You know, I hate being tied up. I really do.
But it seems to happen to me a lot. I’ve been tied to a barber pole, a street light, a stripper’s pole (long story. don’t ask), and a dumpster. And those were just the most memorable ones. I’d rather not talk about the other ones, if you don’t mind.
But, anyway. It’s humiliating. I feel like I oughta stitch a sticky note to my costume that clearly states that I am no one’s damsel. I’m not a damsel at all. (I hope there’s enough room on the sticky note for all that.) Maybe then villains like Lady Marmelade, Duke Neverborn, Catch Master, and Slate Boggart will stop tying me up.
I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if I were a sidekick. But I am not a sidekick. I haven’t been a sidekick in sixteen years. I am a hero, hot darnation!
Oh, and look at me now. I’m all tied up. Again. But this time it kind of is my fault.
So, get this: I had ordered a new cape from the Acme Corporation. It was guaranteed to be the best of the best of the best x 3,000 of the bests. Well. I received it in the mail and it wasn’t even the best of the best x 1. It looked like a sewing project as done by Mr. Magoo. I could describe the horror of it, but you know what? I think I’ll leave the unpleasant imagery up to your imaginations. *shrugs* I’m kind of lazy that way.
I called them. I had anger burning in my head and a whole bunch of strong words setting fire to my throat.
She answered the phone.
Her voice was the salve that I needed at that moment. Her voice soothed me into dopey-faced submission. I smiled like a teenaged dweeb in love. I told her that I wanted to meet her. I wanted to take her to a fine restaurant and serenade her with my love (or something needlessly drippy like that).
She laughed and it was a fine ripple of sound. I may have drooled over it. She told me to meet her tonight at seven sharp at the Hangman’s Hoophouse and Bar. In retrospect, that alone should have alerted me. No one respectable goes to Hangman’s. It’s one of the seediest places in town. It’s where gangsters go to destroy evidence.
But, being the brain-addled sap that I was, I agreed.
And I went.
I didn’t even think of wearing my costume. I just went all “la-dee-da. Here comes love.”
So, of course I was knocked out by some goon in a trenchcoat.
And of course I was tied up (presumably by the same trenchcoated goon).
And that’s where I am right now.
All tied up with nowhere to go. Lucky for me, it’s a chair this time. So, at least I’m comfortable. Can’t complain there.
Oh. sorry. I’m gonna have to cut this internal monologue short. She just entered the room.
“Hello there.” She struts her stuff over to my chair.
(Okay. I said that I was gonna cut the monolguing short, but I just can’t help it. I’m all tied up, so you know what? I’m gonna monologue. It’s fun and it will make me feel better about my situation. If you don’t like it, well. Keep in mind, I’m the one who’s all tied up.)
I feel deeply disconcerted to say the least. Oh, her voice thrills me to happy hearted bliss. But it’s just all wrong. A voice that deliciously feminine should not come from someone dressed in a cheap Wolverine wannabe costume.
And she shouldn’t strut her stuff while dressed in it. I swear I can feel my mental image of Wolverine getting corrupted. Corrupted to black ruination.
“Well, hello back at ya. Soo, I’m curious. Do you do this with all the guys who like your voice or is this just a big one time event thing?”
“Don’t be coy.”
“Ooo. Can you say coy again?”
“No. I know who you are.”
“Please say that I’m the best looking guy in the room.”
“Stop it! I am not playing a game here and I don’t appreciate you treating this whole scenario like one.”
“Sorry.” I smile. “But you know. You’re kind of cute when you get angry.”
She sticks her not-really-Wolverine claws like two seconds away from my face. “Stop it now or I will Etch-and-Sketch your face.”
I stare at the pointy ends of her claws. Huh. They sure didn’t look like costume store fake stuff. “So. You have claws.”
“Yes, I have claws.”
I look up at her. “Weird personal choice or…”
“I was born with them.”
Huh. Okay. I guess that explains the Wolverine costume. “So, then. What do you call yourself? Wolverine-lite? No. That sounds all wrong. Wolverina? Ooo. I like that. You should call yourself that.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Well, you are dressed like him.”
“I am not him and I am not his female equivalent.” She backs away from me and strikes a pose. “I am Clawed Girl.”
