Friday, January 9, 2009

Kung Fu Noir: Because You Demanded It!

Act 2: Friendly Betrayal

As I awoke I noticed two things: my head felt like an interstate highway, with semi's drivin' over it during rush hour. The results of the drug that was used to put me outta commission, a hangover or both.
And my head was lying on something warm and soft.

I opened my eyes and saw I was laying on Annie's lap. She was sniffing, no doubt from crying, by the red surrounding her eyes and nose. I struggled to get up but that was a mistake. I immediately felt dizzy, disoriented and nauseas.

"Oh! Mack! Your awake! Thank God! Are you alright?" She asked, hugging me in her excitement.

"My's killin' me," I muttered, muffled by her ample breasts. Those are real, I thought. I found I couldn't move my arms. Wha? Oh. My hands were handcuffed behind me.

"Does this help?" Annie asked, finally releasing her hug and massaging my temples.

Yes it did. My symptoms soon subsided, as Annie moved her hands to massage my face, neck and scalp. Oh man! That is so good! I thought, closing my eyes again.

"Thanks," I said, getting lost in the magical touch of her hands. I could get used to this.

"I was so worried about you, Mack. I thought...I thought they..," she trailed off, quietly sobbing.

"Hey, I'm fine. Um, don't worry about it," I said, tryin' to console her. "How long have I been out?" I asked.

"Four hours," she said, sniffling again and wiping her eyes on her dress sleeves.

Who was behind this? I wondered. And why keep me alive? For that matter, why allow Annie to stay with me? There was something familiar about that second ninja, but I couldn't place what it was. The eyes? Yeah, the eyes. I knew him, but his identity taunted me at the edge of my memory.

"I gotta hanky in my left rear pocket," I said. "Unless they took it."

Annie groped my rear pocket which seemed...oddly...sensual. "Not there. Maybe this one?" She asked, reaching into my front left pocket. Whoa! I tried to control myself but I was way past any chance of that happening.
"Mack!" She exclaimed, smiling. "Are you happy to see me or what?" She giggled.

I could feel my face turning red. "Uh...did you find the hanky?" I asked, tryin' to change the subject.

"Yes I did, and a lot more!" She said, giving me a demure look that almost drove me crazy. It didn't help that she hadn't removed her hand.

"Ahem!" I said, clearing my throat. "Yes...well, um, there you go," I said, reluctantly breaking eye contact.

Annie slowly removed her hand, and I earnestly wished the circumstances were different. Unfortunately, escape was the first priority, and we might not have much time. Not to mention I still couldn't get rid of the guilt I felt. As if my wife's spirit were watching my every move.

"Annie, fill me in, what happened?" I asked as she finished blowing her nose.

"Don't look at me, I'm blowing my nose!" She exclaimed.

What? Why was she worried about that? She looked fine. Probably the sexiest nose blowing I ever saw. Nevertheless, I looked away. Maybe she needs to dig out a few boogers, I thought.

"Okay," she said. "After you lost conciousness the guy who threw the dart at you told me to shut up and cooperate and I would be fine. Another ninja guy came in and they dragged you out into, I think a black cadilac. They told me to come along and watch me, so I did. They put the handcuffs on you, took you gun and searched you and told me to get in, and closed the door. Then they drove us here. They carried you out and..."

"Wait. What happened to the other ninja? The one I kicked?" I asked.

"I don't know. The guy who threw the dart at you? He seems to be in charge. Anyway, he went back in your office for maybe a minute, then he came out, looked around, closed the door and got in the car. He and the driver looked at each other and the lead ninja just shook his head no and the other guy nodded. I thought the less I said the better, so I didn't ask," Annie said.

Smart girl, I thought. Sounds like they offed the gimpy ninja. He was a liability. Maybe they framed me in the process. It wouldn't make sense just to leave gimpy there alive.

"How long did they drive?" I asked.

"I don't know. Maybe thirty to fortyfive minutes. They blindfolded me, so I have no idea where we are. The outside looks like a warehouse, but they didn't give me time to look around after taking the blindfold off. After dropping you off they left, locking the door. I didn't search the place yet. I wanted to watch you. Your breathing ws so shallow for awhile there, Mack," she said, concern etching her face.

