I lathered the SPF 50 sunscreen all over, making sure to dab the bald spot on top of my head and double-layer the left side of my back where there was a splattering of irregular moles. I tugged on my bright red Speedo and, just before strolling onto the beach, glanced in the full-length mirror. I was short, pale and ugly and I didn’t care who knew it.


He held me over the side of the Hancock building, that reflective glass erection penetrating sixty stories into the wanting sky. He wrapped his hands around my neck and began to crush my esophagus. I looked into his steely eyes like I’d done a hundred times before, but this wasn’t another Saturday night of erotic asphyxiation. No, this was Boston and the Red Sox were losing.


It was a dark and stormy night—Stormy Daniels, that is. And I knew I’d be getting no sleep when she walked into my office and said, “I've got video.”


She was hoppy and blonde as an India pale ale, a boozy broad poured into a dress so silky it looked wet. Her unfiltered eyes were dotted with lager-colored specks and her curves should’ve been in the Guinness Book of World Records. I was drunk on her presence.


If a bullet travels half-way to its target, and then halfway again, and continues in this manner, it will never reach its destination. That’s what my mathematics professor said. But as I limped into the Emergency Room, pistol in hand, bullet-hole in foot, I understood the crucial difference between theory and practice.


I lathered the SPF 50 sunscreen all over, having lobstered my skin in the Southern California sun the day before. I pulled on my bright red Speedo and, just before strolling onto the beach, stuck the Glock inside. I was red, white, and packing and I didn’t care who knew it.


Mother slapped me. She was a former NYPD detective, eighty-eight years old and in the early stages of dementia. “You slept with the only person who saw the murder?” she said. “If she gets pregnant, she can’t testify. So I hope you used witness protection.”


It was a stormy and dark night—DC Comics’ Dark Knight, that is. And I knew I’d be getting no sleep when the he walked into my office and said, “What’s a prequel?”


I was calling on several billion dollars. Inherited, like the cabin I owned in Maine. But as I saw her reclining on the davenport with a miniature cockapoo on her lap, I knew she wasn’t like my cabin in Maine. She was like an island in the South Pacific, calm, unmoving, remote, and I was going to find her out like Captain Cook, private dick.


I stared at my disfigured face in the bathroom mirror and laughed. Then I pulled the cool, sharp razor across my scarred and swollen cheeks, drawing blood that dripped on the counter and spelled a single word: Butler.


I ignored the SPF 50 sunscreen that was on the table, just as I’d ignored the warnings from my dermatologist. I removed my bright red Speedo and, just before strolling onto the beach, glanced in the full-length mirror. I was naked, proud, and malignant, and I didn’t care who knew it.


I woke up in the hospital room after 25 years in a medically induced coma. I was going to kill the bastard who did this to me, and I was going to warn him first. All I needed was a dime and a pay phone.


It was a stormy and dark night, Stormy Daniels and the Dark Knight, that is. And I knew I’d be getting no sleep when they walked into my office and said, “We’re not the porn stars this city deserves, but we’re the ones it needs.”


He rose from his wheelchair and charged with astonishing speed, his face red as an un-ripened beet, his arms dangling limply.

“I thought you were paraplegic,” I said.

“I am… from the waist up.”

He attacked valiantly, but proved defenseless against my blows.

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