By Leonard Pigg
Smitty Joad was inspired by the Scarlet Ace. He saw a man that represented absolute defiance in the face of a broken system. Watching videos of Ace fighting against criminals and then seeing others take up the mantle around the country resonated with him.
He ordered a red Kevlar hoodie online and when it came in the mail, he painted an anarchy symbol on the front. After the paint job, he impatiently threw on the heavy hoodie. The symbol began to run a bit, giving it a sloppy and chaotic look.
“Three months worth of pay to get this. Totally worth it,” Smitty thinks.
His cousin had left a red durag at his house over a month ago. Smitty used that for his mask as the material was thin enough he could see out of it. With black jeans and combat boots, his outfit was complete.
Smitty sat in the basement of his grandmother’s house, dressed up to go on his first night patrol. Seeing road flares in a box of supplies, he strapped one to each leg with duct tape. He found his late grandpa’s pistol and took that with him. He takes a bendable selfie stick, latching it onto his vest and attaches a camera. Pressing the record button, he looks at himself in the mirror.
“Hello, world. I’m the Scarlet Ace. One of many. Whatever you do, don’t get caught.” Smitty says.
Getting his moped out of the garage, he rode around Dalton City looking for action. He sees a closed bakery and stops in front of it. He sees a spray can on the ground and picks it up. Scrawling on the front of the store, he writes in big letters: “Whatever you do, don’t get caught!”
Tossing the can aside, he continues his patrol. A few minutes later, he sees people hanging outside of a bar, smoking cigarettes. He pulls up to the curb and stares at them. One of the guys looks over at him and starts laughing.
“Who are you supposed to be?” the man asks.
“The Scarlet Ace, punk.” Smitty replies in a gravelly voice.
“Whatever, cosplayer!” the man replies, then flicks a cigarette at Smitty and laughs.
The group sees this and starts laughing. Smitty hops off of the moped and shoves the man. The two begin wrestling each other and the crowd circles up to watch the two men brawl. Smitty pulls out his pistol and fires a round into the air. The people panic and scatter. The man puts his hands up in surrender. Smitty kicks him in the crotch, then hits him with the butt of the gun. Running to his moped, he hops on and rides away.
Smitty stops to pee by a dumpster in the alley. He sees the building is an IRS office and spits at it. A moment later, he walks around the side of the building and notices an open window at the ground level.
He climbs inside after seeing the coast is clear. The darkened room is full of file cabinets, with stacks of paperwork atop the shelves. Using his cell phone light, he shines it around the room to get a better look around. He sparks a road flare, tossing it into a file cabinet and closes it. As the fire begins to spread, he climbs back out the window and rushes back to his moped.
“What are you doing?” says a raspy voice.
Smitty freaks out, fires three shots into the shadows. A homeless man stumbles out of the shadows, bleeding. As the deafening roar of the gunshots echo in the alley, Smitty panics. Hearing the man gurgling on his own blood, Smitty decides to shoot him in the head. Hopping back onto his moped, he takes off.
“He totally lunged at me. Damn muggers.” Smitty says to the camera.
He rides around a few blocks, feeling empowered. He stops by the downtown library and uses his cellphone to get a wifi signal. Listening to the police band and checking other local news sites, he searches for somewhere he can be of use.
After a few minutes, he hears “Code 777” on the police band, which he remembered as costumed persons at large. Checking the address, he speeds towards McDuffie Park by using the alleyways to avoid the majority of traffic.
Once there, he sees the real Scarlet Ace in a pitched battle with a were-tiger. Ace fires round after round, piercing its fur and tearing into his business suit. Smitty drives toward the combatants, leaping off the moped as it plows into the tiger. The were-tiger hits the ground and stops moving. Smitty rolls across the grassy area and gets back onto his feet.
“Who the hell is that?” Smitty asks as he goes toward Scarlet Ace.
“Eric Van Doorn, he’s an assassin for hire. Who are you supposed to be?” Ace replies.
“I’m a Scarlet Ace, too.” Smitty says.
Scarlet Ace shakes Smitty’s hand, then starts to reload his gun.
“I’m flattered. I have funded a few around the state, but you’re not one of mine. There’s a fifty grand bounty, so be careful.” Ace says.
