The Gypsy's Address
The Hand hit a rock with his left tire. His Side lost his seating and flew into the dirt. Strange passed too fast to think of stopping. But Penny was able to slam on his brakes. The column of cop cars passed, followed by Makin’ and the Punc. Penny had to back up, then threw the passenger door open. We, Kia, flew out and the Side jumped in, incredible that he’d not only lived through rolling across the earth as he did, but had the presence of mind to retrieve his rifle. A starved ballerina raced up to chop through Penny’s window. He jerked open his door, slamming her in the side of the head with it. Another grabbed his left arm. He drew his blade and stabbed her just below her jaw. Slamming shut his door, he looked past the Side loading shells into his rifle as fast as possible, then saw the Matador.
“Follow me!” the Matador CB’d.
Penny signaled with his hand, then both raced through the gears barely ahead of the main mass of ballerinas. Penny could see them in his mirror, attempting to jump onto his trailer. His trailer tires smashed at least two into the earth before he could gain enough speed to make some distance in 13th gear. By this time half the cops behind Nancom had crashed. Half those who had passed the Matador, once they’d begun four wheeling to avoid the stampede, were also gone. Strange saw another cop hit a bump that sent him flying over the heads of a hundred fast yet zombie-like ballerinas. His SUV might have crushed eight or nine as he landed in their midst. But he was skeleton within four minutes.
“Those ballerinas urgent wishes inspire! I wish all their foo foos would catch on fire!” Strange raised her voice to say. But none of the ballerinas’ hair went up in flames. She looked at Cuddly poking his head between the seats from the sleeper. He kept silent, while Alias, trying to keep her balance in the passenger seat, lightly growled as she watched the nightmarish threat, endless in number, through the windshield.
“Four,” Cuddly presently suggested.
“For. . . Fore. . . Four. . .” Strange pondered as she raced along the wall of ballerinas.
Nancom only slightly revealed his anxiety as he watched the countless oncoming ballerinas, so many that his chauffer could only rush along their endless wall of advance.
“Driver!” Nancom addressed.
“Get me out of this before I get crabby. Or your brain I’ll inject with fat ‘til it’s flabby.” Something’s double sneezed again. Mayor Poop handed her another tissue, her hands filling up with them: “Have you an allergy? Or was that sneeze of the last an analogy?” Nancom inquired.
“There’s something strange with the presumption that a plump little porker’s not meant for consumption,” Makin’ CB’d Strange, wearing her head gear just in case Something disappeared into a hole. Suddenly a ballerina managed to jump onto the steps of her Western Star. Makin’ Wind rolled down her window and punched it in the face, sending it sprawling into the dirt at sixty miles and hour. Ballerinas continued to fall in groups of ten and more from the rattle of the Punctuator’s machine gun. But for every hundred he dropped there were a thousand to trample over their bodies in mindless pursuit of prey.
The Matador and Penny made a direct line for Something Strange, drawing the mass of ballerinas behind them in such a way that now the horde of comely atrocities were drawn to them, allowing the other vehicles to race ahead rather than only run along the perimeter of the stampede.
“Everyone listen!” the Matador radioed. “We’re going to lead the ballerinas to the sea! Though they’re a boon to the fishing industry that’s where they want to be! Stay ahead of them enough to give chase, and follow me!”
“We can’t lose that limo, and that pickup has to stay with it!” Penny returned, the Hand listening.
“No worry! The coast is in view and I know where they’re going!” the Matador answered.
“The cops are not friends,” Strange told the Matador. “Nor those other big trucks! The woman in the limo is being kidnapped. The man in the pickup is her Hand!”
“I’m a gypsy, my friend. I know that gray Caddy! And about police! Thanks for the information about the others! Now come with me!”
“He’s the Matador! And I’m Belle!” bawled Belle from the trailer, ready to toss, if need, a couple hundred ballerinas before going down with his sword-wielding companion.
“I don’t give a whit how happy fishy ballerinas wish to be!” the Punc walkied Makin’. “When some tempting bait they suck and on a hook get stuck they’ll have happiness to pretend while meet their end! Follow those cops!”
