It's like Bridget Jones' Diary, but with a super-powered vigilante.

September 30, 2004

Adding comments

Okay, I decided to allow comments on my blog.

If it gets annoying or I get supervillain threats, I'll just pull them again. We'll see.

Margo Report

Margo is wearing a crisp white skirt and a black cashmere v-neck sweater today. The heels she's wearing accentuate her beautiful calves.

I think of Evil Val Kilmer and his evil hands all over Margo and it makes me want to punch something until it breaks. Evil Val is like an anti-matter version of Good Val Kilmer. It's like that Star Trek episode "Mirror Mirror" where they get trapped in an evil alternate universe where people carry daggers and have goatees.

You ever watch a movie where the female lead is with some dickhead, who she then breaks up with so that she can be with the male lead, the guy who she's supposed to be with? (Me.) And you're wondering, why was she with dickhead in the first place? That's the scenario here. I mean, I know nothing about the guy, and he is sort of good looking (again: not gay) and dresses well, but he just reeks of "dickhead" to me.

Perhaps I don't like Evil Val because I recognize qualities in him that I don't like in myself - vanity, obsessive grooming, vanity, arrogance, vanity - and I'm projecting on him in a Jungian sense.

Or maybe he's just a big dickhead.

September 29, 2004

Patrol Report

Yet another boring patrol. Did my usual circuit of Old Town, which is ninja-free. Listening to some classical music tonight. Holst: The Planets. Actually, I've just been listening to Mars, Bringer of War over and over. Have you ever heard it? It's Darth Vader music, very martial. Velvet Marauder says check it out.

I picked up a report on the scanner of a guy in some kind of bear costume vandalizing cars on Queen's Row, but when I showed up, nothing. Halloween's still a month off, so I was thinking that it was a supervillain or a monster or something, but no. I'm not that lucky.

September 27, 2004

I'm Famous

Score! I'm in the latest issue of SuperPeople - you know, from the makers of TeenPeople.

It's not a feature or anything. I'm in the back of the magazine in the Sightings section, where they have little blurbs and pictures of various superheroes. There's a picture of me! Me! The Me Person! It looks like a picture lifted off the KORN helicopter footage from the thing in Chinatown with the Judo Boys - the picture's sort of blurry, but that's good right? Maintains the aura of debonair mystery I'm going for with the whole VM brand.

Anyway, there's a picture and a blurb:

Sighted! Evergreen City's nocturnal mystery man the Velvet Marauder has stepped out of the shadows in recent weeks with his high-profile bust of Exploder. Recently the midnight maniac helped the winged wonder Kestrel to take down murderous gangsters in EC's Chinatown. Is the Marauder ready to play in the majors? More on Kestrel in next month's issue!
Boy, SuperPeople is really on Kestrel's dick, aren't they? There's a large, high-resolution picture of him earlier in the magazine and they printed a letter from some girl in Utah who thinks Kestrel is "super-hot." How did they get that picture of him? I'll bet he has an agent.

Also, I didn't help Kestrel take down those Judo Boys, he helped me. You know, the more I look at this the more pissed I'm getting. "Is the Marauder ready to play in the majors?" Not only does that imply that I'm in the minors, it implies that Kestrel is in the major league, which, sorry Anne from Provo, he is not. Winged wonder my ass.

Also, what's up with the "midnight maniac" thing? That's a fucking Krokus song, it makes me sound like a butt-rocker. I'm not the heavy metal guy, that's Highway Star, the guy in L.A.
Lay off my brand identity, SuperPeople.

September 26, 2004

Star Wars Trilogy DVD Box Set: WEAK

Mitch is all psyched because he bought the Star Wars Trilogy Boxed Set. We drank beer and watched all three of them over at his house - sorry Lisa, I'm sure we were really loud. I wailed in outrage at every unwarranted addition, every instance of gratuitous CG. After a while I just started shouting WEAK at everything I didn't like.

Dinosaurs in Mos Eisley? WEAK! Greedo shoots first? WEAK! Extra X-Wing action during the Death Star battle? Actually, that's not so weak, I kind of dug that. Ghost Hayden Christiansen at the end of Jedi? WEAK!

George Lucas should have asked me what to change - No more Sarlaac burp after it eats Boba Fett. Insert Bea Arthur into the cantina scene. Greedo not only doesn't shoot first, but Han fucking blows his head off, Scanners style. Lando and the Millennium Falcon get blown up at the end of Jedi like they should have. I could go on.

Poor Lisa, who is six months pregnant, has to listen to us arguing about this shit for six hours.

September 25, 2004

"Am I bugging you?"

"I don't mean to bug ya."

So I'm concerned about this little pin shaped device the ninja was planting at the future InterBionics building the other night. I want to know what it is, how it works, who made it, etc. I'm not exactly qualified for forensic work - Dr Quark I am not - so I decide to send it to My Guy for analysis.

This is a deviation from our prescribed business relationship, but I'm hoping he/she/them will help me out and tell me what it is. Plus, I'll pay them for it. I wrap the thing in foil (I don't know, it seemed like the right thing to do) and send it off. Hopefully I'll get some useful info, although I'm not sure if I'd recognize useful info if it kicked me in the crotch.

How, you may ask, do I afford to retain the services of My Guy? That shit must add up, right? And although I make a comfortable living, I'm not exactly rolling in dough. Or am I? Let's just say I have a Black Budget that I use for R&D and appropriations - just like the Pentagon!

Maybe I'll go into the particulars of the Black Budget some day for the 3 folks who read this.

September 24, 2004

Patrol Report

Another boring patrol. Listened to Electric Six, a band I physically love. It's the perfect urban vigilante patrol music. Velvet Marauder says check it out.

