The Redressers: Part 7

~ Ten Months Later ~

Some people find religion behind bars. Some see the error of their ways and vow to reform. Some are made more violent. The Redressers had been awaiting trial in jail for fifteen months and Carl had a sudden burst of insight.

“Man, jail sucks!”

Mia, Kathryn, and Frankenstein glanced at him and settled back into their own interior monologues, which were immediately interrupted by Carl again.

“Seriously! This place is the worst.”

“Prison is worse,” Mia said. “When we’re found guilty and sent there, this is gonna seem like a vacation. From what I hear, the gangs are a lot more dangerous.”

“The lockup gangs may not be violent,” Frankenstein said, “but they’re so incredibly irritating! They’re either having episodes because they stopped taking their meds or they’re just sloppy drunks.”

Kathryn rolled over on her bed, threw up, and fell over the side into the vomit. She sat up, barely noticing the filth. “D’you say drunks? ‘Sthe Toilet Winos comin’? Those guys’re great.” She fell sideways, back into the land of blacked out slumber.

“She’s gotten worse,” Carl said. “She swears she’s just investigating the Toilet Winos undercover, but jeez.”

Mia sighed. “This wasn’t the plan. We were supposed to network with the minor league gangs here to get intel on the guards so we could expose the institutional abuse. We may be stuck waiting for our trial, but we can do some good in the meantime. But our spokeswoman is just–” Kathryn farted in her sleep. “Yeah.”

“I still think one of us could do it,” Frankenstein said.

“Oh, come on. The public won’t take the charges seriously coming from a Latina, let alone a blue guy or a corpse quilt, no offense. We need a white lady, and ours has John Bonhamed out.”

“In her defense,” Carl said, “have you tried the toilet wine? It’s only kind of terrible.”

“Our trial starts soon,” Mia said. “We’re running out of time. We need a plan.”

 

~ ~ ~

“All rise,” announced the bailiff. “The honorable Judge Natliss Yebajuge presiding.”

“Be seated,” the judge said. “I’ve got a fundraising dinner to get to, so let’s try to hurry this along, okay? Prosecution, start your engines.”

“Thank you, your honor,” said District Attorney Gary Dean Stanton, no relation. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we have here a pretty straightforward case of four people wrecking a store so the owner could file a false insurance claim and walk away a rich man, and then attempting to break the owner out of jail, causing quite a lot of public property damage and getting caught red-handed in the act. Okay, so it’s not that straightforward, but it is a solid case. We have security camera footage and sworn testimony from the jail personnel, as well as the testimony of the owner, who was more than happy to rat out his friends in order to cop a plea bargain.”

“What?!?,” Frankenstein cried, slamming his massive hands on the table.

The judge banged the gavel again. “I’ll have order! Go on, Mr. District Attorney.”

It didn’t get much better after that.

 

~ ~ ~

That evening, they were put back in their cell. Mia started off the panicking session. “This sucks so bad! I can’t believe I stuck with you idiots! Now I’m gonna go to prison and my career is toast, not that it ever started off to begin with, and I’m gonna end up in some stupid gang explaining to everyone how tasers work or something. Ugh! I hate all of you!”

After a moment of awkward silence, Carl spoke up. “Heh, isn’t it weird that they put us all in one cell? They didn’t even separate the men and women.”

The others stared at him.

“It’s just weird. Heh.”

“L’you plizz step tlkng?” Kathryn felt like a steamroller was crushing her head and all of the gloppy chunks were splattering into her bowels. “‘M ne’er drinkin’ toilet wine ag’n. Mean it dis time.”

“Shall we attempt an escape?” Frankenstein offered. “I bet if we put out heads together we could figure out a good plan.”

“I appreciate the thought, Frankenstein,” Mia said, “but I wouldn’t suggest putting people’s body parts together if I were you. Just saying.”

“Psst!”

The Redressers looked at each other.

“Psssssst!”

