Monthly Archives: February 2019

Movie Review – Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

This review isn’t forged, 3.5 readers.  It’s genuine.

Also, the SPOILERS are real.

BQB here with a review of “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

I can’t put my finger on one reason.  Instead, for many reasons, as I watched Melissa McCarthy as a middle-aged woman sobbing uncontrollably with a dead cat in her arms, I found myself thinking, almost in Jon Lovitzian fashion, “This is acting!”

But let’s backup.  McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a once successful magazine writer and biographer of celebrities.  One of her biographies hit the New York Times bestseller list, but when her latest biography flops, her career is done.  Over.  Finito.  She can’t catch a break.  Her manager, played by Jane Curtin, more or less informs her that she’s a loser, and her bills are piling up.  Her cat is sick and needs expensive treatment.  Her rent is overdue.  She’s on her way to being homeless.

In an odd twist of fate, while doing research on vaudevillian Fannie Brice, she discovers a real letter written by Fannie herself stuck in one of the library’s books about the old time comedienne.  Rather than be honest and tell the library about it, she pockets it.  She adds a joke at the end with her own typewriter to up the value and voila, she sells it for just enough cash to help her kitty and keep her landlord at bay.

Alas, once she gets a taste of easy money, she can’t get enough.  She falls into the world of celebrity letter collectors and yeah, apparently there is, or was, one.  She forges away, writing letters and attributing them to long deceased stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  She makes her way from book store to book store and other collector shops, selling them for profit.

Her partner in crime is Jack Hock, an unapologetically flamboyant homosexual raconteur.  Once an aspiring writer who hobnobbed in the same stodgy Mahattan writer party scene as Lee, they get reacquainted over a chance meeting in a bar.  Turns out, they’re both washed up has-beens who can’t even get invited to the parties they didn’t even like going to in the first place.

At this point, you might want to know why I think Melissa McCarthy deserves to win best actress for blubbering over that dead kitty.  Let me get there.

This movie isn’t just about the world of counterfeit memorabilia and the forgers who make dough off it.  It’s more than that.

It’s about loneliness. Sadness.  Aging.  Desperation.  It’s about how when you’re young, you have a dream, and then one day, you wake up and you realize you didn’t achieve it, you never will, it’s too late to keep trying.  You try your best to give in to this new, sad chapter of life where you go from hoping “IT” will happen, whatever it is to you, and trying to accept it won’t happen.

And yet, that little voice in your head keeps telling you to try.  So you keep trying, even though to the world, you look like a loser.  Because you’re old and didn’t you get the memo?  Old people aren’t supposed to do great things.  If they were going to do it, they would have done it already.

Long story short, that kitty was Lee’s BFF.  Lee had a prickly personality and had to accept her failure wasn’t just the world being unkind to another writer but also, because she was a drunk who insulted people who were trying to help her, making them less likely to help in the future.

She just didn’t like people.  And they didn’t like her.  So when that cat croaks, it’s like how a spouse might feel upon the death of a husband or wife, or any family member on the death of another in the family.  The cat accepted her and she accepted the cat.

The hottest actresses in Hollywood could never pull off this scene.  I don’t care how much ugly makeup you slap on, say, Margot Robbie.  You’d know it is still Margot under there.  You know Margot will never have to worry about having to keep a cat alive just to prevent herself from being alone.  You know Margot could score twenty dicks in thirty seconds just by asking for them if she were so inclined.

Melissa McCarthy isn’t ugly, per se.  She’s like the rest of us, average.  In fact, she’s uglied up for this film, given messy hair, extra wrinkles, etc.  She’s convincing as a person who dreamed big.  Thought she’d be a great, wealthy, respected writer.  And her plan didn’t work out.  And so, now she’s old.  And alone.  Watching TV with her cat.  Regretting breaking up with her long gone lesbian lover.  She knows her life will never be what she wanted it to be.  She’s bitter over the unlucky breaks the world sends her.  And so, the cat is the tipping point.  The last middle finger the world has given her and she can’t take it anymore.  She’s tired of never getting what she wants out of life and the fact that God can’t even let her keep her kitty makes her snap into a blubbering mess.

Bonus points for Richard E. Gant.  If you’re a nerd, you’ve seen him in a lot of nerdy stuff.  Dr. Who.  Game of Thrones.  Logan.  He’s one of those actors you’ve seen in so many things.  You’re like, “I know that guy, he was in…” whenever you see him in a movie.  This role finally gives him the reward of becoming the guy whose name you know.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Bonus points for the message that when your life is in the dumper, no one can pull you out of the trash but you.  Somehow, you have to keep going in spite of the odds against you.  Obviously, (spoiler) the success isn’t in the forgery but in pulling herself together when she is caught.

We’ve all had that moment where we break down and cry as we realize life is going to be a dick and not deal us the cards we need to make the life we want possible.  Maybe we weren’t holding a dead kitty when he had that nervous breakdown, but we’ve all freaked when we realize we must accept that what we want and what life will allow us to have are two very different things.

 

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BQB’s Oscar Predictions – Best Picture

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Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

As you know, I have long been an advocate for ugly rights and this year, I have no doubt that ugly actors will be snubbed yet again.

But moving on, my thoughts on Best Picture:

THE NOMINEES:

Black Panther

BlacKkKlansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

A Star is Born

Vice

WHAT I DID NOT SEE:

I didn’t see The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice.

Vice, to me, seems like just one big long early 2000’s era SNL sketch about a presidential administration that is long forgotten.  Doesn’t seem like it should be but time moves fast.  So, I’m not sure it is Oscar worthy but again, I didn’t see it.

SNUBBED:

Crazy Rich Asians was a rare enjoyable romantic comedy.  Asians get so few lead roles in American cinema and on top of that, there was a message about how every young adult has to choose between making his/her family happy and making him/herself happy that is universal around the world.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?  I actually just saw this tonight and I didn’t expect it to, but it really moved me.  There is just something about Melissa McCarthy as a lonely old woman balling her eyes out over the death of her cat, quite literally her only friend in the world, that provides a look into the depths of loneliness and sadness that grips many people.  It’s something that a million hottie actress could never convey, no matter how much you ugly them up.

A Quiet Place – I might be alone here but I feel like this could have gotten some love.  It achieved a lot with very little.  It told a whole story with only a handful of words ever spoken.

Chappaquiddick – A powerful case study on how there is one set of laws for the rich and powerful and another set for the rest of us schlubs.  But, you know, Kennedy was loved by Hollywood so, on and on the vicious cycle goes.

WHO WILL WIN? (And What Did I See?)

Black Panther was a good superhero movie.  It’s watchable again and again and when I went, there were so many black people in attendance in traditional African garb that I figured there was no way the Oscars could ignore it.  They’ll never give an Oscar to a super hero movie (though if the Avengers series ever finally ends, they should consider giving that last movie an Oscar as they did with Lord of the Rings, another comic booky type of movie series, just to celebrate the achievement of finishing a series that lasted so long.)

Bohemian Rhapsody was touching and a good story about a) doing what you love b) being loyal to those who help you do it c) choosing one love over lots of meaningless sex will, surprise, surprise, make you happier.  D) Confidence will get you places.

But it won’t win because alas, the original director has some perv allegations.  I actually agree with that.  We can’t reward alleged pervs.

A STAR IS BORN – It’s long, too long.  And sad.  Yet, at the same time, it was hard for me to feel sorry for Lady Gaga or Bradley Cooper.  They are both just too beautiful.  It did have some important messages about keeping your jealousy in check in a relationship and also, as you age, you’ll have to learn to accept that you’ll never be as fabulous as you were in your prime.

PREDICTION: BlacKkKlansman will win.  It was a good movie.    It tackled a serious subject with, surprisingly, a lot of humor.  It’s one of Spike Lee’s best.  I think the Academy will pick it not necessarily because of the movie itself but because it is critical of Bad Orange Man and in case you haven’t noticed, Awards shows like to dump on him.

 

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Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 13

