Enter the Larry: Part 1

March, 1984—No doubt about it, Larry thought, the kitchen sink’s plugged. Worse, he didn’t have a snake that would fit through the little holes in the goddamn drain.

Both sides of the sink were filled nearly to the top with water. Annoying. And their drains shared the same pipe—which would make it just a little more difficult.

He decided to start with the plunger anyway. If he got nowhere he could still open up the pipes. It’d probably be what he’d do in the end anyway. He thought about that, and considered grabbing a wrench and cutting out a step. Then he reconsidered. He’d try the plunger first, and maybe it would work.

The stupid plunger.

An hour later, he found himself putting a bucket under the sink. As he picked up the wrench to start on the pipes, the dogs started barking.

He decided he’d better get out there before the dogs scared the visitor off, or, depending on who the visitor was, maybe he’d let them.

Leaving the wrench on the counter, he walked over the yellow and brown linoleum flooring, and into the living room. Looking it over, he hoped his visitor wasn’t anyone he wanted to impress. He’d left a pile of newspapers on the dark, brown, vinyl couch, and put a carburetor on top of them.

He’d deal with that later.

Opening the door, he stepped out onto the wooden landing outside his white mobile home. Even in his flannel shirt, it wasn’t warm outside. He wondered if it would make forty degrees that day, but didn’t wonder long because he’d recognized the car. Both Dobermans were barking next to the green Cadillac’s driver’s side door.

“Sid! Nancy! Down!”

The dogs didn’t listen, continuing to bark at the car.

“Sit!”

The dogs looked at him. He fished in his pockets and found the dog treats, and they walked toward him. “Sit,” he said again, and this time they actually did. He gave each of them a treat, and then grabbed their collars.

When he grabbed Sid’s collar, Joe opened the door. Joe stepped out onto the dirt driveway, looking healthy for a man in his sixties—grey-haired, and wrinkled, but not hesitant.

The dogs turned around, and started barking again. Larry didn’t let go. “Come on, you know him. Quiet, dammit.”

Joe walked toward them, leaving bootprints in the slush. “I like the new place.”

“I feel like I just moved in. Hell, I feel like I’m the only one here.”

Joe smiled, and slowly, deliberately, looked from his left to his right. “You are.”

To the left of the driveway was an old, red barn, but behind it and surrounding everything else were farmers’ fields. Pale, crumpled stalks of corn stuck partially out of the snow. There were no other houses in sight.

The dogs had stopped barking, and Larry let them go. They both started sniffing Joe’s legs.

“Well, come on in. I’m sure we don’t want to talk out here.” Larry led him in. The dogs followed.

Joe took off his winter coat, and sat down on the couch next to the carburetor.

Larry sat down in the recliner.

Joe took his eyes away from the carburetor to look at Larry. “It’s working out?”

Larry nodded. “Better than working at the plant ever did. I got a bunch of sponsors. They’re happy to pay a few thousand to put their logo on the Rhino suit. I look like a Nascar driver. It’s hilarious. You want to see? I’ve dug a bunker under the barn.”

Joe shook his head. “I’ve seen you on TV.” He paused, and then said, “I’m here on business.”

Larry nodded, and said, “Let me guess, you’re coming back out of retirement?”

Joe smiled, but only briefly. “No. Not a chance. I like waking up in the morning knowing that someone will be facing the Lords of Destruction, and that it’s not me. Nope, I’m not coming back, but some League business needs to be handled. I’m passing it off to you.”

Larry brushed some hair out of his face. He knew he should have put it into a ponytail.

“League business? So what’s it about? It’s not aliens again because it wouldn’t just be you—the Feds would be on the phone.”

“No,” Joe glanced over at the carburetor again. “It’s not another Faerie incursion. No zombie plague. The vaccinations took care of that. No Russians. They’re too busy cleaning up after Andropov’s death. So, we’re in good shape when it comes to big threats. I’m here to talk about small ones. You remember Armory?”

“Right. The guy who tried to pack every weapon he could into his suit? Worked with the Midwest Defenders a couple times?”

Joe nodded. “You remember how he handled joints?”

Larry’s eyes narrowed. “Yeah, kind of multi-layered and weird. What about it?”

“On TV I saw Chicago Hawk fighting a couple powersuits with the same joint design.”

“No kidding. Do you know that it’s him?”

“No way of knowing, but they had a lot of hidden weapons.”

“Shit. Is that a new thing or was he bad the whole time?”

Joe shrugged. “No way of knowing without talking to him, and that’s where you come in. I got a call from the Feds. It turns out similar armor’s been seen in the Metafight Games. They’re sending in a guy to investigate, and they wanted some help.”

