Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Question, Aurora, Marv from Sin City and more: Basin City Blues conclusion

He recalls her cursing, and saying, “people will die, Marv. At the end of the day, what do you think you will accomplish, my friend?” She swore. “I hate it when you won’t listen to me, Marv. Now I want you to take me back to my apartment---I carpooled with Rhona, I never have to worry about driving my own car, at any am I in the will for the Caddy, Marv?”
He looked at her and gave a little smile.

The tall brunette from the other night---Diamond Lil, was it? ---struts on stage to “Poison” by Alice Cooper. She keeps it simple---she is not the technically accomplished dancer---she is playing a game, savoring the sound of the man dramatically opened as prey.

When he unlocked the door to his lonesome hovel, the rustling envelopes jammed beneath slithered in the moonlight licking the floor. A tired yellow burst of lamp light from the end table revealed a call for campaign contributions for Senator Rourk. Inside the pamphlet, he explained how he needed to raise funds to continue with his re-election bid in light of his steadfast stance against health reform. “From day one, I have opposed the efforts of this current administration to saddle the future generations of our nation with a prescription of astronomical deficit spending!”

“Rourk. The senator, the cardinal, the family farm...truly the spine of the Basin City community,” he muses dryly. He looks over at Nancy, who frowns at him sadly just before turning to greet Dawn Angel, already in costume and ready to go onstage.
“Sometimes I wonder why she keeps living in Basin City. Myself? I never wanted anything else. Which is best, because I don’t suppose there is anything else for me.”

Diamond Lil’s double-shot song of the day, “Poison” by Bel Biv DeVoe, pumps over the speakers. Something about her makes him think of a girl strutting all over her bedroom beneath her posters. Sheer pleasure emanates from her, as surely as she doesn’t care at all how anyone would judge her. As she finishes fiercely, he wonders if she might not indeed be poison.

Watching for responses to Dawn Angel, Marv notes another pair of men, who stand out only in that they look less hardened, though blessed with heroic good looks two bottles of whisky couldn’t give Marv on a new moon lit night. Detectives? FBI? Not in Old Town! Could this be the pair Nancy found so out of place, the ones she mentioned the first night since he’d returned from Tombstone?

Marv’s eyes fix on a table close to the stage, at virtually the other side of the room. One, to judge by his bomber jacket and patches is a Canadian war veteran. The other one looks seriously shell shocked. Possibly running in the same gang---loyalty to a casualty, perhaps. The one who walks up and joins them, with long hair and freakish fingernails, looks ready to dine on knives and sleep in the skins of innocent bystanders.

Behind him Marv recognizes the voice of the other new girl Nancy was talking to the other night---“Jenilee,” overhears. She asks someone, out of sight: “is it true what they say? That your name is Wilhemina, but I could just call you ‘Will’ for short?”
“Oh, I see. You’re Jenilee? Yes, I am a little black man trying to find some place safe to change into a little black woman. Welcome to my life!”
“Aren’t you afraid? If they found out?”
“Well, they ain’t, but I’ve been in just as much danger in places that aren’t considered dangerous for anyone. It’s a way of coping with the long change and making some money, however long I stick around. I just style myself as sly---and believe me, more of those guys are curious plenty, shed of their pals long enough. Least I can be myself, what’s up with you playin’ wallflower, this ain’t no women’s shelter, baby!”
“I had a normal life, I mean, one where I worked for a guy and his wife in their small business, and took care of my little girl...”
“Uh huh?”
“Some freak with no face stormed in one night and took it all away!”
“Mmm! Listen, sorry to step on your narrative, but I’m up after this one! If I had a place where I could have some family and raise’m in a country house just back off the highway, I’d be out of this sin city like *snap*!”

Dawn Angel and Nancy Callahan crawl out into the middle of the stage as “She-Wolf” by Shakira begins to throb over the house system. They interpret the sounds; some inner transformation takes over two bodies topped by libertine smiles and eyes like a child at play. Marv briefly notes the absorbed crowd; regulars, another large circle of semi-regulars, whoever’s got the money to get sucked in a while. Here, for people who never wanted to wake, and those abandoned by rest, dreams are naked for a while, the visions of the players and dreams of the wanna-be ballers, and the dreams dance and strip away inhibitions, and the dreams churn feverishly just out of reach, and the dreams make sure the world outside stays peacefully asleep.

