The Action Hero
Frank Dawes was an action hero. A true blue, died in the wool, action hero. Not an actor, not a movie star, not a super hero. No super powers, no movie magic, just guts, a pistol, and an all American bad-ass attitude to carry him through Hell and beyond. John McClane dreamed of being in the same league., Frank had saved the world more times than he could count and once on Monday. It had taken a lot for him to follow through on that particular escapade — after all Monday’s were his days off — but deranged villains needed killing and buxom lasses needed rescuing, so there you are.
As it happened, today was a Monday and Frank woke with an extreme craving for barbeque. Not just any barbeque either. The St. Louis style pork ribs from Oaky Smokes were his all time favorite. Not too much heat, not too much spice, just moist enough to be juicy but not undercooked. His mouth was watering just thinking about it as he got out of the shower and got dressed. Fortunately, he’d slept till noon and the restaurant would be open and serving lunch when he got there.
Shortly thereafter, his muscle car skidded out of the parking garage, tires leaving black trails on the street, billowing smoke and screaming in protest at their harsh usage. Hard rock music blared from the cabin and cigarette smoke streamed from the open t-tops as Frank ran the tail end of a yellow light, his thumbs drumming the steering wheel.
A patrol car swung in behind him, thinking they’d found someone leaving the bar early rather than late. But then the officer saw the license plate and shook her head with a smile. The vanity plate – it read BIGGUN — was well known and who was she to write Frank Dawes a ticket. She toyed with the thought of pulling him over, just to see if she could get a date, but then the radio blared. It never fails, the minute romance even glances over, duty calls.
Frank, completely oblivious to the blue and white behind him, flicked his cigarette butt out the window, downshifted, and tore off through the lunch-time traffic at triple digits. He was hungry but he’d make it to Oaky Smokes before long. He slid around a corner at mach 2 and lit another cigarette. Not much longer now. He could almost smell the atmosphere of Oaky Smokes.
There was only one thing that could happen next, so naturally, it did. The armored car parked on the side of the street exploded in a ball of fire and a trio of machine gun wielding ninja’s ran up the side of the Daimler building, recklessly spraying bullets carelessly through the air. A few stray bullets ricocheted from the hood of the car. Frank cursed.
“Come on guys!” he shouted, “It’s Monday!”
Slamming on the brakes, Frank slalomed around the wreckage of the truck and slid to a perfect parallel park in front of a Starbucks opposite the Daimler building. The second the car stopped, he stood on the driver’s seat, his pistol magically in his hand, and snapped off a quick pair of shots at the retreating bad guys. The first two ninja’s bounded over the edge of the building and disappeared from view unharmed, but the third fell, struck dead by an impossible shot, to crack the sidewalk below. Just like pulp fiction.
“Everytime you turn up, Frank, it means more work for me,” Sgt. McClure, a grizzled beat cop groused.
“Hey, I just want some ribs. Those assholes came out of nowhere. What’s a guy to do, huh?”
“They knocked over the Razzle Dazzle Diamond store. Idiots ran off with a bunch of clear crystals they thought were diamonds. We’ll take it from here.”
Frank nodded, lit a cigarette, and cranked the old Mustang back to life. He waved to McClure, spun the tires, and was back on track, bare minutes from a savory plate of barbeque. He could picture it, a heaping plate of smoked pork ribs, steam rising from them in a cloud. Frank grinned and stomped the gas, making the big block V-8 growl and tremble.
“Look out ribs, here I come!” Frank sang.
Suddenly, a cement mixer, driven by a machinegun wielding ninja, cut him off and slammed on its brakes. Frank had to do the same, barely avoiding a collision. He tried to swerve around but the ninja fired at him and drove him back into the shelter of truck’s cement tank. Frank cursed, downshifted, and cursed again. A ninja car pulled up alongside him and the passenger window dropped, revealing the second ninja, aiming his gun.
“For our murdered brother!” screamed the ninja.
“I just wanted some ribs!” Frank screamed back.
The action hero slapped the brake pedal, spun the wheel, and slammed the accelerator. His car dropped back, turned into the ninja mobile and surged forward again. The shriek of tearing metal filled the air as the vehicles collided and the ninja mobile spun out of control. It skidded into a curb, flipped into the air and exploded, before crashing through the plate glass window of Dill’s Fancy Flowers.
“Rose to the occasion,” Frank muttered the one liner on reflex.
