Saturday, June 27, 2009
Ducktales: Twenty Years Later - Episode 12
Kind of a shortie, but hopefully a goodie. This was one of those chapters where I just sorta blanked out for about six hours while alternating between 4chan, references on Wikipedia, and the Microsoft Word document containing the story, and when I woke up there was a chapter and I had an overwhelming urge to call my older brother who lives on the other side of the country. Pic related. Expect WORDS WORDS WORDS today.
As usual, Enjoy.
"What a dump," said Louie, as he searched the low skylines and wide residential streets of the sleepy town below for any sign of either the modern majesty of Saint Canard, or the earnest bustle of Duckburg.
The plane came in for a discrete landing outside of town near a forest, before the group disembarked. Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Webigail, José Carioca and his three nieces all stood at the edge of the woods, looking at the distant vision of houses and low, blocky buildings.
Huey smiled and waved his hands off into the distance. "Welcome," he said, "To Mouseton, Calisota."
"Why?" asked Louie, his obvious disdain for such a town showing through his face, "Why are we here?"
Huey smirked and began to give the penny tour, "Well, Louie, Mouseton is a small, mostly suburban and rural city of middling population a few hundred miles outside of Duckburg. Despite its former rank as the capitol of Calisota near the turn of the century, it never had nearly the growth potential that Duckburg or Saint Canard did. Indeed, once Uncle Scrooge turned Duckburg into an industry town, it very quickly left Mouseton in the dust. Today it's mostly known for some famous crime that happened here about fifty years ago."
Rosalina, coming up behind Huey and batting her eyelashes, asked, "What happened?"
Huey blushed, and his eyes swung around to look at the girl's uncle-slash-father as apologetically as possible. For his part, José wore only an amused expression.
"Well, er, It was this case, see? This mysterious masked man, called 'The Blot,' operated a crime wave here that extended all the way out into Duckburg. He was apparently some kind of crazy hypnotist or something." Huey began to walk and talk towards the edge of the town. "Some Private detective working with the police finally took him down. Something like... Mortimer? Morey? Something like that."
Darking, passing the meandering Huey, took up the slack of the story, "We're here because it’s the last place anyone will look. Mouston is just one of those towns where nobody goes and everyone is from." She looked over her shoulder and towards Louie. "Perfect for our purposes."
Webby smiled and breathed in. "Well, the air is much cleaner than I'm used to. It's a nice place. Didn’t your Uncle Donald live here for a while?"
Huey grunted, "Who cares about that?"
Webby opened her mouth to answer, but Louie shook his head towards her. She took the hint and quieted down, walking alongside Dewey, who was looking around seriously.
"Where is this office you got for us, Huey?"
Huey perked up, " It's an old office right near the center of town, in the historic district. I think you'll really like it, Dewey."
The door creaked open, spreading a small yet bodacious wave of dust to cascade across the floor. In the frame, the large group stood, with Huey, Dewey, and Louie at the front.
"What a dump," said Louie, raising a single eyebrow.
The room was dark and dry with a grey haze that seemed to settle over everything. Huey tried the light switch, and a single, bare bulk blinked off and on, before burning right back out. From what they could see, there was a single desk, a ratty old couch, and a big empty shelf.
"Good a place as any," said Darkwing, blowing past the three brothers and stepping into the room, kicking up small clouds as she walked.
"I'll really like it, huh?" said Dewey, with a sideways glace towards Huey.
"Of course," Huey said with a smirk, before making his own way into the room, "It was cheap."
"Oh." Dewey looked around once again, this time with a much more appreciative light. "A fixer-upper."
Louie stomped in after Darkwing and sat on the couch, followed by the rest of the group. "So what now?"
Darkwing placed her hands on her hips, and said, "Now, I'm gone."
Dewey nodded, sitting on the wooden chair behind the desk, and searching the drawers for errant office supplies. "Right, You go into Duckburg to search for proof of Farid's guilt. We'll stay here and-" Crack! The chair collapsed underneath him and Dewey seemed to disappear behind the desk. After a moment, he continued his speech, as if he had never stopped. "We'll stay here and lay low."
