by Starsky Hutch 76, adapted from True Romance, screenplay by Quentin Tarantino
Maggie sat on the couch, watching a news report on Johnny Quick saving a number of people from an apartment fire. She barely paid attention to it. All she could think of was Stretch and how worried she was about him. The front door of Stretch’s apartment suddenly swung open, and he walked in. Maggie jumped off the couch and ran toward Stretch; before she reached him, he blurted out, “I killed him.”
Maggie stopped short.
“I’ve got some food in the car,” he said. “I’ll be right back.”
Stretch left. Except for the TV playing, the room was quiet. Maggie sat on the couch, dazed.
Stretch walked back into the room with a whole bounty of take-out food. He heaped it on to the coffee table and started to chow down. “Help yourself. I got enough. I’m starvin’. I think I ordered one of everything.” He stopped and looked at her. “I am so hungry. This is probably the best hamburger I’ve ever had. I’m serious. I’ve never had a hamburger taste this good.”
Maggie started to cry.
“Why are you crying? He’s not worth one of your tears. Would you rather it had been me? Do you love him?” Stretch said angrily. “Do you love him?”
She looked at Stretch, having a hard time getting a word out. “I think what you did was…”
“I think what you did…”
“…was so romantic.”
Stretch was completely taken aback. They met in a long, passionate lovers’ kiss. Their kiss broke, and slowly the world came back to normal.
“I gotta get outta these clothes,” Stretch said. He picked up the suitcase and dropped it on the table in front of them.
“Clean clothes. There is a God,” Maggie said comically.
Stretch flipped open the suitcase. Maggie and her new husband’s jaws dropped at the sight of the contents of the suitcase.
“Those aren’t my clothes,” Maggie said.
The big white Chevy Nova drove down the road with a sunrise sky as a backdrop. The song Little Bitty Tear could be heard a capella from outside the driver’s side window. Marty O’Brien was driving his car home from work, singing his song gently to the sunrise. In between singing, he took sips from a cup of take-out coffee, stopping occasionally to wipe bagel crumbs from his security guard uniform. Marty continued crooning as he pulled up to his trailer, when he saw something that stopped him short.
Stretch and a nice-looking young woman were watching for him in front of his trailer. Upon seeing Stretch, a small tear rolled down Marty’s cheek.
Stretch and the young woman walked over to the car. Stretch stuck his face through the driver’s-side window. “Good morning, Pops. Long time no see.”
“Excuse the place. I haven’t been entertaining company as of late,” Marty said as the three of them entered his trailer. “Sorry if I’m acting a little dense, but you’re the last person in the world I expected to see this morning.”
Stretch and Maggie walked into the living room. The walls were covered with posters of Marty from his carnival days with the words Now appearing: Plasticman in bright, colorful letters. In the posters, he performed a series of contortions that paled in comparison to what he had been able to do in his super-hero days. Stretch winced at the sight of them, as they brought back embarrassing memories.
“Yeah, well, that’s OK, Pops,” Stretch replied. “I tend to have that effect on people. I’m dyin’ of thirst. You got anything to drink?” He moved past Marty and headed straight for his refrigerator.
“I think there’s a 7-Up in there,” Marty said.
“Anything stronger?” Stretch said, rummaging through his refrigerator. “Oh, probably not. Beer? You can drink beer, can’t you?”
“I can, but I don’t.”
Marty looked at the girl. She smiled sweetly at him. “I’m sorry… I’m his father,” he said, sticking out his hand.
“That’s OK, I’m his wife,” she said, shaking his hand vigorously. “Maggie White O’Brien — pleased to meetcha.” Marty was clearly shocked.
Stretch stepped back into the living room, holding a bunch of little ceramic fruit magnets in his hand. “Oh, yeah — we got married,” he said, throwing his other arm around Maggie.
“You still have these,” Stretch said, referring to the magnets. He showed them to Maggie and said, “This isn’t a complete set; when I was five, I swallowed the pomegranate one. It never came back out, so I guess it’s still there. Lover-doll, why don’t you be a sport and go get us something to eat. Are you hungry, too?”
“I’m pretty hungry,” Maggie said. “When I went to the store I was gonna get some Ding-Dongs.”
“Well, get some real food. What would taste good?” He turned to Marty. “What do you think would taste good?”
“I’m really not very…”
“You know what would taste good? Chicken. I haven’t had chicken in a while. Chicken would really hit the spot about now. Definitely, absolutely, without a doubt.” He turned back to Marty. “Where’s a good chicken place around here?”
“Down the road a bit,” Marty said, still stunned.
He gave Maggie his keys and some money. “This should cover it, auggie-doggie.”
“Okee-dokee, doggie-daddy,” Maggie giggled. She opened the door and started out.
Stretch turned to his dad as the door shut. “Isn’t she the sweetest girl you ever saw in your whole life? Is she a four-alarm fire, or what?”
“She seems very nice.”
