Society for the Development of the Asexual Female Supervillain
woman wearing a tinfoil mask held a sword that skewered five kids’ decapitated heads.
“He got it right, Fourth Place.”
song blong glong.” The man she addressed sat on the patio next door and petted the
Pomeranian on his lap. It chewed on a rubber musical note, and its sweater had
the same “P” logo as that on the man’s leather outback hat.
bong.” The woman banged the heads on a cymbal hanging beside a copper gutter.
Artsy. Maybe you’re the reason the blue jays don’t come anymore.” Fourth Place
raised his voice. “Young man, I had to give you an F on that one…”
boy in a black Chicago Breakers baseball uniform turned around.
God’s with me.” Fourth Place held up a Troves chocolate bar. “So I’ll grant you
another chance to earn this. It’s the best candy getting passed out today. Just
make sure you change your costume. We’ll chalk it up to a minor loss. We’re
boy held a plastic jack-o-lantern and stood beneath a platform that displayed five
child-sized headless mannequins. Beyond the boy, trick-or-treaters walked the
man flicked his chin strap. “This is a Pillars town, kiddo. Not a Breakers
boy looked up at the headless mannequins. Red blotches covered their Medieval royalty
clothing. “I hope your dog feels better.”
Place tugged the rubber note and the dog held on.
Artsy’s mask glimmered. “He’s such a kind man.” She pulled a Tellax candy from
one of the mouths of the impaled heads, then tossed it to the boy.
I can’t. I have a meeting tonight.” Princess Artsy talked on the phone and
shook a Tellax before two trick-or-treaters. A small card was attached to the wrapper.
“It’s just Tylenol, Mom. Take an aspirin instead. You’ll be fine.”
kids stared at a pigtailed mannequin next to Princess Artsy. It held a jump
rope and was posed mid-jump.
I’ll get it tomorrow. I have to go now.” Princess Artsy hurled the candy toward
the street. “Go fetch.” The kids ran after it.
Place covered his dog’s ears and yelled, “Say George, you serving Cahoots over
the street, a man at a makeshift bar held up a beer bottle, then gave it to
George porge borge. Unacceptable. Cahoots sponsors the Breakers. We’re
northsiders over here.”
dressed as a doctor and a football player approached Fourth Place. The woman
with them wore a cheerleader’s costume. “What’s with her?” She flicked a
pom-pom toward Princess Artsy, who flipped back her scabbard – it was empty – then
removed the jump rope from the mannequin.
Ann, that’s my lovely lovely neighbor Princess Artsy. Say, you seen any blue
Boys. Stay away from that. Creepy.”
Place tugged the dog’s sweater. “I’d climb up there and knock that down. If my
knees hadn’t gone kaput.”
doctor and the football player backed away from the headless mannequins’
checked her cell phone. Its case displayed a baby photo. “Last year, when I was
pregnant with Carol Ann? Your neighbor here offered me a pack of cigarettes and
one of those little bottles of booze. Okay … ruuude.”
creates these abominations she calls art.” Fourth Place made an “x” with his
index fingers and raised his voice. “Really professional, Princess Artsy. F
Artsy adjusted her aluminum foil mask, then picked up her sword and held it so
the heads faced her. “Now kids, stay sharp. Fourth Place might give another kid
the wrong information.”
It was right.” Fourth Place rubbed his dog’s chin while its paw rested on the
music note. “Ann, what part of the body loses heat the fastest?”
head, right? Boys, get away from that.”
And Breakers Boy said it was ‘D, none of the above.’ That wasn’t even an
two would get it right.” Ann arranged the doctor’s stethoscope while he petted
the dog. “Don’t the Pillars have that Halloween game they play each year now? I
thought you’d be in your garage with your crew.”
is Halloween. This is important. Right boys?” Fourth Place held up a Troves.
“This is the best candy you’ll get today. A thousand times better than what
that crazy lady’s got, but you gotta work for it.”
Artsy draped the jump rope over her shoulder and addressed the football player.
“Where’s your black paint? You should have black paint underneath your eyes. That’s
what Jim Laudan wears. And he’s the champion.”
zipped open a hip pack. “Why say it so silly?”
don’t have my…” Ann threw down her pom-poms. She removed a lipstick tube from
Place tossed up a Troves, then caught it. “Okay kiddos, Benjamin Franklin said,
‘Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and…’ What? A, strong.
B, wise. C, successful.”
boring.” Princess Artsy blew on a red splotch that she’d painted on the jump
roping mannequin’s stomach.
used the lipstick to draw lines beneath the football player’s eyes. He tried to
pull away. “Mom. It’s supposed to be black.”
on boys. You know this. Healthy, wealthy, and…”
doctor looked at the mannequins and drew on his clipboard. “Who’s Benjamin
Place chuckled and the Pomeranian sniffed the Troves, then nudged its toy.
