This is the first chapter of my upcoming novel. Former title: The Comic Book Code. Current title: Fanboys Shrugged! The first few pages of this were printed in Carry the Light 2015.
After taking a marketing class from Beth Barany, and hearing from Beth and several members of the class, I am going back to The Comic Book Code. But there will be a chapter named “Fanboys Shrugged.”
Anyhow, here is Chapter Zero in its entirety. The birth of a superheroine. (See, I am calling it Chapter Zero instead of a Prologue! Ooo, I’m so clever. Well, comic books do it.)
IN A WORLD SOMEWHAT SILLIER THAN OURS…
CHAPTER ZERO: THE AWESOME ORIGIN STORY!
SURFVILLE, CALIFORNIA. THE GEEK GUY’S COMICS AND COFFEE CORNER. MID MAY. A SATURDAY. 2:47 P.M.
“Your comic book made me cry,” the Kittygirl cosplayer softly meowed.
Holly Hansson sat bolt upright. Heartbroken little girls was NOT part of her graphic novel’s demographic!
TOK! Holly’s pen bounced off her signing table.
KAH-LATTER! And hit the floor.
FLUR-FLUFFLE! Followed by some of her comic books stacked nest to her iced mocha. Which hadn’t spilled. Whew!
Her writing life flashbacked like a dying rock star on uppers, singing his memoirs in ten seconds. Twenty years ago, when she was four years old, Holly had screamed at the movie screen, “Punch him, punch him, WHY DON’T YOU PUNCH HIM?!?!” But that dumb movie actress just cringed against the wall while the bad guy beat up the hero and a baseball bat was only six inches away from the actress’s hand! From then on, Holly dedicated her life to writing stories where the girls were brave and smart and STRONG! Finally, in The Last Super, Holly’s self-published graphic novel and personal masterpiece, The Overlady journeyed from evil, to good, to the ultimate sacrifice … and had brought tears to big, brown, liquid, little girl eyes made oh so adorable with Kittygirl makeup.
Holly reached across the table and grasped a little gloved hand. Ow! Realistic Kittygirl claws! “I’m so sorry, sweetie!”
Fans in the line to Holly’s table stared. A whopping dozen fangirls and seven fanboys. It was taking so long to build an audience. A couple of fanboys aimed phone cameras. Great, now comic books hurting kids might go viral.
The little Kittygirl smiled big and bright, twitching her pasted-on whiskers. “It was a good kind of cry!” She shoved a well-worn copy of The Last Super across the table and hopped like she’d drunk a gallon of coffee an hour ago. “Sign it sign it sign it please please please please PLEASE?”
“Aw!” chorused the signing line, guys browsing superhero toys and magazines, and couples sipping coffee in the coffee bar.
“Sure, I’d love to.” Holly gulped sweet, creamy mocha and took the girl’s book. Wow, maybe I should hire her for future signings!
A Japanese woman petted the girl between pointy Kittygirl ears and spoke with an accent that could bend steel with her bare tongue. “Miss Hansson, I know you didn’t write this for kids. But my daughter found it in my manga stash and I can’t get it out of her hands. Until now. I guess some girls like when the princess gives up her crown.”
The girl’s face became very serious. “Holly? Did you really put your blood in the book?”
Holly forced her smile to stay on her face. That publicity stunt had cost a pretty penny and two pints of blood and that bloody edition sold out only after three discounts. “I sure did. What’s your name, sweetie?”
“Katsuko Kimura.” Her diction sounded well-read. And no accent. Her mommy must have been a stickler for her kids speaking as the Romans do.
Just like Holly’s daddy. How she missed his sing-song Swedish accent … she swallowed a lump in her throat and signed the graphic novel, To Katsuko, my littlest yet biggest fan. Holly Hansson. She put another comic book into Katsuko’s dainty hands. “And for cosplaying so cutely, here’s The Last Super, issue zero.”
Katsuko’s eyes went anime big and sparkly. “Wow! A prequel! I love you, Holly!” She hugged comic book and graphic novel to her chest, then tilted her head like a curious kitten. “But why did the artwork style change in issue four?”
Ugh. Holly couldn’t hold onto her smile this time. The infamous issue where John Glutt drew The Overlady as C-cups on page 1, then bigger and bigger on each succeeding page, until a quadruple-F two-page spread had made Holly spit her afternoon coffee ten feet. “Because he drew the Oversized, I mean, the Overlady—”
WHAM! The unmistakable sound of a door being shoved open. And an unmistakably bombastic and rude bellow: “It’s because a woman took a man’s job!”