“You got it,” Makin’ agreed, steering her truck toward the police chasing the Hand chasing the limo. “Who but twits without wits care two bits about a million misfits who’d rather swim ‘cause think dancing’s the pits?” She slammed her foot to the pedal and shifted gears, veering off from the Matador now in the dust far behind, driving front door to Old Penny and Something Strange. They slowed down to play carrot by a hundred yards to the freakish numberless mass which just wanted to find home.
“Head to the Cave,” Nancom directed his driver.
Something’s double turned to look out the rear window, her Hand in pursuit as the ballerinas fell away into the distance. She permitted herself, not so much to brag, but to emit a force as she peered at Nancom Poop: “You underestimate who, unlike you, doesn’t own it all. The bet you’re making a better hand’s going to call.”
Nancom ignored her with a wry smile. Upon reaching the cave he used a remote control to roll up a large aluminum door, hidden amidst foliage and great boulders at the end of a road beneath a high cliff overlooking the sea. They pulled to a smooth stop at the other end of an enormous cavern with a concrete floor. Lights more than a hundred feet overhead automatically flickered on, to reveal that this was the location Poop used to hide his stockpile of arms.
Mayor Poop stepped out of his limo with his driver, then used the remote control to roll back down the door, somewhere between too late and not, because the Hand came crashing through, catching the door’s hem with the front of his old pickup as it came to three feet from the floor. This ripped the door from its rails, falling to the ground as the Hand steered his truck to slide his passenger side into the far wall. This would have shaken most men but, like his Side who Penny had stopped to rescue, his mind remained clear with intention, his body in perfect sync. He quickly opened his door, stepped out with his rifle and walked forward a few strides, cocking his Winchester with a swing like Chuck Connors in the Rifleman.
As soon as Poop saw the Hand’s pickup crash into the cavern he rushed to the other side of his Caddy and wrestled Miss Strange out the door. With one of her arms twisted behind her back, he wrapped a limb around her neck to use her as a shield. His driver, a young and yet unknown actor, looked a little like Steve McQueen, if ask me. He even holstered a sawed-off Winchester at his hip, like the Mare’s Leg in Dead or Alive. This was his first opportunity to play a role in a major motion picture. He’ll become rich and famous, thanks to us.
“A hero,” Nancom rolled his eyes, grinning as the Hand trained his rifle, with one arm, on the driver who had stepped out from behind the limo to confront him. “All your heroism primps is a meal for some shrimps. My driver, there, is the fastest gun in Memphis.”
“Too bad we’re not in Memphis,” replied the Hand, keeping his eyes on the driver. He was familiar with the driver’s reputation, and knew there was sound reason for it. The conspicuous artillery at his hip was in striking contrast to his white chauffer uniform. The cops, just now arriving, may have been jokes, but not the deadly man with whom he now exchanged estimation.
Now Nancom’s police rushed in on foot, their cars stopped at the entrance by the wrecked door. They formed an arch around the hopelessly outgunned Hand.
“Hold it!” Nancom ordered his men, then smiled at the Hand. “I want to see this! The man’s dumber than a steer to challenge my driver, here!”
Had Nancom’s pilot lived he might have seen from high in the sky, as now do you and I, Penny, Strange and the Matador leading the plague of ballerinas to the sea, where they thought happy they would be – even as, quite eagerly, scores of fishermen prepared their nets several hundred miles away. The ballerinas lost interest in the chase as they were brought to the Caribbean for which they searched every four years. They dove into the waters like mermaids in so great number that it raised the tide along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico by two inches. At an oblique angle, Penny, Strange and the Matador had been able to escape north to the cavern, but fifteen minutes away at their speed, piercing through the air across flat terrain. They parked their rigs in a dip of earth not far from Makin’ and the Punc’s abandoned trucks. Penny jumped out with a one-inch heater hose, perhaps a foot and a half long, which made an excellent cudgel. Strange grabbed her bow and a sheath of arrows from her sleeper. The Matador walked to the rear of his cattle hauler, swinging two bullfighting swords at his sides.
