The Criminal Cupid!

Here is the conclusion of The Criminal Cupid, which went through my critique group. I put in their comments, click this link to read that blog post. I will be bundling this story with a bunch of others into my upcoming Billlington Stumpfinger collection. I will be rewriting this story more.

The story so far: Bennie the rubber cop (world weary, sixtyish, stretching superpower) is teaching Super Holly Hansson (25, blonde, bulletproof, super-strength, flight, super-telekinesis, nasty temper) arrived at Stumpfinger Stadium, where a teen girl dressed in green like Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood shot Stumpfinger and the other cops with glowing green arrows, changing the cops into her merry men dressed in green, and changing Stumpfinger into a human money-dispenser whose dollar-infused super burps were driving the thousands-strong crowd to a greedy riot. Holly and Bennie tried to ambush the green girl, but the arrow girl shot Holly in the chest with a pink cupid arrow. Holly took one look at Bennie, and…

Before I could stretch out of Holly’s car-crusher bear hug, she locked her lips on mine with a “Mmmmmmm!”

I tried to say, “Kid, stop it!” Against her lips of steel, it came out, “Kff! Stffff ffft!”

The money-hungry auditorum audience totally ignored us, being too busy chasing the money trail left by the arrow girl and the cash-spewing Stumpfinger. A frowning mother herding her kids added color commentary. “That’s it, boys, stomp on any feet that get between me and Stumpfinger’s cashy vomit!” “Okay, mom!” “And Harold, stop ogling that super lady’s butt!” “Aw, mom!”

Well, they mostly ignored us. Holly’s lips and arms unclamped me, giving me a grateful breath of stuffy auditorium air. She admired me with dreamboat eyes. “You taste like leathery ocean.”

She tasted like strawberries. And she needed to get back to business! I slapped my hands over her big baby blues, I was actually afraid they would jump out of her head and kiss me. “Kid, think! Forget me and remember your boyfriend! He wears a black cape, he scares perps, and he writes great movie reviews! You love HIM! And I’ve been married since before you were born! HAPPILY!”

Holly pouted. “But your yummy nummy Robert Mitchum face makes me happy and… tingly… and… oh.” Her face and voice became all business. “Bennie. I’m okay. Take your hands off my eyes.”

I did. Her eyes were shut tighter than my granddaughter’s mouth when presented with a plate of collard greens. Holly peeped at me, gasped, and turned her face away so fast I thought she’d get whiplash. “Okay,” she said, “as long as I don’t look at you, I think I can hold off the lovey dovey.” She reared up to her full six-foot-one height, levitated a couple feet, and craned her neck toward the exit. “The villainess is getting away!”

“We’ll get her!” I stretched my neck, then stretched my eyes to ten times normal size. The human tele-periscope. Fifty yards away, Stumpfinger neared the giant toilet, on his way to the main exit. I squinted to zoom in. The arrow girl pranced beside him, surrounded by dancing merry men. Their lips were moving, all in sync. I did not stretch my ears to hear that. Seaside City cops sang poorly.

Holly said, “Ew… oh, Bennie!”

I unstretched back to normal. “Kid, eyes off me and toward the perp!”

Holly yanked her adoring gaze away. “Sorry! But your bug-eyed trick was icky cool!”

“It makes my wife queezy. Now we make the perp come to us.” I stretched my legs twenty feet and looked down at her. “You coming?”

Holly levitated up, her face grumpy, her eyes closed. “How’m I supposed to follow if I can’t look at you?”

I stretched my arm, lassoed her waist, and strode over the churning crowd. “Stick close behind me, my dark blue uniform blends into the shadows better than your sunny blonde hair.”

Holly hugged onto my back. “I gotcha. Will your mocha brown mug hide my pale Swedish face?”

“Yeah, and your lily white legs too.” Funny how many superheroines didn’t wear pants on duty. There, I spotted the alley between the giant toilet and the giant stove. The arrow girl and her gang would pass right in front of it. I patted my holstered gun… oh no, something patted my neck!

“Such broad shoulders.” Kiss, kiss. Sniff, sniff! “Yummy, eau de Law & Order!”

We were within eyeshot and earshot of the arrow girl gang! I reached back and shoved that steel-hard face. “No lipstick on my collar!”

