4 min read

My Love Dynamo

It’s one of those nights out where everyone knows you and would like a word.

Previously: A rich dame gives us some dubious histories of a magical box that plays your perfect song. Batya gets bored and tries to get some dough for it, but no dice. So she runs away, perhaps injuring a creepy baby in the process?

— 29 —

As Batya bursts out onto the boulevard in front of the nameless restaurant, she wonders if it doesn’t have a name because a) it’s not really a restaurant at all but rather b) Señora Valentina’s personal lair. She decides her theory is on the right track when she notices that the maître d’ and the waiters and the kitchen staff are all chasing after her, bellowing crude threats in an assortment of languages.

Then she wonders if she maybe pulled a hammy when her mulitas truck (RIP) got t-boned. And then she decides to stop wondering and start running, despite the pain, cutting between bungalows and stomping across nicely manicured lawns. Now her pursuers are yelling threats at each other. It sounds like no one’s in charge, which is good.

Bat’s not super familiar with this swanky neighborhood, but figures as long as she heads downhill toward the docks she’ll be fine. Thing about Fort Hook? It’s easy—too easy—to disappear into its tortuous streets and alleys and canals. One of the many reasons that Bat is such a staunch—

A dark sedan screeches to a halt in front of her. Window rolls down and the uggo behind the wheel gives her the stink eye. And…sayyyy, who’s that glaring at her from the passenger seat? Why it’s none other than Vinnie Vinegar, duct tape holding his broken face together.

Bat assumes Vin’s coworkers from the Butterfly Boys scraped him off the pavement and tore off after her in hot pursuit. Or, you know, lukewarm pursuit. As per usual for that grossly incompetent gang, it took them forever to find her. I mean, how long was Valentina boring her balls off in there? An hour? Three? What were they doing this whole time? Certainly weren’t bandaging Vinnie up proper.

Regardless, they’re here now, and the driver is struggling to get some kind of weapon set up and pointed in the right—wait, is that a sniper rifle? Doesn’t that seem like an inappropriate choice given the close quarters?

Bat suddenly feels giddy. She bolts toward the car—running at armed assailants is one of her go-to moves, it tends to rattle them—then leaps onto the hood, then jumps up and down a few times to dent it, then kicks at the windshield to make Vinnie flinch.

“You look like nana’s day old meatloaf!” she informs him.

“Savor those words, girl, for they shall be your last,” Vinnie says. It sounds pretty rehearsed.

“I can barely understand you through all those teeth I loosened for you!” Bat yells through the window. Not her best work but surely better than his.

“I’d like to introduce you to my good friend here, Sharpshooter Sofia.”

“Hi Sofia,” Bat says. “How much longer to get that set up?”

“Forty-five more seconds,” the sniper says, frantically screwing something to something else.

“Sorry, sister, I got places to be. Maybe next time?” Then Bat hops off the hood and runs toward the sea.

Fifteen minutes later she’s at Hillers Theatre, which screens movies from a couple years ago. Now showing is a romance picture called The Spark of Desire. Dianne Foxfeather plays an architect who falls for an arsonist, it’s pretty good.

Kid in the ticket booth knows her. “Gracious, Bat, you look wretched.”

She’s bent over, coughing. Hamstring ablaze. She holds up a finger while she catches her breath. Then: “One ticket to the matinee showing of My Love Dynamo.”

“We stopped using passwords last week,” the kid says. “Just go on up.”

“That,” wheeeeze, “that doesn’t seem very secure.”

“We have a new solution in place. You’ll see.”

Sure enough, when Bat staggers up the winding stairs to the projection booth, she’s stopped by a terrifically tall/wide man sporting nothing but a pair of tight leather pants and an octopus tattooed across his vast smooth shiny chest.

“Uh,” Bat says. “Well met, gentle sir.”

“Hi to you,” he says.

“I need to see your boss.”

“You have appointment?” No clue what his accent is.

“I got something he might want to get his hands on. So to speak.”

“Is it item of tremendous splendor?”

“Yeah sure, it’s real tremendous.”

“Give me item, I give to him.”

“Sorry, big guy, that’s not how this works.”

“Then we engage in malzka. The victor get item.”

“What’s…I don’t know what that is.”

Malzka. Fight to death. Use only feet.”

Bat looks him over and is about to say sure why not when the booth door swings open and an old lady says, “Steve, I thought I told you you weren’t allowed to talk.” Then she peers around his swollen torso. “Battery! What an unexpected treat.”

“Hey Alice.”

“You here to pay off your vig? The kneecappers are getting antsy.”

“Kind of? I’m carrying something of value.”

“Tremendous splendor,” Steve says.

“Steve, shut the fuck up,” the old lady says, then extends her old lady hand to Bat. “Give it here, I’ll appraise it.”

“You think I’m a dummy?” Bat says.

“I don’t think it, no.”

“Just let me talk to him. Please.”

Alice shrugs. “It’s your life.”

Bat nods sadly. “Yeah, I know.”


This has been Chapter 29 of Chokeville, a novel by Josh Fireland.

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