Stopped by the future InterBionics building in Old Town again. No ninjas this time, but believe me I was looking over my shoulder. Nothing like a run-in with a ninja to make you all paranoid.


September 21, 2004

Another Margo Report

Margo stops me in the hall. As usual my heart rate speeds up.

"Mackenzie. That's a lovely blouse."

She means my Egyptian cotton shirt.

"It's a shirt, smartass," I say, hoping that I come across as witty.

"Shirt, blouse, whatever you say," she says, smiling. I'll bet she has brothers, she slips into this 'taking the piss' mode very easily. "Listen, umm, not to get all sappy or anything, but about last week with that crazy guy..."

"Todd."

"Right, Todd." She looks uncomfortable. "Anyway, Gail's a really good friend of mine and when I heard about the shooting and they were evacuating everybody I couldn't find her and --"

Her eyes glisten a little and she clears her throat. She brushes a bit of hair out of her eyes.

"You know what?" I say. "It was nothing, really. Keith actually --"

"I talked to Keith, he said you tackled him."

"I think we're splitting hairs here. It was a team effort."

She punches me in the chest, not hard. "Listen, I'm trying to say thank you, okay? Just be graceful and say you're welcome and let me get out of here."

I smile, chagrined. "Okay. Okay, you're welcome. I just don't think it was a big --"

She holds up a finger. I shut up.

"Okay," I say.

"Okay," she says. She goes in for a quick hug.

For a fleeting second I smell her - lavender and suede and shampoo. I feel her hair brush against my cheek.

Then she's gone. I watch her go.

Margo Report

Margo is wearing a cute pink wool vintage blazer and matching skirt and a pearl necklace today. I am so in love with her I could die. What am I, like, twelve?

September 20, 2004

Feeling the love

I felt too self conscious to read the thank you cards at my desk, so after work I read them in the Saab while it was warming up. I'd say something snide, but I can't front: the cards were very nice and it feels good to help people and stuff. Gail's daughter Anna made a card for me - it's a crayon picture of her and Gail and something that looks like a beaver or maybe a dog, all standing under a smiling sun. And in lopsided, sloppy little kid crayon writing it says: THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY MOMMY

That made me cry a little.

I got home and bounced around in the secret gym with my armor, listening to Jane's Addiction on the headset. I'm trying to practice turning off the MP3 player on my utility belt while in motion - I'm not getting caught flat-foot by any more fucking ninjas. So it's jump, kick, turn music off, jump, punch, turn music on, etc.

The Khaaan dummy is getting a work out lately. I keep pretending it's that ninja while practicing knife-hand strikes, and I get a little carried away sometimes. I'd give my left nut for just one shot at that guy.

Hail the Conquering Hero

It's raining this morning and I forgot my garage access card, so I have to park the Saab about a mile away and walk to work in the rain in my new Ferragamos. Great.

I get into my office and I'm drying off when Gail, this gal from International Communications, comes up to me. Gail's a nice gal and all, but we're not real close - she looks at me and kind of tears up then suddenly gives me a big hug. I think she's crying.

"Thank you," she manages. Ah, this is about the shooting. I remember seeing Gail huddled on the floor when Todd went apeshit and started shooting up the joint. She took the rest of the week off, like a lot of people.

"Hey, no problem Gail. You okay?" I can act like a caring person when I have to.

She sniffles and nods, hands me a card, murmurs thanks again, and leaves. Poor gal.

I have a number of cards on my desk from various co-workers. Somebody bought me a fruit basket, which is funny and nice. I didn't think you could still get fruit baskets.

I swing by Corine's desk on my way to the coffee room. She's feeding her goldfish.

"Corine, how you doing?" I say, trying to keep it light. I'm carefully watching her for any indication that she knows My Secret.

She smiles warmly when she sees me. "Hey, Mackenzie. Nice to see you. I had to take a couple days off, after, you know..." Her face darkens.

"Yeah..." I say lamely.

"Listen, I want to thank you --" Now she looks like she's going to cry. The only time I've seen her like this was when they cancelled Angel.

I wave my hands dismissively. "Ahh, it was nothing, really. Keith did most of it, I just helped hold him down."

"Right," she says, meaning 'bullshit.' "I saw."

My chest tightens. What does that mean? I saw. Does that mean, "I saw you subdue the psychotic co-worker by yourself and Keith just jumped in at the end." Or does that mean, "I saw you leap twenty feet through the air and I know that you've got superhuman powers."

"Yeah, about that. Maybe we could keep that on the down-low...?"

She nods.

Awkward moment. I break the mood by saying, "Hey, I brought my french press and some decent coffee. You want a cuppa joe?"

She smiles and bites her lip and she's about to cry so I take off and go make some coffee. I still can't figure out whether she knows or not, but at least she's on my team.

The whole day people are thanking me or congratulating me or asking me what happened - I'm drowning in The Love.

No sign of Margo yet.

September 18, 2004

I Hate Ninja

So I'm on patrol last night - it's pretty dead as usual - and I swing by the future InterBionics building in Old Town. It's one of the many cool old brick buildings in Old Town, and InterBionics is doing a complete ground-up reno on it. I think it used to be a cannery or something. Right now it's just a dark, hollow brick shell.

I patrol Old Town quite a bit as it's where all the bars and clubs are, but I keep swinging by the empty InterBionics building just to check it out. Maybe it's because of that Jason Delacroix guy from InterBionics, who is so obviously a supervillain. I mean, come on, who has a name like Jason Delacroix? Supervillains, that's who.

Last night I'm perched across the street from the building doing the gargoyle thing, listening to some Sky Cries Mary on my cowl audio system (thanks My Guy). On a whim I switch my goggles to infrared and that's when I see the ninja.

