by Starsky Hutch 76, adapted from Pulp Fiction, screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary
The old, classic white Mustang barreled down a street in Gotham City. In the front seat were two old, yet remarkably well-preserved men. One had the hook-nosed look of a man who’d been in a lot of fights in his youth. The other was a man with a pencil-thin mustache. Both wore pinstriped suits with fedoras, as if they’d stepped out of an old gangster film. Their names were Floyd Lawton, known to the world as Deadshot when he was in costume, and Franko Morelli, formerly chief henchman for the Joker and now for his daughter.
“I just want you to know I appreciate this, Franko,” Deadshot said. “I was a little leery when my guy got the call from Harley, but I really needed the funds.” Floyd winced a bit as he told this lie; it was better for the Joker’s men to think he was desperate for work than to know the truth, that he’d only agreed to do this job because he owed one last favor to the Gorilla Boss of Gotham City.
“Don’t worry about it,” Franko said. “Not for nothin’, but a guy with your kind of talent doesn’t come along every day. So when word got out you were back in the game, everyone was willing to let bygones be bygones. Personally, I ain’t got no beef with you. Neither does anyone else. You can’t control what other people do. All that old stuff was a long time ago, so it’s all water under the bridge. Anyways, your trip OK?”
“S’all right, but I’m glad to be back in the U. S. of A.,” Deadshot said. “Next time Gorilla Boss wants me to take care of business for him, I hope it’s a local job. I hate flying. I made a hefty dent in their supply of gin and tonics, let me tell ya.” He pulled out his passport with its fresh Quebec stamp and threw it on the dashboard.
“What’s it like up there?” Franko asked.
“Well… you know what the funniest thing about Quebec is?”
“It’s the little differences,” Floyd said. “A lotta the same things we got here, they got there, but they’re a little different.”
“Well, in Quebec, you can buy beer in a movie theater. And I don’t mean in a paper cup, either. They give you a glass of beer, like in a bar. In Quebec, you can buy beer at Big Belly Burger. Also, you know what they call a Big Belly Quarter-Pound Slamma-Jamma with Cheese in Quebec?
“They don’t call it a Big Belly Quarter-Pound Slamma-Jamma with Cheese?”
“No, they got the metric system there; they wouldn’t know what a Quarter-Pound Slamma-Jamma is.”
“What’d they call it?” Franko asked.
“A Belly Grande Royale with Cheese,” Floyd said.
“Belly Grande Royale with Cheese,” Franko laughed. “What’d they call a Big Mac?
“Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac.
“What do they call a Big Kahuna Burger?”
“I don’t know; I didn’t go into a Big Kahuna Burger. But you know what they put on French fries in Quebec instead of ketchup?”
“Cheese curds and gravy.”
“Damn!” Franko exclaimed.
“I’ve seen ’em do it,” Floyd laughed. “And I don’t mean a little bit on the side of the plate; they drown ’em in it. They call it poutine.”
Franko gave a shudder. “That just ain’t right.”
The trunk of the Chevy opened, and Franko and Floyd reached inside, taking out two .45 automatics, loading and cocking them.
Franko and Floyd walked through the courtyard of what looked like a hacienda-style apartment building.
“What’s her name again?” Floyd asked.
“Mia,” Franko answered.
“How did she and the Joker meet? I mean, it’s not like a guy like him hangs out at singles bars!” Floyd said.
“I dunno; however people meet people,” Franko said. “She used to be an actress.”
“She ever do anything I would’ve seen?” Floyd asked.
“I think her biggest deal was she starred in a pilot once for Stellar Studios.”
“What’s a pilot?” Floyd asked.
“Well, you know the shows on TV?” Franko said.
“I don’t watch TV,” Floyd replied, lighting a cigarette.
“Yes, but you’re aware that there’s an invention called television, and on that invention, they show shows?” Franko said.
“Well, the way they pick the shows on TV is they make one show, and that show’s called a pilot. And they show that one show to the people who pick the shows, and on the strength of that one show, they decide if they want to make more shows. Some get accepted and become TV programs, and some don’t, and become nothing,” Franko explained. “She starred in one of the ones that became nothing.”
They entered the apartment building. Floyd and Franko walked through the reception area and waited for the elevator.
“You remember that Samoan dude? Used to call him Hula-Hula?”
“Yeah, maybe. Fat, right?” Floyd asked.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to call the poor sap fat,” Franko said. “He’s got a weight problem. What’s he gonna do? He’s Samoan.”
“I think I know who you mean,” Floyd said. “What about him?”
“Well, the Joker messed him up real good, just before he went into that coma,” Franko said. (*) “Didn’t give him the permanent grin, but almost as bad. And word around the campfire, it was on account of a broad he was seeing.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Red Robin: Auld Lang Syne, Chapter 4: Eternal Youth.]
The elevator arrived, and the men stepped inside. “What’d he do, bang her?” Floyd asked, highly curious.
“No, no, no, nothin’ that bad,” Franko said, shaking his head.
“Well, what, then?”
“He gave her a foot massage,” Franko coughed.
“A foot massage?!” Floyd exclaimed.
Franko nodded his head gravely. “Yeah, a foot massage.”
“That’s all?” Floyd said with disbelief.
“What did the Joker do?” Floyd asked.
“Joker sent a couple of guys over to his place. They took him out on the patio of his apartment, threw his ass over the balcony. Ol’ Hula fell four stories. They had this garden at the bottom, enclosed in glass, like one of them greenhouses. Poor chump fell through that. Since then, he’s kinda developed a speech impediment.”
