Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ninja Fights in the New Year

Well, friends, the holidays have come and gone. The presents are all opened, the champagne is all drunk, the balls are dropped. We shut down the shop for a week or so during this time so the employees could spend time with their families. Bein as the only two "official" employees is me and Douggy and seein how Douggy came over to my family's house for the festivities, as he's done every year since we was knee high to a nutcracker, it prolly wasn't the best business decision I've ever had to make. O' course, I don't really need to be concerned about makin this a terribly successful business; well, not the up front part of it, anyway. The stuff goin on in the back, with the ninjas and the fighting and the zeppelins and everything, I'd like that to go successful, but it seems on an even keel lately. But, not everything's been popcorn and cake for Pat O'Neil lately. I been fightin these durned robot ninjas almost daily for the last coupla weeks. Every one's been pretty much the same; ninja comes in the shop, says he's gotta fight me, then I offer him a donut, he takes it and then he starts shootin sparks and stuff. Lindbergh says that he's tryin to give the robots some sort of autonomy so they can make decisions for themselves while they're fighting, but he keeps running into the problem he's calling the "donigma". As it was explained to me, it's something like this: robots can't eat nothin cause the got no stomach or throat or teeth, they know they ain't supposed to eat nothin but if a robot's gonna fight or do anything, really, they gotta have their minds programmed right and, unfortunately for robot ninjas, no one in their right mind can turn down a free donut. So, the robots, because they're in their right mind, they gotta take the donut and try to eat it, which causes all sortsa sparks and stuff. It's usually ok, but Friday Jared, the goth kid in town, came in to rustle himself up a mess of bear claws cause he said he was gonna "play wow" on the internet all weekend. I told him that I didn't need that kinda honesty, but I gave him a couple of extras because I remember when I was a lad and I'd "play wow" all weekend, 'cept I had to use the Sears catalogues, and how I needed to keep my strength up. Anyway, when he walked in, there was a headless ninja robot just layin on the floor. I tried explaining that it was one of them vacuuming robots that I'd got for Christmas, but I don't think he bought it. Now he's been lurking around all weekend. I guess headless robots are more interesting than wow to today's kids. How times change.

So, anyway, I finally roused myself from my holiday ham and cookie coma to check in at the shop today. When I got in, I saw there was a message on the answering machine. Well, to be honest, it wasn't right when I got in, a man has to have his coffee, eat his donut and solve his crossword in the morning, after all, so, let's say, about an hour or two after I got in this morning, I got the message which had, itself, been left about a week ago, so I don't think that couple of hours made a difference. Turns out a friend of my cousin's roommate's niece's dog sitter had gotten a new car for Christmas and wanted us to come tow away the one she had, which was a pretty decent 1971 Lincoln Continental with most of the original interior actually in the car. Sure, most of it was wadded up in the back seat or had been cut into strips to patch leaks in the engine, but I'd say a good eighty percent of it was still attached to the vehicle itself in one form or another. Alistair and I talked about this for awhile until Douggy came in. I thought we should repair it, but Alistair pointed out that, as of yet, we do not have any refurbished cars and so we were really letting the middle part of Pat O'Neil's Body Shop, Refurbished Car Emporium and Donut Eatery really sag; sag like carrying a bowling ball on a rubber band; a real wide rubber band, not one of them thin ones. It would be too hard to carry a bowling ball on one of them thin rubber bands. It may work if you kinda pulled it tight and set the bowling ball in the space in the middle. But then, the rubber band would be taut, and wouldn't sag that much. Let's start over on this metaphor. Let's say sagging like a granny's triceps and leave it at that without worrying about some really strong granny that is capable of juggling fully grown trees, like Douggy's grandma used to until she was hit by a meteor one day back in '71. So, ignoring that, Alistair's point was that we needed to refurbish at least one car, in order to go with the name. In order to refurbish it, we needed to get it in the shop, and that meant we needed Douggy to drive the tow truck. I was gonna give him a couple more days off, because he had some project he was working on for his wife, I don't know exactly what it was but it involved macrame and egg crates, but I gave him a call and he was there in a half hour.

When he got there, I didn't want to rush him, so we had some coffee and a couple donuts and then, because I'd already solved the crossword, I let him go ahead and solve the sudoku puzzle in the paper. I usually like doing them, but Douggy needed something after getting involved in one of Geraldine's big craft projects. Last year about this time, she decided she was gonna knit scarves for all the kids down at the orphanage, but she got a little carried away and ended up knitting one big scarf that all the orphans had to share and it had bells in it. The nuns down there said it helped them out, though, because they always knew where the kids were and that they were warm. So, after bein in that kinda environment, I thought I'd give Douggy a little Douggy time. After he got that puzzle solved, I talked to him about towin in the Lincoln and he was ready for it.

"There might be a problem though," he told me.

"Whassat?" I asked.

"Well, I don't see any body layin around," he gestured to the clean floor, "so it looks like your ninja hasn't been here today. What do we do if he comes while we're out?"

"That's a good question," I thought about it for a time, "How about we leave a sign?"

"A sign that says, 'gone to tow a car, robotic ninjas wait here until we get back'?"

When he said it that way, it did sound like less of a good idea, so I told him, "When you say it that way, it does sound like less of a good idea."

We debated it for a bit and ended up leavin a sign that said, "Gone to tow a car. We will return in an hour. Anyone in all black can help themselves to a donut." Then, we left a plate of donuts sitting just outside the front door. We figured that, this way, if a roboninja came, maybe I could defeat him without even confronting him. Also, if Jared came by, he could keep his "wow" energy up, just so long as he washed his hands after the last time playing wow. So, that bein done, we grabbed Albert and headed off.