He's prowling around the vacant top floor of the building, a guy in a matte black bodysuit. It's some kind of special deal that masks his body heat, because he just shows up as a blue ghost on my infrared. What's he doing? I don't know. This might sound horrible, but I sort of don't care. The Midnight Rambler or Madame Nocturne would probably put this guy under surveillance or try to figure out what he's up to - me, I just see this as an opportunity to hit somebody. I'm not a great detective, but I'm tops at hitting people.

I stand up, stretch out, take a few deep breaths. Okay. Game on.

With one big standing leap I span the distance between the two buildings. I burst through an empty window frame and skid into a huge room that takes up most of the top floor. It's empty except for some construction equipment, scaffolding, and piles of bricks. In the window frames white plastic sheeting flaps in the night wind.

No ninja. Okay, where the fuck did he go?

I switch to infrared again, scanning. That's when I get a shuriken in the chest.

The throwing star hisses out of the darkness and thunk! lands right square in my sculpted chest plate. I roll behind a cement mixer and yank the thing out. It didn't make it past the armor, which is a good thing 'cause it's probably coated in some rare poison or some shit. Still, the star dug into the chest plate a good quarter inch - that ninja's got some heat behind his pitch!

I should mention that I forgot to turn off my com suite and I've still got Sky Cries Mary playing in my headset - the song Sister Ship Twenty Three from the album "This Timeless Turning." Velvet Marauder says check it out. I don't however, recommend fighting ninja while listening to it or any music.

I'm scanning the darkness with the infrared while I fumble with the com suite controls on my utility belt. Got to turn this music down. I'm not used to the controls, and I've got these fucking gloves on, and what an asshole I am going into a fight with my MP3 player cranked, and then boom!

A magnesium flare ignites in the middle of the room and I go blind.

My infrared goggles go supernova and all I can see is a big burning afterimage of the flare. I say "fuck" or something witty and claw at my cowl, switching back to normal vision. I'm blind and effectively deaf because I've got this fucking music playing. I have no idea where the ninja is, but apparently he knows right where I am. Not a good tactical situation.

You know when you were a kid and you had to go into the basement to get something, that feeling of terror you got when you were walking back up the stairs? That feeling you got that the Thing in the Basement was right behind you, coming for you? And you ran up the stairs, suddenly overwhelmed with panic? Well, I got that feeling just then - I was sure that this ninja was RIGHT BEHIND ME!

So I freaked.

I leaped as high as I could in the air, blind, music blasting.

I mentioned before that this was an old cannery or cold storage warehouse that InerBionics was renovating. The top floor had high steepled ceilings held up by thick wooden beams. It must have been one of those beams that I hit - I don't know, I couldn't see shit at the time. Anyway, I panic, I jump straight up into the ceiling and smash my head, then plummet back to the floor, landing flat on my back. The music stops, thank God. Now I can hear what a ninja sounds like when he laughs.

"Fuck!" I scream and spring to my feet and into a fighting stance. I can hear now and my vision is clearing.

No ninja.

"Come on!" I yell at the shadows and the flapping plastic sheeting in the windows. A pigeon flutters somewhere in the rafters.

No ninja.

"Let's go you fucking pussy!" I scream, hitting my chest like a primate.

No ninja.

"Let's do it, you and me, right now!"

Nope.

I look around cautiously. Nothing. Switch to IR for a quick look. Nothing.

It takes me ten minutes of poking around before I'm convinced that the ninja is long gone. I keep the shuriken - maybe it's a clue, I don't know. On Scooby-Doo they always seem to know what random objects are relevant to their investigation, but I'm sort of lost.

Then I spot it on infrared - a tiny little pinprick of heat high up on one of the walls. I jump up, dig into the brick with my claws and check it out. It's really small, no bigger than a needle, sunk into the mortar between bricks. I carefully grab it by the pinhead and pull it out. I'm no surveillance expert, but I'm guessing this is some sort of bug. I put it in a pouch on my belt - maybe I'll send it to My Guy, see what he thinks.

For the next half hour I search the empty building for more bugs, but find nothing. There could be dozens of them. The one I found was so small that I was lucky to find it.

I search the surrounding rooftops, but find nothing.

What a humiliating experience.

September 17, 2004

"Today's hit music - now!"

Ha! No more public transit for me, I'm driving in my NEW CAR.

I forgot to bring CDs so I'm forced to listen to morning radio.

God damn, I hate morning radio - particularly the incessant ads, and the fucking inane banter of the Wacky Morning Crew. In Evergreen City alone, we have the following FM nightmares that shriek like harpies at commuters:

-Bob & Lisa and the Breakfast Club
-
The aforementioned Wacky Morning Crew
-Psycho Radio with Big John
-Munger and Weasal in the Morning
-Pinto & Sally
-The Drek Morning Show

I watched some local TV news on my recent trip to Turbine City, and it just drove home how stupid Evergreen City's local media is. Not because Turbine City's local TV or radio stations are better, but because they are exactly the same. Same format, same inane chat and flashy graphics or wacky sound effects; just different names.

Have you ever done that? Gone to another city in the States and listened to their stupid local FM radio or watched their stupid local TV programming? Take away the familiar voices and faces, the familiar branding you're conditioned to seeing and you're forced to look at the content itself and how it's presented. And it's so fucking stupid, it will melt your face.

There's no escape if you live in North America. I'm talking about you, too, Canada. There's just a few monstrous media companies that run all this crap, and it's all the same.

Think about it. I don't know where you live, but I bet you have a local radio station named KISS FM or STAR 105.9 or a station that plays "today's hits and yesterday's favorite," or one that calls itself The Beat or The Zone or Jammin' Oldies or maybe K-Rock? They probably have wisecracking DJ teams like Pinto & Sally, don't they? And your local network affiliates, I'll bet they have an Action News team and an Early Alert Doppler Forecast and a jolly sports guy named Mitch or Tony or some shit. It's all the same.