“Pops, nice isn’t the word. Nice is an insult. She’s a peach. That’s the only word for it; she’s a peach. She even tastes like a peach. You can tell I’m in love with her. You can tell by my face, can’t ya? It’s a dead giveaway. It’s written all over it. Ya know what? She loves me back. Take a seat, Pops, we gotta talk…”
“Stretch, just shut up. You’re giving me a headache! I can’t believe how much like your mother you are. You’re Rita through and through. I haven’t heard from ya in three years. Then ya show up all of a sudden at eight o’clock in the morning. You walk in like a bulldozer… don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see you… just slow it down. Now, when did you get married?”
“Pops, I’m in big trouble, and I really need your help.” He began the story of his confrontation with Drexel Spivey.
After Stretch was finished, Marty was completely aghast. He stared, unable to come to grips with what his son had just told him.
“Look, I don’t know… this is pretty heavy-duty, so if you wanna explode, feel free.”
“You’re always making jokes. That’s what you do, isn’t it? Make jokes,” Marty said. “Making jokes is the one thing you’re good at, isn’t it? But if you make a joke about this, I’m gonna go completely out of my head!” Marty paused and collected himself. “What do you want from me?”
“Stop acting like an infant. You’re here because you want me to help you some way. What do you need from me? You need money?”
“The time when you were working with the feds, and with the Justice Experience… Do you still have any cop friends?”
“Yes, I still have friends on the force, and in the NBI.”
“Could you find out if they know anythin’? I don’t know they know about us. But I don’t wanna think, I wanna know. You could find out for sure what’s goin’ on.” There was a pause. “Pops?”
“What makes you think I could do that?”
“You were a super-hero.”
“For like five minutes. What makes you think I would do that?”
“I’m your son.”
“You got it all worked out, don’t you?” Marty said.
“Look, I never asked you for a damn thing! I’ve tried to make your parental obligation as easy as possible. After Mom left you, did I ask you for anything? When you dragged us all over the country travelin’ with that damn freak show carnival, did you ever get grief about it? No, it was always ‘OK, no problem, I understand.’ Before that, when you started losing your powers and turned into a drunk, did I ever point my finger at you? No! I never did. You see, I know that you’re just a bad parent. You’re not really very good at it. But I know you love me. I’m basically a resourceful guy. If I didn’t really need it, I wouldn’t ask. And if you say no, don’t worry about it. I’m gone. No problems.”
Marty looked down at his hands. “I’ll make some calls.”
Later, Marty and Stretch stood by Stretch’s 1965 red Mustang. Maggie amused herself by doing cartwheels and handstands in the background.
“They have nothing. In fact, they think it’s drug-related,” Marty said.
“Do tell. Why drug-related?” Stretch asked.
“Apparently, Drexel had a big toe stuck in stuff like that.”
“Yeah. Drexel had an association with a guy called the Gorilla Boss,” Marty said. “Name mean anything to you?”
“Nope,” Stretch said.
“If you don’t hang around in this circle, no reason it should,” Marty said.
“Who is he?”
“A gangster and drug dealer named George ‘Boss’ Dyke. Fought the Batman himself and Doc Mid-Nite a couple of times. (*) Somebody you don’t want on your ass. Look, Stretch, the more I hear about this Drexel scumbag, the more I think you did the right thing. That guy wasn’t just some wild flake.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Gorilla Boss of Gotham City,” Batman #75 (February-March, 1953), The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Doctor Mid-Nite: Times Past, 1953: Bring Me Myra Mason, and Doctor Mid-Nite: Nite Fall.]
“That’s what I’ve been tellin’ ya,” Stretch said. “The guy was like a mad dog. So the cops aren’t looking for me?”
“Naw. Until they hear something better, they’ll assume Drexel and the Gorilla Boss had a falling out. So, once you leave town, I wouldn’t worry about it.” Marty stuck his hand out to shake. Stretch took it.
“Thanks a lot, Pops. You really came through for me.”
“I got some money I can give you…” Marty said.
“Well, son, I want you to know I hope everything works out with you and Maggie. I like her. I think you make a cute couple. A little young to be getting married, but…”
“We do make a cute couple, don’t we?” Stretch said.
“Yeah, well, just stay outta trouble. Remember, you got a wife to think about. Quit screwin’ around. I love you, son.”
They hugged each other, and Stretch took a piece of paper out and put it into Marty’s hand. “This is Dick’s number in Hollywood. We don’t know where we’ll be, but you can get a hold of me through him.”
Stretch turned toward Maggie and yelled to her, “Maggie, we’re outta here. Kiss Pops goodbye.”
Maggie ran across from where she was, threw her arms around Marty, and gave him a big kiss on the lips. Marty was a little startled. Maggie was bubbling like a Fresca.
“Bye, Daddy! Hope to see you again real soon,” Maggie said.
“What kind of daughterly smackeroo was that?” Stretch said with mock anger.
“Oh, hush up,” Maggie laughed. The two hopped into the Mustang.
“We’ll send you a postcard as soon as we get to Hollywood,” Stretch said, starting the engine. The convertible roof opened as they talked.
“Maggie, you take care of that one for me,” said Marty. “Keep him out of trouble.”
“Don’t worry, Daddy. I’m keepin’ this fella on a short leash.”
As the Mustang disappeared, Marty exclaimed, “The kid was right… she does taste like a peach!”