Larry peered through a clump of lilac bushes at the man riding his mower in haughty celebration down the center of the street. He bore an uncanny resemblance to Ted Marcos from the white split-level on the corner except for the extra three arms; each of them was busy performing a different task as the vehicle sputtered slowly past. What is this? Last week Borius Greenwick finds himself another pair of hands, and now the Schells, the Atterlys, and Ted have all decided to publicly one-up the guy by flaunting new appendages in front of the whole neighborhood?
Larry examined a small sign imprinted on the side of the mower, bearing the address of a shop where the street leading into Prairie Estates met the main road and more of the commercial district. The neighborhood was set on the edge of development, where it met up with a large forested area, meaning that road was the only official way in and out. It also provided many of the locals with thickly shaded yards. The mower continued a slow progression.
One of the “new” Theodore Marcos’ limbs was adjusting the volume on a mounted sound system blaring what sounded like a corrupt version of an already questionable theme song from a popular children’s show. While the lyrics had changed somewhat, the gaudy saccharine feel had not.
It’s a-mazing day in Sparkletown!
People laugh and dance around!
Everyone is having fun, and Mr. Sun is shining down!
So call your friends from down the street,
Tell them when and where to meet!
Membership is partnership, this club is hip – Your life’s complete!
Those who don’t attend the meetings
Feel the pain of frequent beatings!
Be on time or be dis-membered,
And vote for Klorthal in November!
Larry suppressed a gag. Same atrocious tune. The humidity certainly didn’t help, but he was a Suburban Commando, and hence, proudly unaffected by the weather. What bothered him most is that he knew that most of these people, especially Ted, could seemingly never be convinced to join an organization that held meetings, even if the requirements were limited to attending and accepting large gifts. Come to think of it, he hadn’t seen anyone named Klorthal on the primary ballot that month either. Something wasn’t right. Larry retreated to his workshop in the backyard.
Larry’s backyard was a private oasis in his usually-quiet section of town. There was sufficient space to contain not only the small building housing his workshop, but also two apple trees, an open central space, and a few conifers along the north edge; they acting in tandem with a squat chain-link fence to delineate his property. One lone light, barely visible from outside Larry’s property, illuminated the shed long into the night.
The shop -the one whose location was given on the decal- was set just off the intersection of the two streets leading into Prairie Estates. The facade was almost entirely windowed in front and wrapped around a portion of the sides, illuminating an open lobby; it was a layout left over from bygone days when the owner was a tire vendor who preferred to promote his wares to the neighborhood visually. It opened promptly at nine o’clock AM to its first customer of the work week, a heavyset man with a large grey beard. He was followed by a mustachioed fellow with an argent monocle and steel-toed boots, a fellow who proceeded to search the shelves in much the same manner as an airport security officer searches an unruly and misshapen passenger.
Larry was well-trained in espionage, having spent much of his childhood escaping detection in his parents’ furniture store, thwarted only when unsuspecting buyers found what appeared to be a child’s head wedged behind the cushions of their davenport. These tactics on more than one occasion sent an elderly woman out of the store muttering vows of abstinence against patronizing Hammer Furnishings ever again.
The shelves were seemingly stocked with canned food, but upon closer inspection the real inventory seemed to be parts. No longer auto parts, but body parts, neatly vacuum sealed in bags behind rows of carefully stacked cans. The bearded man was actively engaged in conversation with the proprietor, flailing his hands and pointing to an apparent wooden leg. The second man, muscular, with a distinct line of stubble running across his chin, gestured toward one of the corner shelves, one which appeared to contain a row of legs, though they were slightly obscured by garish pink cans of bean dip.
At that moment Larry had an epiphany, one which explained almost everything. This man was an arms dealer. A smuggler and purveyor of illicit members.
But there was something more sinister behind this whole endeavor. Ted hadn’t seemed like himself on that mower, ignoring the obvious side effects of superfluous implements. And with the amount of material these men had in this store, it was apparent that whatever effects the arms were having on people were inspiring the smugglers to branch out.
He decided to go out on a limb and guess that they were trying their hand at other appendages too. He couldn’t stomach the prospect of letting them continue. They had to be defeated.
And Larry was the man to do it.