Article: 178618 of talk.bizarre
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
From: (Jeff Swanson)
Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 1994 07:52:18 GMT
Lines: 164
Status: O

The name on the mailbox was REILLY.
     "Hey, Dexter!" rang out over the back fence. 
     The former golden boy of the Disney movies scratched his
naked belly and burped, gazing with heavy-lidded eyes over toward
the house next door. The chaise lounged creaked as he shifted his
weight, some 250 pounds of doughy neglect. He took a deep breath,
and his lungs squeezed out a wheeze that sounded like the death
rattle of a scrofulous gypsy. He didn't even have the energy to
answer the call.
     The kid had seen a lot of things over the years since his
last adventure. Missed opportunities, lonely nights, and a lot of
hare-brained schemes that just turned to shit. Used to be that
all he had to do was turn around, bump into something, fart on a
piece of uranium, whatever -- and something bloody marvelous
would happen! The formula would spill into the cereal, or that
electrocution thing would turn him into a goddam brain, or he'd
become invisible. But at the end of it all, he'd save the college
and beat the bad gangster guys, and ride on the shoulders of his
friends down the quad of Medfield, and that night, there'd be a
line of half-naked babes stretching out his dorm room door and
down the hall. 
     But there hadn't been anything like that for damn near 20
years now. Now and then he'd snap off Montel, and lurch up out of
the swaybacked couch with a sense of purpose -- "I'll go to the
supermarket! I bet I can get into something there that'll really
be exciting!" -- thinking maybe he'd stumble on a Super Tallness
Formula, or an Amazing Quickness Potion, or maybe even a
Telekinesis Concoction.
     But when he tried it, went there and accidentally-on-purpose
spilled some lye into the ranch dressing at the salad bar, and --
whoops! -- drank the mixture, all he managed to get were chemical
burns down his esophagus and a free night of "observation" in the
local looney bin.
     Still, he'd always held onto the secret dream of making a
comeback. But then -- as it must to all men -- death came to
sweet old Dean Higgins. Sure the guy was a squirrely little
martinet, about as sedate as a toy poodle with Parkinson's, and
yeah he really went crazy with greed on that cereal thing -- but
deep down inside, he was just a real pussycat. And then he had to
go and die of from ARC. After that, nothing seemed much worth it
anymore to Dexter, and he just let himself go.
     So there he sat, on a chaise lounge in an unmown backyard, 2
and a half bills of faded glory, living only on a fraudulent
Worker's Comp claim from his old job at the Medfield Post Office.
Drinking Schafer's after Schafer's all day, every day. Every dusk
saw him slip gently into sweet lager oblivion.
     "Hey, DEXTER! Jesus!"
     He turned his head. Schuyler stared over the back fence,
grinning crookedly, his florid, grizzled face full of excitement.
"Gee, Dex, didn'tcha hear me?"
     Dexter burped elaborately. "Sorry, guy," he said, when it
subsided. "What's up?"
     "Look, Dex, I know this is gonna sound crazy, but -- well,
they're tearing down Medfield College! Yeah, I was just down
there with some of the other kids, and I saw the bulldozers!
They're gonna put up condos and everything!"
     "Condos! Tearing down Medfield!" Dexter started violently,
and the chaise lounge dumped him onto the grass. Rotting oranges
and dogshit lay strewn across the dead grass. "Jeepers! They
can't do that!"
     "That's what I said! C'mon!"