“What? Oh my gosh. No. No. NO! That’s an awful name. Please call yourself Wolverina and I’ll let you claw my eyes out or whatever you plan to do.”
“Shut up! I am Clawed Girl. My story is long and detailed and full of misery. Most of my misery comes from dealing with low ranking heroes like you.”
“Aww, now you’re just trying to be mean.”
She stomps her foot. “Shut up and let me talk!”
I think about the many things she could do with those claws. “Okay. I’ll shut up. I can’t guarantee that I’ll stay shut up. I tend to get overly verbal when I’m nervous. Hmm, but I’m always a little hyper-verbal. I think it’s part of my charm. What do you think? Am I charming or what?”
She marches towards me with a general ‘I’m Gonna Slash Your Face Off’ vibe just steaming off her.
“But yes. I’m shutting up now.”
“Good. As I was saying, my story is long and detailed and full of misery.”
Huh. Must have lost her train of thought.
“Most of my misery comes from dealing with low ranking heroes like you.”
I really don’t like being called ‘low ranking’. But hey! I’m not gonna interrupt Wolverina.
“Well. Now, it is payback time, hero.”
“Whoa. I’m not a hero. I’m just meek, lovey-dovey Jack Jayson. Yep. No hero here.”
“You expect me to believe that? Because I don’t. You called the Acme Corporation to complain about a poorly made cape. A cape.”
“Uhhh, I’m a mad-crazy cosplayer.”
“Acme Corporation does not deal with little people. It is part of their strict policy to deal only with heroes, superheroes, villains, and demi-gods.”
“Wait. No sidekicks?”
“They have a separate division for sidekicks.”
“Besides that, I know who you are. Mr. Jack Jayson. I know that you are Pearlizer.”
“Uhh, no. I would never name myself something that rhymes with fertilizer. I don’t want to reveal my secret, but I can’t let that mistake pass. I just can’t. I am The Pearl Shooter. There. Doesn’t that sound so much cooler than Pearlizer?”
“I knew it. Well, The Pearl Shooter. I am going to kill you now.”
“Aww, don’t do that. I never even got a chance to kiss you.”
“SHUT UP!” She slashes my face.
“Ow!” Blood splurts and drips all over my face and down to my shirt.
“That is a small taste of the agony that I will put you through.” She raises her bloody claws into the air. “Prepare for more suffering.”
“Okay. Wait one minute. I hate to ruin your fun time. Ha-ha. Not really. But I’ve never done anything to you. Why are you taking all of your frustrations out on me?”
“Because you are one of them. You’re a hero. I want to destroy them all, from the low-rankers to the very top. I want them all to suffer and burn and die!”
“I wish you wouldn’t stack me with the other low-rankers, but—”
“I had promise. I had the desire. But they said that I had too much anger. I was a fool’s deck filled with Joker cards. I couldn’t be trained. Or trusted. They told me that I could only be a civilian and never anything more than that. IDIOTS! How could I be a mere civilian with claws protruding from my FREAKING FINGERTIPS?”
“Did you ever think about filing them down?”
She glares at me. “Did you ever think of filing down your nose?”
“Okay, that is a crummy comeback-at-ya. I mean, really. There’s a world of a difference between a nose and mutant claws.” I frown. “Wait. What’s wrong with my nose?”
“I tried to be a civilian. I got a job.” Her expression…well. I want to say that it darkened, but yeah. She had that whole Wolverine mask on. So, her expression was anyone’s guess. I’m gonna stick with darkened. (Just because it sounds cool.) “I had a job. I lost it. A customer came in. He saw my claws. He wouldn’t stop asking about them. He wouldn’t stop joking about them. He wouldn’t stop saying things about them. So, I had to kill him.”
Over-reaction by a lot.
“My boss found out. He became angry. He became upset. He called the cops. They came. They saw me. They didn’t take me to jail. They took me to the Whipstitch Asylum for the Criminally Gifted.”
“That’s pretty hard luck. I’ve heard the stories about that place.”
“I escaped. They sent heroes to capture me. I evaded capture. By luck. By sheer determination. By careful use of my claws, I even managed to kill a couple. After I defeated Shoo-Bop-Dee-Bop, I realized then that I no longer wanted to be a hero. But I couldn’t be a civilian. There was only one option left: villain.”
