Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fixer [Interim Title] Chapter 8

Previous Chapters

Yes, you get a full chapter today! I'm up to 50,000 words in the mainline. It's starting to wrap up nicely. Still a few mysteries to solve before we wind down, and more than one funeral to attend, so it'll end up well past my 60,000 word goal for the first draft before I get all those threads tied together.

Chapter 8

I made my way towards the weights, as my friend from the red Beemer tried to pretend he wasn't watching me, then I stopped right in front of his stationary bicycle and said, "Can you spot me?"

Poor fool almost fell off his bicycle. Which is hard to do, when said bicycle is bolted to the floor. But he was in a jam, so he said the only thing he could say:


"Thanks!" I said, giving him my most winning smile. "I really appreciate that."

I headed over to the bench press, Beemer boy in tow, and shoved the bar onto the uprights, then a 25 pound weight on each end. I lay down on the bench and waggled the tips of my fingers at the bar -- short arms suck. My friendly ogler got the hint and bumped the bar down into my hands. I pumped out ten reps, then nodded at him to bump the bar back up on the uprights.

"They got you working long hours today," I said to my new buddy as I waited between sets.


"Interesting BMW you're driving. Air America? America Import/Export? Hello? Where's your imagination?"

I lay back and waggled my fingers for the bar again.

"I don't know what you're talking about," my new buddy said.

I pumped out another ten reps. I felt the last one. It almost made me forget about the pain from the rope and cigarette burns.

"So what do you want to know?" I asked. "I'll answer any question you ask, if you answer a couple of mine."

"Are you always this weird?"

"Sometimes I'm weirder," I said, grinning. "Anyhow, I remembered something about a CIA-created venture fund. What do you bet that I'll find out that Akilna Software was one of the companies funded by the CIA?"

"Akilna who?"

"You're good," I said. "What's your name?"

"Uhm... Larry."

"Yeah, right. And I'm Britney Speares."


It was time for another set and I waggled at him again. I started running out of gas at the sixth rep. "Larry" gave me just enough assist to get over the bumps, then at the last rep bumped it up to the bar. Somebody had taught the boy good manners.

"So how long you been working for the CIA?" I asked him.

"Larry" looked like a deer caught in the headlights, clearly seeing disaster but not knowing what to do about it.

"I work for an import-export company," he said.

I pointed Larry at the squat machine. I heaved a 45 pound weight onto my end, he heaved another 45 pound weight onto the other. I got under the bar and did one rep.

"So you're just a random stalker?" I asked.


A big guy named Red overheard the last. Red was the kind of guy who bench-pressed 300 pounds and squatted more. He had muscles on top of muscles. He was also bald and, I suspected, his balls were about the size of ants from all the steroids. Despite that, he was basically a nice guy. He spotted me sometimes, and usually talked to me like I was his little sister, not like I was someone he wanted to fuck, not that there was a lot down there to fuck with given how much juice he'd shot himself with over the years. I liked Red, insofar as I liked anybody.

Red came over, and at my stalker's shoulder said, "Is this guy botherin' you, Kathy?"

I looked at "Larry". "He's been stalking me. Maybe we should find out who he is."

Red placed hands the size of a saucer on both of "Larry"'s shoulders. "I suggest you get your wallet out and show the little lady your ID, mister."

My favorite stalker sighed, and pulled out a wallet and government ID. His ID said that he was Wallace Johnson, and that he worked for the FBI.

"FBI?" I raised an eyebrow. "I get it. The CIA isn't allowed to spy inside the United States." I looked up at Red. "Thanks, Red. I guess he wasn't stalking me after all, he was just being very, very incompetent."

"No problem," Red rumbled, and patted me on the head, which I usually hate but I know Red just works that way. That little sister thing. Then Red rolled off to push some other incredibly heavy lump of iron to some other place repeatedly.

"So what should I call you, Larry or Wallace?"

"Just call me Wallace," my new friend said grumpily.

I got back under the weight, picked it up off its stops, and signalled Wallace to flip the stops out of the way. I did ten repetitions, then signalled him to flip them back.

