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Dispensing Justice - Chapter 11 - The Twins Are Ejected Before Dinner
The Twins Are Ejected Before Dinner
"Andromeda! Achilles!" Diana said, setting down her martini glass and stalking out of the kitchen.
Seconds later Diana reappeared, holding each of the struggling twins at the end of one of her outstretched arms without the least sign of strain. They were flailing at each other. Bernoulli danced, barking in her wake, as she crossed the kitchen, heading for the mud room and the door to the backyard.
'Dad' and Hank went in the opposite direction. Penny and I sidled up to the kitchen window to watch.
First Andy sailed into the backyard, then Achilles. Both landed in the wet grass, sliding half a dozen yards before coming to a stop in a struggling heap. Bernoulli raced out after them, barking merrily. He was a spry old dog of eighteen years, and still acting like he was eight---another unintended consequence of the 1947A nannite cleanup, one can only assume.
I'm sure that if the neighbors noticed the yelling and punching twins, they would have been thanking their lucky stars that the Riggs-Armstrongs were visiting our house and not theirs.
"You can come back in when you've cooled off," Diana said and shut the door. "I'm sorry about that. It's difficult ensuring that they get enough exercise. When they don't, well, they find other ways to blow off steam."
"Oh, I can sympathize with the poor dears," Mom said. "There are days that I don't get out of the house and it puts me into a mood, too."
'Poor dears', my ass, I thought. What they needed was a thorough thrashing. Unfortunately, other than Diana, Penny was about the only one capable of doing that these days. It was becoming difficult to resist the impulse to try out some of Dad's anesthetic gas---or, even better, his retch gas---on them.
"Didn't they go to the dojo today?" Mom was saying.
"No, Sensei Fox is on another one of his vacations," Diana said.
'Dad' and Hank came back from the rec room a short while later. "No real damage done," 'Dad' said. "They knocked over the memento cabinet, but nothing was broken."
Which was not surprising. Dad had started 'twin-proofing' over ten years ago. It had turned into an arms race: at times Dad's 'upgrades' kept the twins at bay, and at other times we cleaned up the broken glass and filled in the holes in the walls.
We seated ourselves at the kitchen table and had started loading our plates when the twins slogged back in, Bernoulli trailing, a hopeful wag-wagging to his tail. I hadn't thought they would hold out long, as food, or the lack thereof, was in question. All the Riggs-Armstrongs---excepting Hank, of course---had metabolisms that a shrew would admire.
"Are you two ready to be civilized?"
"Yes, Diana," they said in unison from the mud room doorway.
"Then wash up and take a seat."
They did so with another pious chorus of "Yes, Diana."
I spotted only a couple of surreptitious elbow jabs between them as they came out of the bathroom. Diana had them sit on either side of her. She loaded their plates and they ate in sulky silence for five pleasant minutes.
Diana filled the conversational vacuum with retrospectives on what her grad students were working on and the political maneuvering of the other professors in the Classical Studies Department.
"Tell everyone about that incident at the Galactics' Arcology yesterday, Hank," Diana said after her fifth attempt to engage 'Dad' and Mom in a discussion was rebuffed with monosyllabic answers.
Hank smiled. "Oh, you'll love this. I was there covering the arrival of the latest group of tourists, when ten Earth-Firsters broke out their banners and started protesting the presence of the Galactics. It always gets me that the Earth-Firsters want to ban the Galactics after all they've done for us. All that would be left on Earth now would be cockroaches and bacteria if it hadn't been for their cosmic-ray shield and neutrino flipper! And what have they asked for in return? Nothing but the right to be tourists."
"And then what happened?" Diana prompted.
"The Galactics produced their own collection of placards---I have no idea where they got them from---and started marching in circles. You need to check out the video. The look on the faces of the Earth-Firsters is simply precious. The police arrived just in time to keep the Earth-Firsters from charging the Galactics. You know, just when you think you might be starting to understand the Galactics, they go do something like this."
"Perhaps they've been watching the Olympic protests on television," I suggested.
"That's a thought," Hank said. "The Soviets have been kicking up enough of a fuss. It doesn't help that they're being held in Los Angeles."
"After the drubbing they---really pretty much everyone but the North Americans took during the last Olympics, it isn't surprising," Penny said.
"Don't you think they might have a point?" Diana added. "The drubbing in 1980, as you so eloquently put it, Penny, was a direct result of our fielding so many competitors that were, frankly, borderline supers. The screening weeds out the obvious ones, but I know for a fact that a half a dozen of the medal winners were holding back."
"On the other hand it is the way the human race has been headed," Hank said. "We didn't choose to be exposed to gamma rays or boiled in neutrino soup, and I don't see anyone at this table complaining about the effects of the Galactics' nannites. Who can seriously say that we would have done things differently if they had actually asked whether we wanted to be saved?"
Before anyone could respond, 'Dad's' cellphone tweedled. Looking at it, he said, somewhat plaintively, "It's from work . . ."
Diana glanced at Mom, then pursed her lips when she didn't react. It tweedled again. "Then you better take it, Mike," Diana said.
"Yes?" he said into the cellphone as he left the kitchen.
Penny's green-eyed gaze met mine. I shrugged and mouthed, "I bet he's going to be called away."
She nodded, her lips forming, "No bet."
'Dad' returned, re-holstering his cellphone. "There's a problem at the plant and I've got to fly out to Fusion Dynamics tomorrow."
"Oh," said Diana. I could hear the 'good' that didn't follow the 'Oh'.
- Chapter 2 - Friday Night in the Lab (Watching the Superhero News Network) -- (linked)
- Chapter 3 - Penny Drops In -- (linked)
- Chapter 4 - Zircon Man vs. the Demolition Squad -- (linked)
- Chapter 5 - The Suit -- (linked)
- Chapter 6 - 1947A -- (linked)
- Chapter 7 - I Saw You Die
- Chapter 8 - Penny Keeps Her Cool
- Chapter 9 - Mom Burns a Roast
- Chapter 10 - Diana to the Rescue
- Chapter 11 - The Twins Are Ejected Before Dinner
- Chapter 12 - The Vow
- Back to Dispensing Justice preview chapters.
- Back to Dispensing Justice
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