The government didn’t nationalize steak restaurants, but they did grab everything in the major infrastructure industries. In all honesty, that’s the only reason we’ve got a semblance of civilized life in the Washington, DC area. You can’t say that about things out in the country or the Midwest.
While I hadn’t bathed in days, we did have electricity and running water about twice a week. That’s more than most people could say.
“Great, Miss Malley. I’ll be there tomorrow.” I assured her. “My general method of working is to observe the site and the activity of my target. When I find an opportunity, I’ll take him down. Disposal of the remains is up to you.”
She swallowed hard. Nobody likes to consider the disposition of the corpse, but it had to be done or we’d be up to our knees in rotting bodies. You want to talk about disease, vermin, and insects!
“Do you have any recommendations?” She asked with a slightly quavering voice.
“Get in touch with Rancid Sam, if you can. He’ll bring around his garbage truck, pick up the bits, and haul them away for free.”
Sam was an interesting fixture in the area. He sported a huge pink Mohawk, impeccable clothes, and a mint-green garbage truck. His shtick was picking up bodies, rendering them down into fertilizer, and trading it to homesteaders and gardeners. According to him, zombie bodies do a treat for the soil in this area.
He’s a bit of an acquired taste, but no more or less than I am. Crazy people need to stick together.
I keep telling myself that, until someone else’s crazy pisses me off.
My client and I made polite goodbyes, and I watched her leave the bar. I finished off my beer, and didn’t put my feet up on the table. Marvin and Shirley tended to get angry when I put my boots on furniture. I never got up the nerve to ask if it was just the poor manners, or that there was usually dried blood and brains on my shoes.
“You do understand that contract is going to be trouble, right?” Marvin asked me from across the empty room. He adjusted his thick glasses on his bulbous nose, and wrinkled his forehead. “Strange hotties asking for favors is never a good sign.”
“Eh.” I raised my beer in one hand and waved my free paw around. “No contract ever turns out perfectly. I’ve got the scars to prove it.”
“Frank, I’ve seen you naked…Heaven help me…and for the shit you’ve done, you don’t have all that many scars.” Marvin scrunched up his face in disgust. His mouth looked like a skunk’s ass.
“I am not at all bad looking, I’ll have you know!”
“You look like a rangy hippie on a nasty peyote binge. When I first met you, you looked like Jesus after they beat the shit out of him. Then you washed off.” He stuck out his tongue. “Your look didn’t improve with soap and water.”
“Yeah, yeah. Be happy you and Shirley don’t have a daughter.” I flipped him the bird. “I’d seduce her, and all your grandchildren would look as rangy and messianic as me!”
He threw a bar rag at me with uncanny accuracy. Beer and water-soaked terry cloth slapped me across the forehead. It was wet, very cold, and smelled like booze fungus.
“I’d lock our granddaughters up so no one would have to look at the poor, ugly things. I think I’d stick the boys in, too. A little inbreeding might give us half-way decent looking great-grandchildren!” Marvin cackled at me, and I returned the towel to him with equal accuracy.
The rag caught him with his mouth open. Perfection! I laughed like a loon while he spat the funky fluid all over the bar.
I’m sure the play fight would have only intensified—and there was no telling what awful muck he had under the bar on his side—but the first peal of thunder ripped out in the humid air of Arlington. That meant one very important thing: naked zombie-killer time.
“Oops! Gotta grab my soap and a towel, Pops! There’s a free shower outside!” I yelled, and got up from my chair as fast as I could.
“Aw, hell. Just do me a favor, and wash on the roof. I’ll just stay inside and hope I don’t see anything else horrible today.”
Without another word, I high-tailed it out the back door and up the stairs to my little bachelor pad on the roof. I ducked inside, grabbed my necessary items, shucked my clothes, and got down to the work of making myself more presentable.
All things considered, it was a pretty great day. I picked up a potentially lucrative extermination gig, and I got the opportunity to get cleaned up. I hated going to work smellier than I absolutely had to be. Zombies don’t care, since they smell horrible to begin with, but I do.
Then I realized I wasn’t alone on the roof. Moments after that revelation, I was painfully aware of my nudity and appalling lack of self-defense weaponry.
A zombie was squatting at the corner of the roof, with a hunk of indeterminate internal organ in his hand. I bet it came from the body beside him. Me make good logic when me naked.
“This is an awkward situation,” I shouted at him through the pounding rain, “what with us meeting this way.”
“Yeah. I didn’t expect dinner and a wet peep show.” He yelled back. It didn’t look like he was moving, and I was absurdly grateful for that. “You some kind of pervert?”
“I came up here to take a shower.”
“Oh. Is that your tent?” He started to get up. Shit.
Don’t look like you expect the throw down that is bound to happen. That is an important rule of zombie-fu. Another important rule is this: take inventory of the potential weapons at your disposal. In my case, the inventory looked like this: one bar of increasingly slippery soap, and one wet bath towel.
Score. I knew where my towel was.
“Well, I’ve needed a new place to stay since I came back to life in the morgue the other day. A tent would be swell.”
I may have mentioned that the revived dead are much faster than we are, and this guy was no exception. He was up on his feet and moving towards me almost before I could think. Luckily, I react faster than I think…sometimes.
I tossed the bar of soap at his feet like skipping a stone off the surface of a lake. He slipped on it, cursed mightily, and his bum rush became a well-lubricated slide into home base. I rolled to my right and let him slide right past me.
He stopped himself on the ladder I’d climbed moments before. Oh well.
“You chicken-shit bastard. I’m going to cornhole you before I kill you, and then I’ll tear the throats out of the old couple downstairs.” He snarled over the thunder.
“Look, Newbie, don’t threaten my friends.” I kept my voice cool.
“Why, soggy Christ?”
“I get really stubborn when people I like are in danger.”
He came for me, growling and spitting all the way. I snapped my towel at him, and tagged him on the eyeball. The growl turned into a long howl of pain as he clutched at his head and tumbled to the rooftop.