A little back story here-A good friend of mine, known to me as EmEfferson, has a show called “Freddy’s Fan Fiction”. It’s broadcast live, and consists of a panel of guests reading Fan Fiction. At the end of the episode, the guests pick elements to be included in a new, original work of fan fiction, written by one of the guests. Two weeks ago, I was given the elements “The Mario Universe, Dinosaurs, Clowns and Bangin'”. For some reason it occurred to me to write it first-person, noir/crime fic style. This was the result. Enjoy.

I could hear the big man yelling from the moment I stepped out of the kitchen and into the back hallway. It sounded like a righteous tear but really, when wasn’t it with him? And to be completely honest I’d willfully induced this fit. Yeah, I was late. Yeah, this was important fucking business. But sometimes you gotta remind people how exactly you fit in to their operation.

I might work for the classless asshole, but I sure as fuck don’t belong to him. At least, as long as I can keep out of his pocket. That was the hard part right there but as long as I keep my chompers off his product and my accounts in the green, I could bask in the luxury that was answering “Jump!” with “Maybe later.”

“…and someone find me that god damned fork tongued…dearest friend of mine,” he bellowed, changing his tune as I stepped through the door and leaned against the wall. “Nice of you to finally grace us with your fucking presence.” His forced geniality could barely conceal the rage boiling beneath the surface; his head barely containing the pressure of his blood and undoubtedly clogged arteries within his body.

Silence was always wiser when he was wound up; it’s harder to be accused of being an asshole when you haven’t said anything. I instead shook a smoke free and bowed my head to light it, a practiced and painfully precise maneuver. I’m proud of that one; it took me two months to learn. Let it never be said that ‘Shi is a quitter.

I glanced through the lighter flame at Mister Koopa himself, on his throne, the giant “executive” office chair shoved behind the second-hand desk, surrounded by the various brats he’d brought into this world and taught to be miserable fucks like himself. Bowser was an ugly one for sure; he looked like a mastiff and a turtle got it in their heads one night to rape a longhorn, who later tried to drown the baby in gasoline. The reek of the cigar he seemed to perpetually smoke permeated even the restaurant and in the office it was near suffocating. Luckily, ever since The Fall, I’d been practicing coating my own lungs thoroughly with the tar of my choice and hardly noticed anymore. When he spoke again it was gravelly and coarse, like Tom Waits if he’d been hit by a bus a few more times.

“Look, I don’t want to fuck around with this. We’re close. We’re too close. This could have all been over already if that clown we’d hired…”

At the mention of Rudy I arched an eyebrow and tried not to smile. Koopa just tried to frown harder.

“Yeah, yeah, you fucking told us so, you happy, ‘Shi?” he grumbled, then continued, “Anyway, Rudy fucked us over. Just like you said, couldn’t keep his nose clean long enough to get the job done. Now he’s coked out of his gourd and refusing to give us the contact…like it’s the only thing keeping us from killing him.” The Koopa Clan didn’t get the joke but both Bowser and I snorted. Rudy was an idiot but his sense of self preservation was astounding. Of course it was the only thing keeping his insides inside at the moment. I jerked my chin at the fat envelope on his desk and he handed it to Junior to walk over to me.

“Standard fare,” he said before I could ask, “plus a G on top, given the delicate nature of the situation Rudy left us in. The other chunk of change goes to the dame when you find her. She’ll count it so if you’d like to keep smoking those shit sticks you favor, don’t touch her cut.” Like it reminded him to smoke, he ashed the cigar in a cereal bowl and look a long draw before offering it to me which I declined, as always.

“Someday, ‘Shi, someday. Rolled on the thighs of beautiful virgins and as lovely as an angel fart.” One more puff smoked it to the band and he snuffed it out then leaned forward, back to business. “The clown’s in the basement. Get the info from him and he’s all yours. And as long as the lady delivers, we’re golden. Got it?”

I nodded and turned to leave but paused in the doorway when he called after me.

“And Yoshi-don’t fucking touch him. I’ll stick to our end of the bargain but if you go all fucking psycho on him once you find out where he’s hiding…you’re next on the list.” He paused, letting the threat sink in, letting the fact that he’d read my mind to a T chill me a little, before he asked, “Do we have an understanding?”

I stared at him long and hard over my shoulder, hating his shitty children, hating what he’d built for himself, hating his fucking disgusting personality. But if I crossed him, I’d be dismembered and sinking down a dozen different lakes on a dozen different levels before I even had time to hide. I sighed and gave one short nod.

“Answer me,” he demanded. I swallowed a little bit of my pride and met his eye.

“Rawr.”

With that, I turned and left him to go find the clown.

Chp 2

I hate the basement. I’ve always hated the basement. I’d rather be locked in a plastic bin with one of Bowser’s cigars and Junior’s unwashed stench of excess sweat and too much knob polishing than be down here. The smell was foul but I can handle foul; the smell of spilled bowels and piss can only bug someone like me for so long.