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It wasn’t exactly an out of body experience, but all the same, I sat back and watched as firefighters pulled my hide out of the deflated wreckage of Princess Paulina’s bouncy castle. Bryant came next, flipping out like a madman.
“I want this man arrested!” he hollered. “He’s out of control! I was just out for a breath of fresh air when this psychopath assaulted me and threw me off the side of a building, without so much as a…”
I watched as I gave the jerk a right cross, knocking him out. The remnants of the bouncy house broke his fall as well as mine. At that moment, I hadn’t considered the fact that knocking down that worm would bring me down with him.
Jeffries rushed over and undid the cuffs. Rosie followed, taking me by the hand, leading me away from the scene as cameras snapped away.
In my chair, I watched as Rosie led me past one of many finely coiffed, neatly pressed reporters on the scene. He looked into his camera. “I’m Alexander Guadalupe-Daniels and I’m on the scene at the Museum of Historic Antiquity, where renegade straw cop Mack Smasher just kidnapped a random, helpless, hardworking lobbyist and hurled him off the side of this building that holds some of our country’s most prized treasures. Public opinion on Smasher is that he’s a disgrace to the uniform and…”
Wham! I laughed and laughed as I saw my fist connect with the fool’s face. I grabbed Captain Braddock’s remote control and paused it just in time to capture a frame in which one of the reporter’s capped teeth went flying.
“Smasher!” Braddock said.
“Hold on, boss,” I said. “Let me run it back again. I want to see that prick get cold-cocked one more time.”
“I’ll have no more of your monkey shines, Smasher!” Braddock said.
“You ever notice that all of these reporters are whiter than snow yet they all have a Hispanic surname hyphenated onto their white bread last name?” I asked. “Seems like cultural appropriation if you ask me.”
“Cut the crap, Smasher!” Braddock said as he held up a stack of papers. “I just finished the fiftieth page, turkey. How do you like that?”
“What?” I asked as I grabbed the stack and poured through it. Every line had words written on it. “How did you do that? It’s only been a couple hours.”
“I told you,” Braddock said. “I’m the best of the best. Meanwhile, you’re the worst of the worst. What the hell are you doing? Kidnapping lobbyists, throwing them off buildings, punching out reporters.”
“I didn’t do that,” I protested.
My boss pointed to frozen frame on his TV.
“OK,” I said. “I did that last one. But that lobbyist walked himself out onto that ledge. He refused to leave it. I saved his life!”
“Yeah, well,” Braddock said. “You should have left the shithead out there until he fell off from exhaustion.”
“And you wouldn’t be chewing my ass out in that scenario?” I asked.
“Of course, I would,” Braddock said. “You do shit and I chew your ass out over it. Someone’s gotta keep your ass in check, Smasher. Speaking of checks…”
“Let me guess,” I said. “The mayor called.”
“You’re damn right he did,” Braddock said. Your ass just bounced a big, fat check and now I’m expected to pick up the tab. Smasher, the mayor’s head is so far up my ass that he just farted in my mouth and the smell was not pleasant.”
“It wasn’t?” I asked.
“Not one bit,” Braddock set. “It had a hint of skunk with undertones of onion and rotten tuna fish salad. Disgusting. And all that’s in my mouth and this paperwork? That’s the mouthwash.”
“Come on, sir,” I said. “It is not.”
“Oh, you’re damn right it is, Smasher,” Braddock said. “I’m going to swish this paper around, let it burn away at my oral rot, then spit it out and when I’m finished, you’ll be long gone.”
“Sir,” I said. “In my defense, I was asked to help on this one.”
“Bullshit,” Braddock said. “Don’t you lie to me, Smasher. You lie to me I will reach up into the heavens, pull down the spear of Aries and I will chop off your stupid head with it.”
“You can’t really chop anything off with a spear, sir,” I said. “They’re usually operated with a thrusting motion.”
“Enough gobbedly gook from your diseased sewer hole!” Braddock said. “Jeffries called me.”
“He did?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” Braddock said. “You know what he said?”
“That he likes to wear women’s undergarments?” I asked.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Braddock said. “But screw you, bigot. It’s 2019. The man can wear any kind of underbritches he damn well pleases.”
“I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.”
“Jeffries said he had the whole scene under control,” Braddock said. “That the perp was about to voluntarily come inside when you waltzed onto the scene, threw your weight around, took over and tossed that shithead over the side, laughing all the while like you were having a grand old time!”
“Sir,” I said. “That is so far from the truth.”
“Neal Jeffries is a decorated department veteran,” Braddock said. “And a company man who knows how to take orders and not give any guff to his superiors. You, on the other hand, are a fart trapped deep inside a boll weevil’s asshole, just waiting to come out so you can impress the world for two seconds with your incorrigible stink until you fade away into the bleak, nothingness you deserve.”
“That book club is really paying off, sir,” I said.
“Are you calling Jeffries a liar?” Braddock asked.
“I am,” I said.
“You?” Braddock said. “A weak, sniveling, puss filled boil growing inside the urethra of a horny toad that’s been left out to die of thirst on a steamy rock, boiling under the crushing oppression of the hot, desert sun? I’m supposed to take your word against Neal Jeffries? Son, I would gladly karate chop your dick off and feed it to the devil himself if, by some sort of mysterious, predetermined arrangement, I would be able to trade you for Jeffries. Believe me. I would do it in a heartbeat.”
“I don’t know what to tell you,” I said. “He’s lying. I’m not.”
Braddock turned to his paperwork. He mumbled away as he wrote. “Offending officer lies like a rug, recklessly puts his life and the lives of others in danger and his uncouth, obnoxious behavior is probably just him trying to compensate for a tiny Irish penis.”
“My penis is gargantuan!” I said.
“Sexually harassed his commanding officer with inappropriate talk of his penis size,” Braddock mumbled as he scribbled away.
“I’m not even Irish!” I snapped.
The old man moved his pen. “Racist against Irish people. Told me in a direct quote that he wants to throat punch every red-headed bastard who would dare cross his path.”
“I never said that!”
The pen kept moving. “Contradicts his superior constantly.”
I stood up. “Whatever,” I said. “Let’s just both stick to what we’re best at, boss.”
Braddock looked up. “What’s that?”
“I’ll go save the world…”
I lowered my shades. “…and you keep that chair warm.”
“Wow,” Braddock said.
“Yeah?” I asked. “Good?”
“It gave me chills,” Braddock said.
“It did?” I asked.
“No,” Braddock said. “Now get the hell outta my office and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
I entered the hallway. Rosie was waiting for me. “How far has he gotten?”
“Fifty pages,” I said.
“Damn,” Rosie said. “He works fast.”
“He does,” I said. “But he’s still got ten thousand to go. I’ll be fine. Your boyfriend won’t be when I kick his ass.”
“My boyfriend?” Rosie asked.
“Jeffries,” I said.
“He’s not my…”
“Yeah,” I said. “I saw the way you looked at him.”
“I didn’t look at him in any particular way,” Rosie said.
“Who cares?” Smasher said.
“It sounds like you do,” Rosie said.
“I don’t,” I said. “But he’ll care when he’s picking his teeth out of my boot heel.”
“And why is he going to be doing that?” Rosie asked.
“He lied to the captain,” I said. “Told him the whole thing today was my fault.”
“He did?” Rosie asked.
“He did.”
Rosie stopped. “Smasher, this is simple. I was there. I’ll just go back and tell the captain…”
“No,” I said. “Women handle things by tattling. Men handle things with their fists. Next time I see that douchebag, I’m going to beat his face like it owes me money.”
Speak of the devil, Rosie and I bumped into Jeffries outside as he was heading up the steps.
“Jeffries!” I shouted. “You wang chomping shit flinger!”
The lieuntenant laughed. “Have a good time with el Capitan, Smasher?”
“You know I didn’t,” I said. “How could you deceive that old fart like that?”
“Easy,” Jeffries said. “Everyone loves me. Everyone hates you.”
“What?” I asked. “That can’t be true.”
Suddenly, a random man on the sidewalk pointed at me. “Hey everyone! Look! It’s Mack Smasher, the renegade straw cop that everyone hates!”
I grimaced.
“Come on, everyone!” the random man cried. “Let’s all boo and hiss at him to show our displeasure in his misdeeds!”
Jeffries smiled. “I have to admit, it’s nice to be out of your shadow, Smasher. Everyone loved you for years. Everyone cheered and applauded when you beat the shit out of hoodlums but now that you’re going nuts over straws…”
“I saved your ass back there!” I said. “That guy never would have gotten down from that ledge safe had it not been for me!”
“Yeah,” Jeffries said. “But you screwed me over with Mo-Mo and I owed you one.”
“So,” I said. “Are we even?”
“Not by a long shot,” Jeffries said. “You see, Mack. When you screw people over, the screw is obvious. You punch people in the face. Shoot them in the head. Blow their shit up. I, on the other hand, know how to play the game.”
“The game?” I asked.
“Law enforcement is all one great, big game,” Jeffries said. “Shake a hand here. Kiss an ass there. And when there’s a dirty job around, get the filthiest cop to do it so you can keep your hands clean. I knew there was no way that imbecile was coming off that ledge without a cop willing to bring him down and better you than me.”
I clenched my hand into a fist. “Why, I oughta…”
Rosie pulled me away. “Come on, Smasher.”
I relented, for my partner’s sake. We walked away.
“Hey, Rosie!” Jeffries called out.
Rosie looked back. “Yeah?”
“Scrape this barnacle off before he gets so fat he drowns you, will ya?”
Rosie looked ahead. “Goodbye, Neal.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 12

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Inside an empty office on the top floor of the museum, I opened a window and stuck my head out.  A cool breeze hit my face.  I looked down.  Two fire trucks pulled up.  The firemen poured out, all hustling and bustling.  From this vantage point, they looked like ants.

I turned my head right and looked at Bryant.  He was shuddering.  There was a chill in the air, his coat was flimsy and the pajamas he wore underneath weren’t helping much.

“Hey,” I said.  “Buddy.”

Bryant recoiled in terror when he realized I was there.  He flattened his back against the stone wall of the building, his feet holding a precarious grip on the ledge.  “Who are you?  Don’t come any closer!”

“Yeah, no worries,” I said.  “I’d rather stay in here where it’s nice and warm than freeze my ass out there if it’s all the same.”

The jumper nodded.  “OK then.”

Bryant and I were quiet for a time.  He was petrified, refusing to look down.  Me?  All I could do was look down but then again, my body was secure.

“You a cop?” Bryant asked.

“Yeah,” I said.  “Well, for at least another week or two.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bryant asked.

“Let’s just say my boss doesn’t like the cut of my jib,” I said.  “Well, deep down, I’m not entirely sure he feels that way.  But he’s got bosses who don’t like me and they’ve got bosses who don’t like me and you know how the game is played.  Everyone’s gotta do what they gotta do.”

“It’s a dog fuck dog world out there,” Bryant said.

“Yeah,” I said as I pulled out a cigarette and lit it.  “And we’re all just trying to not be the last bitch poodle.”

I puffed on the cig.  “Damn, I wish Rosie was up here.  That would have been a good line to pull down my shades on.”

“Huh?” Bryant asked.

“Nothing,” I said.  “You smoke?”

“Not usually,” Bryant said.  “Up until recently, my body was a temple but now?  Yeah, sure, why not?”

I nodded.  I pulled another cigarette out of the pack, lit it, then ever so carefully, reached my arm out the window.  Suddenly, I thought better of that move and pulled my arm back.

“Not for nothing, Kevin,” I said.  “But this is a little trust building exercise.  You grab my arm and try to pull me out there and throw me out this building and I’ll take you down with me.”

“I won’t,” Bryant said.  “Honestly, I’m starting to consider the possibility that this whole thing might have been ill-advised.”

I reached my arm out.  Bryant reached down and grabbed the smoke without taking his eyes off the world ahead of him.

“You think?” I asked as I pulled my arm back.

“Yeah,” Bryant said.  “I’m sorry.  I just needed someone to pay attention.  I need those straws, man.”

“I know,” I said.

“I don’t think you do,” Bryant said.  “Someone introduces something into your life that you need, that you gotta have and then one day, boom, it’s all gone.  Shit, if I could find that cop who destroyed Wisenheimer’s, I’d give him a piece of my mind.”

I sighed.  “I heard he’s a good fellow.”

“No,” Bryant said.  “On the news, they’re saying he drove a bulldozer through the joint then started juggling lit sticks of dynamite around while soccer moms and little babies were watching.”

“You can’t trust what you see on the news anymore, pal,” I said.  “Haven’t you heard of the term, ‘fake news?’”

“Fake news?” Bryant asked.  “No.  All journalists are wise, seasoned professionals and the fruit of their labors is unassailable.  Why, to even think of criticizing them is to assault the freedom of speech.”

“Whatever,” I said.  “I’m sure that cop had his reasons.”

“Yeah,” Bryant said.  “Well, he fucked up my life.  I need those Wisenheimer straws and I can’t get them.  I tracked down some of the employees who worked there.  They didn’t have any.  They threatened to kick me in the nuts if I ever contact them again.  I contacted some customers.  They didn’t have any either.  They too threatened to kick me in the nuts if I ever contacted them again.”

I puffed on my cigarette.

“I called the corporate office,” Bryant said.  “They said they couldn’t help me and that if I called again, they’d send a lawyer to kick me in the nuts.”

“I’m beginning to sense a pattern here,” I said.

“Yeah,” Bryant replied.  “That the world’s happy to have you as long as you don’t cause trouble but oh boy, have one little problem and everyone will just gang up on you and threaten your nuts with bodily harm.”

“Something like that,” I said.

Bryant took a drag on his cigarette.  “Aww, listen to me.  Going on and on like my problems are everyone else’s fault.  I admit it.  It’s crazy.  Straws.  What a silly thing to be addicted to.”

