‘THREE DUCKS AND SOME BROKEN CUFFS’

“Better keep up with me, punk.”

“Piss off. It’s been a long week.” My comeback gets the angry reaction I expect: my captor jerks me around with my restraints. I lost track if it was Jeb, Jed, or Jef speaking. All three of them looked and sounded the same anyways: identical triplets, little piggies in uniform leading me on a leisurely trip through the Bloody Sands. At this rate, we’ll hit Palladia before sundown.

Unless I can bust out of these cuffs first.

“Dash? That’s your name? Hah.” I think it was Jeb speaking now, but who knows. He spits in my general direction – definitely Jeb – and I dodge to the left and remain silent for the moment, thinking. They’re still trying to butter me up. As if.  

“Is that supposed to be… a joke or somethin’?” Jeb responds. I could tell Jeb apart from his brothers because he’s the only one of the three that packs chew and he’s always gnashing away on some of it, too, always spitting that brown shit juice my way. Bet he’s the brothel’s best customer – probably one of their favorites, too.

In, out; done, paid. Fucking pig.

“Keep poking, little piggy, I make my own opportunities…“ I mutter it under my breath. Jeb must have made out the word ‘piggy’ because he stops and turns suddenly, fist already cocked to throw a punch. Before the punch comes in, we get interrupted. Somebody was approaching us. One of the brothers grabs Jeb and spins him around by the shoulder.

“You see that Jeb?” The brother says. Process of elimination says this is… Jef? Or maybe Jed. I don’t care.

“Another one?” The third of the brothers now replies. Now I can see it, too – a shape in the heat haze becomes clear and as soon as it does, we stop. We stop dead in our tracks. Whoa.

“… You seein’ what I’m seein’?” I’ll go ahead and say this was Jed speaking, although I may never know. My brain is doing backflips as it tries to process the signals my eyeballs are sending it. And what exactly are my eyeballs seeing, anyways? I think it’s a person. Yeah, it’s definitely a person, but he looks more like a walking statue, I guess. Yeah. Like a big bronze statue, almost. A big naked statue.

Wait, what? I try to rub my eyes even though my hands are cuffed together. I cock my eyebrow and gawk. Yup, no doubt about it, that’s a naked guy. At least, I’m assuming that’s a guy based on what he’s packing. I wonder if he’s worried about the sunspots? This is a desert, man. Well, maybe he doesn’t burn, after all, he’s dark too – not as dark as me, but his skin is brown like driftwood, and so my guess is he doesn’t burn easily. I don’t know what a sunburn on your dick would feel like but damn, it’s not something I want to think about for too long.

I glance over at the three bullshit brothers. It looks like they’re still digesting this. I don’t blame them. I think all four of us learned a bit from the anatomy lesson here. The newcomer seems totally oblivious in every way, though, like he doesn’t even realize he should be wearing clothes to begin with. Nope, totally natural as he strolls towards us in every sense of the word. He doesn’t change directions and he doesn’t speed up or slow down, he just keeps on going like we’re not even here.

“… The fuck?” Good ol’ Jeb breaks the silence and spits, but he’s so absent mindedly staring down the newcomer’s package that he ends up drooling a bit of that shit water down the corner of his mouth and it leaves a nice shit streak down the front of his uniform. Haha. I think Jeb just figured out he has a small dick. I laugh out loud now, like really laugh for a second.

Damn. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve laughed like that. That thought sobers me up a bit.

“Well, boys, looks like we’re bringin’ two back to King Klash today.” I’m just going to go ahead and say this one is Jed. The three brothers nod at one another and without warning, I find myself being jerked along by my chain once more as we set off on our crash course with the nudist. It isn’t long before we collide. My initial take – a living statue – really wasn’t that far from the mark. This guy is built and I mean really – this guy is built. You can see every single muscle on his body. Literally. He’s still naked, after all. His hair is black, like mine, but his is a lot more… feathery? No, not feathery… what’s it like? Flowy? Yeah, flowing… it’s more like…

At that same moment, I catch him looking over at me and I meet his golden amber stare with my one good eye. For an instant, a picture of a black lion flashes through my mind. Who is this guy?

