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September 24, 2012

I Hraet You (40)

Beat 40: Such is the Essence of the Power Slide

“This charade has gone on long enough!” Lloyd stamped his foot atop the armored truck, and thrust his finger at Rosco once more, momentarily wishing he could turn it into a flaming arrow.  “Rosco!  Unshackle my father, for he has committed no crime!  Certainly he deserves fairer treatment than being ensnared by cold steel, and put on display like the town buffoon!”  He raised an eyebrow and stroked his chin.  “I know I’m one for theatrics, but STILL!  This crosses a line that the common citizen was never meant to cross!”

But Rosco just shrugged and smiled.  “Oh, don’t worry.  We’re gonna let your dad go…AFTER he gets shipped off to…”  He reached into the pocket of his overalls and tugged out a crumpled sheet of paper.  “Prison?  Aw, is that it?  Wouldn’t mind puttin’ him in a loony bin or in an ocean -- least, as long as I’m gettin’ paid.”

“You’re more wretched than when last we met -- and that’s quite an achievement!”  Lloyd thrust a finger (again) at the Neanderthal.  “For shame, Rosco!  FOR!  SHAAAAAAAAAAAME!”

“I thought I told ya not to point.  It’s rude.”

“I’ve no reason to adhere to the whims of an unscrupulous sellsword such as you!”

Trixie tugged on Lloyd’s pants once more, her forearms resting almost lazily atop the armored truck’s edge.  “I don’t think makin’ a ruckus like this is a good idea, pal.”

“But if I don’t take a stand now, the townsfolk would be more likely to tread down his villainous path!” Lloyd whispered to her -- though he essentially spoke at normal volume, thanks to the crowd firing up once more. 

“I’m just sayin’ there’s a time and a place.  As in, is this really the time to start pickin’ a fight?”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right.”

Trixie nodded in approval.

“If there was ever a time to pick a fight, now would be that moment!”

Trixie slapped a hand over her face.

“Rosco!” Lloyd roared, thrusting his finger at him once more (now wishing it was Poseidon’s trident).  “You, who would disgrace my family and act solely to indulge in indecorous desires!  Prepare yourself for a sound verbal lashing, as I explain in unabridged detail the error of your mercantile wa-”

Ka-SHOT PUT!

A sack of flour barreled into Lloyd’s torso, knocking the wind -- and maybe his small intestine -- out of him and sending him crashing to the asphalt.  “Lloyd!” Trixie yelled, rushing to his aid.  “Ya all right?”

Lloyd managed to roll the sack off of him (with great difficulty) and rose to a wheezy seat.  “A sack of flour…really?  Who on earth throws sacks of flour?!”

“That’d be me,” said Rosco, dusting off his hands.  “Special thanks go to the baker for giving me some much-needed ammo.”   The baker did a jig to celebrate being mentioned positively for once.  “Ya had it coming, kid.  I don’t like gettin’ pointed at.”

“You…you…you should never end your sentences with ‘at’, you miscreant!”

Rosco ignored him, of course.  He just oversaw the transport of Patton; his cronies unhooked him from the podium and loaded his pinned body onto a large dolly.  As the eldest Hoigleheimer was wheeled to the truck, the crowd let loose cheers of joy and relief -- and like a president in a parade, Rosco waved a meaty hand through the air.

“This is some kind of joke!  It has to be a farce!” Lloyd said, even though no one but Trixie heard him; the two of them could only move out of the way as the goons began loading Patton into the back of the truck.  “Carting my father off to prison just because he’s unpopular and caused some minor…”  He looked to his left; a Patton-shaped hole had been left in the shop.  “Moderate damage for a noble cause?”

Rosco nodded.  “Yep.”

“Absurd!  Utterly absurd!”  But suddenly, Lloyd had a thought.  “Wait a minute.  If you’re a construction worker, why does your line of work entail transporting would-be criminals?”

“’Cause I’m gettin’ paid.”

“But to take someone to prison without a trial?  Or a hearing?”  He glanced at the armored truck -- a deep shade of blue, but without any significant markings.  “Do you even have a warrant for arrest?  Do you even have badges?  Are you even officers?”

Rosco shrugged.  “Who cares?  All I know is that if I get this guy outta town, I’m eatin’ lobster pizza for the next month.”

Lloyd stared at Rosco for a moment -- and then, he shoved his way past and leapt into the driver’s seat.  “Miss Walters!  Grab onto something!” he yelled…just before flooring the pedal.

Ka-FRICTION!

The tires smoked and squealed as they spun -- and with a burst of force, the truck started hauling its way across the square.  The crowd scrambled as it rocked forward, and the goons flew out the open doors; the only reason Patton stayed in place was because he’d practically been bolted to the truck.  And Trixie?  All Trixie could do was hold onto the door handles and pray her grip didn’t fail her.

