One solid hit from that ham fisted bastard and I am flying through the air and into a wall. There is a lot of pain in my back and my neck and I really wish I hadn’t gotten into this fight in the first place. I’ve already taken a pounding and now it seems that this orangutan was just warming up.
“Had enough, asshole?” I said boldly as I stood up from the floor. Or at least that is what I would have said, but he managed to get a gorilla grip on my windpipe somewhere during the “Ha…” part. So now he thinks I am laughing at him. This is bad. I could be losing consciousness here. Nope, he is lifting me up over his head. I never thought a Nip in a kilt could be so dangerous. Okay, honestly I never thought I’d ever meet a Nip in a kilt, so we are truly out of my depth of reckoning at this point.
I am going to assume that his next move will be to throw me at something. If I’m really unlucky he will throw me through something. Like a window. Or a wall. Everything is starting to spin; I must be losing consciousness…
No, wait. I am starting to spin. This guy is actually spinning me around a bit before he does me in. I might upchuck here and if I do I’m going to aim for his stupid head. A wall, a door, a window, Gil, a wall, a door, a window, Gil, a wall, a door, a window, Gil…since I am about to die I think I should take a moment to reflect on how I got into this messed up situation in the first place. Let’s rewind about 3 hours to 3:00 PM.
Tuesday, 3:00 PM, the Institute.
It had been about three weeks since my run in with the Nazi Nymphos and I was feeling recovered, but Dr. Rikenstein wanted to do more tests. I had been in the labs for eight hours each day for the past four days while the Doc did his thing with the test tubes and the probes. He was convinced that I could generate some sort of mental blast, all Martian-like, from my brain that could be a useful weapon. Yeah, right. He kept trying different things that he thought might trigger the effect, but we had come up zilchville so far. Luckily for me, the Doc had a meeting with some bigwigs from the Capitol and I wasn’t needed at all, so I decided to head out and relax for awhile. The way I figured it, I was due a little off time and Gil could use some fresh air too, so I headed over to the aquatics labs to pick him up.
“What’s haps, Fishboy? Let’s get outta here and have some fun,” I said as I came through the door. Gil was reading a pulp magazine and sulking, which is what he does most of the time. He needed a break from the lab.
“Go away, Billy. I’m trying to read over here,” Gil whined. He does that a lot.
“Come on, Gil, you can read any time. We need to get out and have a little fun while the Doc’s busy with those squares from
. Can you tell me any good reason why you would rather be sitting around this sad little swimming pool and not out having fun, drinking some brews, chasing some trashy girls?” Washington
Gil gave me that sad sack look of his, the one he always gives me when he’s feeling sorry for himself.
“I’m a freak who is permanently bonded to this fish-man suit and can’t be seen in public,” he said. “Is that a good enough reason?”
I admit, that is a good reason, but not good enough for me. See, I didn’t know Gil before the accident that turned him from a normal guy into an amphibious fish-man, but I suspect he was always this mopey. He’s always reading pulp magazines and imagining the exciting life of crime fighting and dames and all that, which is ironic as that is the life we live, sorta.
“Not good enough, daddy-o. I’m crashing this pity party as of right now. We are going out and we are going to have fun. It’s not Friday night, so don’t use that whole Sabbath excuse on me like you did last time.”
“How am I supposed to go out looking like a fish? Thought of that yet, smart guy?”
“Aha,” I said, my genius about to shine forth, “You’ll put on a hat.”
About half an hour later we were behind Dodge’s Groceries meeting up with a couple of friends of mine, Tommy Dodge and
. Dodge and Kal are good guys and are both aware of my secret identity, so to speak. I introduced them to Gil and not surprisingly they were cool with the whole thing. Tommy’s pop owns Dodge’s Groceries, which is one to the few things that makes him great to hang out with. Tommy slipped out the back of the store with two sixers of beer and the four of us took off for the local television station where Kal works in the maintenance department. He’s a grip or whatever they call those cats with all the tools on their belts. Kalvin Parks
So there we were, sitting in the parking lot on the hood of the AHR, drinking PBRs and listening to the radio. Everything was right with the world. Then Gil started in.
“So this is all we do?”
“Whuzzat?” Dodge asked.
Gil continued, “We just sit here on the hood of the car and drink beer and smoke cigarettes? This is what you call fun? We could have done this back at the lab.”
“Not the same,” I explained. “Here we are out in the open, enjoying the air. Here we have the opportunity to go and do other things. Besides, Doc doesn’t have any beer at the lab.” I felt I had made my point.
“Pabst Blue Ribbon,” Dodge said to no one in particular, “no finer beer.” He chugged the rest of the can and tossed the empty into the grass.
