The black assassin lay face down in his own blood, strangled by his own earlobes.
Karen looked up to see Mike Wistersheshenham eying the second killer. Mike shifted his weight to his toes and rolled backwards forming his body into an ‘M’-shape. The long-haired killer still had him in his sights. Mike spun on his right knee, extending his left arm and leg pulling himself to a crouching position. The gun still was aimed precisely at his head.
I’m going to get shot, Mike realized, My only hope is to dodge at the last minute so that the bullet lodges itself into that useless part of my brain that remembers who Rip Taylor is.
Suddenly, Mike heard the shot, which thundered like lightning…was he hit? He had to be sure.
Rip Taylor (The King of Camp and Confetti) was born in Washington, D.C. in 1934. A prop-comic who got laughs as much for his outlandish appearance as he did for his jokes, he enjoyed a long career as a game show mainstay and a main-show games-day. He is considered the gayest comic alive and will actually deplete heterosexuality from anyone standing nearby…
He hadn’t been hit at all. Mike looked up to see the armed man fire blindly into the sky before dramatically falling face-forward. Dark figures surrounded him and the woman. Ninjas!
A knife of fear waddled into Mike’s heart: He had been trained to kill a dozen ninjas; but, there were only seven on the rooftop. Unless five more arrived, his tactics would be useless. He’d have to try, anyway.
He got a sword from the nearest ninja by promising that he just wanted to look at it and that he’d give it right back. The heaviness of the sword reminded him of that fateful night in Vietnam when he took out an entire division of Vietcong. Each man was heavily armed and wide awake. The entire process took about fifteen minutes…too long as far as Mike was concerned, but he had been poisoned beforehand and flayed alive.
His sword flashed. One ninja fell…then another…then, the first fallen ninja got back up…followed by the second one. He let his sword drop: It was as useless as a catheter at a barbeque. He’d have to take them man-to-man, unarmed, with only his body, his wits and his down-to-earth sense of humor to keep him alive. Without thinking, he caught one of his assailants with an index finger to the throat, sending him to Hell, gasping through a broken larynx. Another he caught from behind and broke three vertebrae. The killer fell to the gravel rooftop and was at once sent to the Great Spirit.
But five more? And two were stalking the girl. What possible interest could a mostly naked anglo woman have to these Japanese? There was no time to think, only to react; however, Mike was busy thinking, so he got hit in the head pretty hard. He fell, stunned and looked up at the silhouette of the man who seemed about to take his life when a shrill scream filled the urban night.
Baboons! Dozens of them clambered over the side of the roof, attacking any and everyone. Mike Wistersheshenham called back to Karen, “Baboons! We must have wandered into their territory. Stay here while I try to find the dominant male”
Mike crawled on his belly along the roof, a ninja/baboon melee going on above him. He scanned the situation in an instant: Four ninjas, twenty baboons…forty-eight hands and twenty multi-colored buttocks. He spotted a rather large simian who seemed, due to his size, manner and epaulettes, to be dominant. The monkey spied him almost immediately and the crowd made a circle as they advanced towards one another.
Mike made the first move: Falling back and to his right, he caught himself on his palm and spun a spinning wheel kick at the baboon’s head. Rolling to his side and up, the baboon caught Mike’s leg by the ankle and twisted until Mike fell onto his head. Rolling on his side at the big male’s legs, Mike slashed out with a knife hand to the monkey’s spine and fibula. The simian stepped on Mike’s head with a filthy baboon foot.
Karen inched her way towards the stairs. When she got to the door, she stood up, face to face with…Mike. “What are you doing here?”, she demanded, “I thought you were going for the dominant male”
“I found him. Apparently he is much more than just a figurehead”
“I don’t want to talk about it”, Mike replied. He then grabbed Karen by the wrist and dragged her to the elevator. Using all of his strength and much of his dexterity, IQ and charisma, Mike opened the elevator. The car was all the way at the bottom.
“Grab onto me”, Mike ordered, “Then, I’ll climb down the cables”
“I’ve never understood”, Karen responded, “Why men have women hold onto them while they climb or swing”
“You might lose your grip on the cable”
“I might lose my grip on you as well”
Mike shrugged, “Suit yourself”, he said as he jumped to the cables and started his descent. Karen looked down into the deep dark shaft. The last time she’d seen a shaft that dark and deep had been on her visit to the pyramids of Gaza when she had climbed down the elevator shaft at the hotel. Karen jumped to the greasy ropy cables after Mike Wistershenshenham had gone down a dozen or so feet. The abyss yawned below her; apparently, even it was bored with looking up Karen’s dress. Suddenly, she thought back to her youth.
She and her father had played the “height game”, an exercise intended to dispel any fear of heights that Karen might have. It was a simple game. It consisted of Karen sleeping on the weather vane for a fortnight. As a result, she no longer feared being at high altitudes; however, she would always be terrified of cast-iron roosters.
“Man”, her father had told her, “Is the only animal that conquers his fears and acts”
“What about dogs, snakes, cows and birds?”, Karen asked.
“Man”, her father emended, “Is the only animal capable of being smug about conquering his fears and acting”
Suddenly, a ball consisting of a ninja and two baboons rolled in and down, narrowly missing Mike’s shoulder and hitting him squarely in the face.
“If we could have fewer baboons and ninjas crashing into me”, Mike said, now dangling by one hand, “That would be great”
Karen pointed to a grate in the side of the shaft. “That one leads to the first floor. My ex-husband fell out of the elevator and into the duct” She motioned with her hand, “See? Here’s a bit of his ear”
“How could someone fall UP through the roof of an elevator?”
“He had a very poor sense of direction”, Karen explained.
Mike tested the grating, which was ancient and covered with dried ear-blood; then, he pulled out a multi-tool and started cutting at the thin rigid wires. Karen dangled above him like a marionette in the hands of a sleeping puppeteer.
“I don’t know how much longer I can hold on”, she hissed.
Mike glanced up at her as he cut wires. “Well, you’ll find out soon enough”
The last of the grating was cut away and fell down the shaft with hardly a sound. Mike crawled in first. It was a tight fit, but, if it didn’t get any smaller he had a good chance of getting out the other side. He remembered an agent who’d been in a similar situation; but, he had gotten wedged in so tightly that he had to be starved until he could be pulled out. He was yanked out with such force that he ended up in a bee hive, high up in a tree. Mike tried to remember the agent’s name until he realized that he was thinking about Winnie the Pooh.
“Let me in”, Karen demanded. Mike moved forward and Karen squeezed in behind him. “There are baboons coming down”, she told him. Mike Wistershenshenham looked past the beautiful scholar to see a pair of young males climbing down the cable. He had learned a fighting technique which was unstoppable when applied to colobus monkeys—would it work on baboons? The assassin was hopeful because he had heard that it had once been used to defeat a mandrill. He briefly remembered that an agent had covered himself with mud and used a balloon to disguise himself as a cumulus cloud—or was it Winnie the Pooh again?
The first animal leaped at Mike, baring his fangs and winking. Mike twisted into a prone horse-riding stance and caught the monkey between the eyes with a spearhand. The baboon’s eyes glazed over and he fell dramatically into the darkness. The second assailant grabbed Karen’s wrist and tried to pull her out of the grate. Mike struck downward, shattering his ulna in seventeen places and causing it to burst into flames. The ape pulled away in pain, fell in terror and landed on the elevator like a spirograph landing on a beetle’s back.
“Let’s go”, Mike ordered. With Karen in the lead, they made their way into the duct work of the apartment building.