They raced to the window, which took like a quarter of a second because it’s a jail cell. Outside, they could barely make out a figure waving in the dark.

“Guys,” the figure said in a stage whisper. “It’s me, Dwayne! Where are you?”

“Over here!” called Carl.

Dwayne ran up to the window and pressed his face to the bars. “You’re all clear, kid! Now let’s blow this thing and go home!” He waited for a reaction. It didn’t come. “Get it? Like Han? It doesn’t matter. Just stand back, okay?”

Dwayne took a few steps back and pulled a small bomb out of his jacket pocket. He hurled it at the jail cell and it exploded in flames. The flames began to spread across the cheap paint that the jail was coated in, but the actual bricks weren’t harmed.

“Huh,” Dwayne said. He scratched his head. “Any ideas?”

Frankenstein pushed on the wall. It collapsed outwards, creating a giant hole. The others stared at him, mouths agape.

“What? We needed a hole. Come on.”

The alarms blared as they ran out of the cell and into the open air. Dwayne was watching the fire spread over the jail. It was getting near the government center now.

“Should we tell someone?” Dwayne asked.

“Sorry,” Mia said. “I left my phone in the evidence locker.”

They ran a few blocks before taking a rest. Mia stuck her pointer finger in Frankenstein’s face.

“You could have done that at any time?”

“Um…yes?”

“Why didn’t…I’m so…This team sucks so bad!”

Kathryn knelt down and threw up. “Ohhhhh, tha’s better.” She spat and stood up on her wobbly legs. “Okay, lez go.”

They ran off into the night. They stopped six times to convince Kathryn that running away was still a better idea than taking a nap at a bus stop.

When they arrived at Dwayne’s one-bedroom apartment, they got to work planning their next steps.

“So what, we’re outlaw vigilantes now?” Carl asked.

“I guess so,” Dwayne said.

Mia put her head in her hands. “All I had to do was serve coffee and apply for jobs.”

The Redressers: Part 6

Mia, Carl, Frankenstein, and the monkey that they kept around despite her not, in fact, being the fabled Monkey King Sun Wukong gathered in the parking lot of the Big City 2386th Street jail. “Where’s Kathryn?” asked Carl.

With the impeccable timing of a fictional story, Kathryn approached the team at that exact moment! Isn’t that exciting? What are the odds? I mean, seriously. If you factor in the timing of the traffic sig– Hmm? Oh. Right. Sorry.

Kathryn approached the team. She was embarrassed and then immediately furious. “Why didn’t anyone tell me we weren’t doing this in uniform? You know I hate my boobs flopping out of this stupid thing.”

“Okay,” Mia said. “We all know the plan, right? Kathryn, you go in and distract the guards with your, um, yeah. After they’re nice and drooly, the lights will go out and you take the keys. Then we come in as backup and keep them occupied while you free Dwayne. ”

“For the record, this plan sucks,” Carl said.

“I know, but you all lied about having powers so it’s this or no team. Got it, everyone?”

They all said “Yeah” in unison like some stupid 80s Saturday morning cartoon. They might as well have put their hands in the middle and said, “Go Redressers!” Yeesh.

Kathryn made her way to the entrance and Carl crouched down next to the monkey. “Okay, Sun Wukong, listen closely. I’m going to pick you up and put you in that air duct over there. Your job is to get to the security desk and– Hey! Hey, come back!”

Since it was the first time she had been outside in weeks, the monkey they insisted on calling Sun Wukong saw an opportunity to escape and took it. She scampered off at top speed for over half a mile before crawling into a cardboard box and taking a nap. Later that night she would wander behind a grocery store and find a dumpster full of delicious produce that was mostly edible. It was the first night of the rest of her happy, fulfilling life. Bye, little monkey! Good luck! I love you!

Carl watched her run away. “Crap. Uhhhh, okay, plan B. Mia, you’re an engineer, right? Can you disable the security system?”