“Fifty grand, that’s it?” Smitty says.
Ace replies, “I know, right?”
As the two talk, Eric Van Doorn regenerates and leaps at the two vigilantes. Van Doorn gives out a roar, as he knocks the two men to the ground. He begins clawing at Smitty, cutting into his kevlar hoodie. Smitty screams, dropping his gun.
Ace jabs his pistol into Van Doorn’s crotch and says, “Silver hollow points in the chamber now. Word is were-creatures hate silver. I imagine it will take time to grow back your balls.”
Van Doorn stops moving and puts his hands up. Smitty punches Van Doorn, barely fazing him. Van Doorn kicks Smitty, knocking him back and his moped breaks his fall.
“Knock it off, Eric. I’ve got a couple questions. Who hired you?” Scarlet Ace asks.
Police sirens blare in the distance as Scarlet Ace backs away. Meanwhile, a black helicopter begins to circle above the park. Van Doorn snarls when a spotlight shines down on him. He flips off the copter.
Smitty begins shooting at the copter. A missile streaks down from above, striking down in the middle of the park. The explosion destroys the moped and sends all three combatants strewn across the lawn, dazed.
Van Doorn shifts back into human form while unconscious. Smitty rolls around on the ground, groaning. Two armed men slink down ropes and grab Scarlet Ace’s unconscious form, latching a grapple onto him and hoisting him away with them. Police pull up a moment later, as Smitty and Van Doorn are left behind.
A couple hours later, an unmasked Smitty awakens in a holding cell with Van Doorn and four other men dressed in street clothes. Van Doorn paces back and forth, still in human form. Three of the men talk among themselves. Another sits on the toilet, groaning loudly.
Everyone moves away from the man as he empties his bowels. Smitty looks at the others in the cell and panics when he notices he’s not wearing his mask and his gear has been confiscated.
“They ain’t got no toilet paper!” the man on the toilet screams.
“Use your socks!” Van Doorn shouts back.
Van Doorn goes over to Smitty, who doesn’t recognize him in his human form. He stands in front of Smitty, staring him down. Smitty doesn’t back down and gives a dirty look. Van Doorn headbutts Smitty, knocking him onto the floor.
“That was for punching me earlier, Ace.” Van Doorn says.
Smitty gets back up and lunges at him, just as a pair of policemen come to the cell door and open it. Smitty pauses.
“Joad, come with me.” a cop says.
Smitty is taken to an interrogation room and roughly sat down in a chair by the officers. They leave after muttering insults under their breath. Smitty looks over at the mirror on the far side of the wall and spits at it. The phlegm runs slowly down the mirror, just as a detective comes in and sits across from him.
The detective is in a blue dress shirt with a loosened tie. His black slacks are almost saggy, as his badge and gun are strapped to the sides. He takes out a handkerchief and wipes the sweat from his bald head. Looking over at the spit trail on the mirror, he turns his head and stares at Smitty, who sinks back in his seat.
“I’m Detective Derrick Molloy. Nice attempt at artwork on the mirror, Joad. Or should I call you Scarlet Ace?” he says.
Molloy tosses the handkerchief at Smitty, who takes the handkerchief and wipes the mirror clean. He then throws it back at Molloy, who catches it.
“Yeah, I’m Scarlet Ace.” Smitty says proudly.
Molloy takes out a cigarette and lights it. He begins taking long drags and blows out billows of smoke into the room. Smitty coughs continually. The detective continues to smoke, while staring at Smitty.
“What’s your damage, dude?! I’m not telling you shit!” Smitty yells.
“You don’t have to tell me a damn thing. We’ve got you setting fires, fighting barflies and killing a homeless person on video. Since you’re the Scarlet Ace, we’re going to press charges for all the other crimes connected to him!” Molloy says.
The detective angrily rises from his chair, flicking the cigarette at Smitty. He ducks and charges at the detective, rushing headlong into an uppercut. He hits the ground, just as other officers come in and begin to rough him up.
THE ORDER OF THE BLACK MADONNA CATHEDRAL
Meanwhile, the real Scarlet Ace awakens on an examining table. He is shirtless and notices he has cuts and bruises all over his body. A couple of nuns are cleaning his wounds as a priest enters the room with an ornate wooden case the size of a shoe box.