"So I'm not going to ask why you're following me, because I know why. I know how too, you have a transmitter under the bumper of my car, which is why you are in sight only when I'm away from the car for a while or am out running. Just one question -- when I was at that house in West San Jose, were you following me then?"

"I was a couple of blocks away," he said grumpily.

"When I didn't move for a while, did you drive by to see if you could see anything?"

"Yeah, but you weren't anywhere in sight. I figured you were in the house."

"I was in the garage," I said. I waggled my wrists at him. "Some creep knocked me out and tied me up to the rafters, then had fun poking me with a lit cigarette. It would have been nice if you'd been there."

Wallace looked uncomfortable. "Hey, I'm sorry. But you're okay, right?"

I got under the weight again, waggled at Wallace to move the stops, and angrily heaved it up and down another ten times, the last few times pushing it up through sheer willpower through the burn. I came to a halt, catching my breath and signalling Wallace to flip the stops back down.

"No I'm not okay," I said. "Let me tie you up to some rafters and poke you with cigarettes and see how you like it. I had to shoot someone. Have you ever shot someone? Have you?" I saw the look on Wallace's face, which was a look of total incomprehension, and said "Of course not. Let me tell you about shooting someone. You're scared, you're upset, you're stressed out, you're jacked up on adrenalin so far that your blood pressure is about to pop your eardrums out, and you're looking at the person you just shot and wondering if you're going to have to shoot him again to keep him from hurting you, and you're trying to hold yourself together long enough to take care of business. It's one of the most horrifying and terrible things that any thinking feeling person could ever have to do. And you ask if I'm okay? Fuck no I'm not okay. I need to throw some weight around."

We did the ten more reps thing. I fed on the anger, pushing so hard that my vision greyed out on the last rep. Then I pushed Wallace to the next exercise, pullups. I'd already done my share of chinups today, but those hadn't been weighted behind-the-neck pullups. I snapped on the weight belt, directed Wallace's hands to my hips to keep me straight up and down, and jumped up to the bar.

"So, do you think I'm cute?"

"Uhm, yeah", Wallace said. I pumped out ten behind-the-neck pullups as Wallace's hands kept me stable, then dropped back to the floor, and turned around. Wallace's gym shorts showed that Wallace hadn't been kidding.

"Cute enough that you'd be very, very angry at anybody who hurt me?"

No hesitation. "I'd hurt them bad."

"Good," I said. "Just one thing." I poked him in the chest, looking up at him. "Don't you ever, ever, ever kill somebody that I've already put down. That's for me to do, not for you. Got that?" I was looking up at his face, which was showing nothing but confusion and a little bit of fear, and he backed up involuntarily a step. "Do you understand?" I demanded of him.

"I... what... okay. Okay."

"Because when you kill someone that I want to talk to, I become very, very angry. And when I become very angry, you don't want to be near me. So you don't do that. Do you understand?"

"I understand," he said, the fear and confusion mixing on his face. I was still poking him in the chest, and he was still giving ground.

"So did you kill that man in the garage?"

"What!" The combination of outrage and befuddlement on his face was impossible to fake, so I smiled.

"Of course you didn't. You're a freakin' Boy Scout, Wallace."

"Uhm... thanks."

I had Wallace spot me through the rest of the exercises I intended to do that day. By the time I was done, my restlessness had turned into a feeling of satisfaction and contentment as the brain chemistry kicked in. Even my burns didn't feel so bad anymore. Most of my harsh had mellowed quite well, thank you. Most. Not all.

I wiped the dripping sweat off with my towel, and said to Wallace, "Okay. Now we go talk to your boss."

Posted by: BadTux / 4/20/2006 10:56:00 PM  


You'll have to let us know what the title is, so we can buy this when it's published!

Love the serialization!

(She needs to give 'lil Wallace a pat on the butt at some point... ;) )
# posted by SB Gypsy : 23/4/06 8:36 AM  

I have other plans for Wallace. Turns out Wallace isn't quite as much a boy scout as we think, though he is still on the right side of the law (mostly -- he might be guilty of tampering with evidence).

But I still have that scene to write, so I'll see how I can work your pat on the butt in there, heh!

# posted by BadTux : 23/4/06 9:25 AM  

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