Mohawk Hineyhole came after us in the sand rail. Chumdumpster took off on the Elsinore. The Flirty Dozen piled into the deuce-and-a-half and they made sure to bring that guillotine with them.
The sand rail and the Elsinore didn't have headlights so they stayed behind the deuce. The Pinto didn't have headlights anymore either after Dorktown smashed into that doorway so Dorktown stayed behind me.
The Pinto had a new carb and the Frankenbird had a toey doublesuperturbocharged V8 so it didn't take long to put some distance between us and the bloodthirsty boofheads.
We headed out of town on what was left of Route 66. We stayed off the highways to avoid the skags who would be blocking the roads and charging tolls. And don't tell me we should just pay the toll. Sometimes the toll was something more than money. Especially for someone like Dorktown. That was a toll we were not gonna pay.
We needed petrol so we stopped at Roy's Cafe in Amboy just as the sun was coming up.
"Give me the bloody key" Dorktown demanded from the driver's seat of the Pinto. She did not look at me when she spoke.
"Will you fill up my tank?" I asked.
"Give me the bloody key" she repeated.
"Will you at least promise not to go on a murderous rampage?"
"Give me the bloody key before I rip the goddamn steering wheel off of this bloody car!" she screamed.
The owner walked up to us. "If you two ain't buying no gas you'd best be on your way."
I gave Dorktown the key. She took the cuffs off and got out of the car.
"What the fuck happened?" she asked.
"Please watch your language." I looked up. I could see the deuce's headlights approaching in the distance. "Mohawk Hineyhole and Chumdumpster and the Flirty Dozen are gonna be here any minute. They want the Frankenbird back. They wanna get to Norwood before we do. And they wanna cut off our heads. We need petrol right now."
Dorktown handed the owner some coins. "Fill up both cars." Then she turned back to me. "What the fuckity fuck happened?"
"Tex and the other factory workers are dead."
"And Mohawk Asshole isn't."
"Mohawk Hineyhole had an army with him" I explained.
"Of course he had an army" she said. "He's the president of the Gillies."
"I thought the president of the Gillies was killed in the Cage."
"He was. Mohawk Asshole was the vice-president."
"What's a Gilly?"
"A Gilly is someone who cuts the heads off of Hellies."
I rolled my eyes. "What's a Helly?"
"A Helly is someone who drops Gillies out of helicopters."
"What is it with you and helicopters?"
"It's how Hellies kill people. Drop the bad guys out of helicopters. You know. Like Pinochet used to do."
Oh. Now I get it.
Pinochet was a Chilean dictator propped up by the US government. My mom worked as an advisor to him for a few weeks back in the 70s. She persuaded him to allow a free market economic oasis to bloom in South America. It kind of worked. By following her advice Pinochet saved Chile's economy. But he was also a murderous monster who stole millions of dollars and killed thousands of people. He was famous for dropping people out of helicopters. Pinochet tried to be a fascist capitalist but "laissez faire" literally means "let people do their own thing." Pinochet thought he could force people to be free. But that's not how freedom works.
"Are you saying you're a Helly?" I asked.
"Of course I'm a Helly" Dorktown replied. "Aren't you?"
"The only thing I know for sure about Hellies and Gillies is I am neither one of those things."
"You have to be one or the other" she said. "Only evil can benefit from a compromise. It's like mixing water with poison."
I smacked my palm on my forehead. "If all you have is a line defined by two points then yeah maybe you gotta pick one side or the other. But there are other dimensions. Three points and you have a triangle. Four points and you have a tetrahedron. My ideas are three dimensional."
"Whatever. It was your book that got me interested in politics in the first place."
"I don't write about politics" I said. "I write about economics."
"What's the difference?" she asked.
"Politics is the art of pretending economics doesn't exist. Economics is the science of proving politics shouldn't exist."
"You ripped that one off from Thomas Sowell" she said.
The deuce's headlights were slowly getting brighter. "We're in a bit of a hurry" I said to the owner.
"I'm squeezing this here handle as hard as I can" he said.
I went back to the Frankenbird and opened the door.
"One more thing" Dorktown said. "Count Bubury sent you a befriending request on my Firebuddy. Want me to accept it?"
"The president of the Hellies?" I asked. "Tell him to go throw himself out of a helicopter. Are you ok to drive?"
"I'll sleep when Mohawk Asshole is dead."
"Ok then follow me."
"My Firebuddy factory in Seligman. I have weapons there. Keep your speed up so they can't follow us. Mohawk Hineyhole doesn't know the location of the new factory and I wanna keep it that way."
I was concerned cuz last year he invaded and took over my old factory. He kept making computers in there but the quality went way down and he never did anything to improve on my design.
The pump finally clicked off. We got back into our cars and took off. We'd only gotten a few kays down the road when I noticed the Pinto was lagging behind.