“I don’t know. You could have become a sidekick.”
“To what? A hero? Never. And so…Here I am today with you, The Pearl Shooter. And I will kill you.”
My mind goes into full-blown panic mode. My hands are all tied up good and tight. I can’t even wiggle my fingers. Which means I can’t use my powers against her. Which means I am so going to die. Which means…No, actually that doesn’t mean anything. It just stinks.
She raises her claws into the air.
“Wait! Please please! Wait.”
To my surprise, she stops and waits. Ain’t she accommodating?
“I’m sure you’ve wondered why I’m called The Pearl Shooter.”
No reaction or comment.
“Oh, come on! Don’t tell me that you haven’t wondered about it.”
“I haven’t wondered about it at all.”
“Now that’s just a criminal lack of curiosity.”
“No. Just simple disinterest.”
“Ahh, but what’s the point in killing a hero if you don’t even know what they’re capable of? It kind of robs you of a good victory.”
“I prefer a simple victory.”
“But you’ll be left wondering what exactly was The Pearl Shooter’s powers. What great force of nature did you steal away from this world of ours?”
“You could just tell me.”
“Yeah, sure I could. But telling and showing aren’t the same thing. Not even close to it. So, what do you say? How about you untie me and I’ll give you a little demonstration?”
She slashes the other side of my face. Well, at least I’m symmetrical now. “I am not stupid. I know what game you want to play. You want me to free you so you can take me down. Well, guess what, Pearl Shooter—”
“Ahh-ahh. It’s The Pearl Shooter.”
“—I will not be taken down by you or anyone ever again. I will be the one doing all of the taking down!”
Tsk. She didn’t even acknowledge my interruption. “Okay. That sounds like a bunch of villainous fun, but couldn’t you at least…I don’t know. Loosen my bonds a little? I think I’m losing circulation in my thumbs.”
“I don’t care about your circulation. I’m going to kill you now.”
“But we were having such a nice conversation.” I smile at her and I give her a winsome look. I think it was winsome. I don’t know. I mean, it sure feels winsome enough to me, but I have no idea what it looks like to her. “Can’t we just put all of this good guy/bad guy banter into a steamer trunk somewhere and save it for another time? Can’t we just be Jack Jayson and uhhh…Ah, shoot. I don’t know your real name. Dang it! That totally ruined my line.” I shrug. “Well, anyway, can’t we be Jack Jayson and ummm…I guess I’ll call you Jane Jones. Only I think I’ll spell Jane with a Y. J-A-Y-N-E. Yeah. That seems to suit you.”
“My name is not Jane – spelled either way.”
“Is it Heather VonSweetums?”
“And you’re lovely. Oh. I forgot. Mask. Well. Your voice is lovely. I could just listen to you monologue until Captain Janeway drags the Voyager home.”
“See? This is something you need to understand about me: I’m a compulsive blabbermouth. I don’t lie. Every word that I say is exactly what I mean. So, how about you and I quit this crazy scene and go to an IHOP or something? I hear they have this amazing special going on – The Endless Pancake. They bring out pancakes. You eat them. They bring out more pancakes. You eat them and the cycle just keeps on going until you belch, “DONE!” Doesn’t that sound like fun to you? It sure sounds like fun to me.”
She stares at me with no comments.
“Anyway, I get the feeling that there’s more to your backstory than what you’ve told me. I’d love to hear more.”
“Is this a trap?”
“Nope. This, my dear Wolverina, is one hundred percent truth. It’s as truth as truth gets. So? What do you say?”
She doesn’t reply.
“Think of those pancakes. And syrup. Oh, that wonderful syrup. Maple. Blueberry. Butter pecan. Uhh, oh shoot. There’s one more. What was it? Uhh…”
I blink my surprise.
“Strawberry syrup. I love strawberry syrup.”
“Umm. Okay. Soo…”
She walks behind me.
I tense up, totally expecting a stab in the back or a slashed throat.
She unties me. “I’ll go out with you. But fair warning, The Pearl Shooter. If this is a trap, I will kill you and your associates.”
“That seems fair.”