Friday, June 3, 2011

Dodge and Kal Go to the Spookshow (pt 1)

Tommy Dodge pulled up to the local television station where his best friend Kalvin Parks worked in the maintenance department, grabbed two PBRs from the sack that sat beside him on the seat of his car and killed the engine.  Tommy knew that Kal didn’t like being bothered when he was at work, but he also knew that a cold one would not be looked on unfavorably either.  In this case it was a lukewarm one, but he decided such a small matter would be overlooked once he laid his amazing news on his best buddy and partner in crime.  The station manager kept the back door locked unless a delivery was being made, but that didn’t matter, because the door was not quite as secure as the station manager believed.  At least half of the time the staff forgot to lock the door and even if it was locked, Dodge knew the secret to getting it open. 

Tonight the back door was unlocked making Dodge’s entrance simple and quiet.  Through the back he wound until he came to the studio itself.  Kalvin was there working on a light rigging, his tool belt girding his loins like some wrenchslinging gearhead cowboy.  Dodge slipped up behind his friend, and paying no heed to his own personal safety, tapped Kal lightly on the shoulder.  Kalvin spun around, wrench in hand, ready to brain the unfortunate Tommy Dodge.

“Watch out, man.  Be cool.  It’s just me!”  Dodge cried out when he saw the wrench poised to strike.

“Whatcha sneakin’ up on me for, Dodge?”  Kal said with obvious annoyance.  “I’m workin’ over here.  You could have gotten hurt plenty bad, man.”

Dodge scratched at the back of his head and chuckled; a nervous sound that Kal recognized as an apology, familiar as he was with his best friend’s antics.  “I have news.  Good news.  And beer.”  Dodge handed one of the cans he was carrying to Kal and popped the top on his own can.

“Not in here, numbnuts,” Kal snapped.  “Let’s take it out to the parking lot.”

Within minutes they were leaning against the decklid of Dodge’s car, drinking their beer and smoking Luckies.  Kal could sense that Dodge had more on his mind than drinking beer in a parking lot and that usually meant trouble of one sort or another, such were the ill-conceived schemes of Tommy Dodge.  Dodge slurped another swallow of his Pabst and took a drag from his smoke.  Kal could feel it coming.  This was, after all, the usual pattern employed by Tommy Dodge, who was nowhere near as cunning as he thought himself to be.  First Dodge would drink about half of his beer, letting Kal enjoy the golden beverage, and then he would take a few drags from his cig prior to launching into his latest brilliant scheme.  Kal exhaled a lungful of smoke, noting how the chill autumn air contrasted with the smoke.  He watched it swirl up and into the illumination cast by the parking lot light poles.  Any second now Dodge would start up.  Any second now. 

“Kal, old buddy, old pal,” Dodge said in his ‘confidant’ voice, “have I gotten a deal for us.  The old Artful Dodger has hit upon yet another brilliant plan to put a little green in our pockets and have a good time…err…at the same time.”

“Who?” Kal asked.

“Who who?”

“Who did you say has hit on an idea?”

“The Artful Dodger.  Me.  You know, the Artful Dodger.  From Dickens.  Oliver Twist.”

Kal took a sip of his beer and cocked an eyebrow.  “Have you read Oliver Twist?”

“Well, no,” Dodge replied and took a swig of his beer.  “Why, does that matter?”

“So how do you know about this Artful Dodger business?  I don’t even know what that means.”

“Gil told me about it.  That’s not important.  Damn, Kal, you are getting us way off the topic here.  Gil told me about this character called the Artful Dodger from this book Oliver Twist who was real slick.  This Dodger runs cons and stuff and stays one step ahead of trouble and leads a gang of rugrat thieves.  Since my last name is Dodge I just figured it would sound good, ya know.  ‘Tommy Dodge, the Artful Dodger’.”  Dodge was punctuating his words with gestures in the air in front of him as though he was viewing an invisible marquee.  “I think it’s a good nickname, what do you…”

“Meanwhile, back at the ranch,” Kal sighed and took another drag from his smoke before tossing it onto the ground in front of him.

“Oh yeah, sorry about that,” Dodge said and took another swallow.  “So I’ve got this plan, see.”

After Dodge had explained the whole thing and left, Kal got back to work at the station.  It wasn’t a bad plan after all.  Helping this Peter La Roche cat set up a spookshow at the theatre couldn’t be that hard.  They’d make a few bucks and get to see the fun from a backstage view.  Plus, as Dodge had pointed out more than once during his explanations, there were fringe benefits.  Kal knew what his friend’s idea of ‘fringe’ benefits meant:  tight sweaters surrounding easily grope-able mounds of flesh.  This little project should prove a good time after all, and it wasn’t like he actually had plans for Saturday night. 