“Oh yeah, of course,” Mia said. “I’m sure you have the manufacturer, the model, and all the specs of this building handy, right? No? You don’t? That’s okay, because I can just ‘hack’ it like in movies, right? Let me get out my laptop and password-cracking software and I’ll get us in, right? Idiot.”

Mia let out an exasperated sigh and thought for a moment. “Vic, come with me.”

“What do I do?” asked Carl.

“Stick with the plan. When the lights go out, go in and help Kathryn. We’ll be right behind you.”

Mia and Frankenstein walked around the building until they found the building’s power supply. A transformer sat behind a locked chain link fence.

“Okay, Vic. We need to get in and basically destroy that round thing.”

“I know what a transformer is. It bumps the voltage up or down for a neighborhood, office building, or similar pull on the power grid.”

“Ooh, someone has Wikipedia.”

“Actually, Dan’s dad is an electrician and taught him that when he was like eight.”

“Who’s Dan?”

“Um, nothing! Let’s break this thing, huh?”

Frankenstein ripped the fence apart and stomped at the transformer with all his might. It exploded in a shower of sparks and the jail went dark.

“Arrgh!” Frankenstein yelled. “Fire bad! Rarrr! Ha ha, just kidding.”

Inside, Kathryn realized they had made a slight miscalculation going into this little escapade. Of the three guards on duty at the moment, two of them were women. She tried using her feminine wiles anyway — you never know — but the female guards quickly got wise to her scheme.

“You can cut the crap now, lady,” said Sheila the Guard With a Full and Personalized Backstory. “I’ve got to finish an essay tonight since I’m attending college part time to get my degree and pursue my career goals and I don’t have any time for your nonsense.”

Just then, the lights went out. Carl ran in and crashed into Kathryn. He got up and shouted, “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be shaking your boobs at the guards!”

“Ixnay on the oobsbay!”

“What?”

Before Kathryn could respond, three 20 million billion-candlepower flashlights were shining on their faces.

“Don’t move,” said– guess. Go on, guess.

Did you guess yet? Okay, let’s see if you’re right.

Said Louise, the other female guard. (Were you right? Good job!) “We’ve got tasers and guns and this job is super boring so we’ll light you up and post it on cooljailvids.net if you try anything.”

Louise covered them as Sheila and the unnamed male guard who doesn’t get any lines (take THAT, patriarchy!) put on the handcuffs. Mia and Frankenstein then burst in and all three guards pointed their guns at them.

“Aw, crap,” said Mia.

Dwayne perked up as Louise locked the rest of the Redressers in the cell and walked away. “Great! You came for me! So, what’s the plan?”

He looked from face to face. The others looked away.

“This is part of the plan, right?”

Nobody made eye contact for three weeks.

 

~ Five Months Later ~

Dwayne was led back to the cell. He was beaming. “Guys! I’m out! I’m going home!”

“What?” Mia asked. “How is that possible?”

“My trial ended. The judge let me off with five months, time served.”

“But you conspired to burn down your store and commit insurance fraud,” Carl said.

“Right,” Dwayne said as he picked up his couple of belongings. “White collar crime. Fraud is all money stuff and conspiracy is practically Wall Street! Good luck, everyone. Peace!”

“Wait,” Kathryn said. “Are you gonna come back to help us? Or hire some lawyers? Or anything?”

Dwayne grimaced. “Ah. Right. Well, the terms of my release bar me from having any contact with you guys, including providing legal aid.”

“So you’re saying you’re leaving and we’re stuck here for another ten months until our trial?” asked Frankenstein.

“Um, yes. Sorry about the whole inequality thing. I was talking to the judge and he was saying how you guys are in for property damage and attempted jailbreak and those are pretty lower class, so your trial isn’t that high a priority.”

“Time out,” Mia said. “You were just chilling out with the judge?”

“Oh. Yeah. White collar defendants get access to the lounge.”

