The Perfect Crime
Mid-November rolled around and nearly all the leaves had blown off the trees into heaping piles on the ground. The Powerpuff Girls had just finished school when Blossom challenged her sisters to a race home.
“Last one there’s Mojo Jojo’s uncle!” Blossom laughed as she dashed off in her trail of pink.
“No fair!” Buttercup complained. “You totally got a head start!” Impatiently, she darted off in a flash of green to catch up with Blossom.
Bubbles was about to tag along with her sisters when she noticed Princess standing outside the school, waiting for her limo.
“Ugh, late again!” Princess whined as she crossed her arms and tapped her foot impatiently against the pavement. “It’s hard to find good help these days!”
Bubbles quietly approached Princess.
“What do you want?” Princess asked irately. “Can’t you see I'm busy waiting for my limo? I'm late for my massage!”
“I'm sorry,” Bubbles said, not knowing what else to say. She hated dealing with Princess, but kindness was never something that of which Bubbles was in short supply. “I just wanted to say I'm sorry to hear about your cousin. I hope the police manage to find her soon, and my sisters and I have been looking for her too.”
“Psh, look all you want, but I don’t really care,” Princess scoffed. “I'm actually glad my cousin ran away. Angela’s an embarrassment to the Morbucks family tree and she drives me crazy with her pranks!”
“But she’s your family!” Bubbles protested. “I'm sure she cares about you a lot. My sisters make me crazy too sometimes, but they’ll always be part of my family.”
The shiny limousine pulled up to the curb. Princess stepped inside without even saying goodbye. Bubbles just waved to Princess and flew off to join her sisters back at home.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Townsville, Ace was getting excited because he was just about to get the highest score on Pacman on the machine at the Circle J. He’d spent way too much of his time trying to do it, and Angela was starting to feel the sting.
“Yawn!” Angela groaned. “Can we puh-leaze go home now?” She was standing near the door, tapping her foot impatiently. She wasn’t the only one who wanted them to leave; the clerk that they tied up a month ago had been watching them nervously all afternoon and couldn’t wait until they would get out of the store.
“Hold on a minute, I'm almost done,” Ace said. He was down to one life and the Pacman ghosts were starting to turn from dark blue back to their original colors. He was about to have Pacman eat one of the ghosts when instead, the ghost ate Pacman. “Aww damn,” he said in frustration as the game ended. “Hey wait a second! Someone got a higher score than I did!”
“And that’s supposed to be news to me how?” Angela wanted to know.
“Come on, look at this!” Ace urged, motioning for Angela to take a look at the screen. “It’s someone whose initials spell out ‘ass’.”
“Yes, those are my initials,” Angela told him. “I got tired of watching you try and get the highest score so I went ahead and did that. It wasn’t hard, really. Now let’s go!”
Ace was floored; how Angie had managed to get the highest score before he did was beyond him. He also wondered if Angie’s initials really did spell out the word “ass”. Much to the relief of the intimidated clerk, Ace followed Angela out of the Circle J. As they were walking, Ace asked, “So whaddyas wanna do tonight?”
“We could TP and egg people’s houses,” Angela suggested. “And we could silly string people’s cars. It wouldn’t matter since the college kids always get blamed for that sort of thing anyway.”
“Well if we’re gonna do that,” Ace said, “we gotta go to the store and get those things.”
“Sure,” Angela said. “And hopefully while we’re there, I can pick up some sushi.”
“You like raw fish?” Ace asked in disgust. “Babe, that ain't right.”
“Sushi is delicious,” Angela defended. “Besides, it’s good for you.”
“Since when’d you care about eatin’ rabbit food?” Ace laughed.
“Psh, it’s not like I said I was gonna eat a salad with nothing on it! Don’t get me wrong, but as much as I like junk food, you get tired of it,” Angela admitted. “Don’t you guys get tired of pizza and fast food? Fuck, no wonder Big Billy is as fat as he is!”
“Nah, we don’t get tired of it,” Ace said. “And Big Billy was fat long before we met him. I think his mom was a monster or somethin’ like that, but who cares?”