With a sly look towards Louie, Huey said, "And what about that Green Phantom guy? Do we know what he's doing?"
"I don't know and I don't care," answered Dewey, climbing back up from where he had fallen, before Louie could speak, "I still don't altogether trust The Phantom."
"I'm sure the feeling's mutual," muttered Louie.
"Regardless," continued Darkwing, "You stay here. I'll be back as soon as I get something useful." She walked over to the window and opened it, scurrying out without another word.
The rest of the gang then slowly made themselves comfortable in the dusty room. As the Duck boys, Webby and José sat around and waited, The three girls killed time by digging through the closets, finding, thankfully, a broom and dustpan, as well as a few other interesting items.
"Anybody like to play Monopoly?" said Rosalina, holding up the box.
That night, with the room swept up clean enough to sleep in without sneezing, the entire group slept. After discovering that the couch folded out, Huey, ever the gentleman, suggested the four women take it, while the men slept on the floor. José admired Huey's spirit of chivalry, but Dewey and Louie, or at least their mental chiropractors, didn't quite appreciate the sentiment. Curled up around the floor using their respective coats and jackets for pillows and blankets, were the three boys, while José took the hard-yet-clean desk as well as one of the sofa cushions. The remains of the game, a close affair ending with a sheer battle of wills between Dewey and Louie for control of the board, sat near the corner of the room, a monument to Dewey's sense of business if the stack of multicolored money on his side of the board had anything to say about it.
The room was dark, and all that could be heard was the light snoring of the sleepers. A small movement in the dark, a sound, and a shaded shape began to move through the room, towards the window, being careful not to step on anything or anyone. The window opened with a moan of old wood sliding against old wood, and the shape moved out, backlit by the moon high in the sky, before he disappeared up to the roof.
However, a single pair of eyes were open enough to catch this, before narrowing in suspicion and anger. Dewey Duck tried to drift off to sleep, but with visions of the Green Phantom sneaking out playing over and over in his head.
Mouseton, so different from the other towns and cities he's gotten used to over the past year or so. At night, it truly sleeps. Unlike Duckburg, where Men work straight through to the dawn, or Saint Canard, where the unscrupulous stay up late to plot and scheme, or even Rio or Salvador, where good times are the order of the night life, Mouseton had nothing. The entire town shut down promptly at nine O'clock and awoke the next morning at six. No wonder the Phantom Blot was able to set up his business here where there were no rivals and no suspicion as he pulled the strings of his puppets from half a world away. The pulse of this city, faint, but existant, began to flow through Louie as he sat out on the roof, breathing the clean air. He thought of the Blot, and what he must have felt being the only one awake to appreciate the quiet and dark, and what kind of man the detective who took him down must have been. A Mouseton man, and yet aware enough of the night to defeat someone who operated in the dark.
"What a dump."
That was that, Louie was gone, and the Green Phantom had come out to play, bolstered by the silent whispers of the night. He pulled out the grappling hook he had, still made from spare parts salvaged from the Sea Duck, and figured out the shorter length needed to swing across such low buildings. He threw the iron hook towards the nearest building, a square, four story midget, and prepared to take a trip across the street.
He jumped from the roof, preparing to shift his weight in a swing, raising his legs so the soles of his boots wouldn't scrape across the pavement. He aimed for the roof of a house, a quaint two story vision of Norman Rockwell fantasy with dog house and white picket fence. He had reached the low apex of his swing and was about to clear the white spikes of the fence on his way to the slanted roof above.
BANG! Suddenly, there was a great deal of slack on the rope. The Green Phantom tried not to scream as he suddenly fell through the air. In a low arc, he cleared the fence, just barely, and came down hard on the leafy bushes on the other side, grunting from the impact. Wasting no time, the hero was back up on his feet, and bent low behind the fence for cover, just in case that loud cracking noise was what he thought it was.
BANG! Suddenly, one of the planks of the fence disturbingly close to GP came free and split in half due to the force of a mid-sized object moving at high velocity. Following the planks, he spotted a raised patch of dirt, where the missile had dug into the poor homeowner's lawn. A musket ball.
"Come out you son of a bitch!" Cried Dewey, waving Scrooge's musket wildly, "I know you're back here!"
