It was a dark and stormy night (really!) and Paul the Crime Fighter and I, his trusty assistant, Stupid, were sneaking down a particularly nasty street in a particularly nasty section of town. What were we doing there, you ask?
“What are we doing here?” I asked, obviously wondering the same thing and possibly having a mild panic attack.
“We’re fighting crime,” Paul said and gave me a strange look. I thanked him and placed the look carefully in my wallet, intending to give it a closer inspection once I returned home.
Glancing around at all the lawlessness and criminalism, I cleared my throat nervously. “Uh, which one?”
Paul stretched to his full height and flexed his biceps, which, once I had found my magnifying glass, proved to be quite impressive. “All of them!” he hooted and cackled maniacally. “I…we,” he amended, awarding me a pitying glance, “are Crime Fighters and this is what we do. Fight crime!” He paused and then rubbed his hands together in glee. “Eewww,” he said, looking down at his palms in disgust. “This glee is slimy!”
I took the glee from him and checked the bottom of the container. “Expired,” I said. “I’ll order some fresh from the Tangible Emotion Farm first thing tomorrow. For now, though, I think we should be heading…”
The voice came from the depths of a dark alley and both Paul and I stopped in our tracks and glanced nervously at one another. Neither of us is particularly fond of dark alleys and we never venture into their depths, voices or no voices. Before we could move on, however, the voice spoke again, this time with a bit more insistence.
“Hey, you.” Okay, so it sounded exactly the same as before. I was just trying to liven up the story.
As we watched, a figure slowly detached itself from the darkness of the alley and came toward us. It was a man wearing a long overcoat and a fedora. With a certain flair for style, the man was wearing the fedora on his head. Unsure of his intentions, Paul and I drew back as the man advanced and from the corner of my eye, I saw Paul reach into his pocket for a weapon. He gave me a quick, sideways glance and grinned confidently.
“It’s okay. I have my little LED flashlight.”
Not particularly comforted, I continued backing slowly toward the street. The strange man continued to approach, growing ever nearer and more menacing. Finally, he stopped and smiled at us. It was not a nice smile and had an attitude problem.
“So, kids,” the man said, slipping a hand inside his overcoat. “You wanna buy a dirty magazine?”
“No, thank you,” we said in unison. “No money.”
“Aw, but my prices are so reasonable and I might be convinced to take credit.”
“No, really,” Paul said. “I don’t think…”
Suddenly, the man whipped open his coat, revealing rows of magazines sewed into pockets on the inside. He was right. The magazines were filthy.
“I use ‘em to change the oil in my car,” the man said, giving us a grin that was not much more polite than his smile. “Then I bring ‘em down here. Be surprised how much I can get for ‘em. People seem to like dirty magazines.”
“Well, you’ve really stepped in it now, buddy,” Paul said, stepping forward authoritatively. “I’m Paul the Crime Fighter and this is my assistant, Stupid. You’re coming downtown with us!”
The man just stood there, looking at us like we were two young twerps pretending to be Crime Fighters. “We’re already downtown,” he pointed out.
Paul hesitated and then turned to me. “Is that right?”
I shrugged, having left the map in my other pair of pants.
As we stood there trying to decide on a course of action (after all, what does one do with a suspect once he is taken downtown?), the man slipped into the dark depths of the alley and disappeared.
“Well, that was a close one,” Paul said, after a few moments of silence. “We’ve had a very successful outing. Now I shall go home and eat some Fluff. Be sure to write this up in the files accurately, now. None of your embellishing! In fact, you might want to tone it down a little. Appearing incredibly manly and heroic makes me self-conscious.” With that, he walked away, his confident stride broken only once by an unseen pothole.
Read more about Paul the Crime Fighter