Friday, December 24, 2010

POP19: “The Lovers”


A phone call came in to Big Boy at the Green Club.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“I have her!” the voice of Fake Face exulted. “Listen listen pretty pretty please.”

Merrily’s voice, which Big Boy hadn’t heard in four years:

“No Max! Don’t come. He’ll kill you. He’s pure evil. Leave me be. I’m dead. He’ll kill me anyway. Save yourself. I’m nobody. Don’t come. Don’t come!”

As Big Boy swelled with comprehending anger, Fake Face’s voice came back on the line.

“I have her at the Armory. We’ll see you see you there!”

Fake Face touched off his phone. His malevolent eyes stared down at the girl. She was held prisoner within the lock-up ruins. Decayed green bars stood open around them. Fake Face had secured her with a fresh chain.

“Thank you very much for your outspoken approval of me, you sad little girl,” the eerie voice said from behind the static smile.

Darkening blood from her scalp mixed with her pink-dyed bangs. Both her eyes had been blackened. Her lips were split, several teeth knocked out. Bruises mixed with purple-green tattoos on her arms. What had been young artist Merrily would be unrecognizable to friends and family, except perhaps for the strands of pink. As her bloodshot eyes stared up at her tormentor, Fake Face grabbed those bangs and yanked her head forward. Enough strength remained in her to resist.

“I’m happy you’ve decided not to oppose me,” he sneered ironically.

“You can’t intimidate me,” she replied. “I’ll never be intimidated. Beneath your mask, your power, and your gang you’re cowardly.”

His evil eyes met hers in some surprise. Her hatred didn’t flinch. The small girl showed intelligence and will like few of his enemies. The Big Boy, for all his stupidity, had found an impressive mate. Too bad, Fake Face thought with some glee—they were fated to remain forever separated!

After the eyes within the mask turned away, the girl tried reason on him.

“Carny won’t like you in his territory,” she said.

“I’ll kill him after I finish with the Big Boy,” spoke the inhuman voice.

Fake Face checked the metal bracelets on her wrists. They were tied to the chain. His steps casually descended the stairway. After a minute she heard the cocky footsteps exit the building. His gang had smashed open the doorway. Likely Fake Face was checking on the men who’d been placed strategically around the tower to await Big Boy’s arrival.

Merrily exhaled. She was so tired. . . . Existentially tired. Her eyes gazed around this place. What time was it, she wondered? Morning? Not yet. Shadows of stairs and bars shifted inside the tower, a frame around the garish red-and-black expressionist painting which had become Merrily.

She prayed Max wouldn’t come. He was a bull in strength, but hadn’t the nature to go against Fake Face. Whatever Max had done, whatever part he’d played as a gangster, Max, after all, remained a human being.

Merrily realized then she cared more for him than she’d believed.


At the Green Club Max—also known as Big Boy—bounded from behind his desk at the conclusion of the phone call with uncontrolled rage. The men present in the office saw what was happening and moved to restrain him.

“Don’t!” they said. “Big Boy, don’t! You heard her. It’s a trap.”

“AAARRRRGGHHH!” Big Boy yelled as he threw the several large men away from him.

He propelled himself into the main body of the Green Club, his men fighting him every step of the way.

“Quick,” one of them said. “Get more men. Bolt the doorway. We have to stop him. If he goes after her it’s suicide.”

For thirty minutes the battle raged within the Club—Big Boy against his own gang. The struggle wrecked the place—chairs, tables, rows of glasses crashing to the floor as the wrestling moved behind the long mahogany bar and outside it, across the vast room, shaggy-haired Big Boy carrying several men on top of him. At one point his voice was heard to cry out with love and desperation, “Merrily! MERRILY!”

“Get more men!” came a tiring refrain. Then: “Max. Max! You can’t go there. You can’t go there!”

At last five huge men halted his progress. They held him down with their weight against the green carpeting, yet felt his welling strength as Big Boy readied for another attempt.

(NEXT: “Killtown USA”)

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