Oh right. My car. My car is fucking awesome.

September 16, 2004

My new car

I found a kick-ass SAAB 900S Turbo on craigslist. It was $7000, which seems OK. It’s immaculate Midnight Metallic Blue. JC went with me to pick it up from the seller and gave me the seal of approval.

“It’s nice. Maybe you can get a girl with this car,” JC says. “Or something.”

September 15, 2004

No school today

Due to the shooting, they're giving everybody on our floor the day off. Score! I'm going shopping for shoes!

Again: not gay.

September 14, 2004

The David Boreanaz Girl

So I’m a little freaked out about Corine from work. I’m pretty sure she saw the whole thing. What should I do, should I wait for her to say something?

Maybe she was so panicked that my superhuman jump didn’t register in her mind. I leapt about twenty feet across the office and into Todd, by my reckoning. But from her angle, right behind me, it might not seem that far. And even if she did think it was weird, would she really associate me with the Velvet Marauder? But then, she didn’t have to. She just needed to talk about it to somebody at work, anybody. Then people would talk, emails would be sent, people would speculate… Shit, what do I know about her? She’s Dragon Lady’s admin, she’s a democrat, she’s unmarried, has a kid, a little girl, likes David Boreanaz, kind of cute in a freckly wholesome way… What if she’s broke, needs money for braces or something, and she rats me out to a tabloid?

I’m just going to play some Pokemon and chill out. There’s nothing I can do about it, and I want to build up my mushroom guy.

Aftermath

The cops talk to me, and the paramedics check me out. I hear there are news teams waiting downstairs. They’re sending people home. A guy from AP got shot in the back, but he’s stable. I don’t know him. They wheeled him away a long time ago. Somewhere I can hear a woman sobbing.

I try to act shaken up, which isn’t hard really. Shit like that’s not supposed to happen at work. Have you ever had two groups of friends, maybe a group from your home town, and a group from college? And you just can’t imagine these separate groups meeting, because they exist in different universes. For me work is like that. Out there, shit blows up and people get hurt and shot and jacked – work is where you bitch about the coffee and have boring meetings and shit.

I put it all on Keith, I play up how he really restrained Todd, I just knocked him over. The cop taking the report seems a little skeptical, but he doesn’t say anything.

Taxi for me, I’m not in the mood for the bus.

He goes postal

I’m in the break room when it happens. I’m whining like a little girl to Corine about the coffee we get around here and how I’m going to bring a French press to work when I hear a gunshot.

Incidentally, I don’t mean to sidetrack things here, but the coffee at my office really does suck. I have actually brought this up in meetings – we need to trade up and spend a couple extra bucks on some decent coffee and keep the little people like me happy. The coffee is total swill; bitter and acidic, and it seems to cool twice as fast as normal coffee so after five minutes you’re not only drinking bad coffee, you’re drinking lukewarm bad coffee. It drives me fucking insane.

Anyway, the gunshot.

Corine screams and spills her coffee and I whirl around. I’m switched on.

I hear Todd yelling and I peek around the corner of the break room door. He’s up on his desk, waving a revolver. Everybody’s on the floor; I see a few hunched backs and hear crying. I can’t hear what he’s yelling, I’m just thinking which one of my co-workers is going to get it in the back.

I take a breath, check myself. I've got to take him out, but it can’t look too slick or superhuman. On the other hand I can’t fuck it up. I’d never forgive myself if I let Wookie or Surfer Dave get killed.

Todd turns toward me, waving his gun, screaming. I catch a little of it: “—goddamn it, but they wouldn’t listen to me. I’ve got a house! I’ve got a fucking house –“

I wait for him to turn, wait for him...

He shoots again.

The explosion is deafening in the office. I hear the bullet ricochet up into the ceiling. Somebody screams in pain, a guy. He just shot somebody.

Fuck this, I’m going.

I launch myself out of the doorway towards Todd. I take one step, two steps, a third, then hurl myself into the air over a few desks and some cowering co-workers. Todd sees me coming at him, and his eyes go wide, and he brings the gun around, and I fucking slam into him. We both smash into the overhead lights, sail over some desks, and crash into somebody’s cubicle. I make sure I land on top.

He still has the gun. With a quick squeeze of his right hand I take the gun from him and incidentally break his fingers. I throw the gun aside. He’s screaming good now.

I lean in close. “Settle down, Todd. We’re going to get you some help.”

He screams and bucks. Keith, the guy from Margo’s group jumps in, pinning one of Todd’s arms.

“Settle down, Todd.”

People start getting up, realizing that the drama’s suddenly over. It looks like everybody had their heads down during my whole flying through the air thing. Looks like I’m off the hook…

Except for Corine.

Corine is standing in the doorway to the break room, staring at me.

She saw the whole fucking thing go down.

I hear sirens. I fight the urge to run away.

Shit.

The new improved costume is fucking awesome

I repeat: the new improved costume is fucking awesome.

Jumped around mid-town all night listening to the Crystal Method on the "com suite." It's lightweight, not too hot, waterproof (it was raining) and most importantly, no chafing. Not much going on. I swung by that cool old building they're gutting in Old Town for the new Interbionics office. It's hollow, like an old ruined church. All the windows are torn out, and white plastic sheeting flutters in the night like ghosts. Oooh, spooky.

I scared a bunch of sleeping pigeons whilst running along a ledge. That was cool.

September 13, 2004

Living Time Bomb

If I had spider-sense, it would be tingling. Todd, the soon-to-be-divorce guy on our floor, is sitting in his cube, quiet, and he suddenly just busts out with a “FUCK!”

