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September 20, 2012

I Hraet You (39)

Beat 39: Operation “Stop that Guy from Murdering Everyone”

Lloyd adjusted his tie and cleared his throat.  “Ahem!” he shouted, starkly refusing to use his inside voice.  “I believe we’ve dilly-dallied enough for one day, Miss Walters.  Now is the time for us to spring into action -- to defend this sacred burg from the malicious clutches of evil.”  He extended a hand to Trixie.  “I trust I can count on your support?”

Trixie sighed.  “Well, I wish ya wouldn’t use that flowery speech o’ yers, but…”  She nodded quickly.  “Don’t worry ‘bout a thing.  I got yer back.”

“Excellent!  Then let our advance begin!”  He thrust a finger forward.  “We will march onward, and act as the noble sentry this town so deserves!  Vile villains, on your guard!  For we come with thunderous steps toward you, wherever you may hide!  Be you north…”  His finger spun around…along with the rest of his body.  “Or south!  Or east!  Or west!”   And he kept on spinning in a circle -- at least until he twisted his legs and tumbled to the ground.  “Or even the skies above…or at least the highest roof in town!” he declared, pointing at the ceiling.

“Are we…are we really gonna be okay?” Trixie asked.

Lloyd leapt to his feet and dusted himself off.  “But of course, Miss Walters!  I merely needed a moment to demonstrate my devotion to the cause!  To remind potential malcontents that they shan’t evade we agents of love and justice!  And to try and burn off a bit of energy, as I find myself rather hyper as of the moment, but I suppose that’s just a consequence of the self-ordained task of proclaiming oneself a hero and I found some donut sticks in my room that I forgot to bring to school today to celebrate a return to those sacred halls and as such decided to eat them before they got stale and now I have a lot of sugar in my system I think and I’m afraid if I stop talking I’ll go to sleep forever and who wants that?!”

“…I feel like I should say somethin’ to try and answer that, but I dunno where to start.”

“Never you mind!” Lloyd blared.  “Our next course of action is quite certain.  While I would prefer not to involve any innocents in this struggle, I suspect that we’ll need some powerful allies if we’re to thwart Gaston’s plans in one fell swoop.  As such, recruiting my father is our top priority.”

“Finally, yer startin’ to make some sense, pal.”  She folded her arms and frowned.  “Last time I saw him, he wanted to split up; no tellin’ where he might be now.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that too much, Miss Walters.”  Lloyd leaned past her and glanced at the hanging clock.  “Hmmm, I see.  A bit past one o’ clock on a Monday afternoon, with one of his sons in mortal peril…yes, I know exactly where he would be at this time.”

“Eh?  Where?”

“Porbeagle has a sort of…shall we say, ‘defensive array’ when it comes to handling my father in one of his trademark fits of parental rage.  But I suppose you’d be better off seeing it with your own eyes.”  Lloyd started for the door, waving the back of his hand at Trixie.  “Shall we be on our way?  Though I would prefer to keep you out of this conflict, doubtless I’ll need your aid most of all.”

“Yeah, I’m right behind ya.  Just gimme a minute, okay?”

As Lloyd opened the door, he turned towards her and smiled eagerly.  “Ah, of course!  You need a moment to attend to feminine ailments!  By chance, do you require assistance?”

“Am I gonna have to throw somethin’ else at yer face?”

Lloyd leapt back, and pulled his arms over his body in defense.  “I-I was only venturing a guess!” he wailed, standing bow-legged in the doorway.  “I would never have imagined that you really --”

“Don’t even think about sayin’ --”

“--had to poop!  I thought that was an old wives’ tale!”  Lloyd leaned forward and adjusted his glasses.  “Er…wait.  We are discussing the same matter, right?  And if so, why is your face reddening so rapidly?  Are you well?  Have you caught cold?”

Trixie -- as red as the blood that she considered making flow from Lloyd’s broken nose -- pointed outside.  “J-just go wait in the yard for a minute, all right?  There’s some stuff I need to do!”

Lloyd offered a quick bow, and shut the front door behind him.  With the prince out of sight, Trixie pressed a hand to her forehead.  “Jeez…that guy sure is exhausting,” she muttered, shaking her head.  “Just hope he ain’t pushin’ himself too hard…but, anyway…”  She headed back to the den’s corner and picked up the carving knife.  She would have put it away earlier, but she had a hunch that letting Lloyd see her with a potential weapon wouldn’t be good for his heart.  Or his bladder, for that matter.

“Crap.  Where do these guys keep their knives anyway?”  Her eye roved across the kitchen drawers, but not for long -- one of them had been slid out just a bit farther than the rest.  She walked forward and opened it; sure enough, a cache of cutlery awaited her.  As soon as she found a large enough slot, she dropped the carving knife back in place. 

And she would have closed the drawer, if not for the fact that she kept staring at all the knives -- and the knives stared back at her.  “They sure have a lotta knives,” she murmured -- but she barely noticed she’d spoken.

For some reason, she couldn’t help but…

*

The afternoon sun started to bear down on Porbeagle’s infamous Triangle Square with gusto.  Townsfolk and visitors alike knew, more or less, why it was infamous; according to travel brochures it was the focal point of a battle between an army of incensed crabs and the legendary fisherman, Wilfred S. Triangle, and his comrades.  As a testament to his heroism, a statue had been left in his honor…ironically, atop a circle-shaped swath of concrete.