No, the problem was the smell of what came after. Even the restaurant couldn’t rival it and no amount of cleaning could erase it. Like a shark in the water I was drawn to the tinges of copper, the smell of old blood in the dank earth, the memories of the meat. It stirred the monster inside of me, a fucking monkey on my back about my true nature and the dark side of myself I tried to keep tucked away and hidden from the light of day.

Luckily, down here, ‘day’ could only be measured by the clock on the wall. And eventually, the monster has to be fed.

The Troopas had Rudy tied to a chair in the center of the room, conveniently next to the drain in the floor. They played cards at a table by the door, gambling what looked like smokes and snacks. As I came in they laid down their hands and nodded to me, one of them hopping up to spray Rudy in the face with a hose that hung from the ceiling. We’d done this dance a few times before and without being told, they pulled out my favorite tool box and started unpacking and plugging in.

Rudy jolted and coughed out water, going from asleep to vibrating in the speed of a dog fart. Poor guy; he’d been good people back in the day. Nobody said anything as long as he paid his tab every month showed up to the kids’ parties with his lips painted on straight and plenty of balloons in hand. Just like everyone else eventually, though, he got in too deep with Bowser, and then he got under Bowser. Seems like Mommy didn’t like the clown showing up two hours late with a hooker in tow and a swastika painted on his forehead, so he took up doing work for the dealer himself. We did a few jobs together but it was hard working with the guy; I’ve known bloodhounds who sniffed less than this clown.

Now look at the sad, fat fuck. It was hard to even see the black eyes and swollen lip under the crusty, thick white foundation that looked like it’d been smeared on sometime last week. Ah, well. He’d been ready to dig his grave for a while, Bowser finally just handed him a shovel.

“Sh-sh-sh-‘Shi,” he stammered. “Thank Christ, buddy, those little fuck have had me down here for so long. You gotta help, man, I got the info, we can find Prin…” he trailed off when the Troopa who’d sprayed him, Benny, reached up to hand me a drill. Half inch bit. Good call on the little man…turtle…whatever. Rudy’s eyes got wide when I pulled the trigger and watched the bit spin up rapidly in the maw of the drill. I nodded at Benny and started walking towards Rudy. A Troopa had sat a chair for me a couple feet out from where he was tied and I had a seat, digging the bit in behind his kneecap and holding the drill vertically. Words weren’t necessary; Rudy trembled uncontrollably as I stared meaningfully at him.

“I thought…” he started weakly then gulped as I just shook my head. “Fuck you then!” he yelled, suddenly finding his nerve through the coke and the pain, flecks of spit landing on my face. I nodded once, and pulled the trigger.

We’d found that work jeans couldn’t even gum up my drill, my baby, so Rudy’s clown suit gave way like warm butter. For that matter, so did his skin and the tender, wasted meat below it. He screamed but not half as hard as when I thudded dully, briefly, into his thigh bone. It resisted for only a moment before it too gave way, the bit pulling bits of bone and marrow out along with the flesh and ruin of the rest of thigh.

He was ready to talk after the first leg. The second was just for fun.

I sat smoking in front of him once he’d finished talking while the guys packed up. There was a certain disappointment every time they gave so easily. So many tools, too many weak willed assholes. There were some tools I hadn’t even had a chance to unpack yet. I’d just return them but I had a feeling ‘nobody ever lasts past the sawz-all’ wasn’t a valid return option in the computer at Sears. Rudy cringed when I flicked ash into the holes above his knees but I doubted he could feel it much, it was probably just a visceral reaction at the site.

His eyes pleaded with me and it made me sick. He knew he was in his final moments and he was choosing to spend then begging for a pet and a treat like a kicked dog.

“Please, ‘Shi. For old time’s sake. Don’t let me go out low man. One more bump, you gotta let me have one more bump. You’d do that for me, right, buddy?”

Rudy flinched, squeaked and farted when I stood suddenly and kicked my chair, throwing my smoke in his lap. He looked around the room for help in a panic and found it empty, the Troopas leaving behind only a note with her number written down. They knew the routine and would come back later to clean up after me. I smiled at Rudy and leaned down, eye to eye with him, licking my lips. The hot scent of fresh piss, biting and sweet, wafted up to me from the chair but like I said, it only matters for so long. From my throat I gave a low growl and smiled, watching a tear roll down his cheek and the snot bubble in his nose.

“Just make it quick,” he said quietly, squeezing his eyes shut.

I laughed once, and started with his feet.