“This is the newest version of the HRS serum.” the priest says.
“What is it supposed to do?” a nun asks.
“Hyper-regeneration serum. The order modified the original version. This one also enhances the physiology to near superhuman levels.Thrice-blessed as well.” he says.
“We can’t allow one of our most valued assets to perish so easily, amid a world of monsters. After your recovery, your mission will send you into the belly of the beast,” the priest mentions.
The nun grabs the syringe from the box and injects Ace in the shoulder with the contents. He begins to convulse and shake, as steam rises from his body. All his wounds and scars disappear, as his muscles begin to swell. He begins breathing heavily and springs from the table, renewed.
“The wicked must learn to fear the wrath of the divine.” Ace says.
The priest nods, hugging the vigilante. He then leads him to the other side of the room, where he presses a book on a case and the wall slides open, revealing an armory of high-tech weaponry.
DALTON CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Three men are sitting in a prison cell. There is a single bed on one wall and bunk beds on the opposite side. The walls are covered with pictures of pin-up girls, Confederate flags, news clippings about vigilantes, an Iron Cross and a portrait of Elvis.
Cod Billy sits on his bed alone. He is a wiry man that is very pale. He rubs pomade in his hair and slicks it back with a comb. He smiles at himself in his hand mirror. He licks his gold teeth and kisses his reflection.
The other two sit on their respective bunks. Cliff Felcher, the muscular skinhead rifles through a pillowcase as he sits on the bottom bunk. Smitty Joad is on the top bunk, fresh faced and nervous. He scratches at the shaved sides of his head nervously, leaving white lines on his dry scalp, a stark contrast to the red hair atop his head.
“Why do they call you Cod Billy?” Smitty asks.
“The cod don’t have sharp teeth. They suck their prey. I used to live by a reservoir in North Carolina. Every morning, I would dip my dong in the water and get a nice treat. I moved to Indiana and got a job at a pet shop. The owner caught me after hours getting head from a cod. He wanted to stop me before I finished. So, I had to kill him.” Cod Billy says casually.
“A real shame you showed up during lock-down, Smitty. You missed a sight. Big Bill killed three chomos in front of the whole yard like a gladiator and a riot erupted.” Cliff says.
“Chomos? That sounds Greek or something.” Smitty asks.
“Short for child molesters. Diddlers, kiddie fiddlers and the like. I hate those perverts.” Cod Billy chimes in.
“We’ve been confined to our cells for the better part of a week. You don’t get the full penitentiary experience like this. I figured you’d like the top bunk and just so you know, I sleep in the nude.” Cliff said, as he pulled a cigarette and lighter from his pillow case.
Cod Billy laughs and says, “I get naked, too. We’re just free like that, kid. You gotta sneak your freedoms in where you can.”
“I don’t want any trouble. I’m just trying to do my time and get out quick, bro.” Smitty replies.
Cliff lights a cigarette and takes a long drag. He then blows the smoke at Smitty, who coughs and wafts at the cloud with his hand.
“I ain’t your brother, boy. Young neckbeard hipsters like you ain’t got much choice how you do your time. I know you’re the Scarlet Ace, I saw the video on my cell. Somebody will shank your ass. Now I don’t mind looking after you, but you gotta do things for me.” Cliff says.
“Hashtag, me too.” Cod Billy says.
Smitty replies, “I ain’t giving you guys head.”
Cliff laughs as Cod Billy flicks his tongue and blows a kiss at Smitty.
He pauses a moment and says, “Dance for me, Smitty.”
“Ain’t no music,” Smitty replies nervously.
Cod Billy turns on a small radio by his bunk. A Bronski Beat song begins to play. Cliff snaps his fingers impatiently and Smitty nervously begins to dance around the cell, awkwardly gyrating his hips. Felcher looks on, nodding in approval. Cod Billy applauds, cheering him on.
Smitty continues through a couple more songs, then begins to tire. Once winded, he sits down on the floor and begins panting. Cliff goes over to Smitty, kneels down and caresses his cheek. Cod Billy pulls a blanket over his lap and faces away from his cellmates. He tosses his clothes out from under the blanket as he begins to pleasure himself.
