Give Me Back My Brain!: A Short Story
Down South 2014
Hugo Worbley got home tired. Exhausted. Bone-weary. All plumb tuckered out. He hadn't even bothered to turn on a light of his shotgun house. As soon as he closed the door to the outside world, he started stripping off his clothes---all of them, every single stitch. He let them lay where they fell. Leaving a trail all the way to the bedroom. Where he slept alone. He was dead to the world as soon as his head hit the pillow. Killing an entire family takes a lot out of a man.
He dreamt about them, the family he had killed. Not in a tormented way. For Hugo was incapable of torment. Oh he could inflict torment well enough, of course. He just couldn't feel it himself. He couldn't feel torment because he had no conscience. He had no conscience because he was not quite feeling himself these days. He was not quite feeling himself these days because he was without his brain at the moment.
That's why he'd had to kill that family. They wouldn't give him his brain back. Wouldn't tell him where they had hidden it. But, perhaps his information had been mistaken. He had certainly torn that house apart looking for it---his brain.
Even under the pain of torture, they either would not or could not tell Hugo where his brain was.
Hugo woke the next morning and observed that his house was dirty. He had no opinion about this fact, one way or another. Another time he might wake up and find that his house was clean. His attitude would be equally flat.
He said to himself, "When are you going to pick up the clothes off the floor?"---genuinely curious. He went to the bathroom, took a shower, and put on some clean clothes.
He went to the kitchen and turned on the radio, finding an AM sports talk station. He made himself some breakfast: fish, eggs, toast, coffee. He usually had fish---even if it was just sardines or tuna---for every meal, everyday. His poor old, dear departed mama used to tell him that fish is brain food. And the Good Lord knew that Hugo needed all the auxiliary thinking power he could get.
When the family were all dead, Hugo had put them on the couch, posed them. The youngest child had had art supplies in her room: construction paper, colored pencils, crayons, markers, tape, glue.
Hugo thought he'd probably go out today. Catch a matinee. Grab some lunch---pizza. Find something interesting to read at the public library. Go somewhere, shoot a little pool: Take on all comers. Go to Starbucks for coffee and cookies. Sit there reading his book from the library. Another movie. Fill up on buttered popcorn and nachos. Buy some beer. Take it home and drink it alone. Listen to sports talk radio throughout the night. Until time for bed.
Hugo had hung a sign above the family that read: "This is what happens to brain thieves around here!"
If he did go out today, he would wear a knit hat that covered his forehead. It was embarrassing being out in public with no brain. As if the people could see into his head. At the empty space between his ears.
The 'around here' part had been designed to misdirect the cops. Make them think the killer had a proprietary relationship to the area. Make them think the killer was local. But he wasn't.
He would venture out today, Hugo decided. If nothing else, he needed to find a place where he could smoke a joint in peace. On a whim, he washed, dried, and put away the dishes, pots, pans, and coffee percolator, and tidied up the rest of the place.. Sam reminded him to get rid of the clothes from yesterday evening. They were just saturated with forensic evidence. Hugo grabbed them and went around back.
One great thing about living Down South was that everybody still burned stuff in their backyards: wood, trash, leaves, and so forth. Why not bloody clothes as well? Stuff them in a steel drum. Light a match and drop it in. No fuss, no muss!
He got in his car and drove. He stopped at a convenience store to buy some candy bars. Because smoking weed always gave him the munchies.
Hugo went in, bringing a crowd of one into the store. White-haired old Mr. Morgan was the proprietor. He was standing behind the counter, attentive, as though the place was jumping.
"Hi-Ho, Hugo," Mr. Morgan said.
"Hi-Ho, Mr. Morgan. How's it going?"
"If it were going any slower, I'd pronounce it dead."
"Maybe I'll bring you some luck. After me, the customers will probably be lined up around the block." Hugo brought up a half dozen candy bars and a small cup of black coffee to the check out.
"I'm worried about you, Hugo."
"You're eating a lot of sugar."
Hugo looked around. "I didn't see any fruits and vegetables. Otherwise I would've bought them."
