December 14, 1973 – I love the Drifters but they’re full of shit about roofs

Remember when I was complaining about living in a broom closet?  I miss those days.  After someone, who was just doing her best, threw a super powered dominatrix through the wall of that broom closet and made a big hole in it, we had to bail before the landlord found out.  We were already on thin ice with him because we’re not supposed to have pets and Martialla is legally classified as a goldfish.  Our new home is a tarp on the roof of a fireworks factory.  And we all know how safe fireworks factories are.  Even by roof-tarp standards it’s pretty grim.  I was under said tarp smoking while Blue was stretched out nearby in the sun.  I could practically hear him baking in the heat but he was as happy as a lizard in the sun.  I told him about the jumper and he opened one eye to regard me. 

“Sure, I’ll kill whoever you want.” 

“You will?  I’m . . . surprised.” 

“Why?” 

I gestured vaguely “You know . . . you’re the nice one.” 

“The nice one what?  Are you forgetting how we met?” 

I chuckled “Our eyes locked across a crowded room?  No, I mean I know, you were like a mercenary, but not one of the bad ones.  You weren’t the guy flame throwing – throwering? — throwing villages, you were the one who beat up the guy that did that right?  You’re like the guy from the Long Goodbye.  Heart of gold, sucker for a hard luck case, all of that.  A moral and decent man cast adrift in a selfish, self-obsessed society where lives can be thrown away without a backward glance.”   

“Was that Peter Segal?” 

“What?” 

“In the movie.” 

“I’m talking about the book.” 

“Isn’t the moral of The Long Goodbye that loyalty and friendship are meaningless?” 

“Look, we’re getting off track here.” 

He lizard-grinned “Imagine that.” He sat up and turned my direction “Here’s the thing Ela, I can kill this guy if you want, but then what?  You want to help this girl, that’s admirable, but after he’s dead, what comes next?  I don’t think she can pop over to the steno pool and gab with the gals while she waits for Mr. Business to need her to take some notes.  I doubt her resume is up to date is what I’m saying.  A lot of bad breaks led to her being where she is now and one killing, as satisfying as it might be, what does it really change?  What’s the best-case scenario here?  She bounces around on the street for a while until she gets grabbed up by a less abusive pimp?” 

“Uh, in the comics the heroes always save people and then they become a network of informants for that hero.  How about something like that?” 

“In the comics, how does the network of informants pay their rent?” 

I bit my lip “I don’t know, they don’t go into detail about those sorts of things.  I think the heroes in comic strips are usually independently wealthy.” 

“That’s nice for them, I imagine that does make things easier.  Another thing you need to consider.  This guy is probably connected with some outfit or other, if we take him down, we’re most likely buying into a conflict with another group – and we already have a couple of those cooking as you may remember.” 

“So you’re saying that I shouldn’t do it?” 

“No, I’m just saying that it’s not as simple as ‘and the handsome magic blue lizard killed the pimp and she lived happily ever after.’ If we do this, it isn’t the end of the story, it’s the beginning.” 

“Maybe you don’t have to kill him, maybe you can just rough him up and scare him off.” 

“Oh for sure we could, but you’re missing the point.  We can get rid of him one way or the other, that part doesn’t really matter.  Once he’s gone by whatever method it happens, all those things I just said are still hanging over us.” 

I looked up at him glumly “Why is everything impossible?” 

He reached out and put his giant scaly hand on my foot “Some people would say that hardship makes you stronger.” 

“And what do you say?” 

“I say that in the end, life is horrific, and teaches us nothing.” 

“How very French of you.” 

“Yeah, but I don’t let it affect my sunny disposition, that’s what makes me French Canadian.”