We pulled over. I got out and ran back to talk to Dorktown.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"I dunno" Dorktown said. "I'm stomping on the pedal but nothing's happening."
"Ok. If those drongos start to catch up then pull over. I'll turn around and pick you up and we'll leave the Pinto behind."
The Pinto took its time but we made it to Seligman by midmorning. I headed for the old airport and Dorktown followed. I pulled off to a big vacant space beside the crumbling runway. Or at least I'd made sure it looked like it was vacant. Me and Dorktown stopped and got out of our cars.
"Where are we?" she asked.
"My Firebuddy factory" I said with arms outstretched. I pulled out a remote control and pressed a button. A massive hinged door slowly lifted up off the ground in front of us revealing a ramp leading down into my underground factory.
"We can drive the cars in" I said.
We drove in and I shut the door behind us. My factory manager Laura came over to greet us with her three year old kid Lucy stumbling alongside her.
I moved the boombox and headphones and tools and jerrycans and all the rest of my stuff out of the Pinto and into the Frankenbird.
You skipped something.
What do you mean?
The Tim Tams.
Right. I noticed that Dorktown had eaten an old package of Tim Tams I'd left in the glovebox of the Pinto.
You were furious!!
I didn't say you could eat them.
You went to look for them and you freaked out when you found out they were gone. You took the empty wrapper out of the glovebox and saved it.
Something was special about those Tim Tams. I figured out what it was. They were the Tim Tams you bought for your sister 38 years ago. You said in your book that you ate them on the day she died. Page 6. Just like you said you chucked your dad's broken watch. Page 34. But you still had the watch. I bet you still have that Hot Wheels Trans Am too.
Your mother was holding it in her hand when Mohawk Asshole blew her to smithereens.
That's right Dorktown. Let's get back to the story.
I took Dorktown to the weapons room where we had five Martin Warthog compound bows stashed.
"Are these the weapons we came for?" Dorktown asked. "This isn't Sherwood Forest. Mohawk Asshole has guns."
"Next time I'll build a gun factory."
We cleaned out the weapons room and packed everything into the boot of the Frankenbird. Then I made the mistake of lying down on a couch. I dozed off.
I talked to Laura while you were asleep.
She's not the only one you talked to.
Now who's getting ahead of the story??
You lied to me.
You lied to me too.
You're ruining the story.
The story sucks.
It's not just a story. It's life.
You don't know how it ends yet.
Are you gonna tell them or should I??
Fine. You tell my story. I'll tell yours.
When you introduced me to Laura I instantly knew who she was. She was wearing a necklace made out of paperclips. You described that necklace in your book. Laura's husband made it for her. Laura is the woman who had you at gunpoint. She blamed you for her husband's death. You told me you grabbed her gun and shot her. But she's alive. Not only that but you're friends. You work together.
I was trying to tell a good story.
You were trying to make us think you're someone you're not.
Ok. I didn't kill Laura. I didn't kill Mohawk Hineyhole. The truth is I've never killed anyone. Does that make me a bad person?
No it just makes you a bad killer.
You've never killed anyone either.
Yeah but when I do I promise you I'm gonna be really fucking good at it.
Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
Oh I hope it does.
To the readers at home I apologize on behalf of both of us for our nonlinear narration style. I think it's safe to assume that what you'd like to hear about next is the stuff that happened next. So that's what I'm gonna tell you.
We left the Pinto at the factory and took off in the Frankenbird. Dorktown was quiet. She typed on her Firebuddy the whole time.
She didn't even notice when I stopped to check on a family in an overturned Volkswagen Beetle convertible. The family was all dead so we continued on our way.
A bit farther down there was a burned up tanker truck on its side blocking the road. We had to drive on the shoulder to get around it.
The next servo we found was the old Texaco station in Ash Fork so we pulled off there. The owner of the place was outside rebuilding a transmission. He was a bit younger than me but probably still a prewar.
Dorktown grabbed her crossbow and ran inside. I followed her. We sat down at the counter. The owner followed us in and cleaned off his hands. His nametag read "Nothing." Mr. Nothing had a Citizen's Buddy behind the counter. People really were using the things.
"You got any food here?" Dorktown asked.
"Burgers and hot dogs" Mr. Nothing said.
"I'll have fifty burgers for takeaway" she said.
"You hungry?" I asked.
She ignored me. She opened up her Firebuddy and started typing on it some more.
I heard a helicopter approaching. I hadn't heard that sound in a long time. I went to the window and looked up at the sky.
It wasn't just one helicopter. It was a dozen of them. Bringing up the rear was some kind of dual-rotored behemoth the likes of which I'd never seen.
Hueys and Loaches and Kiowas followed by the last of the ACH-47A Chinooks. Nicknamed "Easy Money."
Thanks for the clarification Dorktown.