“No finer beer we could get you mean,” Kal said.
“There is no finer beer than free beer,” I added and popped the top on my third. It was a fine fall afternoon and the crisp night was coming soon. I could see that Gil was not happy, but I think he’s probably never happy, so no loss there.
“Is this all we do?” Gil asked. He was still nursing his first beer. Life support, more like.
“No. Absolutely not,” I said. “After it gets dark we’ll cruise for awhile. See if we can find some chicks. Maybe roll by the Cosmic Burger, I’m starting to get a little hungry.”
So we were sitting and drinking and shooting the shit when Kal tells us that a strange package arrived at the station on Friday and when he brought it to the station manager the guy acted all crazy and locked the thing in a wall safe.
“…and it’s just been weirdsville since then, man,” Kal said, finishing his story. “Must have been pretty important because everybody in a tie has a stick up their ass about it.”
“Oi vey,” Gil said and exhaled loudly. “I think I’m drunk.”
“Whyzat, lightweight?” Kal laughed.
“Because I am seeing a massive Scotsman walking toward the front door of the television station.”
We were parked at the back of the station, but we had a good angle toward the front door. There was in fact a massive Scotsman striding toward the front door of the television station. Even though I live a life that is not what one would call ordinary, this officially qualified as strange. I do not live in the sort of neighborhood where one expects to see a massive man in a kilt walking around. I mean, it wasn’t even Halloween.
Gil continued to stress about the Scotsman but Dodge and I thought it was nothing. Kal was unusually interested in this Scottish phenomenon continuing to stare in the direction of the front door after the Scotsman had disappeared from view.
Dusk was fast taking away the last of the day and I was contemplating my fourth brewski when the chirp of autumn crickets was broken by a loud crashing noise and screams from inside the television station. Kal leapt from the hood of my rod so fast that Dodge was surprised enough to slip off the car and to the ground, busting his keister on landing. I was laughing at Dodge and failed to notice Kal was running toward the back door of the station. It was Gil who pointed that out. I took off after Kal while Gil helped Dodge up from the ground. The chubby bastard was whining about his ass hurting and the beer he’d spilled on his pants, but I was more concerned with Kal at the moment. Apparently he had keys to the back door because when I got to it he was fumbling with his key ring as though he was looking for the right one.
“What the hell, Kal?” I asked him.
“Billy, something is going on in there. It’s a television station, those noises shouldn’t be happening. And then there was that strange man in the kilt. It might be MacAngus!”
I didn’t know who the hell MacAngus was supposed to be. In retrospect, it was obviously the Scotsman, however at the time I had been drinking and the whole experience was too surreal for words. Kal started to speak way too fast. I could tell he was panicked. What I gathered at the time was that Kal had been eavesdropping and overheard a name, Toshiro MacAngus, and that the name was connected with some kind of wrecking ball and that Kal’s boss, the station manager, feared for his life and possibly the contents of the package that was in the wall safe. At least that’s what it seemed like at the time.
“We have to do something, man!” Kal shouted at me as he pushed open the back door to the station. “Do your hero thing, Rumble!”
So I did. I shouted back to Gil and Dodge, telling chubby to stay put and fishboy to tear ass over to the station. We had work to do.
I followed Kal inside the station and let him lead me. Not surprisingly he went straight for the station manager’s office. Once there we saw the big Scottish goon standing over the body of the station manager. It looked like he was dead, but he could have been unconscious. The Scotsman had a pry bar and was dismantling the wall around the safe. It looked like he was going to take the whole thing with him. Not if I could help it.
“It’s Psychobilly Time!” I shouted my battle cry and let the atomic energy within flow. I could feel my body heating up and see my forearms glow as my skeleton lit up green with atomic fire. Damn, its times like that when I wish I had theme music. You would have thought my battle cry would have drawn his attention, but he just kept tearing up the wall like I wasn’t even there, which made me angry of course.
“Hey, gorilla man! Get ready for lights out.” And with those bold last words I leapt into action. Now I figured he was just a normal but very large Scotsman, so I didn’t want to nail him with the Super Psycho Atomic Knuckle Sandwich. I mean, I didn’t want to kill the man. So I launched myself at him instead and boldly grabbed his pry bar and jerked it out of his hand. At least that was the plan.
