I wanna take you for a ride (I think)! Let's discuss Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite!


June 10, 2013

I Hraet You (64)

Beat 64: The Interplay of Mediation and Murder

Lloyd took a seat and sighed -- and against all reason, put a smile on his face.  “Okay.  Well now…do either of you feel like talking about what happened?”

“There’s not really much to talk about,” said Jane.  She looked to Sheila, who blew her nose and nodded.  “These things just sort of happen, you know?  It’s nothing for you to concern yourself with -- especially since you’re a guest here.”

Lloyd’s eyes roved around.  Somehow, he couldn’t quite share the O’Leary family’s indifference.  For starters, only a quarter of the kitchen table remained; the rest of the wooden shards either lay on the floor, on in the hair of Sheila, Jane, and even Lloyd.  Drawers leaned against carved-up cabinets, and knives spread across the tile floor (thankfully, none of them had been dyed red).  The refrigerator doors hung on by a few measly screws, with no shortage of goods smashed wafer-thin.  The oven had exploded.  And even then, the chaos extended further -- the living room had overturned furniture, a shattered TV, bent lamps, and paintings that had likely seen use as clubs and hammers.

“Pardon my obtrusiveness,” said Lloyd, “but I think that when my life is put in danger, one could argue that it becomes my problem.”  In spite of being a third party, he’d taken the most hits; while the ladies had long since bandaged and patched up his wounds, he still looked more than a little tender.  The fact that his shirt and pants had “accidentally” gotten shredded and exposed fresh bandages didn’t help.

Neither did Sheila’s heated panting.  But then again, he could excuse that; she had every right to stare, considering that Lloyd (if not for his nearly-broken neck) would have done the same.

“Do you want another shirt, Lloyd?” Jane asked.  “It’s the least I could do -- oh, and I’ll get you some shorts, too.  I’m so sorry your pants got turned into boxers.”  She glanced at Sheila for a moment.  “But sometimes, it just can’t be helped.”

“He’s fine, Mom,” said Sheila.  “He looks like he’s ready to go swimming.  It’s a good look for him.” Her eyes drifted downward.  “Uh-huh.  Really good.”

“I’m none too concerned about my dress right now,” Lloyd said with a wave of the hand (and choosing not to think too hard about the drool pooling in Sheila’s mouth).  “But…again, pardon my obtrusiveness, but I somehow suspect that the destruction wrought here is hardly healthy.”

“Is it because of the bombs?” Sheila asked.

Jane scowled at her.  “Why wouldn’t it be?  And how many times have I told you, young lady?  Grenades do not go between your breasts!”

“Well, I can’t think of a safer place to keep them!”

“Why do you even need them in the first --?”

“Ladies, ladies!  Please!  We can sort this out!”  Lloyd waved his hands at them, hoping that it would calm them down; both of them dropped back into their chairs, but neither of them looked eager for a little chat.  “Outsider that I may be, surely we can all agree that such brutality’s of no use to anyone!  And hardly befitting family members.  Am I wrong, or am I right?”

The ladies turned away from each other, but they both shot an eye at Lloyd. 

“There may be quite a bit of aggression here in the O’Leary home, but I would think -- or hope, at least -- that if we all cooperate, we can overcome such violence!  To become kin, one and all!  To embrace one another in our clutched and heaving and bouncing and just-barely-restrained by a skintight shamrock-hued brassiere…” 

Lloyd dropped his hands and laughed.  “Sorry, I got a little distracted there.  BUT!  The point is that I feel as if the O’Leary family as it is needs restoration.  And as such, as a service to the both of you, I will make it my mission to undertake said restoration!  For the sake of a revived family consciousness…for the sake of mother-daughter shopping sprees yet to emerge upon this fair earth…!”  He raised a fist at them (straining his bruised bicep in the process).  “I, Lloyd Beatrice Hoigleheimer, swear upon Aphrodite’s nighties that I will --!”

Sheila gasped and clapped her hands to her mouth.  “We’re gonna do it?”

“Of cou- wait, what?  No!  What I meant was that --”

Jane glared at her daughter.  “Still on that, aren’t you?”

“Well, I wanna.  And we’re gonna.”

“You’re joking, right?  Lloyd doesn’t want you.”

“Well he sure as hell doesn’t want you.  He’s not a chubby chaser.”

“Wh-what did you just say?  I’ve landed men three times hotter than this kid -- I’ll have you know I’m very desirable.”

“So you’re easy?”

You’re easy!”

This can’t possibly be a normal relationship between a mother and daughter, Lloyd thought, his shoulders sagging (and aching).  It…it just can’t.  But if it is, then I suppose I should count myself fortunate that I was born a man.  Many awkward conversations have likely been avoided.

“So that’s it, huh?”

“Yup.  It’s settled.”

Lloyd snapped back to the conversation at hand.  “Er, what?  What’s settled?  Are you two going to be friendly to one another?”

“Nuh-uh,” said Sheila.  “But we’re gonna be friendly to you.  As friendly as you wanna be…really, really, really friendly.”

“Not THAT friendly,” Jane cracked.  Nevertheless, she turned to Lloyd and smiled.  “If it’s all right with you and your parents, Lloyd, you can stay here for as long as you want.  Days, nights, weeks…you just do what you have to do.”

“Oh, um…well, thank you for the hospitality.  I should already have the approval of my father, but…”  He pointed at Sheila, then Jane, and then back and forth.  “What exactly has been settled?”

The ladies gave each other a look -- and then stormed off in a huff. 

“Ladies?  What exactly has been settled?”  Still no answer; the two of them just headed for opposite ends of the house.  “Ladies?  Ladies?!  What exactly has been settled?!”