“It’s not that silly,” I said.

Bryant ignored my comment.  “I tried to stop.  I tried to stay away.  But all I could think about, morning, noon and night was straws, straws and more straws.”

“Kevin,” I said.  “You and your fellow addicts, of which I’m sure there are more out there, are blameless in this.  You didn’t sign up to…”

“My wife can tie a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue,” Bryant said.  “And my girlfriend can fit an entire cucumber up her…”

“OK,” I said.  “No one likes a braggart.”

“True,” Bryant replied.

“Plus,” I said.  “I’m sure that lifestyle isn’t easy.  Having to keep those broads from finding out about each other.”

“Not at all,” Bryant said.  “Amber and Brandy are best of friends.”

“You’re shitting me,” I said.

“I shit you not,” Bryant said.  “They hang out all the time.  We have three ways every Sunday, go on vacations as a threesome.  They send each other Christmas cards.”

I laughed.  “Damn it, Kevin.”

“What?”

“I’m so jealous I’m liable to throw you off this ledge myself,” I said.

Bryant smiled.

“There,” I said.  “A sign you don’t want to die.  Now, will you please come inside and bring this foolish spectacle to a conclusion?”

“No,” Bryant said.  “It’s all over.”

“What’s over?” I asked.  “Nothing is over.”

“I’m all washed up,” Bryant said.  “I got nothing.”

“You’re richer than a sultan!” I said.

“All smoke and mirrors,” Bryant said.  “There’s no such thing a free pussy, man.”

“Tell me about it,” I said.  “I field so many calls from my ex-wives’ army of crooked lawyers that I’d hire a secretary to answer them if I could afford one.”

“Every man dreams of scoring that primo snatch-o-la,” Bryant said.  “But you got any idea what you gotta do to keep it?”

“I can imagine,” I said.

“Trips,” Bryant said.  “Private jets.  The best hotels.  Gifts. Clothes.  Diamonds.  Jewelry.  They expect you to take care of their every little need.  Hire servants to follow them around and clean up after them.  And these broads?  They don’t know anything about the value of money.  They ask you for something and they expect you to pull it out of your ass like a magician.  Brandy wanted a pet puma, for Christ’s sake.  Do you know how much it costs to take care of a puma?”

“A lot?” I asked.

“The vet bills alone are staggering,” Bryant said.  “And the titty enlargening surgeries?  Don’t even get me started.”

“Worth it?”

“Yes,” Bryant said.

“I prefer big naturals,” I said.

“Oh,” Bryant said.  “I got a guy in Guadalajara.  Off the books.  Black market stuff.  Not exactly approved by the American Medical Association, if you catch my drift.   I don’t know how he does it but he can make a titty feel like it’s the pillow that God himself would just to rest his head on.”

“That sounds amazing,” I said.

“Yeah,” Bryant said.  “But expensive.  I’ve been living life large on credit for as long as I can remember.  Now that my income’s gone, it will all go bust.  I’ll be crushed under a mountain of dead.  They’ll take my houses, my cars.  I’ll have to file for bankruptcy.  The babes will leave and I’ll be all alone.”

“Now, now,” I said.  “Don’t get all down in the dumps, yet, buster.  You never know.  If your women love you enough, they might just stick around and…”

Bryant and I cracked up together.

“Oh, who am I kidding?”  I asked.

Bryant laughed.  “Thanks.  I needed that.”

“Kevin,” I said.  “None of this was your fault.  Now, I’m not going to bog you down in the details, but you need to trust me.  You are an unwitting pawn in a vast, underground conspiracy, one that, until recently, involved adding trace amounts of highly addictive cocaine to straws that were being dealt under the table at Wisenheimers.”

“Wait,” Bryant said.  “Coke?”

“Yes,” I said.  “As part of an illegal experiment to study the effects of cocaine laced straws on humans.  It’s all part of a conspiracy to force mankind to suck on straws until the end of time.”

“You’re telling me I’m a coke-head?” Bryant asked.

“Looks that way,” I said.

Bryant cheered.  “Yes!”

“I’ve never seen someone so happy to find out they’re hooked on the Columbian snot powder,” I said.

“This is great,” Bryant said.  “Every rich asshole in a fifty-mile radius is hooked on one drug or another!  It’s a right of passage.  It’s to be expected.  Hell, if anything, you’re considered a weirdo if you’re rich and you don’t get hooked on something.  When everyone thought I was offering to suck dick for straws, they thought I was insane, but now that I can tell everyone it was the coke inside the straws that I was after all along, I can get my life back!  My boss and my women will welcome me back with open arms, I’ll do a couple weeks in rehab and…”

“Yeah,” I said.  “That’s great.  Hey, listen man, if you could hold off on the celebration until after you’ve come inside…”

Bryant composed himself.  “Right.”

We both went silent.

“Hey, man?” Bryant asked.

“Yeah?”

“How do I get down from here?”  Bryant asked.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Bryant pushed his back against the wall so hard it was as if he was trying to push himself through the building.  “I can’t move, man!  I’m too scared!”

“Oh, come on!”  I looked below.  The firefighters had pulled out a giant piece of plastic that was large, pink, and deflated.

I pressed the call button on my radio.  “Hey, Jeffries, what’s going on down there? Over.”

My radio squawked.  “We’re putting up an inflatable device that will, we hope, break your fall if, God forbid, a fall happens.  Over.”

I pressed my button.  “You think it will?  Over.”

“I don’t know,” Jeffries said.  “If I had to bet, probably not, but it’s a department rule that in a situation like this, there has to be one.  Over.”

I scoffed.  “Well, thank the department for me.  Over.”

Squawk.  “I don’t think the department cares about you per se, Smasher.  It’s just an insurance thing.  The department’s policy and you know, factoring in the actuarial tables and so forth, it’s just cheaper to inflate the damn thing.  It’s complicated.  Don’t ask me to explain it.  Over.”

I saw one firefighter hook up an air compressor to a hose attached to the pink piece of plastic.  Like a marshmallow, it grew and grew.

“Friend,” I said.  “I’m going to need you to develop some steel in your shorts.  Think about how you’re going to rebuild your life, how cooler your chicks will think you are when they find out you’re a coke-head.”

“Man,” Bryant said.  “They’ll think I’m so cool.  I bet they’d even let me get a second sidepiece.”

“That’s the spirit,” I said.  “Now, very slowly, and very carefully, without taking your foot off the ledge, start inching your way toward me.”

Bryant closed his eyes and shook his head.  “No, no, no, man.  I can’t!”

“Kevin,” I said.  “Your new life awaits you through this window.  Come on, now!”

The addict shrieked like a little girl.  “I can’t do it!

“Damn it,” I said.

“Maybe if I had one of those straws,” Bryant said.  “They made me feel brave, you know?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Like I could do anything,” Bryant said.  “Like I was invincible.  Say, you don’t happen to have one of those straws on you, do you?”

“Not on me, no,” I said.

“You sure?” Bryant said.  “I might be willing to suck your…”

“That’s not happening,” I said.

My radio squawked.  “Smasher,” Jeffries said.  “What’s happening?  Over.”

I pressed my button.  “He’s pussying out.  Over.”

“I’m not pussying out!” Bryant shouted.  “I just need a straw!  You hear that, people?!  Get me a straw and you can drop your pants, make full use of my soft lips and supple mouth and when you’re done, feel free to leave my face looking like a frozen yogurt truck exploded in my general vicinity!  I don’t care!  Just get me a straw!”

Squawk.  “Smasher.  It’s Rosie.  Maybe I should just go back to the station and get him one of Humberto’s straws. Over.”

Bryant perked up.  “What’s that now?”

I thought about my partner’s proposition.  “No.  I’m not going to help the Illumistrawti turn people into straw addicts.  That’s letting the Strawman win.  Over.”

“The Strawman?” Bryant asked.  “Who’s the Strawman?  Does he enjoy a good pickle smooch, because I’ll do it, man.  I swear.  I will smooch every peen from here to Philly and back again if it will get me a straw.”

“Has that offer even worked on anyone yet?” I asked.

“Not as such, no,” Bryant answered.  “But you know how it is.  You get what you put out into the world and I’ve been putting out plenty off offers to gargle sausage for straws, so sooner or later…”

“Enough,” I said.  “I’m coming out there.”

“Don’t you dare!”  Bryant shouted.  “If you do, I’ll…I’ll…”

“Jump?” I asked.  “Give me a break, cupcake.  If you had the guts to throw yourself off a building, you would have done it by now.”

I crawled out onto the ledge.  I inched my way towards Kevin.  I reached out my hand.

“Take it.”

Bryant shook his head.  “No.  I can’t.”

“What are you going to do?”  I asked.  “Stay out here for the rest of your life?”

“If I have to.”

I pressed the button on my radio.  “Jeffries!  Is that thing up yet?  Over.”

“It’s up,” Jeffries said.  “Over.”

I looked down.  The height messed with my sense of balance, but I kept it together.  The sight I saw filled me with rage – the plastic had been inflated to form a pink bouncy house.  Scrawled across the top in purple letters were the words, “Princess Paulina’s Bouncy Castle.”  It had bouncy spires, bouncy minarets, the works.

Button press. “Are you shitting me?!”

Squawk. “No,” Jeffries said.  “Sorry.  Best we could do on short notice.  It seems stable enough.  It should hold.  Probably.  Over.”

Button press. “Probably?”

“I don’t know, Smasher,” Jeffries said.  “I don’t think this novelty inflatable children’s party attraction has been tested to see if it can take a body after a ten-story drop.  Over.”

“Oh,” I said to myself.  “Fuck me.”

“Man!” Bryan shouted.  “Am I getting a straw or what?”

“To hell with this,” I said.  I pulled out my cuffs.  I cuffed one side around my wrist.  I grabbed the idiot’s wrist and cuffed it.

“What are you doing?” Bryant asked.

“You’re a big man, Kevin?” I asked.

“Not at all!” Bryant said.

“You want to die?” I asked.

“Not anymore!”  Bryant shouted.  “If we’re being honest, I didn’t want to before.  I just wanted someone to pay attention to me.”

“Well,” I said as I looked out to all the news cameras pointed our way, as well as all the cell phones being operated by bystanders.  “You’re going to get your wish, dickhead.  Everyone’s going to know your name now.”

“No!”  Bryant said.  “Wait!”

“Three,” I said.

“Stop!”

“Two,” I said.

“Please!”

“You coming in?” I asked.

“Just give me a minute!”

“Sorry.  You’re all out of time.  One!”

 

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 11

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“Get back! Everybody just get back or I’ll jump!  I swear to God I will!”

The Museum of Historic Antiquity was ten stories tall.  It didn’t provide the highest drop in the city but still, a fall from that height would easily turn a body into a pile of goo.