That started the emails going. I don’t know about you, but every office I’ve ever worked in has been a cauldron of gossip and covert social warfare as nuanced and mannered as a Jane Austen novel. Email has to be the single greatest thing that ever happened to office politics and gossip – it’s fantastic. Everyone in my little white collar clique has been keeping a running commentary on Todd’s deterioration.

I just hope he doesn’t go postal.

September 12, 2004

Evil Val Kilmer Strikes Back

Got back in town last night. Evil Val Kilmer was waiting at the airport, and Margo did a little run-into-his-arms thing and kissed him. What a dick. I shared a cab back into town with Keith.

A bonus: I got back home and my new armor was waiting for me. I took it out to the barn and put it on - it has that new car smell that I love. The new "skin" My Guy put on my armor seems lightweight and stretchy, but it feels like plastic toy armor, like it wouldn't stop a bullet. I hop around for twenty minutes. The Audio Suite seems to be working okay - the controls are a little too small for my gloved hands, but I'll get used to it. I'm going to download some music and go on patrol. Awesome, now I can get that fucking badger song out of my head.


September 10, 2004

Turbine City Update #3

After the meeting we went out for dinner at the excellent Thai restaurant that Ice Queen recommended. Margo was really excited - she changed into a deep red 3/4 sleeve blouse and let her hair down - and drank quite a few Singhas. We all replayed the meeting, tried to figure out how we did. The consensus is that they liked Delphi and may buy into it.

Margo said I did an "excellent" job, even when I fucked up answering that question about searchable client databases. After her third beer she upgraded my performance to "awesome."

Keith and I shared some sexist banter about Ice Queen and in turn the girls frequently returned to the topic of Jason Delacroix, World Conqueror.

Loretta: "I mean, I don't say this a lot about guys, but he was beautiful. Beautiful."
Margo: "Uh-huh. Hot."
Loretta: "Seriously. He is like, the ideal of male beauty."
Margo: "I don't even like goatees, but he really pulls it off."
Loretta: "And he's single, did you notice that?"
Margo: "I did. I did notice that."
Loretta: "God, a guy like that, he probably has some genius Swedish supermodel girlfriend."
Margo: "Swedish?"
Loretta: "Yeah, I mean, can you see him going out with some American girl?"
Margo: "Yeah. Me."
Loretta (laughing): "No, I mean, he seems so intercontinental, so sophisticated. I'd have a hard time seeing him with some chick from Newark, you know?"

It went on like this, accompanied by some eye-rolling by Keith and I.

"Somebody's a little jealous I think," Margo said laughing.

"Oh please," I say, trying to laugh. "Of that guy? He's trying waaay too hard."

"I'd say he's succeeding," Loretta says and they laugh.

"Whatever. You really want to hang out with a guy who spends more time in the bathroom than you?"

Keith chimes in. "Yeah, or a guy who gets manicures more often than you?"

I say nothing to this because I get a manicure every other week. What can I say, I like my hands to look nice.

"And that accent," I say. I'm on a roll now. "What kind of accent is that? Who is he, Madonna? He's probably from Newark himself."

Keith and I diss Delacroix for a little while longer until the conversation inexplicably turns to dogs. Loretta has three dogs. I get the impression that any time she has a few drinks in her she ends up talking about her dogs.

We've got another meeting and a luncheon tommorrow with InterBionics, so we head back to our hotel. As we're parting ways in the lobby Margo gives me one of those playful slugs in the arm and says, "Nice job Mackenzie. I'm glad I drafted you."

"Me, too," I say, looking directly at her. Am I flirting? I think I'm a little buzzed. She's beautiful.

She gives me The Grin and backs into the elevator.

"See you tommorrow," she says.

"Yeah," I say, watching the elevator doors close.

Sigh.

September 09, 2004

Turbine City Update #2

I kicked ass today with my presentation for the InterBionics people.

We woke up early, had a breakfast/meeting in a meeting room at the hotel. Margo was wearing a pinstripe charcoal suit with a pink shirt and had her hair pulled back. She was more tense then I have seen her, and was downing coffee like a trucker. We did a run-through of the Delphi presentation then headed over to InterBionics.

You've probably seen pictures of the IB headquarters in magazines or on TV - it's a modern building that looks like a big inverted aluminum wedge, surrounded by a park-like campus. We went out there in a rented mini-van and set up in one of their spacious modern conference rooms. The place looks like the Death Star on the inside, with polished black marble floors, recessed lighting and graceful hammered steel walls. All that's missing is the stormtroopers.

I don't know what they put in the water over there, but the InterBionics team we meet all look like the German Olympics team in chic suits. There's six of them, and they're all fit, trim Northern European types - including the Ice Queen, a mean looking blonde with nice legs. We introduce ourselves and share pleasantries and we meet the big guy, the director of IB's new West Coast division, Jason Delacroix.

Delacroix looks like The Devil, as played by a generically handsome soap opera actor. He's wearing the InterBionics uniform, a fitted dark suit and narrow tie. I can appreciate good grooming and nice clothes, but this guy takes it to a higher level. Seriously, it looks like he got a last minute detailing by a bunch of handmaidens before he walked into the room. There's not a hair out of place. Delacroix has slicked dark hair and a precisely groomed Van Dyke beard framing his impossibly symetrical and chiseled face. He has piercing blue eyes (contacts?) and arching expressive eyebrows (looks like he plucks them.) Again, not gay, but he's a good looking cat.

He shake hands with us all and I can tell Margo and Loretta are sort of taken back by how fucking good looking Lord Satan is. Loretta actually blushes. When he gets to me he gives me a strong handshake and says, "Ah, Mr Mackenzie. Your reputation precedes you. We're all great admirers of your Venus marketing campaign. Quite clever. Welcome." He holds my hand a fraction of a second longer than you would find acceptable, and I feel steel in his grip. I return his iron handshake and smile. "Thank you very much." I swear, if I didn't have mid-range super-strength he might have hurt me.