"Oh, and they left this," she continued, picking up a canteen and a few granola bars. "Are you thirsty?"

"Yeah," I said, looking around. It was a small warehouse, as warehouses go. And it was completely empty. I could smell the sea, so we weren't far from the coast. I couldn't hear a thing outside, though. Only one overhead light was on. The cracks around the door looked to be dark, so it was probably early morning, before sunrise.

Annie cradeled my head in one arm and helped me sit up a bit to take a drink. I tasted it before swallowing and it seemed safe. Besides, I thought, they could've easily killed me if they wanted to, so it why poison me? Still, I was cautious and only drank a few swallows. I advised Annie to do the same. No telling when they would be back. They could be right outside the door for all I knew. Speaking of which, the door looked to be made of heavy steel. Even if I did get free, there was no way I would break that.

I could feel Annie start to shiver. "Are you cold?" I asked.

"Getting that way," she replied. "I forgot my coat."

"Well, we might have to share body heat," I said, smiling.

"You devil you!" Annie exclaimed, laughing.

Unfortunately, the ninjas decided to return at that moment. I heard the door lock click and in they came, quickly shutting it.
One ninja stayed by the door and the other walked over to Annie and I, with his mask still on.
I could feel Annie tense up. "Easy," I whispered.

"Well well, finally woke up eh? Took you long enough," Ninja leader said.

That voice! I know that voice! I struggled to remember. I know this guy!

"I'm disappointed in you Mack. Is your memory in as bad a shape as you are?" He asked. "I thought you would have at least a little fight in you earlier. You have really let yourself go."

"Take these cuffs off and I'll be glad to put up more of a fight," I said. I was pissed. Mostly because he was right. I might be in decent shape compared to most athletes, but I wasn't in great shape like I used to be, before...

"Ha ha ha!" He laughed but in a cold, humorless way. "I would love to, believe me. But duty beckons. Business before pleasure you know."

"Yes quite," I said, sarcastically.

Ninja leaders eyes narrowed and grew colder, if that were possible. Just for a split second the hate was palpable, and I was the object of that hate. But just as quick his eyes returned to that cold neutral look.

Now I remembered! "Hello Neuman," I deadpanned.

He took off his mask and smiled. His right hand hovered over the handle of his ninja-to short sword. Uh oh. Maybe I went too far with that one, I thought.
I had trained with Yukio under Master Toshiro. I started calling him Neuman because his laugh and general demeanor reminded me of the character Neuman on the comedy Seinfeld. The name stuck, and Yukio didn't have much of a sense of humor. It didn't look like it had improved any since I last saw him five years ago.

"Very funny, Mack," he said, his hand relaxing. "You know, we could be friends, you and I. We can be friends now. My employer wants the use of your talents and he pays much better than any job you ever had. I suggest you take him up on his generous offer," Yukio said straining to sound congenial.

I almost told him a creative use of his offer, but I decided to play it cool. Besides, I had Annie to think about. This sounded like one of those offers you can't refuse...without major consequences.

"Why did you attack me if you planned on hiring me?" I asked.

"It was a test. I wanted to see if you could do the job," Yukio said. "I didn't mean any offense when I said you had let yourself go. You have. However, by taking out my hireling you did show potential, and I would hate to see that potential wasted."

Somehow I doubted that, but I did believe Yukio's boss was interested in hiring me.
As my mind continued to clear something else began to nag me. Why hadn't Annie mentioned her friend?

"Was it just a test by you or did you have help?" I asked.

"So...ha ha ha! I was wondering if you would ever ask that question. Yes, you could say Annie was part of the test. Have your senses grown so dull? Ha ha ha! Married life weakened you more than the bottle I see. So many conflicted emotions, yes? Annie put out the bait and you bit, hook and all. Too bad Toshiro wasn't here to see that, ha ha ha!" Yukio said with a florish.

?! Yes, of course. I had been a fool. I felt a flash of anger at just how obvious I had been played and betrayed.