The jumper looked like a hobo.  Unshaven.  Bushy hair.  A hole-filled jacket that looked like it came out of the good will box.

Rosie, Jeffries and I observed the situation.

“Remain calm, sir,” Jeffries said into a bullhorn.  “Please do not jump.”

“I’m going to jump!” the jumper said.  “Do you want that?”

“No, sir,” Jeffries said.  “Nobody wants that.  If you could just relax, take a deep breath and…”

“Oh, fuck that noise,” I said as I yanked the bullhorn out of Jeffries’ hand and held it up to my mouth.  “You gonna jump or what?!  I haven’t got all day, so do it already!  What’s going on in that squirrel brain of yours?  You think your so special?  You think you’re so unique? You think anyone down here really gives a soft, buttery piece of possum shit if you…”

Jeffries wrestled the bullhorn out of my hand.  He spoke into again.  “Sorry, sir.  We’re experiencing some technical difficulties but rest assured, the situation is under control.”

“It better be!”  the jumper shouted.  “Because if it isn’t, then I’m gonna jump!”

“Who cares?” I muttered.

“Smasher, you’re going to get that man killed with that attitude,” Jeffries said.

“Whatever,” I said.  “You called me.  You don’t want me, I’m gone.  I got better things to do.”

Jeffries grabbed my sleeve.  “Hang on.”

The lieutenant pulled out a file.  He flipped a few pages until he showed me a photo of a clean shaven man wearing a suit.  “Ken Bryant.  Just a week ago, he was a powerful lobbyist, compensated to the tune of $900,000 a year plus perks and bennies.  We’re talking luxury houses, hot cars, hot women.  Hell, this guy had a supermodel wife with big fake tits and a mistress on the side with a pair of bigger, faker tits.”

“Goddamn,” I said as I looked up at the jumper.  “Respect.”

“I know,” Jeffries said.  “That’s the American Dream, right there.”

Rosie shook her head.  “But is it, though?”

He takes his sidepiece to Wisenheimer’s on New Year’s Eve.

“Cheap fuck,” I said.

“Whatever,” Jeffries said.  “I assume he didn’t get as high as he did by wasting money.  Anyway, since then, according to what we’re told from both women, is that he’s become, well, like you.”

“Like me?” I asked.

“Obsessed with straws,” Jeffries said.  “Can’t stop talking about them.”

I pulled out a pair of binoculars and used them to focus on Bryant’s face.  His eyes were red.  He looked strung out, like he hadn’t slept for days.  Little drops of drool poured out of his mouth.

“I need straws!” Bryant shouted.  “Get me a straw, now!”

“This isn’t like me,” I said.  “This is something else.”

I handed Rosie the binoculars.  She looked at the jumper through them.

“Oh yeah,” Rosie said.  “That’s the coke straws doing their work, alright.”

“Coke straws?” Jeffries asked.

“Straws laced with highly addictive, trace amounts of cocaine were being doled out on the sly at Wisenheimer’s,” I explained.

“You’re shitting me,” Jeffries said as he looked to Rosie, as though my word wasn’t good enough.  “Is he shitting me?”

“No shits here,” Rosie replied.

“You’re telling me all your straw bullshit is real?” Jeffries asked.

“As real as the dumb look on your face,” I said.

The lieutenant’s jaw dropped.  “Son of a…”

I patted Jeffries on the shoulder.  “It’s ok, buddy.  One day, if you wish real hard, you might just become a real cop, like me.”

“Whatever,” Jeffries said.  “No time to measure dicks, Smasher.”

“You’d lose,” I said.

“I would not,” Jeffries said.  “You want to do it right now?”

“I don’t know,” I said.  “Did you bring two tape measures?”

“We could use the same tape measure,” Jeffries replied.

“That’d be unsanitary,” I said.  “And also, both tape measures would be for me.  I might even need a third and…”

Rosie interjected.  “Gentlemen, if we could focus.”

“Right,” I said.  “What’s he doing up there?”

“Wife and mistress both report that after he went to Wisenheimer’s, he started acting crazy, babbling on and about straws, how he needed them, had to have them,” Jeffries.  “Now that you’ve filled in the blanks, it sounds like classic addiction.”

“Oh, the booger sugar will get you,” I said.  “Even when taken orally.”

“He stopped sleeping,” Jeffries said.  “Stopped eating.  Stopped reporting to work.  Got fired and didn’t care.  He just sat around Wisenheimer’s, ordering drink after drink, going on and on to anyone who would listen about how much he loved the straws.”

Bryant cupped his hands around his mouth, creating a makeshift bullhorn.  “I will suck the dick of anyone who will give me a Wisenheimer’s straw.  You hear me, world?  You got a straw from Wisenheimer’s and I will drop to my knees and polish your skin flute until it’s nice and shiny!”

I looked at Rosie.  “Looks like it isn’t limited to rats after all.”

“Conclusive proof, I’d say,” Rosie added.

“Rats?” Jeffries asked.

“Long story,” I said.  “What’s his end game?”

“When he showed up to Wisenheimer’s today and found out you’d burned it down…”

“Correction,” I said.  “A fight caused by the clandestine Illumistrawti hitmen in the employ of the Strawman led to it being burned down.”

“Nothing you ever say makes sense to me, Smasher,” Jeffries said.

“It’s cool,” I said.  “Stay ignorant.  Life will be easier for you, that way.  Continue.”

“He says he’ll jump if we don’t get him a straw from Wisenheimer’s,” Jeffries said.  “We searched the wreckage.  Asked around town.  Nothing.  We aren’t going to be able to comply with this guy’s request and he looks like he’s serious about jumping.”

I looked up at the jumper.

“I am so, totally serious about jumping right now!” the jumper cried.  “You guys don’t even know!”

“What’s the plan?” I asked.

Jeffries looked around, reluctant to speak.

“What?” I asked.

“Um,” Jeffries said.  “That you go out on that ledge and try to talk some sense into him?”

“Me?” I asked.

“Well, why the hell not, Smasher?” Jeffries asked.  “You live and breathe this cowboy shit, don’t you?”

“When it’s going to break open a case, yeah,” I said.  “Not to save the life of some yuppy butt monkey who was…wait, what the hell was he lobbying for anyway?”

Jeffries flipped through the file.  “The International Association of Pesky Telemarketers.  He fought for laws that would allow fly by night companies to call you during dinner and try to sell you socks, novelty goods, assorted anal creams…”

“Oh, screw this guy!” I said as I seized the bullhorn and pressed it up to my lips.  “Jump!  Jump!”

Jeffries took the bullhorn away.  “Smasher, knock it off!  Now, I called you down here to do what you do best.”

“And what’s that?” I asked.

“Crazy,” Jeffries said.  “Because you’d have to be a loon to go up there with that dingbat.”

“Straws!” Bryant shouted.  “Drop your pants!  Give me your dicks!  I’ll suck them off in a line like they’re all part of one big, long, fleshy xylophone as long as I get my straws!”

“You going up there or what?” Jeffries said.

“Fine,” I said.

“You’ll need to go unarmed,” Jeffries said.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked.

“It’s the only way he’ll trust you,” Jeffries said.

I rolled my eyes.   I took off my jacket and to my chagrin, my holster, which contained both Thunder and Lightning, and handed it all to Rosie.  I then pulled my .38 out of my boot and gave that to my partner as well.

“Anything else?” Rosie asked.

I dug into my pockets and my switchblade, my brass knuckles, and a compact pistol, all of which went to Rosie.

“Wow,” Rosie said.  “Is that it?”

“Yeah,” I said as I walked toward the building.  “Wait.”

I stopped.  I reached down the back of my pants, fished my hand around inside my underwear, then pulled out a grenade.

“Holy shit!” Rosie said.

“Relax,” I said.  “You act like you’ve never seen a grenade before.”

“You mean to tell me I was riding around next to that thing this entire time?” Rosie asked.

“It’s perfectly safe,” I said.  “It’s my good luck charm.  I’ve been carrying it for years and I haven’t needed to throw it yet.  As long as the pin stays in it, it’s just a harmless paperweight.  Here.”

Rosie refused it.  “I’m not taking that.”

I turned to Jeffries.  “Neal, I’m trusting you with my ass grenade.  If this goes FUBAR, please find it a good home.”

A tiny tear trickled out of Jeffries’ eye.  He sniffed as he accepted the explosive device.

“What?” I asked.  “You wussing out on me?”

“No,” Jeffries said.  “It’s just, you know.  Allergies.  You’ll be fine, Smasher.  You’ll be coming back to accept this ass grenade yourself.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I said as I headed for the building.  “Just keep it safe.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 10

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We sat in traffic.  Rosie was on the phone with her mom, asking how her son, Jeremy, was.  I didn’t hear the other end, but I could tell the gist of the conversation was that the elder Mrs. Quan was displeased that Rosie had been working all night, since the straw law division was supposed to be an easy job.  Damn it.  No one respected the danger of straws.  Still, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat responsible for Rosie’s family strife.

I stared at the bumper of a fancy little hybrid.  The driver looked like a typical poser douche.  Balding head with a pony tail.  Probably blew himself every night just to thank himself for saving the earth, never once giving any thought into how replacing gas with electricity to power a car is like robbing Peter to pay Paul.  What a dingus.

Rosie hanged up her phone.  She joined me in staring at the hybrid’s bumper.

“What you did back there was stupid,” I said.  “Appreciated, but stupid.”

Rosie fiddled with the radio dial.  “Like I said, I’ve never abandoned a partner yet.  I came close to recommending you be put on sick leave for a psych eval, but now that it seems you were right…”

“Seems?” I asked.

“OK,” Rosie said.  “You were right.”

“I accept your apology,” I said.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Rosie replied.  “Your methods still leave something to be desired.”

“My methods get the job done,” I said.

“Good, old-fashioned police work gets the job done slower but with less media scrutiny,” Rosie said.  “And with more of a chance of a successful conviction.  Subpoenas. Warrants.  Due process.  Ever hear of these things, Smasher?”

“Vaguely,” I said.  “Maybe I heard about them on some dumb cop show, but I’ll tell you, jamming Thunder in a guy’s face until he talks is a lot faster.”

“And a surefire way to get us both fired,” Rosie replied.

“Listen,” I said.  “I admire your loyalty but why don’t you take a walk, kid?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Split,” I said.  “Take a hike.  Scram.”

“What are you getting at?” Rosie asked.

“Go to the library and check out a book about straws,” I said.  “Go to city hall and review the permits for every restaurant.  Hell, just go home and spend some time with your kid.  Anyone asks, I’ll cover for you.  I’ll say you were out doing important straw related research while I was doing the next thing that will get my mug all over the news.”

“Maybe don’t do things that will get you all over the news?” Rosie asked.

“Don’t try to change me baby,” I said.  “Mack Smasher will always be Mack Smasher.”

“Whatever,” Rosie said.