“Ya gotta be KIDDIN’ ME!” Trixie screamed as the truck neared its top speed -- a remarkable speed, given its weight.  She didn’t want to think about how fast they moved -- ludicrous speed, given that she looked like a low-flying Supergirl -- or how long she could hold on with Lloyd swerving like a drunken cheetah.  Somehow, she managed to find the strength to throw herself into the truck and clutch Patton’s restraints.  “Mr. Hoigleheimer, are ya --”

“Just call me Patton.  You’re like family now.”

“Yer WAY too calm about this, Mr. Hoi- P-Patton!”

Patton glanced up at the ceiling.  “No, I’m plenty excited.  My son kidnapped me to save my other son from a kidnapping…”  He sniffled a bit.  “It’s moments like these that make me proud to be a father.”

“Please stop bein’ so calm!  Please!”  For a moment Trixie thought about bursting into tears -- but before she could open the valves, she spotted a window peeking between the driver’s and passenger’s seat.  Clutching Patton’s beefy arms like a life preserver, she made her way toward the window and banged a shoulder against it.  “Lloyd!  Lloyd!  What the hell’re ya up to, pal!”

“Ah, Miss Walters!  I was afraid I’d left you behind -- or worse, run over you!” Lloyd called out.  “Oh, what a disaster that would have been!”

Ka-SUDDEN SCREECHING SWERVE!

“Ha HA!  Another pedestrian evaded!”

“Lloyd!  Ya wanna try slowin’ down?” Trixie yelled.  “Or, ya know, stoppin’?”

“Yes, well, about that…I don’t know how.”  A gentle laugh made its way through the barred window.  “It was largely decided that allowing me behind the wheel of a vehicle is…not a good idea.  So I’m afraid I don’t have a very good grasp of the nuances of driving.  I’ve seen enough movies to know the basics, though!  Just turn the wheel and --!”

Ka-ADDITIONAL SCREECHING SWERVE!

“You see?  Simple!  By the way, what purpose does this device on my right serve?  Some sort of armaments, perhaps?”

“What the hell gave ya that idea?”

Speed Racer.  Is that…is that not how cars work?”

If Trixie wasn’t currently holding onto a beefy forearm for dear life, she would have started smacking her head against the truck walls.  “All right, here’s a little driver’s ed for ya.  Ya got yer foot on the accelerator, right?  Ease off it.  Ya don’t have to keep it pressed against the floor.”

“Eh?  Really?  But will the truck move if I don’t?”

“Yes, Lloyd.  Ya just gotta tap the accelerator every now and then to give it some gas.  And ya see the other pedal on the left?  That’s the brake.  Ya use that the same way.”

“So I should push it against the floor?”

“NO!”

“But I’m pushing the other pedal against the floor!  Surely I should apply the same amount of pressure…?”

“DON’T SLAM ON THE BRAKES!  Don’t slam on anything!  I know this ain’t exactly an easy thing for ya to understand, but ya gotta be gentle.  Be subtle.  Take it easy for once, or ya gonna crash up!”  She looked out the back of the truck; incidentally, they’d long since driven off the road and started plowing through a grocery store.  “Oh my God…we are gonna get a whole lotta jail time for this…”

“No need to worry!  I have the much-lauded ‘accident forgiveness’ to my name!”  He swerved out of the store with a thunderous crash.  “I have that as long as I’m in high school, right?”

“A whole lotta jail time…” Trixie muttered.  She shook her head despondently.  “All right, so where’re we headed?”

“Isn’t it rather obvious?  We need to head to L. Bernstein High School -- my haunting ground up until a few hours ago.  I believe it’s there that our adversary waits…and where I intend to finish this battle with one ferocious strike.”

“Ya wanna go to school now?  In an armored truck?  With yer dad all chained up like this?”

“I’m in the mood for steak tonight,” Patton said to himself.

“Still way too damn calm, Mr. Hoigle- Patton!”  Trixie turned back toward the window.  “Okay, so why exactly do we need to go to yer school?  And why would Gaston be there?”

“Simply put, I believe that I may have unraveled a fair portion of this mystery.  There’s still a dangerous amount of room for error, but if my deductions are indeed true, then Gaston Leroux will be nothing more than a memory before sunset.  All I require is the assistance of my closest comrades -- and of course, your unerring trust in one as lowly and slipshod as I.”

Trixie grimaced and turned aside.  “Well, I guess I trusted ya so far.  And I ain’t got much reason to stop trustin’ ya, so…”  She looked out the truck, and for a moment felt like swallowing her words and her tongue.  A half dozen police cars trailed behind them, sirens blaring and guns slowly being held at the ready.

Guns that could very well shoot into the truck.

Guns that could very well tear through Trixie’s body.

“Oh, I just remembered!” Lloyd said with an absurd amount of cheer.  “Vehicles tend to have radios, yes?  How would one go about activating it?  I’ve been looking to become a dedicated fan of Queen, you see.”

TO BE HEARTINUED…

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