Kathryn shook her head. “Courts have lounges?”

“Yeah. It’s like airports. Fraud and conspiracy are practically first class diamond club.”

He realized he sounded a little too exuberant. “I tried to get you in, but they wouldn’t let me,” he lied. “On the upside, a few months in jail is going to add a powerful new level of complexity and pathos to my seminars!”

Mia, Carl, Kathryn, and Frankenstein were stunned, mouths agape. “Well,” Dwayne said, “I guess this is goodbye.”

He started towards the exit as the unnamed male guard locked the cell.

“But you’ll come back for our trial, right?” Carl asked.

“Can’t hear you! Too far away! Sorry!”

They would never saw him again. They assumed. And so should you. Seriously, what a jerk.

The Redressers: Part 5

Dwayne ordered another beer. After two hours of searching Yelp for dive bars and roadhouses in Big City and filtering the results for graffiti and chairs that are easy to smash, he decided The Heaving Possum was the place to go to find someone to rob his bodega. After sitting at the bar for three hours, though, his enthusiasm was starting to lag.

Just then, a wild-eyed man plopped down on the stool next to him and pulled a few dollars out of a duffel bag. “Gimme a quadruple, Jimmy!” he said. The bartender poured some Drain Cleanser Whiskey into an old fast food souvenir Looney Tunes glass and slid it to him. The man gulped most of it down and set the glass on the bar. As smoke arose from the whiskey eating through the glass and the bar beneath it, Dwayne knew he had found his criminal element.

“Say,” Dwayne nonchalantly began, “Don’t you hate it when other people have stuff you want? I know it makes me want to take it. Right?”

The man looked at him suspiciously. “You’re speaking awfully openly about your antisocial compulsions.”

“Well, it’s a changing world. Openness is the new mystique!”

“I dunno. Sounds like entrapment.”

“Hah! I don’t know the meaning of the word!”

Dwayne pulled out his phone and looked up what “entrapment” means. He turned back to the stranger. “Oh man, I definitely do not want to do entrapment. No, I’m just a big fan of theft!”

The man cocked an eyebrow. “Theft, huh? Yeah, theft is okay. But how do you feel about robbery?”

“Oh yeah, I’m super into robbery,” Dwayne said. “Are you?”

“I enjoy a rob now and then.”

“Right? It’s great! Other people have stuff, you take it, and then you have it!”

“Ha,” the man said, “you’re a real rob head, aren’t ya? The name’s Do-Harm. Robbing Jack Do-Harm.”

“My name is, uh, Nickname Nick. And lemme tell ya, I’ve got a tip on Dwayne’s A-1 Top Notch Elite Fast Quick Diamond Lucky First Stop Mart Shop. It’s very successful and definitely the place to hit. Lots of cash just lying around in piles and a cowardly cashier with a big paunch and asthma and social anxiety.”

“I love this idea! But before I trust you, you’re gonna have to pass the Robbing Jack Do-Harm’s robber’s test!”

“Okay.”

“What the best part about robbery?”

“Getting money, of course!”

Robbing Jack Do-Harm raised his fist. Dwayne cowered and quickly said, “I mean getting other people’s money because we like causing trouble and doing evil so much!”

Robbing Jack Do-Harm lowered his fist. “That’s right. Okay, let’s go rob this asthmatic coward.” He stood up, spread his arms, and shouted to the heavens, “I hate asthmatics!”

As they headed for the man-shaped hole in the wall that The Heaving Possum’s customers used for a door, another surly, downtrodden, crazed member of Big City’s criminal underground stood up. “You heading for a job, Robbing Jack?”

“Yeah. The place is run by a real wheezer.”

“Any chance there’s any of those dirty professeurs there?”

“Probably not. Sorry.”

“Aw, sockla blue,” he mispronounced.