The elevator doors opened, and Floyd and Franko exited. Morning sun poured through the windows of the hallway. “That’s a damn shame,” Floyd said. “I always liked ol’ Hula-Hula. Still, I’ve gotta say, play with matches, you get burned.”
“Whaddya mean?” Franko said.
“You don’t go giving the Joker’s girl a foot massage,” Floyd said.
Franko was used to defending his old boss’s manic behavior. It was odd coming from someone else. “You don’t think he overreacted?”
“Hula-Hula probably didn’t expect the Joker to react like he did, but he had to expect a reaction.”
“It was a foot massage. A foot massage is nothing,” Franko said. “I give my ninety-year-old mother a foot massage.”
“It’s laying hands on the Joker’s main squeeze in a familiar way,” Floyd said. “Is it as bad as bangin’ her? No, but you’re in the same freaking ballpark. And he’s got a rep to protect.”
Franko turned to Floyd and said, “Whoa… whoa… whoa… stop right there. Banging a broad and giving a broad a foot massage ain’t even the same thing.”
“Not the same thing, but the same ballpark,” Floyd said.
“It ain’t no ballpark, either. Look, maybe your method of massage differs from mine, but touching his old lady’s feet, and doing the horizontal mambo ain’t the same ballpark, ain’t the same league, ain’t even the same sport. Foot massages don’t mean nothin’.”
“Have you ever given a foot massage?” Floyd asked.
“Don’t tell me about foot massages,” Franko said. “I’m the foot master.”
“Given a lot of ’em?” Floyd said, raising an eyebrow.
“Hell, yeah,” Franko bragged. “I’ve got my technique down pat. I don’t tickle or nothin’.”
“Have you ever given a guy a foot massage?” Floyd asked.
Franko looked at him a long moment and realized he’d been set up. “Screw you,” he said with an aggravated chuckle, shaking his head as he started walking down the hall.
Floyd, smiling, walked a little bit behind. “How many?”
“Would you give me a foot massage?” Floyd teased. “I just got off a long trip, and I’m kinda tired.”
“Man, you better back off. I’m gettin’ pissed,” Franko said, trying his best to sound stern. “This is the door.” The two men stood in front of the door numbered 49.
“What time is it?” Franko whispered.
Floyd checked his watch. “It’s 7:22 in the morning.”
“It ain’t quite time,” Franko said. “Let’s hang back.”
They moved a little away from the door, facing each other, still whispering.
“Look,” Franko said. “Just because I wouldn’t give a Joe a foot massage, doesn’t make it right for the Joker to throw Hula off a building into a glass-house, screwin’ up the way the guy talks. That just ain’t right. Guy does that to me, he better make sure the fall killed me, ’cause I’d waste him.”
“I’m not sayin’ he was right, but you’re saying a foot massage don’t mean nothing, and I’m sayin’ it does. I’ve given a million ladies a million foot massages, and they all meant something. We act like they don’t, but they do. That’s what’s so cool about ’em. This sensual thing’s going on that nobody’s talking about. But you know it, and she knows it. The Joker knew it, and Hula-Hula should’ve known better. That’s his moll, man. Even the Joker ain’t gonna have a sense of humor about that.”
“That’s an interesting point, but let’s get into character,” Franko said.
“What’s her name again?” Floyd asked.
“Mia. Why you so interested in the Joker’s girl?” Franko asked.
“Well, the Joker’s daughter’s heading to Florida to check on something that might wake her dad up from that coma he’s been in,” Floyd said. “One of the reasons Harley sent for me was to take care of Mia.”
“Take care of her?” Franko asked, making a gun out of his finger and placing it to his head. It would be just like Harley Quinn to be jealous of her daddy’s old girlfriend.
“Not that! Take her out. Show her a good time. Don’t let Mia get lonely and go stepping out on her father while he’s laid up.”
“You’re gonna be taking Mia Wallace out on a date?” Franko said, looking at Floyd as if he were crazy.
“It ain’t a date!” Floyd insisted. “It’s like when you and your buddy’s wife go to a movie or somethin’. It’s just… you know… good company.”
Franko looked at him and smirked. No one he knew would’ve trusted him with their wives — no one in their right mind. Floyd Lawton had a reputation for more than just his shooting ability, and his Clark Gable looks had given him plenty of opportunities to use it. No one had ever accused anyone in the Joker family of being in their right mind.
“It’s not a date,” Floyd said.
Franko just looked at him with the same smirk.
“I’m not gonna do anything stupid,” Floyd said.
Franko shook his head and mumbled to himself, “That broad’s gonna kill more palookas than time.”
“What was that?” Floyd said.
“Nothin’,” Franko said, irritated. “Let’s get into character.”
“What’d you say?!” Floyd exclaimed.
“I didn’t say nothin’,” Franko growled. “Let’s go to work.”
“Don’t play with me! You said somethin’. Now, what was it?”
Franko gestured to the door with his gun. “Do you wanna do this?”
“I want you to repeat what you said!” Floyd exclaimed.
“That door’s going to open in about thirty seconds, so get yourself together,” Franko ordered.
“My self is together,” Floyd said, pulling on the lapels of his double-breasted jacket.
“Bull. Stop thinkin’ ’bout that broad, and get yourself together and start being the qualified pro Harley paid for.”
Inside the apartment were three young guys were sitting at a table with hamburgers, French fries, and sodas laid out. One of them got up and flipped the loud bolt on the door, opening it to reveal Franko and Deadshot standing in the hallway.
“Hey, kids,” Franko said, amused. They were babies. This would be easier than he thought.
The two men strolled inside. As they walked in, their eyes combed the room, taking in their surroundings.