“… You from around here?” Saw it coming; Jeb is the first one to taunt the newcomer now. The guy looks at him with these big, unassuming eyes and a really dumb grin.

“What do you mean?” He’s speaking, but his voice is loud and booming. Much louder than the Enforcer he’s addressing. Uh oh. Jeb is stunned for a second. This guy is definitely not from around here.

“Where … do … you … live?” Jeb repeats, raising his volume to match the newcomer’s and spacing out his words and emphasizing his lazy drawl. The newcomer seems kind of deaf to this little shouting match, but not to Jeb’s words. Nope, seems like he’s wrapping his whole brain around the question – I can tell by the way he’s staring off into space. My eye flashes towards Jed and Jef. They’re losing interest in me and starting to focus on the newcomer now. Good.

“Hmm…” The newcomer continues to ponder the question. At one point, he pulls his dark mane back over his ear and glances back over his shoulder, in the direction he wandered in from. Then, he turns his head back towards the three Enforcers.

“I live here…” He starts, pointing towards the ground beneath his feet and pausing to let his point sink in. Then, he touches his chest before finishing, “… and here.”

Jeb is standing with his back to me now and still, I can imagine that piggy’s little pink face growing redder by the second. This is going to get ugly. I figure worst case scenario, I’m digging a hole in the sand for this guy’s body and best-case scenario, I’ve got someone to bullshit with until we get to Palladia… unless this guy knows how to fight. Unless this guy knows how to fight? I mean, it’s three on one. That doesn’t seem likely. Plus, these pigs have armor and weapons. This guy is unarmed. Well, unless you count his, uh, you know, meat mace. Will I really see someone die with their dick in their hands today!? Holy shit!

“… We got ourselves a big JOKE teller guy. A real clown here. Listen here, Mr. Clown, do you think you’re a funny guy? You one of those joke tellin’ guys like this one ‘er?” Now Jeb’s changed gears from ‘confusion’ to ‘frustration’ and ‘annoyance’. Jeb takes a couple steps towards the newcomer but he doesn’t flinch. Instead, the nudist looks over at me and we make eye contact again. He breaks it to look down at my handcuffs, now. For just a second, the newcomer’s nostrils flare. Was that anger? I feel a prickle on my spine.

“What are those chains for?” The newcomer asks and his gaze settles squarely on Jeb now. A tiny dust devil picks up a cloud of swirling sand and dances across the forgotten highway between the two men like it was drawing a line in the sand. Jed and Jef start to fan out and make a circle around the nudist, crossing that line no sooner had it been drawn. Yup, it was going to get ugly. This guy must have gotten too close to a sunspot. How else would you explain him walking around the desert butt naked? Either that, or he ate something he shouldn’t have…

“Listen here, fella…” Jeb took another step in towards the newcomer now. I’m sure I can hear him licking his lips, too, and I shudder. This guy’s luck was shit. Guess we have that in common.

“I’m gon’ ask the questions here. See this badge?” Jeb gestures towards an iron plate on his uniform; a simple circle, cut no wider than a tape measure, stamped with the letter K. The newcomer nods to signal that yes, he does, in fact, see the badge, but I can tell that he doesn’t get what it means. I have so many questions for this guy if he doesn’t die right now.

“This means I get to ask the questions. I’m the boss now. So, I’m gon’—“ Jeb starts to continue his little speech, but he gets cut off.  

“Tell me why he wears chains.” The newcomer’s voice is just as loud as it was before, but now it seems somehow more… commanding. There’s an edge that wasn’t there before. His eyes narrowed, too, but his hands are still at his side. I reel in my slack jaw here. This guy can’t be right. He must be sick or something. This is a death wish.