Angela brushed her stringy brown and gold hair out of her face. As she did, she noticed her hand was tinted green. Her coloring wasn’t nearly as vibrant as that of her friends, but it was definitely noticeable.
“Oh God!” Angela panicked. “I'm turning green!”
“Whaddya expect?” Ace asked. “You live in the Townsville dump with us and you’ve been there for two months!”
“Yeah, but that’s not gonna turn a person green isn’t it?” Angela asked.
“In this city, it might,” Ace explained, laughing at Angela’s horror. “Most of the toxic waste from the power plant ends up at the dump.”
“Isn’t that illegal?” Angela wondered. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Maybe, but whaddya expect when you live in a city run by an idiot,” Ace replied. He couldn’t stop laughing at the horrified looks on Angela’s face.
“Will it ever go away?” Angela asked in desperation, not really expecting an answer.
Ace was going to tell her that it wouldn’t just to see what her reaction would be, but they were at the grocery store and they piled toilet paper, eggs, silly string, and some sushi for Angela into a large shopping cart. When they were in the checkout line, Angela looked behind her. She noticed an elderly woman with a small shopping basket containing a bottle of prune juice, a package of ginger snaps, and a carton of Egg Beaters.
“I got an idea,” Angela whispered to Ace as the cashier was ringing up their purchases. He was a sour-faced older man who merely imagined what these two green-skinned teens were doing with these items. Angela turned around and faced the old woman.
“Excuse me,” Angela said sweetly.
“Yes?” Asked the old woman.
“I was wondering if you could do us a favor,” Angela said.
“Well, now, that depends,” said the older woman with a smile as she studied the green teenagers closely.
“You see, our grandmother died when we were still little children,” Angela began sadly. “We’ve grown up without a grandmother ever since. If we walk out of the store and say, ‘Bye Grandma!’ will you wave and say, ‘Bye kids!’? It would make us feel so happy.”
“Well,” the old woman said reluctantly. These crazy kids had such bad skin, and they looked pretty pathetic, but they seemed nice enough. “All right.”
Ace looked at Angela like she was some kind of genius, and Angela’s face flushed beneath her newly green complexion.
The bag guy had just finished putting Angela’s dinner and the materials for the Gangrene Gang’s night of vandalism into paper bags and into the shopping cart.
“Bye, Grandma!” Angela and Ace called in unison as they left the store.
“That’ll be four hundred and seven dollars,” the cashier said flatly.
“For these three things?” The puzzled old lady asked.
“Didn’t you say that those two were your grandchildren?” The cashier asked. “I see that green skin runs on the other side of the family,” he added dryly.
The old lady just stood there, completely bewildered. Of course, Ace and Angela had already booked it out of the store and were on their way back to the dump.
At the wooden shack back at the dump, Arturo and Big Billy were watching TV. Snake was sitting on the floor playing with a mouse that was scampering across the shack. Snake couldn’t resist rodents, but Ace hated them with a passion. With Ace away, Snake didn’t hesitate to pick up the mouse and stroke its furry grey stomach with his spindly green fingers.
“Ace and Angie still aren’t back,” Arturo pointed out. “I thought they said they’d be back.”
“Big Billy misses Ace and Angie,” Big Billy added sadly.
“I don’t getsss it,” Snake said as he patted the mouse on the head. “I know Angie’sss hot, but how come Ace has to ssspend all hisssss time with hersss?”
Snake didn’t have to wonder anymore, because Ace and Angela walked through the front door toting paper bags filled with the materials needed for a night of debauchery. Angela had already eaten the sushi on the way back to the dump with the hope of watching Ace turn every shade of green imaginable. That is, if he weren’t already green.
“Snake, put the damn rat down,” Ace snapped as soon as he saw Snake petting the mouse. Snake sadly let the mouse run free on the wooden floor as it scurried out the open door. “God, that’s disgusting.”
“Makes you wonder how you live with us,” Angela giggled. “You have a girlfriend that likes raw fish and your friend picks up mice and just pets them. We’re just disgusting.”