Holly pulled back and yelped, “Oops! Sorry!”

Too loud! People below looked up and pointed!

Holly hissed, “This is a job for super flush!” Her arm thrust over my shoulder. A big blue telekinetic hand shot out, grabbed the giant toilet handle, and yanked. The giant gargling waterfall grabbed everyone’s attention.

The mighty blonde rookie and I ducked into the alley between the toilet and the giant stove. I drew my gun.

Holly ogled it. “Are bullets really needed here?”

“Tranquilizer bullets,” I said. I wished my wife was here, she was the best shot on the force. “Get ready, kid, you might need to give me a clear shot.”

“Gotcha.” Holly stepped to my side and raised her arms like a boxer.

Merry men pranced past, singing painfuly off-key.

Holly whispered, “Typical minions. No peripheral vision.”

Stumpfinger stomped by. Followed by the arrow girl. I aimed, tightened my finger—

Stumpfinger burped about three thousand in twenties. Dozens of pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders tidal-waved at it. DAMMIT!

Holly pantomimed like she was stiff-arming people away from her. Giant blue hands shoved the fighting crowd to neutral corners. Merry men rushed her. SHe yelled, “Bennie, take the shot!”

I had a clear shot of the arrow girl. And she had a clear shot at me, bowstring drawn and loaded with a glowing arrow. She smiled wickedly. “Glue arrow!”

We both shot. Her arrow sliced my bullet in two and… flew past me? She missed at that range? Well, I wouldn’t! I tightened my finger again.

TWANG! The arrow girl chirped, “Boxing glove arrow!”

A six-foot wide glowing fist slammed me into the side of the giant toilet, where I was stuck fast. Clever girl, get the glue behind me and then punch me into it. “Holly! Get outta here!”

Holly easily shugged off the pile of merry men. “No way, partner!” She flew at the arrow girl, fists raised and ready.

The arrow girl was not impressed. “Bondage arrows!”

TWANG TWANG TWANG TWANG TWANG TWANG TWANG TWANG!

Dozens of glowing blue arrows wrapped around Holly like giant manacles, pinning her arms to her sides, her legs together, and her feet to the floor. She squirmed and growled like a straightjacketed methhead. “RRRRRRRRRR!”

The arrow girl put her hands on her hips, threw back her head, and laughed. “Ha, ha! You’re stuck, Super Holly! Those bondage arrows suck up your super-strength and throw it back at you!”

Stumpfinger moved to Holly’s side and glowered down at her.

Holly glowered up at him. “Whatta you looking at?”

Arrow girl glowered at me. “I’ve heard of you. Bennie the rubber cop, married to the chief of police! Sherrif of Nottingham and Queen Richard!”

“All we did was bring the cops closer to the public that they serve. Get to know them. You got a problem with that?”

On my many decades on the force, I’d seen the arrow girl’s indignant, stubborn facial expression on hundreds protestors who always stuffed Karl Marx in their back pocket to read anytime an independent thought threatened to rear up in their one-track minds. “Yeah! You’re the symbol of oppression! People should not get to know their overlords, they should overthrow them! I think I’ll make an example of you!” She raised her bow.

Holly strained harder, but had shut her mouth. Maybe I could give the woman who could juggle army tanks a few more seconds of super-strength struggling. I smirked at the arrow girl and the arrow aimed at my nose, aiming my condescending wisecrack right back at her. “I got boxer shorts older than you, where’d you get that fifty year old banter? Dragnet? Billy Jack? Watch Dirty Harry, he knows how to treat perps!”

Bullseye, Clint Eastwood never let me down! The arrow girl jutted her jaw at me. And a little spittle. “Harry is a facist!” She thrust her bow overhead in her version of girl power. “And Billy Jack is a HERO!”

Holly still could not break free of her bonds, but her superhero banter could not be restrained. “My movie critic boyfriend gave Billy Jack one star! He wrote that if the movie’s only hope is that the good facist defeats the bad fascists with heart-bursting karate chops best reserved for crazy Chinese cinema, the movie is fascist! He said its cardboard conservative villains, dopey hippies, and passive Indians almost turned him fascist, and he is a strident leftist!”

