The enemy left her yellow and green house.
Meanwhile, at the other end of town, Herman straightened his cheap grey suit. That important task completed, he smiled at the reflection he saw in his handheld mirror.
A pudgy, fat filled face peered back at him.
An eighteen-year-old face with the smooth skin of a newborn baby accented by a pair of thick sausage-like lips.
Herman smacked these lips together with enough force to make himself heard. It was time to get serious.
In the distance, looking east from where he stood, he could see his enemy.
Gertrude, the witch, was hobbling slowly along the sidewalk. Yet, for the moment she must be ignored. There were much more important things to think of, much, much, more important things.
“Aren’t I looking mighty fine today Melvin?”
A thin, almost sickly looking reed of a teenager was Melvin.
This reed grunted unintelligibly mainly because he didn’t know how grunt in a clear, coherent fashion.
Who does? This is one of the questions that haunts most of us during our wanderings on Planet Earth.
“Yes!” Herman puffed out his expansive chest. “Yes, you are Herman. That is all you needed to say. But did you say it? No!”
The sun was glaring. So was Melvin. He was glaring at the run down supermarket that was to be the target of their protection racket. There was no money here, any fool could see that. However, he remained silent. It didn’t pay, very much, to question the great Herman.
He would speak when he jolly well felt like it…and he wasn’t jolly right now.
Herman studied his target for exactly fifteen and a half minutes. Eventually, prompted by the writer of his life story, he squinted and then lumbered forward.
“Watch my bike,” was the command left with Melvin his servant.
“Stop! No admittance!” The resistance was stiff. Yet it came unto pass that the cardboard sign broke in two after beating against his knee for twenty seven times. Herman then began kicking at the next obstacle before him. It only took a few hours before the ancient white door squealed like a piglet in mortal pain as it gave way before the horrific assault.
As commanded, Melvin watched Herman’s bike. A local hoodlum was wheeling it away. However, the command of the Great Herman was to watch the bike, not to stop someone from taking it. So, he let it be.
“So we’re the Mafia, huh. We’re the scourge of the town?”
Bored, Melvin continued thinking, pondering sneering thoughts, but since they were repetitive, they don’t bear repeating. They all revolved around one theme. Someday he, Melvin would find himself. Someday he would rise from the ashes of his life and become somebody…somebody else.
A small flask flashed in the sun.
The liquid burned on its way down his throat.
Melvin coughed as he shoved the flask back into the waistband of his well-worn blue jeans.
He appraised the supermarket before him with a lazy eye for detail.
There was faded and peeling white paint all around the front of the little building, and then as he tilted his head he could see the same on the other side. Exciting, but wait, there was the front door.
It was fascinating.
The faded brown wood broke up the mass of solid white paint.
Small towns are so much fun!
Filled with adrenaline from all this small-town action, Melvin reached for the flask at his side again.
Meanwhile, Gertrude, the enemy, hobbled closer.
Melvin felt his heart pounding like a kick drum. He turned his attention to the ground, hoping against hope that Gertrude would pass by without speaking to him.
She had always said he’d fall in with the bad crowd. That had been two years ago when he had started high-school.
He should have listened to her.
Melvin knew he could’ve saved the world if he had acted then. He still could, he had the formulas all figured out at home.
All the mathematical equations that were needed to end the threat of war forever and to feed all the world’s hungry. Sadly, no one would listen him. Especially since he hadn’t made the effort to speak to anyone about this.
Where was the justice in this world?
The enemy was drawing closer.
A fifty year old woman was Gertrude, but not weak. She had grey hair and wrinkles, and yes, she did use a cane, but she was not senile. No. Gertrude was as strong as any man in this town and twice as cunning. She had become a dangerous adversary.
Melvin slugged back some more courage from the flask.
Feeling the lie of caffeinated bravado coursing through his veins, he held his head up and balled his little fists.
Herman and Melvin would soon be names to be feared. Yeah, why were they afraid of an old woman anyway? They were unemployed, but they were proud. They poorly dressed but they were bold.