“Ain’t it obvious! She’s wearin’ the wrong clothes! Are you steeewpid!?” Jeb hasn’t quite exploded yet, but he’s malfunctioning now. That circuit was going to blow pretty soon – I could tell because he’d grabbed the baton off of his belt loop to ready it. Blatant foreshadowing of an ass whooping to come. I sigh – not just out of pity for this guy, but also at Jeb’s own ignorant insistence that I am a woman. I am not a woman. I am a man. How would you know, anyways? Only I know what I am. Not you, not them, not Klash, not anyone else. Just me, you dumb piece of shit.

“I’m not so sure. You there…” Now the newcomer was addressing me directly and I meet his golden amber gaze for a third time.

“Who are you?” He asks me. Jeb looks back over his shoulder at me and I can tell by his sneer that he does not want me to answer this question. Of course, that just pissed me off more so I decided to answer the guy.

“I’m Dash! The man, the myth, the wizard!” My voice is loud enough to blow back the newcomer’s mane and I do not break eye contact. His eyes widen in genuine surprise now, then his head tilts to the side for a second, rights itself, and finally, he begins to nod. He doesn’t stop nodding. He’s grinning now, too. His pupils dart upwards and I can tell he’s definitely thinking about something else and not about how Jed and Jef have also readied their batons, too. I want to go to whatever party is happening inside this guy’s head right now. For real. He’s grooving. Does he not realize he’s about to get his ass beat to death by three pink piggies with clubs?

“Cogito, ergo sum…” The newcomer mutters something I can’t quite understand. Is this a magic spell? Maybe I’m in luck and this guy is an actual wizard! Shit! That would actually explain a lot of this, too. Is he a wizard? I wait for fire to leap out of his eyes and melt the Enforcers down to their boots. It doesn’t happen. He speaks, instead.

“You know it to be true… and so it is.” The man makes eye contact with me one more time as he delivers this statement. Excuse me? I feel my jaw sinking again. Who the hell is this guy? He looks back at Jeb now.

“Release him.” There it is – that sudden gravity surprised me again. The newcomer’s nostrils flare once more. I catch him clenching his fist for a second. This is it now. The calm before the storm. I wonder who’s going to make the first move? Bet it’s Jeb. Yup, Jeb. Jeb couldn’t wait to take a swing at this guy and I could guess why – jealous pig.

Smack! The newcomer catches the club with his bare hand. Stone cold.

I can’t see it, but I’m imagining Jeb’s scared face right now and I can feel myself start to grin. Jeb’s grabbed onto his baton with both hands now and tries as hard as he can to wrench it out of the new guy’s grip. New guy still hasn’t flinched. Neither has the club. Jeb looks like a scared kid compared to the hulking nudist. I notice that the guy stopped grinning, too. Nope, he looks serious as fuck now. Alright, yeah, maybe this guy can fight… or make a distraction for me.

The new guy makes his move. In less than a second, Jeb is yanked forward by his baton directly into the new guy’s straight right and I cringe again because I can definitely hear Jeb’s jaw get completely pulverized by this guy’s massive fist, like it’s a steel sledgehammer blowing through a loose cinder block. Jeb’s head snaps left and rebounds right, his helmet tips and rolls off of his head, and I wonder if that sound I just heard was actually his neck breaking. In any case, Jeb’s out on his feet. If he’s even alive.

The nude dude is not out of the clear yet though. Right on cue, I hear the sizzle of Jed and Jef’s stun batons firing up. Not good. How would he deal with this? He can’t catch it, like last time. What’s he going to do? Maybe I can get the key off of Jeb while they fight…

That’s when this happens.

Jed and Jef go ahead and swing their electric batons at the new guy. New guy doesn’t even bother to face them, he’s still holding Jeb up by his baton. Not even a flinch from the new guy, so why did the batons stop in mid-air? Wait. What? I blink. What just happened? I cycle back a few frames in my memory reel here. Is that what happened? Holy shit! Déjà vu.