"I may get some," Mr. Morgan said.
"No you won't."
"No I won't."
"Look," said Hugo, "at least they all have peanut butter. Isn't it a source of protein?"
"I believe so."
"Bye, Mr. Morgan," said Hugo, pocketing his change.
As he went down the stairs, a big guy with big shoulders was coming up the stairs. As they passed each other, the big guy with the shoulders, bumped Hugo. In such a way that could have either been interpreted as accidental or intentional. But it had seemed to Hugo that the big man had put something into the bump. I don't adapt to the world. The world adapts to me!
"Pardon me," Hugo said over his shoulder because his mother had raised him to be polite.
But Hugo's gesture of commonplace, civil deference was accepted with bad grace by the big man with the shoulders, who grimaced and growled something incomprehensible. That sounded nothing like: Oh but please excuse me. Entirely my fault, my good man.
Hugo watched the man's back as he disappeared into the store. Boy, if I thought you had it, would I pay you a visit you'd never forget. If you lived long enough. The man was a big, strong looking man. Chiseled. A bodybuilder. But Hugo was not impressed. It seemed to him that the man's body was built for show, not action. Hugo felt sure he could take the guy, straight up, barehanded, 'mano y mano.'
Then he would finish him off with something special. A knife. A sturdy one to cut through all that corded, show-pony muscle. Between the legs: un-man him! That is, if the steroids the guy's clearly on, hasn't done it already. Cannibal's diet: peel the skin off the bone from head to foot. Do him up good and proper: like the fisherman's catch of the day.
Anyway, thus armed against the munchies that would surely attend his smoking, Hugo got into his car and drove around, looking for a likely spot. A little enclave that felt right. Someplace where he could talk to Sam. Where no one would see and think him crazy.
Sam was the good guy who had come to live inside Hugo's head, shortly after he realized that someone had stolen his brain. One time he was watching the news and the woman behind the desk, reading her teleprompter, had looked across thousands of miles of time and space---right at Hugo.
"She likes you," Sam said inside Hugo's skull.
Hugo hadn't been sure. He thought that she was just being friendly.
But Sam had been insistent. He told Hugo to trust him on this. Sam said that had been a ladies' man from way, way back; and believe you me, he said, he knew how to read the signals a woman gives off.
Hugo started to blush.
Sam directed Hugo to observe the way her bosom was heaving beneath her blouse, and the way she was squirming on her seat.
"She's so hot for you she can't stand it," Sam said, making poor Hugo's skull pulsate.
Thank God for Sam. He helped Hugo think. Where would he be if he didn't have Sam to help him. Who else could he have appealed to for help? Who could he have gone to and said: (Please help me. Someone has stolen my brain. Please)?
Anyway, Hugo's mom had raised her only child to be self-reliant. Men just didn't go around airing their dirty laundry, openly showing their weaknesses. Men had to be strong. Sam helped Hugo to be strong. Helped Hugo to think now that someone had stolen his brain.
Sam said, "I bet she's got it, Hugo!"
Sam thought that the news reader, Katherine Fitzsimmons---she of curvy figure and inviting mouth---had stolen Hugo's brain because she was in love with him. What she wanted, according to Sam, was for Hugo to find her so that they could get married.
With Sam's help, Hugo had learned that Ms. Fitzsimmons was 32, single, with no children; and that she lived just over in Hilton Head. Why that was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from where Hugo stayed. He could be on her doorstep lickety split.
But he wanted to surprise her: in her bedroom, where she wanted him, nude and ready. Now his passions were ignited. There was no mountain high enough, no valley low enough, no river wide enough to keep him away from his love. Hugo would have walked the Earth to be with her. He would have passed through fire to be with her. They could go up in flames together. Their love burning like a supernova.
He decided to bring along a bottle of champagne and a bucket of fried chicken. Because a healthy woman like that didn't like to miss meals.
"Now remember Hugo," Sam had said, pulsating his skull for emphasis. "A strong man must win the prize."
Roger-Wilco. Reading you loud and clear! Aye! Aye! Captain!
