you it would be faster cutting through Astoria!”
Gambit shook his hands to try and excise the encrusted sludge. Pushing him in that pile of garbage back on 21st
Street had been the highlight of my day. I just couldn’t understand why he didn’t appreciate my physical humor; all the hobos had laughed. Why not him, my best friend and mutant companion?
“It took us four hours
to walk four miles,” he screamed as he threw his filthy cape at a nearby dumpster.
“Really? All right! I finally beat my old high school mile run record by over twenty minutes!”
“You- I don’t need zis,” he yelled. “I’m almost forty years old. I zaved
my money, unlike most of the other X-Men. You know I have a zummer house in the Catskills?”
“I did not know that. In fact,” I furrowed my brow, “there’s a lot I don’t know about you. Tell me...” I pulled him close. “Do you know how to enrich uranium 238?”
“Never mind! I’m not planning anything, especially some kind of weapons-grade potato on a string! Why would you even think that? Are you KGB?”
We looked at each other for exactly 23.452 seconds. It was a silent, somber moment, broken only by the loud barks of a Rottweiler behind a nearby fence. Also, an air conditioner fell out of this second story window, and it made a huge
crashing sound when it impacted the ground. Then the elderly occupant of the apartment came to her vacant window and started swearing in German, or possibly Dutch. New York City is a wonderful, magical place.
We looked ahead at the tower, overwhelmed by the brickwork that seemed to stretch up to the heavens themselves. A revolving door marked our destination; I ran gleefully toward the rotating panes, while Gambit maintained a more conservative pace. He’d been in situations like this before.
“Hurry up,” I prompted as I made a full 360 degree turn with my head. “The mall waits for no man!”
The doors rotated open, and I planted my pneumatic suction cup triumphantly on the sparkling linoleum.
“You know,” I said matter-of-factly, “this building is over 200 years old. It was one of the first structures the Dutch settlers built back when this was New Amsterdam.”
Gambit squinted, half opened his mouth, and held up a brochure he must’ve grabbed from the gift shop in the ten minutes I’d been mesmerized by the shiny lobby fountain... so many pennies...
“It says here zis building is only about 70 years old.”
“Well, who are you going to believe?! I live
in New York, and every fiber of my being tells me this,” I gazed upward, my arms outstretched, “is hundreds of years old. You carpetbagger.
Anyway, we should be getting up to the top floor. My intuition tells me the elevators are... that
way!” I laughed, pointing straight ahead.
“Achem,” Gambit coughed, “one, we aren’t allowed to use the elevators. Two, you’re pointing at a wall.”
“It’s only a wall until the doors open.
Then you walk in, push a button, and boom!
You’re on another floor. Ring, ring! Hello? Yeah, it’s for you. It’s the 20th century.
Should I tell them to call back later? Are you still using that horse
“Seems a tad overplayed,
wouldn’t you say?”
Gambit and I jerked backwards, him because the criticism of my witty banter much have been too much to handle, but the voice itself had chilled my soul.
A flashback to the origin of my fears!
Gambit eyed the newcomer uneasily. “I take it you two know each other, yes?”
It took every ounce of willpower I had not to snap his neck for being so ignorant. “This is former
New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. Hey Rudy, how’s the presidential campaign going?”
His left eye twitched. “Someone leaked my entire campaign plan a few days ago. You wouldn’t happen to know who,
I smiled. “A staffer, most likely. Someone who had something to gain from your failure.”
be considered a ‘gain?’”
“You wound me!” I cried with mock sincerity. Inside, I felt nothing but elation at the thought of my arch-foe boiling in his own juices. “Surely you couldn’t think that I,
your star pupil and heir apparent, would have anything to do with that?”
“You stopped being in my confidence when you consorted with the Borg.
“Enough of zis foolishness!” Gambit yelled over our accusatory stares. “One of us must reach the observatory at the top of zis building. Gyrobo, you-”
“Oh no, you won’t!” Rudy cackled. “The minute I saw you
here, I contacted management. You’ll find the stairs and elevator completely shut down! And,” he sneered evilly, “I had the maintenance crew coat the outside of the building with aerogel, the lightest man-made material ever created! You’ll never
reach the top, boy.”
“Let’s go, Gyrobo.” Gambit tugged at my sleeve. Once I started making Star Trek references, there was obviously no reason to continue the conversation.
I threw another apple core (free apple day at the Met!) at the trash can. The sun had already set; the day was over and we hadn’t been able to reach the top of the Empire State Building and proceed to the Mall of America... all was lost. We would return to the mansion in disgrace. The only silver lining I could find was the fact that Giuliani’s campaign was ruined. It was all I had left. As I looked up at where the moon would have been, had the city lights not blocked it out, I suddenly had an epiphany.
I reached for the apple core, and shook the bin sideways, heaving about ten pounds of waste directly at my companion.
“Are you trying to impress zee hobos again?!” He grumbled in disbelief, examining the trash that now flowed down his torso like the mighty Mississippi.
I dragged the can to the nearest fire hydrant, and set it down. Whipping out a familiar cardboard box, I extracted a series of potatoes- with STRINGS! Arranging them in a concentric circular pattern around the hydrant, I turned the emptied garbage can upside down and placed it on top of the potatoes. Then, quick as a Cuban revolutionary, I tied the strings together.
“Okay, here’s the tricky part! Gambit, get over here and apply your ‘mutant powers’ to the string matrix.” I jumped on top of the bin. “We’ve all seen light-bulbs lit up by potato power, so if my math is correct...” I tweaked the beads on my abacus. “When you convert the potential energy in the strings into kinetic energy, the calories in the potatoes will form a stable energy lattice. The hydrant will shatter like an android’s knees, and the pressure of the water will receive a full kinetic boost- sending me skyrocketing toward the observatory!”
“Gyrobo, you’re a madman! Mad with logic!
” For the first time, it felt like we were both on the same page. Then he reached down and set off the potato matrix.
“Mr. Spud, set course for the observatory!”
Clouds were to my back. Insects exploded as I plowed through their aerial domain with impunity. The antenna! It was getting closer... closer and closer still! Finally...
“Boo yah!” I screamed, jumping from the trash can. I smashed through the observatory’s safety glass, knocking over three kiosks before I crash-landed into a vending machine. As I looked through the broken window, I saw the rocket level off and then explode, showering downtown Manhattan with tater tots (just as my calculations had indicated!).
Limping to the nearest functional public telescope, I pointed it east... seeing only ocean, I looked west, and there it was. Mall of America.
“Gambit!” I yelled down at the street. “You look like an ant from up here!”
Feeling for my fanny pack, I rummaged around until I pulled out my Ninja Turtle-brand Shellular Phone. Dialing from memory, I waited patiently.
“Hey Sid,” I rasped in a fake old man voice, “you still got that chopper? I need a pickup.”