The Phantom swore quietly, eyes wide. He looked through the hole in the fence and saw his brother, wide-eyed with rage, holding the musket steady at his hip. With another bang and a puff of white smoke, another section of fence near his head came loose and flew away, showering him in splinters.
"Stop shooting you maniac!" yelled the Green Phantom, standing up and waving his arms while Dewey took the time to tamp more powder into the antique gun, "What the hell are you doing?"
Dewey dropped another musket ball into the gun and continued to tamp it down, before dropping his rod and leveling the rifle towards the masked hero, "You followed us to Mouseton. Why? Where do you keep disappearing to?"
With sweat on his brow, Louie's shoulders drooped, "Oh, come on... you... you know I'm buddies with Darkwing. She sent me to keep an eye on you guys."
"That wasn't part of the plan. We don't need the likes of you hanging around here."
"Come on, man! I saved your asses in South America, and Duckburg, and..."
"...And wherever you seem to show up, trouble follows. I knew you snuck into the hostel in Salvador every night. I kept asking José to close it at night, but you always managed to find a way in. Not long after the VPR found us." He cocked back the gun and looked down the sight towards the Green Phantom, "How do I know you're not the one who tipped off Farid Kagan? How do I know you haven't been working for him the whole time? How do I know you won't go and tell him where we are right now so he can send someone else after us to burn down half of Mouseton?"
"You got it all wrong, you blind idiot!"
"Prove it! You're hiding something."
"Of course I am! I'm a superhero. I'm supposed to have a secret identity!"
"I don't know! That's just how it works! Get that thing out of my face."
"Not until you take off that mask."
"I wasn't going to say anything, but damn, how do you not know who I am?" Louie waved his arms around his face, "It's not even that big a mask."
"Take it off!"
"Literally everyone knows already! I think even Amalia has figured it out, and she doesn't even speak English."
"Shut up and take it off!"
"Hey you hooligans! Stop that shouting!" railed a crotchety voice from the house with the picket fence, "I got work in the morning!"
Surprised, Dewey fired towards the sound, burying the musket ball in the wall of the house as the elderly black and white horse shook his fist, unaware of his close scrape with death. With the Musket suddenly unarmed, Louie jumped over the fence and yelled as he grasped the barrel with both gloved hands and pulled, wrenching it out of Dewey's grasp before dropping it behind him. He then pushed the blue-clad duck to the ground and jumped on top of him, raising his fists up to knock some sense into his deluded brother.
"Horace! Horace! What's going on?" Said a lady's voice from within, "Lord have mercy, what is all that noise."
"The neighborhood's going to shit Clarabell. Kids brawling in the streets, setting off fireworks at God knows how late in the morning!"
Louie's fist made a meaty impact with Dewey's beak, but he refused to stay down. His scarred hand pushed the masked man's beak up, and his other hand aimed a punch, while both legs thrashed to try to strike someplace sensitive. Louie's own free hand grasped Dewey's punching hand before he could strike, however, and he wrenched his beak free of Dewey's grasp.
"Is it Mrs. Cluck's grandkids? Always making such a fuss. Let me see."
"Woman! Go back to bed." He turned back towards the fight. "And you! Quit that horsin' around and go back home to your mammas before I give you a whipping like they should have!"
Dewey wrenched his entire weight sideways, and the two ducks found themselves rolling around in the empty streets, tearing and thrashing at each other with their limbs. Eventually, Dewey found himself on top, and, without thinking, he sent his forehead to strike into the Green Phantom's causing GP's head to bounce painfully off the hard pavement.
"Let me see, Horace!"
"Clarabell! Get back to bed! This isn't for your eyes!"
"Ohh! Wait'll Clara gets an earful of this. Who are they, Horace?"
"Hell if I know, Woman!" The horse began to look around, "Get me something to throw!"
Dewey, breathing hard, leaned over on top of the dazed Green Phantom, and reached for the mask, his bloodied knuckles shaking as he wrapped his fingers around the surprisingly chinsy spirit-gummed plastic. He began to pull, ripping the mask up from the feathers of the Phantom's face until...
"Horace! That was my best china! Shame on you!"
