men sat at her Auntie Nancy’s table and promised to find her parents, but she hadn’t heard anything from them since. She had nearly given up hope when the taxi pulled up in front of her.

Tricia looked up as the back door opened and her mother and father came out. They both looked a lot thinner and haggard than she remembered, but she would never forget their faces. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree in a prison yard as they ran to greet her. She ran into their arms. Her parents knelt down to catch her, and the three of them hugged as if they would never let go.

“I missed you so much,” Tricia said through her tears. “But I knew you’d be back. I knew they could do it.”

“We missed you too,” Tricia’s mother said. “You have no idea how much, baby.”

“Everything will be OK now,” Tricia’s father said. “Those men gave us enough money for us to start a new life. We are going to take you far away from this place.”

“Somewhere quiet,” her mother said. “With trees and and a swing for you to play on. It’ll be beautiful.”

“I don’t care,” Tricia said, her tears renewing themselves. “I’ll go anywhere as long as I don’t lose you again.”

***

A large, gray van pulled up to the projects nicknamed Red Brick City just inside the city limits of Lincoln, Nebraska. The phase “Knights Against Hunger” was printed on the side in large, red letters. An SUV pulled next to it, and a grill was taken out. The people of the projects started watching what was going on, and were pleased to see three men handing out food and goods.

Steven set up the grill and began cooking hamburgers and hotdogs for anyone that wanted a free lunch. Karl passed out packages of clothing, blankets, and canned goods. Hillbilly Jim ran off, and Brian Bosworth slept across the backseat of the SUV.

“Look at this!” Hillbilly Jim said, running back towards Karl with a newspaper. “Diamond Dallas page is in the news again!”

Karl took the newspaper and read the first few lines after the headline. “More of former Iowa governor candidate Diamond Dallas Page’s skeletons came out of the closet yesterday. On top of being a drug kingpin, linked to nearly a dozen drug rings in Oklahoma, Page was running prostitution rings in Georgia and Texas as well.”

“Wow,” Steven said, listening to Karl and reading over his shoulder at the same time. “It’s too bad he’s not around to live through this hell.”

“Too bad,” Karl said, continuing to read. “The FBI made over fifty arrests this week. All DDP’s men.”

“Aren’t you glad they’re following our anonymous tips?” Steven asked. “That’d be to much to handle. Even for us.”

“Page was right about one thing,” Karl said, folding the paper and giving it back to Hillbilly Jim. “This was bigger than us. It’s a good thing we can still count on the feds to clean up a bit when we do three quarters of their job.”

“Thank you,” Jim said, flipping through the paper. “I can’t wait to read today’s Marmaduke!”

“Hey!” Brian said, climbing out of the backseat of the SUV. “Get me one of those burgers. I’m starving.”

“Sure thing,” Steven said, tending to the grill once again. “How was your nap?”

“Nap?” Brian asked, rhetorically. “I’m stiff as hell. How long was I out?”

“Three days,” Steven said. “You need your rest to finish healing.”

“I’ll be back in action the next time around,” Brian said. “Where are we anyway?”

“Lincoln,” Hillbilly Jim said, still smiling at the comics section of the newspaper.

“Lincoln?” Brian asked. “Lincoln Fucking Nebraska?!”

“Calm the fuck down,” Karl said, looking around. “We don’t need any heat.”

“You dragged me into Nebraska while I was out cold, you dirty mother fuckers,” Brian said.

“You’re already here,” Karl said. “So calm down, eat a cheeseburger, and start looking for a place to stay and a new post office.”

“Fine,” Brian said, snatching the paper plate from Steven. “But I’m not going to he happy until these corn-husking bastards are in the rear-view mirror.”

“Setting up another temporary base?” Steven asked.

“Yeah,” Karl said. “Unless you’re thinking of retiring, old man.”

“No way,” Steven said. “This is way too much fun.”

Steven and Karl laughed as a tinted window rolled up from across the street. “Is that them?” a young man in glasses asked.