Oh no, not him. Anybody but him. “What are YOU doing here?” yelled Holly at the upright baby whale filling the store’s front doorway.
John Glutt’s three-hundred-and-plenty pounds bobbled his belly under a red supersuit. An acre of spandex wasted. He stepped inside, turned his back, and … BENT OVER? Was he too scared to face her, or was the moon going to come out early?
He tossed his cape aside. “Taste sticky justice!”
That thing on his back! He actually DID IT! Holly leaped to her feet—fluttering her homemade bat cape and knocking her coffee onto her stack of issue zeroes, dammit—and hurtled over the table. The fart was imminent, she wasn’t gonna make it! She grabbed at a red-white-and-blue costumed fanboy: “GIMME!”
BTFFFT-KER-SPLLLLLUP! A gluey net blanketed the store. Beneath it, heaps of geeks writhed upon the floor, walls, tables, and the coffee counter.
Except for Holly! She tossed aside the fanboy’s web-covered Captain Patriot shield that had protected her just like in the comic books! She flexed her long, strong legs to charge and then to kick a boat-size butt … but the floor rushed up instead. Funny how the Captain’s feet never got shot.
Holly punched and flailed against gravity. Gravity was not impressed. A broad, bat-logoed chest bashed her face. A huge belt buckle flicked her beaky nose. Tree trunk thighs rubbed her cheek. Dark boots hit her face.
She did a fast push-up, then stood … no. She could only sit up. Her legs stayed folded beneath her, stuck in a pillow of webbing. It smelled like rotten milk, felt so sticky, so icky, like a thousand spiders creeping up her thighs. Ooo, that black widow bite so many years ago that had made her so sick for so many days and nights and she hated creepy crawly spiders and their HORRIBLE DISGUSTING GLUEY STICKY WEBS!
“yyyyyaaaaAAAAAHHHHH!!!” Holly thrashed and scratched and hyperventilated at the unyielding cotton candy on her legs and frantically brushed her flinching hands on her arms to get that rotten rancid goop off but it still stuck so sticky and stinky … and … and … she stopped. For she had glimpsed THE crimefighter at her side. Panting, shaking, she looked up to the cowled face of the Batman statue. If only you were real.
John’s voice felt nauseatingly close, even from twenty feet away. “That’s right, fangirl! KNEEL before your GOD!”
Trust John to make a movie line sexist. Holly dialed her cell phone. “I’m calling the cops, Fatman!” Wait. No dial tone!
John dramatically swung his head in time with his over-pronounced laugh. “Hah, hah, HAH! Your phone is as useless as a woman mathematician!” He pulled a small gadget out of one of the dozens of pouches on his costume and placed it near the cash register. “When I dispense my morality, my Alpha-Jammer prevents rude interruptions!”
Holly had to ask. “You’re not Arachnid Guy?” She had a better idea of what the “A” stretched upon John’s chest stood for.
He strutted toward Holly like a macho walrus. “No. I am,” he puffed himself up, “ALPHA MAN! With my fear-inspiring costume which is based upon my original Arachnid Guy artwork, AND my array of Alpha-Gadgets which were invented by my brother-in-law Silicon Shrub and paid for by my vast family-in-law wealth, AND my Objectificationistic code which guides me to the path of moral superiority, I hereby swear by my lust for my art that I shall never again work for the tyranny of a fangirl! I shall shape the world of fandom into MY image!”
Holly rolled her eyes at John standing over her. Still, she had to admire his expositional breath control. “What’s next? A fortress in the shape of your head?”
John’s lip curled. It did that well. “That comes later. For now, I take back from a taker!”
“I paid you what I owed,” Holly snapped, “even your penalty clause!” She took a breath for some exposition of her own. But it stuck in her throat. Behind John, under webbing, Katsuko’s mother frantically whispered to a young lady wearing an amazon supersuit, tiara, and golden rope.
The amazon’s face clouded with rage. She yelled at John, “Hey! ALPO MAN! Your costume is WRONG! Dan Mann designed Arachnid Guy’s web guns to shoot from his WRISTS!”