“Come on boys. Basic U.S. history here.”
picked up her pom-poms, then held them over her face and leaned down to the
boys. They yelled, “Wise.”
Place tapped his chin strap. “Coh-rect. And someone who’s wise – they’ve done scientific
research on this – knows the head loses heat the fastest. We’ll chalk that one
up to an error on Breakers Boy and Princess Artsy’s part.”
doctor continued his drawing. “I got a C on my science test.”
not challenged by the material.” Ann examined the clipboard. “Hey, this is
beautiful, honey. It’s some robots, right?”
them.” The doctor pointed at the headless mannequins. “And here’s Al. I drew
you, Al.” The doctor cradled the dog’s face.
Place gave each boy a Troves. “That’s … well…”
took a picture of the drawing. “Those are silly. To me it’s robots, robots and
Al. And I’m going to share this.”
you boys can marry a timid beautiful woman.” Princess Artsy attached a
grayish-purple strand to the red splotch on the mannequin’s stomach. “She’ll
make your babies and you’ll be her hero and you can even have other
girlfriends. Have a Tellax?”
pulled the boys away from Princess Artsy. “Uh-uh. Okay, rude.”
be your cheerleader.”
… we stay away from people like this.”
went to art school.” Princess Artsy scraped her scabbard against the bricks
that bordered the stone sidewalk. “My team mascot was the Drug Addict.”
guided the boys toward the street.
Place traced the “P” on Al’s sweater. “Well Al pal snail bail. I think we’re
the last sane ones left.”
Artsy attached the strand’s other end to the mannequin’s hand. “You should’ve
given that kid the candy.”
you hear what I asked him? I asked him what part of the body loses heat the
fastest. It was a multiple choice and he said none of them.”
got it right.”
He got it wrong.” Fourth Place clasped his chin strap. “I should get one of
those blue jay feeders. It’s got this shape like a…” He formed a circle with
Place pointed the note end of Al’s chew toy toward a field. The setting sun
cast an orange glow on the trees beyond it. “Look at that. I like that. I think
Al likes that. You like that boy? The way the light hits the trees there?”
It’s called limning.” Princess Artsy answered her phone. “Mom.” She sighed and
her tinfoil mask crinkled.
Place, looking at the trees, lifted Al and whispered to him.
told you Mom. Why don’t you ask your neighbor? Well you’ll have to wait till
pigtailed mannequin appeared to be jumping rope with its own intestines.
tuba played inside Princess Artsy’s condo.
that’s from The Sparkly Kingdom.” Outside,
a girl with a tiara twirled a sequined dress. “It’s Foldena’s song, but it
man thumbed his phone. “Sounds terrible.”
at that, Al. God’s with us today.” Fourth Place scratched Al’s head while the
dog gnawed on its chew toy. “Say, you see the light hitting the trees out
Place formed an “x.” “Ted red smed fed. Now I thought you were a Pillars fan.”
know it.” Ted knuckled the logo on his visor. “Hey did you see that Bridgers game
you know that Patrems has ads with that Breakers lunatic Brong?”
looked at his shoes, shrugged, and then returned to his phone. “The Bridgers? That
Place held his hands over Al’s ears. “We’re northsiders. We’re a baseball town,
Ted. Not a hockey town. And you’re supporting the Breakers with those shoes.”
know I’m Pillars all the way. They’re playing now. The Halloween Classic. Why
aren’t you in your garage?”
know what it’s called Ted. I told the guys to stay home. This is important.
We’ll chalk those shoes up to an error on your part.”
smaller girl wearing red lace gloves danced around the mannequin that had the
intestinal jump rope. She sang with the tuba. “It’s me world, see what you can
see./ It’s me world, all that I can be.”
Place hoisted a Troves. “Okay kiddos. This here is the best treat you’ll get all
pointed at Princess Artsy’s bay window. “So you live next to the neighborhood
of them costs two bucks.”
about a lunatic. You see her Christmas tree last year?”
girls just have to answer one question.” The tuba music grew louder and the
girls danced. Fourth Place picked out one of the few Troves with a black wrapper.
“That music’s gonna scare away all the blue jays.”
me out,” said Ted. “That tree was on its side.”
intestines wrapped around it instead of that garland? A brain or some organ on
Place added the candy bar to a pile of them beneath his chair. They all had
black wrappers. “When I was younger, I’d drive my running route and hide
sandwiches at different places.”
I mean, I seen her sculpture. That one with two women sawin’ in half … you know
… a man’s thing.”
I’d run all day – this is before my knees went kaput – and stop and get the
sandwiches.” Fourth Place tapped Al’s note on his knee. “Of course I wore
looked at his phone. “You see that kid earlier? Kid had a Breakers uniform. God
Boy failed my quiz. Now it’s time for you girls. I’m sure you’ll do great.
