If you missed my first installment of Paul the CrimeFigher, here it is!
The sedan’s four-cylinder engine cut out, and the driver’s door opened. A tall man with spectacles emerged, clutching a bulging briefcase. The man hefted this with unnatural ease. Pthabbth chewed suspiciously on his car’s windshield wiper.
“Hey…” said the man, pointing at Pthabbth.
“It’s okay, little guy,” Paul said to the marmoset, poking him in the tummy. “He’s on our side.” Paul turned to his guest.
“The Stupid Blogger! Nice to see ya!” he bellowed heroically, and saluted. The Stupid Blogger saluted back with his free hand. “Whatcha got in the case there? Files? Documents? Reports and surveillance on all manner of evildoers?”
“Pweep!” said Pthabbth.
“Liar!” Paul hooted at the marmoset. Pthabbth untied Paul’s shoe to indicate his distaste.
“Styrofoam peanuts,” said The Stupid Blogger. “I just keep it all stuffed like this so I look too busy to accept more work. Keeps me free to follow important leads without getting all bogged down with paperwork.” He shrugged.
“That’s brilliant!” enthused Paul. Startled, Pthabbth let loose a squeak and tried to climb into Paul’s sock.
The Stupid Blogger pulled a USB flash drive out from behind his ear. “It’s all on here, along with some little video clips of kittens falling off things.”
Paul’s mouth dropped open and Pthabbth chewed a hole in his sock and squirted out. He went bouncing across the parking lot toward the apartment building.
“Let’s follow Pthabbth. We’ll fire up my insanely powerful computer with the dual-core processor, the two whole gigabytes of RAM and fanless PCI-Express video card with the heatpipes. This will make the kittens very clear and fun to watch,” Paul said, walking toward the building and glowing with pride.
The Stupid Blogger shielded his eyes. “It’s kind of uncertain at the moment, but it looks like the Old Man’s up to his games again,” he said, matching Paul’s manly stride. His briefcase burst open, sending a mushroom cloud of Styrofoam peanuts into the troposphere.
Paul froze, his hand wavering an inch from the doorknob. “The… Old Man? Holy. Crap.”
Pthabbth, who had been patiently gnawing on the doorjamb, looked up and spit some wood shavings onto Paul’s shoes. “Bworp?” he suggested.
“That’s a good idea! We’ll go watch the kitten videos and then we’ll get in the CrimeWagon and go confront the Old Man! Bet he's got doughnuts."
“We could take my car,” said The Stupid Blogger. “It’s already warmed up.”
Paul stared at him blankly for three minutes, which his time at
“Three minutes,” he muttered. “Okay. Why not?”
“The CrimeWagon’s got experience, and it’s capable of throwing a cloud of rust into the air in order to facilitate escape from villains. Can your car do that? You got rust?”
“Nope!” said The Stupid Blogger, with too much pride.
“Tweep, ffffffpptth!” said Pthabbth.
The Stupid Blogger looked abashed. “Good point, lil’ guy,” he said, and patted Pthabbth on the head. “Oxidation is indeed one of the most heroic forms of chemical change, due to its power to turn even the strongest of steel girders to dust and its protective effect on the surface of aluminum and copper. Quite true.”
Paul nodded at his knee where Pthabbth was clinging, keyed into the building and moved in, squeezy light drawn.
The three of them crowded into Paul’s lair and Paul inserted the USB flash drive. “You know,” he began, searching for the mouse on his cluttered desk, “lair is just another term for bedroom.”
“I don’t believe that’s true,” said the Stupid Blogger. He moved a pile of clean socks off a chair and sat down. “You can Google it if you don’t believe me,” he added, seeing Paul’s glaze-eyed skeptical look.
“No, no no. I’m pretty sure… I mean, it’s where I lay down to sleep, and where all my laundry lays on the floor. I do my laying here, so it’s my lair. Make sense?” Paul heroically rebutted, scratching the permascruff on his chin thoughtfully. “Ah. Here’s the mouse.”
He pulled a wireless mouse out from under a pile of empty DVD cases, which promptly fell off the desk and caused Pthabbth to become agitated. His fur bushed out, and he ricocheted around the room until The Stupid Blogger tossed him a bag of Skittles he’d taken from his briefcase.
“Gweeeee!” squeaked an excited Pthabbth, and he set about jamming the candy into all the empty USB ports he could find.
They watched the kittens on Paul’s 20-inch widescreen LCD, and the video acceleration made them crisp and adorable. Paul beamed with pride so hard he fell off his chair, clutching his elbow.
Suddenly, the room went dark, except for the bluish glow cast by the LCD, and Paul’s speakers switched themselves on. First there was static, then a voice.
“Rotten little kids!” it said in a cracked growl. It sounded…old.
“Holy flaming Elmo!” Paul screamed. “It’s the Old Man! And he’s in my wonderful computer!” He reached for the USB drive, yanked it out and chewed it up.
“Hey!” said The Stupid Blogger. “That thing cost me fifty bucks!”
“And a lotta good it did you too, whelp,” said the voice from the speakers. “Although one can always hope there was something poisonous in it,” it added wryly.
Paul quickly donned his cape and set up a fan in front of himself. He pointed a heavily muscled finger at the monitor and said, in his deepest, hairiest voice, “Prepare to be defeated, Old Man! Hide behind my LCD if you will, but we will find you and crumble your plans to dust like so many month-old Christmas cookies! I'll have your doughnuts!"
“I hate you,” grumbled the Old Man, and the screen too went dark. The lights in the room flickered back on, and The Stupid Blogger turned off the fan.
“To the CrimeWagon!” Paul boomed.
...to be continued!