On Thursday afternoon the pair was at the Cosmic Burger where Dodge was attempting to impress some chicks they’d met by telling them about the job working the spookshow on Saturday.  Kal cringed as he listened to Dodge’s lines.  Tommy Dodge was laying it on thick, even for him and these skirts didn’t seem impressed in the least.  Perhaps it was Dodge’s way of shooting too high and crashing as a result, or perhaps it was a genuine optimism that made him feel like he could meet any challenge, even though success remained out of his grasp, or perhaps it was the simple fact that underneath that blonde flattop Dodge’s head was a hard as the butch wax he used on his coiffure, but whatever it was, these girls weren’t interested and Kal knew it, even if his partner didn’t.  With a strong desire to avoid any further embarrassment on his own part, Kal made a show of looking at his watch before tapping Dodge on the shoulder with the back of his hand.

“Shouldn’t we be meetin’ that La Roche cat?” Kal asked, watching the girls out of his periphery.

“Nah, we still have half an hour,” Dodge replied cheerily, still smiling at the pair of increasingly disinterested young ladies in poodle skirts holding their school books tight against their chests as though they were shielding their womanly qualities from the eyes of these two young lads so obviously from the wrong side of town.

“We wouldn’t want to keep you,” the brunette with the ponytail tied up in a scarf said quickly, then inwardly cringed.  She simply knew that she’d sounded too eager to be rid of these two miscreants.  “I mean…” she began to say in an attempt to cover her blunder.

“She means,” her blonde friend with the glasses broke in, “that we would hate for you to be late.  This whole monster movie show sounds like great fun, and we would hate to be responsible for you missing out on your chance to be a part of it.” 

 Kal was no expert on human nature, and no one would ever accuse him of being a genius, but he could tell that Glasses and Ponytail here were not into this scene.  Dodge beamed at the girls, fully unaware of the score.  Kal winced, as though in real pain.  Something had to be done and quickly. 

“Look, girls, it’s been great meeting you.  I’m sure you’ll both want to come on Saturday night, so just be at Bijou by 11 PM and we’ll personally make sure you have the best seats in the house.  But the sad truth is, and my friend would never offend you two by sayin’ it, we gotta jet.  We need to meet Mr. La Roche at the theatre and I’d like to be early; make a good impression and all.  I knew you’d be too polite to come out and ask, so I’m personally inviting you two.”  Kal smiled at the girls and thought the blonde with the glasses was smiling back.  She had obviously picked up on what he was trying to do and seemed to appreciate the effort. 

Kal grabbed Dodge’s jacket collar before the latter could protest and pulled his friend away.  If there were medals for civilian life Kal would have earned a Bronze Star several times over due to Tommy Dodge.  It wasn’t that Dodge was actively a trouble seeker.  Anyone who knew him could tell you that Tommy Dodge looked for trouble in the same way the mice looked for hungry cats.  Rather, Tommy was like the unfortunate mouse drawn to the cheese blissfully unaware that a trap waited.  He was a dreamer that lacked imagination.  Kal was the perfect match for his friend, having imagination but little in the way of dreams.  Where Dodge was all pie-in-the-sky dreams and elaborate, but ultimately flawed, plans, Kal was practicality and hard work.  Dodge was not well-off enough to hang out with posh kids and Kal was just a little too smart for his wrong-side-of-the-tracks birth; they were both outcasts, which is probably why they were friends.  Despite the outward incongruities, Kal genuinely liked Tommy and Tommy, for his part, considered Kal is best friend in the world.  It was for this reason more than any other than the practical, some would say sullen, Kal let the dreamer lead him into trouble.  Besides, somebody had to look out for less than artful Dodger.


You Win Some, You Lose Some

A tale of Psychobilly Rumble

Tuesday at the Cosmic Burger found Billy Rumble taking a break from his work to hang out and look for chicks.  He has just struck up a conversation with a particularly peachy doll that lived in Mockingbird Heights when his plans for the evening abruptly changed.

“What was that noise?” the doll said looking around the car park.

Billy pretended not to notice that his watch was buzzing.  “What noise?” he asked innocently.

“That buzzing noise,” she replied.  “It sounds like it’s coming from your watch.”

Billy whipped his left arm behind his back but the buzzing was only getting louder.  He laughed a nervous laugh and decided that this chick was too sharp to buy into his innocent bit, which meant that she probably wouldn’t buy his James Dean routine either.  Shame, he thought, she’s a looker and she has class.

“Look, Mary…”

“Marilyn,” she cut him off sharply.

“Marilyn.  Sorry, too soon to give you a pet name,” Billy laughed his nervous laugh again.  The glint in Marilyn’s eyes told him that she wasn’t buying any of this.  He had already stuck out.  Maybe the persistent buzzing of his watch was actually a blessing this time.  “As I was saying, Marilyn, I have to go.  It’s extremely important.  It’s my uncle.  I was supposed to help him move some, ah, furniture.  So, uhm, see ya later alligator.”

