As a general rule, strippers have a tendency to complicate things, and the abduction of a stripper, especially when done by a four legged mammal with no political ties, has a tendency to really screw shit up. Anyone who’s seen Pretty Woman will know exactly what I mean.
You see, now it wasn’t just Dick, Simon & Jimmy against Zodar the Spy Moose; it was Dick, Simon & Jimmy against Zodar the Spy Moose and Portia. And I know that may seem obvious to you in hindsight, but believe me, there’s always an idiot or two out there (Simon and Jimmy would easily cover the spread on that just by themselves) who need it spelled out for them.
Note here too that while Portia isn’t technically against us, she’s still with Zodar – whether willingly or not – and if she catches a bullet or two by being there then maybe she should have thought about that ahead of time and gotten a job at Burdines or something rather than at a strip joint where you’re just asking to be kidnapped by rogue animals from the former Soviet Union. I mean, talk about Self Preservation 101.
Although Portia and I had a history together, I couldn’t let that stand in the way of justice. Sure, I couldn’t help but remember that morning I woke up to find her nestled softly in my arms, and the way that I frantically tried to gnaw my arm off so that I could escape without waking her, and the way she woke up anyway and . . .
. . . wait . . . wait a minute. That wasn’t her. That wasn’t her at all. Sorry, sorry, I’ve got her completely mixed up with somebody else. But I think that in itself is enough to clearly illustrate how strippers complicate things.
We were on Interstate 4, heading West. At least, we were trying to head West. What we were actually doing was sitting pretty still in the westbound lanes, the Impala doing a reasonable if not thoroughly convincing job of impersonating a parked car. But if & when we finally did start moving, I was 90% certain that it would be in a westerly direction. Because there was only one place that Zodar would go with a hooker.
“I thought she was a stripper,” Jimmy asked.
“What?” I said.
“I thought Portia was a stripper,” Jimmy replied.
“You just said she was a hooker.”
“No I didn’t,” I said.
“Sure you did. I just heard you.”
“No you didn’t.”
“No, you didn’t,” I said. “You’re listening in to my thoughts again is what you’re doing. And I already told you to knock that off or I’d pop you one.”
“Dick,” Simon interjected, “don’t get defensive. After all, you were thinking rather loudly. I heard you too. And whether or not that’s right or wrong, you did call her a hooker.”
“Okay, okay,” I said, throwing up my hands in exasperation. “Jimmy & Simon, Attorneys at Law. I throw myself on the mercy of the court for crying out loud. Excuse me for making a mistake.”
“Well, we probably wouldn’t even have mentioned it, but you’ve made a couple of them lately,” Simon said.
“Yup,” said Jimmy, nodding.
“What the hell are you two talking about?” I asked.
“Just that you’re making some mistakes is all,” Simon said. “Some mental mistakes.”
“Brain farts,” Jimmy added.
“Oh yeah?” I asked. “Like what?”
“Like Pretty Woman,” Simon answered.
“Okay. What about it?”
“Well, for one thing, nobody in that movie got abducted by a four-legged mammal. At least, I don’t think anybody did,” Simon said.
“Nope, nope, nobody,” said Jimmy shaking his head instead of nodding for a change.
“And Julia Roberts played a hooker, not a stripper, so even if a four-legged mammal had kidnapped someone, it’s still a moot point.”
“Moot,” said Jimmy, nodding once again and probably wondering what the hell ‘moot’ meant, “Definitely moot.”
“Wait a minute,” I said, “you bozos just jumped all over me because I said she was a hooker and you insisted she was a stripper. Now you saying it’s the other way around.”
“No, no, no,” Simon countered, “Portia is the stripper, Julia Roberts is the hooker.”
“She is? No shit?”
“No, in the movie, Dick.”
“Movie? You mean The Goodbye Girl? She wasn’t in that.” I took a deep breath, pressed my hands to my temples, and sighed loudly. “You guys are messing me up. I can’t keep all this straight.”
“That’s what we’re trying to tell you,” Simon said, “You’re making mental errors. It’s just very obvious to us because we’ve never seen you do that before.”
“What about that time at the donut shop?” Jimmy asked Simon.
“Well, yes, there was that,” Simon replied to Jimmy, “But usually we don’t see him making those kinds of errors. At least not all the time. That’s the point I was trying to make.”
“Oh. Okay,” said Jimmy.
“You guys are whacked,” I said, getting annoyed. “My thinking is just fine. As long as I don’t listen to either of you, I know exactly what I’m doing.”
“Really?” asked Simon. “Then what are we doing here?”
“We’re going to Disney. That’s where Zodar will be.”
“I see,” said Simon. “Then why are we on I-4?”
“I just told you. Because . . .”
My God, he had me. I was making mental errors. Why was I on I-4? Certainly not because I had any intention of going anywhere. Only tourists make that mistake. What was I doing?
What was I thinking? What the hell
yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy was going on?
“For that matter,” said Simon, “what the hell is with all the ‘Y’s’?”
“Oh,” I said, looking, “I think the cat stepped on the keyboard.”
“Pompous animals,” Simon said.
“Yeah,” I said. “You guys are right though. I’m not thinking clearly. Not at all. Oh, hang on a second, I think the traffic’s moving.”
I pulled up three feet and then put it back in park.
“Something must have happened back there,” I said.
“In the strip joint?” Simon asked. “Or three feet behind us?”
“Strip joint. Zodar . . . Zodar must have done something. Messed with my head somehow. Got me thinking all weird.”
“Duuuuuuude, I know exactly what you mean,” Jimmy said. “I got some bad mescaline this one time? Oh man, you just don’t know. Been there, done that.”
“I don’t think he slipped me any acid Jimmy,” I said.
“Whoa dude, you never know. They’re pretty small.”
“Be that as it may, I don’t think Zodar relies on pharmaceuticals. No, he has a power, a presence, that we weren’t made aware of. If he could affect my thinking that easily and that quickly, we’re going to have to be very careful when we’re around him next time.”
“Hey,” Jimmy said, “maybe we can make some brain shields out of aluminum foil.”
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about Jimmy,” Simon said.
“Yeah, he’ll be fine. But you and me Simon, we’ll have to be very careful indeed.”
I gripped the wheel firmly with both hands and stared ahead with a renewed and somewhat clearer resolve. Head games. Huh. I should have suspected. No Russian animal worth his salt relies on brute force alone. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, . . . er . . . shame on you again, I guess. That’s what my Mom used to tell me. That or something like it. Anyway, the point is, there’d be no fooling Dick Lassiter again. And if there was, it would be the moose’s fault.
“Um, Dick?” Simon asked.
“We’re still just kind of sitting here. Are we going to actually do something? In the next day or two I mean.”
“Yeah,” I said. “We are.”
I shifted the Impala into drive, turned the wheel hard right, and gunned it. Some people may laugh at my choice in transportation, but I’ll tell ya, here’s where having a big old piece of full size Detroit iron really comes in handy. Just ask the owners of the half dozen Hondas’ and Lexus’ that I pushed out of my way and left dented, dripping, and smoking as I made it to the break down lane. My car suffered a scuff on the front bumper that I had to buff out later. I call that a win.
We blew down the shoulder faster than grandma running to the bathroom when her Ex-Lax kicks in.
We had a moose to catch.
Next Week: Chapter 29