Where you least expect nothing

Submitted into Contest #202 in response to: Write about two people striking up an unlikely friendship.... view prompt

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Fantasy Fiction Friendship

“Where is he?!?”

“Why would you want him here at all? The cops will be the least of our worries if he shows up before we’re done!”

“Of course I don’t want him here to bust up our little soiree! Not when we’re having fun! I mean he’s usually here 5 minutes after the silent alarm is tripped. So something is amiss.”

“Maybe Joey Barlone finally killed him. He swore vengeance on the Red Raven when he locked up his mother for money laundering.”

“Alleged….money laundering. I’m with Joey, I think the Raven set up him and his family. Beats me how Joey escaped the charges.”

“Did I just hear you correct me?!”

The eyes in the clown-painted alien mask narrowed at the husky henchman that served his crime family for years. Even before the Red Raven showed his cowled face around Portland. Once the police found that he was helping them out in a crime spree one summer, they looked the other way, even when the feds got involved. Denial wasn’t a crime when help was needed badly enough. 

“Uhhh….No. No, boss. I was just….sharing. Just sharing a viewpoint. You told us at the meeting last week that we should speak up more.”

“Oh, that’s right. Sometimes, I do make mistakes. Not often, but I do.” Quicker than Notorious Nick Nigel could turn and run, the Green Riddle pulled a gun and ended his career and slipped his gun back into his trademark long green heavy coat. “Percy?? Where are you, my dear beloved number 2? Good news, my boy! You just became Number 1!” That creepy laugh could keep anyone in line, echoing off the walls of the museum and entering the ears of the Riddles’ henchmen. They only paused a few seconds when the bullet left the chamber and left the formerly legendary crime boss at the Riddles’ feet. Knowing better, they got back to work, cutting open the security glass covering the displays and emptying their contents into burlap bags. 

“At the risk of sounding like my predecessor, are you really looking for the Red Raven?” Percy Martin flinched in anticipation of another weapon used on him, but only got a thoughtful look through the masks’ eyeholes. Percy had a reputation as a problem-solver. A smart criminal. Those were usually the talkative overthinkers, but he was useful in dealing with the Raven. He didn’t outsmart the caped avenger, but he could stay a step or two ahead enough to escape him. Temporarily. 

“Now, now. Don’t get so nervous. I like when my henchmen share viewpoints.” His nervous eyes cast about toward the ceiling and any possible escape routes coming into the museum that his nemesis could use. 

“Um, boss?”

“Boss. Hmm. While I like the sound of that, it’s begun to grow old and tiresome. How about….”

“Convicted with no parole?”

“Now see here! While I enjoy some witty repartee with my employees, I will not have….Urch!”

The maroon red glove locked around his neck, lifting the talking maniac off of his feet. Percy was smart, all right. Smart enough to get out of here, taking the rest of the boss’s goons with him. 

“Aren’t you gonna help him?? He’s the one that sprung you from prison!” Arnold Westcott whisper-pleaded with Percy as they grabbed some of the loot and headed out the exit. Maybe it worked in their favor that the Raven was targeting their boss tonight and not them. They just collectively hoped that they wouldn’t be the next to be taken in before they could collect the cash value of these goofy looking statues and jewels. 

Percy looked annoyed at the underling that dared to question his motives. He hated to admit it, but the idiot was right. Maybe a distraction. Seeing Percy’s mental wheels in motion, Arnold handed him the crossbow from one of the collections they were stealing from. It was already loaded with something from way back when guys wore white wigs, stockings and shirts with frills. A deadly weapon invented by those fru-frus. Go figure.

He took aim and shot quickly at the Raven, then tossed it away and motioned for them both to run. Percy paused as he heard a “thud” before shutting the heavy steel door. 

The Green Riddle gasped through the thin mouthhole in his mask as he maintained his balance against the wall. Getting his vision back, he saw a heap of maroon red clothes, cape and…..a mask. He shook his head, not believing his fortune, he saw the short but deadly arrow through his nemesis’ back. A spot was growing around the entry point. A darker red than his costume.