“It’ll be the best of both worlds,” I said.  “At the end of all this, you’ll be able to say you didn’t quit on a partner and you’ll still be out of the fray when shit goes down.”

“I’ve never been afraid of shit going down, Smasher,” Rosie said.  “I’d just rather not get my head blown off or my ass fired by the captain because you can’t keep your cool.”

I dropped my shades over my eyes.  “Oh, I’m cool baby.  I’m ice cold.  It’s the world that’s way too hot.”

“Ugh,” Rosie said.  “Please stop doing that.”

“Doing what?” I asked.

My phone rang.  I looked at the screen.  Jeffries.

I answered the phone.  “Fat Freddy’s Handjob Parlor.  How many can I put you down for?”

“Hilarious, Smasher,” Jeffries replied.

“You want them with lube or extra dry?” I inquired.

“Save it,” Jeffries said.  “Smasher, I loathe calling you.”

“Then you probably shouldn’t have,” I said.

“There’s a situation,” Jeffries said.  “It calls for…well, a man such as yourself, who is willing to uh…”

I groaned.  “My unconventional methods that everyone bitches about until they are needed and then they would like to ask me to use my unconventional methods?”

“Bingo.”

“Go jerk yourself off, Jeffries,” I said.  “After the crap you gave me about Mo-Mo the Clam?  No thanks.”

“That was entirely different,” Jeffries said.

“Was it?” I asked.

“Time is of the essence,” Jeffries said.  “A man’s life is at stake and I can’t believe I’m saying this but uh…”

“What?” I asked.

“Your uh…expertise…”

I could tell the lieutenant was using the word “expertise” in a sarcastic manner.  “Your expertise when it comes to straws may, God help me, be useful here.

I laughed.  “So, I’m not the straw nut anymore?”

“Oh, you still are,” Jeffries said.  “Most definitely.  I heard Braddock began filling out your walking papers and I’ve got a bottle of champagne on ice, ready to pop the cork when he’s done but until then, are you in or out on this?”

I grumbled.  “Fine.  For whoever’s life is at stake, though. Not for you, prick.”

“I’ll text you the address.”

I looked the hybrid bumper.  “Screw this.”  I turned on my lights and siren. I had installed into my sweet ride myself.  I nudged myself out into the breakdown lane and hit the gas.

“What’s up?” Rosie asked.

“Jeffries,” I said.  “Suddenly my unconventional methods and knowledge of straws are in vogue.”

A Look at the First Episode of The Umbrella Academy

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

I just watched the first episode of Umbrella Academy.  If you’ve watched more, I’d thank you to not give away any spoilers.  I will eventually return to this fine blog to discuss the first season.

My initial impression is its great.  Before I saw it, I scoffed for a number of reasons.

  1. Anything with too many characters tends to be a mess.  There’s like 7 main characters here plus supporting characters.  Seems destined to be a pot of gumbo where everyone gets lost in the steam, but somehow, everyone gets their moment to shine.
  2. Movies about long established heroes are great.  Movies about new superheroes tend to stink.  I’ll give this show credit though.  It is based on a Dark Horse Comic so perhaps if newer heroes have a chance to percolate in comics first, then they’ll shine on the screen.
  3. It reminded me of Watchmen, which everyone said was genius but I thought stunk.  Again, a bunch of heroes you hadn’t heard of before, all thrown at us at once, each getting less than five minutes to show their power.  Somehow that was lame but this looks good.

The plot thus far is that in 1989, 40 (I think that’s the number) children were born immaculately on one day.  The mothers had not been pregnant previously.  The kids just popped out unexpectedly.

An eccentric, reclusive billionaire with a penchant for collecting exotic things adopts 7 of these kids.  He starts a school for superheroes in his house, training his new wards to use their powers.

His methods turn the kids into (mostly) powerful grownups.  Some have gone on to do great things.  Others flounder and fail.  All blame their problems on their father’s cold, uncaring aloofness.  The only source of love the children ever had was their father’s robot wife and monkey butler.

By the way, is there something wrong with me that I think it would be awesome to have a robot wife and monkey butler?  Thus far, there has been little explanation as to how the robot wife and monkey butler came to be but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for more on that in future episodes.  Ironically, in a series with 7 heroes, the robot wife and monkey butler pique my interest the most.

Not that the heroes are slouches.  Overall, the first episode was cinematic.  Lots of cool fights and special effects.  Cinematic quality.  Had this been laid out in a movie that I paid money to see, I would have walked away happy.

Netflix really upped their game here.  I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve watched the first season but so far, I am impressed and willing to watch more.

STATUS; Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – Good Girls – Season 1 (2018)

Good girls gone so bad, it’s good.

BQB here with a review of NBC’s “Good Girls.”

If you read any of my drivel, 3.5 readers, then you know I despise network television.  Rarely, if ever, do I get drawn in by its formulaic hackery.

For the longest time, I felt that way about this show.  The ads made me roll my eyes.  A TV show about three women who knock over a grocery store doesn’t seem like the stuff of great television.  A bank, yes, but bank robbery has been done and maybe overdone on screens large and small, and seeing as how a supermarket stick-up, though awful, I’m sure, if you’ve ever survived one, isn’t exactly the caper of the century that could inspire multiple seasons.

So, I skipped it.  Then, the other day I saw it was on Netflix and gave it a try.  I was hooked and binged the whole thing in a matter of days.  Talk about an unexpected gem.

The plot?  Three suburban moms in Michigan, just outside of Detroit, are BFFs and coincidentally, all experience life ruining financial woes at the same exact time.  Retta, the comedienne of Parks and Recreation fame is Ruby, a waitress who can’t afford her ailing daughter’s medical bills.

Christina Hendricks, she of Joan on Mad Men fame, is Beth, a stay at home mom who has just learned that her dumb husband, Matthew Lillard of live-action Scooby Doo fame, has drained the family’s finances buying gifts for his hot, young secretary, putting the family home at risk of foreclosure.  Damn, that must have been some good pussy.  Even so, if you are married to Christina Hendricks and cheat, you are one greedy son of a bitch.

Rounding out the trio is Mae Whitman, she of a lot of stuff you may or may not have seen fame but regardless, her ship has finally come in fame, Beth’s younger sister, Annie, a single mom raising perpetually bullied daughter Sadie while requiring the expensive services of a lawyer to fight her ex-boyfriend in a custody battle.

Depressed over their financial woes, these women do what any suburban mom friends do.  They get together, talk out their troubles over wine and…oh yeah, they randomly decide to rob the grocery store that Annie slaves away at for minimum wage.

Amazingly, they get away with it, but that’s not the end.  Bizarrely, and perhaps the greatest of many plot holes in the show that you’ll have to ignore, the supermarket was holding onto cash belonging to a street gang, because, you know, that’s something that corporate chain stores do, apparently.

Sidenote: You’ll also have to ignore the fact that the only one who could have been in on helping the street gang hide their ill gotten loot is the store’s pervy, creepo manager, Boomer (David Hornsby), he of Rickety Cricket on Always Sunny fame.  At no time is it ever shown that he somehow helped the gang hide their loot.  He seems as surprised as anyone else so whoever the supermarket employee who was helping the gang stow their cash is either a mystery to be solved at a later date or more likely, a little tidbit that was left on the cutting room floor.  At any rate, Hornsby has long excelled at playing creepy weirdos, so kudos to him for landing a gig that lets me learn his name and not just “Hey, it’s Rickety Cricket!”

Long story short, the gang comes over the trio.  They will have to set aside their motherly schedules of PTA meetings and playdates to commit more crimes just to cover up their initial crime and to appease gang leader Rio (Manny Montana), who, ironically, gets the least amount of screen time, is the least developed character and yet, is one of the more interesting characters in the series.

Eventually, the bad mommas realize they are good at committing crimes and once they are on Rio’s good side, they become his witting accomplices, raking in the cold, hard cash they need to solve their problems.

In a twist that seems too good for network TV, Ruby’s husband, Stan, (Reno Wilson), is a cop who keeps coming home with tales of the scary street gang that is raking in the dough as of late.  One shudders to think that he and his wife might eventually find themselves at odds if Stan ever puts two and two together.

It’s fun.  It’s silly.  It strikes me as a sanitized for TV version of The Sopranos.  There are bad paths the show could go down but then it couldn’t be watched by the non-cable masses.

It seems obvious that the show runners steer clear of getting the ladies involved in drug running.  Instead, they get involved in stuff like counterfitting, money laundering, and botox thievery – all bad but nothing that will immediately lead to someone dying of a heroin overdose in a back alley…then again does it?  You get the impression that Rio and friends aren’t exactly selling cookies, so they must be running large quantities of something highly illegal that will get people killed but ultimately, a trio of suburban moms pushing horse on a street corner is not the stuff of wacky comedy gold, so that is avoided, obviously.

STATUS: Surprisingly shelf-worthy.  Come for the humor.  Stay for Hendricks’ copious sweater stuffers…which sadly, are never set free for the world to enjoy.  Maybe time to get this show transferred to HBO.

Bonus points for Netflix.  Without them, I likely would have never given this show a chance.  They do breathe new life into a lot of shows.

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Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop -Chapter 9

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“Smasher!  You dirty, mold infested parasite growing on the inside of a cow’s rectum!  You have screwed me over for the last time!  You got any idea the extent of the mess you made?  No, you don’t, do you?  The only one Mack Smasher ever thinks about is Mack Smasher, right?  Well, listen up, shit for brains, and listen good.  You better get your head out of your ass and get it into the game before I do my best impression of a Rockette and kick your damn balls so far up your body that you choke to death on them.  Am I clear?”

I’d taken Captain Braddock’s abuse all night and into morning, sitting there in his office, my face covered in the man’s spittle and donut crumbs.  I would have been pissed at him had I not realized I was causing the old man’s health to deteriorate.  He was about 40 pounds overweight, red-faced and sweaty, and breathing heavily.  A vein popped out of his forehead every time he yelled and it looked like it was about to pop any second.

“Crystal, sir, but if I could just…”

“But, nothing!”  Braddock slammed his fist down on his desk, causing all his paper and knick knacks to fall all over the place.  “Smasher, you couldn’t possible fathom the dilly of a pickle you’ve got me in.  You think the Mayor is a fan of your antics?  Beating citizens up, pulling guns on them, letting a major criminal go and now destruction of a family restaurant with a cartoon mascot?  You’re all over the news and the people want to know what the department is allowing you to be a one-man wrecking crew, wreaking havoc all over the city!  You think the mayor likes this kind of bad publicity?”

“No.”

“You’re damn right!  You know, uh…the mayor’s head is so far up my ass…shit, I’m tired.”

Captain Braddock took a deep breath.  He twisted open a prescription bottle, pulled out three pills, popped them, then chased it down with some water from a plastic bottle.  “Damn it, smasher, you’ve got me poppin’ my blood pressure meds like they’re M and M’s!”

