November 27, 1973 – Singing in the rain

I love singing.  And I’m very good at it.  As I was belting out Ride Captain Ride, I got to wondering why you sound better singing in the shower.  Part of it is probably the freedom that comes from singing naked.  Makes you feel powerful.  You can’t generally do that on stage.  Part of it is probably the shower itself.  It’s like a little sound booth.  I’m no sound engineer, but I feel like the walls of the shower absorb no sound at all, which gives you a good power and resonance.  I have a pretty good ear for these things and I feel like somehow it evens out the pitch as well.  Which is not an issue for me because I’m pitch perfect, but still. 

I feel like four pounds of gunk slithered off me while I was in there.  I think I saw the slime form a face and look up at me forlornly before getting sucked town the drain.  So long Slime Ela, see you in hell!  As I was getting dressed, I had to take a moment to lament the shabby condition of the clothes that Maggie had given me.  It was some high-end stuff.  I’m sure I saw Goldie Hawn in a magazine wearing this same shirt.  I suppose it’s my own fault, I should find some clothes more suited to my high-octane super brawling lifestyle.  But as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.  Well they can, but it’s annoying.   

When I came out of the bathroom, Grumpy Gus was still in bed looking confused and kind of afraid. 

“Your place is clean, I’ll give you that, but this looks like the room of a mental patient.  Put a painting on the wall or something, man.” 

He looked around slowly “Yeah . . . .” 

I snorted “Good talk.  It’s like I’m playing tennis against a wall here.” I headed for the door “Well, don’t be a stranger.” 

He held out a hand “Wait.” 

I looked back “What?”  He just stared at me “What man?  What do you need?  I got places to be.” 

He looked weirdly vulnerable sitting there with his white scratchy sheets in a pile around his waist and legs “So . . . . you’re just . . . . going?” 

“Was there something else?” I looked around eagerly “Do you have any food around here?  I tell you, I am STARVING.  I would love to pound a cheeseburger right now.  Or you know, twenty or thirty cheeseburgers.  Do you get that?  I have to eat like fifty times what I did before just to feel like I’m not going to pass out.” 

He seemed taken aback “I have to eat more than I did before but not that much.” 

“Of course, I don’t get super toughness and I have to eat a ton, women always get the shaft.  So to speak.  Anyway, it’s been something, see you out there okay?”  I turned to the door again and I saw a hurt expression on his face and turned back “What is with you?  I know you were born in nineteen hundred but you’re not that old fashioned, are you?  It’s the seventies man, get with it.  Did you think we were going steady now?  Do you have a letter jacket I’m supposed to wear?  Do you have a promise ring around here somewhere?” 

He frowned slightly “I just . . .” he sighed “Forget it.” 

“You got it skipper.” I turned to leave once more but then turned back once more as well “Hey, are you bulletproof?  I hit you pretty hard and you didn’t die.  And I’m so strong.” 

“Uh, not bulletproof, more like bullet resistant.” 

“Jesus Christ, do you ever start a sentence without saying ‘uh’ or ‘um’?  Why are you so nervous?  Have you never talked to a girl before?  Surely there must have been a USO dance or something back in ‘22.  Did Sergeant Rock make fun of you so you were too afraid to ask anyone to dance?  Did he show you a nude playing card of Marlena Dietrich that made you feel funny?” 

“You have a real sharp tongue in your mouth, you know that?” 

I smiled sweetly “It’s been said a time or two.  Point is, you can stand up to a hail of bullets right?” 

“I wouldn’t say that, I have enhanced musculature and mass that protect me from small arms fire, but it still feels like getting hit with a baseball bat.  A short burst from an assault rifle makes me feel like how Patterson felt after the first Johansson fight.” 

I laughed “Had to go back a while didn’t you, to find a white heavyweight that could punch?” 

His face fell “I didn’t . . . I wasn’t . . . I’m not . . .” 

“Good god man, the super soldier process sure didn’t give you super eloquence, did it?  Anyway, you’re a big tough USA macho man, so I’m sure a few bullets won’t bother you.  Good news, you get to spend some more time with me.  Get your pants on and grab your nunchakus, Methuselah, because we’re going to fight some crime.” 

He looked dumbfounded “We are?” 

“Well you are anyway, I’ll probably hide around the corner.  I don’t have elephant hide like you, I’m quite easily penetrated.” 

September 9th, 1973 – Secret Agent Man

Pinetree International Exports is closer towards the Vegas/New York City portion of Madripoor than the “lowlands” but still in what I am calling the border zone.  This is the part of the city that seems almost familiar to me, if there weren’t so many people on bikes zipping around, it wouldn’t be out of place back in the CS.  It was the same kind of little office-prison you’d expect some guy with a comb-over to be selling insurance out of in Tallahassee or Gary. 

Alcazar, the owner, chief operator, and proprietor of Pinetree International Exports is from the Caribbean states of the US I think.  He has a long beard, not like a hippy beard but more akin to what you’d see in an old photo of a soldier from the First American Revolution.  It doesn’t suit him well at all.  His teeth are a mess as well, it looks like someone hit him in the mouth with a hammer at some point.  If he shaved his beard and kept his mouth shut he would be a handsome man.  After Elvis introduced us, I looked around at his cluttered and shabby office.

“So what is this operation?  An Air America type thing?”

He laughed loudly, putting his mouthful of crooked teeth on display, jerking his thumb at Elvis “This guy been telling stories about the CIA again? Would I be in a place like this if I was with the CIA?”

“Spies are supposed to be inconspicuous so yeah, this seems about right.”

He looked like he had never considered that before “That’s a good point actually.  But the fact remains that I am merely a humble importer/exporter.”

I picked up a card off his desk and examined it “What does that mean?  I know it literally means that you buy stuff somewhere else and bring it here and vice versa, but that doesn’t sound like a full time gig to me.  How much time does it take to buy something and then have it shipped somewhere else?  What do you do all day?”

He picked up a wad of papers and shook them at me like a wagging finger of disapproval “Trust me sweetheart, I got plenty to do.  So why did my good friend Elvis drag you into my office?”

“I’m in need of exporting.”

“Exporting what?”

I gestured like a showroom model “You’re looking at it tiger.”

After I explained my situation, Alcazar was nice enough to let me stay with him for a couple days while he did some research.  I definitely don’t think he’s in the CIA anymore.  I think even a CIA agent working undercover would have more than a single room above a dance studio with a mattress on the floor.  Clearly the import/export business isn’t going so great.  

I think he likes having me around just to he has someone to speak Spanish with.  I asked him how the Tropics are doing but he said that he doesn’t follow sports back home.  I asked him how he ended up in Madripoor and he said (I’m paraphrasing here)

“Madripoor is the only free place left in the world, as free as it gets these days anyway.  If you want to make some money and you don’t mind getting down and dirty, Madripoor is the place to be.  Madripoor doesn’t dance to the tune of politics or corporate interests.”

He went on to say that Madripoor was “a modern day Port Royale”.  It was enough of a non-answer that despite this crappy apartment, it made me think a little that maybe he is CIA again.  On the other hand, being into lawless pseudo-anarchy doesn’t seem like what a CIA man would be into.  Or maybe it does?

Alcazar and Elvis both suggested that I stay put since the Shadow Lords might be looking for me, but I got bored so I went to work with Alcazar a couple days.  Being his secretary was slightly less boring than sitting in his crummy apartment staring at the walls.  Against their advice I got myself a gig at a local joint.  I did The Witch Queen of New Orleans, Never Been to Spain, and Day Dreaming to scattered polite applause.  Don’t these people know I had a top 40 hit in ’70?  Where’s the respect?