Don Gerund, P.I. (Proofreading Investigator)
Double Negative Indemnity
Tonight’s Episode: Dead Men Don’t Wear White After Labor Day
Churchy was the smartest dame I ever knew. I just hoped her brains were as big as the roscoe she had pointed at my head.
“You shouldn’t have fired me like you did, Gerund.”
I gave her a look like she had voted for Limberbutt McCubbins in the presidential election. “Fired you? What the hell are you talking about? You never showed up for work that day!”
Her eyes burned with Hell’s fury. “You asshole! You changed the locks on me!”
“Changed? Are you out of your conk? I never….”
Suddenly, she started jumping around like a coked-up Chihuahua on a mini-tramp. A familiar-looking mug stepped from the all-concealing shadows: Skunk Mayflower, industrial chemist and able-bodied fist man, accompanied by his pet guinea pig, Ibid. He fiddled with a hand-held device that seemed to be directly related to Churchy’s bizarre jerkiness. “Hey, boss, the Carbon Sono-Oscillator works great!”
His boss, Rock Ravage, also stepped out of the all-concealing shadows, but with a lot more bronze-skinned, muscle-bound panache. “It’s a good thing she’s wearing diamond earrings to help carry the sonic waves. I guess they’re not always a girl’s best friend!”
Herr Colonel Wilhelm Sheissemeister, not getting Ravage’s cheesed-up humor, screamed like an impudent little girl. “Schweinhund! Men, get him!”
Too bad Sheissemeister never learned how heroic rescue missions work. From out of the woodwork leaped all the rest of Ravage’s cohorts: Baconator Creek, Lenny Lenwick, Brainy Littlebrain and Long-Haired-Hippy Roberts. An all-out donnybrook ensued, and I was reminded of the time I invited the National Organization of Womyn Wrestlers and the Misogynist League of Pencil-Necked Geeks to my Fourth of July cookout a few years back. I’m still removing bits of hotdog from the patio furniture.
Just when I thought I’d be stuck to my chair for the rest of this story, I heard Sassy Gunsel’s voice behind me. “Hang on, Don! Let me see if I can’t get this…oh, for the love of Harvey Milk, who tied these knots?” He indignantly stood up and addressed the free-for-all. “Okay, do any of you bitches have a knife I could borrow?”
The crowd stopped in mid-punch, except for Baconator, who gave his Nazi an absent-minded paste in the puss. Everyone searched their pockets, and Lenny wordlessly tossed him a Swiss Army knife. Gunsel caught it in mid-air, and thanked Lenny by blowing him a kiss. He cut the ropes while the boys went back to their tiff.
I stood up and rubbed my wrists, wondering how my life had become a Warner Brother’s cartoon, when Churchy appeared in my face. “Look, Gerund, you may have won this round. But,” and she pulled out her compact, “I’ll get you next time! Just you wait!” She flung her compact powder everywhere and disappeared in the cloud.
I yelled after her, “Damn you, La Femme! You know I hate clichés!”
As the cloud settled, Ravage and his associates rounded up the badly beaten Grammar Nazis. Ravage dusted off his hands and theatrically pronounced, “Well, so much for these idiomatic fascists! I guess it’s up to the International Criminal Proofreading Organization to take it from here.”
I grumbled. “Yeah, InterProof. I’m familiar with those mugs.” I looked at the steaming pile of Sheissemeister in front of me. “Ravage, you do good work. Thanks.”
He put his hands to his waist and puffed out his chest as if he were at a photoshoot for the JC Penney’s underwear catalog. “Don’t thank me. Thank the moon’s gravitational pull!”
I shrugged, too tired to be confused. As they dragged the steaming pile away, I walked over to the copy of “Atlanta Nights” that lay on the floor and picked it up. Sassy took the black book from me and gave it a heft. “Goodness, it’s heavier than Divine’s makeup! What is it, really?”
I removed the fake dust jacket to reveal The Maltese Dictionary. I smiled at him and replied, “The stuff dreams are defined by.”
Gunsel gave me a heavy sigh. ” Don, don’t you realize that the island of Malta quit speaking Maltese over thirty years ago? They speak English now.”
I put my face in my palm and slowly shook my pounding head. “Just as well, Kid. This gig would’ve ended up in a bust, anyway. Percy the Participle always pays with a bum check.” I tossed the heavy black book into a dumpster as we walked out of the warehouse.
On our way back to the office, my ever-faithful administrative assistant put his arm around my shoulders. “Don, I have a confession to make.”
I looked up at him in surprise. “Whoa, Kid, you know I lack that type of directional oscillating function!”
He rolled his eyes. “Jeez, Don, I know you don’t swing that way. No! I mean, I wanted to tell you that…well, I was the one who changed the locks so Churchy would never come back.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You?”
“Yeah. I wanted the job that bad.” He looked me in the eye. “Besides, Don, you know that skirts are nothing but trouble.”
I nodded. Sassy Gunsel was twisted and needy–exactly what I wanted in a secretary. “You’re a good man, sister. A really good man. Sister.”
All images and Photoshop illustrations courtesy of Allyson Brooks, Georgia State University, and Atomic Kommie Comics.