Mr. Nothing handed Dorktown her order. But she wasn't done yet. She kept typing on her Firebuddy.
The ACH-47A Chinooks were known as "Guns-A-Go-Go" because they were loaded with .50 calibre machine guns and rockets and grenade launchers pointing in every direction. They were armoured too so they could take abuse as well as dish it out. They only made four of them and Easy Money was the only one that made it home from Vietnam.
When Dorktown finished typing she grabbed her sacks of burgers and got up. She pushed the Firebuddy over to me. "Shit's about to go down. You might wanna update your story."
Dorktown ran outside and I followed her.
The helicopters landed one by one on the main drag of Ash Fork. The smaller helicopters were black with warplane-style mascots and the words "Flagstaff Helly Club" painted on them. The Chinook was painted olive drab.
Two blokes stepped out of the Chinook. Or I guess I should say they stepped out of Easy Money. Both of them had M1911 pistols strapped to their sides. They took off their helmets and strutted toward us. It was Count Bartholomew Bubury and one of his flunkies.
Dorktown turned to me. "Mohawk Asshole has an army" she said. "Now I have one too."
She turned away and ran up to Bubury. She gave him a hug. They exchanged a few words. Then she started visiting each of the helicopters and tossing out hamburgers to all of the crew members.
Bubury and his flunky walked up to me.
"Nice to see you again Firebird" Bubury shouted. "This is vice-president Jocko."
Bubury and Jocko held out their hands to me but I didn't take them.
"Have you switched sides on me?" Bubury asked.
"I was never on your side."
Jocko drew his 1911 and put it against my forehead. "If you're not with us you're against us" he said.
Bubury brought his face close to mine. "You're lucky I owed you a favor" he said. He'd had onions for lunch. "Cuz you just cashed it in. Next time I see you you're going for a long walk out of a short helicopter."
Bubury turned and started walking back toward Easy Money. Jocko put his piece away and followed him.
I ran back into the Texaco and checked Dorktown's Firebuddy. Dorktown had used my You Are Awaited account to accept Bubury's befriending request and communicate with him. She told him she was deliberately driving the Pinto slowly to allow the Gilly army to keep up with us. She told him that they could expect to find the Gilly army at my factory in Seligman.
Dorktown was using my factory as bait.
A message from Laura popped up. "Mohawk Hineyhole has the factory surrounded. We're trapped. They've got both the main door and the evac tunnel. The weapons room is empty."
"Split up the cash and hand it out to the employees" I replied. "Tell them if they survive we'll have jobs for them in Norwood. That goes for you too. I'll be there in fifteen minutes." Seligman was thirty minutes away.
The helicopters took off. I begged Mr. Nothing to loan me some petrol. I told him it would save the lives of dozens of factory workers. He shrugged. I promised to pay him back triple. No dice.
I sat down and folded my arms and laid my head down. Then the voice of a ghost on the CB radio warbled up through the fizz. And it sounded like the voice said "Firebird."
I looked up.
A second voice responded. "10-9. Did not copy. What did you say his name was?"
This time the radio was loud and clear. "His name is Firebird."
"10-4" the second voice said. "Firebird is gonna build Firebirds in Norwood Ohio. And he's gonna need workers. I'll pass the word along. They're gonna wanna know though. Does he subscribe to the bargaining theory of wages or the marginal productivity theory of wages?"
"Marginal productivity theory" I muttered to myself. I put my head back down on the table for a moment. Then I lifted my head up again. "But then again no talent is fungible. Even the market theory gets a little weird when demand is specific and supply is small."
Mr. Nothing noticed the Firebird symbol on my jacket. Then he looked outside and saw the Frankenbird. Then he looked at me again.
"You're Firebird!" he exclaimed. He grabbed the handset on the Citizen's Buddy. "Marginal productivity! But he may be tempering that view with the insight that talent isn't fungible" he shouted.
"10-4 on the marginal productivity theory of wages" the radio replied. "Eastbound and down. Over and out."
"You've been all over the air today" Mr. Nothing said. "All the truckers out here know about what you tried to do in Van Nuys. And they know you're on your way to Norwood to try again. They're all hoping you can pull it off. Oh boy. Have I got something to show you."
"I have to get back to Seligman" I said. "I need fuel."
"I'll give you as much fuel as you can carry. Just let me show you something first." He motioned to me and I grudgingly followed him into his office.
The office walls were covered in GM and Pontiac memorabilia. Flags. Neon signs. Badges. Patches. Stickers. Framed and autographed prints from Smokey and the Bandit and even Hooper. He even had the actual Bandit Trans Am jacket that Burt Reynolds had owned. Who knows how he got a hold of that. He may have murdered Burt Reynolds for it.
"Ever since I saw Smokey and the Bandit I wanted a Trans Am" Mr. Nothing said. "We're all rooting for you. Why are you turning around?"
