by Starsky Hutch 76, adapted from Pulp Fiction, screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary
As they rode away from the apartment complex, Franko Morelli was behind the wheel, Floyd Lawton sat in the passenger seat, and Marvin was in the back. “Ever seen that show Cops?” Floyd said. “I was watching it once, and this cop was on it who was talkin’ about this time he got into this gun-fight with a guy in a hallway. He unloaded on this guy, and he didn’t hit anything. And these guys were in a hallway. It’s a freak, but it happens.”
“If you wanna play blind man, then go walk with a shepherd,” said Franko. “But me, my eyes are wide open.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Floyd said.
“That’s it for me. From here on in, you can consider my ass retired,” Franko said.
“Jesus Christ!” Floyd said, turning to him.
“Don’t blaspheme!” Franko said.
“Goddammit, Franko,” Floyd snapped.
“I said don’t do that,” Franko snapped back.
“You’re freaking me out!”
“I’m tellin’ Harley today I’m through,” Franko said.
“While you’re at it, be sure to tell her why,” Floyd said, shaking his head.
“Don’t worry, I will,” Franko said.
“I’ll bet ya ten thousand dollars, she laughs her ass off,” Floyd said.
“I don’t give a damn if she does,” Franko said.
Floyd turned to the back seat with the .357 casually in his grip. “Marvin, what do you make of all this?”
“I don’t even have an opinion,” Marvin said.
“C’mon, Marvin. Do you think God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets?” Floyd said, gesturing with the gun.
The .357 went BANG! Marvin was hit in the upper chest below the throat. He gurgled blood and began to shake. Floyd stared down at the gun as if it had betrayed him.
“What the #^@%’s happening?” Franko said.
“Apparently, I just accidentally shot Marvin in the throat,” Floyd said.
“Why the #^@% did you do that?” Franko said.
“I didn’t do it,” said Floyd. “It was this piece of $#!^ gun I picked up back at those kids’ place! It was an accident.”
“I’ve seen a lot of crazy $#!^ in my time…”
“Take it easy. It was an accident, OK? I didn’t mean to shoot him. This gun just went off. Don’t ask me how! Now, I think the humane thing to do is put him out of his misery.”
“You wanna shoot ‘im again?!” Franko exclaimed.
“The guy’s suffering. It’s the right thing to do,” Floyd said.
Marvin, suffering though he was, listened to this debate. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“This is really bad,” Franko groaned.
Floyd looked at the new gun and gingerly placed it in the glove compartment in case it went off again. He pulled his own out of his shoulder holster and turned to the backseat. He placed the barrel of the .45 against Marvin’s forehead.
Marvin’s eyes were as big as saucers. He tried to talk Floyd out of this, but when he opened his mouth, only gurgles came out.
“Marvin, I just wanna apologize,” Franko said. “I got nothing to do with this. And I want you to know I think it’s #^@%ed up.”
“OK, Pontius Pilate,” Floyd said, rolling his eyes. “When I count three, honk your horn. One… two… three.”
Franko pressed down hard on the horn. There was a HONK and then a BANG.
The car was completely covered in blood. It was all over everything, including Franko and Floyd.
“Jesus Christ Almighty!” Franko exclaimed.
“Ah, hell,” Floyd said.
“Look at this mess! We’re driving around on a city street in broad daylight!” Franko said.
“I know, I know. I wasn’t thinking about the splatter. I’ve been out of the game for a while,” Floyd said.
“Well you better be thinkin’ about it now!” Franko said. “We gotta get this car off the road. Cops tend to notice things like when you’re driving a car drenched in freakin’ blood.”
“Can’t we just take it to a friendly place?” Floyd asked.
“This is Gotham Heights, Floyd,” Franko said. “Harley ain’t got any friendly places in Gotham Heights. She spends half her time robbing these folks! You used ta be filthy rich — don’t you know anyone in this neighborhood?”
“Don’t look at me,” Floyd said. “I only lived in Gotham a short while back in the ’50s before I became Deadshot.”
Franko pulled the car over and walked over to a pay-phone and started punching digits.
“Who ya calling?” Floyd asked, sticking his head out the window.
“A buddy of mine, Ozzie,” Franko said. “If Ozzie ain’t home, I don’t know what we’re gonna do. I ain’t got any other friends around here.”