Katherine Fitzsimmons lived in a quiet upper middle class enclave. Where everybody kept their hedges high and their noses in their own business. Still, Hugo had been careful not to announce his presence, when, one day, he had slipped into a basement window which was not hooked up to the home alarm. She was at a journalism awards dinner; and so he had had time to prepare himself.
He took off all of his clothes and waited for her in her bedroom. When she got home they would make sweet, brutal love. Then she would tell him where his brain was; they would pick it up and get it reinserted inside his head; and then get married. Maybe go to Vegas for a quickie marriage. Maybe dress like Elvis and Priscilla.
Hugo understood that Katherine liked it rough. He understood this because of the handcuffs he found in a dresser drawer. She was not involved in law enforcement but she had handcuffs. She had whips, chains, and various leather goods.
She came home. But she had brought some man with her. She asked him if he'd like to have a drink. He said sure.
Katherine, you whore! He had out his big knife with the serrated edge. Guess he'd have to kill them both.
But Katherine and the man chatted for a couple of minutes. After the short drink the man left.
I'm sorry I doubted you, Katherine my dear. Our love is true!
When she was ready to retire for the evening, she went into her bedroom. When she saw Hugo standing there, naked, she shrieked with pleasure. Hugo helped her undress and threw her on to the bed.
He had been right about her. She was a hellish wild cat in the sack. In her ecstasy she had gouged him good, across the chest, abdomen, and shoulder, with her nails. The fire, baby! It'll burn us both!
When he finished Hugo reared up above Katherine's body like a wolf howling at a full moon. He shuddered.
"Baby, you're the greatest," he said; and he meant it.
Her eyes were closed and she wasn't moving.
"Katherine?" He wondered if the supremacy of the moment had caused her to faint. He lightly slapped her face.
But she was dead. Hugo had loved her too hard and made her dead. He felt awful and took longer than he should have in indulging his remorse.
Sam told him to cut out the crying and blubbering. There was no time for it. They had work to do. They had to search the house for Hugo's brain or at least any indication of where (and/or with whom) she may have stashed it.
Hugo took a shower and put on his clothes, making a mental note to take the bar of soap he had used along with him. Hugo made the search of the house. He pulled up carpet, checked for secret compartments, sliced open chairs and couches, the works. No brain. No sign of where the brain was or who had it now.
Hugo tried to ask Sam just exactly why it was that, not only had someone stolen his brain; but why, too, where people, apparently, playing 'hot potato,' 'keep away' with it. Sam said that now wasn't the time. There was still the matter of Katherine's body. They had to take care of it. They had to take all necessary measures to thwart the police department's collection of forensic evidence.
First, Hugo used the powdered Ajax with bleach to scrub out the tub where he had taken his shower. He then rinsed it out and then drew a warm bath. He carried Katherine's body over, used another bar of soap he would take along with him, to cleanse her. He took care to wash her hair and beneath her fingernails.
He put her on her bedroom floor and then used the Ajax, once again, to clean out the tub. Once. Twice. Three times. Stop. He removed the bed sheets, which he would also take along with them. He put clean linens on the bed and dressed Katherine in clean under things and bedtime clothes. He put her in bed and arranged her in such a way that she seemed to be sleeping peacefully, having fallen asleep reading a good book. He put her on her back, slightly elevated, with one of her books open on her chest.
He went to her kitchen and got a plastic garbage bag and a plastic ziplock sandwich bag. He put the soap in the sandwich bag and zipped it up. He put that and the soiled bed linens and the clothes Katherine had worn home in the big garbage bag.
He used her vacuum cleaner to go over the floor in her bedroom. He found a dry, clean cloth in a linen closet, and used that to wipe down every surface in the house he had touched. It was time to go.
It was still the same quiet, upper middle class neighborhood, with the high hedges and inner-focused neighbors. But now there was the added advantage for him of the darkness of night. He simply exited the premises by the same basement window through which he had entered. Now down the walkway and onto the street.
No one saw him or heard him. He walked the three blocks to where his car was parked. If anyone saw him walking, they took no special notice. And certainly nobody got anything like a clear look at his face.
