La Bella Vida

From the Story Arc: Homecoming

Previous Story in the Arc: Three Bears by Re-Bear (Tuesday, July 16, 2019)

Next Story in the Arc: Interlude: Four Walls by Re-Bear (Friday, September 20, 2019)

(posted Friday, September 20, 2019)

“Comrades!” Pavel shouted, kicking open the door to the rent-controlled apartment he shared with his clones Igor and Old Bear, “I have great news! Old Bear! Get up, get to barber and trim your mustache. Igor…. Eh. Change who you fundamentally are. We have a date tonight!”

Old Bear shifted in his easy chair. “Mustache is fine, Pavel. Go away.”

Igor looked up quizzically. He was about as slender and angular as Old Bear, even though he was the youngest clone. His head looked gigantic compared to his spindly body. “We all have a date with one woman?”

“Eh, sort of,” Pavel shrugged. “You remember Comrade Bella? Blue skin, big rack?”

Igor squimed. “Pavel, I remember her blue skin, but I do not objectify women by their looks.”

“Of course not, Igor, you nerd. Anyway, we have a date tonight, because there’s three of them! Apparently we were not the only ones fooling around with interdimensional hijinx. We have a date set up for the three of us at La Belle Soiree in Founder’s Falls. Best part is, she’s paying!”

“I am not putting a sweater over my armor,” Old Bear sneered. “It was bad enough at the museum.”

“You have to wear a tie and jacket, and you have to come. Need wingmen. Well you can be my wingman and Igor can be my wing-boy, or wing-nerd.”

“I’m not keen on this at all Pavel, being set up on some blind date so you can pursue your unreasonable animal urges, but I heard the Escargot de Marseilles at La Belle Soiree is to die for.”

“It’s snails!” Old Bear shouted, “It will probably be the death of you.”

And two bears got dressed up to go to dinner, while one sat in his chair.

***

“Thank you for coming out tonight, I really appreciate it.” One of the Bella Parker’s at the table said. There was one blue and two green Bellas, all virtually identical.

Pavel leaned to Igor and whispered “I’ll take the blue one. You know what they say: the bluer the skin the less bluer the balls.”

“Nobody has ever said that,” Igor mumbled.

“Guess I just did. We can have it put on a pillow after tonignt.”
Pavel stood upright, “My blue Bella belle. I will continue talking to you. Maybe your green colleagues can entertain my friends.”

“Um, sure, I guess,” Bella said with confusion.

After a while, waiters came and orders were taken. Pavel had so far avoided any boorish mistakes that would end the evening early and the others were getting along well.

“Really, comrade, you do not have to feign interest in an Old Bear like me. I am well aware of why we are here” Old Bear said, as charmingly as possible to his Bella. She smiled benignly at the old warrior, and she appeared to be blushing.

“And why is that?”

“Because the CCCP of your dimension, well, of this dimension, is what you would call ‘dire straits’. Almost everyone is dead or gone, and you need some manpower to keep the streets of Paragon safe, no? Pavel is sure to make a fool of himself sooner or later, so let’s make tacks brass shall we?

“Pavel and I will happily join the CCCP and begin patrolling again, for standard hero stipend and quarters at the base. On one condition: Igor has to be admitted too. I realize he doesn’t do much, and he has trouble lifting milk jugs, and his psoriasis medicine gets on things and he forgets to wipe it up, and sometimes he leaves his fly down and we have to remind him. And I know he looks like a string bean that dry heaves when his asthma kicks in, and his voice sounds like a little girl’s most of the time, and he names his socks. And he…”

“We get it.”

“But he is part of our little family, and we want him to do something. Maybe he can be custodian or garbage worker? Seems like a good fit. Anyway, regardless of how this night turns out, Let Commissar Bella know that we’re on board.”

“She isn’t a Commissar anymore. Ore never was, really, in this dimension. Comrade Battler simply asked her to do the invite since she has smoother people skills. I do have one question for you, though.” She placed her hand on top of his armored glove. “Why do you make me feel so… giddy? It’s like I have butterflies in my stomach, almost like this is a real date and not a business meeting.”

Old Bear smiled broadly, “It is old animal magnetism that only age and experience can provide. Just kidding, of course. I am currently emitting 350 rads per second due to a breach in my containment core. Since you are also a creature of the atom, it is merely a pleasant warmth and not an early death. The waiter tonight will probably never have children, and I’m pretty sure they’ll have to burn this chair.”
Bella leaned in and whispered, “You know, at the base we have tools to fix that. I can reseal your containment core tonight and you’ll be good as new”

Bear nodded, “Probably better PR for CCCP to have me not killing everyone I rescue. I will agree to it on one condition.”

“And that is?”

“Take my arm in yours as we leave, and tell your sister-clones not to wait up for you. It will drive Pavel crazy.”

“I love it. Let’s go.”

***

“Hey ladies, I’m leaving early with Bear. Don’t wait up.”

Old Bear and one of the green Bellas strolled out of the restaurant, arm in arm. Pavel turned redder than a May Day flag. Igor, however, didn’t notice at all.

“And you see, the subatomic particles present in the underlying matrix act as a lattice, increasing the structural integrity of the shield, giving the forcefield a forty-percent increase in effectiveness over even a beryllium and adamantium alloy.”

The other green Bella looked at him with wide, glazed-over eyes. “Wow. That’s amazing.”

“You think so,” Igor smiled and met her gaze.

“No, I mean it’s amazing that you took something I’m really, REALLY, interested in and made it so… boring. God, that was boring. Usually if a man started talking about one of my favorite topics in such a way I’d be somewhat interested… but damn… I wish I had a time machine to forget that… wow….” Bella stared off into space.

Igor looked down at his plate of snails and sighed. He was about to apologize for being so boring, when he heard Pavel begin to shout.

‘Bella! Bella! Don’t leave yet! I haven’t even offered you a discount on mustache rides yet!”

“Ugh,” blue Bella looked at her wits end,. “You disgusting man. Look, I’m just going to the bathroom, and no, I don’t need any help.”

Pavel looked at Igor and green Bella and crooked his thumb at the door. “Women, right?”

Green Bella gathered her purse, gave Igor a blank look, and left.

Pavel shrugged. “You can’t have the blue one, she’s mine.”

Blue Bella walked back into the dining room. She changed out of her lab coat and into a black trenchcoat. Even her posture was more aggressive. She approached the table where Pavel and Igor sat.

“Well that was fast,” Pavel said as seductively as he could muster, “what do you say, rent a cheap motel room, and you show me mine and I’ll show you yours?”

The fist shot out faster than the eye could see, crushing Pavel’s windpipe. As he gasped for air , a foot came crashing into the bridge of his nose. A third blow hit him in the midsection and knocked him to the ground.

“Where are my sisters?” Bella demanded. She kicked him again.

“Mrrgh, mhhfr, mmm” Pavel responded, choking on his blood. Bella kicked him a few more times.

A second blue Bella Parker came from around the corner.

“Four of you?” Pavel said, his constricted trachea knitting itself back together.

“Yes, four of us, two blue and two green.” Doctor Bella said, squatting down by the injured man. “Look, I don’t know what you thought this was supposed to be tonight, but your city needs you, and that’s what we were here to discuss. Stop by the base Monday morning and we’ll get you outfitted and on payroll.”

Scrapper Bella kneeled down, and punched him in the face. “And be more respectful.”

The remaining Bellas left, leaving Pavel a bloody mess of the floor of La Belle Soiree. I gor finished his last snail and thought, “Well, that could have gone better.”