Previously: The snooty dame regales our hero with windy tales of the magical music box, and says she can listen to the perfect song as payment for her time. Our hero decides she’d rather have actual dough-re-mi and hightails it outta there.
As Batya bursts out onto the boulevard in front of the Khamsin Hotel, she thinks: That dame wasn’t funnin, she does have men. Indeed, she’s being chased by three or four goons who were hanging out in the lobby, as well as like half the waitstaff from the bar.
Then she thinks: I maybe pulled a hammy when my truck (RIP) got t-boned? She decides to stop thinking and start running, despite the pain, turning as many corners as possible. Her pursuers are yelling orders at each other. It sounds like no one’s in charge, which is good.
Bat’s not super familiar with this ritzy neighborhood, but figures as long as she heads downhill toward the docks she’ll be fine. Thing about Fort Hook? It’s easy—too easy—to disappear into its tortuous streets and alleys and canals. One of the many reasons that Bat is such a staunch—
A dark sedan screeches to a halt in front of her. Window rolls down and the uggo behind the wheel gives her the stink eye. And…sayyyy, who’s that glaring at her from the passenger seat? Why it’s none other than Vinnie Vinegar, looking like nana’s day old meatloaf.
Bat assumes Vin’s coworkers from The Flu scraped him off the pavement and tore off after her in hot pursuit. Or, like, lukewarm pursuit. As per usual for that grossly incompetent crime syndicate, it took them forever to find her. I mean, how long was Valentina boring her balls off in that hotel bar? An hour? Three? What were they doing this whole time?
Regardless, they’re here now, and the driver is struggling to get some kind of weapon set up and pointed in the right—wait, is that a sniper rifle? Doesn’t that seem like a wildly inappropriate choice given the close quarters?
Bat suddenly feels giddy. She bolts toward the car—running at armed assailants is one of her go-to moves, it tends to rattle them—then leaps onto the hood, then jumps up and down a few times to dent it, then kicks at the windshield to make Vinnie flinch, then hops back down and runs toward the sea.
Fifteen minutes later she’s at Hillers Theatre, which screens movies from last year. Now showing is a romance picture called The Spark of Desire. Dianne Foxfeather plays an architect who falls in love with an arsonist, it’s pretty good.
The kid in the ticket booth knows her. “Didn’t think we’d see you around here again,” he says. “Gracious, you look wretched.”
Bat’s bent over, coughing. Hamstring ablaze. She holds up a finger while she catches her breath. Then: “One ticket to the matinee showing of My Love Dynamo.”
“We don’t use the passwords anymore. Just go on up.”
“That,” wheeeeze, “that doesn’t seem very secure.”
“We have a new solution in place. You’ll see.”
Sure enough, when Bat goes up the winding stairs to the projection booth, she’s stopped by an extremely tall and wide man wearing nothing but a pair of tight leather pants. He’s leaning against a gigantic battle axe, its point almost grazing the ceiling. An octopus is tattooed across his vast smooth shiny chest.
“Uh,” Bat says. “Well met, gentle sir.”
“Hi to you,” he says.
“I need to see your boss.”
“You have appointment?” No clue what his accent is.
“I got an item he wants.”
“Item of tremendous splendor?”
“Yeah sure, it’s real tremendous.”
“Give me item, I give to him.”
“Sorry, brother, that’s not how this works.”
“Then we engage in malzka. The victor get item.”
“What’s…I don’t know what that is.”
“Malzka. Fight to death. Use only feet.”
Bat looks him over and is about to say sure why not when the booth door swings open and an old woman says, “Steve, I thought I told you you weren’t allowed to talk.” Then she peers around his swollen torso. “Battery! What an unexpected treat.”
“Memory serves,” Agnes says, “you said some very crass insults last time you were here.”
“Sorry,” Bat says. “I was going through some things. Actually I still am, and worse than before, and I don’t want to be here. But I have a delivery.”
“Terrific, let’s have it.”
Agnes shrugs. “It’s your life.”
Bat nods sadly. “Yeah.”
The old woman shoves the burly axe-man to one side. “Come on in,” she says. “The Hand will be so pleased to see you.”
This story concludes in an episode called: A Gloriously Bad Opportunity
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This isn't the end. LIAR! How could you do this, I'm figuratively shaking, how will I ever trust again?
I like the cute octopus tattoo on the guard guy. As usual the humor is on point.
You are my Love Dynamo.