CHAPTER 11: POWDER KEG HELL-HOLE
Natasha and Faust landed farther uptown than tourists are usually encouraged to go and, in all their years of searching, they'd never seen such glorious decay. Rotting brownstones rose and fell under a terminal grey sky. Together, they drank in the dope, death and despair of the teeming millions yearning to breathe free airplane glue in a plastic bag on a fire escape. What better place than this to launch their masturbatory plans?
They spotted three young girls jumping rope, double-dutch in the street. Natasha, maternal as a black widow spider, and Faust, the malevolent smurf, did nothing to put them at their ease.
"Where did you come from?" asked one little girl, too young to be afraid.
"We're from an inner space, dear. Tell me, do you live out here on the boulevard?"
The little one pointed toward a dilapitated four-story walk-up off in the distance.
"Your parents, they have abandoned you to a life of petty crime and stultifying boredom. When they do grace you with their presence, they're too busy fornicating with the television on to know that you even exist, isn't that right?"
The rope stopped turning and the girls became nervously quiet. Then one of them burst into tears and the three of them ran off sobbing down the street. Natasha turned on her heel like MacArthur in a tiki lounge.
"Children, I shall return."
As twilight fell, the stares that followed the pair of them got uglier. A woman like Natasha commands attention anywhere, but here she was a gyrating powder-keg. Behind them they felt eyes boring holes in their backs, legs catching up to them. Finally, five teenage hoods with their own movable soundtrack pulled the inevitable.
First, there was the name calling and intimidation and, when his patience had worn thin, there was Faust. On Mars a man's size isn't important. Limbs are built for violent disruption, but attitude won battles and Faust had a motherlode.
The little man strangled one of the juvenile jokers until he turned blue, eyes bulging out like a slaughtered bass. The comrade who came to his aid with a broken malt liquor bottle got it returned the hard way, right through his colon.
Natasha ripped off her shirt and shot from the areolas a nerve gas designed to peel the skin off of your throat. (That little trick was a souvenir of the time that she mainlined a silo full of World War I surplus goods and washed it down with a plutonium chaser.) Thirty seconds later the melee was history.
To put it mildly, the street thugs got a Martian jolt and they never came back for seconds.
The she-wolf and her runt surveyed the damage that fit in so well with the sprawl of the sick, naked city. Natasha's face was pensive, her brows cutting a wide furrow on her smooth white forehead, a look that usually meant disaster of the pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later variety. Then a smile crept over her blood red lips.
"What perfectly tacky little jogging outfits. Can't these gangsters wear something a bit...earthier? And this music..."
With that she set off a depth charge under the oversized boom-box that sent it spiraling into orbit, sprinkling plastic shrapnel everywhere and replacing the hard driving funk that had been the brawls' theme with an eerie, celestial silence.
"It's enough to wake the dead," she mused, and they walked on contented.
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CHAPTER 12: ENOUGH RUTHLESS OBSCENITY