John turned his back on Holly. “Who dares— ooo, a collectible!” He grabbed a nine-inch Power Girl from a large rack of large-racked superheroine figurines and stuffed it into a pouch in his cape. He stomped over and leaned over the amazon lady. “It is RIGHT! As I told that worthless writer years ago, spiders spin webs from the tips of their abdomens!”
Holly reached out, just one yank on John’s cape— Grr, too far … then something stirred against her leg. From under her cape, a small gloved hand flicked like a snake’s tongue, clawing at the webbing clutching her legs. Katsuko!
An S-logoed fanboy flexed his biceps against the webbing—what little biceps there were under his blue costume’s muscle padding—and said, “But web shooters aren’t mechanical! I saw Arachnid Guy grow spinnerets!”
John sent flecks of spittle far and wide with his derisive snort. “Only in that Philistine movie! Although my webbing is also organic … Ooo, another collectible!” He grabbed several Chain-Mail Bikini Babe comic books from the adult comics rack and stuffed them into his cape pouch.
Holly kept her mouth shut. Katsuko clawed. And those brave comic book geeks were keeping the bad guy busy as only they could!
The Geek Guy joined the fight: “At least in that movie, the costume was the correct shade of red!”
John sputtered. “Are you saying movie directors do colors better than artists?”
A fangirl sneered. “Yeah, and I’m saying Arachnid Guy doesn’t wear a cape!”
“My Alpha-cape covers my—”
“Cover your face, stupid! Secret identity! MASK!!!”
“I shall not hide my greatness under—”
“How’s your humongousness gonna stick to ceilings without making the roof fall in, Captain Blubber?”
“I told you, I am Alpha Man! ALPHA, ALPHA, ALPHA!”
“Gesundheit! And you couldn’t alpha a puppy!”
Holly wished so hard she could join that debate! Secret identities had been done to death, costume color mattered, and only super snobs used the word Philistine!
Then a moronic mumble brought dead silence. “So, you like, shot organic stuff out your butt?”
That seemed to have come from one of two teenage boys wearing white T-shirts with the letter D crudely drawn on the chest. Holly couldn’t tell which one had spoken, their smiles were equally mouth-breathing stupid. Holly had advertised she’d give free comic books to cosplayers. Someone must have read the ad to those two dudes.
One dude’s smile got bigger. “Uh, that’s why there’s so much web. Cuz there was so much butt.” They laughed, a monotone that Holly hoped would not lower her IQ via osmosis. “Huh huh huh, uh, huh huh huh!”
The S-logoed fanboy gagged. He clawed desperately at the webbing over him. “Get it off me, GET IT OFF ME!”
A fangirl chewed on her webbing covering her face. “Grr, I’ll get rid of—” Her eyes bugged out. She spat like she’d found a dead rat in her hamburger. “WHAT AM I DOING?”
Throughout the store, webbing roiled with convulsing and screaming fanboys and fangirls. “YUCK!” “GROSS!” “IT STINKS!” “YOU VILE, VOMITOUS VILLAIN!!!” “Butt web! Huh huh huh!”
“Everyone take a chill pill,” John said, “I shot the web from this.” He unstrapped a large metal canister from his back and dropped it on the floor with a KLONK. “My cousin Gene Shrub spliced spider and bovine DNA, resulting in a cow that gives web-fluid milk. Did you think a radioactive spider bit me?”
Holly shifted to hide Katsuko’s slicing paw. No, because if it had, it’d have died from cholesterol poisoning!
John loomed over Katsuko’s mother like a docking zeppelin. He drew a black and yellow handgun from his hip holster. “The stun bullets from my Alpha-Agonizer could give the Bombastic Bulk a heart attack. Imagine what they’ll do to a puny female.” He aimed its winged gunsight at her face. “My most valued collectible. Where is it?”
Holly flexed her legs, the webbing was nearly gone but she was still stuck! Hurry, Kittygirl, hurry!
The mother’s lips were sealed, her eyes were blazing. John’s back was to Holly, but she could hear the evil smile in his voice. “Tell me in your native tongue, female, like all those times you swore at me under your breath. I never told you, but I speak perfect Japanese.”
“Good,” the mother snarled, “then you’ll perfectly understand THIS!” Her furiously flexing lips spewed a mix of hissing, howling, furiously fighting feral cat screeches. A full minute later, she finished with, “AND YOUR MAMA-SAN!”
Holly’s ears burned. First time in her life she was grateful to be mono-lingual.