Chapter 3

I called her after I’d showered and come down from high that always lingered after the basement. Just like Rudy had instructed I let it ring three times, redialed, two more rings, and redialed once more. When she answered I could hear the apprehension in her voice but there was something else. Relief, maybe? I thought they’d been close but I also knew what he could be like, how he could use people, how he could make you hold him up like some god right before he cast you away to further himself. I didn’t know what she’d been through with him and it didn’t matter as long as she had what I needed.

“Finally,” she said into the phone, voice smoky and low, more tired than the last time we’d spoken. “Do you have a pen?”

“Rawr,” I lied. Like I could reach the fucking paper even if I had a pen. My voice gave her pause, though.

“It’s you,” was all she said. A statement. Neither an exclamation nor a condemnation, but merely fact.

“Rawr” I confirmed anyway and waited, her reaction suddenly the only thing that mattered. Maybe I was just growing old and sentimental but the idea of seeing her again, if only briefly, made me miss home and the days we’d all had together, picnics in the grass, flags flying high. My heart hurt when she only sighed and said flatly,

“Good. Rudy was a creepy asshole.” Another pregnant pause, like she was trying to think of what came next.

“Look, Yoshi, I…” The brief statement sounded pained and cut off before it could mean anything.

“Ra?” I tried to gently urge but she only sighed into the receiver again.

“Iggy’s Drive’N’Stay, room 127. It’s off the 10 by Norton’s Taco Town, on the corner of Nes and Sunrise. 11PM, bring the money. Got it?” The tone was flat again. Dead. It made me want to kill the bastard even more.

“Rawr.”

“Good” was all she said before hanging up.

I stood, listening to the dial tone for a few moments, trying to wrestle the conversation and my emotions into some semblance of order. Finding none, I gently sat the handset back into the cradle and stared blankly at it, thinking about Him. About Mario. About how he’d ruined everything and everyone around him with his senseless violence and endless greed, his drug induced rampages and his delusions. The rage caught me off-guard and before I could control myself I leaned in & ripped the phone off the wall, throwing it across the kitchen. It caught the corner of the drying rack and took my mismatched thrift store dishes down with it, the cheap ceramic shattering on the cheap linoleum in my cheap, shitty apartment. Of course I knew the Drive’N’Stay, the only place I could afford to live was right up the fucking road.

I managed to rein myself in before I could wreck the entire place and have the neighbors calling the landlord again. Instead of continuing to smash what little I owned, I grabbed the nearest bottle of Jack and threw a straw straight into the bottle. If this was going to work I had to calm down and what better way than to drown the feelings in a sea of whiskey?

I watched 127 for a while before I knocked. No one came, no one left. No pimps knocked on the door and no office asshole came knocking, looking to collect the hourly fees. The only sign of life was the delicate pale hand that frequently pulled the curtains back to allow her piercing blue eyes to peer out into the night, ringlets of golden blond back lit by shitty hotel lighting and a running television; a soft, glowing halo contradicted by the hookers, pimps, and harsh light of the parking lot she gazed out into.

Eleven sharp I rapped three times on her door and waited, ignoring the glares and curious looks from the other denizens of the Drive’N’Stay. You didn’t tend to see my type around places like this.

Shit, you just tended not to see my type.

“It’s open” she called, mercifully before I could contemplate ‘my type’ to a greater extent. With the TV off the room was dim, the darkness mocking the feeble attempts of the lamp to drive it out. As I stepped in I heard the click of a pistol hammer being pulled back and saw a brief flash of steel from across the room.

“Close the door,” she called softly and I obeyed, never taking my eyes off her dark form in the far corner. “Money on the bed. Keep your hands where I can see them.” I snorted and rolled my eyes at her but threw the money down anyway. I watched her inch towards me, terrified but confident, face set and grim.

My poor Peach. She was still as beautiful as the day was long but there was a hardness there she’d never had before, and the light-hearted girl I’d met above was long gone. Even sunk so low she refused to give up the dresses and the color and, although dingy and frayed at the hem, I could imagine her no other way.

Well, one other way.

Or a few.

“Rawr?” I asked softly and she set her jaw.

“It has to be this way, ‘Shi. I have to get out of here, and that,” she said, pointing at the envelope of cash with the pistol, “is my ticket.”

It was the distraction I needed, the split second of shifted focus. By the time she’d realized her mistake I’d already wrapped my tongue around the gun and yanked it out of her hands. I dropped it into my own and deftly unloaded and dismantled it before casting it away behind me. Peach was frozen, terrified; eyes wide and unsure of what to expect. She looked like a rabbit cornered by a fox.

She looked like Rudy had at the very end.

Shit.

I tried to smile but I was tired of pretending everything was okay. Instead, I shrugged as best I could, sat on the bed and looked her in the eyes.

“Rawr.” I pointed to the cash and stared in my lap. Fuck Mario. Fuck Bowser. If I could get her out of here, it would make it all worth it.