You’re northsiders. Even if your dad supports the Breakers.”
Ted tapped his visor. “Come on.”
Place pointed at the bar across the street. “Ted red head med fed. I’ll bet you
got a Cahoots over there.” Fourth Place flicked his chin strap. “Okay, kiddos. Which
shoes did Runners’ Range magazine
name the top shoe for trail running? A, Vypops. B, Patrems. That’s what your
dad’s wearing. Or C, Winrights. I worked for Winright for many years.”
girls looked at each other, then the princess jumped. “Daddy’s shoes.”
Place made an “x.” “Not even in the top five.”
Artsy, still wearing the foil mask, came out playing her tuba. Plastic embryos
lined its bell. She pointed at Fourth Place and played two notes that suggested
a wrong answer.
girl ran her red gloves over skin-tight red pants. “I’m Felinzee.”
Artsy adjusted her scabbard. “Fascinating. Fascinating.”
kicked one foot against the other. “That tuba’s really obnoxious.”
Artsy spoke into her mouthpiece and the tuba’s bell projected her voice.
“Everyone, Fourth Place here gave a kid the wrong answer.”
in the street turned toward them.
Place pulled his chinstrap against his neck and wobbled the chew toy. “Say Ted,
can you tell my lovely neighbor here what part of the body loses heat the
Artsy answered her phone, then turned away.
I got a store manager, his wife’s a biology teacher. She can substantiate it.” Fourth
Place shook a Troves with a blue wrapper. “God’s with me today. Now I’ll give
you girls another chance.”
princess pointed at the headless mannequins. “Hey, where are their heads?”
hiding their heads, honey.” Ted checked his phone. “Yes. Alby Long just homered.
Artsy threw down a Tellax, then stomped on it. “Mom, it’s Tylen… fine. Fine.
I’ll drop it off later.”
slapped Fourth Place’s shoulder. “Is your neighbor upset with Mommy?”
Artsy crashed the tuba against the cymbal hanging from her house. “Maybe you
girls can grow up to be trophy wives.”
hear me out…”
just have to marry someone rich and stay beautiful and keep asking for things.
Things will bring you happiness.” Princess Artsy gave each girl a Tellax.
adjusted her lace gloves, then pinched the tag connected to her Tellax. “Hey,
what’s this for?”
tells you how good those are. It says that one Tellax package has over three
hundred calories, eighteen grams of fat, and thirty grams of sugar.”
you want these.” Fourth Place shook a
Troves. “Not those. Those are cheap. These are a hundred times better.”
looked at a Tellax tag. “What are you supposed to be anyway?”
Princess Artsy played the tuba. “Angela Sergeon.”
she? Some tuba player?”
Artsy pointed at the mannequins. “No no. Angela Sergeon dressed her kiddies as
princes and princesses. She put on a foil mask, then chopped off their little heads
hee hee hee.” Princess Artsy removed from her scabbard a dental floss sword, then
thrust it upward. “Yeee!”
waved his visor toward the street. The boy in the Breakers uniform had
reappeared. “Here. See this, boy? This is a Pillars town.”
Fourth Place handed each girl a Trove, then pressed Al’s sweater. “Winrights,
not Patrems blems smens dems.”
Boy, still wearing his Breakers uniform, drank soda by the outdoor bar. He held
a paper bag and watched Fourth Place and Princess Artsy.
urinated in the vegetation beside a fountain.
Artsy – she now wore a Breakers T-shirt – stood on the platform with the five
headless mannequins. She scratched her foil mask, then pointed at the black-wrapped
Troves beneath Fourth Place. “Does each of those represent something you got
the color of the Breakers.” Fourth Place wiggled the rubber note by his feet. “Bunch
of … I know what you’re doing with that T-shirt.”
wheezing and whining, stumbled back to Fourth Place, then grasped the note.
Artsy pointed at her shirt. “First place.” Then she pointed at Fourth Place.
in a completely different league.” Fourth Place, his face red, picked up Al,
then yelled across the street. “Say George, what’s with supporting the
Breakers? You serve Cahoots. You give that kid a drink. Maybe you should have
on a Breakers uniform too.”
Boy leaned against the bar and looked in his paper bag.
Artsy slapped a pillow.
porge norge gorge I thought he supported the Pillars.” Fourth Place dialed his
phone and brushed his palm over Al’s sweater. “Okay Al, we’re going to settle
this debate for our lovely neighbor here.”
Artsy rested a plastic sword on the tallest female mannequin’s outstretched hand.
Fred, I have a lovely neighbor here who’s refuting a scientific fact. I thought
you might ask your brilliant science teacher wife what part of the body loses
heat the fastest.”