He found a park that felt right. The layout provided sufficient isolation from the rest of the community. The time was right. It was twelve-thirty in the afternoon. All the children would still be at school for hours.
Hugo parked the car and got out. Yes, to his right, down yonder. An enormous moss-covered shade tree in the middle of nowhere. A likely spot for a private, solitary cannabis picnic. He got his beach blanket, his cd-player radio---he had four CDs (Arabic and Indian lounge/chillout music; he loved the east-meets-west vibe), his candy bars, and his weed.
Beneath the tree he set up his CD player, put one of the CDs in, stretched out on the blanket, lit a Fat Boy, and imagined he was Aladdin flying high in the sky on a magic carpet. How about an in-flight movie?
"I got a surprise for you, Hugo," Sam said.
"That big guy with the shoulders you're thinking about."
"The guy that bumped you."
"He is definitely on steroids," Sam said.
"Yeah, but you'll never guess who his supplier is," Sam said.
"Someone you know. Just about the very last person you would expect."
"Who is it?"
"Its gonna shock you."
"I'll do better than that," Sam said. "I'll show you. Now, Hugo, just go blank, go clear. Choose a spot far off in front of you to focus your eyes on and hold them there. Then just go blank. Go clear and I'll show you."
The inside of Hugo's skull was like a movie screen. There was static and a wavy electromagnetic spectrum as the picture tried to come. It focused and got clearer and more defined. Now Hugo was watching a replay of the incident on the steps of Mr. Morgan's store. The big guy bumped him as they passed each other.
Hugo said, "Pardon me," and the big guy just grimaced menacingly and grunted something unpleasant sounding in response. Now the camera stayed on the backside of the big man going into the store. He started walking up and down the aisles of the store.. He grabbed a loaf of bread, tampons, a pack of loose leaf paper, a jumbo bag of potato chips, a couple of packs of D batteries, and a tin of coffee in his big, wide arms.
He went over to the refrigerated wall. There was still room enough in his big wingspan for a carton of milk. He opened the door, reached in, and did not take the first half gallon carton of whole milk that was staring him right in the face. Oh no, he didn't even take the second, third, or fourth. He reached over and grabbed the fifth half gallon carton of milk.
"Now, did you see that, Hugo?" Sam's voice-over said. "Did you see why he grabbed the fifth carton of milk? Do you see what's so special about it?"
"Isn't he just compulsive?" Hugo said.
"No," Sam said. "Watch."
Sam stopped the tape and rolled it back the moment when the guy grabbed the fifth carton from the shelf. The camera focused on the carton of milk and zoomed into the lower left-hand corner of the front of the carton. The camera zoomed in until the 'x' loomed larger than life on the screen.
"The fifth carton is marked with an 'x,' Hugo. Remember that."
"Just keep watching."
This time Hugo could not fail to notice that the big man paid for his few items of grocery with two one-thousand-dollar bills. For which he received no change.
"Expensive carton of milk," Hugo said.
The film kept rolling as the big man exited the store and went to his car. There, he disinterestedly stowed his groceries in the back seat. He took the carton of milk, got in the car, poured the few drops of milk on to the ground, pried open the carton, and extracted a small package in a plastic bag that had been taped inside.
The man opened the plastic bag and withdrew a vial. He used a tube to tie himself off. He tapped his forearm, looking for a good vein. He used the hypodermic needle to suck out the contents of the vial; and then he injected it into his exposed vein.
The movie was over.
"Jesus!" Hugo said. "You mean to say that Mr. Morgan...?"
"I mean to say that Mr. Morgan, yes."
"Mr. Morgan's a drug dealer?"
"Steroids and prescription pills mostly, but yes."
"Wow!" Hugo said.
"Wow," Sam said.
Hugo laughed. "Here's to you, Mr. Morgan. Go 'head with your bad self! This blunt is for you." He lit another Fat Boy.
The bedroom of a certain Richmond, Virginia mansion, holds enough computer equipment to launch a rocket into outer space. But the purpose it is put to is something called bioelectric mind-hacking.