“Oh my! Oh my, my, my! I knew that this day would come, but to have it fall on a day when I needed rescuing! Thank you, oh gods of stolen fortunes! I knew you hated the Red Raven, and now I know you’ve blessed me with your presence here tonight!” He allowed some laughter before choking from that red gloved grip, then looked around at the mess his henchmen left. “Oh for goodness sake! Can’t I get at least somebody that knows to pick up after themselves?!” He started gathering the abandoned bags while hearing a groan from the mass of red cloth. A movement under the famous cape showed potential for life still under the latex costume.

“Well. I knew that you were tough, bird-boy, but I had no idea. Good on you!” He crouched down, slapped his cape-covered back around the entry point of the arrow making him grunt and groan loudly. Blood was definitely being lost. Not the Riddles’, though.

“Too bad this didn’t turn into one of those long, drawn out battles compatible with a cinematic escapade. That would have been a more fitting end to your wasted career choice, bird-brain.” He shoved at the Red legend with a bright green boot with red bells on the end. 

The groan came louder. “.....help….me…”

“Are you serious?!? YOU? The one that put myself and my pals behind bars or in cement blocks or even in the gas chambers or whatever they’re using now?! You and your law enforcement buddies! Ha! Where are they now that you’re dying??” Marian Ridengast caught himself. Yes. The Red Raven, scourge of the underworld, fear of criminals everywhere lay bleeding and will probably not survive the night.

“Oh, what are you doing…..what ARE you doing??! I so hope the Dogcatcher and the King of Spades doesn’t catch me doing this. Unbelievable. Ugh!” He found a first aid kit, brought it down with him to the Raven’s groaning side. The arrow was removed slowly, carefully. Hearing the grunt when the head hit flesh and muscle actually made the Green Riddle grunt, too. Stitches were sewn, braces were set. This close and the thought to remove the legends’ mask only crossed his mind once. Only once. “I MUST be getting soft! I blame you for this, you wicked sc…..” 

“Ma….Marian….Riden….gast…. Am I….I right?” Some blood came from that cough. Thankfully, some ibuprofen was in that first aid kit, so any fever related to that arrow that Riddles just removed should be under control. Nevertheless, Raven seemed delirious. A dark red glove reached up, shaking slightly. “DeWayne. DeWayne Kelvin.”

Marian/Green Riddle almost fainted in this crouch at his side. Not only did he find that his nemesis knew his name, but he now surrendered his own identity. He wondered if they were both delirious. 

“A….pleasure….to meet you, Mr. Kelvin at last.” He accepted his gloved hand with another. DeWayne Kelvin was a reclusive investment genius with a lot of time and money on his trust fund hands. That explains a lot. “How did you know my name?”

“Research. Lots and lots of research.” Marian/Green Riddle wiped the Ravens’ mouth. He was breathing deep, but not losing air. “I’m surprised that you didn’t figure out my identity earlier.”

He had to laugh. Once again, he had a point over him. “This is true. I will still prove that I’m the smarter one.”

“Perhaps. Someday. Though, I admit…” He started to squirm and sit up enough to brace himself on his elbows. It took some effort, but he seemed determined, like his pursuit of the Green Riddle and his fellow criminals. “.....I have a great respect for your intellect. Some of those puzzles, I had to back away and give them some serious thought.”

“What?! Is the great Red Raven admitting that he was…..stumped???”

After he turned his cowled head sharply in the Riddles’ direction, a smile actually began to form and changed into a laugh. A mutual laugh. Before the pain from the exit wound kicked in again, reminding them both of the reason they were both on the floor of this historic museum. 

“Let me ask you one thing, Green….Marian…. Why did you turn to a life of crime? With your intelligence, you could have applied yourself to anything. And whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you’re displaying compassion. You could have been the man that took out the Red Raven. THE notorious criminal that ever lived. But you chose to save me before I bled out here.”

“Why did you become this crime-fighting bird, DeWayne? For fun? Kicks? You’re rich, maybe that’s why?”

“No.” He dipped his head down in deep thought, pretending to shift around and get comfortable. “No. My wife. Me, my wife of 5 years and my sister were at an opera. We stepped into the car to take us to a nightclub and a hitman that had been assigned to kill me instead shot my wife and sister. Grazed me on the shoulder. When he saw he failed, he ran for it. Our finest caught up with him and took him down. After that, I knew I couldn’t just sit by and grieve. So I trained, learned and spent a lot of my fortune on…..this.” He motioned down to his familiar costume. Simple as that.” He gave a cough, but no blood came with it. He seemed to be recuperating. 