“Cap,” I said.  “I’m no pharmacist but that probably isn’t a good thing to do.”

The captain wagged his finger in my face.  “Shut up!  Now, where the hell was I?”

“The mayor’s head up your ass.”

“Right!” Captain Braddock said.  “Smasher, the mayor’s head is so far up my ass that I don’t even have to shave anymore.  Whenever the hairs on my face start to grow, the mayor’s hand just pops out of my mouth with a safety razor and scrapes them off!”

“I am truly sorry that you’re taking so much heat, boss.”

Braddock pounded his fist again.  “You’re sorry?”

“Yes.”

“You’re goddamn right you’re sorry!  You’re the sorriest excuse for an officer of the law I’ve ever seen!  You’re so sorry I can’t stand to look at you!”

Braddock grabbed a remote control and turned on a tv that hanged on his office wall.  A news reporter appeared.  “Chaos in Foggy Bottom as D.C. straw cop Mack Smasher blows up a family restaurant, leaving this once popular eatery incinerated.  I’m Cammy Calhoun-Mariposa with the latest on Mack Smasher’s reign of terror.”

The captain flipped the channel.  Another reporter.  This one a man.  “I’m Martin Anderson-Hernandez and I’m on the scene where D.C. straw cop Mack Smasher just single handedly and without anyone else involved, burnt a restaurant that was adored by local children to the ground.”

“Look at this shit,” Braddock said as he switched channels.  “You’re everywhere!”

Yet, another reporter.  “Tales of Mack Smasher’s violent, unorthodox methods of straw law enforcement have been all over social media as of late.  Just before he literally dumped ten gallons of gasoline all over Golly Gopher’s home, set it ablaze, then urinated on the ashes…”

I looked at the captain.  “They’re lying.”

“Shut up!”  Braddock said.

The reporter continued.  “…he held a teenage barista at gunpoint, all over a straw.”

Cellphone video of my interaction with Liam played.  At the particular moment in question, I was yelling at the kid.  “Where’d you get the straws, you little puke?”

“That was taken out of context,” I said to the captain.

“You are bending over my world and rawdogging it into oblivion, Smasher,” the captain replied as he switched the channel.  Monica Blather and Jim Claymore were at it again.

“Jim, you red meat stuffed, conservative mouth breather from flyover country, I don’t care what you say.  Straws will be the death of us all.  They are contributing to global warming, which is entirely man made.  Every time a man farts, or sneezes, or fills his car with gas or doesn’t separate his trash from his recyclables or yes, even when he uses a plastic drinking straw, the entire temperature of the world goes up another point and before you know it, we’ll all be incinerated.”

“Monica,” Jim replied.  “You horse faced old crone, constantly up on this program, bitching and moaning about your abortion rights as if a baby could ever grow inside your gangrenous uterus, don’t sit there and whine to me about global warming, as if that’s even a real thing.  Straws, plastic materials, oil, gas, they’re all made from dead dinosaurs, dummy, and if there’s anything that’s more organic and natural than a dead brontosaurus carcass, simmering in the earth for thousands of years until it liquifies enough to create the mother’s milk that fuels our economy, I’d like to see it.  I really would.”

“I hope Mack Smasher shoots you and all of your ilk in the face!” Monica cried.

“Oh, there you go with the hypocrisy!”  Jim retorted.  “Just last week you were complaining that guns are too violent and need to be confiscated from law abiding citizens who just want to use their stockpiles of semi-automatic rifles to hunt deer and ward off intruders.”

“That’s absolutely correct,” Monica said.  “Get rid of all the guns and the world will be filled with peace and harmony.  It is an undeniable fact that before guns were invented, there was no violence in the world whatsoever.”

“And the week before that you were crying a river about cops,” Jim said.

“Yes!”  Monica said.  “Racist brutes who sit around dreaming up new ways to torture minorities all day long!”

“But now you’re happy that a rogue cop is running around town, sticking a gun in the face of anyone who sips on a straw?” Jim asked.

“Yes, and I hope he does it forever!  Police are the only ones who can be trusted with guns!”  Monica replied.

Braddock switched the TV off.  “Boy, I must have done some heinous shit in a previous life to deserve you fucking me up in this one, Smasher.  I don’t know what I was.  A bloodthirsty pirate.  A homicidal mad man.  A goddamn slave owner.  Who knows?  All I know is it’s obvious to me that I did something wrong that pissed off God and now, you are my punishment – a cruel, twisted punishment worse than anything ever dreamed up in Dante’s Inferno designed to torment me for the rest of my days.

“Past lives?” I asked.  “Dante’s Inferno?  Jeeze, boss, is it me or are these chew out sessions getting a little more high-brow?”

“It’s not you,” Braddock said.  “I’ve been reading more.  Joined a book club.  It meets Thursday nights.  There are fancy old ladies and tea and scones.  It’s delightful, but that’s none of your damn business, Smasher.  Now you clean the shit out of your ears and listen to me.  We are straw cops.  We pass out pamphlets.  We issue fines.  We work, at most, one hour at of every eight-hour day and then we collect an easy paycheck.  That’s it.  That’s all we do.”

“So, my partner keeps telling me,” I said.

“She’s a smart woman,” Braddock said.  “You should listen to her.”

“Rosie’s great,” I said.  “She had my back tonight.  Wish I could say the same about you.”

Had my esteemed superior been a cartoon bull, steam would have shot out of his nose.  “You don’t think I got your back?”

“No,” I said.

Braddock stood up and leaned over the desk.  “Smasher, you miserable, festering boil on a giraffe’s nutsack, all I ever do is stand up for you!”

It was time for the classic angry captain vs. insubordinate detective showdown.  I stood up.  I leaned over the desk.  My boss and eye engaged in an ultra-manly staring contest.  The rules were a bit different than the traditional variety.  We continued to fling insults at one another and mock each other’s integrity as our eyes remained locked in visual combat.

“Bullshit!” I said.  “You stand up for me?  You’re one glazed donut away from not being able to stand up at all, you fat walrus!”

“Did you just call me a fat walrus?!”  Braddock asked.

“I did!  What are you going to do about it?”

“Smasher, if there weren’t fair labor practice laws, I would kick your dick off and drop it down my garbage disposal!”

“I’d like to see you try!” I said.  “Aww, you brass types are all alike.  Sitting in your fancy chairs and your safe little offices, pushing papers and barking orders, acting like you’re all big and tough when in reality, none of you have walked a beat in years.”

Braddock rested his hands on his girthy hips.  “Is that so?”

“It is!” I said.  “The department must get a special deal on commanding officers because you’re all exactly the same.  You love to shit on me just to save your ass from getting shit on by whoever’s above you, but deep down, you hope I keep doing what I do because you know I’m the only cop around here who gets results…and you know if you were any kind of man, you’d be out there doing it with me.”

“You’re wrong, Smasher!”  Braddock said.  “I abhor what you do!  I polled all the other captains in the department the results were unanimous.  They all said if you were under their command, they would have scraped you off their shoes like the fetid pile of doggie doo doo that you are.”

“Hypocritical pricks!” I said.  “Everyone loved me up till a week ago.”

“Of course, they did, Smasher,” Braddock said.  “No one gave a shit when you pulled a gun on some lowlife pimp, or a degenerate dope pusher.  You want to smack real criminals around?  Be my guest.  Transfer to another division and beat the snot out of the dregs of humanity all day and everyone will be without a single shit to give.  But here, in the straw law enforcement division, we have standards…”

I laughed at that comment.  I didn’t see any standards at all.

The captain doubled down.  “We have standards!  And if you press a gun against the head of a boy working the damn coffee machine, shits will be given, Smasher!  Of that, I assure you!  Multiple shits will be given.”

Braddock clutched his chest and eased his copious bottom back in his chair.  “Up your ass with a gallon of gas, Smasher!  You’ve got my heart moving like a congo line at the Copacobana.”

I took my seat.  “Maybe you ought to just let handle things and go play a round of golf, old timer.”

“Oh, eat a buffet line of dicks, Smasher!”  Braddock said.  “Spare me your crap about my age.  I was out there busting heads before you were even a sperm in your daddy’s balls.”

“I doubt dinosaurs committed many crimes,” I said.

The boss pinched his thumb and forefinger together.  “You are this close to me blowing my stack, Smasher and I swear to God, Thor, Jesus, Apollo, Buddha and St. Jerome that if you make me blow my stack, I will cover you from head to toe in the lava of my righteous indignation until you burn to a crisp!”

“Whoa,” I said.  “Easy there, big fella.”

The captain was about to throw more abuse my when Rosie walked in, carrying Humberto’s briefcase.

“Quan!” Braddock grumbled.  “Where the hell have you been?  When I tell my officers to get their asses to my office pronto, then I mean on the double, ASAP!”

Rosie laid the briefcase down on the table.  “Sir, I’m sorry, but I just came from the crime lab and…”

“Save it!” Braddock said.  “Quan, all night long, Smasher’s been filling my ears full of all kinds of malarkey, nonsensical ramblings about the Strawman this and the Illumistrawti that.  Strawmageddon and a covert plot to force every beverage user on earth to drink out of a straw.  I know Smasher’s batshit cuckoo crazy bananas but I want to hear it from you.  Out of the two of you, you seem like the one with your head on straight, so tell me, do you believe in this crap?”

My partner looked to me, then to the captain.  To me.  The captain.  She did this back and forth for ten seconds at least.  “Well…”

“Just give it to me straight, Detective,” Braddock said.  “If Smasher’s on to something, then I’ll cut him some slack but if not, whoa boy, am I going to fire his ass out of a cannon.”

“I’d love to see you try,” I said.

“Oh, you’ll see it,” Braddock said.  “Don’t you worry about that.”

The captain returned his gaze to Rosie.  “Well?”

Rosie took a deep breath.  “Sir, here’s the thing, up until tonight, I too shared your opinion that Smasher was, um, batshit cuckoo crazy bananas, or however you put it.  But now…”

My partner clacked open the briefcase.  It was filled with straws and pieces of paper.  Each piece was loaded with handwritten notes and mathematical equations.  “It’s all right here, sir,” Rosie said.  “Research from Humberto Gonzalez.  Between this information and the story Smasher repeated to me after the explosion, it is evident that Humberto was being forced by someone…”

“The Illumistrawti,” I said.

“Apparently,” Rosie said before continuing.  “He was being forced to deal plastic straws to Wisenheimer’s customers on the downlow.  He then kept detailed notes on how these customers reacted.  When they returned for more straws, how often they wanted straws, what mood they were in, how irritable or excited they were, and so on.”

Braddock made a face that looked like he’d just smelled a bad fart.  Oh, how badly he wanted to bust my ass only for Rosie to swoop in and cover my cheeks.  “That’s some weird ass shit, but who cares?  Is it illegal to give out straws and write down what they do with them?”

I threw up my hands in exasperation.  “Uh…hello!  There’s a straw ban!!!”