“Who are they sending in?”

“Some guy named Lim. It sounds like it might be his first mission without supervision. Try not to break him.”

16 thoughts on “Enter the Larry: Part 1”

  1. “No zombie plague. The vaccinations took care of that.”

    …brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. My new favourite line.

  2. Unwise Owl: Thanks. I like doing them–it allows me to give some context. Plus, it’s fun to contrast the current League with their more experienced forebears.

    SuperG/Rain: With regards to the zombie line, I like to imagine that people would be more capable of dealing with a “zombie plague” than I see people being in most zombie fiction. Granted, in most cases, what people want to do is write about zombies in a post-apocalyptic setting, and if people were smart about dealing with it, they’d have no book.

    Still, humanity has almost completely destroyed smallpox, a disease that in many ways was at least as bad as “the zombie virus” that appears in most fiction. We even managed to do it without having civilization nearly get destroyed.

    Fortunately for me, my story doesn’t depend on people being stupid about preventing the spread of disease. Unfortunately for me, my story does depend on people getting powers that often don’t work with recognized physical laws.

    I’m ignoring that because if I didn’t, there’d be no story…

  3. It depends, if it is really something like a “virus” and appeared in one or two cities, even if large cities, it would be contained.
    If all of the recently dead start to walk and all that die, for any reason, join them, things will get complicated fast.
    Of course, if all ants in the world suddenly developed a strong hate against humans and a poison so strong that anyone stung by one ant died things would also get very bad.
    Same thing if suddenly a huge amount of dragons, demons or whatever appears from nowhere.
    Really, all this extreme apocalyptic stories are simply very forced.
    In the extreme they become like that movie that I watched once, I think it was named phanton or something.
    A bunch of kids face a creature that proves to be indestructible and slowly kill them one after the other. No, not indestructible like Jason that can at least be contained, but really completely out of any one`s league. No weak points, very fast, …
    And, … surprise, the kids die.
    Where is the fun in this? If I want to read about people being beaten in situations where they never stood a chance I only need to read the news today.

  4. I’d be more concerned about the Faeries. And about the anti-vaxxers who think vaccines cause autism and so refuse to give them to their children, thus resulting in the continuation of diseases that can threaten huge populations of people.

    I should find it stupid, but I like Chicago Hawk’s name.

    Talk about two contrasting styles here, the Rocket and the Rhino.

  5. You’re doing a good job Jim. I know this because the comments section tends to be longer than the chapters. I’m not saying your posts are too short, just that they tend to generate a lot of feedback from your readers.

    As far as having to ignore physical laws, even the greatest of science fiction writers have to do that. Isaac Asimov (who quite proudly declared himself as being one of the smartest humans on Earth) admitted that his stories would not be possible without “hyperspace” travel which was not possible by extrapolation of any currently known physics.

  6. Is it pedantic of me to point out typos in the comments? Forbearers, Jim, not forbears. 😉

    As for the rest of this whatnot, nobody could write a good story where everybody reacts rationally to rational problems. It’d be more boring than reading the dictionary. I’ve always found that good fiction is mostly real, with just a little twist to shake things up.

  7. Luke: I don’t know if it’s pedantic, but I think forebears is actually right (see further Merriam-Webster), and now I might be pedantic.

    Phizle/Eduardo: With regards to Larry/original League… Thanks.

    PG: I find the whole anti-vaccine thing mind blowing. Now that the only plausible studies have been found to be fraudulent, there’s no reason to believe vaccines cause autism. Some people still believe they do. Ironically, while people fail to avoid autism by avoiding vaccinations there are verifiable deaths (mostly of infants) as a result of being exposed to unvaccinated individuals who are sick with the diseases they didn’t have to get…

    As for the contrasting styles of the Rocket and the Rhino… One of these days I ought to do a story where they’re actually working as a team.

    Andrul/Luke: I’m not too worried about certain things not being scientifically plausible, but as someone who really likes the sort of science fiction where authors at least try to be accurate, I still evaluate things with that lens a little bit–even though I know superhero stories are not really the place to do it.

  8. I guess I have to be the one to point it out.

    The guy in the backwoods trailer with a barn and farm fields nearby is the superhero who puts sponsors on his outfit like a NASCAR, to use some of his own words. No wonder he has a Rhinomobile.

    Yes, I understand the technical side of it is a lot smarter than people think, but still…

  9. Wow. I can see that. I do vaguely remember the existence of “Larryboy.”

    For the record, no tomatoes or cucumbers will be involved with this story in any way.

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