Baby, Don't Go
Aboard the private jet, the Powerpuff Girls, The Gangrene Gang, Princess, and Angela all made themselves comfortable in the jet’s sky lounge on the cozy blue leather seats. For the last ten minutes, Penelope had been fussing over Angela, shooting criticisms like, “Your skin’s so green! It’ll take forever to get that out!” “You’ve got so many zits! Have you been eating fast food like I told you not to?” “When did you straighten your hair like that? You can’t pull it off!”
Penelope finally sat down and asked, “Would anyone care for some beverages?”
“Please, Penelope, this is not the time,” Sam said sternly as everyone looked up at the patriotically-dressed oil tycoon. “Now, where should we begin?”
A million voices rang out at once.
“It’s all their fault, Uncle Sam!” Princess accused over the hullaballoo. “Those guys brainwashed Angela and made her do their bidding!”
“It’s all a lie!” Angela defended.
Somewhere among the cacophony, Grubber’s raspberries and Big Billy’s mindless, happy babbling could be heard. Finally, Sam sounded off the air horn as everyone snapped to attention.
“Now,” Sam began, “Princess, you start first. In your own words, tell us what happened.”
“Thank you, Uncle Sam,” Princess said sweetly as Buttercup rolled her eyes. “My sweet cousin Angela came to visit me for a few months while you and Aunt Penelope were celebrating your second honeymoon. But then one night I found out she was gone, and I was absolutely devastated. Two months later she came back and I was so happy! I tried to say hello to her and I was happy she returned safely, but she called me a bunch of mean names and stole a bunch of Daddy’s stuff! So I followed her back to where I thought she might’ve been hiding, and sure enough, The Gangrene Gang was holding her hostage! They brainwashed her, Uncle! They threatened to do it to me, too, but I ran to get Daddy’s help. Daddy didn’t believe me, so I did a good thing by enlisting the help of the Powerpuff Girls!”
“Oh please, she’s totally just making stuff up!” Buttercup cut in.
“Yeah!” Blossom agreed. “By making Angela look like the damsel in distress, she gets to make herself look like the good guy!”
“Say whatever you want,” Princess scoffed. “But my uncle will never believe you.”
“No, it’s all right girls,” Sam assured them. “Go ahead. Tell your side of the story.”
“Well,” Blossom began, “my sisters and I were out on patrol one night when we found Angela passed out in a car. We thought she was hurt, so we took her back to our house so she could regain her strength. When she finally came-to the next day, we asked her what her name was and how she got there. Angela told us her name was Angie.”
“She didn’t say where she was from or nothin’,” Buttercup interrupted. “She just showed up outta nowhere and told us she was harassed by two big guys.”
“That turned out to be a lie,” Bubbles giggled. She added sadly, “I do feel kinda bad because we threw two innocent guys in jail.”
“We shoulda known better,” Buttercup said angrily. “The name Angela Morbucks was all over the news for weeks because she went missing, and for some weird reason, crime rates in Townsville go through the roof!”
“Anyway!” Blossom said loudly, trying to regain control of the story, “It turned out Angela and the Gangrene Gang had stolen a convertible and were trying to get a radio for it,” Blossom continued as Sam listened intently to the leader of the crime-fighting kids. “Not too long ago, Princess showed up at our house and told us her cousin was part of the Gangrene Gang and was responsible for a lot of the strange crimes that had been going on in Townsville. We asked her to help us because we figured we’d have a better idea of what we would be up against if we brought along someone who knew Angela fairly well.”
“I see,” Sam nodded.
“Ain’t you gonna wanna hear our side of the story?” Ace asked.
“Shut up!” Buttercup snapped as she gave Ace the evil eye. “No one wants to hear from a liar.”
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” Angela whispered to Ace as she lay a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll tell the truth. The truth will set us free.”
“Angela, why don’t you tell us what happened?” Sam invited.
“Okay, Dad,” Angela said as she stood up and cleared her throat. “I wasn’t kidnapped. I did run away from Uncle’s house.” Penelope’s jaw dropped.
“Angela Abigail Morbucks!” Penelope scolded. “Why did you do it?”
“I didn’t mean to worry or hurt anyone,” Angela said. “I was just bored with my life. I wanted to go out, have a little fun, and be someone else for a little while. So I ran away in the middle of the night. I changed my hair and I changed my name. I put on different clothes and I left all my credit cards and my cell phone at Uncle’s house. I figured I would just pretend to be someone else for the night, and then go back to Uncle’s place. So I kinda just hung out downtown. And then I saw a merchandise truck, and I realized how easy it would be to steal from it.”
Penelope’s jaw hit the floor in horror.
“Angela, darling!” Penelope gasped. “You can have anything you want in the world as long as you ask us! We’ll buy it for you! There’s no need to steal!”
“Don’t you see, Mom?” Angela asked. “I didn’t care about the DVD player I stole! I just wanted the thrills, I guess. Anyway, these guys saw me stealing, and I guess they liked what they saw. I was having too much fun, and since I just didn’t want to go back, I asked them to let me stay with them.”
“You stayed with them?” Penelope asked in disgust. “Angela, you stayed with five teenage boys?”
“I don’t know what the big deal is,” Angela said. “They didn’t do anything to hurt me. They took care of me.”
“And Angie took care of us!” Big Billy babbled. “Angie stole lots of good things for us! Things we needed!”
Ace was about to slap Big Billy for opening up his mouth, but Angela gave him a pleading look.
“You took care of them?” Sam asked incredulously.
“Ya see, we’re poor and none of us got families,” Ace explained. Angela wondered if this was going to be some attempt at charming his way out of trouble. But this tone in his voice sounded different. It sounded human. It sounded fragile and lost. “We live in the Townsville Dump and we get by on whatever we can steal. Oh, and every now and again we like to cause trouble and make fun of people, but we ain't bad.”