“On which there is a grace period, pecker head!”  Braddock said.  “Your dead contact wouldn’t have been in trouble until July 1 and even then he would’ve just gotten a fine.  Now stick a sock in your suck hole, numb nuts.  Adults are talking.  Please, Quan.  Continue.”

“You are right, sir,” Rosie said.  “The act of dealing straws and recording the results is odd, but not, on its own, illegal at this time.”

“Booyah!” Braddock shouted.  “Bend over, Smasher, ‘cuz you just got your ass rawdogged, long and deep!”

“Hold on a minute,” I said.  “There’s gotta be more to this.”

“There is,” Rosie said.  “The straws.”

“What about them?” Braddock asked.

“The boys in the crime lab analyzed them,” Rosie said.  “They’ve been laced with trace amounts of cocaine.”

I slammed my fist on Braddock’s desk.  “I knew it!”

“You’re shitting me,” Braddock said.

“I shit you not,” Rosie replied.  “When these straws enter the mouth, the moisture from a customer’s saliva triggers a chemical reaction that causes cocaine to enter the blood stream via the tongue.  It’s tasteless, odorless, the customer wouldn’t even know something’s up until he returns to his straw dealer, Jonesing for more.”

“Strung out straw junkies?” Braddock asked.  “Is that the line of horse manure you’re peddling to me, Quan?”

“I’m afraid so, sir,” Rosie said.

“This all sounds like theoretical shit,” Braddock said.

“Not at all, sir,” Rosie said.  “I watched the crime lab techs conduct their own conclusive experiments.”

Braddock shook his head.  “Which consisted of?”

Rosie squirmed in her seat, not relishing the duty to answer her superior’s question.  “Um, mostly letting one rat lick a tainted straw until he emitted a series of squeaks which were interpreted to mean that he um…was willing to suck the other lab rat’s dick in exchange for another straw lick, sir.”

“Goddamn it.”  Braddock leaned back in his seat.  He looked as though a bus had just run him over.  “I can’t believe it.”

“Oh yeah,” I said.  “Believe it and booyah yourself, baby!”

“Narcotics,” Braddock said.  “Criminal conspiracy.  Assassination.  We aren’t equipped to handle this.  I am not equipped to handle this.”

“Relax,” I said.

“No,” Braddock said.  “We’ve got to hand this case off to someone else.”

“There’s no one to hand it off to,” I protested.  “If the straw ball’s in our court, then we’ve got to dribble it to the hole.”

“Don’t sit there with your smug face and tell me what hole to stick my ball in, Smasher!” Braddock said.  “Damn you!  By the trident of Poseidon, I damn you for all eternity for bringing this case to my doorstep!”

“OK,” I said.  “Let’s dial it back.  Now you’re getting a little emotional…”

“Emotional my ass!” Braddock said.  “The way this department has treated me all these years and now, with one month left until my retirement, you just had to go poking your nose where it didn’t belong, didn’t you, Smasher?”

“I did my job,” Smasher said.  “I’m tired of all this bullshit about pamphlets and fines.  A good straw cop investigates any and all straw crimes that come his way, consequences be damned. I’d never be able to sleep at night, knowing that the good people of this district are slowly being turned into vile cokeheads, willing to suck dick just for the chance to suck on another straw.”

Rosie raised her hand.  “Actually, we’ve only confirmed a willing to suck dick for a coke infused straw in lab rats.  We aren’t sure if it brings out the willingness to uh, perform fellatio, in humans.”

“Assume first and ask questions later, Rosie,” I said.  “That’s the number one rule of law enforcement.”

“It isn’t,” Rosie said.  “It really isn’t.”

“If we don’t act now, our nation’s capitol will be filled with cocaine addled chode smokers,” I said.

Rosie grin.  “So, just another day that ends in Y?”

My partner looked around the room, searching for laughs.  None were to be found.  “Nobody?  OK then.”

“This is huge, boss,” I said.

“I know it is,” Braddock said.  “But the timing couldn’t be worse.  Damn it, Smasher.  In February, I’m going to be a free man.  I just put a down payment on a condo in Boca Raton and my wife and I are going to drive down there the second I walk out of this building for good.”

“Aww,” Rosie said.  “Sir, that’s sweet.”

“I know it is.”  Braddock opened up a desk drawer.  He rummaged through it for a minute, making all sorts of clanking sounds, until he produced a bronze urn.  He set it down on the desk.

Rosie and I both looked like a couple of deer caught in the headlights.

“Go on,” Braddock said.

“Uh,” I said.  “Go on what?”

“Explain to my wife why you felt it was necessary to fuck up the perfect, do-nothing job and go get our division embroiled in a vast conspiracy full of intrigue, mystery and murder most foul, a caper that sounds so dangerous that it is most certainly going to get her husband killed before his retirement!”

I looked at the urn.  “So…uh…Mrs. Braddock, see…the thing is…”

I looked at my boss.  “Sir, none of this is going to blow back on you.”

“The hell it isn’t!”  Braddock shouted.  “The mayor’s head is already so far up my ass that my proctologist called to say he can’t give me a colonoscopy because it’s way too crowded back there!”

“And that’s all I need you to do,” I said.  “Run interference with the grand high muckety mucks, the political hacks and bottom feeders who lick their fingers and stick them up high to see which way the wind is blowing, and I’ll take care of the rest.”

Braddock rubbed his bloodshot eyes.  “Pamphlets.  Fines.  Seemed like a good way to spend what little time I had left.”

My boss stared at the urn.  “Aww, hell.  After Marlene died ten years ago, all I had left was the hope that one day I’d get to go down to the Sunshine state and spread my beloved’s ashes all over the parking lot of the Uncle Cornpone’s T-Bone Steak Shack that we spend the majority of our honeymoon fornicating in, within the confines of my Gremlin.”

Rosie appeared puzzled.  “The little monsters that break things when you aren’t looking?”

“It was a car!”  Braddock said.

“A tiny one,” I replied.  “How did you even…”

“We were young and limber,” Braddock said.  “People were fitter then.  Long before they invented pizza crust stuffed with bacon and hot fudge sauce and other pieces of pizza and what have you.  Oh, I’d never be able to rock Marlene’s world in that Gremlin today, but I can at least return her to the place where our life together as man and wife began.”

“Again, sir,” Rosie said.  “That’s sweet.”

“Yeah, well,” Braddock said.  “It would have been nice, but now Dipshit McGee is gonna get us all killed.  Damn it.  What a fitting end to a shitty career.”

“Mine?” I asked.

“Oh, hell,” Braddock said.  “Everyone thought you were the cream in the coffee until you went and lost your damn mind over the straw ban, Smasher.  No, I’m talking about mine.  Forty years ago, I was just a young, fresh faced rookie, straight out of the academy, walking the beat on my first day on the job.  The sky was sunny, the birds were singing, and I was oh so happy until…”

Braddock cradled his head in his hands.  “The incident,” he murmured.

I adjusted my neck collar.  “I uh…never wanted to ask but I heard rumors.”

“What incident?” Rosie asked.

“Best to leave it be,” I advised.

“No,” Braddock said as he lifted his head up.  “Quan, you deserve to know who you’re working for so, here it goes.”

The captain pulled out a paper bag.  He hyperventilated into it, breathing it open and closed, open and closed.  When he removed the bag from his face, he blurted it out.  “I shot a kid in the face.”

Rosie clasped her hand over her mouth.  “Oh my God.”

I shrugged.  “Who hasn’t?”

Rosie then looked at me.  “Oh my God!”

“Aww,” Braddock said.  “The skies were clear with 99.9 percent perfect visibility, but what they don’t tell you in the academy is it’s that .01 percent that will get you.”

“Does it though?” Rosie asked.

“I walked past a child’s birthday party,” Braddock said.  “The kid had a plastic toy.  A replica from some silly cartoon show about space.”

“Huh,” Rosie said.  “Well, I suppose if you were to look at that at the wrong angle…”

“It was pink and purple,” Braddock said.  “With green and yellow flashing lights and it made a ‘zappitty zap’ sound whenever the kid squeezed the trigger.”

“Jesus Christ,” Rosie muttered.

“Boss,” I said.  “Stop beating yourself up.  You were only doing your job.  The public at large has no idea the pressure an officer of the law is under, how you have to make life and death decisions in a split second.”

“I know,” Braddock said.  “It’s just, ever since that day, I lie awake thinking about how that whole scene played out.  The giant, handwritten banner that the boy’s mother had made, saying, “Attention Police: My Son is Playing with a Toy Gun.  Please Don’t Shoot Him!’  The boy’s mother running up to me and spending a full fifteen minutes explaining to me how the kid’s gun was a fake that she had bought from a toy store.  All the other parents and family members coming up to me, spending another twenty minutes backing up the mother’s story.  How I took the toy out of the kid’s hand, examined it, concluded that it was a toy, then put it back in his hand.  In retrospect, I can see how these were all warning signs, red flags screaming out at me to not shoot the boy.”

“They definitely were,” Rosie said.

“Hindsight is twenty-twenty, boss,” I said.  “Every cop has at least one bad call that he spends his life replaying in his head, kicking himself for not doing better but you know what?  When the shit goes down, we don’t have the luxury of that level of clarity, do we?”

“We do not,” Braddock said.

“You just have to shoot blindly, empty your clip and hope for the best,”  I said.

Braddock nodded.  “That you do.”

“Wait,” Rosie said.  “I don’t think that’s what you’re supposed to do at all.”

The captain and I ignored Rosie’s protests.  Frankly, she was being rather annoying at that moment.  Blah, blah, blah, “cops shouldn’t shoot kids” bleeding heart bullshit.  You know how it is.

“Still,” Braddock said.  “I have to admit that when I left the party, got into my squad car, radioed into the station, asked if anyone could confirm that there was such a toy space gun, got an answer from multiple officers that such a space gun existed, I probably shouldn’t have returned to the party and shot that kid in the face.”

Rosie slapped her forehead.  “Mother of God.”

“What?” I asked.  “And take the risk that toy space gun wasn’t a Ruger Warhawk in disguise?  Pbbht, ok, if you want to be a pussy, then by all means, walk away.”

“I shot that kid in the face, my first day on the job,” Braddock said.  “And I’ve had to live with that pain every day, ever since.  That mother balling her eyes out, shouting at me, ‘No, wait, stop!  Please look at my receipt from the toy store indicating I bought a toy space gun that matches the description of the one my son is holding!’  I’ll second guess myself until the day I die, but I was so hoping to do it on a boat, sailing through that clear, blue Florida water, nothing but a fishing rod in one hand, a cold beer in the other, the thoughts of that boy’s father screaming, ‘Please don’t shoot my son, sir!  What if I just take the toy space gun and bust it up with a hammer?’ and me replying, ‘No, I’m sorry, but after two and a half hours of deliberations, I can’t take that chance!’ running through my mind.”