In that bedroom an eighty-two-year-old man---severely arthritic and wheelchair-bound---removed his headphones and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. He hadn't been so alive for decades! He was the very wealthy scion of very old money.
His name was Arnold Roland Tamberger III; but he called himself 'Sam' when he was kicking around inside the mind of Hugo Worbley. He had enjoyed a forty-year career of carnage himself. He had never been caught. Never suspected. Never questioned by police. This made him the perfect one to advise Hugo on these matters.
He pushed a button on the control panel of the arm of his chair. He summoned his man Rogers, to put him to bed and bring him up some beef stew before he took a nap.
His flight on Ganga Airlines came to an end. Hugo brought it in for a landing and rolled up his magic carpet. He took up his blanket, radio, and candy wrappers---for Hugo Worbley did not hold with littering---and went back to his car.
He drove to a public library, the one closest to his particular domicile. He went to the bathroom, brushed his teeth and flossed; and then rinsed and spat his way through the contents of a family-size bottle of Scope. He put a few sticks of spicy cinnamon chewing gum into his mouth.
Hugo did not like the smell of marijuana coming from his person. In addition to that, in case he was ever pulled over by a cop for a broken headlight or something, he didn't want to compound his problems by exuding the Essence of Weed.
He went into the library, grabbed a seat somewhere, and passed the time reading a thick illustrated book about gorillas. He checked out that book because he hadn't finished it and another.
He didn't feel like shooting pool after all. He looked for a Starbucks. He didn't find one but came across a Panera Bread coffee shop, which was even better, in Hugo's opinion. He ordered the largest size black coffee---the only way to drink coffee---and six great big toffee cookies. He sat at a back corner, high-backed concealing booth by himself with his snack, reading his gorilla book.
What sensitive, expressive, intelligent-looking eyes they have!
When Hugo had been ten-years-old his mother took him to the Bronx Zoo. Hugo had become transfixed by a group of gorillas, in particular, one who sat on a log. One leg was arched up a little higher than the other on the log. His hand rested on his thigh; and this posture put him into a very familiar, very human display of repose.
He seemed to be staring at Hugo with an expression of weighty seriousness. Poised to say something---in English---of awesome significance. Hugo, letting his imagination get away from him as many ten-year-old boys are wont to do, stared back at the mighty senior gorilla. Waiting for his utterance. Wondering how it would change his life.
Of course, if a gorilla ever came up to Hugo, clearing his throat and saying, Pardon me, my good man. But do you happen to have any Grey Poupon?----he would take a mallet and hit the beast over the head as hard as he could. Because I hate and fear that which I do not understand, he thought.
He left the coffee shop and found that there was a Sonic drive-in restaurant by the Cineplex. He decided to give it a try for the first time in his life. He enjoyed those "Frick 'n Frack"--style commercials with the two buddies sitting around there talking nonsense. Hugo wondered how long it would be before some genius thought about putting those two in a movie. Something along the lines of "Harold and Kumar's" crusade to White Castle.
It would get done and it would suck, he thought. The problem with Hollywood was that they milked any old gimmick that came along for all it was worth, regardless of its merit or lack thereof. Don't quit you day jobs, boys.
Hugo had a banana and Oreo shake; and it was good, he had to admit. He then went to the movies. The show he selected was Disney's Maleficent. Hugo had been thoroughly entertained, thinking that this had been Angelina Jolie's best movie and strongest performance. As he had promised himself, Hugo filled up on chicken nachos and buttered chili popcorn.
He went to a supermarket and picked up a six-pack of bottled Bud Light; and then to a McDonalds to pick up a half dozen fish sandwiches, which he would have for breakfast the next morning.
He called it a day, went home, and lounged around with a bottle of beer, listening to sports radio, before he decided to retire for the night.
Arnold Roland Tamberger III had once thought that his ability to directly enjoy sex and violence had come to a permanent end. His body had felt the first pangs of the degenerative muscle disease that would eventually cripple him. It had picked up steam in his mid-forties. It had finally settled the matter of his ever walking again in his early-fifties.