     When he and Schuyler got down to Medfield, the bulldozers
had already torn a swath through the quad. The old science
building's windows were all boarded up, but Dexter could see the
Periodic Table on the wall through the broken window of Mr.
Quigley's old classroom. A bolt of panic stabbed into his gut.
But it turned out to be just acid indigestion, so he quickly
powered down a fistful of Rolaids. He and Schuyler strode up to a
man in the suit and the hardhat, who carried a roll of blueprints
under one arm.
     "Hey, mister!" called Dexter. "What's going on here?"
     The man turned and cocked an eyebrow. "Well, son, cutbacks,
that's what's going on. Seems Medfield was in pretty bad
financial trouble, so State College bought the place. And I guess
the board of trustees decided that maybe some condos would really
do the trick around here. They were thinking about maybe making
it a western annex, but finally decided against it because of all
the radioactivity from that stupid kid's experiment back in the
     Dexter flushed involuntarily, but quickly regained his
composure. "B-but, you can't do that!" he cried. 
     "We sure can, and we are. Now get outta here, kid."
     "Dang," said Schuyler, scratching his head. "What a
dastardly plan!"
     "Who's in charge here?" Dexter demanded. 
     "Why, that man over there." The guy in the hard hat pointed
across the parking lot, to a trailer. In the doorway, chuckling
and drinking coffee, were two old men. A tall one and a short
one. Dexter recognized the tall one immediately, by his uncanny
resemblance to Cesar Romero. 
     "Mr. Arno," he spat, through clenched teeth. 
     "What's HE doing here?" said Schuyler.
     Dexter huffed across the crumbling parking lot. "Arno!" he
called. "I shoulda known you were behind all this."
     "Who the fuck are you?" Arno demanded. 
     "Don't you remember me? It's me, Dexter Reilly. I threw a
monkey wrench into your evil plans more times that I'd care to
     "Holy crap," Arno grumbled. "Why, you're dat punk kid who
was always makin' tings tough for me and da boys."
     "The very one, you rat."
     "Well, you punk kid -- looks like I gotcha dis time. Me and
da guys from State cooked up dis little scheme, and we all gonna
make a fortune -- a FORTUNE, I tellya. Hahahaha! And there ain't
a damn thing you can do about it."
     "Well, we'll see about that," said Dexter, and you could see
the wheels start to turn in his head. 
     "Ahh, stugatz," said Arno, and he flung his coffee in
Dexter's face. 
     "Ouch," said Dexter. "I'm gonna get you for that."
     Arno only laughed, and Dexter stalked off. 

     "Dex, what are you doing?" hissed Schuyler. 
     "Shut up and hand me that hose there," Dexter hissed back. 
     Hose in hand, he crabwalked over to the nearest bulldozer.
Prying off the gas cap, he snaked the tube down into it, took the
other end in his mouth and started to suck. 
     "Jeez, Dex, what kind of crazy scheme are you up to now!"
     "Mgph bmgph," said Dexter, though what he meant to say was,
"I think if I mix this diesel fuel with some of the calcium
carbonate in these Rolaids, I think I can whip up a batch of
Super Strength formula." But long-winded explanations were a
thing of his youth, and besides, every second counted.
     He finally got a mouthful of diesel. It tasted as bad as it
smelled. Whipping out his roll of antacids, he lifted his head,
popped some, chewed the whole mass into a paste, and swallowed.
     He could feel something happening. 
     Something was definitely happening. 
     A warmth -- a POWER -- radiated outward from his belly to
his extremities, spiders crawling down his nerves, pulsing fire
racing to the ends of his fingers and toes. "Schuyler!" he
whispered. "I think I've done it. I think I feel the strength
coming back! I'm STRONG again, Schuyler! It worked! I'd better
quick toss this backhoe over and smash that trailer! That'll buy
us some time until we can cook up a plan with the other kids!"
     "Wait, Dex, I don't think--" Schuyler began. 
     "Not now, Schuyler, not now!" Dexter hunched down at the
back wheel of the backhoe and strained. Cords stood out in his
neck. His belly swung and gamboled under his filthy t-shirt.
Beads of sweat sprang out on his brow. 
     And then he collapsed in a heap.
     Schuyler leaned over his old friend. Dexter had suffered a
cerebral hemorrhage. The Strongest Man in the World had now
become the Deadest Guy in Medfield. 
     "Oh, Dex," said Schuyler, gently closing Dexter's eyes. All
the adventures, all the glory, and for what? Nobody cared. Dexter
thought of Odysseus, of Rameses, of Alexander the Great. All
great men, and now -- add to that one Dexter Reilly. Boy
     He gave a deep sigh and plodded dejectedly back to his hot