A Conversation with the Elderly
Where ever we are, André walks in.
-Hey Dick Tracy,
-Hey kid, how's it sittin' with you?
-I was thinkin', you're pretty straight-arrow-
-Right. Do you ever feel the compulsion to do something supremely weird, weird even to your friends, just because? I dunno, other than riddling bad-guys' carcasses with bulletholes. And teaming up with Groovy Grove that one time in the 70s.
-Worthless freak. They're ain't no room for them in this world but in those days people gave them all the slack.
-Well kid I've always been one to cut along the grain, it's faster, cleaner, and better like that.
-Well, I mean I'm like a lot of people, I think-
-You could say, I dunno. Emotional, sure. I still get highs and lows, same as I always did. Only thing different, I guess, is I got a bit more experience, I know the face of the enemy a little better. I can
control it, if I want, but it's still there. With you, it just doesn't seem like it is.
-You could say that, you could say that. You try living on paper, kid, one strip a week and I bet you'll start to feel the same.
-Hey, yeah, I know-
-Nah, I'm just razzin' you. I got no use for that soft stuff. Don't tell me it's not all soft, they all tell me that, and then I get 'em. It's weakness, it's got no purpose, no reason, no strength. I get goosebumps just talking about it - where's my gun?
-You put it on the radiator.
-It could go off at anytime if it heats up!
-I didn't say anything besause it's fictional anyway.
-You think it can't hurt anyone?
-The other two people in the house are musicians, they're immune.
-What about you?
-I can dodge it.
-Pretty confident in yourself.
-I read alot of your comics.
-Well I got one you haven't heard-
-Frankly Dick, I find your comics behind the times - even their times
- a parochial rendering of justice with an angular chin and ruthlessly barberred sideburns.
-Fine kid, why don't you just put words into my mouth? Tell 'em about the time I was cornered by Shoulders and Pruneface behind the Casino Sirocco. They were closing in on me and you can bet they didn't have blackjack in mind.
So I did what any good Dick woulda done. I feinted at Pruneface, fast. That devious freak has nerves of string, he flinched, and Shoulders balked, for one deadly second, at shooting his partner in crime.
I already had my gun out, and Shoulders dodged lead death only by a hair. Now Pruneface was a hardened crook - it takes a special kind of evil to spy for the Nazis - and he barely hesistated one blink before making his move. Those spies, I'll tell you, they teach 'em a few things you don't learn in the regular police academy.
He scores a viscious hit just below my lungs and I'm a tough guy, but he still doubles me over a little, and he goes for my gun. Now maybe if I'd taken out Shoulders I coulda handled Pruneface's dirty tricks, but with that gangster still in the fight I know the cards are stack against me and the House playing to break me. For an instant, the three of us are so caught in the melee - Pruneface clawing at my gun, me fighting back, and Shoulders angling for a shot - that none of us see a silhouette sidestep into the light end of the alley and, shadow on shadow, bring an invisible gun to bear on an unknown target.
Shoulders folds and suddenly it's just me and Pruneface, and now he's
the one wanting a secret door out of this alley. We spin around a few times, our hands locked around the gun. He knows he needs it, I know he's not gonna get it. I just need to grapple his damned fingers off it and finish him-
Again! I'm almost in shock for a second, but I'm doing way better than Pruneface. Paler than usual, and probably with a bloody hole in his back I can't see, he drops, never taking his eyes off me till I'm the last thing he sees.
"Who are you? Are you crazy? Are you after me too? Well I'm not about to make it easy on you. I don't think I'm what you want after all."
She steps into the dark so I can see her better. "Oh, I wouldn't jump to conclusions." What a woman. Now I'm tied to Tess Trueheart as tight as ever, but a girl like that, she can pull a few strings if you catch my meaning.
But I've never been a dope and I've got her in my sights too, so there we are closing in with each other at gunpoint - you think that's like the movies, it's what those movies were based
on. And I'm betting I make her scared before she does me. You make a living betting your life on things like that, who's gonna crack.
Turns out I don't have to worry, she brings the pistol down and I can see her eyes blinking, though I'm the one looking into the light. And I don't find anything cute in that, if you're wondering.
"Dick Tracy?" she asks me.
"Well what do you think, sister, now you answer me a few questions. First of all how did you know what was going down here, second of all, since you knew, why didn't you tell me?
to, I couldn't
"Can it, 'cause I ain't biting. Or maybe you were after me. With that crazy shot you took it was anyone's guess who you were gonna hit."
I struck a bit of a nerve there. Broads are all the same, you tell em they can't do something, they can never let it slide. And she took the bait alright.
"I beg your pardon, but I could shoot the button off your goddamned lapel at fifty paces if you care to stand sideways, Dick."
"That's Tracy to you, and what's your game? Some sharpshooting dame with information about a hit comes looking for me, takes out two of the meanest punks in the city and almost gets the meanest detective in the bargain, I wanna know what's up."
Well now she starts to cry. Finally
. You types get all worked up when one 'a them starts crying, like you didn't expect it. Hell, it's the only time they make sense
. She doesn't notice as I relieve her of her gun.
. . .
PS: By the way, I only mention this cause there's a lot of people talking clever like it's o-kay, but it really would have been much better if Arafat hadn't died now.