Queen of Diamonds
“No! That is not how you spell “stupid”!” Angela insisted.
“Yesssss it is!” Snake argued. He was holding a can of dark blue spray paint and had just gotten done spray painting the word “stoopid” all over the brick wall in an ally.
“Bull,” Angela retorted.
“Will you both stop that?” Ace snapped. “Besides, Snake’s right. That is how you spell stupid.”
“You’re both stupid,” Angela snapped.
Meanwhile, Grubber was playing with a party popper. Angela managed to filch a bag of them from a party store earlier that day and now she was seriously starting to regret it, because every chance he got, Grubber set one of them off. Angela hated the popping sound, and every time Grubber set one of them off, she nearly jumped ten feet in the air.
“Oh my God, Grubber, will you stop that?” Angela groaned as Grubber pulled the string on another party popper and blew a very excited raspberry. “God, you’re more annoying than I am, and that’s saying a lot!”
“I’ll say it is,” Ace agreed.
Grubber blew a few raspberries in response.
“There are times I think you should just check yourself into a psych ward,” Angela said rolling her eyes. Grubber exploded into a long string of angry raspberries, which took Angela by surprise.
“Oh God,” Angela said. “What did I just do?”
“You reminded him of the time he was thrown in the psych ward,” Lil Arturo said as Grubber curled up on the ground in fetal position and began sucking his dirty, green thumb. Grubber blew a few sad, sniveling raspberries.
“Oh bull shit,” Angela groaned. “I made jokes all day yesterday about how we were acting like we were thrown out of the psych ward and he didn’t get all butt hurt then!”
“This is different,” Ace said. “A few years ago, they locked him up in the psych ward promising it would only be for a week. It turned out it was for a whole year. That’s why he can’t talk most of the time. While he was in there, he forgot how.”
“Oh shit,” Angela said, her voice riddled with guilt. She tried to approach Grubber. “Grubber,” she began quietly. “I'm sorry I told you to go check yourself into a psych ward. Will you please get up off the ground now so we can go do something fun?”
Grubber slowly pulled himself off the ground and blew a very long, very slow raspberry.
“He’s notssss mad at youssss,” Snake said.
“Yeah. You just gotta watch what you say is all,” Ace said.
Angela was rightfully confused. In this life that the Gangrene Gang led out on the streets and in the dump, she didn’t think the level of respect amongst themselves would be as high as it was. In fact, the night before when Angela was trying to steal from the sleaze ball, she was shocked that the guys were as concerned for her well-being as they were. In fact, she was so sure that if something had happened to her, they wouldn’t have minded watching. Who knows? Maybe they were only concerned for her safety because if they lost her, they would’ve lost one damn-good thief.
“So now whaddyas wanna do?” Ace asked.
“Billy hungry!” Big Billy bellowed eagerly.
“Yeah, I'm kinda hungry too,” Arturo agreed.
“Sssssame here,” Snake added.
“How ‘bout Burger King?” Angela suggested. “I'm buyin’.”
“You always do,” Ace pointed out.
“Only because I'm the one who has managed to steal whatever it is we have,” Angela reminded him. “Do I at least get a ‘thank you’ for all my hard work?”
“Thank you, Angie,” Ace said sweetly, his voice dripping with the stain of irony.
“I was being sarcastic,” Angela said.
“So was I,” Ace told her.
When the gang found themselves at Burger King, they were only there for a few minutes when they succeeded in cleaning out the restaurant of every single patron. When the lady at the counter asked to take their order, Grubber grabbed the microphone and belched into it. The lady at the counter shrieked in disgust and in a flash, everyone in the dining room disappeared.
“Just order and get out,” the lady in the counter told them, trying to mask her horror.
“Aren’t you gonna ask us if we’re ordering here or to-go?” Angela asked sarcastically.
“I told you to get out,” the lady at the counter repeated.
“Fine. We’ll have six Big Macs and six super-sized orders of fries.” Angela said.
“You can’t get those here. That’s at McDonald’s,” the lady at the counter said.
“Billy want Big Mac!” Big Billy shouted.
“I just said, we don’t have Big Macs,” the lady at the counter insisted.
“Oh, I get it. It’s because my friends are green, isn’t it,” Angela said, pretending to be horribly offended. “I'm gonna sue you for discrimination. This would’ve never happened at Wendy’s!”
“Your order’s ready,” the lady at the counter said, blatantly exasperated with the gang’s antics. “I have six whoppers here with six orders of fries.”Now get out before I call the cops.”
Each of them took a bag containing food. Angela gave the lady at the counter the “I'm watching you” gesture as the guys all laughed.
The guys and Angela sat at one of the tables outside.