During that time he had married a string of women who had only wanted him for his money; and whom he had only wanted for... For what? Looking back on it now, he cannot imagine what he had ever seen in any one of that procession of common tarts.
It was also true during that time, however, that he had built up his transnational corporate empire with singular determination. In spite of his disability. Perhaps even because of it. The centerpiece of his imperial holdings was Atlas Olympus, the most powerful defense contractor in all of North America.
The vast implications and potential of bioelectric mind-hacking had immediately struck the people who mattered, as obvious and staggering. Not surprisingly both the Pentagon and the CIA and NSA were interested in its military and intelligence-gathering potentialities.
Atlas Olympus had secured those research and development contracts; and the financial returns continue to be---if one may tastefully understate things---lucrative. This, despite the fact that the apparatus that Arnold Tamberger retained for his personal use, was many grades of sophistication and refinement beyond what he let the U.S. government have, which his techie personnel were diligently working on upgrading for good old Uncle Sam.
When he thought about it sometimes, Arnold Roland Tamberger III supposed himself to be a truly evil man. What in the world was keeping Rogers with his beef stew?
At Sam's urging, Hugo widened his sphere. He lived, worked when he had to, and "operated"---that's what he called the killings---within the Texas, Florida, North Carolina triangle. Hugo stepped things up. Sam said he had to. Sam said that the problem was far bigger than he had thought. That it was far bigger than Hugo and his problem.
Sam said dramatically that nothing less than the fate of the Earth was at stake. He assured Hugo that this was no hyperbole. Sam said that the Earth faced alien invasion. Its people would be annihilated; those who weren't destroyed would be enslaved.
Arnold Tamberger was pushing Hugo to the edge and he knew it. Actually, he was hoping to push Hugo over the edge and into the abyss. Tamberger was getting tired of this creature. He was anxious to reach out his mind and find another plaything.
Sam said that a tactic the aliens were using was to steal the brains of prominent Earthmen. What they want to do, said Sam, was to set up a situation where the Earth would not be able to organize an intelligent, coherent response when they put on their full-scale invasion; The Earth's leadership would be disarmed, so to speak.
"They stole your brain because they fear you, Hugo," Sam said.
"Well I just knew it," Hugo said. "I knew it. I knew it. I knew I used to be somebody. I knew I used to be important. I knew it all along but they wanted me to think different, didn't they?"
To Hugo, a laid off welder, this "revelation" meant a lot.
Anyway, Sam said that "The X-Files" are fake but this, most assuredly, is real. We're playing for keeps now, Hugo, Sam said. That meant that "they" had to "pull out all the stops," and so forth. Sam couldn't seem to stop the motivational speaker stuff, saying that this is where we separate the men from the boys.
Sam said "freedom or death," and Earth liberation "by any means necessary." Sam said that although two "wrongs" usually don't make a right, in this case, for the future of the species, "the end justifies the means."
Sam said that Hugo shouldn't hesitate to use lethal force even against police officers. Really? Hugo said. Really, Sam said. Indeed, they may even be part of the alien conspiracy; everybody knows, Sam said, that aliens love to use law enforcement as a way to front for and legitimize their evil oppression. Its like they use to say in the sixties, Sam said, you can't trust The Man. Can you dig it?
"You know something? That makes perfect sense. Talk about 'brain drain.' Why, they do it in such a way as to leave the guy walking around, talking so that nobody even suspects. Man, this is worse than The Invasion of the Body Snatcher, man. You steal a man's brain, you steal his identity. Man, that ain't right. That just ain't right. But man, that really explains a lot."
The one who spoke is called Warner Jackson. On the throne of his living room, in his ramshackle house in the sticks section of rural Jacksonville, Mississippi. Presiding over the meeting of The Secret Allied Earth Defense Force currently at six members strong, including Hugo Worbley. Chain-chomping butter cookies from a big blue, five-pound tin. Not offering anybody any. Crumbs ejaculating everywhere.