“That’s them,” a raspy voice answered. Diamond Dallas Page leaned forward. He was missing the left half of his face, and the scar tissue had turned dark red. He wore a diamond shaped eyepatch where his left eye used to be. His left arm was metal, and he’d walk with a limp for the rest of his life on his prosthetic leg.

“What now?” The young man asked.

“We wait,” Page replied, leaning back on the leather seat. He took a breath of nitrogen-cooled air from the tank on the seat next to him, savoring the feel of it on his smoke-damaged lungs. A half-smile full of diamond-studded false teeth sparkled. “Those four think that they’ve won, but they’re wrong. I haven’t even begun to play.”

The black car drove off, unnoticed by the four men as they did they’re work, laughed together, and listened to the stories of the people, looking for a lead towards their next mission.


The End

Jazz and Legaes Trailer

The following trailer has been approved to accompany this blog.

On a remote island in the Pacific, Karl Malone, Steven Seagal, and an entire cast of celebrities get ready for the reality show; The Amazing Survivalist: Celebrity Edition. Little did they know, the terrorist cell know as ISIS had other plans.”

Karl Malone walks onto the beach with a bottle of champagne in his hand. There’s an explosion behind him, throwing him to the beach in its blast. The image fades to black.

Karl wakes up among Steven Seagal, Brian Bosworth, and Hillbilly Jim.

“Do you hunt?” Steven asks, sitting by a campfire.

“Mother fucker, you know that I do,” Karl replies.

Karl fires his .44 magnum at the ISIS guards as Hillbilly Jim punches and clotheslines them. Steven Seagal fights off four at once with karate chops and kicks.

“I wanted people to see me make a difference in other’s lives,” Steven says after the intense action sequence. “We have that opportunity. What can we do as celebrities? We can’t go around without the cameras in our faces. If we do this, then we do this as vigilantes.”

Now, Karl Malone and Steven Seagal fight crime underground as Jazz and Legaes.”

“The name is Legaes,” Steven tells a bewildered man with a clipboard. “It’s spelled like Seagal, only backwards.”

“Alongside Brian Bosworth and Hillbilly Jim, Jazz and Legaes take out criminal empires one bad guy at a time.”

Steven fires his uzi into a hoard of drug dealers while topless women scurry to hide under tables covered in white powder. Karl comes up from hiding with his twin .44s, putting holes in the drug dealers’ heads. Hillbilly Jim comes in, pile-driving a drug dealer and breaking his neck.

A white van with the words “Food for the Needy” painted on its side with red letters rolls into the projects. Karl and Steven begin passing out food and goods to the people. Karl notices a girl crying on her porch. “They’re gone!” she sobbed. “My mom and dad got taken away!”

“My friends and I help people in need,” Karl says. “Maybe we can lend you a hand.”

Karl, Steven, Brian, and Hillbilly Jim soon find themselves in over their heads with drug dealers and kingpins.”

“This shit was bigger than us,” Karl says, standing alongside a motorcycle. “And we ain’t shit now. I didn’t leave my life behind to play action hero with a coke head.”

Steven takes a bump of cocaine off his key before putting a donut in his mouth. He dusts the powered sugar off of his kimono before leaving the locker room.

“You must find a happy in-between, Legaes,” the Dalai Lama says on Steven’s computer screen. “There will be a time when your bad habits will come between yourself and your team.”

Karl cuts the wheel of his eighteen-wheeler, crushing a police cruiser with the back wheels. Steven fires his uzi from the window of the truck, sending bullet holes in the hood of another.

Brian Bosworth punches drug dealers as they surround him, knocking them out in piles around himself. “WOO-WEEEEEE!” Hillbilly Jim shouts as he dodges bullets, taking down dealers in his denim overalls and straw hat.

This summer; bet on the only two men that could take down drug dealers with style. Karl Malone and Steven Seagal in:


JAZZ AND LEGAES: HARD AS FUCK VENDETTA
September 15th; only on BudgieBigelow.com