What actually happened was the large Scotsman pulling me up to his face and looking me over. Then he said something in a language that I did not understand and I got a good look at his face. A bushy beard, slanted brown eyes…what had Kal said? Toshiro MacAngus. I was staring dead into the eyes of Giant Japanese in a kilt. “Ummmm…,” was all I could manage before this enormous kilted maniac lifted up the pry bar, with me still holding onto it, and tossed me across the room. Nothing bruised but my pride; I stood up and promptly decided that holding back with this particular goon was not a good idea. Again I launched myself at him, this time flinging myself into his back with a solid shoulder slam. It was like hitting a brick wall in a skirt. But at least I got his attention. It was then that MacAngus turned and swung a quick punch at my head. I deftly ducked it only to find that a follow up left was aimed at my gut. It felt like I had been hit by a bowling ball and I staggered trying desperately to catch my breath.
Finding the sort of testicular fortitude that makes John Wayne America’s hero, I stood up tall in time to see Gil coming into the room to join the fight. I make fun of the fishboy a lot, I know, but the first time we met he nearly cleaned my clock. I know he’s good in a scrap and there’s nobody I’d rather have with me in a rumble. But this MacAngus was one tough customer. So it came as no surprise to me that when Gil jumped onto his back to put him into headlock the giant goon flipped him over in a Judo chopsockey move and started pounding him. Poor guy didn’t even have time to block those massive fists. It was brutal. I knew I had to do something and quick. I decided to let the bastard have it, my full force Atomic Punch.
“Yo, Johnny Sake!” I shouted. “Why don’t you let the fishboy alone and deal with a real man?” And then I let him have it. My fist shot out like a jackhammer and connected with his face. Blood squirted from his nose and lips and I knew I had made an impression. The element of surprise had been on my side for that punch, but now it was lost and with it my advantage. What followed was a dizzying flurry of punches and a few kicks and something about a ‘beastie’ and ‘best laid plans’, it was hard to follow. Which more or less brings us up to where we came in: me hoisted into the air and being spun rapidly in circles.
The simple fact is that I can’t beat this guy and he is probably going to kill me. I’d like it to be noted, for the record, that this cowboy did not go down without a fight. And here comes the toss…
I did manage to grab his shirt before he threw me. I don’t know what that is meant to accomplish, maybe it will slow me down as I fly through the air.
Turns out that was a good move on my part. Way to go, Rumble! Instead of flying into a wall I hit the floor. Hard. I don’t think I want to get up again. I think I will lie here instead. Awwh, who am I kidding. I lift myself up as best I can and prepare for my death…only he’s not standing there ready to kill me. He’s gone back to the wall safe. I don’t know whether to be insulted or relieved. Things are sorta hazy right now; I think I can hear Kal hustling station workers out of the area. Gil is still knocked out, but he’s breathing. That big bastard MacAngus has actually pulled the safe out of the wall. This looks bad for our side. I find myself thinking of
Pearl Harbor for some reason. And John Wayne. And Johnny Cash. This really hacks me off, you dig? I feel an amazing headache coming on, all sudden like. Like my brain is on fire and my eyes are going to explode. I keep thinking about and atomic fire and I really hate this guy for kicking my ass all over the room. And then it happens… Nagasaki
Waves of pain stab at the front of my head and I can feel my forehead explode. The fire and pain focus into a shape like a lance right in the center of my forehead and I can see a wave move through the air like the heat haze coming off the blacktop on a hot summer day. Waves of anger and pain and fire coming out of my head and lancing forward to strike at the hulking form carrying the wall safe in his arms.
My head snaps back like whiplash and my vision goes red. And when it clears I see that big kilted goon lying flat on his back, K.O.ed and the wall safe pinning his legs to the ground. I stand up way too fast and fall back to the ground. Then Kal is there helping me up. Gil is awake now, but he looks rough. I manage to stagger over to the unconscious MacAngus, now shirtless thanks to me. He appears to have a massive tattoo on his chest…of a wrecking ball. Ahh, it all comes together now.
Ten minutes later finds me and Gil in the AHR contacting the Doc on the radio tele-transmitter and receiver in the rod’s dashboard. Kal and Dodge have taken off at my request. I told them to become scarce before the fuzz showed up. I don’t have much time either.
“IASA headquarters come in, this is Rumble and Gilmann,” I say into the mic.
“This is IASA headquarters, over,” the voice comes through the speaker.
“We need immediate aid at the television station. A very large and dangerous enemy agent has been apprehended by us, but we cannot contain him. Suggest elephant tranquillizers and some very heavy chain. Please patch me through to Dr. Rikenstein.”
Ahhh; the comforting flattop and commanding pipe of the Doc.
“Rikenstein here,” he says. “William is that you?”
“Yeah, Doc. Gil is with me. We’re coming in. I think you should have a medical team ready. I’m in bad shape, maybe a few cracked ribs, pretty bruised all around. Gil is awake now but he took a pounding. We’re all messed up.”
“Good Lord, man, you sound awful. What happened?”
“You could say we got hit by a wrecking ball. Psychobilly out.”