(Read the rest of this series here. It won’t make you a better person or anything, but still…)
Once me and Maria finally climbed out of the ocean and trudged through a buncha marshy bullshit, we found ourselves in some kind of neighborhood. We stood there, dripping wet and disheveled. She held both arms across her torso, like she was trying to keep her cracked ribs from bursting out of her skin. She winced and limped as she walked.
I, on the other hand, had lost both of my shoes and one sock during the swim, so I think I had it worse.
Just down the road stood a young, skinny guy talking on the phone. He leaned against a black Scion with flames or whatever the hell painted across the front.
This thing arouses the ladies so much they might put out those flames if they get too close.
Maria limped toward him. “Excuse me! Hey! Can I borrow your phone? Please, it’s an emergency!”
The guy raised an eyebrow, but otherwise didn’t move. “There’s a payphone right over there.” He pointed to the blue and gray box a dozen feet away.
Maria glowered. “Great. Thanks for being so accommodating.”
I said, “Yo, what the hell, bro? You think she’s going to steal your phone or some shit?”
The guy held a hand over the mouthpiece. “On a pretty important call here, actually.” He ducked into his car.
I followed after Maria. “Whatever, fuck that guy. Wait, what do you need a phone for?”
“I’m calling the police. If they hurry they can still find your son-of-a-bitch friend and rescue the manatee.”
I groaned. “Nah girl, don’t call the cops.”
She glanced at me. “That’s probably a well-used phrase for you, isn’t it?”
I waved my hands around. “Calling the cops takes all the fun out of it! Where’s your sense of adventure? Don’t you want to be a hero? To save that poor manatee yourself? Besides, if the cops do manage to get there in time, they’ll probably just shoot the manatee on sight because it’s got darker skin than they like.”
I said, “You call the cops and there’ll be no manatee for either of us. We gotta do this on our own!”
“Shut up. We’re not going to do anything crazy.”
The phone fell from her hand when she saw what I was up to.
“Please!” squealed the asshole with the Scion, the jagged Megaladon tooth pressed tight against his neck. “Please don’t kill me! You can use my phone! Take it, I don’t even want it!”
Maria said. “Oh my God, what are you doing?”
I adjusted my grip on the tooth. “Taking charge, motherfucker! Also, I’m taking this guy’s car. I ain’t waiting around for no dipshit police force. I’m going after that manatee myself! I’m Chris Derricks!”
I grunted a bit as I kept the tooth pressed against the guy’s throat and dragged him out of the car at the same time. Maria ran up and tried to pull me off of him but I slapped her away.
“You idiot,” she said. “You just told him your name. Now he knows exactly who to report to the ‘dipshit’ police.”
I laughed. “Nah lady, that ain’t gonna happen. Know why? ‘Cause as soon as this fella googles me he’s gonna realize what kind of badass I am and know better than to go snitchin’ on me. Ain’t that right, pipsqueak?”
He nodded with the enthusiasm of a bobble-head on a paint shaker. “Yeah! Of course! I won’t say anything to anybody! Please, just let me go!”
Like taking a car from a baby.
I pulled the tooth away from his quivering jugular and gave him a pat on the shoulder. “I’m just doing what it takes to save a life. Surely you understand. Civil forfeiture, bitches! It’s a great tool of our democracy.” I gave him a small foot-to-butt nudge that sent him staggering. “Now get out of here, you pansy ass. Maybe if you’re lucky I’ll get my obscenely rich employers to pay you back for your trouble.”
He took off across the parking lot, glancing back only once before he was gone.
I returned the Megaladon tooth to its rightful place inside my underwear as I watched him go. “You know, I always tell people that The Double Thumb will reimburse them but they never have. Not even once.”
Maria grabbed the phone off the receiver. “You’re a complete lunatic.”
I stuck one leg into the car and dangled the keys from my thumb. “Maybe so. But either you come with me now, or I go heroically rescue that manatee by myself.”
“Fine. Go. That makes it even easier on me. I’ll make sure the police arrest all of you.”
Psh, you better bring all you got to bring me down!
I shrugged. “It’s your call. Do what you want.” I stroked my chin. “Although, you are forgetting one small thing.”
She punched three buttons on the number pad and held the phone to her ear. “Yeah, and what’s that?”
I smiled. “I’m the only one who knows exactly where Sid is taking the manatee.”
For a long moment we both just stood there. The grinding of her teeth was audible from a dozen feet away.
She hung up the phone. “The reason – the only reason – I’m going with you is to stop you from taking that manatee for yourself. I hope you understand that.”
“Yeah lady bro, sure thing. We’ll rescue the manatee and then turn on each other. I totally get it. Let’s go.”
I started to sit in the driver’s seat but stopped when I saw the silver brick laying on it. In his hurry to have his car jacked, douche guy had left his phone behind. There was some tinny warbling coming from the speaker so I stuck it to my ear.
“Braden?” said a woman’s voice. “Braden, are you there? What’s happening? You’re worrying me! Do I need to call your father again?”
“Yo,” I said. “Braden wanted me to tell you that he’d call you back. Also, he said that Braden is the douchiest name in the history of names and he hates you for burdening him with it.”
I threw the phone across the street. It hit another car and set off its alarm.
I climbed into goddamn Braden’s car and started the engine. Maria still stood outside the car, looking back and forth between me and the payphone.
Ah, the ol’ “Should I stay or should I go now?”
I rolled down the window. “You getting in, sweet nips?”
She pulled open the passenger door. “Oh God, this is a terrible idea isn’t it?”
As she was getting situated, I dug around in the center console. “Oh nice, free sunglasses!”
She buckled her seat belt. “So let me see if I have this right: you partner with a notorious human trafficker to steal an infant manatee out of a rehabilitation tank, release a vicious bear from its cage so it will attack people, psuedo-kidnap a woman and fight her in your van, then steal some innocent guy’s car and break his stuff? At what point during any of this do you think you’re the good guy here?”
I peered over the top of my stolen aviators. “Yo, you complain, but you’re right here beside me, ain’t you?”
Maria sighed so heavily she could have inflated a car tire. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess I am.”
“Hell yeah you is! Now let’s go re-steal us a manatee!”
I stomped the gas pedal like an unwanted baby and we sped off.