Under 30: Part 24

“Next up is uh… ‘Copacobana’. I wasn’t sure whether to put it or ‘Mandy’ on the list. I checked, and they both sounded equally awful.”

Jaclyn barely let me stop before she responded. “I think I heard ‘Copacobana’ once, but nevermind, let’s get to stage two. Rocket, you’re on.”

Me? Yes, me. Why? Not because of my powers of persausion. It was because I had a built-in PA system.

“Right, I’ll move in.”

I flew in over the crowd with Vaughn. The rain wasn’t bad, but it was steady, falling in large drops.

Over the loudspeakers, Barry Manilow sang, “His name was Rico, he wore a diamond…”

People watched me, looking up with slightly confused expressions on their faces. People sheltered under trees. Some held blankets or backpacks over their heads. A few began to walk away toward the big, brick, lecture halls on the edge of the park.

The monkeys that didn’t huddle around Bongo Boy (who was gathering up the remains of his drums) climbed the trees.

Some were bigger than I’d have expected, more ape than monkey-sized, but they weren’t apes. They had tails. Could they be giant monkeys? Extra-diminsional monkeys? Or, if Bongo Boy were some kind of monkey god, could they be supernatural?

I had no idea.

Halfway across the crowd, I stopped.

The whole crowd stared at me—probably the most people I’d ever knowingly addressed at once. After we’d caught the Mayor I’d been on TV and I’d probably talked to more people, but I couldn’t see them all. It had been a few people plus news cameras.

I probably even knew some of them.

I tried to remember what I had to say. I’d practiced a little. I’d written an outline, but I didn’t have it with me. It struck me that I could have worked out a way to use the Rocket suit’s readouts as a teleprompter.

That would have been better.

“Uh…” I began, my voice amplified, and audible for several city blocks. I was doing great.

“You’re being used,” I said. “I bet most of you don’t even know why you’re here. You saw something happening, decided to check it out and stayed. Some of you probably got called by friends. It seemed important somehow, but you didn’t know why. It seemed like you were striking a blow against something, but you didn’t know what.

“I can’t tell you everything, but right now you’re being influenced. There are real revolutions, but this isn’t one of them. For your own safety, I’m asking you to please go home. Come back when you can tell me why you’re here.”

As the words sank in, the rain fell harder, hitting, and rolling down the front of my helmet.

It felt good to stop, but even better that people began to walk away. In my grandfather’s hands, the Rocket suit had come to represent something a person could trust. I tended to forget it, but I could tap into that goodwill.

“Everybody go,” I said. “This is important.”

The song had changed to “MacArthur Park” during the speech. Over the sound of an orchestra, a man sang, “Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don’t think that I can take it because it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have that recipe again. Oh, nooooooooooo!”

“Why’s that guy so worked up about a cake?” Vaughn asked. “And why would anyone leave it outside anyway?”

“I have no idea. Be glad I didn’t choose the disco version.”

“There’s a disco version? Oh man, you should have.”

We flew toward the hill. People ran away, and honestly, it may have been the rain more than anything I’d done.

My heart raced as we came close. Evil Beatnik’s beret was soaked with water, flattened to Mr. Beacham’s head. The ring glinted on his hand. Near him, Mr. Beacham’s girlfriend held his hand, but she didn’t seem happy.

If he’d been alone, or accompanied only by Bongo Boy, I’d have called News 10 as we’d arranged, and exposed Evil Beatnik on the air. He wasn’t alone. The Ice Twins, Mr. Madness, and Dixie Supergirl stood between us. Destruction Boy lay on the hill near Bongo Boy and all the monkeys.

The members of Justice Fist must have left with the rest of the crowd. That bothered me, but I couldn’t think why.

I knew what Vaughn and I had to do—talk them into leaving, make them understand what they served without saying it so many words.

“Make it quick,” Vaughn muttered to me. I thought I caught a little nervousness in his voice.

One of the Ice Twins—White, or, in reality, Cassidy—said, “I’ve got a message for you from our leader.”

“What are we,” Vaughn said (quietly), “Martians?”

Dixie Supergirl snorted, but White kept on talking, “He says leave, or the rest of our people will destroy the power plant. Dig?”

21 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 24”

  1. Also, with him flying over the crowd, I could only think that that would have been a perfect moment to have the Trololo song going… “aaaaayyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

  2. “He says leave, or the rest of our people will destroy the power plant. Dig?”

    To which the correct response is “no”:

    A) It would appear to be their only bargaining chip
    B) They have no obvious means of communication with their “other people”
    C) As “Justice Fist” would appear to be their other people, simply broadcasting on News 10 that they have gone rogue may prompt them to change sides……they are more than a little image concious after all…..
    D) Beatnik’s powers have been weakened due to the loss of bongoboy’s drums – thus he may not be able to influence people over distance without some effort – which is probably why Nick is being talked to by the mooks rather than the brains. As such, a direct attack on beatnik will likely break his hold over the group at the power plant, as it is doubtful that he can concentrate on both tasks at once.
    E) At which point, revealing to beatnik’s primary crew just how much you know about them (Names, Addresses, What they study….) and how much the FBI would like that info, should be enough to scare, shock & demoralize them enough that they are no longer an effective force. They may even flee. All that’s left then is either a group of scared kids, or if they have run away, just beatnik.