“Don’t mind me, boys. I won’t be long at all.” Cod Billy grunts.
“That wasn’t so bad now, was it? I even let you keep your clothes on this time. I reckon you’re tired, this being your first day and all. Get some rest, boy. Chow time comes bright and early in the morning.” Cliff says as he undresses, flops down on the bottom bunk and gets under the blankets.
“Is this a standard prison thing?” Smitty asks.
“Hell, I just wanted you to know that just because I killed ten people doesn’t mean I’m a bad guy. Ain’t no need to be raping a man on his first day. You’ll come to me when you’re good and ready. By that, I mean by the end of the week.” Cliff says confidently.
“I don’t know, man.” Smitty says.
“We’ll be playing buttsy soon enough. I guarantee it.” Cliff replies.
“And I’m gonna watch!” Cod Billy says.
Cod Billy gives out a guttural grunt of joy as he finishes, then begins snoring. Smitty gets his bearings and climbs onto the top bunk. He gets under the blankets fully dressed and silently cries into his pillow.
His sorrow is interrupted by the sound of Cliff on the bunk below pleasuring himself. The skin slapping noise kept Smitty awake, as fatigue began to set in. As he drifts off to sleep, he thinks back to how he got himself into this situation.
A few more days go by and the end of the week arrives. Smitty has been sweating bullets the entire week, as he’s been a private dancer for two psychopaths. Lockdown has ended and the guards signal for them all to head to the chow hall. The trio head out of the cell, as it opens. Billy gestures for Smitty to follow them.
“Food smells pretty good or maybe I’m just stir crazy?” Smitty asks.
“I think it’s Salisbury steak day, actually.” Billy responds.
Cliff remains silent, as another man passes by, handing him a crumpled paper bag. He hands the man two packs of cigarettes in exchange. Smitty looks on and starts to ask, but Cod Billy gestures for him to remain quiet. When the group arrives in the cafeteria, they grab their trays and get in line. They each get their servings of food and sit at an empty table.
Cliff looks in his bag and then at Cod Billy. The two smile at each other and begin laughing. Smitty eats his food and laughs nervously along with them.
“So, what’s in the bag?” Smitty asks.
Cliff smiles and hands it to Smitty under the table. He looks inside and sees a tube of lubricant, several condoms and some blue pills in a plastic bag.
“End of the week, boy. It’s going to be playtime tonight.” Cliff replies.
“Buttsy!” Billy says gleefully.
A moment later, there is a sound of breaking glass and a loud thump. The inmates all look around, as they see a metal ball crash through a window and roll into the middle of the room. The guards and a few inmates look on curiously and walk towards it. The metal ball explodes and engulfs the room in tear gas.
There is the sound of an explosion from outside and the side wall crumbles. Some of the convicts scramble out the large opening in the wall, as an alarm goes off and gunfire erupts outside. Smitty gets under the table, pulling his shirt over his nose and mouth after wetting it with his milk.
He looks on, near the edge of the opening and sees the Scarlet Ace in an armored outfit, hovering over the yard atop a bright red glider. The inmates begin to rush out, attempting to escape. A gatling gun springs from the bottom of the glider and he mows down a dozen escapees.The men rushing out, fall one by one. More escapees attempt to rush out amid the cacophony of alarms and gunfire, all falling before the shooting spree.
“Just a reminder of what awaits when you get out, boys! I’ll be waiting!” Ace says, as his voice is amplified.
Smitty rushes out, waving his arms to get Ace’s attention. The guards fire at Ace to no avail, as the bullets ricochet off his armor and the glider. Ace fires another ball across the yard, which Smitty grabs. He hears the sound of detonation approaching and holds it tight, knowing being dead beats serving a life sentence behind bars. As it explodes, Smitty is blown to bits.
The next day, the media was dominated with the story of the Scarlet Ace’s prison break-in. They were baffled as to why he broke into a prison and killed over thirty inmates. Oddly enough, no guards were harmed by him. A video was posted online, which featured Ace.
In a statement, he said the following: “Criminals need to learn what it means to know fear. The common man is sick of corruption in our society, so all criminals have been served notice. The Scarlet Ace will continue his war against crime, until people learn to behave.”