“BOO! HISS! BOO! Critics hate everything!” said the merry men. They had formed a perimeter between the civilians and the arrow girl. Who screeched, “You mean Native Americans!”

I’d failed to stretch free of the glue during that banter. “That expression was not in style then. I’d remember.”

“You know what’s always in style? Taking down the man!” A glowing arrow appeared in her hand. She loaded it into her bow. “Half hippie.” She slapped another glowing arrow onto the hippie arrow. “Half hipster.” More arrows. “Half commie. Half socialist. Half angry poet. Half stoned rock star. Half vegan. Half beatnik. Half tie-dyed anti-war protestor.” She aimed right between my eyes. “And no cop!”

I was head-to-toe glued to the wall. I could not stretch out of the way. I was down to my last wisecrack: “You got something against math?”

The arrow bundle glowed like a missile-shaped sun. The arrow girl drew back the bowstring. “I liked social science.”

There was nothing I could do. On the other hand, Holly strained and struggled and snarled just like that hysterical mother last week who’d lifted a car off her beloved toddler… and I knew what to do. I looked past that fiery harpoon and into the arrow girl’s eyes. “Don’t I get a last request?”

The arrow girl slumped her shoulders. “You would bring up that heroic honor stuff. Whadda ya want?”

I looked at Holly. “Let me say goodbye to my partner.”

The arrow girl’s face twisted like she’d bitten a lemon. “Ew! You’re too old for her, gramps!”

“Cop partner! And a good friend.”

Arrow girl sighed. “Make it quick. I have an establishment to overthrow. Don’t we, my merry men?”

Their singing would have made the toughest police dog howl in agony. “We shall overthrow, we shall overthrow, fat cats won’t oppress us, socialized money for all!”

Gay pride parades had better lyrics. I called to Holly. “Holly. Look at me. Time to say goodbye.”

Holly’s body arced and strained, her teeth ground, and her eyes stayed shut. “But if I look—”

“You’ll say goodbye. With all your heart, soul, and super-strength.”

Visibly, my idea hit her. She opened her eyes and drank my face. Blue hearts orbited her head. She smiled, lips and teeth and eyes beaming. She took a deep breath and sighed, “Ohhhhhhhh! Bennie, my love, my sweet, my distinguished, fine-wine-aged nummy-kins!”

I put on a noble, sad, firing-squad-facing face. “Goodbye, kid. I’m about to get shish-ka-bobbed.” I turned to the arrow girl. “On the count of three?”

Arrow girl shrugged. “Sure, why not? One…”

Holly blinked. “No.” She looked at the arrow. “No!”

“Two…”

The rage that thundered onto Holly’s face would have made a three hundred pound homicidal bodybuilding biker wet his pants. Her muscles and sinews bulged, stretched, snapped crackled and popped. “NONONONO NYAHOOOOOOOHHH!!!”

Blue light exploded from Holly’s body like a mini Hiroshima. The giant toilet flushed again.

I blinked hard to clear my vision.

The toilet had shattered. Everyone within thirty yards was wet and untidily bowled over. The arrow girl got up, dripping and swaying dizzily.

The arrow bonds had vanished. Holly’s body, the floor, and the atmosphere throbbed with fury. Her teeth ground with the sound of a cement mixer, her long blonde hair stood on end, her blazing blue eyes were fixed on the arrow girl like twin howitzers. Her howl was a police siren from hell: “STAY AWAY FROM MY SWEETIE!!!”

The arrow girl trembled so badly that she dropped her bow. She babbled, “Uh, buh, guh, AAAAAAAAA!!! Protect me, Stumpy!”

Stumpfinger swung at Holly. She easily dodged and knocked him out with a right hook. She yelled at arrow girl, “You are under arrest for attempted hippification!”

Arrow girl frantically picked up her bow. “Bondage arrows!”

Holly grabbed Stumpfinger by the ankles and swung him like a club, knocking the arrows aside. She stalked forward. “You have the right to remain silent!”

Arrow girl shot again. “Grenade arrows!”

BOOM BOOM BOOM!!! Holly blocked again with her stumpy club. “You have the right to an attorney!”

“Boxing glove arrow!” TWANG!

