I’m getting punchy; I admit it. Today’s story is based on the comments of new blog reader Pete Laberge, the influence my Steampunk-writing pal Katina French, and author/pirate Ted Mark Crim, who laments that he doesn’t have his own Alan Shore. And, pursuant to that last thought, of course this story is heavily inspired by one of my favorite shows of all time, BOSTON LEGAL, starring the incomparable William Shatner.
Mr. Shatner, by the way, will be at Fandom Fest in Louisville this year, as will I (I’ll be part of the Literary Track, not one of the Big Names).
by Marian Allen
They had picked up the notion from a series of science fiction stories and had given it their own unique twist. Now, the very sight of a man in a frock coat and a feather boa caused felons to disengage from their employment and slip into the shadows.
The League of Complicated Gentlemen could have been a cadre of Evil Genii (plural for genius, in case you don’t know), were it not for the leadership of their founders, Denny Crim and Pete LaShore.
As Denny had said, whilst choosing his first boa, “Outlay versus income.” His eyes unfocused as he repeated, “Outlay. Income. Outlay. Income.”
“We’re talking about money, Denny,” Pete reminded him.
Dreamily, Denny said, “How much?”
Pete snapped his fingers in front of Denny’s face. “Why aren’t we trying to take over the world?”
“Not cost effective. Setting up lairs, paying henchmen – excuse me, henchpeople – parts for fiendish devices, getaway airships, and so on and so forth. Countless failures. Bribes. And then what? Suppose you succeed? What have you got?”
“Yes, but what do you do with the damn thing? If you own it, you can’t buy anything. It’s yours!”
Pete conceded the point.
Denny chose a green boa (“The color of money.”) and Pete chose royal blue.
They had just paid for their purchases when the door opened and a man slipped in. He wore black trousers, a horizontally striped black-and-white jersey, a black cap and a black mask. In his hand, he carried a bag marked SWAG.
“That man is up to no good,” said Denny. “I have a feeling.”
Pete raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
The man reached into his bag and withdrew a repeating pistol.
“What did I tell you?”
“Denny, when you’re right, you’re right.”
The criminal brandished his pistol, as criminals do, and shouted, “Hands in the air! This is a stick-up! When I have stolen sufficient funds, I will – dare I say it? – TAKE OVER THE WORLD!”
“Excuse me,” said Denny, “but what will you do with it?”
“Silence, future minion!”
Denny held out his recent purchase. “Do you like this boa?”
“Seek not to buy your safety with baubles!”
“No, does it make me look fat?”
“Are you mad?”
“Well, maybe just a touch of the Mad Cow, but I’m basically sound.”
While the miscreant was thus distracted, Pete formed his own boa into a loop, cast it over the villain’s head, and pulled.
Denny drew a repeating pistol of his own and fired. A flower of red blossomed on the right-hand side of the striped jersey.
“We can see that, Captain Obvious,” said Denny.
“How did you know my secret identity? Curse you! I am foiled!”
Pete, happy to see that the shop had one of the new telephonic devices, dialed the constabulary.
Before they could arrive, Pete retrieved his boa and trussed the malefactor with more of the shop’s stock (with, of course, the shopkeeper’s adoring consent). He and Denny left, not needing to be celebrated for their quick-thinking heroism.
That evening, as they sat on Denny’s balcony smoking cigars and drinking strong whiskey, their boas rippling in the light breeze, Denny said, “That was fun. We ought to do that all the time.”
“Well, yes, but I meant foil crime. We could open an agency, form a firm.”
“A firm what?” This was not a question to ask Denny, for his eyes unfocused again.
“An agency to fight crime,” said Pete, bringing the conversation back on point. “I like it. We could call it,” he waved his cigar, “The League of Complicated Gentlemen.”
“Denny Crim’s League of Complicated Gentlemen?”
“But I’m the leader, right? Because I shot the first bad guy.”
“You’re the leader, Denny.”
“Because I shot the guy.”
Denny considered. “I like it. It’s better than ruling the world. Less paperwork.”
The rest is history.
~ * ~
MY WRITING PROMPT TODAY: 2, Crane — Denny Crane — Who’s yer daddy?