They stepped outside. Robbing Jack Do-Harm tsked and said, “It’s a shame, really. I thought hating asthmatics was a hard criminal ethos. Poor Reggie got stuck basing his entire criminal career on victimizing middle school French teachers.”

They soon arrived at Dwayne’s A-1 Top Notch Elite Fast Quick Diamond Lucky First Stop Mart Shop. “Well,” Dwayne said, “here we are. Need anything? Ski mask? Glock? Poison gas-spewing gun thematically linked to your modus operandi?”

“No, thanks. I picked the villain name Robbing Jack Do-Harm because I like to keep things simple.” Jack shattered the glass door with his crowbar and walked inside. “Ye-e-es, there’s two things I love to do: rob and do harm. Oh, that reminds me!”

He opened the door to a refridgerated case, pulled out a gallon of milk, and swung the milk with both hands up into Dwayne’s face. He then grabbed Dwayne by the collar and smashed the door on his head repeatedly.

“Ah, yes, nothing fills my heart with childlike glee as much as robbing and doing harm.”

Dwayne spat out his tooth. “Yeth. I thee what you mean.” He shook himself out of the daze. “But you altho like wrecking the plathe, right?”

“Oh, no,” Jack said. “I try to do as little damage as I can. It attracts too much attention. A door here and there is one thing. That’s a necessary evil. But I like to slip in, get as much money as possible, hurt somebody, and slip back out.”

Dwayne froze, eyes wide. “Wait, so you’re not going to cause claim-worthy damage to this property?”

“No, of course not! Besides the undesired attention, it could also lead to the owner of the place winding up with a fat insurance check. That goes against both my taking their money and my doing them harm!” He spat on the floor. “No, thank you. Say, where’s the asthmatic clerk?”

Dwayne was near panic. This was going to be harder than he anticipated. He slyly reached into his pocket. He calmly pulled out his phone. He stealthily typed a mass text to the Redressers to hurry up and come in. He subtly pushed the Send button. He clumsily dropped the phone on the floor. He tensely looked up at Jack. He nervously watched Jack’s eyes as he read the text. He suddenly found himself on the floor after Jack kicked him in the stomach.

Just then, the Redressers ran inside the store in full costume. Jack threw his hands up. “I surrender! Just don’t wreck the place!”

After a moment of confused silence, Azrella picked up the credit card reader, unplugged it, and threw it at Jack before rushing him. He blocked the reader with his arms, leaving him susceptible to Azrella shoving him into some shelves. Jack, the shelves, and about $800 worth of nearly expired canned meats tumbled across the floor.

As Jack struggled to his feet, Dorizan waved his hands, seemingly causing the lottery kiosk to fly through the air of its own volition. After Frankenstein threw the kiosk, he ducked back behind the counter for his grand entrance.

Mia came in next in her steampunk cosplay. She pressed a few buttons, activating the small motors controlling the fans and belts in her suit. It all looked very impressive and distracted Jack for a few seconds while Frankenstein snuck up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. Jack turned around, saw the hulking amalgamated graveyard, and screamed. Frankenstein knocked over a row of shelves and picked Jack up under the shoulders, holding him in the air while Mia tied his arms and legs together.

Meanwhile, Dwayne was outside giving the address to the police dispatcher. A few minutes later, two squad cars arrived and Robbing Jack Do-Harm was off to jail for fifteen months while his case was processed because he couldn’t make bail. The police thanked Dwayne for keeping Jack at the scene. They’d been looking for him for months. As the police drove away, the Redressers celebrated their first bona fide victory / successful insurance fraud.

The next day, Dwayne strolled confidentally into the insurance office. An hour later he strolled out with a fat check. Well, it was a thin, normal-sized check, but the amount on it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Four days later, two police officers strolled confidentally out of Dwayne’s house with Dwayne handcuffed between them. “Did you seriously think we wouldn’t look at the security footage? That was the most obvious insurance fraud we’ve seen in years!”

