Beauty Queens


“Ladybird, why do we not have the sex? A little less conversation and a little more action, please.”

“You are so fresh, Peacock!” MoMo answered himself in a high, Ladybird Hope voice. “Let us to watch episodes of Captains Bodacious now, and in the morning, we kill defenseless animals with our big guns.”

“As you wish, Ladybird. Dreams come true in Blue Hawaii.”

With a sigh, MoMo settled into the enormous bed and watched the state-sanctioned news, which told of the army’s resounding defeat of the mountainside rebels. This was not entirely true. The rebels were a constant annoyance, an unlanced bunion on the foot of the country. But soon he would take care of that problem. Soon, he would travel by yacht to The Corporation’s private island, away from prying government eyes. The arms deal would be made with no trouble. He reached over and opened the desk drawer that housed the secret DVD he had made, his insurance policy that everything would go according to MoMo’s plans.

MoMo cackled. “Oh, sometimes, General Good Times, I am to make myself so happy with my scheming. It is like I am Elvis Presley in Roustabout and those college boys are in for a surprise karate chop. Oh. But you have not touched your food, my friend.”

General Good Times, the stuffed lemur, sat in the leather desk chair. He had been dressed in his special ninja pajamas with the words Silent Killah stitched over the breast pocket.

MoMo flicked on the TV to watch Captains Bodacious. It was a rerun, but he didn’t mind. He liked those rock-star pirates. His favorite was the one called “Casanova of the Sea,” who kept a blog about his romantic conquests. Maybe one day, he would meet them all, tour their ship, see the gangplank and the cannons for himself, wear the white, poufy shirt of the captain, shake hands with Casanova. Maybe he would kill one of them for fun. Maybe not. Mood was everything.

“I like these pirates, Ladybird. They bring the giggles,” MoMo said to his imaginary fiancée. “When we are married, let the cameras to follow us always, even when we make the pee-pee. Let us never to live in private. Private is for small people, yes?”

“Yes,” he answered in his high Ladybird voice. “We are not small people. We are stars.”

“Soon, we will have our weapons. I will release the videotape, and we will be famous on American TV. Sing along, General Good Times.”

General Good Times did not respond.

The scientist sneaked from the compound to the abandoned temple where he had secreted tubs of Lady ’Stache Off and an old radio he’d outfitted with some new wiring. It only needed to be assembled to make contact. Benny’s stocks had taken a real header during the last crash. By his calculations, he wouldn’t be able to retire before he turned ninety-eight. Corporate espionage was the answer. Another company would pay highly for his weaponized jars of Lady ’Stache Off. That’s why he had hidden a case of them and the radio in the old temple. Now all he had to do was rewire the radio, send a message, and wait for his contact to arrive.

Once inside the temple, he was surprised to discover that his weaponized jars of Lady ’Stache Off were no longer there. Nor was the radio or his ration kit. Instead, he was looking at the business end of a gun.

“Going somewhere, Benny?”

Benny held up his hands and backed away. “I-I just needed some fresh air.”

“That’s a good idea. I think we need some fresh air in the department, Benny.” The laugh echoed in the ruins. A flock of birds scurried through the broken roof as if sensing trouble. “That was a good line. You gotta admit.”

Benny tripped over a gnarled vine and fell hard to the ground, his hands still up in a defensive gesture. “Please …”

“Who’s your contact, Benny?”

“I’ll tell you! It’s …”

The gun, a Corporation Git R Done 447, went off, killing Benny instantly. He lay sprawled against the rocks. The top of his head was missing.

“Oh, dammit!” Harris said. “Thought they fixed that.” Harris kicked Benny’s inert body and sighed. He hadn’t gotten the information he needed, which was a real bummer. It was going to take a lot of Pong to make him feel better.


(Images of Americana scroll across the screen: Fourth of July picnic. Loving families. A suburban neighborhood. Playground.)


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