"Desperate measures, Clarabell! They'll think twice before making trouble in our neighborhood!"
Dewey fell over from the shock of the china plate slamming into the back of his head, and his hand tightened. As he fell to the ground, his vision clouded over with spots. He felt another impact on his face before his vision seemed to clear. He noted that his hand was filled by the crumpled up mask before he got a good look at the formerly masked man.
Louie froze, with his arm cocked back in preparation for another wallop. He felt his face, and suddenly realized that his mask had come undone. "W-where is it?"
"Louie? You're the Green Phantom?"
"If I say yes will you stop trying to kill me?"
"I reserve the right to change my mind." Dewey tried to push Louie off of him, but Louie had him pinned to the ground by his hand, and was sitting on his waist out of reach of his legs.
"Ah-ah-ah. No getting up until your little baby fit is over."
"What the hell are you doing playing superhero?"
"I'm not playing Dewey. I am a superhero."
"What is this? This is why you ran off to Saint Canard? This is where all of that money has been going?" Dewey looked angrier than ever, and tried to thrash even harder against Louie's hands. "You've been wasting your inheritance on... toys?"
"You've been spying on my accounts?"
"And why not? You used to be my business partner. I had to know where your money was going." Dewey suddenly spat off to his side, leaving a small pool of bloody spit on the curb. "And now I find out you were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to become a superhero? And not even a very good one!"
"Better than just letting it all sit somewhere in a bank with nothing happening to it."
"I'm just following in Uncle Scrooge's example!"
"Uncle Scrooge saved up all of that money and treasure so he could swim in it, and remember all the stories from when he earned it. What's your excuse?" Louie yelled at the top of his lungs, spit flying from his beak as long-dormant feelings came flooding out, "You've never had a worthwhile memory in your life!"
"That's not true!"
"It is! If you had your way you'd sit up in that empty bin on Killmotor hill all day and waste away staring at the pennies at the bottom nobody can reach."
"I manage McDuck Enterprises, A responsibility you ran away from!"
"McDuck Enterprises can take care of itself!"
"That's why Uncle Scrooge didn't trust you!"
Louie drew back, before he slammed the trapped wrists into the pavement, "Bastard! Scrooge taught me more than he ever taught you!"
"You learned silly ropetricks. I learned the business! If you had your way you'd give the entire business away to some charity!"
"I learned to have principles! I learned that even if nobody likes you or what you stand for you still keep going, and damn what they think! You would realize that if you tried to be yourself instead of some carbon-copy of our Uncle!"
"And you should remember how he felt about what happened to his money! He worked for every last red cent of this..."
"HA! As if you can tell me about work! You went off gallivanting in India. I stayed behind! I stayed and worked so Uncle Donald could feed us, and so he could go through with his proposal to Aunt Daisy. I stayed behind to help take care of the man before he went and got himself killed chasing after more money and treasure all alone. I worked and I worked for the shit that man gave us for money while you and Huey went out and had lives, and I worked after he was killed to make sure the business could run after he was gone. After all that I think I was entitled to start having a life with my own money that I earned by being the good nephew!" Drops of water fell on Dewey's face as Louie spoke, his speech getting warbly as he struggled with his emotion.
"Good nephew? GOOD Nephew!" Dewey's own face took on a red hue as he shouted back, "I was the good nephew! I was prospecting for gold in India, you idiot! I was trying to make my own fortune! I didn't want to fall back on Uncle Scrooge's money for some empty security! I wanted to make my own way in the world!" He pushed on Louie's hands, succeeding in raising up the stronger arms slightly. "I took all of the money out of the bin because I wanted to start over! That was his money, not mine. It will always be his money, full of memories of the Klondike, and Panama, The Mississipi, Transvaal, Glasgow... I couldn't just keep hoarding all of those memories that weren't mine! I was... I was going to fill the bin with my own money that I made myself. I wanted to catch up to him. Surpass him. But... but then he died and you left me alone to run the business, and I couldn't just abandon it to find my fortune. My claims just sat in India, gathering dust, and I... I couldn't..." His own rage-filled eyes began to water. "It made me miss him so much. I thought he would stay with us forever."
