“I can’t stop staring at your lips,” said Mad Smart.
The woman smiled. “Yes, they’re irresistible, aren’t they?”
“Actually, I think it’s the giant arrow on your face mask. It’s pointing right at them. I’m quite literal minded.”
The woman shrugged. “If you say so.”
She approached slowly, and as she circled around him, the back of her hand brushed against Mad Smart’s thigh. His heart raced. He felt… weird, almost paralyzed. He couldn’t recall ever feeling this way, but he was having trouble recalling much of anything at the moment. Something was disrupting his neuronal morphogenesis and negatively affecting his dendritic plasticity—possibly her perfume, which smelled of jasmine and stirred in him an urge to compose poetry. “Whatever you’re trying to do," he said, "it won’t work.”
“Really? Is that why your head bowl thingy fizzled?"
Mad Smart flinched. How did she know?
"Hey, is that a Wiffle bat?”
“Um, yes,” he said, lowering the bat to his side. “Yes, it is. I’m Mad—“
“Mad Smart Pirate. Last of the legendary Celibate Pirates,” she said, gesturing dramatically at the empty space above her, as if “Legendary Celibate Pirates” was up in lights on an imaginary marquis. “Your fellow pirates have all mysteriously gone missing and no one, not even you, can figure out what happened to them.” She took a step forward and stood on her tiptoes so that her mouth was inches from his. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
Without thinking, Mad Smart blurted, “A jiffy is an actual unit of time measuring one one-hundredth of a second.”
He wasn’t exactly sure if that’s what she’d meant, but to his surprise, the woman closed her eyes and softly exhaled in a way that suggested it was. She leaned in even closer and whispered. “Go on.”
Whatever this was, he was ending it now. “Er, I’m placing you under arrest, if that’s okay with you. I mean—No! That’s not what I meant.” Mad Smart squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated. “I’m placing you under arrest for murder.”
“Fine,” the woman said, pushing away from him. “But you’ll have to catch me first.” And with a stunning combination of flexibility, acrobatics, and tear-resistant clothing she vaulted herself onto the nearest fire escape.
She had completely scaled the four-story building before Mad Smart found the strength to take his eyes off of her. He shook his head, making a wooba-ooba-ooba-ooba-ooba sound. Now that she was gone, his thoughts were already coming back into focus.
Obviously, the woman planned to escape by traversing the rooftops. All Mad Smart had to do was calculate the most likely route and head her off.
He put two fingers in his mouth and whistled. Headlights flashed at the end of the alley as the Mad Smart Car turned the corner. But whereas some other superhero’s vehicle might have barreled down the alley in a rocket-powered frenzy and performed a fire-belching one-eighty ending in the flashy opening of the driver’s side door so that said superhero could hop in and save the day, the Mad Smart Car ambled along at a conservative yet reasonable pace, bounced rather violently when it rolled over the remnants of a discarded packing crate, and executed a flawless three point turn before coming to a brake-squeaking stop. Sensibility, Mad Smart firmly believed, always trumped style.
A stream of fire rained down from the rooftop and transformed the Mad Smart Car’s tires into puddles of sizzling goop.
Mad Smart hung his head and sighed. He should’ve seen that coming. This woman was trouble.
He grabbed hold of the fire escape railing and started climbing.
To be continued…