“Ozzie! How you doin’, buddy! It’s Franko!” he said into the phone. “Listen, me an’ my buddy are in trouble. We’re in a car we gotta get off the road, pronto! I need to use your garage for a couple hours… Ozzie, you know I can’t get into this over the phone. But what I can say is we’re out in the cold, and I’m asking you for some sanctuary ’til our people can bring us in… I appreciate this, man. We’ll be gone by then… Ozzie, I’m aware of your situation. I give you my word, partner; she’ll never know we were there… Five minutes. Later.”
He folded up the phone and turned to Floyd. “We’re set,” Franko said. “But his wife comes home from work in an hour and a half, and we gotta be outta there by then.”
The car pulled into the garage of a two-bedroom suburban house, and fifteen minutes later, Franko was bent over a sink in Ozzie’s bathroom, washing his bloody hands while Floyd stood behind him. “We’ve gotta be real delicate with this ’cause of Ozzie’s situation. He’s one remark away from kicking our asses out the door.”
“If he kicks us out, whadda we do?” Floyd asked.
“Well, we ain’t leaving ’til we’ve made a couple phone calls. But I never want it to reach that point,” Franko said. “Ozzie’s an old pal, and you don’t bust in your friend’s house and start telling him what’s what.”
Franko rose and dried his hands. Floyd took his place at the sink and said, “Just tell him not to be abusive. He kinda freaked out back there when he saw Marvin.”
“Put yourself in his position,” Franko said. “It’s eight o’clock in the morning. He just woke up after a late night at The Ice Floe. He wasn’t prepared for this. Don’t forget who’s doin’ who a favor.”
Floyd finished washing his hands and then dried his hands on a white towel. “If the price of that favor is I got to take $#!^, he can stick his favor straight up his @$$.” When Floyd finished drying his hands, the towel was stained with red.
“What the hell did you just do to his towel?”
“I was just drying my hands,” Floyd said.
“You’re supposed to wash ’em first!” Franko snapped.
“You watched me wash ’em,” Floyd said.
“I watched you get ’em wet,” Franko said.
“I washed ’em. Blood’s real hard to get off,” said Floyd. “Maybe if he had some lava, I could’a done a better job.”
“I used the same soap you did! It’s things like this that’re going to bring this situation to a boil. If he were to come in here and see that towel like that… I’m tellin’ you, Floyd, you best be cool. ‘Cause if I’ve gotta get into it with Ozzie on account of you… Look, I ain’t threatening you; I respect you and all. Just don’t put me in that position. Respect the man’s property while you’re here. Especially his umbrellas. He’s real funny about those.”
“Franko, you ask me nice like that, no problem… Did you say especially his umbrellas?”
The three men were standing in Ozzie’s kitchen, each with a mug of coffee. Ozzie was a long-nosed, pear-shaped man in his sixties dressed in a bathrobe.
“Damn, Ozzie, this is some seriously good coffee. Me and Floyd, here, would’ve been satisfied with freeze-dried Tasters Choice. Then you go and spring this gourmet on us. What flavor is this?”
“Knock it off, Franko,” said Ozzie.
“What?” Franko said.
“I’m not a cobb of corn, so you can stop buttering me up. I don’t need you to tell me how good my coffee is. I’m the one who buys it, so I know how good it is. When Bonnie goes shopping, she buys garbage. I buy the gourmet expensive stuff, because when I drink it, I want to taste it. But what’s on my mind at this moment isn’t the coffee in my kitchen. It’s the dead guy in my garage.”
“Ozzie–” Franko started.
“I’m talking, here, so don’t ‘Ozzie’ me. Now let me ask you a question, Franko. When you drove in here, did you notice a sign out front that said, ‘dead henchman storage’?”
Franko started to “Ozzie” him, and he cut him short. “Answer the question. Did you see a sign out in front of my house that said, ‘dead henchman storage’?”
“No, man, I didn’t.”
“You know why you didn’t see that sign?” Ozzie said.
“Because storing dead henchmen isn’t my damn business!”
Franko started to “Ozzie” him. “I’m not through! Now, don’t you understand that if Bonnie comes home and finds a dead body in her house, I’m going to get divorced. No marriage counselor, no trial separation. Just divorced. And I don’t want to get divorced. The last time Bonnie and I talked about this was going to be the last time we talked about this ever. Now I want to help you out, Franko; I really do. But I’m not going to lose my wife doing it. As far as she’s concerned, I’m reformed, and I don’t want to give her reason to think otherwise.”