  3. Jim, I can’t think of a single entry that I’ve read and felt disappointed. Please keep up the good work and while it’s good to set personal goals such as number of words, on time, etc… Don’t sweat it on our account. If you can’t make an update that’s that. We’ll moan and complain and maybe even threaten to kill ourselves but we’ll get over it and continue being thankful that you even put your work out there for us to read.

  4. I’m SO with you on that one Hydrargentium.

    Also Andrul sums up the feelings of Legionnaires everywhere quite well.

  5. I’ve got it for download on the the post where I announce it. The link text is a little light though. Click on “The League.”

  6. I only have one thing to say to this. I was interested in the story so I clicked on one of the links in Jim’s comment.

    I stared and listened in horrified fascination for a couple minutes. Then someone IM’ed me, I closed the window, and all was good again.

    Dude, I didn’t know you were going for horror. 🙂

  7. PG: I hadn’t even heard of the Trololo song until you mentioned it. Now I wish I had. It would be in there.

    Bill/Hg: I like to think that the Wall Street protests aren’t motivated by a supernatural being determined to gain power through feeding off disorder. I think they need to define their goals better if they want to change anything though.

    Mycroft: That’s a good summary of options. We’ll see what happens.

    Andrul: I don’t want to beat myself up about it, but being at least semi-professional about this is a goal. I like having a consistent day and roughly consistent word count.

    Captain Mystic: I wish my communications profs had thought that.

    Lanir: Yeah. There’s a reason these songs come up when you google “worst songs ever.”

  8. On Wall Street occupations: A lot of people have shared the sentiment that the movement needs more clearly defined goals.

    I think the “movement” ‘s premise is more fundamentally flawed than that. Some of their gripes are legit, people shouldn’t die for lack of care, and I believe that the rich should be taxed as much as the common folk.

    But, declaring war on capitalism is a fool’s errand. Forced equality to make up for inequalitites won’t work. It never has. The ability of a person to forge their own destiny is a God-given right, and you can’t take it away just because some people have a (sometimes unfair) leg up on others.

    It’s like saying “well, since some people only date people for shallow reasons, while other wonderful people who aren’t as cute, rich, strong, etc., get left in the cold, we’re going to eliminate the right to choose who you date and every will be paired up by raffle.”

    The idea is so stupid I’m sure Evil Beatnik would love it.

  9. From my understanding, other points of the protests are that the wealthier people have more of a say in government. Hard to argue with that one. Look at all the things that people like the Koch brothers can fund that affects things much more than most people, though in specific they tend to mean corporate lobbyists paying for favorable treatment over things that help everyone else.

    You also probably shouldn’t bring up Yahweh there, as the bible is big on helping poor people. In fact, it advocates some equality there, such as Luke 3:11 “He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”

    I’m not a fan of doing something solely because the bible says it, but it sounds like Yahweh’s got my back on this one, advocating about a 50% tax rate on the wealthy there…

  10. At the Gecko, you don’t even need to believe in God, Yahweh, Allah, Kahless, whoever, to understand that we have to share and that greed is in fact not good (regardless of what Gordon Gecko, wait..nevermind, says).

    But like I said I find nothing wrong with people gaining more than others, including influence, through their own HONEST efforts.

  11. Great chapter!
    Though hadn’t people been hit with that special foam (the thing Future Knight uses)? Also, where are the Defenders who were stick by the foam?

  12. They were hit by foam, it was in the same part Future Knight arrived – he sprayed the crowd, and then in turn offered his gun to get sprayed himself. Easy enough to remove the firing at the crowd though.

    Incidentally, it wasn’t totally clear to me here that “Justice Fist” were the other people (until I saw Mycroft’s comment). Then in the next part the problem seems to be to get “Justice Fist to stop”, which had me wondering, “stop what”? Possible disconnect between parts, but maybe it’s me.

  13. What’s up with dissing MacAurthur Park?

    Kids these days. No sense of poetic imagery. I blame the public school system. I tried to teach _my_ kids better.

    Now a disco version of it… That does sound horrible. Of course disco almost anything is horrible.

    On Bongo Boy…. Anyone who survived the 70s, not to mention the 80s, 90s and so on knows that is the driving beat that hammers the evil into your soul. But those of us who survived the 50s and 60s know that a good bongo will just wrap you up and deliver you without you even noticing you were snared. I’m not surprised at all that Evil Beatnik and Bongo Boy were symbiotic.

  14. Argh!

    I hadn’t listened to MacArthur Park for a few years, so I pulled out all of the versions that I have and listened to them. The Richard Harris is the first recording, but it is not as good as I remembered, but then … Richard Harris…. I hadn’t listened to it for probably 30 years. The Ray Conniff version is ok if you are in a mood for elevator music. I’ve got a 3rd cover that is the one I remembered. Unfortunately it is from a “Greatest Hits of the Decade” album, by Various, and I wasn’t careful when I ripped it, so I don’t know who the artist was, and the CD is buried.

    The bad thing is that I’ve had MacArthur Park stuck in my head for 3 weeks. It’s good, but it’s not THAT good. At least I’ve been looping the complete song, and all 3 covers, so I haven’t gone completely bonkers.

    1. Have you listened to the Weird Al Yankovic parody? You should, if you haven’t already. Also, the Donna Summers disco version is amusing if you come to it with the right attitude.

      I suspect that the right attitude is, “Let’s listen to this highly dated version of the song.”

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