Ace was about to say something when Grubber showed up through the front door. He blew a raspberry as though making a very important announcement.
“Whaddya mean you got the car back?” Ace asked in disbelief.
“You got the car back?” Angela asked eagerly.
“Awesome! How’d you do that?” Arturo asked.
Grubber blew many raspberries as though telling a very elaborate story. When he was finished, Ace said, “Yep. That’s what I thought. The valet parking thing never fails.”
“Billy wanna go for a ride!” Big Billy said eagerly.
“Well whadda we waitin’ for?” Ace asked. “Let’s get outta here!”
They all hopped into the shiny red convertible, just as they’d done before they crashed it and the cops took it away from them. Grubber drove off into the streets of Townsville as excited shouts filled the air. Innocent by-standers shook their heads in disgust as the six green teens sped down the road into the residential part of Townsville throwing eggs at people’s houses. Silly string and toilet paper hung from bare trees and rooftops of various homes, vaguely resembling ghosts fluttering in the autumn air. At some of the houses, the gang even went so far as to slash some unsuspecting people’s car tires.
It was three in the morning and the gang was going to call it a night as Grubber drove the gang through the wealthiest part of Townsville where billion dollar homes hid behind pearly gates. Angela recognized this part of town all-too well.
“What’re we doing here?” Angela asked. “Most of these places are guarded by man-eating hounds or billion dollar security systems.”
“That doesn’t mean we can’t at least try!” Arturo argued. “It’d be funny if we pulled a prank on a rich person!”
“It’d be even better if we stole from a rich person,” Ace said devilishly. “Man, it’d be like stealin’ from a bank, but better! But whatever. Come on Grubber, take us home.”
To Angela, that seemed almost like a dare, a challenge. And Angela hated saying no to a challenge. She also hated saying no to a chance to impress Ace.
“What if I were to tell you I might know how?” Angela asked slyly.
“You knowssss how to steal from a rich persssson?” Snake asked, his interest climbing.
“Just one in particular,” Angela replied. “Grubber, turn right on this upcoming road.”
“Where’s Angie taking us?” Big Billy asked. “I hope they have ice cream!”
“Oh, believe me, Big Billy,” Angela said confidently, “these people have lots of ice cream.”
Angela directed Grubber to the biggest mansion at the end of the road, protected behind gold-plated gates.
“Whoa!” Ace gasped. “Angie, you didn’t tell us you know how to steal from the richest people in Townsville!”
“Yesssss,” Snake laughed. “Princesssss Morbuckssss, of all people!”
“How do you know them?” Arturo asked.
“It’s too long a story for now,” Angela replied, her face burning from the horror of what she was about to suggest. She would never steal with her family. But she was head-over-heels in love. If Ace wanted her to waltz right through to the front door and take all the possessions that belonged to her father’s younger brother and his little daughter, she wouldn’t hesitate. Hell, if Ace asked her to, she would figure out how to take the moon right out of the sky for him.
For once, she had someone in her life that she would die for, but someone to care about enough to live for all at once.
“Do you guys want me to steal from Morbucks?” Angela asked. “Because I can if that’s what you want.”
“Only if you’re not afraid of getting caught,” Arturo said mockingly. Oh yeah, this sounded like a dare, all right.
“Angie’s never been caught before,” Ace reminded him. “She’s just that good.” There was pride in his voice.
Angela’s heart flooded with a sense of satisfaction and adrenaline she had never, ever felt before in her life. She needed to stop herself now before she did something she would later regret.
“Let’s go home first,” Angela suggested. “It’s actually safer for me to steal from this place in the middle of the day than at night.” It was true: in the middle of every month, Angela knew her uncle would go away on a business trip that lasted for days on end. And if she could figure out how to get inside while Princess was in school, that was all the better.
So that next day, some time before noon, the gang piled into the red convertible and drove back to Morbucks Manor. They parked outside of the front gate where Angela hopped out. She had her black and white bag with her which she planned to stuff with whatever she could get her hands on.