When they walk out of here, whether to an actual straight job or the usual business of Basin City, there will be few comforts, little change...little beauty. And the temptations are oh so likely to lead to bitter is one place you will not be killed for showing what you like, fiercely defended from the violent games men play, replaced by the exotic world of pretend such as only the women can bring. The women come, and make a palace of their power, and open the gates for crowds of men, throwing money at the sexuality vortex, sucked into the vacuum where there is no sex.

He watches Nancy peel away from her dancing double and spin from the beautiful dark-eyed girl’s light skin as she pops her torso in celebration of her muscular core strength. When she enters a crouch on all fours, she is an animal, free from its life inside her, free from her reaction to the anticipations of others. She rolls herself smoothly, returning to the poll, locking eyes with some nemesis to her concentration unseen by the many who watch the best show in Basin City.
The hard earned paycheck, the pay-off from a fresh fence, the smuggler’s filched bonus, the bribe laid on schedule, the off-shore dividends of those with too much to ever really lose, the heist celebration, anonymous traveling financiers out for kink, the lucky long shot at the track: working man comes to live it up, fat cats come to slum it, gangsters come to show off, and the bar rolls in survival every night, because the girls themselves make sure it is straight: turf wars are checked at the door, badge action stays out of Old Town, and grudge-baring heavily armed hotheads are told point blank: there’s more time to die later...”
Marv’s observation-based reverie breaks when feels a hand rest on his shoulder gently, but hard to the touch. He looks up as he feels the hand reaching, to find the invitation in the eyes of the brunette from before, who leans in and whispers:
“I’m Diamond Lil. Do you see the girl sparkling there on the stage? I have been thinking you could help the two of us out with something.”
Marv’s gaze remains unperturbed, his ugliness shrouded in the granite-like surface reflecting the strobe lights.
Diamond Lil rubs his arm one time, and says, “I was hoping we could work out some hang ups together after work...say, over at your place...”
She backs away, and mouths, “think of me,” before turning and descending the steps to the main floor below, as Dawn Angel twists up the poll in one athletic move, and the lighting becomes a fixed spot light separating her impressive strength and her form both wild and perfectly controlled from in deep, restless darkness.
Madison Jefferies, who’s rejoined his Canadian government-trained Omega Flight team mates with much curiosity and, honestly, a lack of convincingly malicious intent, recognizes the Puppet Master. “Is that really the Puppet Master?” he says aloud, leaning over to the apparently dazed Smart Alec, who moves as though recovering from a stroke. “That is the single creepiest thing about this case.”
“It’s more like bodyguarding for us, because we have his help,” says Wild Child. ‘With the shambles Omega Flight is in these days, I’m glad we’re not taking on Aurora with her super powers! Oh, no...I like her Much more this way...I love her this way! I hope we never have to move her...this is the best place possible to keep her!”
Wild Child talks on the phone: “You are missing her pole routine, Flashback! She’s going on now!!! You can sit there afraid ‘cause you have a future self that’s going to die. Guess what? Everybody dies!!! It’s my place to help some of ‘em, so I know!”
“Sasquatch,” says Smart Alec.
Madison Jefferies notices the first emotional response in his stricken team mate’s voice---“in, how long?” he thinks---now he spots Diamond Lil, (who he has a real thing for, the worst kept secret in the team). She nods subtly towards Langkowski. Jefferies crouches in his seat. “Blast it!” he whispers, “better update the intelligence on this one---that’s Sasquatch! He’s gone toe-to-toe with the Hulk himself!”
Jefferies plies at the arm of Wild Child, rising, and saying, “No mistake, Department H drilled us on hours of field action and test footage, to someday join him in Alpha Flight!”
Wild Child ignores Jefferies, who speeds for the doorway, walking but not running.
The Dawn begins to spin several feet off the floor, quickly, around the pole. The pole begins to rise into the ceiling mechanically, disappearing from her grasp in a matter of seconds, yet her spin continues as though by some power not of this world.
Wild Child shouts into his cell phone: “And I know I’m going to die, and it could be just as soon as you will, so I ask you...why are you sitting off on the sidelines?
Dawn’s gravity defying spin continues when the pole has vanished. The sparkles ignited as though by crystal sequins and hot lights stand out as the house lights fade.
“You have got to howwl !!!”
Wild Child punctuates his phone call with a savage, inhuman sounding growl, before throwing back his head to howl. When he smashes his phone into the floor in front of the table, Walter Langkowski’s eyes are drawn to its flying fragments.
Wild Child smashes his glass into the floor, then shatters the beer stein left by Jefferies. This draws Langkowski’s complete attention. When Wild Child begins to writhe in his pile of glass, even the dancer notices the blood beginning to run from the growing number of slivers. “I’ve always loved you!” he screams pitifully from the floor, before crawling up laughing like a maniac.
Jefferies scans the room as he backs out the exit, thinking: “Us, Puppet Master---we must be here because Roark’s ready to move her. Keeping an eye on her was easier than holding her hostage could ever be, thanks to that sick doll man, I’ll bet. Sorry, old Walty-boy, if I’m going to figure this thing out while keeping an eye out for Lil, I have to play this hand through!”
“Dream A Little Dream of Me” by the Mamas and the Papas plays to a more old-fashioned style of burlesque, while Nancy comes out to bring the crowd down a bit after Wild Child’s manic immolation.