"Mack, I..." Annie began.

"Save it for the next fool," I said curtly.

"No! You don't understand!" She exclaimed.

"I understand enough," I replied, struggling to sit up. Annie tried to help support me. "Damn it! Get you hands off me!" I ordered.

Annie flinched as if I had struck her, and immediately I felt like a cad. But she betrayed me, I reasoned. Why should I feel bad? Regardless, I did, but I didn't let it show.

Clap! Clap! Clap! "Bravo! What a stellar performance!" Yukio said, applauding, and obviously enjoying himself. "Well done, Annie."

"Stop it! Stop it you bastard!" Annie shouted, standing up. She slapped Yukio, hard, and he caught her arms.

"You little bitch!" He shouted, smacking her and knocking her to the ground. When she tried to get up he kicked her in the ass, laughing again, and she collasped in a heap face down.

Despite the hurt and anger I felt at Annie's betrayal this really pissed me off. Son of a bitch must pay! I thought, seething.

"Look, are you gonna tell me the job offer or not?" I said, getting Yukios attention off Annie. I had to hand it to her, she had guts.

"So you are interested. Good." Yukio looked put out that I had spoiled his fun but I had his attention, however reluctant. "But first, I'm still not entirely convinced you can do the job, so let's have some fun, yes? We are going to leave, and, for old times sake, I'll be more than generous and give you ten minutes."

"Ten minutes for what?" I replied. Geez, get to the point already.

"Before my friend here comes to kill you," Yukio said, smiling and gesturing to the ninja guarding the door.

"What about these cuffs?" I asked.

"What about them? If you can't stop him with them on, you aren't fit for the job my employer wants done. I do look forward to the fight so do put on a good show, okay?" Yukio said, motioning to his ninja and leaving.

"Swell. Don't do me no favors", I muttered. I laid down flat on my back bent my legs, and went to work.

Annie quietly got up and watched, intrigued. I managed to stretch my handcuffed hands out just enough to clear my feet and get them in front of me. I had an ace to play, but I decided to hold back on that just in case. The element of surprise could make all the difference and I saw no reason to show all of my cards now. Of course, I might regret that decision if Yukio's ninja is well trained, I thought.

"I'm sorry, Mack," Annie said. I tried to ignore her and stretch my other cramped muscles.

"They have my sister! They threatened to kill her! Don't you see?!" She shouted. He said they wouldn't hurt you. Please...forgive me," she said, getting on her knees, her voice fading to a whisper.

If she was tellin' the truth, then I couldn't blame her. If. It still stung that she was acting the whole time though. Live and learn I guess.

"You don't hafta apologize Annie," I said, continuing to stretch. "I had no idea he was holding your sister. I'll do what I can to get her freed, and to get you out of here, but listen, don't piss Yukio off, alright? He's a psycho and I don't wanna see you get hurt again. Just let me do the talkin'."

"Oh thank you, Mack!" She said, smiling now. She hurried over and threw her arms around me.

"Look, you don't hafta act anymore, Annie. I already said I would do what I can, so knock off the huggy stuff, capisce?" I said, relieved and irritated at the same time.

"What? I'll have you know this is real, mister! This," she said, hugging me closer and looking at me with her deep brown eyes "is NOT acting!" Then she kissed me.

What the? I want to believe her. It would be so easy. But I held back. Trust hadta be earned, no matter how much my body thought otherwise. Besides, I couldn't think clearly when she was kissin' me.

"Annie," I said, coming up for breath. "I really need to prepare myself right now and this ain't helpin'."

"Prepare yourself for a little fight?" She asked. "You can take him, right?"

"I don't think you understand," I replied. "This won't be just a fight. Most likely, knowin' Yukio, this will be to the death."

"What? No! You've been drugged, and, and your handcuffed and..."

"Howabout some water?" I asked, smilin' grimly.

"Yes, of course, here it is," she said handing me the canteen. "Can it? I mean, have you ever killed a man before?"

I didn't answer, drinking deeply from the canteen. "Whatever happens, you stay out of it, okay? If you interfere, Yukio will kill you, I'm sure of it."