Knocking the ninja mobile out of control had brought Frank out of the protection of the cement tank and the last ninja opened fire. Bullet holes walked up the hood of the classic Ford and shattered the windshield. Frank threw his arm up to shield his eyes, but shards of glass cut his fore-head. Frank blasphemed profusely and with elegance, before swerving back into the shelter of the tank.
“Come on, Frank, we need a plan,” he snarled, mind racing faster than the wheels of his car.
Before he could envision anything feasible, the cement truck shuddered and the slide started to extend. It swung straight back, aimed directly for Frank’s car and the tank lifted, sending cement streaming down the slide.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” screamed Frank, “All this for ribs!”
The first drops of liquid stone spattered the hood and Frank swerved back around the cement truck, dimly hearing the machinegun open fire. He downshifted, punched the accelerator and ran up alongside the truck, bullets tearing at the upholstery beside him.
Drawing parallel with the cab he drew his pistol and exchanged point blank fire with the final ninja. Oddly enough, while both men could have hit a falcon on a cloudy day, neither of them could hit the other at this juncture in time. Frank fired until his gun ran empty; pulled the trigger another half dozen times for good measure, until the clicking noise convinced him that the pistol was, indeed, empty. The ninja maintained a steady barrage.
“The bad guys never run out of bullets,” complained Frank, ducking every single one of the ninja’s magically unlimited supply, until a brilliant thought flashed through his mind. He spun the wheel.
The once immaculate muscle car slammed into the side of the cement truck, further denting the bodywork and peeling the paint, and Frank flung himself up to the cab of the truck. He struck the machinegun out of the surprised ninja’s hand and delivered a straight left to the masked man’s face, knocking the wicked warrior into the passenger seat.
“Let’s mix things up a little, asshole,” Frank growled.
The action hero climbed through the trucks window and flung himself at the ninja, but he was knocked back by a ninjitsu cut to his windpipe. Frank fell against the truck door and it swung open, dropping him back to the road. At the last second his fingers gripped the door frame and he grimly hung on while his boots – Frank always wore boots, even to the beach. It’s an action hero thing — scraped along the asphalt. His car, with no driver at the wheel, slowed. Then, a car driven by a random innocent – innocent in a loose sense, he was chattering on his cell – rammed the Mustang and both vehicles inexplicably exploded.
“For the fallen brothers!” the ninja cackled vengefully.
Commercial break. Quick, make some popcorn. I know, I know commercials suck, but hey, the network insisted! What?! They did!
Frank’s car exploded in a spectacular display of flame and debris, while the avenging ninja cackled. Frank swore colorfully. The cement truck, with no one driving, swerved wildly about the freeway. The ninja drew his sword.
“A sword? On the freeway?” Frank exclaimed, “You’ve gotta be freaking kidding me!”
Frank pulled himself up the door, then swung it wider open, to avoid the ninja’s wicked blade. He laughed in triumph, until a sudden gust of wind buffeted him and the door swung back, putting him well within range of being impaled. He flailed his legs wildly, pushed off the side of the truck, and swung back out of reach of the ninja.
“You will die!” screamed the ninja, one hand on the wheel and hitting the accelerator.
“Not before you,” Frank screamed back.
Then he remembered the backup gun he kept in an ankle holster. The cement truck had slowed considerably before the ninja regained control and Frank saw the upcoming turn, giving him exactly the opportunity he needed. Drawing the gun, he shot out the front tire of the truck and dropped to the road in a roll. The tire blew out, flopped a few times, the ninja screamed, and the cement truck veered uncontrollably through the turn and into the concrete barrier wall with a resounding crash.
Frank shakily picked himself up and wiped the blood and dirt out of his eyes. Blue and white patrol cars, sirens blaring and lights flashing, skidded to a halt beside him, officers quickly filling the scene.
“You ok, Frank?” groused Sgt McClure, the generic beat cop.
“Reckon his delivery ends here,” muttered Frank, “I just want a plate of ribs.”
“I’ll give you a lift,” McClure offered.
Frank nodded and headed to the squad car, but stopped when he heard the ninja’s enraged scream.
“You haven’t seen the last of me, Frank Dawes! I’ll get you! I’ll avenge the fallen brothers! You
Frank looked at McClure.
“Can you believe this guy?” he asked. McClure shook his head.
The action hero spun, his long hair flaring in the breeze, and shot from the hip. It was a long shot, an impossible shot. But Frank managed to peg the ninja between the eyes with ease. Piece of cake.
“Nice shot, tiger,” chuckled McClure, “I’d say you cooked his goose! BBQ time!”