Extracts torn from forgotten books
by Nicholas Andrews
Rafe had to go. He didn’t have any place in particular that he needed to be, he needed togo go. It was with much discomfort that he told Jody to pull over. Jody was irritated, but he steered his ’79 Monte Carlo into the parking lot of a local fast food restaurant, grumbling all the while about not making it home in time for his favorite cartoons.
Mumbling a quick apology, Rafe opened the creaking passenger door and made a hasty dash for the restaurant door. Jody sighed, and was able to listen to the Ozzy song on the radio for a few moments before he got restless. He turned the car off and followed Rafe into the building.
Inside he ordered a hamburger with only ketchup, an order of fries and a Coke to go. He had no intention of eating in the car, but if he ordered to go he could reduce the price by a few cents, only having to break a five dollar bill rather than a ten. Jody sat at a table against the wall and began to eat.
Shortly thereafter, three men entered the restaurant, apparently having stepped straight out of a Michael Jackson music video, chains hanging from their black jeans and all. Jody noted them immediately. As a matter of fact, he’d been aware of them following his car since 7thStreet. He cleared his throat and the three looked in his direction.
The “men” were barely that, of an awkward age that could mean either high school dropout or trade school graduate. Jody gave them a brief glance before naming them Ugly, Stupid and Lackey in his head. They stalked toward him with a confident gait.
“May I help you?” Jody asked pleasantly.
“Our dealer was accosted by two punks last week,” Ugly said. “He’s been scared so shitless that he won’t even sell us a single eight-ball.”
“What the hell does that have to do with me?” Jody asked.
“Surveillance photos,” Ugly said. Lackey nodded. “One with short, brown hair, the other with a long, blond ponytail. Just like you.”
“One got away, huh?” Jody asked. “I thought Rafe and I thoroughly roach bombed that place.” That brought on three intimidating frowns. At least they would have been intimidating, had his harassers’ rosy cheeks not made it so adorable.
“Said he wasn’t dealin’ no more, that we should take it up with the guys who roughed him up and shot his boss,” Stupid said. Lackey once again nodded.
“Roughed him up? Please,” Jody said. “He was barely bleeding until he fell on that broken glass.”
“And what about the boss?”
“Well, he was just rude. Insinuated all sorts of things about Rafe and his mother.”
Stupid took a step forward. “Maybe I’ll have a go with your mom later on. I can bring her your fat head.”
Jody thoughtfully chewed on his burger, unperturbed by the juvenile threat. When he swallowed, he stood up and smacked his hands on the table. The three jumped back. Ugly and Stupid drew out switchblades, and then Lackey did the same.
“You wanna go?” Ugly shouted. “We’ll slit your throat!”
“Look, I think we all know the drill here,” Jody said. “You come at me, I retaliate, and you all eat dirt. So do you want to go through with the whole thing, or do you just want to lay on the floor right now and save us all the time?”
That brought an angry flush to Ugly’s cheeks. “You’re dead, motherfucker!” He lunged at Jody, who ducked the man’s clumsy thrust and bent way down, showing amazing flexibility in bringing his right foot up over the top of his head and smashing it into Ugly’s mouth. Ugly flew backwards and landed on the floor in a heap. Stupid and Lackey now were both after him. Jody leapt back, dodging their switchblades, searching for a weapon.
This was the scene that Rafe happened upon when he came out of the bathroom. He watched as Jody tried to pick up the table, only to discover that it was the kind that was bolted to the wall. He just barely managed to avoid the thug’s slash before he caught the man by the arms and rolled to his back, using his foot to heave the man over the top of his head to smack into the wall with a sound that could have been either the snapping of wood or bones.
The larger punk stepped forward, but Jody twisted his body around and swept the man’s legs from under him. The man fell with a grunt, and in the same motion, Jody spun again and kicked him in the back of the neck as he tried to sit up. He didn’t rise again.
Jody rose and dusted off his long, gray coat. The third thug, who had been lying on the floor when Rafe emerged, sat up. Blood poured from his mouth. “You mother…” he got out before Jody delivered a roundhouse kick to his temple. The youth slumped back down, unconscious.