“She only said we had to leave,” Ace pointed out. “She ain't never said nothin ‘bout not bein’ allowed to sit outside.”
“Hehehe,” Arturo snickered in his short, staccato laugh. “Good point, Ace.”
Snake and Big Billy were filling out those little comment cards they give out at fast food restaurants. Snake wrote, “Your food sucks. Screw you. And your mom, too.” while Big Billy wrote in his sloppy handwriting, “HI!”
“Hey, mine came with one of those little cardboard crowns,” Angela noticed as she reached into her bag. She pulled out the cardboard crown and placed it on her head.
“You look ridiculous!” Ace laughed.
And she did. She was still wearing the clothes she had on when she ran away and the ginormous earrings from the day before when she managed to charm the owner of the jewelry store. The cardboard crown was the cherry on top of the sundae of Angela’s ridiculous randomness.
“I'm the queen of diamonds!” Angela announced. “Fear my freakishly huge diamond earrings!”
“Your highnesssss…” Snake jokingly groveled.
“I got a better idea,” Angela said. “I'm the Gangrene Queen.”
The guys went quiet as they stared at her. She might as well have said “Cheese and monkeys will take over the world.” Then they burst out laughing.
“Who died and made you queen?” Ace asked as he laughed.
“Considering you guys never had one before, no one. So it’s about damn time,” Angela said as her lips curled up into a flirtatious grin.
Ace didn’t have the heart to correct her. They once did have a queen. He shuddered as he was stricken for a moment by flashbacks of Sedusa, the rewards she guaranteed them for their loyalty to her and how she even taught them how to become better thieves. For a very brief period of time, she was more of a mother figure than most of the guys had ever had in their lives. And then she lied to them all, shattering their trust. From then on out, the idea of any sort of female authority figure over him and his friends disgusted Ace. But there was nothing at all about this girl that was anything like an authority figure. After all, she was a genius one moment and a dipshit the next. One moment, she was using her wide-eyed innocence to get what she wanted, and the next she was annoying everyone around her.
“Come on,” Angela said slyly, trying to snap Ace out of his trance. “You know I was just kidding!” She winked at him and giggled. There was that annoying laugh again. That’s when Ace knew for sure that Angie was absolutely harmless. There wouldn’t be any harm in humoring her childish antics.
“All righty, my queen,” he said. It was difficult to allow those words to pass his lips after he and his friends all got burned the last time. “We are ya humble servants. Whaddya want us to do first?”
“Hmmm,” Angela said thoughtfully. “I say we go to Wal-Mart and do as many annoying things as we can until we get thrown out!”
And so they did.
At Wal-Mart, Grubber got on one of those little merry-go-rounds that are meant for toddlers. He put a quarter in the machine and began blowing very happy raspberries as the merry-go-round made its musical rotation.
“All right. Go nuts,” Angela said as complete and utter chaos broke loose in the Wal-Mart, shoppers looking absolutely horrified at the green hooligans and their pale-skinned female accomplice. Angela walked up to the customer service desk.
“Can I help you?” The guy at the desk asked.
“Yes, I’d like to order a Big Mac,” Angela said.
“You can go to the McDonald’s that’s right inside this store,” he replied with a gracious smile.
“Can I get fries with that?” Angela asked, ignoring the customer service rep.
“Did you not hear me?” He asked, trying to be patient. “I said there’s a McDonald’s within this store.”
“I get it, it’s because my friends are all green, isn’t it?” Angela asked in mock fury. “That’s discrimination. I'm gonna sue you. This would’ve never happened at Target!” Angela stormed away.
An employee walked up to her and asked if she needed help finding anything.
“Why can’t you all just leave me alone?!” Angela asked, pretending to be absolutely annoyed. She stomped away.
Meanwhile, random chaos ensued throughout the store. An employee came up to Big Billy and asked him politely if he needed help finding anything.
“I like Twinkies,” he said in his slow, excited manner.
“Twinkies are in the grocery section at the other end of the store on aisle twelve,” the employee replied. Billy just sat there, completely perplexed as to what the employee just said.
“I like Twinkies,” he repeated. The employee looked very confused.
“Why don’t I take you there myself?” The employee suggested.
The employee led Big Billy to the aisle where the Twinkies were. Big Billy took a box of Twinkies off the shelf and tore it open. He devoured all of its contents without even removing the wrappers.
“You can’t do that! I'm gonna have to call security!” The shocked employee cried. Billy merely belched in response and attempted to find the frozen food section. Once he was there, he parked himself in front of the ice cream section and began eating all of the ice cream. A few moments later, he yelled, “Brain freeze!”