As we were ridin in the tow truck, Douggy asked me some about how the training was going. I told him about the 'donigma' and how that was making it less of a challenge than I'd expected. He pointed out that Charles was the guy who figured out sweet potato burritos on sea monkey tortillas would extend life and so he'd probably be able to find a way to get robots to stop eating donuts. Then, he offered to give me some fighting tips, to which I agreed.

"When your fighting," he explained, "don't expect. If you expect your opponent to strike with the right hand, but they strike with the left hand, you have to react to the fact they're hitting with a different hand and then figure out what to do. But, if you wait with a clear mind, then you can react much faster no matter which hand they strike you with."

I didn't really get it, but he said he'd show me some things when we got home. After that, we got to the car and, even though we weren't going to do any of the repair work ourselves, we opened the hood and stared at the engine for awhile. After a few minutes, Douggy chimed in with the obligatory, "Well, I think we're gonna have to pull it," thereby fulfilling our manly duties in front of automobiles. When that was completed, we hooked up the Lincoln to the chain and headed back towards the shop. Everything seemed fine except Douggy kept lookin in the rear view mirror.

Eventually, he tells me, "Pat, I think there's somethin movin around in the car back there."

"Oh, yeah?" I ask.

"Yeah," he responds, "I thought it was the ceiling lining flappin at first, but now I think something's in there. You wanna go back and check it out?"

I can't help but notice that we're still moving, so I inquire, "What? Now?"

"Well, wait for the next stop sign," he concedes.

"Ok," I tell him, "is it dangerous?"

He scoffs, "Nah, it's usually just a cat or a drunk that crawled in there to get warm. Just open the door and shoo it out."

I hop out at the next stop sign and open the door to the car. I don't see nothin at first, but I push the interior around a bit and I finally see what was movin around. It turns out Douggy was wrong, it wasn't a cat OR a drunk. Instead, it was a ninja. It jumped out and grabbed my arm.

"Pat O'Neil!" yelled the ninja, "I must fight you!"

I knew how to handle this. "Sure, that sounds fine," I tell the ninja, "But you want a donut first?"

"No Donut!" screams the ninja.

"Are you sure?" I ask, "It's free!"

"No Donut!" screeches the ninja again. "Diabetic!"

It looked like Charles had solved the donigma. It was pretty clever, too, making the ninja diabetic. It looked like I'd have to actually fight this one. I was tryin to remember what Douggy had told me when the ninja clocked me a good one across the jaw. I haven't been in that many fights, but I know now I don't like bein punched in the face. I wasn't about to take another one of them, so I pushed the ninja back in the car and slammed the door. Then I went and hopped back into the tow truck.

"Cat?" asked Douggy.

"Ninja," I said.

"Huh," he grunted. I figured I wouldn't bother him with the fact that it was a ninja with a head still attached. I figured we could do something about it when we got back to the shop.

We'd gone about a block when the back window of the truck cabin shattered and a black clad fist followed the cold air through to grab me by the beard. Before I knew it, I was standin on the back of the tow truck with the robot ninja takin swings at me. Douggy was a little discombobulated and so he was swervin, which actually helped me some. Every time the ninja would swing, Douggy would swerve and I was pushed out of the range of the fists. This couldn't last long, I knew, before I would go skidding off the truck and onto the road like that chicken from that joke about the chicken and the road, only I would be crossing it on my face. To avoid that, I grabbed the chain that was holding the Lincoln on to the back of the truck. You think a bowling ball puts some tension on a rubber band, you should try grabbing a chain pulling a 2 ton car by its axle at 30 miles an hour. Douggy took the next turn pretty quick and my legs flew out from under me, sticking straight out the side of the trick. This knocked over the ninja, too, but he didn't have no chain to hold on to. He went sprawling on the back of the truck, but he managed to hang on pretty well. He got up in a squatting position and started to take swipes at me. The best I could do was keep my legs and face out of harm's way and try to kick his fingers when I could.

That lasted a couple of blocks until he looked up at my hand. Then he got this horrible gleam in his eyes. He stood and grabbed the chain with one hand while he started pryin my fingers with the other. Now, I don't know if you were aware of this, I wasn't until just today, but it turns out robots are incredibly strong. That bein the case, I couldn't resist him when he separated my fingers from that life-giving chain. I was in desperate straits, grasping anywhere I could with my other hand, and I guess I grabbed his hood just as Douggy braked for an old lady in the road. I was thrown back at the cab of the truck, which I hit my head on, but the ninja ended up with his body on one side of the chain and his head, in my hand, on the other side. As soon as I shook the cobwebs out, I could see that his head had come clean off in my hand and his body neck was sparking and spilling goo everywhere. I'd won my first actual fight against a robot ninja. I'll tell ya, except for the bump on my head and nearly dying being thrown from the back of a truck, it felt pretty darn good.

When we got back to the shop, everyone congratulated me, even Charles via telephone. This evening, Douggy and asked him if all ninja fights are like that.

He told me, "Yeah, pretty much, except their heads usually don't come off that easily. Also, most don't take place on the back of a tow truck, and there's usually weapons involved, plus, both people usually know how to fight. Come to think of it, most ninja fights are little to nothing like that fight. But that's ok, you have time."


Anonymous said...

The 'playing wow' thing made me laugh. Nice to have some updates Pat.

Brunhilda said...

Well done. Well done indeed. I had a nice giggle at the wow too.

aL said...

This super strong granny of Douggy's--was she from the ninja side or the Irish side of the family??

kaploy9 said...

I wondering if that goth kid is really gonna burn up all those bear claws just by "playing wow".