BOP! Holly punched it aside. “If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you!” She was less than ten feet away from the perp. Her fists clenched, her lips writhed, she tossed Stumpfinger aside and reached out. Damn, it was fun watching her work!

Arrow girl aimed another arrow. “Ultra super duper superheroine stabbing squashing URK!

Holly grabbed the girl by the throat and echoed the auditorium: “Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?”

The merry men shuffled toward Holly and me, and chanted, “We protect our merry mistress.”

The blue hearts orbiting Holly’s head caught fire. She yanked arrow girl within an inch of her eagle-beaky nose — I’ve suggested Holly register that as a deadly weapon — and roared, “DO YOU KNOW HOW THE HERO BREAKS MIND CONTROL IN COMIC BOOKS?” She popped arrow girl on the chin. “LIKE THIS!”

Arrow girl went limper than the 350-pound, non-violent vegan who’d refused to leave the mayor’s office last week until Hizzoner signed a contract swearing off cheeseburgers. The merry men stopped in their tracks. Their clothing changed from green to dark blue. The arrows in their chests faded. As did the glue holding me. I stood up straight and stretched my arms, unkinked my knees, unknotted my spine, ah, that felt GOOD!

“BENNNNEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” Holly smacked onto me like a strawberry scented, curvy linebacker. Blue hearts spun around her head like a super-speed merry-go-round. She hugged like a gorilla and kissed like a jackhammer. “Oh Bennie!” Kiss kiss kiss! “My love!” Kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss! “My sweet!” Kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss! “My snookie-wookums!” KISS KISS KISS KISS KISS… kiss… kiss… “My… my… oh my.” Holly let go. She looked down at her chest.

The love arrow was gone.

Holly smiled sheepishly. “Bennie? I’m really sorry.”

I patted her hand. “It’s okay, kid. My wife would get a laugh out of this.”

The other cops handcuffed arrow girl, broke up minor scuffles over scattered cash, and told Stumpfinger to either willingly cough up the remaining cash or go to jail after Holly belted him in the breadbasket.

Holly’s eyebrows shot up. “Your badge cam.”

All us Seaside City cops had video cameras in our badges. Worked great for catching perps in lies and weeding out bad apples on the force. And occasionally giving the boys in blue a lot of laughs. “What about it?”

I had to give Holly credit, her pleading eyes outdid the classiest ladies of the evening begging for a break. “Please don’t show my lovey-dovey to the boys.”

“You mean our Friday night video night? C’mon, I’d win first prize!”

Holly grabbed my shoulders. “Please, please, PLEASE don’t show it!”

A few cops walked a handcuffed arrow girl past us. She babbled, “The establishment shall not keep me down! I shall overcome your oppression, the masses will riss against repression, your soul will fill with depression…”

One fellow black cop said, “Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah, the sixties are over, lemme hire you a hip hop writer.” He looked at Holly. “Holly? Were you gonna show something?”

I said, “No. Move along.”

He shrugged and moved arrow girl along.

I solemnly put my hand over my heart. “Super Holly Hansson, I solemnly swear, on my word as a cop, that I will not show it to the boys in blue.”

Holly kissed me on the cheek. “Thanks.”

THREE HOURS LATER. MY LIVING ROOM. ON THE COUCH, NEXT TO MY WIFE.

My wife was the toughest and wisest women I have ever known. She did not laugh easily. But now she brayed like a donkey on laughing gas, tears of mirth wetting the shoulder of my dark blue pajamas. She gasped, “Rewind and pass the popcorn! I’ll never get tired of this!”

I hit play on the remote. Holly drifted closer on the TV screen, looking lovingly at my wife and me. Blue hearts orbited Holly’s head, and her big smile was lovey-dovey dopey. “I loooooove you. Those sad, brown, puppy dog eyes. That distinguished iron grey hair.” Her yellow up-arrow chest logo squished against the TV screen.

My wife swallowed just in time to avoid spitting out her popcorn. “HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!” She slapped my knee and gasped, “I have got to show this on video night!”

I said, “Honey, I gave my word I would not show it to the boys.”

Her smoky smile put evil villainesses to shame and doubled my heart rate. “I’m showing it to the girls. They wear dark blue too.”