“Bring back ssssomething good!” Snake said eagerly.
“I got this,” Angela said, only half-sure of herself. Even though she was certain her uncle was away and it was Tuesday morning meaning Princess would be in school, Angela couldn’t bear the thought of what would happen if she were to get caught. “If I were you guys though, I’d drive out of this area and come back in an hour. The fact that a bunch of green guys are driving around this part of town in broad daylight is enough to really freak some people out.”
“We’ll lay low,” Ace promised. “I'm proud of ya, babe.” Angela could hear her heart smacking against her ribcage both from fear and from the rush of hearing Ace tell her he was proud of her. “Come on Grubber, let’s get outta here.”
Grubber nodded as he blew a raspberry. The gang drove off into the morning.
Angela could hear blood crashing through her ears as she punched the code into the keypad on the gate. The gates creaked open as she did a double-take to ensure no one was watching. It was impossible to believe that this was where her adventure began and now she was right back where she started. But she wasn’t Angela Morbucks anymore; Angela had long, curly, dark hair and very pale skin. Instead, she was someone completely different, and if she were to get arrested for robbing from her own uncle’s house, boy, that would be a story to tell.
Light on her feet, Angela quickly and quietly hurried up to the front step. She took the spare keys out from under the mat and unlocked the front door before disappearing inside. She thanked her lucky stars that Jeeves (or any of the other servants for that matter) were out of plain sight. They were either cleaning rooms or answering the telephone.
Angela swiftly moved down the hallways, not sure where to begin. She could start with her room. The servants wouldn’t even touch it until they knew that precious little Angela returned. Little did they realize, of course, that she had. Besides, it wasn’t really stealing if Angela was taking from herself.
She took a deep breath and looked around. The room was no longer littered with traces of hair products like it was when she left and it no longer smelled like hair dye. It looked just as it did when she first arrived from Cityville back in September.
Angela quickly stuffed her favorite diamond jewelry down her bra. She cracked open her piggy bank and took whatever money was in there before running down the hallway.
Another half an hour went by. Angela managed to steal some silverware from the kitchens (her uncle had so much silverware that there would be no way he would ever miss it). She filched some of the small ivory statuettes that decorated the coffee tables in the sitting rooms, thinking that she could probably sell them for a decent amount of money. They somehow fit in her black and white bag along with a few bottles of expensive wine from Daddy Morbucks’ liquor cabinet and a few ray guns from Princess’s warehouse of weapons. She even managed to take a few containers of ice cream from the ice cream freezer that Daddy Morbucks installed for Princess.
The more Angela stole, the more a rush of pure adrenaline surged through her veins. She imagined it was a little like playing the biggest slot machine in a Las Vegas casino and winning every time, the thrill getting more and more intense every time the blinking lights flashed upon hitting the jackpot.
With ten minutes until the gang would be back in front of the mansion in their convertible, Angela was about to sprint out the front door in an attempt not to get caught. She hurried through the corridor and stopped in front of the long entranceway that led to the gold vault. Angela smiled as she remembered how she would build a fort out of gold bricks and attack Princess when she came to fetch her.
Stealing from the vault? That was definitely a risk. She’d broken into this vault before, and she’d stolen things from others, but somehow performing both of those feats right here and now seemed unfathomably. Angela braced herself as she took out a hair pin. She began picking the lock until the door creaked open. She tiptoed down the hallway and gently twisted the tumbler that opened the vault. Crossing her fingers, Angela prayed that none of the servants could hear it open.
Quickly, Angela picked up as many bars of gold as she could carry and stuffed what she couldn’t in whatever room was left in her handbag. She would have to work fast because time was not on her side. That, and the ice cream was melting and she didn’t want it to get all over the inside of her bag.
When Angela couldn’t carry any more stuff, she fled the vault and shut the door behind her. She could’ve sworn she heard it slam shut. Either way, she had to hurry. She raced down the stairs and down the hallway, praying that no one would see her.
The convertible pulled up as Angela punched in the code on the keypad that opened the gate. She hopped into the car.