The Redressers watched from the basement window. As the police drove away, Kathryn said, “So we’re gonna break him out, right? That’s what a real team would do.”

Mia, Carl, and Frankenstein made quiet, noncommittal noises. Kathryn added, “Come on, guys. He brought us together and is trying to help our careers. We owe it to him.”

Frankenstein had a rebuttal. “Well, he did break the law. Plus with him out of the house, I won’t have to sleep in the basement anymore.”

Mia walked over to Frankenstein’s side of the room. “I told him if he did anything to make me hate him, I’d be out. He got arrested, so I’m fine with walking away from all of this.”

Carl stood by Kathryn. “I hear you, but we all signed on for the robbery and fraud in the first place. It’d be hypocritical to turn on him now that he got caught.”

Mia thought for a moment. Her shoulders slumped. “Ugh, fine. In order to take responsibility for my actions, I’ll help break Dwayne out so he doesn’t have to take responsibility for his actions.”

Kathryn and Carl high-fived. Kathryn asked, “So what do you say, Vic? Are you in?”

“I suppose,” Frankenstein replied in his best Eeyore voice.

“Well,” said Mia, “I guess we’d better start figuring out the intricate details of how we’re going to break Dwayne out. It’ll probably take a really long time to work it all out. Ha, can you imagine if we were in some serialized fiction story that has to have cliffhangers and constant drama? This would make a really dull episode.”

Just then, the wacky neighbor kid came in and said his wonderful catchphrase. Everyone on the recording of an audience had a good laugh.

The Redressers: Part 4

Frankenstein turned around to see an evildoer approaching. That is, he saw Mia pushing a mannequin with an ‘EVILDOER” sign hung around its neck and a bandana on its head for that 90s gang affiliation sort of look. He tried yet another spin-kick and this time he actually connected.

“Yes! Take that, Doctor Larceny! Frankenstein owns these streets!”

Mia patted the 230-year-old undead scientist on the back. “That was good, Vic. Unfortunately, you also took out poor little Fido.”

She pointed at the ground, where the mannequin lay on top of a cardboard box with “DOG” written on it in marker.

“Ach, this is nothing! I could zap a dog back to life in no time.”

“I’m sure that would go down great with the girl who was walking him. ‘Don’t worry, sweetie, I’m a big green monster with secret lab equipment and I’ll make your dog a zombie like me.'”

“Hey!” Carl yelled. “We don’t use the z-word. Victor is not one of them.”

“Thanks, Carl,” Frankenstein muttered. “Stupid blood-craving, brain-eating, fast-forwarded maggot sacks.”

“I’m sorry, Frankenstein,” Mia said.

“No, I’m sorry! I’m sorry that the first time I land a kick with this vintage leg the dummy falls on a box! Won’t someone pleeeease think of the box?!”

“How about a break?” Kathryn asked. “I think we’re due for one. How long have we been at this?”

Mia looked at the clock. “About twelve minutes. Okay, Dwayne, come in with the lasers!”

Dwayne ran in with a broom and tried ramming the others with it. “Pew, pew, pew!”

Carl threw off his oven mitt boxing gloves. “Man, this interactive 3-D training environment sucks! Where are the holograms? Where’s the control room with dials for adjusting the level of peril we’re in?”

“You don’t get holograms if you can’t stop a broom,” Mia said. “The point of this exercise is not to show off any fancy moves or score the maximum number of hits. It’s to think about your environment and the consequences of your actions on that environment. No one will thank you for stopping a mugger if you total their car in the process.”

“Mia is right,” Dwayne added. “The public would trust supers a lot more if they didn’t cause so much wanton collateral damage.”

“But we’re not supers,” Kathryn said. “We’re just playing dress-up. Well, except Frankenstein.”

“True, but remember,” said Carl, “we’re all playing dress-up at first. It takes time to organically grow the aptitude that will later inform our confidence.”