Warner Jackson. This oral hygienist by day; secret Earth liberator by night. This twice-divorced, deadbeat dad. This consumer of horoscopes and all manner of New Age, faddish half-baked spirituality. This frequent witness to ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and specters. This often viewer of Unidentified Flying Objects. This once-in-a-while victim of Little Green Men on the dissection table. This compulsive gambler. This ingest-or of hallucinogenic drugs. This lover of the great outdoors because outdoors is where there's all kinds of things to shoot: deer, elk, rabbits, moose, bear, and the like; people who wander to close to his property uninvited. And so on.
The general profile of the membership of The Secret Allied Earth Defense Force.
The group unanimously voted that the alien's tactic regarding the theft of human brains was intolerable, unacceptable, insidious, evil, sinister, diabolical, and unconscionable. They also voted unanimously to work together to try to thwart this latest alien invasion attempt and to help Hugo, their dear friend and valued member, get his ever loving brain back.
A guy named Frank asked Hugo why he hadn't told them earlier that someone had stolen his brain. Hugo said that he had been struggling with the shame. Moved by this, The Secret Allied Earth Defense Force, all six members, had a group hug.
Warner Jackson, having found some additional personal animus for this latest alien outrage, said that brain thieving ought to be recognized as an intergalactic war crime. He said this with a visibly increased state of agitation. His selfish and compulsive butter cookie crumb spray thickening.
It was resolved. The group would need money. Money for a headquarters. Money for weapons---lots and lots and lots of guns. Money for sophisticated computer equipment---which could, hopefully, intercept the odd alien transmission. Money for armored vehicles. Money to recruit new members into this secret defense force of theirs. And so on.
It was resolved. The group would get this money by any means necessary, every which way but loose, letting the chips fall where they may. Someone said, "After all, there's no making an omelet without breaking some eggs, is there?" No, no there wasn't, everybody agreed.
Arnold Tamberger liked this. No indeed, there was no making an omelet without breaking a few eggs. The end game was progressing nicely. They would break a few eggs alright, not to mention a few laws. Hugo would get himself killed, along with some of his weirdo friends, perhaps. Well, any additional casualties could only do a service to the human gene pool.
They robbed banks, going in with ski masks hiding their faces, and with deadly intent. With sawed-off shotguns in their hands, nobody felt like challenging them.
They robbed armored cars delivering cash to banks. The two-man teams were usually armed, of course, but they were always out-hustled, outmaneuvered, outnumbered, outgunned, and out-body-armored.
They robbed drug dealers. They'd grab all the cash and sometimes the drugs as well. They always gunned down the drug dealers anyway, whether they "cooperated" or not. Good riddance to bad rubbish, be they stooges for the alien invaders or not. They robbed pimps.
They robbed gas station and convenience stores. They did these things within the golden triangle of Texas, Florida, and North Carolina.
Funny thing though. They committed these crimes; but either through a flaw with the time-space continuum or a hole in the fabric of Karma, The Secret Allied Earth Defense Force, all six members, were getting away with them. They neither got caught; nor did any of them get their damned fool heads blown off. Much to the consternation of Arnold Tamberger.
Finally, Sam suggested to Hugo that he get some skydiving lessons. The Secret Allied Earth Defense Force may very well have to do airborne strikes on locations being used by the alien invaders.
Hugo went to an instructional school. Sam made the necessary arrangements to pay for the lessons. Hugo took lesson after lesson after lesson. He went from ignorant to nervous to tentative to fair to good to better to excellent.
He qualified to jump on his own. One day he took a dive from a plane over some Oklahoma plains land. Sam simply made Hugo forget to pull his ripcord. Splat! That was that.
Arnold Tamberger had had Rogers get a copy of the Oklahoma Fair Deal newspaper, so that he could read about the tragedy. Stroke? Heart attack? No evidence of that. Suicide? But then why wear a parachute? Just in case he changed his mind?
Arnold Roland Tamberger III would use his equipment, doing his Professor Xavier-Cerebro thing and find another suitable victim of mind-jack. He would call himself Hugo this time.
"Sorry my friend," he said, "but we live in a world of creative destruction."
He buzzed for Rogers because what he needed now, was some beef stew and a nap. Thank God he still had a strong stomach.