Snake found his own ways of annoying people. He would attempt to hide in very, very large gym bags and then jump out and scare people. Someone even ran away screaming in horror and thus abandoned their shopping cart. Snake jumped out of the gym bag and began riding the shopping cart away like a scooter. When that got old, he left the cart in a random place and began filling it with all sorts of items. An employee walked by him and asked if he needed any help finding anything.
“Do youssss sell wallssss here?” Snake asked.
“No, I'm sorry sir, we don’t sell walls here,” said the slightly freaked-out employee.
“I thought this wassss Wall-Mart,” Snake said in sarcastic disappointment. He kicked the employee in the shins and said, “What a rip-off.”
Over at the checkout stands, Ace attempted to annoy a cashier by saying, “Wow! It’s just like magic!” in mock amazement every time an item was scanned. “How do you do that, Mother Load?”
“Um, what did you call me?” Asked the teenaged, zit-faced cashier as he scanned a pair of pajama bottoms.
Ace punched the cashier in the gut and yelled, “I just hit the mother load!” The zit-faced teen hobbled away in pain. Ace turned on the microphone and yelled, “Attention everyone! The world is gonna end in one hour! That means everything in the store must go!”
The entire store broke out into frenzy as shoppers began stuffing random items into their carts and running out the door.
Lil Arturo hid in a clothes rack and yelled, “Pick me! Pick me!” to every person who happened to pass by. Most of them ran away screaming that the store was haunted. However, when Arturo tried it when a schizophrenic walked by, the schizophrenic had a panic attack and began screaming that the voices were taunting him.
Speaking of voices, every time an announcement came on, Angela would fall to the floor screaming, “HELP! IT’S THE VOICES AGAIN!” Angela had just gotten out of the automotive section and tied two oil funnels to her chest. She walked up to the register where Ace was making all sorts of weird announcements. She grabbed the microphone from him.
“Hey!” He snapped. “Get your own register!”
Angela ignored him and began singing into the microphone to the tune of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”:
I'm not a virgin!
I’ve been touched for the thirty-first time!
I'm not a vuuuuhrgin!
When that got old, Angela and Ace decided to set up a tent in the camping department. They hid inside. Snake happened to be wandering by after he got done throwing things in random aisles. He stared at the perfectly-made tent in the middle of the aisle.
“What’s the password?” Angela asked in a sinister voice.
“Who said that?” Snake asked, doing a double-take to find the source of the voice.
“In here!” Ace said. “We’ll let you in if you bring pillows and stuff like that.”
“Ooh, ooh, and bring some magazines so we can build a bonfire!” Angela suggested.
“And marshmallows!” Ace added. “We gotta have marshmallows!”
“Hold it right there. You’re not going anywhere,” said a Wal-Mart rent-a-cop as he grabbed Snake by the ear. The rent-a-cop happened to have Lil Arturo and Big Billy with him. “You and your buddies have caused a lot of trouble here today, and it’s not gonna happen anymore. You’re banned from this store.”
Ace and Angela popped out of the tent. The cop wouldn’t let go of Snake’s ear no matter how much Snake protested. Arturo looked pissed and Big Billy’s skin was tinged with blue rather than its usual shade of green. He was shivering.
“What’s his problem?” Ace asked.
“He got scared of an oncoming shopping cart and thought it would be a good idea to hide in the freezer,” the cop explained briefly. “Now get out or I'm putting you all away!”
“Wait, how’s that possible?” Angela asked. “And do you even have a badge?”
The rent-a-cop didn’t answer for a moment. Finally, he said, “No, but get out of the store or I will find someone who does.”
Outside of the Wal-Mart, Angela and the gang attempted to look for Grubber.
“Weird,” Angela said. “I woulda thought he woulda stayed on the merry-go-round or something.”
“Hey guys! Look at this!” Arturo cried, pointing to a sign that read “Valet Parking. $20”.
“What the hell?” Ace asked.
Driving by in a shiny red convertible, Grubber sat at the driver’s seat as he blew a raspberry in greeting.
“Nice ride, Grubber!” Ace said. “Is that what you did the whole time?”
Grubber blew a raspberry.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Ace said, grinning. Grubber wasn’t all that bright, but every so-often, he had his moments of absolute genius. Setting up a fake valet parking in front of the Wal-Mart was one of those moments. “I call shotgun!”
“You suck!” Angela cried.
The gang climbed into the car as Grubber drove off into the autumnal afternoon, down the streets of Townsville. He honked the horn a few times.
“Why doessss the horn play ‘La Cucaracha’?” Snake wanted to know.
“I'm not complaining,” Arturo replied as he attempted to sing along with the tune that the horn blurted out. Angela began to sing with him.
Ace rolled his eyes at them as he stared out at the world passing him by like a flash. However, no matter how annoying Angela was, he had to give her credit for one thing: that was the most fun he’d had in a long time.