"I have to go fight two armies at the same time" I explained. "I'm gonna lose. But I might save the lives of a couple dozen factory workers."
"Then we'd best get you back on the road. The sooner you lose this battle the sooner you can win the war."
He ran outside and started filling up the Frankenbird. I followed him out. I opened the boot. I got out a bow and put it in the passenger seat.
I shook his hand. "Thank you" I said.
"The name's Nothing" he said. "And don't think nothing of it."
"Well Mr. Nothing if you ever need a job you know where to find me."
I got into the Frankenbird and put the pedal to the metal. First. Second. Third. Fourth. Redline and beyond. The Arizona sun was beating down and the temperature gauge was maxed out. But that engine knew just what it could give and just what it could take.
I promised myself if the Frankenbird made it to Seligman in time for me to save my employees I'd go back to Van Nuys and give Tex Phoenix's severed head a kiss on the lips. And maybe that Superturbo bloke too.
I whizzed around that burned up tanker truck. I flew past the dead family in that upside down bug. I somehow caught up to those Helly helicopters from hell and by the time I got to the factory I was just ahead of them.
I slowed down the Frankenbird and sized up the situation. In the distance I could see the deuce-and-a-half with the guillotine trailer and the sand rail and the Elsinore parked by the main door of the factory.
Mohawk Hineyhole and the Flirty Dozen were all trying to pry open the factory door. Then Chumdumpster just grabbed the door and lifted it up. This door was made of steel and thick enough to drive a truck over.
Mohawk Hineyhole was then able to stroll into my factory and start doing god knows what in there. My employees were all still trapped so hopefully he wasn't murdering anyone yet.
The factory's evac tunnel was a hundred meters long. The exit hatch was in the floor of a shack. The shack's door was open. One of the Flirties was in there trying to figure out how to open the hatch. He had an AK-47 on him.
I headed for the shack and floored it. When I got close I stomped on the emergency brake and spun the car around. I put the car in reverse and looked behind me. The Flirty in the shack saw me coming and started shooting.
The Frankenbird smashed through the shack and knocked the whole thing down. I grabbed the bow and jumped out of the car but the Flirty was right there pointing his gun at me. I was about to get killed by a dork in a blonde wig.
Then the Flirty looked up to the sky and a big hole appeared in his face. The helicopters had arrived and they were strafing the place with .50 caliber machine guns and rockets and grenades. The deuce and the sand rail were the next victims. Their tires popped and their fluids went spraying.
The rest of the Flirty Dozen or maybe now I should call them the Flirty Eleven took cover and got out their guns.
I pressed the button on my remote to open the evac hatch. Laura was down there with Lucy in her arms. She directed my employees out one by one.
I looked toward the main entrance. The door was now fully open. The Flirty Eleven were at war with the helicopters but they were losing and getting turned into cherry pie. Chumdumpster had noticed what I was up to and he was headed my way on the Elsinore. The Pinto came flying up out of the factory entrance ramp piloted by Mohawk Hineyhole. I bet it felt good to steal a car of mine for once.
I fired an arrow at Chumdumpster but it just bounced off his suit.
Then the ground suddenly sank in as the entire roof of my factory collapsed with a crash. I looked down into the evac hatch. A whoosh of dust blew up into my face just as Laura and Lucy climbed out.
"Is that everyone?" I asked.
"Yeah" she nodded.
Sorry world. No more Firebuddies for a while. And screw you Dorktown.
Ok now I kind of miss the way Dorktown used to read what I'd written and go in and type stupid stuff between my paragraphs.
The helicopters were all coming in for a landing and kicking up dust. We were far enough away from the main door that the Hellies hadn't noticed us.
Chumdumpster was coming right for me and the Pinto wasn't far behind. I grabbed a 2x4 that used to be part of the shack and swung it at him. I knocked him off the bike. Me and Laura and Lucy all got into the Frankenbird.
Mohawk Hineyhole got out of the Pinto and checked on Chumdumpster. Well he checked on his son I guess I should say. Chumdumpster was ok cuz of that silly suit. Mohawk Hineyhole looked toward the factory to see how his pretty army was doing. They weren't doing so well.
The helicopters didn't stay on the ground long. They all started taking off again. It was not yet clear to me what the Hellies were up to but I think Mohawk Hineyhole knew. We got out of there while the dust was still blowing so no one saw us leave.
Then a human being fell out of the sky and landed with a massive thud on the Frankenbird's steel mesh windscreen. Lucy screamed and started crying. I slammed on the brakes.
The sad sack's face was right in front of me. It was one of the Flirties. I looked up at him. His blood was dripping all over me but he was still alive. For a few more seconds at least. He looked me in the eye. His mouth moved but he wasn't saying anything.
Me and Laura got out of the car and looked up. The Gilly soldiers were falling from the sky.NEXT: Chapter 5: Amarillo