Sheila came back to the kitchen, arms folded and face eerily still -- except for the usual snot-streams, but at least she tried.  She advanced on Lloyd and stood before him; for a moment, it almost looked as if she’d started sizing him up.  Taking note of his measurements…or again, his shirtless, bandaged body.

Lloyd cracked a nervous smile.  “Oh, Miss O’Leary.  It’s good to see you again -- even though it’s only been about twenty seconds since last we met, but I still feel no shortage of relief in seeing you face to face…well, relatively speaking.”  Sheila’s silent staring made his head jerk erratically, and his laughing turned terse and rigid.  “So, um…about this ‘settlement’ I’ve heard so much about.  I’d very much like to hear an explanation of what exactly it’s supposed to entail.”

Sheila didn’t answer.  She just stepped behind Lloyd.

“Miss O’Leary?  M-Miss O’Leary?”

“Lloyd?  Do you know what a blackjack is?”

“Oh, you mean like the card game?  Well, I’m no gambler, but --”

And the next thing he knew, everything went black.

*

Mrs. Overdose set the phone back on its hook, and slumped back inside her car.  “Yeah, yeah, I know,” she grumbled as she slammed the door behind her.  “It’s the new millennium.  You should get a real phone.  Stop with the pay phone crap and get with it.  Blah, blah, blah.  Those things are a hunk of junk, anyway.”  She swished her reed around and snorted.  “Portable phones…damn things’ll never catch on.”

She shot an eye at Trixie.  But Trixie didn’t look back; she just stared out the windshield, eyes glassy and mouth half-open.  “What’s with you, Reba McIntyre?”

Trixie’s head wobbled left and right, and she managed to shakily draw a circular shape in the air.  “Those things…those things were huge…”

“You mean you’re still thinkin’ about those?  Jeez.  You only saw ‘em for five seconds -- that’s no reason to get all flustered.”  She raised an eyebrow.  “Say…you’re sure you’re not…you know…into that sort of thing?  Not like I got a problem with it.  Just askin’.”

“No, I’m not into that.  I just…”  She drew another circle in the air, this one slightly larger than the last.  “How’s a girl supposed to get ‘em that big?”

“About twenty grand and a wasted surgeon?”

Trixie shook her head.  “Porbeagle’s sure got some wild folks in it.”  She turned to Mrs. Overdose.  “Ya think we did the right thing, leavin’ her like that?  I mean, what if some o’ them snake-guys start tryin’ to hassle her?  A girl built like that’s gonna be attractin’ a whole lotta attention, I reckon.”

“Probably.  But I just got a hold of the kid’s dad.  Says he and JP found their own batch of thugs.  They’re knocked out -- no surprises there -- but from the way the big guy was talkin’, it sounded like we’re not the only ones to have a little run-in.”

“Yer serious?”

“I’d be askin’ the big guy that, not me.”  In spite of that, Mrs. Overdose nodded.  “The two of them are at the police station now.  Along with about nine of these snake-faced goons.”  She counted off on her fingers.  “That’s three we found, three they found, and another three the police rounded up over town.  And you know what that means, right?”

Trixie rubbed the back of her neck.  “So what, this town’s got some kinda crazy gang stompin’ around?  It sounds crazy, but…well, the two o’ us’ve seen some wild stuff already.  A buncha snake-men might be the only kinda gang that’d do Porbeagle justice.”  She choked out a laugh.  “Give or take.”

“Yeah.  Question here is, what’s the kid gonna do about it?”  She started the car and, with a splutter of exhaust, she pulled it out of the lot.  “Can’t handle himself too well in a fight.”

“Well, that’s what we’re for, huh?  JP, and Patton, and…”  She pointed to herself, and then to Mrs. Overdose.  “The two o’ us.  Right?”

She didn’t get an answer.  Mrs. Overdose just kept scooting down the road, her reed swaying and bobbing about.  A few blocks went past in silence, forcing Trixie to crash back against the seat.  “Guess that’s a no, then.  Guess I can’t say I’m too surprised -- I ain’t done all that much to impress ya.  And I’m guessin’ ya might hate me.”

Still no answer.

“Looks like I’m pretty good at guessin’.”  She peered out the window.  “No helpin’ it.  It’s not like I --”

“You know why I’m here, right?”

Trixie looked back at her.  “Say what now?”

“I’m here for a bounty.  My job is -- or was supposed to be -- haulin’ your southern-fried ass back to Rockwood so I could make some serious cash.”  Her eye shifted to Trixie for a moment, but snapped back to the road.  “Somewhere along the line, though, Gaston got mixed up in things.  So bringin’ you back turned into bringin’ you and the others to him, and he’d pay me as thanks.”

“So what, is Gaston some kinda bounty hunter, too?”

“Who knows?  Whether he’s a hunter or a client, I was just in it for the money.  But lookin’ back on the details, I’m startin’ to wonder if I had it right.  I’m thinkin’…maybe you and Rockwood should keep some distance.”

For some reason, Trixie couldn’t help but give a bitter laugh.  “Fer someone who’s been messin with me since day one, ya sure are showin’ some real concern about me.”

“Why wouldn’t I?  We’re both freeloaders.”

“That’s true, but --”

“Listen.  There’s somethin’ I’ve been meanin’ to ask you.  Somethin’ that’s been on my mind for a while now.”  Mrs. Overdose stopped behind a red light, and turned toward Trixie.  “When’s the last time you talked with your dad?”

“My dad?  Uh…well, it’s been a while.”  She folded her arms and looked up at the car’s ceiling, and shifted her lips to and fro.  “Not since I left Rockwood, at least.  Definitely not since I got here in Porbeagle.”

“I’d give him a call.  He’s the one that put a bounty on your head -- dead or alive.”

TO BE HEARTINUED…

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