“Sir,” Rosie said.  “Not to be rude but how are you still even on the force?”

“Oh, it was a different time back then, Quan,” Braddock said.  “A cop had to shoot a dozen kids in the face at least before people started asking questions.  Personally, I shot thirteen kids in the face before I got into trouble.”

“Wait,” Rosie said.  “The kid you shot in the face on your first day wasn’t the one that got you into trouble?”

“No,” Braddock explained.  “After that kid, I shot twelve more kids at twelve separate birthdays, each one holding the same plastic toy space gun.  All shot right in the face.”

Rosie squinted at the captain.  “It’s just, you know…”

“Oh great,” I said.  “Another liberal pantywaist here to shit on our boys in blue.”

“I’m not shitting on anyone,” Rosie said.  “It’s just, after the first kid you shot…”

“In the face,” Braddock said.  “Yes?”

“Right,” Rosie said.  “After the first one, wouldn’t there have been a voice in your head that screamed out, ‘Hey! Stop shooting kids in the face!’”

“I did hear such a voice,” Braddock said.

“And?” Rosie asked.

“I ignored it completely,” Braddock said.

“As any good cop would,” I said.

Braddock and I bumped fists.  Rosie appeared ill.

“I repeat my question,” Rosie said.  “How do you still have a job?”

“Well,” Braddock said.  “Today, if you shoot a kid in the face over a toy space gun, it’ll be a madhouse.  An absolute madhouse.  The media, the mayor, your commanding officer, they’ll all throw a disco party right up your ass.”

“What a messed-up world,” I said.

“Tell me about it,” Braddock said.  “But back in my day, the concern wasn’t so much that you’d shoot another kid in the face but that you might be so worried about the last kid you shot in the face that you’d become to much of a sissy to ever pull out your gun to shoot anyone ever again, out of some bizarre, misguided fear that you’d shoot another kid in the face.”

“I’d call that fear very guided,” Rosie said.

“I told my captain at the time he had nothing to worry about,” Braddock said.  “That I’d be more than willing to risk shooting more kids in the face if that’s what it would take to make sure actual, degenerate criminals got shot in the face, but he wouldn’t have it.  ‘Braddock,’ he said.  ‘I’m benching you in the evidence room, because I know how this old story goes.  Today, you’ll be afraid to shoot a kid in the face. Tomorrow, you’ll be afraid to shoot a nun in the face.  The day after that, you’ll be afraid to shoot a little old lady on her way to choir practice in the face.  You’ll be so afraid that you might shoot the wrong person in the face that you’ll never risk drawing your gun to shoot a bad guy in the face ever again.’  From there on, I was stuck in the evidence room, the records room, hell, after that building I never got another assignment that took me out of this building.  Just a bunch of bullshit jobs like this one that would never require me to pull my gun because the brass suffered from the delusional fear that I was afraid to risk shooting kids in the face.”

“Shit,” I said.  “That’s extreme.”

“I’ll say,” Braddock said.  “And I don’t care what my boss then or any boss I’ve had since then says.”

Braddock reached down to his belt and whipped out his old-school revolver.  “I don’t care if I have to shoot a thousand kids in the face, I’ll do it just to shoot one real, honest-to-God perp in the face any day, any time.”

“You got a bad rap, boss,” I said.

“Damn straight,” Braddock said as he holstered his weapon.

Rosie looked like she was full of question.  “I…just…but how…and the…I can’t even.”

“I was unfairly railroaded by this department for four decades, Smasher,” Braddock said.

“That you were,” Braddock said.

“But was he?” Rosie asked.

“This department owes me,” Braddock said.  “And I’ll be damned if I go down without the pension I am owed just so you can play the hero in some sort of straw related melodrama movie of the week tripe.”

“Let me off the leash, boss,” I said.  “And you’ll go down as a hero.”

“I don’t care how I go down, Smasher,” Braddock said.  “Just as long as I go down to Florida, dump my old lady in a steak house parking lot, and then fish and drink until I’m good and dead.”

“Boss,” I said.  “I swear to you that I will not do anything to jeopardize your career.”

“You already have!” Braddock said.  “Your hi-jinx has the mayor rethinking the whole damn straw law!  He’s going to meet with the city council to talk about nixing the thing altogether!”

Now, Rosie was mad.  “Damn it, Smasher!”

“’Damn it, Smasher’ is right,” Braddock said.  The old man pulled a giant stack of paper work out of his desk drawer.  “You’ve left me no choice.”

“What is that?” I asked.

“The mountain of paper work I’ll have to fill out just to get your union to not fight it when I fire your dumb ass!” Braddock answered.

“Ha!” I said.  “Bless the union!”

“That’s just to start,” Braddock said as he pulled out six more stacks, piling his desk high.

I laughed.  “You’ll never get all that filled out!”

“Oh, you don’t think so?” Braddock asked.

“I know so!” I said.

“What you don’t know could fill an airplane hangar, you miserable toilet bug,” Braddock said.  “What you’re forgetting is that I’ve spent my entire career pushing paper, so a pile like this doesn’t faze me in the slightest.  If anything, it gets my dick rock hard!”

“First time since the Reagan administration, I’d wager,” I said.

“Go on,” Braddock said.  “Keep making your jokes, Smasher.  Keeping running around town with your tail between your legs, violating every rule on the book, shitting on every procedure, pissing off every politician.  The second I finish this pile, you’re done.  Gone.  Outta here.  Bye bye.  Sayanora.  See you later.”

“Not if I finger the Strawman first,” I noted.

“I’m the best in the biz when it comes to ridiculously long government forms, Smasher,” Braddock said.  “I’ll have your ass roasting on a spit before your finger gets anywhere near this cockamamie Strawman, if there even is such a person.”

I could tell it caused her great internal distress, but Rosie stuck up for me just the same.  “Sir, though I do agree with your assessment that Smasher is a toilet bug, he did bumble his way into a legit case here.  And though I share your desire to hold onto this job and do my time quietly until pension time comes, I can’t ignore major crimes that are unfolding before my very eyes.”

“Sure, you can,” Braddock said.  “It’s easy.  Just grab a chair, take a nap, and when you wake up, you’ll be that much closer to retirement.  I’ve been doing it four decades, and you can too.”

Rosie rolled her eyes.  “When you put it like that…”

“Make a decision, Quan,” Braddock said.  “It’s either your pension or this dick cheeseburger with extra turd fries of a partner of yours.  Look, do I care that some madman is handing out cocaine laced straws that will turn the general public at large into coke crazed nard gobblers?”

“Again,” Rosie said.  “That’s only been confirmed in rats.”

“Whatever,” Braddock said.  “Do I care about it?  Sure.  Do I care more about sitting my fat ass on that fishing boat with my retirement check rolling in on time every month?  You bet.  Do I want to keep the mayor’s head out of my ass for the next month until I can leave this world of shit behind?  You’re darn tootin.’”

“Sir,” Rosie said.  “Up until tonight, I was ready to take the easy way myself, but now…”

“Keep taking it, Quan,” Braddock said.  “Say the word and I’ll transfer you to meter maid duty.  Keep an eye out for double parkers for the next couple weeks until I can get this stack of papers filled out and then when Smasher’s gone, I’ll get you transferred back.  By then, I’ll be ready to walk out the door and you know what?  I’ll even leave behind a letter recommending you as the next captain of the straw law enforcement division.  Think of it, Quan.  You’re a young woman.  Three decades of showing up at 10, playing solitaire on your computer until noon, taking three hour martini lunches, occasionally passing out a pamphlet or a fine to some dickhead who didn’t get the pamphlet, all reimbursed at a captain’s pay and when you retire?  You’ll retire on a captain’s pension.”

I could tell the little hamster inside Rosie’s brain wheel was running at warp speed.

“But if Smasher goes down,” Braddock said.  “He’s likely to bring you down with him.  You want to choose loyalty to your partner over lifelong financial security, be my guest, but personally, I’d sell this prick out of a plug nickel.”

“Your vote of confidence is appreciated, sir,” I said.

“Stifle yourself, gas bag,” Braddock replied.  “Personally, Quan, I’d take my offer rather than risk losing my job and ending up as some mall cop in the middle of Buttfuck, Nowhere, but that’s just me.”

Rosie’s head looked like it was going to explode from all the pressure.

“Well, Quan,” Braddock said, “What’s it going to be?”

Rosie looked at me, then the captain.  Me, then the captain.

“I…I’ve never abandoned a partner yet, sir.”

“Very well,” Braddock said.  “You just a dumb move, Quan.”

“I regret it immediately, sir,” Rosie said.

“You should,” Braddock said.  “I’ll do my best to keep your ass meat out of the frying pan but if push comes to shove and the mayor wants your ass on a plate, then make no mistake about it.  I will immediately start a new stack of paperwork to get rid of you.”

“You’re tough but fair, sir,” Rosie said.

“And you,” Braddock said as he pointed at me.  “You’re a loose cannon, Smasher.  Your ass is writing checks this department could not possibly ever cash and if you think for one damn minute that my ass is going to underwrite the overdraft on your ass, then you are sorely mistaken.”

“I’d never dream of making your ass my ass’s banker, sir,” I said.

“I should hope not,” Braddock said.  “You’re both dismissed.”

Rosie and I stood up.  Braddock grabbed a pen, clicked it, and went to work on the stack of papers that, if filed, would seal my fate.  The old man mumbled to himself as he filled in the blanks.  “Name of Offending Officer?  Mack Smasher.  Offense Committed: Hmm, let’s see.  Best to me vague.  Underhanded hi-jinx, duplicitous tomfoolery and chicanery in the first degree.”

As Rosie and I walked out of the room, Braddock called for me without lifting his head from the papers.  “Smasher?”

“Yeah, boss?”

“You put the Strawman on ice and sway public opinion to your side by the time I dot my last I and cross my last T, and I will run this whole mess through the shredder and forget I ever dreamed of getting rid of you.”

“Thanks, boss.”  I said.  “You old softy, you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Braddock said.  “Get the hell outta here, for Christ’s sake.  The mayor’s head is so far up my ass that I can’t sneeze without him popping out of my nose to sing an operatic concerto.”

How Can We Improve Civil Rights for the Ugly?

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

As you are aware, I have long been a steadfast supporter of improving rights of the physically ugly.

I mean, I’m not leading any marches or sit ins or anything, but I’m happy to write about it on my blog that is only read by 3.5 readers.

Do you have any ideas on how to improve rights for the ugly?  It’s one thing to brainstorm big ideas but another to focus on actual initiatives.

For example, I’d like to propose a Constitutional amendment that would prevent the government from forcing ugly people to wear paper bags on their heads.  Sure, you say well that isn’t happening now but you never know if the winds will change and maybe in 50 years an anti-ugly regime will take over.  Ergo, it would be great to get freedom from mandatory head bags into the Constitution.

Thoughts?  Would any of you endorse this initiative?

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