“Don’t Ozzie me,” he said, exasperated. “I can’t be Ozzied. There’s nothing you can say that’s going to make me forget I love my wife. Now she’s working the graveyard shift at Arkham. She’ll be coming home in less than an hour and a half. Make your phone calls, talk to your people, then get the hell out of my house.”
“That’s all we want. We just need to call our people to bring us in,” Franko said.
“Then I suggest you get to it. The phone is in my bedroom.”
As Franko crossed the room, exiting, he said, “You’re a friend, Ozzie. You’re a good friend!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m a real good friend. Good friend, bad husband, ex-con, soon to be ex-husband.” He looked up and saw Floyd Lawton. “Do I know you?”
“I don’t think we ever had a chance to work together,” Floyd said. “Say, aren’t you…?”
“Not anymore,” said Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot. “My son holds that distinction now, and ever since I quit my Penguin schtick and became a respectable business owner, I’ve been dead to him. (*) He looks better in a tuxedo, anyway.”
The two men laughed. “Well, none of us look as good as we used to in our Sunday finest,” Floyd said.
Harley Quinn lay nude sprawled across a massage table as an Adonis dressed in an old-fashioned Robin costume with the tunic open worked her back muscles. The phone rang, and a similarly dressed Adonis handed her the receiver. She rose up on her elbows, flinging her long, wet green hair out of the way of her ear.
“Y’ello? Yeah… uh-huh… Well, say she comes home. Whaddya think she’ll do? Well, no duh! Of course she’ll freak. No… that ain’t no kinda answer. You know ‘er, I don’t. How bad, a lot or a little?”
Franko paced around in Ozzie’s bedroom on the phone. He leaned his hand on one of the many bird statues typical of the house and said, “You got to appreciate what an explosive element this Bonnie situation is. If she comes home from a hard day’s work and finds a bunch of henchmen henchin’ in her kitchen, ain’t no tellin’ what she’s liable to do.”
“Well, can’t you just plug ‘er? You’ve still got bullets in yer gun, don’tcha?”
“Well, sure, Harley, but I don’t wanna use ’em!”
“Well, why not?!” Harley said.
“He may be retired, but Ozzie still commands a certain amount of respect in Gotham City, Harley! Look, if push meets shove, you know I’ll take care of business. But push ain’t never gonna meet shove. Because you’re gonna solve this for us, young lady! ‘Cause if, after all the years I’ve given your family, if I gotta get into it with my old friend — and your father’s, by the way — about his wife, because you wanted Floyd Lawton here, I’m gonna have bad feelings.”
Harley sighed. “You know why I wanted him there.”
“Bad blood between him and your old man. Right,” Franko said. Like this has to do with him and not Mia, he thought. “Joker couldn’t put a hit on him because of all his powerful friends in all the Mob families. But if he bangs Mia, you can waste him without pissing off the families, waste her without pissing off your dad, and everybody’s happy. Thing is, right now, I ain’t too happy.”
“All I was doing was looking at all the options, Uncle Franko,” Harley said innocently.
“That ain’t no option, kid,” Franko said. “Look, I ain’t got no love of Floyd Lawton, either. Thanks to his buddy, my bones still hurt when it’s rainy or cold.”
“Just hold tight, Uncle Franko,” said Harley. “I’m sending the Arranger.”
“Thanks, kiddo,” Franko said. “That makes me feel a whole lot better.”
Through the bedroom doorway of the hotel suite could be seen other similarly well-dressed folk. Gamblers in tuxedos and lucky ladies were playing a crap game on a fancy crap table in fancy evening gowns. A distinguished tuxedo-clad man sat on the edge of a bed, phone in hand, listening as Harley Quinn instructed him. His name was Winston Worth, AKA the Arranger.
The Arranger had a small notepad that he jotted details in. “Is she the hysterical type? When she due? … Give me the principals’ names again? … 1265 Riverside Drive… one body, no head… Bloody, shot-up car… Floyd… Ozzie… Bonnie, 9:30. OK, got it. Expect a call around 10:30. It’s about thirty minutes away. I’ll be there in ten.” He rose from the bed and went into the other room to make apologies to his guests.