It dawns on me as I sit down: this fucker's a super-villain.

Margo and Keith start their intro while I hook my laptop up to their projector. The IB folks are very attentive and all have excellent posture. I look at them. Yeah, this smells like a Covert Evil Organization. Maybe they're all genetically engineered supermen or something or pod people or Cthulhu cultists or some shit. And Jason Delacroix, what kind of name is that? That's a villain name. He might as well call himself Angus McEvil or Damien Devious or something.

Anyway, I do my presentation, Margo and Keith field questions from the Hitler Youth, and everybody seems happy. I repeatedly catch Loretta staring at Delacroix.

We all shuffle out, smiling and chatting. Delacroix stops Margo with a soft hand to her elbow, and they talk in low voices at the doorway of the conference room. He says something that makes her laugh - dick! - and then gives her a warm two-handed Bill Clinton handshake. Margo gives us a little thumbs up as she rejoins the group.

"I think we're in," she says in the elevator.

Yeah, I think, we're in a web of evil woven by a master villain.

Maybe.



September 08, 2004

Turbine City Update #1

This is from my laptop in my hotel room in TC. We're staying at the Widmark and I have an awesome view of Iron River, the Park, and in the distance, the hissing steaming industrial otherworld known as Motor Town, home turf of the famous Midnight Rambler. I wish I had my suit, I'd fucking love to jump around for an hour or two in Turbine City. I wonder if he is out there right now, on patrol, or if he's in the Weather Center, or on a mission, or what.

I met Keith, and Loretta at ECX in the morning. Margo showed up a few minutes later - her fucking boyfriend or somebody walks her to the concourse and kisses her good-bye. He's a stylish motherfucker in his turtleneck and his slimming topcoat, kind of looks like a dark haired evil Val Kilmer. I like the coat, though. Anyway, Margo --who looks great in jeans and a black leather jacket -- kisses this guy goodbye, gives him a little hand squeeze and a lingering look as they part, then turns and walks towards us, grinning. "Hi guys!"

We all move off to the gates, making small talk. I look back. Evil Val Kilmer is still standing back there, watching her go. She turns and waves. He mouths "Bye." Christ, she's only going away for a few days! Butch up, dude. Margo seems to be digging it though, so what do I know?

Okay, big day tomorrow. Which means instead of sleeping, watching The Ghost and The Darkness with Good Val Kilmer on the hotel TV. Not a good movie, but there are some redeeming scenes. The real life story that it's based on is more interesting than the film itself.

September 07, 2004

Silent Running

OK, I'm going to Turbine City and will be incommunicado for a few days. I hope Evergreen City doesn't burn down while I'm gone.

Keep it real, keep pimpin'.


Margo Report

Margo is wearing a dark pinstripe pantsuit with pointy-toed shoes, and is wearing more make-up than I usually see her in. Her hair is pulled back. Must be a meeting. I pass her going the opposite way in a hallway – she’s holding a cup of coffee, talking to somebody, some bald guy. I nod and smile. She gives me a little smile and a swat with her free hand and keeps talking to the bald guy. It's like we're buddies now.

We're leaving tomorrow for Turbine City - Margo, Keith, Loretta, and me. Big presentation for InterBionics on Thursday. I was up last night laying out clothes on the bed, trying to pick out the right outfits. I'll wear my blue Egyptian cotton shirt and my dope black fleur-de-lis tie for the presentation, maybe a black sweater and jeans for the flight with my Docs. Wait, maybe not. Maybe just a black tee and jeans. Too casual? Shit, what if Margo sits next to me? I mean, that would be great, but what am I going to talk about? It's a two hour flight to TB, plenty of time for her to learn what a boring asswipe I really am. God, I am neurotic.



September 06, 2004

Hero

I saw Hero last night with Mitch and Lisa - we loved it.

Donny Yen, Jet Li, the incredibly beautiful Zhiyi Zhang, lots of fu and wirework, pretty colors, epic scenery, clouds of arrows, and Shakespearian tragedy... what's not to like? Plus, it was an interesting exploration of morality and ideals and how they shape our destiny. You should go see it, it was fantastic.

We called it an early night afterwards. Lisa's like 6 months pregant so the usual after-movie cocktails was a no-go. I felt like jumping around so I went on patrol.

You'd think I would be in the mood for some ass-kicking after watching a kung fu movie, but I was in zen mode, "in the zone," and I just bounced and jumped around the roofs of Old Town. I get like this sometimes, so focused on motion that I become unfocused, and the roof-running comes very easily.

There was no crime to speak of, which was fine with me.

I did have one amusing anecdote: I was doing the gargoyle bit, perching on a ledge above Queen's Row, watching people come and go into the bars and clubs. I see this guy stagger out of The Red Eye fumbling with his car keys. He's a hipster doofus with a little goatee and tattoo sleeves, and he's tanked.

He sways down the street, then takes a short-cut down an alley. I follow. Maybe somebody will try to mug him and I can beat somebody up -- I mean, defend the weak and powerless. See how fast I switch from zen master to violent thug?

Unfortunately nobody mugs him and he staggers through the alley in perfect safety. His car keys jingle. This asshole's really going to get into a car.

I follow. Check this out, this is a good move: to get down the alley, I jump up on one wall, bounce off against another wall, then bounce back, etc. I rebound all the way down the alley, chipping bricks and rattling fire escapes as I go. I finish off with a roll on to concrete, popping up in a fu pose. I'm awesome.

There's the hipster doofus - across the street, about to climb into his Jeep. I cover the distance in a single jump and land right next to him. He screams, drops his keys.

I pick the keys up. Show them to him. Throw them into space. They'll land in the bay.

I lean closer. He's pissed himself, he's so scared. He smells like gin and cologne.