Walt finally approaches Dawn Angel, agonizing from a distance awaiting some glance his way, some look of recognition that might become a spark. Marv cuts his eyes over the approaching figure.
“Some Like It Hot” by the Power Station pumps over the speakers as Nancy returns, tricked out in chaps with a twirling lasso...
Dawn Angel, however, decides to ignore him like any other overly eager customer, and quickly she decides to ascend the steps and take refuge, without a word, at Marv’s table.

“Jeannie, babe, it’s me!” Nothing. “Aurora. Aurora!” Nothing. “Ms. Beaubier...” he yells, losing heart, waiting. The minutes crawl by awkwardly. Diamond Lil decides to begin a strip tease in front of Vic, taking off his tie and beginning to stroke her behind with humorous sweeps to the beat. Vic looks around, uncertain as to where Walter is. Just over his shoulder, at Marv’s table above the floor, Walt rushes forward, saying “please!”; the dancer stands and begins to hurry away. “You’ve got to remember! We need to talk!” Marv wonders how their personal history might work, but he decides to quietly watch, and should things go outside, he resolves to accept a place in the shadows and motor oil cans and cigarette butts and mud, within earshot...
“Workin’ Day and Night” begins thumping as Wilhelmina comes out dressed like girl dressed not unlike Off the Wall era Michael Jackson, playing up to another girl’s tease before cleverly stripping away choice elements of her wardrobe.
Lil immediately sweeps over to the exit, eagerly anticipating what transpires in the poor lights hanging sickly over the backstage door to the parking lot. Marv brushes beside her, stepping out quickly; “sorry,” he offers the hard-to-the-touch woman.
Puppet Master recognizes Marv, though only as an anonymous threat; “I had noted his ugliness...a certain nobility, even...” he thinks, leering malevolently after the stark silhouette of the departing figure.

As soon as she is three steps out the door, three mobsters approach her, one of them, a balding man who greatly resembles Bernie Madoff, cordially offers: I beg your pardon, miss, but I would like to offer aid and services of the Wallenquist Organization.” He proffers a car gently, which she takes, as he asks her to come with them. “I don’t know you.”
“To the Beat Y’all” by the Utah Saints booms out the back door of Kadie’s; Marv starts down the alleyway from the other side of the dressing room when Vic Sage suddenly puts out a hand and says, “what’s your interest in the girl?”
“I don’t answer to you,” Marv glowers.
“You don’t understand what’s...”
“Back off, man! Is this a lousy distraction?”
He bulldozes right past Sage.
He shoots Sage a cold look over his shoulder...
Down the alley, at the street light’s edge, the consigliore for the Wallenquist mobsters continues his pitch to Dawn Angel. “Be that as it may, you may be in grave danger. You need friends...I’m not threatening you, miss, you are free to go your own way.”
The air crawls with snarls from above. “Wild and free!” sing-songs a taunting voice. Bestial, horrific, Wild Child descends like a human Sword of Damocles upon the mobsters.