“We’ll want some assistance,” he told Penny and Strange, then pulled a rope which dropped a door at the end of his trailer, making a ramp. Belle briefly snorted and shook his horns about, then pounded the floor as he ran out. Not a little startled, Penny backed one way, Strange the other, as Belle stomped past, shaking the earth beneath their feet, whipping up dust before he abruptly stopped and turned about. The Matador was amused to see the alarm Belle the Bull had wrought upon Penny and Strange, they suddenly confronted with a beast which weighed a ton, was built like rock and bristled with vitality:
“Don’t worry. Belle wouldn’t hurt a fly. Lucky for us, though, he has a thing about uniforms.” The Matador walked up to his friend and business partner, produced a mound of cool, fresh blueberries from his jacket pocket, then fed them to a quite delighted Belle. Giving the bull a few pats on his massive granite-hard neck: “Belle, meet Old Penny and Something Strange.”
Belle brusquely trotted up between them and gave a snort to say, “Welcome to my world, where what’s implausible is all too possible.” Penny and Strange very carefully reached forward to pat the shoulders of the great animal, so pleased by their touch that it crossed its eyes and drooped its eyelids.
“Makin’,” Penny suggested. “She’s the giant.”
“The giant who appears will add bulls to her fears,” snorted Belle.
“The Mayor and I are already opposed, it seems,” chose Strange.
“I shall circumvent who find law sweet to represent,” claimed the Matador, feeding Belle a juicy strawberry, then pacing forward a few steps to put his swords through a few lightning-quick maneuvers.
“That leaves me the Punctuator,” Penny followed. “On my signal.” He then turned about to find the tracks of Makin’ and the Punc, Something in tow like a tomboy McCullough out of Wagon Train, Belle and the Matador taking up the rear side by side.
“Nancom Poop!” echoed the Punctuator’s voice in the cavern. There was a silence, until the Punc appeared, followed by Makin’, walking through the archway of police with their weapons aimed at the Hand, not certain for a moment what to do.
“Punctuator!” Poop greeted. “Run out of grenades? How’s the war in Algeria? . . And you, Makin? You’re early. I thought we scheduled next month.”
“To enhance a war has appeal. To advance a war is ideal,” responded the Punc, glad to know his double in that world conformed to his character.
“When it comes to dates I’m an otter out of water,” Makin’ acted, to which Poop frowned. Nor was Makin’ the least surprised that her twin, whoever that might be, was expectedly keeping bad company.
“As you can see,” Nancom pointed to the Hand, “I have a situation.”
The Punc had no interest in Nancom’s situation. But, somehow, the latter had come to have a tight grip around the neck of who he thought to be Something Strange: “It’s that woman I want.”
Both the Hand and Something’s twin were surprised that she was so popular that day.
“I don’t know for what,” Nancom answered to this sudden new twist, “but her present calamity brings me great levity. Handing her over to you would cost you plenty.”
“She thinks piggies in bellies are too ample. So I’m going to eat her instead, to set a better example,” Makin’ answered.
“No doubt you’ve eaten much and enjoyed it. As for eating me I’d prefer you avoid it,” replied Miss Strange to the giant she’d never seen before, thinking all of late quite peculiar.
Suddenly, a snort.
“What’s that?” Nancom startled.
Belle now walked forward with the Matador, startling the police who moved aside. The cavern now filling with strangers and odd behaviors, it was becoming a head scratcher to one and all. The Matador waited a few seconds for the atmosphere to calm, just a touch, before he spoke:
“Señor Poop! This is Belle,” swinging a sword to indicate his bull. “I am the world-renowned Matador,” crossing his swords across his chest and bowing.
“I’ve never heard of you. You look life riffraff to me,” Poop insolently answered.
“And I am a ruffian,” spoke Penny, suddenly stepping forward to Belle’s other side.
“And I’m a good aim,” added Strange, moving up beside Penny, her bow drawn directly between Nancom’s eyes. If everyone was bewildered before, they were astonished now.
“I didn’t know you had a twin sister,” Nancom surmised to Miss Strange in his grip, she no less surprised.
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