“Don’t quote your book at me,” Kathryn retorted. “Or would you like me to give you a list of religious laws that tattooing yourself blue violates, cross-referenced by region and century?”

“Stop it!” Dwayne shouted. “We’re all on the same team, and we ought to act like it. Now I know our nerves are a little frazzled from the last–” He looked at his watch. “–fourteen minutes, so I want us to recenter our training for a minute with you two saying something nice about each other. Carl?”

“Kathryn, you are the toughest member of the team who wasn’t brought back from the dead.”

“Thanks. And Carl, the Picts would like your blue skin. They’d think of you as a mighty warrior.”

“Thanks. That doesn’t really apply to me or this millennium, but thank you.”

“Okay,” Mia said. “Let’s take a break. Go to the bathroom, grab a bite, write a post about mindfulness on your blog. Do whatever you’ve gotta do. Dwayne, can I borrow you?”

Mia and Dwayne walked upstairs from the finished basement, aka training room, and headed to the kitchen for a couple of smoothies.

“First of all,” Mia said, “I wanted to thank you again for putting us up. I think it’ll make a big difference in building the team if we’re immersed in the whole super lifestyle. But can you tell me something? We’ve been here for three weeks now and you haven’t given one seminar since I got here. If you’re work isn’t steady, how can you afford this huge house?”

Dwayne chuckled. “Oh, that’s not my only revenue source. These days you’ve got to diversify, especially in a creative field like motivation.”

Mia rolled her eyes.

“So a few years ago I decided to get into real estate.”

“Oh, do you flip houses?”

“Not quite. In fact, I do the opposite.”

“You…trash houses?”

Dwayne chuckled again. Mia was really getting tired of the chuckling. “Let’s just say I have terrible luck in the restaurant business. All those open flames and all that oil and paper flying around. It’s an accident waiting to happen. So I shorten the waiting period.”

Mia gasped. “Insurance fraud? That’s terrible!”

“Ah, but with that insurance money I’m able to improve people’s lives with my seminars and have this nice house for the team to train in to prevent larger crimes. So maybe the ends justify the means.”

Mia thought for a moment. “No! No, the ends absolutely do not justify the means! That’s what dictators say. You’re no better than those robbers I stopped.”*

*See episode 3! -Devilishly Dynamic Dan!

“Now hang on. It’s not like I enjoy torching my properties. It’s just a way of getting paid. If my motivational speaking took off, I wouldn’t have to do it anymore.”

“No, I can’t get behind that. It’s not okay. You have to get a job or something.”

“Ugh, gross. Now hang on, hang on. I’m getting an idea. Okay. Okay. Good, got it. Okay, let’s say I own a little bodega downtown.”

“Okay.”

“And let’s say there is a permanent segment of the population that is not above committing crimes, including theft, arson, and destruction of property.”

“Sure.”

“Now, what if we sort of guided, persuaded, compelled that population to do what they were already going to do at my little bodega instead of the one down the street?”

“It’s getting slimy.”

“But then, just as enough damage has been done for the insurance to pay off, along comes a team of supers who catch the criminals and hand them over to the authorities, thus ridding the community of a problem.”

Mia sighed before talking it through. “You’re not committing arson. You’re telling criminals to hit your store instead of someone else’s. You’re saving people damage and emotional trauma. But you’re still planning it ahead and profiting off of it.”

“I think the words you’re looking for are ‘win-win’. Plus as long as I’ve got this house and a stocked kitchen, you don’t need to go back to that coffee shop job.”

Mia thought about it. You know, “thought about” is a little strong. Let’s say Mia rationalized it.

“So do we have a deal?” Dwayne asked.

“Yeah, we have a deal.”

“Awesome!”

“I am starting to hate you again.”

“I know.”

“But you are giving me room and board. No such thing as a free lunch, right?”

“That reminds me. The monkey’s room needs to be cleaned out. Would you mind?”

“Yep. Definitely starting to hate you again.”