The Night it Rained Rembrandt – 4
“Look at this,” Angel said, retrieving an editorial page from a discarded newspaper. The headline read “Super-Criminals…the Blight of Combustible.”
Barry gazed at the days-old headline with mild interest. “I’ve seen it, he said.
“They’re talking about us.” He skimmed the text of the op-ed piece. “Listen to this: ‘The Blitzkrieg and his partner in crime, MAN FORCE, have menaced Combustible for months. These self-professed super-criminals are, in fact, little more than petty thugs who happen to possess abilities beyond the average human. We can only hope their reign of terror and ineptitude is brought to an end soon, either by law enforcement or through their own reckless actions.’ This isn’t an editorial; it’s a hit job. This newspaper hates us.”
“We’re super-human masked criminals. You were expecting praise? Hurry up and finish getting dressed.”
The duo were standing on the top level of the A-Plus Parking Garage, four blocks south of the Combustible Museum of Art. The garage was empty but for Barry and Angel.
Barry was now fully suited up. He wore black from head to toe. A layer of chain mail was interwoven into his top, and a stylized letter B shone prominently on his chest, reflected in the moonlight. Angel donned the remainder of his MAN FORCE uniform and returned his attention to the newspaper.
The editorial had been published three days ago, in response to the duo’s recent theft of a 198-year-old bronze bust of Thomas Jefferson from Combustible’s City Hall building. Given the bust’s overly large size and weight (it had been crafted in bronze and spanned three feet from top to base), the theft had been no small task. The Blitzkrieg and MAN FORCE had entered the building through a tenth-story window and bypassed multiple security systems and guards before retrieving the item. Exiting the building had been far more complicated because the crafty duo had nonetheless been spotted by a security guard in an adjacent building.
The masked criminals quickly found themselves trapped. However, their ensnarement had been short lived because MAN FORCE, a name that was, in fact, an acronym for Malevolent Attack Mortal Focused on Remarkable Criminal Endeavors, fashioned a speedy exit by flying directly through the stone walls of the City Hall building, thus providing a suitable, albeit precarious, escape route. Combustible’s media had quickly condemned the theft while simultaneously ridiculing its perpetrators.
Nevertheless, Jefe Peligrosa, the twenty-nine-year-old Mexican drug lord who was enamored with the Sage of Monticello and had, weeks prior, contracted MAN FORCE and The Blitzkrieg to secure the sculpture, made good his payment. The Jefferson bust was then swiftly and quietly exported to Peligrosa’s Sinaloa palace to become an object of inspiration for Peligrosa during future meetings with area cocaine manufacturers and distributors.
“Peligrosa respects us,” Angel remarked.
“He’s a greater menace than we are,” Barry said.
“We should relocate to New York. Super-villains are respected in the Big Apple.”
“You gotta let this go, Angel. I need your head in the game.”
“Okay. I’m ready,” Angel said at last, standing tall in a form-hugging Spandex jumpsuit topped with an equally snug metal helmet of his own invention. He swallowed a pair of blue pills.
“Yeah.” He rubbed a gloved hand against his temples. “Feels like I’ve been hit over the head with a hammer.”
“Too much alcohol.” Barry checked his watch. 1:30 a.m. “Sure you’re up for this?”
“I’ll be fine, Blitz.”
NEXT: Our story continues.