Vince’s Mortal Enemy (isn’t Robert Smith)

Challenge 21: ‘Tangents’. Vince runs into his mortal enemy. And it isn’t Robert Smith. Um… like in the title.


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Length: words

Notes: Written for the BSH challenge #21, TANGENTS:

Start a story with a line (any line: speech, description, whatever you fancy); wind the story around many different by-ways and digressions and return to that line again.

Vince’s Mortal Enemy (isn’t Robert Smith) by accioarse

“Howard, lock up the shop!” Vince came running into the shop, heels clattering.

Howard set down his newspaper and checked his watch. It had only just turned ten thirty. He pulled an expression of mock surprise. “Hey Vince, why so early? A swarm of crabs attached themselves to your fringe yet again, forcing you to go out to seek professional help?”

“No, never mind all that! Just lock the shop up, and now! I popped out to get the new NME and now the tangent’s after me!”

“The tangent? Vince? What d’you mean?”

There was a blinding flash of light.

When the smoke had cleared, a man in a lilac three-piece suit was standing there, crisp among the bric-a-brac. He doffed his silk top hat to reveal a startlingly orange face.

Vince ducked behind Howard. “Save me!”

Howard whispered, “From what? It’s just that guy who used to do Supermarket Sweep off the telly, isn’t it?” But he cleared his throat, still a trifle unsure. “Can I help you, sir? Jumbo grade blu-tak tree? A gore-tex utility eyepatch? We’ve some quality items on sale in our emporium.”

The lilac-suited gentleman said nothing, just slowly drew a pair of latex gloves over his richly tanned fingers. Then he gave a twinkly smile and raised a bottle of ‘Deep Miami Glow’.

“I told you! It’s the Tan Gent! The mortal enemy of all goths! He’s come to brown my milky white complexion!”

Howard frowned. “Surely he’s amenable to some form of logical reasoning…”

“No way! He browned out Robert Smith last week – nothing left but his eyeliner and a magnificent tower of backcombed genius!”

“Browned out? You don’t mean…”

“Yeah! Permanent fake tan! And Factor 25 – that’s all the way up to Peter Andre! I tell ya, the Tan Gent’s pure evil!”

“Oooh, really?” said the Tan Gent, his voice pleased and coy. “Pure evil? No, surely not. Because, after I’ve browned you all over, then you’ll still get to take home one of our attractive prizes!”

“A prize? You mean, like a present?” said Vince, emerging from behind Howard.

“No, Vince, don’t fall victim to his lures!”

“Yes, you’ll receive a highly attractive luxury item with a retail value of not less than E29.99 RRP!” said the Tan Gent, tapping a perfectly manicured nail to his face. “And one more thing – what was it? Ah yes, a massive raping!”

“No!” shouted Howard and Vince, clinging to each other.

“Oh, yes. Isn’t that customary with you two? I’d heard it was raping central round here. Of course, I’ll have to wait for twenty minutes after the tan, or else you’ll go all streaky. That’s a tanning no-no.”

There was a weak scrabbling noise behind the Tan Gent, rattling the front door. He spun around just as it opened inwards, setting off the bell.

He set an irritable hand on his hip. “Ah, Mr Smith of The Cure! I see you are still alive! Although – what a pity after all my good work! You seem to have left your delightfully tanned skin behind.”

Vince and Howard peered over the counter. There was a creature shuffling about on their floor that seemed to be composed mostly of highly teased and back-combed hair and a pair of black trainers. It whipped out a delay pedal and a tiny guitar.

The Tan Gent steepled his hands and laughed. “What are you going to do, Mr Smith? Angst me to death with your doleful eighties music?”

The creature began to play, nodding slowly to the beat. Guitar notes rose in the small space of the shop, clanging and mixing to become a piercing wail.

Blisters began to form all across the Tan Gent’s body. “My face! My beautiful face!” he shouted, stroking the skin.

“Howard! What’s happening?” asked Vince, grabbing onto Howard.

“I’m not entirely sure!”

“But Howard, I’m scared!” Vince held on even tighter.

“Yeah! Me too!”

The Tan Gent was now sizzling all over. Smoke rose from beneath his fine silk suit, then a flame popped to life, flaring at his groin. Suddenly, with a deafening bang, he exploded. Body parts flew all over the shop in a rain of orange.

The Robert Smith hair creature put down its miniature guitar with an air of deep follicular satisfaction.

“What was that all about?” asked Vince, brushing a lump of orange goo off his cape.

“Well, if I’ve got this right,” said Howard, producing a tweed jacket and monocle out of nowhere and striking a pose, “what we experienced there was Robert Smith of The Cure, or what’s left of him, finding the exact frequency of the deadly tanning solution, intensifying the amplitude until it resonated and creating highly explosive consequences.”

The hair creature made scuffling nods of agreement.

“Wow, Howard, really? Hey, for once, you actually know some useful stuff!”

Howard produced a burnished wooden pipe out of the jacket pocket. He gave it a suck, looking into the middle distance and attempting to appear sage. “Well, perhaps I do, little man. Ah, this knowledge of mine. It’s both a gift and a burden.”

“Another thing, Howard….”

“Ask on, my young apprentice. I shall bless you with my wisdom.”

Vince dropped his voice a little. “Cos you know how that guy was going to rape us?”

“Yes,” replied Howard, but feeling a little less sure now. He didn’t particularly want to hold Vince’s hand through some sort of an emotional breakdown. Last time that had happened, stationery village had been flooded by the tears. He’d had to send out rescue services to get the survivors to the safety of Blu Tak Mountain.

“And you know how afterwards I was supposed to get a present? So Howard – where is it? Where’s my present?” Vince had a thought. “Oh no! Do you think the present exploded as well?”

Howard exhaled in relief. “Was that it? That was your big question?”

Vince looked at Howard with big bewildered eyes. “What else would it have been?”

“Okay, so if I buy you a new present, will that make you happy?”

“Ye-ah! That’d be genius!”

Howard looked around. There was orange gloop over most surfaces of the Nabootique, not to mention a quantity of it on himself. Guess who’d be cleaning all of that up.

Well, it could wait. “Okay, let’s go get your present now. We can bring Robert Smith’s hair too, bring him to get his roots done. He probably needs it after the week he’s had.”

Vince flew at Howard and tackled him into a great big hug.

“What’s that for, little man?” asked Howard. He’d almost hugged back before he remembered he didn’t like to be touched.

Vince snuggled into Howard’s jacket, using the tweed to wipe some more of the orange innards off his face. He’d just had a thought – his other mortal enemy, The Hairspray Bandit, had also been seen in the area. If the Bandit attacked as well, did that mean that Howard would buy him even more presents? Cos that would be genius!

Howard had heard a little sigh from Vince. “You alright, little man?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. But come on, we don’t want to be late! Who knows who we might bump into on the way!” Vince grinned, and bounced a little on the spot as Howard got out his keys. “Hurry up, hurry up! Go on then, Howard, lock up the shop!”

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