BOUNDLESS EXUBERANCE. THOSE WERE the two words that could best have any hope in describing how the Mighty Piñata felt as he scaled the side of the hospital, the bat at his back, the walkie-talkie at his waist, as he barreled headlong toward his fate.
“What are you doing?”
The voice had come from the walkie. It was the Cop. Officer Tonks.
The Piñata paused in his ascent to respond.
“Why, I’m scaling the side of the hospital, the bat at my back, the walkie-talkie at my waist, barreling headlong toward my fate.”
“Are you answering my question? I can’t hear you from down here. You have to use the walkie-talkie.”
The Piñata turned and looked out onto the street below. There, two stories beneath him and thirty or so yards out, stood Officer Tonks, hands on hips. Next to her was her patrol car. His mouth went from the upside down arch that had split his face in an ear to ear grin, to a straight, flat line. He took the walkie from his belt.
“I am scaling the side of the hospital,” he repeated, his voice now as flat as his mouth. “The bat at my back, the walkie-talkie once at my waist, now in my hand, barreling headlong toward my fate.”
“No. Why are you climbing the building? There’s a fire escape to your left. It’s literally within reach.”
The Piñata looked to his left, and sure enough he found said fire escape. He looked once more to Officer Tonks. Then, just to make sure, he took another look at the fire escape before directing his gaze, once more, onto Officer Tonks.
“You’re just no fun at all,” he said into the walkie. Then, without waiting for her reply, he clipped the walkie back to his belt—which had been designed to blend in with the rest of the uniform, giving it the appearance of invisibility—and continued up the side of the building.
A few minutes later he was back on the roof and moving silently toward the door.
“Do you have a plan?” Officer Tonks asked from the walkie.
“Does the noble ronin have a plan?”
There was a pause that lasted the entire length of the roof.
“I’m sorry,” said Officer Tonks. “But what is a ronin?”
“A ronin is a samurai with no lord or master. Rather than choose suicide, he wanders the land, a sword for hire.”
Another pause. The Piñata was now in the stairwell, making his way to the first floor where all the action was. He paused on the second floor landing as Officer Tonks finally responded.
“Ok,” she said. “And again, I’m sorry, but I’m not entirely sure what that has to do with anything. Has a ronin become involved without my knowledge? Do you have a ronin in there with you?”
“I am the ronin,” the Piñata said.
“You are a wandering samurai?”
“Look,” he said. “I am many things: Judge, jury, man of action, Fist of Justice, porcelain baby pig figurine collector, and yes, a wandering samurai with no master. Now, if you don’t mind, I am about to walk right into the lion’s den and put a stop to this whole thing once and for all.”
“That’s your plan?”
“That’s my plan.”
“Your plan is to just walk right in there, where all the bad guys are, and what? Start swinging?”
“My plan is to do what I must to free this hospital.”
“You don’t think a little recon is called for?”
“Yes, reconnaissance. The observation of a region, area, building, etc, to locate an enemy, asses their force, and create a strategy.”
“You’ve lost me. This plan has never failed me before.”
“Do you know how many soldiers, armed soldiers, there are in there? Do you know where they are? What are they doing? Who is leading them? Will they die for their cause? What is their cause?”
“None of that matters when you have Right on your side.”
“All of that matters you lunatic! And what’s my part in this little play? Why did you bring me this walkie-talkie?”
The Piñata smiled.
“You are my back,” he said. “My support. The friendly voice, never seen, that guides me and keeps me going. You are there to dispense sage advice and offer a comforting word when times grow dark and hope flees.”
“You’ve seen too many movies. There’s nothing I can do for you out here. If you truly want my help, I need to be in there, with you. I have a gun, by the way.”
“I don’t have time for this,” the Piñata said. “I’m nearly there; it’s time for radio silence.”
“No, wait,” Tonks said from the tiny speaker. “Don’t switch me off!”
He switched her off.
The Mighty Piñata, ready for battle, descended the final flight of stairs and stood at the door at the bottom of the stairwell. He could see through the small window in the door that he was just outside the main reception area. It was open, spacious, and had little in the way of crustacean-garbed soldiers.