Now Jed and Jef are struggling to move their batons, but it seems like they’re frozen in place. Weird. Am I still alive? Is this a dream? Then, the statue speaks.

“You should not have done this.” His words are massive. This must be a dream. As soon as he drops that one line, he follows it up by dropping Jed with a vicious kick to the midsection that launches him from his feet and onto his back. Ouch. In the meantime, Jef decides to let go of his baton and wind up for a big haymaker. The guy is wise to it, though – he ducks back and lets Jef clock Jeb before Jeb finally tumbles to the ground. Before Jef can recover and square up with the new guy, he gets caught with a brutal roundhouse kick to the head. I can see his eyes go white for a second and I wonder if I just witnessed Jef’s ghost waving goodbye to his body. That’s two. Damn. This guy knows how to box. I wonder who taught him? Wait a second. What about Jed?

OH SHIT!!

I don’t think, I just act. My bare feet pump against the sand as I kick the earth as hard as I can, trying my damn hardest to close the distance to Jed now. Time slows to a crawl as it drags behind my adrenaline dump like a two-ton trailer. My eyes are riveted to one thing right now, and that’s the hand-made revolver that Jed is trying to pull from his holster. I jump on top of him now while he’s fumbling with the holster’s snap safety. He flattens out, prone beneath me, and I start to brain him in the back of his head with my manacles. I swing, I swing, and I swing my clasped hands together like a maul, making sure the edge of my handcuffs hits his skull with each blow. Crack. The old, rusty handcuffs break and at the same time, Jed stops his struggle. He’s not quite dead, but he might as well be.  Good riddance. I pat down his pockets and zap, what do I find? Handcuff keys. Free at last. A few clicks later, I can feel the sensation of cold air on my bare wrists, ankles, and neck again. Feels like freedom. I straighten up and face the newcomer now.

“Thanks man.” I offer him a nod, tilting my chin up towards the hungry desert sky. He meets my nod with one of his own, dipping his head down towards the earth and offering no words.

“You got a name?” I ask him now. I don’t bother to hide my curiosity, either. After all, this guy is like some sort of living legend that can stop batons with his mind. Speaking of which – why is that baton still floating in the air? As my gaze drifts away from the newcomer, the baton seems to hear my thought and it falls to the sand. I swing my one good eye back towards the new guy, now.

“My name is Arden. It is nice to meet you, Dash.” The new guy, Arden, now bows his head towards me again and this time, he offers me a smile. I smile back.

“Don’t take this the wrong way man, but uh… you don’t seem like you’re from around here. Around here, there’s guys like this…” I pause, gesturing towards one of the Brothers Bullshit lying nearby and continue, “And if they catch you walking’ around like that again, they’ll probably try to take you.” I finish the statement and purse my lips, imagining myself shaking my head grimly. Once again, Arden’s silent and unphased.

“If you want, I could show you a safe way? It looks like we’re going the same way anyways, right?” I continue now, getting a little bit unnerved by the fact that this guy doesn’t seem to have any tells or any real reaction to what I’m saying. I don’t like not being able to read this guy. He’s too dangerous to not be able to read.

Another silence as seems to turn this proposal over inside his head.

“You are a handsome man. I agree.” I can tell he’s a man of few words. That’s fine, though. Wait, did he just say I’m handsome? Huh. Cool. I like this guy already. He might make a good sidekick.

The real question is… what will the others think of him?

THREE DUCKS AND SOME BROKEN CUFFS
Written by Jungle.
© 2021, all rights reserved.


Click below to keep fighting with DASH & ARDEN

‘THE WIZARD AND THE PRISONER’

“Hey dude?” I look up at the big guy, Arden, as I finish unbuckling the belt. This belt belonged to Jeb. Jeb’s dead now and I’m already tired of seeing Arden’s naked ass. I start sliding the pants off of the dead guy, but I still have to fight the urge to puke because I think Arden hit Jeb so hard that Jeb might have shit in his briefs. Either that or Jeb never bathed….

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