"Get a cab," I say in my most menacing Batman voice. Then I spring into the air, bounce off a ledge and up on top of a building and I'm gone.

I watch him from the shadows. He makes a phone call and ten minutes later a cab picks him up. I'm pretty chuffed with myself. I got to do a good deed and I got to scare the shit out of some dickhead. Winner!

September 05, 2004

Exploder Update

So I saw on the news that Exploder was arraigned yesterday. No bail. He’s wanted on a host of arson, property destruction, and murder charges. Exploder’s so dangerous they have him attend court via teleconference from his reinforced cell in The Catacombs. The Feds want him, half a dozen states want him – and who brings him down? Me, thank you.

Leslie Milton says my name again. “—sources tell us that the authorities now believe, based on interviewing Exploder, that the Velvet Marauder was responsible for the villain’s capture.”

I still can’t figure out what he was doing in that train yard that night. It’s probably just one of those weird things I’ll never understand. I’d go crazy trying to make sense of some of the shit that happens to me.

September 04, 2004

Patrol Report

Another boring night. It rained on me.

Once I get my armor back from My Guy, I can squat on a rooftop in the rain, waiting for something, anything to happen and I can listen to music. That's a bonus.

Where are all the goddamn muggers in Evergreen City? It's been 3 weeks since I've had a proper mugging.

September 03, 2004

The wisdom of Fred Schneider

I got a seat on the bus going home tonight and I got to play a little Pokemon on my Gameboy Advanced. I'm addicted to this game; my seagull Pokemon is a total badass.

As I think I've established, I'm not a big fan of the bus. I'm down with the concept of public transportation, I think it's a great idea, but I don't see myself as taking part in it - except maybe for fighting ninjas on top of a speeding monorail or something. I need to get a car.

I don't know if the Honda Element is for me -- my usually reliable coolness radar has failed me, and I can't tell if it's cool in an ironic "I get this car" kind of way, or if it's a soccer dad thing. I solicit my co-worker's opinion on the matter. I think the answers reveal how people think of me.

Q: What kind of car should I get?

SURFER DAVE: You should get one of those new Volkswagen bugs. A pink one.
TODD: What? Who cares?
WOOKIE: A Nissan Murano.
DRAGON LADY: Oh, are you getting a new car?
KIETH: One of those Minis.
CORI: I don't know. Something cute.
MICHAEL CHAN: A Volvo station wagon.
TED THE TACO GUY: A fucking old Saab, dude. Those are cool, you need something retro.
FRED SCHNEIDER*: He's right, a Saab. Those are fabulous. But get a new one.
LORETTA: A Jetta.

Conclusion: Everyone thinks I'm gay.


*Not really Fred Schneider, we just call him that. I think his name's Rob.

Armor Update

So I got the long-awaited email from My Guy. That’s how he works, you send a package to his P.O. Box, and he sends you an encrypted email that you descramble with My Guy’s custom software, which gives you an address for a private chatroom, where you log in and talk business. It’s all very crypto, I love it.

My Guy designs, repairs, and modifies my armor; he makes my custom weapons and generally keeps me set up with whatever crime-fighting gadgets I need. He’s expensive, but his gear is first-rate, and highly customized. He’s like my Q, my Whistler. I’ve never met the guy. I just place an order via email, wire money to an offshore account, and then receive a package within 4 weeks.

He picks up clients by referral only; Wombat introduced me to him two years ago and he’s been my gear guy ever since. I often wonder who else uses My Guy, aside from Wombat. I’m pretty sure Night Hunter and Major Domo are clients, maybe Boomslang.

My Guy’s brand is his secrecy and exclusivity. You wouldn’t think that he would need a brand, but in the broadest definition of the term, everyone has a brand identity. He doesn’t have a logo or even a name – My Guy’s non-brand is his brand. He doesn’t advertise or need a brand per se, but he has one regardless. The client projects the brand on to the company, gives the company a name, an identity. For instance, I think of My Guy as a barrel-chested Scot who runs a workshop out of an ancient farm on the moors with his three gear-head sons. I’d cast Brian Blessed. For all I know, My Guy could be a woman, or a garage full of guys, or a super villain or something. I don’t know. He may not have an identity, but he has a brand.

Back to the email – I decode it, get the chatroom URL and password, log in to the chatroom and there he is.

I wanted to cut and paste my whole chat with My Guy, but he wouldn’t let me. My Guy’s paranoia is actually a plus for me as a client; it just reassures me that my own secrets are safe.

My Guy says that he’s disappointed with the performance of my suit’s outer shell, so he’ll replace it at a 25% discount. I accept. He wants to put on a new skin made of Nomex and Kevlar, says it’s tougher and more fire-resistant. Sounds good.

I ask him about getting a scanner built in. He says no problem, he can do that. For a few dollars more, I can get a ‘com suite’ installed. It’s a hands-free cel phone, scanner, and MP3 player with headphones and a mike built into the cowl. The unit and controls are housed in a rigid ballistic nylon pouch on my utility belt. Sounds awesome.

We settle on a price, I say I’ll wire him the money. I’ll have my suit in one week.

Hurry, I write. My old suit is chafing.

September 02, 2004

Patrol Report

Nothing happened on patrol last night. I hopped around mid-town until 2 AM. Sat on a ledge, thought about Margo. I'm going to Turbine City with Margo. And some other people.

You might wonder how I manage my nocturnal crimefighting and daytime career without turning into a narcoleptic zombie. I mean, when do I sleep? I actually get about 3 hours of sleep a night, which is plenty. Often I'll take a nap for 1/2 an hour when I get home from work. With my enhanced physiology and altered metabolism, I don't need as much sleep as a normal person. I have to eat like a pig, though.