John’s eyelids trembled, his lips twisted, his scruffy beard seemed to stand on end. He shoved the gun barrel onto the mother’s nose.
Holly looked desperately for anything hard, heavy, or heroic to hurl at John. Oh, for an enchanted hammer! She looked to a nearby glass display. Just pink Pretty Pony action figures! She looked to the statue. No bat-a-rang! She grit her teeth and balled her fists and strained. Her right leg tore free of the webs! Just a little more …
“MOMMMMEEEE!!!” A cat protecting her kittens would have envied Katsuko’s leap, all the way from under Holly’s cape to John’s gun hand. Katsuko slashed. The gun flew away.
John caught Katsuko’s arm and held her high like a proud fisherman. “Eureka! I’ll just declaw you, kitty cat!” He ripped Katsuko’s glove off and tossed it aside.
Holly grabbed it and slashed at her left leg. She bled, she slashed, she didn’t care!
Katsuko swung her fist, but her little arm could not reach John’s smug face. She screamed, “I don’t want to play dress-up with you!”
Holly jerked. Why, that filthy … she clawed faster!
Everyone glared at John. Even the two dudes. “Uh, don’t you wanna a chick who’s, uh, kinda bigger?”
John looked down his nose at them all. “Get your head out of the gutter, fanboys! She is my young ward!”
Katsuko yelled, “You kept coming into my bedroom wearing that stupid supersuit!”
John yelled back. “I needed you to join my quest!”
“I didn’t want to wear a spider suit, it’s ICKY!”
“We must take out the takers!”
“It was three in the morning! I wanted to SLEEP!”
John held Katsuko a few inches from his face. “You shall develop a better sleep cycle. At Objectificationism camp—safely ensconced in a state with pathetically weak extradition laws—I’ll train you to be my sidekick! You will cook! You will clean! You will plant long-leggy kicks upon faces once you get tall! You will get implants if you bloom small!”
Holly strained her left leg, the webbing was looser!
Katsuko curiously cocked her head. “What are implants?”
John pulled a comic book out of his cape pouch. Holly winced. No, not his edition of issue four! He opened it. No, not that two-page spread! He shoved it into Katsuko’s face. “They make you look like this!”
Katsuko cringed. “Eeeeeewwwwwwwww!”
Holly’s brain lit up: THAT FIEND! She flexed her legs! Thigh tendons screamed! Pants tore! Webbing ripped! Shaking, steaming, growling like a lioness—”RRRROOOOOOWWWWLLL!”—SHE STOOD UP!
John turned around. “What was that … oh.” His couple of inches of taller height vomited contempt down on Holly. “Hah, hah, HAH! What’s the girly writer going to—”
Holly leaped. She put all her back and shoulders into her right hook. Her fist plowed into John’s doughy cheek: SHHPLLLUUUDDD!
“—DOOoooooo,” moaned John. Time slowed. John’s head rocked back like a torpedoed luxury liner. His cheeks rippled like a blubbery lake bombed by a boulder.
Holly savored the moment. Wow, this would look great in a movie!
Newton’s law of action and reaction ran down Holly’s right arm. She channeled it into a left jab to John’s belly. Which she yanked out before her fist drowned in fat quicksand.
John blurted, “BOOOFFF!” He staggered into a shelf of super-gadget replicas. A glowing, foot-high, Galaxy Cop battery fell and broke on the floor: SSKKLISSSHHHH!
Holly stepped over fragments and toward the teetering walrus with the swelling lip. She dodged John’s clumsy fist, poofed her light brown hair out of her eyes, and pounded that pastry-faced pachyderm’s proboscis closer to his sinuses. “Ever since you got into Objectificationism …”
John’s punch was high and outside, Holly didn’t need to either bob or weave. She BIFF-BOFF-BLAMMED his mouth shut before it could interrupt her banter. “… you’ve been an even bigger jerk …”
John’s head bobbled like a punching bag as Holly sped her jackhammering to a blur: BIF-BOK-BAP-POK-KAK-POW!!! He fell onto his back and earthquaked the floor with a skydiving-cow THUD!!!
Holly stood over him, her fists still up and itching for more. “… and for you, that is quite an accomplishment!”
Her ears burned with fanboy and fangirl cheers. “The woman with no fear!” “Fighting female fury!” “You’re a wonder, Holly Hansson!” “Marry me!”