I jumped a little when she rushed me and threw her arms around my neck, hugging me and sobbing. Futilely, I tried to hug her back, trying to bring her some comfort and solace. The tears soaked my shirt and made it stick to my scales but I didn’t care, no, not when I was holding Peach. In between sobs she tried to talk, tried to tell me how horrible it’d all been. I couldn’t tell her I knew, I couldn’t let her see the blood thirsty monster I’d become, so instead I patted her on the upper arm shushed her.

“Shhh…raw-rawr…shhh.”

We sat like that for a minute, for an hour, for days; it didn’t matter. I should have been livid that he’d hurt her so badly but instead all I felt was sorrow. I’d at least been nobody when I’d lost everything; she’d been a Princess, for fuck’s sake. Eventually however she calmed and sat on the bed, sipping water I’d fetched in the tiny hotel cup from the bathroom.

“Thank you,” she muttered and wiped her eyes. “It’s been a long…well, it’s…it’s been rough, Yoshi.” I smiled and nodded my agreement.

“So you work for Bowser now?”

“Rawr.”

She looked unsure what to think about that. “What do you do for him?” When I just shook my head, she bit her lip and nodded.

“Rawr?” I asked and she leaned into me.

“Yeah, I’m okay. Or, at least I will be. Eventually. It still hurts, you know? I guess it always will, but I’ll feel a little bit better once Bowser’s through with him. Or not, I’m not sure.” She met my eyes suddenly and looked slightly panicked. “Oh god, ‘Shi, I’m so sorry, of course you know, I haven’t had it half as bad as…” she stopped once I’d put a finger to her lips and smiled, shaking my head. I’d had my pity party and came out the other side alive and that was as much as I could ask. She pulled my palm to her face and held it against her cheek, eyes closed.

“Sorry about the gun,” she said, opening her eyes again and smiling weakly. “This is all so foreign, and Rudy really made me nervous.” The memory of tearing into him, of his screams, suddenly surface, and I smiled. Normally I hid those away and denied them but I found myself reveling in that on; Rudy had scared Peach, and I’d eaten Rudy.

“What?” she quizzed. “Why are you smiling?”

“Rawr,” I answered and she laughed, a light and happy sound I was afraid she’d lost. She looked at the gun against the wall. When she looked back I could have sworn there was a hint of my old Peach in there, a brief, mischievous sparkle in her eye returned. Her hand landed on my thigh as she narrowed her eyes at me.

“I’d forgotten about your tongue,” she said, biting her lip again and staring evilly at my mouth. “I’ve always wondered exactly how talented it…you…are.” Her voice was husky as she moved her hand higher, causing my breath to catch as she leaned up to gently kiss and nibble at my throat. “I paid for the room all night,” she offered, swinging her leg over mine to sit facing me, giving a delicate “Ooh” as she pressed into the bulge of my swelling sex, before finishing, “if you want to give me an in-depth lesson with it that would be all right with me.”

I groaned in her ear as she held me and bit my neck. She only had a few more moments to back out before I took her wildly and I forced myself to push her back and stare frantically in her eyes, looking for any doubt or second thoughts.

“Rawr?” I asked, and she smiled wickedly at me before answering.

“Rawr.”

Chapter 4

By the time the desk clerk came banging on the door for another hour’s fees, her spot in the bed had cooled. She’d been gone for hours. I knew. I knew when she was leaving but what was there to say? ‘Stay with me in my shit hole and we slow can grow to hate each other together?’ No, the greater grace was in quietly letting her slip out into the night, money tucked safely in her clothes and gun tucked in her waistband. She’d left a note on the stationary before she left but once the door had shut after her, between us, most likely forever, I merely lay in bed and smoked until my throat was sore.

It didn’t matter if she’d left the info or not. If she had, Bowser would be happy and I guess I’d get the best ending I could hope for. If not, well, I’d be in Bowser’s debt until I wound up in the basement like Rudy, begging for another line and a quick death and even then I might get to have a go at Mario once we found him. Win-Win for this Lose-Lose-Loser.

The clerk banged again and I threw the door open and just stared. His angry, tough-guy façade was instantly replaced with very real mortal fear and he stammered an apology before running away. No matter, I was on my way out anyway. After another hot shower I gathered what little I’d brought and was about to head out when I remembered the note.

No goodbye.

No thank-you.

Merely an address and a phone number. Mario’s, I assumed.

And under the note, a single hundred dollar bill. That single, solitary, dingy piece of green paper reminded me suddenly that I’d forgotten to take my cut out of the envelope.

I wanted to be upset and angry, but all I could think about was how Peach had moved under me, over me, with me last night. Smiling, I pocketed both and left the Drive’N’Stay to do a little recon before I took the info to Bowser.

And if the opportunity presented itself, maybe I’d snag a little Italian snack on the way, Bowser be damned. Who knows, maybe things are finally turning around. Maybe I’ll get lucky twice in one day.

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