September 01, 2004

Margo Report

Okay. I'm trying not to be uncool about this. By "uncool" I don't mean "asshole," I mean "not cool." Margo stopped at my desk and talked to me this morning.

She actually had to go out of her way to talk to me, because my desk is set back from the main throughway on the floor. I'd like to emphasize that: Margo Thompson had to actually go out of her way to talk to me.

Wearing a 3/4 sleeve black V-neck sweater and a pleated white skirt, Margo strolled into my cube with some print outs and an Odwalla. She spun and did a little backwards hop, landing her perfect butt on my filing cabinet. She kicked up her feet in a charming, youthful gesture.

I probably gasped. Seriously, every time I see Margo, my stomach drops or my heart skips. I know that sounds corny, but I literally have a physiological reaction whenever I see her. If she suddenly appears in front of me -- say she steps out of the copy room or something -- I actually jump, startled. I wonder if she can tell sometimes. It seems so obvious to me.

Margo flashes me her Margo Grin and says, "Morning, Mackenzie."

"Hey Margo," I manage. I feel dizzy. It's like fighting Vertigo-Go.

"Nice outfit. That's a good color for you."

My ears are buzzing. What did she say? My outfit? I'm wearing chinos and a green bowling shirt and these kick ass black Prada sneakers. "Oh, uh, this old thing?" I actually say that. God, what an absolute wanker I am.

Mistaking my idiocy for wit, she laughs a little. She sort of crinkles her nose when she laughs.

"Hey, you ever been to Turbine City?" she asks.

"Yeah, two years ago I tracked a vampire to Turbine City and killed it in a sewer," I say. Actually, that's what I think of saying. Instead, I just kind of make a strangled affirmative noise.

"Is that a yes?" She cocks here eyebrow like Dr McCoy.

"Yeah, Turbine City. Love it. Hate the Turbos, though."

"Oh my God, they suck, don't they? I hate those guys." If possible, I love her even more now. I happen to know for a fact that the Turbos' quarterback Bret Convy has low range super agility; it just doesn't show up on blood tests. Turbos: worse team in the league.

"Well, their suckiness aside, how'd you like to go to Turbine City and do some of your presentation voodoo next week?"

"Care to elaborate?" I say. I'm trying to be nonchalant. Is she going too?

"We got the green light for Delphi," she says, beaming. Delphi is her baby, I'm just one of the marketing/packaging guys. "InterBionics wants to take a look, and they want us to fly out!"

"Hey, that's great! I'd high five you, but I'd look like a geek."

"No, no, high five me!" she says, jumping up, giddy.

We high five, laughing. It's like a moment.

"So are you in?" she says.

"I'm in. So, uhh, who all's going?" Smooth.

"Well, me of course, and Loretta and Keith. And you! I know you haven't worked with our group much, but we're actually really horrible human beings."

I laugh.

There's an awkward moment when we kind of don't say anything, and I feel my face getting hot. "So when are we leaving, what's the schedule? Can I go to the Midnight Rambler Museum?"

"We leave on the 8th, come back on the 10th. Meal expenses and everything. I'll email you the details." She gathers her paper and Odwalla and says, "Nice to have you onboard, Mackenzie."

"Yeah, great!" I say lamely, and then she's gone with a swish of pleated skirt.

I'm going to Turbine City with Margo.



The Batcave II

Okay, have I mentioned that I have a room upstairs completely devoted to my comic book collection? I have two dozen long boxes and a bookshelf full of geek stuff, and some cool posters. I have some Bill Sienkiewicz art on the wall, a kick ass Alex Ross Space Ghost poster, and my pride and joy, some framed Neil Adams Avengers pages. Envy me, fanboy.

Elsewhere in the house is the Secret Chamber, where I keep all my Velvet Marauder stuff.

Without getting into too much detail, I have a hidden door that leads into a room behind my never-used fireplace. I’m pretty sure the renters who lived in the house before me used the Secret Chamber as a grow room, because when I bought the house it smelled like pot in there.

The Secret Chamber is pretty fucking cool. I can’t afford proper subterranean headquarters, but I still wanted it to feel like a superhero hideout, so I kind of went crazy with the interior d├ęcor.

A motion sensor triggers recessed lighting when you open the secret door, and a small spotlight illuminates a jumbo Velvet Marauder logo on the opposite wall. My costume is mounted on a pedestal in one corner in a Plexiglas display tube -- sort of like how Batman has the dead Robin costume on display in the Batcave. It's very dramatic, it's got its own little floodlight and everything.

The command console takes up an entire wall of the not-so-big chamber. Honestly, it’s just a computer, a panel of six video screens, and assorted paraphernalia, but all the hardware is mounted into this custom console that makes it look like more “superhero” if you know what I mean. My close-circuit cameras in the front and back of the house feed into the command unit, and get this – if you ring the doorbell, red alert lights switch on in the command center to let me know I have a visitor/intruder. Cool, huh?

I designed the whole chamber myself. The floor is polished black Formica. The walls are covered with dull-finish metal sheeting that look suitably militant. I have a couple steel girders on the ceiling. They’re not load-bearing or anything, they just look like the kind of thing you'd have in a secret headquarters. I threw in a couple of finishing touches like pointless blinking lights and a flat screen video map of Evergreen City on one wall.

I love my Secret Chamber. Most nights I don’t even watch movies in the living room, I just kick it in the Chamber with some pizza and watch DVDs on the command console.

I have this recurring fantasy where Margo finds out my secret identity. She’s over at my house having drinks or something and she accidentally finds the entrance to the Secret Chamber while I’m out of the room. I find her in the Chamber, stunned, checking out the Velvet Marauder set-up. She turns to me and says, “Somehow, I’ve always known.” Then she falls into my arms and we kiss and kiss.

File this fantasy under: "Fat Fucking Chance"