“I’ll have you know I’ve never had relations with my mother,” Jody told him. “She’s not my type.” He walked toward Rafe, an annoyed look on his face. “You could have helped,” he told him.
“When I’ve just washed my hands?” Rafe said in his prominent English accent. “Perish the thought.” He took off his glasses and cleaned them with a handkerchief. “Besides, I think you had things well in hand.”
“Yeah, but now I’m all sweaty,” Jody said.
Rafe laughed. “So how was the food?”
“You get what you pay for, I suppose. Let’s make a break for home before the police arrive. Shall we?”
Jody and Rafe walked into their apartment on Rittner Street. Jody threw his keys on a nearby table and removed his coat. He looked at the clock and swore. It was well after 1:00 AM. “See, now I’ve missed my cartoons.”
“I’m sorry, but I had to use the loo,” Rafe said.
“The loo,” Jody grumbled as he plopped down on a chair and grabbed the remote control. He channel flipped while Rafe grabbed the newspaper and an old pencil, intending to finish his crossword.
A few minutes later the telephone rang. Jody looked up at Rafe hopefully, realizing he might have to get up and answer it. Luckily for him, the phone was within arm’s reach and Rafe picked it up. “Hello,” he said.
“Betty bought some batter butter, but she found the butter bitter,” the voice on the other end intoned.
“So she bought some better butter, to make the bitter batter better,” Rafe replied. Jody’s interest immediately picked up and he turned off the TV. He went to his room to get another phone.
“Hello, Raphael,” the voice said.
“Please, sir, I told you that I am called by Rafe,” Rafe replied. There was an audible click as Jody joined the line.
“So I hear you got into a bit of a scrape tonight, Joseph,” the voice said.
“They came after us because their dealer escaped the sting the other night,” Jody said. “One of us was sloppy. Why are you calling us now, Kimball? Surely you’re not concerned.”
“Hardly,” Kimball responded. “According to Rafe’s text messages, you came out without a scratch on you. The real reason I call, as is the reason I call every time, is that I have orders.”
“Can’t this wait until tomorrow?” Jody said irritably.
“No, this matter is priority,” Kimball said.
“That’s us,” Jody said.
“What are the orders, Chief?” Rafe asked.
“Listen up, Priority; first off, what are your thoughts on time travel?”
“Makes for cheesy movies,” Jody said.
“Have you ever wondered why, with all the technological advances of the twentieth century, that no one has ever sought to utilize it?” When neither Jody or Rafe responded, Kimball continued. “Oh yes, time travel is real. It was discovered in 1989 by Dr. Brandon Faulkner. Under undisclosed laboratory conditions, he managed to turn a clock back by an entire minute. It was originally pitched to the various quantum physics authorities, but they all thought it preposterous. But the US government didn’t. They tracked down Dr. Faulkner and took up his project. Only they failed to find a safe way to utilize time travel, so the project was cancelled and labeled classified. Dr. Faulkner was sworn to secrecy, and well compensated for it, and the government kept surveillance on him.”
“Ah, the good old paranoid USA,” Jody said.
“They definitely had their reasons for keeping tabs,” Kimball said. “That is, until Faulkner disappeared three nights ago. Our intelligence points to kidnapping, and your assignment, Priority, is to rescue him. Lethal force will be necessary against all resistance. We have no way of knowing what he may or may not have said.”
“A kidnapped scientist?” Jody said. “Isn’t that what Cobra used to do on GI Joe every week?”
“You have the location, I presume?” Rafe said.
“As you can imagine, since we tapped your branch of Priority, he is being held in the vicinity of Hamilton Port. I’m faxing you directions now.” The familiar whir of the fax machine hummed throughout the apartment. “We trust to your judgment, Priority,” Kimball said. “Assigner, out.” With that, he hung up.
Jody sauntered out of his room and stretched before retrieving the fax.
“So, what are we doing tonight?” Rafe asked.
Jody smiled. “The same thing we do every night, Rafe,” he said, paraphrasing a well-known animated rodent. “Keep someone from trying to take over the world.”