It was at that very moment that the door of the supermarket flew open.
Herman had returned.
As she neared her enemies, Gertrude’s lips opened in a wide and sadistic grin. Even her laugh was evil!
It sent shivers up and down Melvin’s jiggling spine.
It was high time to get moving.
In one fluid movement of stunning unity, Herman grabbed Melvin’s bicycle from the foul sidewalk. He stood it upright and then hopped on board.
Melvin could only watch as his master roared off like a bullet from an unloaded cannon.
Then came the attack that they had feared. Gertrude jammed her cane into the spokes of Herman’s bicycle.
The tire stopped.
For a brief moment, Herman’s balloon-like form flew through the air like a majestic bird. In a tragedy worthy of modern television, the moment of flight ended all too soon and Herman began descending toward the pavement.
His head bounced twice as it hit the concrete.
This was actually a welcome change of pace for him. Usually Herman spent his days pounding his head against a wall. Something different was nice.
That is why Herman was beaming, even as he was heaving himself to his feet. He held up the bottle of cheap wine that he had extorted from the bargain bin at the supermarket. Indeed, he was the image of a champion.
Gertrude could only sigh as she shook her head of grey. Then, succumbing to her defeat, she straightened her faded green dress and continued to hobble down the street.
The picture of sorrow and despair.
“Good.” Herman shook himself from the bliss of victory. “She‘s
gone, now for our revenge… Humph! What to do? Kill her and throw
her body into the river? Or do we go to her house and throw stones and call her mean names?”
“Hmm. That’s a tough one boss. I’ll leave it up to you.” Melvin felt good. He had spoken. Even though he had said something unspeakable it felt good to speak again.
“It is not as tough as it may appear little one. Did I tell you we got a sponsor? Yes, just like those racecar drivers. Every time we kill somebody we’ve gotta announce it in the newspaper and put the name Allen-Gregory Snide funeral
homes beside it.”
“I don’t know.” Melvin paused, then continued. Feeling the joy that comes with talking at length about something you nothing about. “ What would the guys in the big city mafia say? I’d tell you what they’d say. They’d say we sold out to corrupt corporate interests. They’d say we were typical small town Mafia wannabees. They’d laugh at us Herman; I don’t know how I’d take it. You know we don’t want to start a turf war with the big boys, but that’s what might happen if they laughed at us and I started into action knocking off those big city kingpins.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Well I thought it was a good idea, but even a genius has got to be wrong sometimes. It makes the normal underclass types feel better about themselves. You feeling better Melvin?”
“Then let’s go home.”
Melvin reached for the wine bottle in Herman’s hand.
“No!” Herman pulled it away. “Melvin, you know how it is…the girlfriend takes’ everything we earn, remember?”
“But boss, neither of us has a girlfriend, remember?”
“But someday we may well discover true love…and we want to give them the satisfaction of taking our things away from us, don’t we?”
The wisdom in this statement was so overwhelming that Melvin had to meditate on it for a few moments. Finally he was able to gather enough brain cells together to form a response. “Yeah, sorry boss. It’s almost like girls and grandmothers are the real Mafia types now days.”
Herman wiped a tear from his eye as he surveyed the crumpled bicycle before them. What a sad sight it made. Lying there in the street. A mess of wasted potential. Perhaps it was a symbol of the impending fate of a consumer driven culture…then again, perhaps it was just a broken down bicycle. Only the author of their life story knew for sure.
“Melvin, I feel uncomfortable. The thoughts in my head are becoming heavy. Let us return to what we know best. Let us return to our sacred circle of comfort. Let us return to our television, perhaps we can find some peace of mind as we settle there.”
And lo, it came unto pass that our two heroes began to walk, taking turns pushing the broken bicycle into a vivid orange sunset. One thin teenager, one fat. Two fearsome Mafia types engaged in a war, a war for their very existence. A struggle for control of the small-town they had lived in for so long.
The enemy had been met, but not for the last time. To be continued…