“You’re just…” Angela said trying to find the words, “sad.”
“Yeah,” Ace nodded somberly.
“I stole for them, and I turned out to be pretty good at it,” Angela continued. “And they really liked it. And one night, we decided to TP rich people’s houses. And then I saw Uncle’s house. I couldn’t resist. If they liked it when I stole from stores and from average Joes, imagine how they’d love it if I stole from the richest guy in Townsville! And I knew exactly how to do that!” By now, Angela was talking rapidly and her face was bright red. “I'm so sorry,” Angela said. “I'm not proud of what I did. I don’t think I’ll ever stop regretting it. But I love Ace. And these guys were the only friends I ever had.”
“Angela, what about boarding school? Did you not have friends there?” Penelope asked.
“I was expelled from boarding school, and my roommates were stuck-up bitches who only cared about money, being pretty, and having a rich husband!” Angela argued.
“Watch your language!” Penelope scolded.
“The point is,” Angela said as she took a deep breath, “these guys are the closest thing I’ve ever had to friends. They’ve shown me what fun is. They’ve let me be just who I want to be.”
“If you want to be a swearing, stealing, delinquent, I can’t condone that,” Penelope sniffed
“Well, we can discuss all that later, but you can bet you’ll receive some kind of punishment for running away,” Sam sighed. He looked to the Gangrene Gang and said, dangerously. “And as for you gentlemen, you’re probably going to fry for a long time.” He gestured at Ace and asked, “How old are you?”
“Seventeen,” Ace replied nervously.
“When do you turn eighteen?” Sam wanted to know. “Hopefully I can see if you can be tried as an adult now.”
“June sixth,” Ace managed to say.
“It doesn’t matter, they should be punished immediately!” Penelope urged. “Not only did they engage in stealing with our daughter, but they hid her from the cops who were searching frantically for her for months!”
“Funny,” Angela said. “If they were looking so hard for me, how come they couldn’t recognize me?”
“Why don’t you just let us deal with them when we get to Townsville?” Blossom suggested. “We’re better equipped to deal with criminals!”
“What about me?!” Princess demanded. “I helped you find them!” But she went totally ignored.
“Either way, they should be severely punished,” Penelope insisted.
“Doesn’t anyone care that they didn’t hide me?!” Angela screamed over the chaos. Everyone stared at her as she turned red with rage. “Doesn’t anyone care what I want?! They made me happy! They showed me what it’s like to have fun with friends!” An awkward silence passed as Angela sat down. She sighed and stared at the clouds that swiftly passed the round windows. The jet was slowly making its descent into Townsville. “I’ll happily pay for the bail of all these guys with my allowance for the next three years if I have to. I’ll spend the next three years in prison with these guys if I have to. That’s how happy they made me.” Ace put his arms around her. “That’s how happy he made me. You’re my parents. You should care about my happiness.”
Ace looked over at Angela, the passion in her brown eyes. She had just offered to pay for his bail. If that wasn’t love, what was?
“We can discuss this at home,” Sam assured her. The jet landed on a tarmac in a vacant field outside of Townsville. Despite it being on the chilly side, it was beautiful and sunny, a relief from the dismal, grey prairies of the Midwest.
One by one, they filed off the jet. Penelope and Sam had gotten into the shiny, white limousine that awaited them. Penelope rolled down the window to talk to Princess.
“We called your father,” Penelope said to her niece. “He knows where you are and he’ll send a limo to pick you up right here very shortly. Here’s two hundred dollars for your troubles.” She handed Princess the crisp hundred dollar bills.
“You’re too generous,” Princess said smugly. If only she got paid every time Angela got into trouble.
Angela was on the other side of the back seat with the window rolled down so she could take one last look at Ace before departing to Cityville.
“I guess this is goodbye,” Ace said.
“No, never goodbye,” Angela assured him with a faint smile on her lips. “I’ll figure out how to visit you any way I can. I’ll be back someday.”
Ace took off his shades. His sad, dark eyes were shining and bright and almost seemed to pierce Angela’s soul like a blade.
“I love you,” Ace whispered.
“I love you too,” Angela replied. “I’ll write to you every day. I promise.”
“I promise I’ll learn how to read,” Ace swore.
They leaned in to kiss each other passionately. He pulled away as the limo drove off into the afternoon. Angela waved goodbye as Ace waved back.
“Tissss better to have loved and losssst than to have never loved at all,” Snake said quietly.
The limo disappeared down the highway. Ace put his shades back on as a tear rolled down his face.
“Don’t think we’ll go easy on ya just because you’re crying!” Buttercup mocked.
“Buttercup, wait!” Bubbles urged, being ever-sensitive.
“Girls,” Ace began, “I know you wanna beat us up, just like ya always do. Yeah, we did some bad stuff, but for once in our lives, we did somethin’ real good, too! We made someone other than ourselves really happy! Isn’t that enough? Can’t ya let us off for at least that?”
Blossom stroked her chin in thought. Finally she said, “I think I know the perfect punishment for you boys.”
Later that night, the Gangrene Gang found themselves in a cramped little jail cell at the Townsville County jail as the prison doors slammed, making a clanging echo throughout the corridors.
“Well, at least we didn’t get beat up this time,” Arturo said, trying to remain optimistic.
“Cheer upsssss!” Snake said. “Three weeksssss isn’t ssso bad! We’ll be outta here by Chrisssssstmasssss!”
Snake’s cheerfulness was met with a blow to the nose by Ace’s fist. As Snake rubbed his throbbing nose, Ace sighed and looked out the barred prison window up at the night sky. The moon was a waning crescent.
I wonder if Angie’s lookin’ at the moon right now, Ace thought sadly.