“Thank you!” said Katsuko’s mother.
“Yay!” said the hopping and clapping Katsuko.
Holly growled at John’s mountainous, head-eclipsing belly. “Someone else might hit you while you’re down.” She wiped her nose with her fist, keeping her guard up. “But I won’t.” She looked at the Alpha-Jammer, then at her phone. 9-1-1 beckoned. “I won’t.” Beckoning louder were memories of bullies she had clobbered over the last two decades. None of whom had ever threatened a mother. Or a little girl!
She aimed her right foot at John’s family jewels. “The HELL I won’t!”
John sat up, his grinning face rising above his waistline like a Jack-O-Lantern sunrise. His chubby hand aimed his recovered Alpha-Agonizer.
Holly grimaced at its winged gunsight. The bigger the Batmobile fins, the worse the Batman movie. She lowered her punting foot. A trigger finger would be hopelessly faster. “John, I’ll let you land a punch.” She tapped her nose. “Right on my big beak. Or are you afraid of getting beat up by a girl?”
John stood up, the gun barrel not wavering in the slightest from Holly’s chest. Right eye blackening, lip bleeding, nose clownifying, he said, “To quote Rand Ann, ‘Only a fool fights fair.'” He sniffed disdainfully at the bat logo on Holly’s T-shirt—”Puny A-cups!”—and pulled the trigger.
The gun coughed a thick, silvery bullet that stuck onto Holly’s chest. A lightning bolt encompassed her body. Her breath gushed out. Her muscles migraine-locked. Her guts compacted. Her brain somersaulted.
John slammed Holly with his fat truck of a belly. Holly hurled back on the Batman statue. Her body turned to jelly. The shop spun as she limply spilled to the floor. The statue toppled onto her in a grim embrace.
John shoved a tall bookshelf stuffed to sagging with 99-percent-off comic books. It creaked, lowered like a castle drawbridge, then KA-WHUDDED on Holly. Hundreds of papery pounds cut off her light and air, compressed her arms and lungs.
John’s muffled gloat penetrated Holly’s graphicy grave. “That’s where you belong! In the bargain bins!”
Dust billowed into Holly’s nostrils. A black-cowled face pressed into hers. This isn’t … how I imagined … you’d be on top of me … Her vision went blurry, then black.
Fanboy yells faded through deepening darkness. “Holly, get up!” “He’s getting away!” “Don’t let the bad guy win!” “Uh, could you, like, find John’s forty-four fourple-F Over-booby-babe comic book while you’re down there? Huh huh huh!”
A little girl screamed, “I don’t want to be your sidekick! MOM-MEEEE!”
A mother cried, “My baby!”
A fat man snarled, “Shut up, child!” SLAP!
Holly’s vision burst into crystal clarity. The cowled face before her issued a deep-bass mental command: JUSTICE!
Strength exploded in Holly’s sinews like atomic coffee! She shoved herself to her feet! Bookshelf, statue, and thousands of cheap comic books meteored through the store! Wow, adrenaline is strong stuff! She grabbed the Alpha-Jammer. It crunched into pebbles. Huh, made in Norway? She shoved her phone into the mother’s hands. “Call the cops!”
The mother’s yell followed Holly’s dash out the door: “Up, up, and kick his butt!”
Holly scanned the parking lot: THERE! A gas-guzzler rumbled toward the exit to Surf Street, a fat arm hanging out its driver-side window in typical macho male fashion. She pistoned her legs with six-foot strides, then twelve-foot leaps, then a sixty-foot long, ten-foot high, lunch-lurching single bound! WHAT WAS IN MY COFFEE?
She twisted midair, aiming like a slingshotted cat. She WHUMPED onto the driver-side window with a CLACK of her teeth, clamped her arm onto the door, and smote her rage into John’s soul with a Thor-hammer stare. “OUTTA THE CAR!”
John recovered fast. “Screw you, woman!” He shifted.
The engine revved. The car leaped. Holly grabbed the car roof with her free hand. Her feet slammed onto pavement. And dug in.
AND THE CAR STOPPED.
Tires squealed. Holly’s biceps and thighs throbbed like Olympic weightlifters. HOW AM I DOING THIS?!?!?
John’s face undulated with terror. “YOU’RE NOT HUMAN!” He fumbled his Alpha-Agonizer into Holly’s face.
Something tingly stuffed into Holly’s mouth. She spat it out: “TOOEY!”