Marian/Green Riddle sat back on his elbows as well, giving this some consideration. “I had recurring problems with anxiety and depression for many years. I couldn’t get any doctor to listen to me, to take me seriously. I always kept smiling as my parents taught me. Never share being morbid or show how much smarter I am than others. So one night, when a girlfriend that my parents arranged set me up with told me to ‘straighten up’ and ‘stop slouching’, something just….snapped. I saw a similar outfit like this in a costume shop and I just smashed the windows open and took it. My first successful robbery. It felt wonderful. Even while my own rich parents shouted at me to stop embarrassing them and my fiancee. Though the news about the latters’ relationship to me came as a surprise.”

“Goodness. I had no idea.” Through the eye holes in that cowl and mask, there came some understanding, some sense of compassion that he thought that he saw in Marian/Riddle.

The sirens began to let them know that things were about to change rapidly.

“So what do you say? Give up the night job and join me in raiding museums, banks and jewel stores?”

“I was going to ask you if I can talk you into reforming.”

Marian/Riddle checked the dressing and bandages he had applied to his enemy. “Make sure you don’t do anything to tear these stitches. You’re going to need more medical attention than a former nurse’s aide can give. Just lay back and wait for the ambulance.”

“Make sure to give my suggestion some thought. I know you won’t go through with it, but….try.”

“Red, my friend. I think you know that’s never going to happen.”

“You’re right.”

“Again.”

The sirens got louder, voices were heard outside of the building. 

“Get well, my dear enemy. We will see each other soon. I will have to step up my game to stump you more often.” The Green Riddle adjusted his mask and costume, getting up to his feet again, winking down at the Red Raven.

“You do that, you heathen criminal. It will be jail for you yet.” He gave him a wink and lay back down, taking some deep breaths. Apparently, he wasn’t as fully recovered as he pretended to be. “And don’t worry about me. It’s you and your henchmen that have need to be concerned.”

“Nighty-nite, bird-brain.” With that, he ran toward the exit that he planned on dashing out to escape, richer for it. He peered around the corner of the door, watching his panting nemesis. The police entered the scene, saw the Red Raven down on the floor and examined him, then called for a paramedic. Nodding approval, he dashed out into the night with a lot to consider. Plans to find out where Dewayne was taken to on his mind as well. “Say it with flowers”, they say. Maybe some roses with the blooms cut off and the thorns sharpened. He stifled a laugh, making his way back to the car.

June 14, 2023 02:45

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6 comments

Lily Finch
16:12 Jun 14, 2023

David the dialogue is two enemies who are more like acquaintances who have a love/hate relationship with Red and Green colours for distinction. It sounded like a smaller story of a larger piece to me. What I enjoyed was Green Riddle doesn't kill Red Raven as there is something in their back and forth that keeps both of them going. Thanks for the good read. LF6

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David Drake
20:48 Jun 14, 2023

Thank you again for the feedback! I was deliberately avoiding the "big name" comic book figures like Batman and Joker, but I wanted to use the prompt and also give my take on their dynamic (no pun intended, really) that reveals itself in their costume choices. I.e., Joker in wild colors and face paint and Batman in dark, muted colors. They're very much alike and need each other to exist.

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David Drake
20:49 Jun 14, 2023

Oh, and now that I think about it, this could be part of a larger storyline.

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Lily Finch
23:16 Jun 14, 2023

Oh yeah, it could. You have a series on your hand if you are up for it. No problem. Easy for me to say when I don't have to write it. Ha ha ha. LF6

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Mary Bendickson
04:49 Jun 14, 2023

Quite the caper.😲🏹 Must be part of your on-going saga. Thanks for the follow.

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David Drake
14:24 Jun 14, 2023

Indeed. I've found value in the ongoing trend in comics to make the "hero" and "villain" more human, relatable with apparent faults and even psychological obsessions and unresolved issues. I've always thought that the Joker was the one person who knew the Batman the best, even as apparent enemies.

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