"He always loved you more. He always talked about your expedition."
"Who cares! You got to spend the last year with him. I wanted to see him one more time before he..."
Finally giving into their mutual sobs, the two brothers embraced tightly in the street, wailing each other's names along with half-pronounced apologies to one another, and to Uncle Scrooge, and Huey, and Webby, Gosalyn, Uncle Donald, and anyone else they could think of. Aching hands and faces were forgotten in the wracking weeps as the two brothers melted together, letting five or more years of rivalry and antagonism dissolve away in so many tears.
"What are they doing NOW Horace?"
"My god! I think they might be a couple o' them Homer-sexuals from the city!"
"Land sakes! I'll get more china! Get 'em Horace!"
The next morning, Huey was the first one up, even before the sun, and the first thing he noticed was that Dewey and Louie were both nowhere to be found. His brows creased, and he got up, stretching the cricks out of his back from lying out on the hard floor, and putting his leather jacket on over his red undershirt.
Quietly, he walked towards the door to their little Mouseton office and stepped into the hall, figuring his brother's might be somewhere planning something.
That's when he heard the singing, faint at first, coming from further along the corridor, where there was a simple staircase leading up to the roof. As Huey got closer to the roof access door, the sounds of song and laughter got louder, as well as the sounds of clinking. He placed a hand gingerly on the door and twisted the handle, listening to the two voices beyond sing in a sloppy round.
"Show me the way to-"
"SHOW me the way to go ho... you stopped."
"You started too early."
A laugh, "You started too LATE!"
"That makes no sense!" Another laugh.
Huey peeked through the crack in the door, and saw, sitting on the ground near the end of the room, a half-drunk bottle between them, and two glasses in each of their hands, Louie and Dewey. Their clothes were disheveled, and Louie's costume was only half on, with his crumpled mask stuck clumsily to his forehead with the remainder of the spirit gum.
"About as much sense as you paying for the most expensive stuff in the store, Dewey."
"Issa Special occasion, Green Ghost."
"Phantom! Phantom! I'm the Green Phantom! Not Ghost. Allitarala... Alliteram... Alliter... Starting your name with The same letters is such a hokey device. I wanted something with flam!"
"Flim-flam! Razmatazz! Jazz! Gumption!"
"Okay. You start this time."
"I started last time."
"Well start again!"
Huey walked out onto the roof right then, and before Dewey could get half of the first note out, both brothers were on their feet and rushing towards their brother. "HUEY!" Both yelled in unison.
"We're sorry..." "...For everything!" "We were..." "...Jerks!" said Dewey and Louie in an alternating rhythm.
"You guys have been drinking up here?"
"We had a fight," said Dewey.
"But then I punched him and now we're brothers again."
"An' we got these nice dishes to show for it." Dewey then reached into his pocket and retrieved shards of blue-painted ceramic that had been shattered.
"An' we need you," yelled Louie suddenly, grabbing Huey's arm and pulling him, "We're not drunk. We just can't seem to get this round robin down."
Huey let himself be positioned to the edge of the building and sat down next to the bottle, as he said, "Now wait a minute. Dewey, you know that Louie is the Green Phantom?"
"And Louie, you're not mad at Dewey anymore?"
"And Dewey bought..." He looked down at the bottle and goggled at the label, "21 year old Scotch?"
"The GOOD shit!" said both brothers in unison.
Huey looked from one brother, to the other, then to the other again, their disconcerting idiot grins, framed by a pair of very conspicuous black eyes on Dewey, somehow cause Huey's heart to melt. And the only cure for a melted heart?
He took a swig of the scotch straight from the bottle, raggedly gasping at the beautiful sting.
"Well, boys? I don't know what happened between you two, but this is probably the best breakfast I've ever had." He then held up a finger like a conductor's baton as the hard liquor began to play tricks on his empty stomach, "A one and a two and..."
The three then began to sing their song, overlapping their voices in three parts, occasionally skipping beats and warping the rhythm, but often blending in three parts, falling perfectly in step behind each other to turn one song into three sung in sequence. They faced out towards the East face of the building, where they watched the sun rise, arms around each other, brothers, once again, at last.