Nevertheless, it had become a focal point of the town.  A quartet of roads fed into the asphalt surrounding the swath; there was no shortage of paint that should have directed traffic, but it begged for more crashes than safe driving (the base of Triangle’s statue bore its fair share of stony scars).  In spite of that, rustic shops and stands stood sentry over the square, with pastel hues -- and fish-laden knickknacks -- that would have put a smile on the fishing hero’s face.  Even if they didn’t, he would have found solace in the ocean on the eastern horizon, as well as the leafy hills peeking over distant buildings.

It should have been a peaceful area -- a quiet memorial to such a momentous figure.  And normally, it was.  But for the moment -- for yet another moment -- it played host to a mob of raging townsfolk.  They clogged the streets with their melded bodies, each one shouting more than the last.  Even the children seemed ready to bathe in their enemy’s blood.

What sort of enemy?  Who else but a Hoigleheimer?

Patton groaned, with the low rumble strong enough to make the buildings tremble a bit.  “You know, I don’t mind you folk going to town on me,” he said with his best poker face.  “But when you start messing with steaks, you’re crossing the line.”

“And you haven’t?” a businessman asked.

“Last time I checked, I never did anything as dirty as stuffing a steak full of tranquilizer darts.”  He glanced aside.  “How did you all even do that?”  Of course, he probably should have spent more time worrying about his state of affairs -- propped up on a girder-formed podium, and shackled like a shaved King Kong.  Not the most welcoming of positions, but at the very least, no one had asked for him to be burned at the stake.

“Burn him!  Burn him alive!” old Mrs. Nickleworth yelled.  She waved her cane through the air.  “He’s a menace!  An enemy to the elderly!”

“I wouldn’t be if you old bags of bones had the sense to stay the hell out of my way,” Patton growled.  But he shrugged it off -- at least, he shrugged as well as he could with his wrists cuffed; as much as he loved looking like a flexing bodybuilder, he’d had an itch on his ankle for the past half-hour.  “So, what’s it gonna take to get you all to let me go?  ‘Cause if it’s another discount on some of the Hoigleheimer wares, we can settle this easy.  Dolls, dollhouses, doll accessories -- and now, the family business has branched off into plating and tea se-”

“Don’t think you can buy us off!”

Patton glanced aside, ignoring the growing rabble.  “Still need to work on my sales pitch, JP,” he mumbled.  But before he could start wondering when he’d go to the next convention, an armored truck strolled up the street and dispersed the crowd.  A trio of hefty men poured out of the back, flinging the doors wide open -- doors, Patton noticed, that had steel bars built into the windows.  He probably didn’t want to go in; getting out of there -- or from his cuffs, for that matter -- would likely do more harm than good, given his current reputation.

Mrs. Nickleworth flashed her most malevolent grin.  “Now we’ve got you right where we want you.”

“Not if I can help it!”

The crowd’s heated rambling dulled for a bit as they searched for the sound’s source.  But they didn’t have to look for long.  Someone placed a hand atop the armored truck’s edge…two hands, and nothing more.  “Curses!  Foiled by my arch-nemesis -- the dreaded pull-up!”  The hands quivered, and then slipped off the edge.  “M-Miss Walters, an assist, if you would!”

Ka-PRODDING SHOVE OF A BOOT!

Lloyd’s body flopped atop the roof of the truck before he could even say “My fragile derrière!” and crashed face-first into the metal.  But rather than burst into tears, he leapt to his feet and spread out his arms, like a clergyman ready to preach a great gospel.  “People of Porbeagle, I implore you -- free that man!  He has done no harm but sought to save his kin!  Would you persecute him merely for his earnest spirit and love?”

“YES!” the mob shouted.

Trixie rested her chin atop the truck’s edge, and tugged on Lloyd’s pants.  “Ya sure ya know what yer doin’?  ‘Cause things ain’t exactly lookin’ their best…”

“I should be able to dissuade their fury with a heartfelt appeal,” Lloyd whispered.  He turned back to the matter at hand.  “Citizens!  Fair admirers of the sea!  For what reason would you treat your brethren so?”

“He kicked my cat across a block!”

“He left a hole in my shop!”

“He hurt my self-esteem!”   The crowd turned inward to look at the baker.  “A-and he ruined my fresh batch of bread!  And kidnapped my wife!”

Lloyd raised his eyebrows and looked at Patton.  “Really?  You’re ready to start dating again?”

“He’s lying, Lloyd.  Nobody likes that baker anyway.”

The baker burst into tears.  “See?  There he goes again!”

Nobody paid attention to him, of course.  They just looked back at the armored truck -- not at the idiot who stood atop it, but the gruff-looking Neanderthal that clambered out of the driver’s seat.  “Now what’s all this about?  Can’t a guy earn some dough in peace?”

Lloyd gasped.  “You…Rosco!  Mammon’s finest agent -- we meet again!”  He thrust a finger at Rosco (forgetting the lesson he’d been taught the first time).  “Foul cretin!  What grudge d you bear against all I love?!”

“I ain’t got a grudge against nobody , kid,” Rosco announced.  “I’m just doin’ my job and gettin’ paid.”  But even as he spoke, that didn’t stop a sleazy grin from spreading across his face.  “And right now, my job is makin’ sure you never see your old man again.”

Trixie tugged at Lloyd’s pants.  “Lloyd, why is yer family so good at makin’ enemies?”

TO BE HEARTINUED…

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