Wild Child’s attack leaves Aurora stands frozen, her face splashed with blood, screaming in the lightless night. One gangster manages to run for dear life, leaving the other two to their uncertain fates. Wild Child steps up to Dawn Angel first, while she is alone beside the shrouded alley.
“You knew that I always loved you, didn’t you?” he begins, smiling. “But I hardly had your my finger tips,” he says, creepily brandishing his gore-flecked talons. “So crazy for you, so into what it would be like with you...I always’d like something WILD in you, wouldn’t you?”
Seeing the fear in her eyes, Wild Child relents in a moment of restraint. “Think about it! I’ll be watching over you...” he says, stepping back out of the light as Walter Langkowski comes barreling out to her side. Unfortunately, the scream and Walt’s appearance give Marv an impression he should quickly shove this unknown suitor in the chest and continue the interview after he picks himself out of the fetid, dented garbage cans. Marv takes on Walt, who resists transforming into Sasquatch and uses a judo throw to hurl him into the strewn garbage lying vagrantly in the alleyway.
Seeing the closest thing to an ally he has attacked by the larger man, Sage takes a kick at the back of Marv’s leg, seeing no obvious openings. Marv simply leaps onto Sage, who desperately tries to twist out from under Marv’s strangling forearm. Marv rolls right over the top of Sage’s prostrated form, coming up in a crouch, springing up and staring down the alleyway as he hears the scream...of a man.

Even considering Marv’s uncanny strength, taking a hit is something Langkowski used to do for a living. Though surprised, he struggles all the way to the ground in an effort to turn the bigger man’s momentum against him. Once beside him on the ground, however, it is nothing like football, as Marv kicks him hard in the bread basket, then again in the knee. This gives Marv the advantage to lay a devastating right cross, and he keeps jabbing, not providing his foe any leverage nor useable momentum.
Reasoning Aurora’s life is at risk---and perhaps, having had enough ass-whipping---bloodied Langkowski makes a guard with his forearms, and gives in to metamorphosis that will exchange his body for a Great Beast of the North, a more evil match, in spirit, for dangers of Basin City.

Sage opens his cartridges of special vapors onto his trench coat, imbuing it with a blue tint, as a flesh-colored material once again envelopes his head, leaving, on the face of it, a Question. The central figure of concern in this snafu runs off at this first fact, to the naked eye, she vanishes.
Marv turns to see the faceless man standing in the doorway, and just as quickly, said man is dispatched with a direct blow to the back of the head from a wooden baseball bat. Astonished, he sees Jenilee still holding it, hyper-ventilating. Then a strong hand grips Marv’s neck, while the altering throat of Walter Langkowski gurgles forth, “I’d like to settle this as a fair fight, in principle...”