“All right, Angie!” Arturo cried. “What’d you steal? Anything good?”
“Oh boy, did I ever,” Angela said. “Now let’s get the hell outta here!”
Grubber slammed on the gas as they sped away. Little did they realize that a shiny limo was actually right behind them.
Princess sat in the back seat and noticed the red convertible of green hooligans speed off into the afternoon.
“Psh, what’re they doing here?” Princess asked herself. “Don’t they understand that this neighborhood is for people with money?”
A few moments later, Princess walked up to the front door of her home as the double-doors swung open. Jeeves was in the parlor waiting for her as usual.
“Miss Princess, I thought that was you who was here earlier,” Jeeves said. “I heard the front gates open an hour ago and I assumed you had forgotten something. I would have assisted you, but I was on the telephone with your father. He’s coming home tomorrow night.”
“Wait, someone was here earlier?” Princess asked in disbelief.
Jeeves stood there looking dumbfounded.
“But if that wasn’t you who was here earlier, then who was…” Jeeves asked in disbelief.
“Whatever,” Princess said rolling her eyes. She quickly hustled up the staircase towards her room. She added to herself, “As long as they didn’t take anything, who cares?”
Of course, Princess noticed the door leading to her daddy’s gold vault cracked open slightly. Only one other person besides her daddy knew how to open it.
“ANGELA!” Princess screamed at the top of her lungs.
She had no idea where Angela was or why she came back. But for some reason, she remembered the red convertible of green teenagers. Princess wasn’t paying attention, so she didn’t see Angela. But she had an inkling that Angela was among them.
Back at the Gangrene Gang’s hideout at the dump, the gang sat around getting smashed on the booze that Angela brought back and Big Billy was having a ball devouring one of the cartons of ice cream (this particular flavor was pistachio, Big Billy’s favorite).
“Oh man, Angie!” Ace cried as he patted his girl on the shoulder. He took a drink of the expensive wine Angela stole and added, “This stuff’s insane! Who knew you knew how to steal from rich people!”
“By now I’ve stolen from a dozen jewelry stores,” Angela boasted. “It couldn’t be that hard!”
“Big Billy like ice cream!” Big Billy announced happily.
Grubber took a swig from the wine bottle as he blew a raspberry.
“Seriously, Angie, I'm real proud of ya,” Ace added.
Ace’s words were slightly slurred, but Angela didn’t care. Her conscience was gnawing loudly at her soul, but that didn’t matter. Seeing the only people she ever considered friends having a good time was all that mattered to her, and even better was the approval of the one who had her heart. To quiet her guilt, Angela downed an entire bottle of wine by herself. She was slightly deaf to the sounds of her friends cheering at how quickly she could pound her liquor.
“Sssssooo are youssss gonna steal again tomorrowsss?” Snake asked.
But Angela didn’t hear him.
“Guys, I'm gonna go to bed,” Angela slurred. “I don’t feel so good,” she added. She vomited on Snake’s shows and then everything went black.
“That’sssss nasssssty!” Snake hissed in revolt as he tried to kick the vomit off his shoes. Grubber just lapped the puke up with his tongue and belched.
“No, that right there is nasty!” Arturo pointed out. “Is Angie gonna be okay?”
“Yeah, she just drank too much is all,” Ace said. “She’ll be fine tomorrow.”
Ace carefully lifted Angela up off the ground. He wasn’t sure what came over him. Before Angie came into his world, if a girl passed out in front of him, he probably would’ve either kicked her a few times just for fun. But instead, Ace just stared at the glazed look on Angie’s unconscious face. He carried her into the next room and gently laid her down on her mattress. He didn’t realize the other guys had been watching him.
“Whoa, Ace’s gone ssssoft,” Snake gasped. Grubber blew a raspberry in agreement.
Normally, Ace would’ve told them to shut up or something of that nature, but that didn’t matter to him. Instead, he just joined the other guys back in the next room as they spent the rest of the night finishing the booze and the ice cream.
And that was when Ace realized that he did, in fact, have a heart. And it belonged to nobody but Angie.