"I'm not afraid of him..." she began.

"Then stay out of it for your sister," I said.

"Okay Mack," Annie said. But you're gonna win, I just know it!" And with that she gave me one more kiss. A long one.

Well, if I die, at least I'll die happier than I was, I thought. Even if she is acting. Sure didn't feel like it though.

The ten minutes flew by and Yukio returned with his ninja. "Kill him," Yukio ordered, leaning back against the wall.

The ninja unsheathed his sword and advanced.

"That's not fair! Mack doesn't have a sword!" Annie protested.

"Ha ha ha ha!" Yukio laughed. "Fair is no fun you whore. Now shut up! Open your mouth again and I'll silence you for good."

Yukio is a freakin' psycho! I thought. I hoped Annie would listen to him. I couldn't afford any distractions. Damn! This guy knows his stuff, I thought, watching the ninja approach. I worked at calming myself and breathing deeply. Timing would be crucial. I tried to appear as relaxed and nonchalant as possible. What I felt was a big knot in my gut. Sure hope this works.

"Ha ha ha!" I laughed out loud when ninja lackey was about fifteen feet away.


julie said...

Another great installment. You had me laughing out loud a couple times there, Ben. I can't wait to see how this battle is going to play out :D

Joan of Argghh! said...

I'm going to wait and read the next installment in the evening, after I make some popcorn!

Oh, do go on...


walt said...

I kept thinkin' I had met these two before -- Mack and Annie, I mean. Something familiar about them ... Hmm. Maybe there's a clue buried in the storyline somewhere ...?

It was when I spied the word "ample" that it hit me -- like a load of bricks falling off'a window ledge I walked under: BAM!! I groped for my handy pocket edition of Websters ... yep, there it is: "enough or more than enough; plentiful; large and accommodating..."

These two were old friends!

But still unanswered: what happened to the red Porsche? Did Yukio drive on ahead in it?

And Master Toshiro -- won't he be conspicuous in Hong Kong? Or is he just plain so good that no one will notice?

So many questions needing answers!

I too was laughing out loud!

jwm said...

Don't trust no dames, Mack!
(an' watch out fer th' butler!)

to be continued- yaaarrrggghhh

Lovin' it Ben!


mushroom said...

OK, Ben, I have a deadline Monday and decide to take a little break from an all-nighter -- and look what I get!


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Julie-

Thanks! It always helps to have humorfull readers. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Howdy Joan!

Mmm! Popcorn! I got hooked on Orville R's tender white brand. Before the prices went up. Damn ethanol bastards!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Walt-

Well, you know I pride myself in bein' an educational blog n' stuff.
Volkabularry is important to no.

Ahh, the red porsche is the second thing you mention? You got yer priorities straight, I see: ample, porsche, and Master. :^)

But remember, Master only had tickets to Hong Kong. He didn't actually use them. Or maybe he didn't get the chance.
Then again, maybe he went to HK another way. Hmmm...

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi John-

Mack is always on guard around butlers. Dames...not so much, but he's learnin'. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Het Mushroom!

I'm here to help distract you from all that work. It's a hobby of mine. Maybe even a career. :^)

Gecko said...

Got my attention, Ben. Just what the doctor ordered. Heh, can't wait for the next chapter.

Robin Starfish said...

Ha ha! Lackeys be damned! Poor ninjas. Almost feel sorry for 'em. I can feel a clever whupass comin' on.

Jimmy J. said...

Action adventure. What is it about this genre that lures us like trout going for a ripe mayflys? It's just kungfusploitation but we swallow it down like winos on dago red.

Yes, you've lured us in the way Neumann lured Mack, and now we've got no choice but to follow this wherever it goes. Lead on Master.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Gecko!
I'm glad you liked it. Chapter 3 is already up.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Dojo!
Hopefully Ninja Lackey met a somewhat clever demise. Too bad he forgot the keys though. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Jim!
Ha ha! Wino's on dago red. That's a good 'un. Did you know San Francisco is tryin' to ban bum wines. Fascists! LOL!

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