Another gang of Magliozzi mobsters pulls up, talking rapidly with their buddies who happened to be by to enjoy the show, while the bass beneath “Respiration” by Black Star (“keeping it real will make you a casualty/ of abnormality normality/ killers born naturally, like Mickey & Mallory...not knowing the ways’ll get you capped like an NBA salary..”) makes the car shudder with 808 urgency. From across the parking lot, they watch the fight erupt. Walter begins to deform, grow long white fur, transform, and expand, so Marv furiously beats him in an effort to win before he finishes. Watching Marv batter and kick the changing freak is great sport; nevertheless the Magliozzi gangsters stay away, taken aback by the freakish, out-of-place elements that threaten to smash anything fragile enough to be human; they spin out of control, like lusty flames aroused in a tinder box. Marv finally takes out his Colt, “Gladys”, saying, “I’d like to settle this as a fair fight, in principle!”, and fires point blank beneath the fanged mouth into the howling beast-man’s chest.
“Man, Raul was right to cozy up to those ghouls last night,” offers Izzy, one of the thugs. “Magliozzi wants a say, they gonna need a big stick!”
“Call in special help?” responds Fashion Plate Lee. “We’re muckin’ wit’ dark powers, Izzy!”
“Shut up! Last night, your soul was the least of your cares.”
He’s after the girl, too! Stomp him!
Smart Alec attempts to use a taser on Marv; quickly is it apparent--- it’s going to take a lot more than that!
Just as Wild Child springs into the melee and he and Marv begin to mix it up, Marv slams Wild Child’s head into the lamp post. However, while Wild Child lies beneath a stained boxing poster, his beady eyes filled with stars and black shutters in a crumpled heap, Marv simply walks away, his stare fixed blankly ahead. Like a marionette, he walks without body language towards the parking lot.
Seizing the advantage from Marv’s savaging, Wild Child chooses to ignore Marv and go for the ever-growing threat of Sasquatch by attempting to shred his underbelly before he can complete the change. Seeing he is dealing with Omega Flight, Langkowski finally completes the transformation, bleeding profusely but free of Marv’s constant battering. Sasquatch is snow white, capped by thick fur with a bestial head with grim yellow eyes beneath shaggy brows, with an almost primate-like disfiguring of the torso and lengthy, massive arms extending in a span as long as his ten foot tall body. The imposing Great Beast is contained by a contraption previously generated by Jeffries, clutching the eruption of his stomach, slashed open by Wild Child, who then attempts to rip Sasquatch’s vocal chords.
The Dawn Angel, a.k.a. Aurora, runs away, finding herself speedily transported to her own apartment, with no recollection of how she did it. She thinks to go back to the church...Reverend Candela...thinks she should be able to get to the bottom of this, how she is being manipulated...she will attempt to keep herself from going anywhere, then. She takes an unwise amount of sleeping pills and begins to swig a bottle of red wine, swearing she will not let anyone have control of her again so easily.
Jefferies’ contraption binds Sasquatch in a formation like a super-straight jacket, equipped on back with shifting, telescoping tentacle legs, constantly contracting and expanding from one center of gravity to the next, pitching the monster man off balance as he struggles with each tip and turn. Sasquatch forces one of his arms out of socket, then uses his hand from the bottom of his confinement to slash his restraints, gripping them in his massive talons. Sasquatch begins to burst his lever-shifting manacles and attend to his opponents and his wounds, when he becomes frozen in place, controlled by a doll from the now clearly revealed Puppet Master. But much to the Puppet Master’s dismay, the enraged Sasquatch proves difficult to keep in control. Fearfully, Puppet Master paws at his radioactive clay doll, etching the anguished face with his Exacto knife in an effort to subdue Sasquatch with his voodoo-like power.
All is lost for those who would stand, however, when a man with half his face completely covered by a duo-toned mask and navy body-stocking, armed to the teeth with fantastic weaponry, steps forwards and tells him “nice doll, but someone already thought to call Deathstroke the Terminator for the save. Isn’t that right, ugly?” Deathstroke fires a gas grenade straight into the beast’s face, as he explains: “Now that there gas I invented causes oxygen atoms to cluster in ways that make the air molecules impermeable---respiration is impossible. Not to mention, what with the concentrated oxygen... “he says, hefting a lit Zippo lighter at Sasquatch’s head seconds later, “if you’re not careful, it has a way of blowing up in your face!” Sure enough, in addition to asphyxiation, the weakened monster’s face is caught in the arc-welder style flare that results in his helpless collapse.
“That’ll put him down!” remarks Deathstroke, who snaps up the Zippo (engraved with a bullseye) and lights a Cuban cigar, before shoving back his mask to reveal the craggy, white-haired assassin adorned with an eye patch and a self-satisfied smirk. “Amateurs, I swear.”
“Shut up!” The Puppet Master holds his Sasquatch doll in one hand, and now lets drop another doll, shaped like Marv. “While you took your prima-donna time getting the lead out, that local brawler nearly eliminated everyone at hand.”
“So what’d you do?” asks Deathstroke, puffing.
Puppet Master gleefully continues. “I had earlier decided he might make a useful puppet, what with his grizzly-like qualities. Before he could jeopardize the operation, I simply directed him to his car...”
Marv is shown cranking his El Dorado, mindlessly, before Puppet Master finishes:
“I told the cowboy---time to ride off into the sunset!”
The Docks: Marv’s Cadillac guns to his highest gear, smashing a crate on its way to a brief flight out over the waters, before sinking out of sight.

END OF CHAPTER ONE, “Basin City Blues”

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