Retcon Punch, Episode 07: Maureen McGovern Had It Right

Retcon Punch, Episode 07: Maureen McGovern Had It Right

Nov 24

New to Retcon Punch? Start at the beginning.

Manic pixie dream girl. Manic pixie dream girl. Manic pixie dream girl.

I repeat those words in my head as I navigate the winding road into the hills of Rancho Palos Verdes. I am trying to manage impatient speed and overcautious care. It’s tricky.

Zooey Deschanel. Natalie Portman. Kirsten Dunst. Veronica…I don’t know her last name.

I fell for some manic pixie dream girl bullshit and now I’m an accomplice to a major theft and it is FREAKING ME OUT. But of course, it wasn’t a magic indie fairy spell; it was my own insecurities, my own gaping financial maw, my own loneliness. She helped me do this to myself, and now I need it to be over.

What I really need is for someone to hit me and make this all go away. But the barriers of our reality aren’t so flimsy.

I don’t know Veronica’s last name, so I sure as hell don’t know where she lives, which stops my plan A right dead. I won’t be speeding over to her house and demanding that she turn over the stolen property.

I pursue my plan B, which involves appearing at Sid’s front door on a Saturday morning to confess everything. Shit, I don’t even want the fucking job anymore. I’ll temp, I’ll flip burgers, I’ll janitor at the local public school. I’m ready to move on; if nothing else, I’ve learned that much from this escapade.

I guess the real plan would involve me not being such a pussy and actually going through with the final stages of the crime. Instead, I spent the night on that awful couch, tossing and turning as a nameless bile crept further and further up my throat, until I could feel it burning constantly at the base of my tongue. I knew what the bile was trying to tell me–I’d behaved like an idiot, made a huge mistake, and the flimsy index card of a “moral code” I kept in my soul’s back pocket got ripped when I fell back onto that awful couch for some illicit nookie.

Blame it on the superheroes, I guess–when you spend as much time as I have reading the adventures of unimpeachable men in tights, you tend to end up on the right side of the law. I didn’t want to imagine myself as the type of person Superman would knock into a light pole and then deposit into the Metropolis jail. Scratch that–I didn’t want to imagine myself as the type of person Superman would knock into a light pole on his way to deal with Brainiac or the Parasite. I don’t think I’d even rate the Man of Steel’s full attention.

**

Sid bought a really amazing house with his proceeds from one-hit wonderment. It overlooks the ocean and has a tiki bar. Add those to the list of reasons I’m jealous of this ungrateful fuck.

I pull into the driveway and realize I don’t have much of a plan. I feel like knocking on his front door is a good first step. So I knock, several times, and no one answers, several times.

Finally I absentmindedly check the handle, and it’s unlocked. Go figure.

I’ve been to Sid’s house often enough, usually to drop off a hot book that he refuses to come pick up at the store but insists upon reading immediately. Sometimes when I stop by, he’s in his boxers and I can see a high-end Apple laptop open to a major comic book message board, as though he’s literally planned his entire day around reading a comic book and then sharing his thoughts online. These moments make me feel well-balanced by comparison. Other times, he’s in his boxers and there’s porn open on the laptop and I need to take a shower stat.

“Sid?” No reply. I cautiously step down the main hallway. To my left, Sid’s obscenely large television mocks me with its majesty. To my right, down another long hall, is the kitchen…and Veronica. Raiding the fridge. In her underwear.

She turns her head, sensing someone watching her, and I can see her mouth the word “Fuck” from twenty feet away. I’m frozen on the spot, so after a long second of regarding each other, she pads down the hall toward me, a box of Swiss Creme Rolls in her hand.

“What are you doing here?” she hisses.

“I could ask you the same.”

“I…slept over. Gotta keep up appearances.”

“You appear to be keeping up really good appearances. You appear really good. Apparently.” I completely fuck up the repartee, and I know it, and there’s nothing I can do but work hard to keep from gawking down at her mostly-naked body.

“Was that an insult?”

“I’m not sure.”

Beat.

“I can’t keep this up. I have to come clean.”

“’Keep this up’?! It’s been twelve hours. You don’t even have the comics; they’re in my apartment.”

“I think they need to go back to the store, or I think I need to tell Sid.”

“Is that what you were coming here to do? Or were you looking for me?”

She’s smirking now, and that’s appealing. Suddenly I wonder if I really expected to find Sid and tell him all my sins. Maybe deep down I was actually checking to see whether Veronica would be here, to determine whether the all-too-brief tryst we’d shared the previous night was something real, or just a show. Or is Sid the show? I think I really hope Sid’s the show.

“I have no idea what I’m doing. This is hard.” My resolve softens. Seriously, that morality index card is super flimsy. She puts her hand on my chest.

“Take it easy. We’re fine. There’s no reason–”

“Babe? BABE?!”

A door slams open upstairs. A clamber like two bowling balls dipped in Crisco comes tumbling down the stairs as Veronica pushes me into a closet.

“Shit, babe, where’d you go? Little Sid misses you.”

Jesus.

“I was hungry, babekins. I got a snack. Let’s eat and then we’ll see what we can do about Little Sid.”

Again: Jesus.

“Hold up, babe. I gotta show you this rad new helmet I picked up–”

The closet door opens, and there I am, almost trembling, and there’s Sid in nothing. He’s a hulking mass of formless douche who could not even be bothered to put on a pair of fucking BOXERS whilst scampering around his own fucking HOME.

“Ike?” There’s confusion, even bemusement.

“Hey, uh, Sid.”

“What the fugggggggghhhhhh”

I don’t even see it happen; I just see the result. Sid’s a pile on the floor and Veronica’s standing behind him with a trampy Batgirl statuette in her hand. There’s a small wound on the back of Sid’s head bleeding, and if he’s not unconscious, he’s damn close.

“Come on.”

Veronica grabs my arm in her underpants and we hit the door and we get in my car and we drive, drive, drive. She’s still clinging to the Swiss Creme Rolls.

Retcon Punch returns in January!

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