The stun bullet stuck onto John’s forehead and deposited a mini-lightening storm. He said, “Urk,” and slumped.
The car lurched. Tires screamed like banshees. John’s leg must’ve nailed the accelerator! Rubbery smoke bit Holly’s sinuses. She coughed, lifted … and front car tires spun midair. But rear tires still screeched.
An obnoxious horn blared. Holly rolled her eyes. Oh no, not the oncoming semi-truck cliche!
“Wow,” cooed an owl-eyed Katsuko from the passenger seat. Holly pleaded as her bursting biceps burned the last of their fuel. “Sweetie! Can you get out? Or turn the car keys off?” Car frame jerked in her aching hands. “HURRY!”
Katsuko arched against the seatbelt. She yowled, “I can’t! The door’s locked, the seatbelt won’t open,” she pounded her tiny fists on John’s back, “and his big fat body’s in the way!”
The car roared and bucked, a pit bull on a weakening chain. Holly’s painful, sweaty hands were slipping, slipping … and something leaped from her soul and into Katsuko’s eyes. Where a fire lit up.
Katsuko’s fingernails lanced into claws. She shredded the seatbelt with a “mmmMMRRROWLLL!” She grabbed the door handle, then paused. She looked over her shoulder, her little face heroic. “He’ll die.” She slammed her hands onto John’s barrel torso and heaved.
The truck foghorned closer. Holly swallowed swear words she’d regurgitate when Katsuko was out of range.
Katsuko grred and shoved. John’s blobby body flopped clear of the ignition. She grabbed the keys and twisted them.
The car convulsed and coughed: PUHHH, KLUK, UHK, RRR-RRR-RRR, SHRUBBLE-UGGLE-GLUCK!
“C’mon, C’MON!” moaned Holly, her knuckles creaking, her limbs trembling. The car farted dark smoke, then went silent. The horn-blasting truck missed the car’s front bumper by a millimeter.
Holly opened petrified fingers. The car bounced on pavement. She slowed her breathing, a blast furnace going out.
Katsuko pounced through the car window and—THUNK!—wrapped her arms around Holly’s neck. “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!” She woodpeckered Holly’s face: KISS KISS KISS KISS KISS KISS KISS!
Holly blinked back tears and returned the hug. “You’re welcome, sweetie, you’re welcome.”
Katsuko rubbed her cheek on Holly’s. Aw, she’s so adorable … Holly gasped. My god! She’s purring!
The purring stopped. Katsuko pushed back and looked at Holly, or rather, slightly to the side. “Holly? You’re blonder.” She tugged a fistful of hair into view. “See?”
Long blonde hair. Bright yellow locks. Sun shiny waves. Holly held it, stroked it. So soft. So pretty. But HOW?
Police cars wailed closer. Katsuko lowered her gaze to Holly’s chest. “And … you’re bigger.”
Holly gently put Katsuko down. Her hands crept up and clawed into … TWO CUP-RUNNETH-OVER TRIPLE-Ds!
Her mouth dried into Death Valley. She wanted to scream up to the heavens, I don’t want to be an adult rack superheroine! Instead, she whispered down to Katsuko, “Our superpowers. Don’t tell.”
Katsuko nodded, her sweet little face so solemn and serious. She retracted her claws.
A young cop dressed in dark blue and a heartthrob face that Holly guessed teenage girls ran red lights for knelt by Katsuko and held her hand. A tall lean cop in a grey rumpled suit, his hair iron grey and his face world weary wrinkled, sauntered up. “So, Batgirl, did Lex Fatso go for his kryptonite?”
The thought flooded Holly with relief: Telling a story will calm my writer’s nerves. She took a soothing, storyteller breath.
From the bat chest logo to Adam West’s signature on the belly, Holly’s beloved Batman T-shirt was rent, ripped, ruined, and shirking its shirtly duty! She crossed her arms over her chest and softly pleaded, “Help.”
That strip of old cop beef jerky did not even bat an eyelash. He took off his suit coat and draped it over Holly’s shoulders. “Kind of hot today anyhow. You okay, kid?”
She shoved her arms into the sleeves and buttoned up fast. “Yeah.” She took a breath. “Now here’s what—”
TING TONG TWANG! Three coat buttons popped off the coat and bounced off the cop’s chest.
The cop shrugged. “I wish bullets would do that.”