Billy crossed the parking lot and jumped into the front seat of his hot rod hearse.  He knew the buzzing of his watch meant that the Atomic Powered Hot Rod’s designer and his own mentor, Dr. J. Rikenstein was trying to contact him.  Billy opened the glove box and pressed a button hidden inside causing a portion of the dashboard to rotate exposing a complicated looking series of switches and lights, as well as a small view screen.  By flipping another series of switches the view screen was brought to life and Billy saw the face of his mentor staring at him in glorious black and white.

“I’m here, Doc, what’s buzzin’?”

“William,” Dr. Rikenstein spoke from the speaker next to the screen, “I have information of a grave nature.  I presume you are safely out of earshot of passersby.”

“I keep forgetting that you can’t see me,” Billy replied.  “We’re safe, this place is deadsville today.”

“Good.  William, we have reason to believe that a group of elite Nazi agents, left over form the war obviously, have a secret hide-out in the vicinity of the warehouse district.  I need for you to get down there and investigate.  Be careful; be vigilant.  It’s bad enough having to fight off the Commie Menace, but leftover Nazis as well, this is simply too much.  I’m sending the coordinates to you through the Radio-Telecom-Receiver/Transmitter.”

“Fear not, Big Daddy Frankenstein, I’m all over this.”

Billy flipped the switch to close the communication circuit and waited for the coordinates to print out.  Task accomplished, he flipped the dash configuration for drive, fired up the engine and tore ass out of the parking lot heading directly toward the warehouse district.

Billy drove madly through the city following the directions on his ticker sheet, finally pulling up in front of a building with windows boarded up and a painted sign declaring Fox Furs.  Odd, he thought, never seen the likes of this place before.  With no options presenting themselves save the obvious, Billy Rumble pulled the rod around the warehouse and into an alley.  He slipped out of the care and headed around the wall looking for a back door into the building.

A locked back door presented a new challenge, but Billy remedied the situation with the tire iron from his rod.  He slipped inside the darkened building and stumbled into something unseen.  “Psychobilly time,” he said quietly and focused his mental energies.  His eyes began to glow and the darkness gave way bringing the room into sharp focus in stark black and white.  He could feel his energies building up from inside himself, raising his core temperature in the process.

Billy threaded his way between crates and boxes, inspecting the warehouse.  No alarms, guard or Nazis in sight.  This whole situation was trouble, but not the kind that brings kicks. 

Eventually he found a door that looked suspiciously new; it simply did not belong in this dusty old warehouse.  He tried the doorknob and was not surprised to find it locked.  He considered breaking the door down or calling the whole thing a wash.  While he stood pondering his predicament, Billy heard a noise from behind.  He spun quickly and was immediately blinded by a flashlight’s glare.  He threw his hands up to shield his eyes from the light but it was unnecessary as a blow to the back of his skull sent him headlong into enveloping darkness a second later.

Billy awoke to find himself bound to a chair by ropes.  It was a good job; excellent knot work. 

“Thrills, I’ve been captured by the Boy Scouts,” Billy said aloud.

He was sitting in a pool of light cast by a single lamp hanging above him. 

“Nein, Herr Rumble,” a woman’s voice said from the darkness, “not der Boy Scouts, but captured just as vell.”

Billy strained to try and see the owner of the German accent hiding in the darkness.

“Who are you? Show yourself.”

A cloaked and hooded figure walked forward into the perimeter of the lamp’s light.

“Welkommen, Herr Rumble, to our lair,” the hooded figure said.

“Our?” Billy replied.  “Sister, I don’t see anybody but you.  If you know who I am then you know you are outclassed and effectively out numbered, so unless you are cruising for a knuckle sandwich you should just give up now.”  Billy began to focus his internal energies, building toward full power.  Already his skeleton was beginning to glow with atomic might.  The hooded figure barked an order in German and Billy saw five more hooded, cloaked figures appear in the light.  With another word of command all six figures threw off their cloaks to reveal female forms.  Voluptuous female forms clad in leather bustier and thigh high leather boots.  Each wore a choker about her neck clasped with a swastika.  Billy took a quick inventory of the lascivious buffet before him and forgot about what he had been doing only moments before.

The first woman, taller than the rest with raven colored hair and dark eyes, strode forward and straddled Billy’s lap.  She brandished a rider’s crop in her left hand used it to poke his chest fiercely. 

“Ve are Der Fuhrer’s Nympho Nazi Vixen Sqvad,” she said, the words falling out of her red lips, “und ju are our prisoner.”

“No shit?” Billy replied.

Two days later Billy Rumble sat in the office of Dr. Rikenstein, exhausted and made his report. 

“So,” Dr, Rikenstein said after hearing the tale, “you found the enemy and engaged them.”  He puffed on his pipe thoughtfully.

“Yep,” Billy pulled a Lucky from his pack and lit it from the doctor’s desktop lighter.

“And you let them escape?”


“How?” the doctor nearly bellowed, his face growing red in the process.

“Cool out, Big Daddy, don’t flip on me.”
“But you had them, William and they got away…to threaten our precious freedom!”

Billy just smiled and took a drag on his smoke.  “Hey, Doc, you win some, you lose some, dig?”

The End.