He made a disappointing click with his tongue.
Still, he removed the bat from the carrier on his back—it too was part of the uniform, made to blend in—pushed open the door, and strode into the expansive room.
There were bullet holes in the ceiling and walls, along with spent shell casings on the floor. The action had certainly been here, alright. Just not now. It had moved on, as action typically does. He would have to seek out the action, follow its trail, the scent it leaves behind. But not all action smelled the same.
“Officer Tonks,” he speaks softly into the walkie. “You there?”
He crept further into the room, looking everywhere at once, a spring under tension, ready to lash out at the first sign of danger.
“Officer Tonks,” he repeated, holding the walkie closer.
Once again, he got nothing in return.
It is only as he decides that it would be a good idea to turn down the volume on the walkie that he notices that he has forgotten to switch it on. And so he does.
“Officer Tonks,” he said for the third time.
“Three minutes,” is the reply.
“Your radio silence lasted just three minutes. What do you want?”
“I’m in the big main room, there’s no one here.”
“The big, main room,” said Tonks. “Can you be more specific?”
“Roger. It’s the main room, the big one.”
“The main reception area?”
“That’s the one. There’s no one here.”
“Okay,” she said, pausing before coming back with: “And?”
“And,” he said. “I’m moving on.”
“Okay,” she said. “That’s an exciting update.” She didn’t sound excited.
As he crept even further into the room, he could see out the main entrance. Standing there, backs to him on the other side of the two glass doors, were a pair of men in suits.
“I can see two men in suits,” he whispered into the walkie. “They are guarding the front entrance.”
“Those would be the two pit stains that tried to kill me earlier,” she replied.
“Right,” he said. “I’m on it.”
“On what,” she said. But he didn’t hear the rest as he switched her off once more.
Sometimes, the best laid plan is to try not to think about it and just get it done. So, he strolled over to the reception desk, picked up one of the phones, disconnected the line, and—phone in hand—crept toward the two glass doors.
When he was within five yards or so, he threw the phone at one of the doors. It hit the glass with a responding thwack and clattered to the floor.
The glass hadn’t broken. He hadn’t expected it to. He was just trying to get a little attention his way.
Both men turned to see him standing there on the other side of the glass. He threw up a peace sign with both hands, poised, knowing that any moment now they would throw open the doors and shoot him. They would try, anyways. He hadn’t made it this far by letting himself get shot.
Of course, once he thought about it, he wouldn’t even be here if he hadn’t been shot. He’d have to rethink things through once he had the chance. For now, however, it was time to thrown down.
The men in the suits, to his complete disappointment, did not cooperate. Rather than throwing open the doors and opening fire, they only stared at him. One took a walkie-talkie, just like the one the Piñata now carried, from inside his suit jacket and spoke into it. He couldn’t hear what the man said; they must be on a different channel. Which made sense considering that the first thing Officer Tonks had done when he’d handed over her walkie was to have them both switch to a different channel.
He needed to do something more. Entice the two men. Make them want to throw open the doors and gun him down. So, he placed a thumb in each ear, or where his ears would be if they could be seen outside the uniform, spread his finger wide like the antlers of a moose, and stuck out his tongue. He waggled his fingers.
The two men didn’t move. They were like statues.
He waggled his fingers.
The two men only continued to stare.
It wasn’t working.
He had only one option available to him.
He slid his bat back into the holder, and then he danced.
He tried to anyway. Before he could really get started, before the music within him could take control and make him move in ways that most people could only dream of, the barrel of a gun was thrust rudely into his back.
“Hands in the air,” a voice said behind him. A feminine voice with a slight accent. Slavic? Certainly Eastern Bloc.
He acquiesced, sticking both hands into the air.
“Turn around,” the woman said.
When he did, when his eyes took in the woman behind him, once his brain dismissed the large revolver the woman held, he only had one thought at the sight of her.
- Will our hero survive this harrowing experience?
- Will Officer Tonks do more than provide emotional support?
- Vampire lobster?
Find out the answers to some of these questions in the next exciting installment of: The Mighty Piñata!
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