Artsy lifted the mannequin’s tunic.
Boy closed his paper bag, then started toward the street.
Place ground his heel into the pile of Troves with black wrappers. “…she’s
going to have to bring herself up to speed. What grade level is she teaching?”
Artsy stuffed the pillow beneath the tunic. The mannequin looked pregnant.
Boy crossed the street, then headed toward them.
elementary school teacher? Fred med smed dead. Maybe I should have sought out a
teacher with higher credentials.” Fourth Place ended the call.
like I’m…” Princess Artsy thrust up the plastic sword. “…coh-rect.”
They’ve done research.”
Princess Artsy crouched before the swollen stomach.
squirmed atop his rubber note.
start doin’ this stuff with these crazy sculptures, and the blue jays don’t come.”
Fourth Place looked toward the distant trees. “What I need is one of those
circle feeders. Not this crazy stuff.”
Artsy high-fived the pregnant headless mannequin. The sword pierced its abdomen.
Boy, clutching his paper bag, stood among them.
Princess Artsy’s mother
once packed a rotten bologna sandwich in her lunch bag.
got that question wrong, kiddo, but Al and me here? We said we’d give you
another chance. If you changed.”
boy wedged his glove between his arm and his side, then reached into the bag.
Though Princess Artsy felt
ill when she got home from school, her mother forced her to put on a sequined
dress to greet her father.
Place hoisted a Troves. “Young man, you’re looking at the highest quality candy
you could get today.”
need it.” The boy pulled a dog treat from the bag. He gave it to Al, then
rubbed the creature’s head. “Good boy.”
Place took off his Pillars hat. He stared inside it. “We’re northsiders…” He
put the hat over his face and, squeezing the rubber note, slowly raised then
lowered his shoulders.
Before her father got
home, Princess Artsy vomited all over her shiny dress. Her mother yelled at
Artsy jumped from the platform, then landed in the grass.
Place, red-eyed, brought down the hat and extended his candy bowl toward the
boy. “Don’t you want one of these?”
thanks.” Breakers Boy slapped his glove and walked away.
sun flashed on Princess Artsy’s mask.
Place put on his hat. He pulled the chin strap so that it disappeared in his
neck flesh. “Breakers got that lunatic Brong. Hopped up on steroids.”
Artsy pulled off the jump roping mannequin’s leg, then pointed it at a young
man with a pizza. “Hey, nice costume.”
minute later, the pizza box sat beside Fourth Place. “I’ll bet you can’t even … what’s the Second Amendment of the
Artsy, using the leg as a prop, got into a batting stance. “I founded the
Society for the Development of the Asexual Female Supervillain. We get together
and discuss the role of females in movies and fiction.”
Place shifted Al, then reached down and opened the box. “Who was the United
States’ smartest president?”
either a woman getting saved…”
you don’t even know what year World War II started.”
a woman acting like a man.”
Place slammed shut the box. “What’s wrong with you lady?”
ball.” Princess Artsy swung the leg, then pretended to watch a ball.
show up in my garage, when I have all my friends over and we just watched the
Pillars get eliminated from the playoffs? And you ask for a cup of sugar?”
was baking a celebration cake.”
Fourth Place fed Al a slice of pizza.
a healthy way to feed your dog.”
had to do this five times.” He tapped one index finger against the other. “Tonight
it’ll be six.” A line of cheese hung from Al’s mouth.
what? Six times you gave a trick-or-treater the wrong information today?”
No. It’s never…” Fourth Place bent the rubber note. “And now I have to do it. Tonight.
Six thirty. With this guy, he’s sick. This is it.” He looked at his shoes and
for a minute, both he and Princess Artsy were silent. “You believe that guy?
Wearing Patrems? I know I could outrun that guy. Before my knees went kaput.”
Artsy touched her foil mask and watched Breakers Boy retreat.
Place, his hair mussed, sat on a bed and talked on the phone. “The winter hat. The
Chicago Pillars. I want it shipped to me.”
shelves displayed running shoes. The shoes were evenly spaced, and unused. From
the edge of one shelf hung Al’s sweater with the “P” stitched into it.
Place ran his thumb over the note-shaped dog toy. “Coh-rect. We’re northsiders
over here. It gets cold.”
the shelves sat a crumpled dog bed, its edges frayed and faded.
Place grunted, pulled himself off the bed, and then, with one corner of his
mouth flecked with saliva, he limped toward silk drapes. He bent the rubber
toy. “You know, the head loses heat faster than any other body part. They’ve
done research on that.”
ended the call, opened the drapes, and then looked outside.
Place bit the rubber note’s stem.
morning sun shone on Princess Artsy’s decapitated mannequins, and from the
extended hand of the female with the sword projecting from her swollen abdomen
hung a circular bird feeder.