It's technically Christmas day now, but it's still the night of the eve to me. I'm just up late, as usual. And this time, my late night ramblings once again serve a purpose. As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm a little late with the Xmas holiday season writing exercise/story this year. But fear not, fear not. I've been working on it, bit by bit, and though it isn't getting posted until Xmas morning at last now, you can finally enjoy having another holiday and classic festive children's story ruined by my sense of "humor."
Breathe easy, internet denizens. All's right with the world. (Not really.)
Rudy Randolph: Red-Nosed Mafia Hitman
Rudy Randolph was the man. Rudy Randolph had no plan. He'd spent his high school years doodling cartoons in class, imagining himself as "Gun Man," a new kind of superhero who solved all the world's problems through wanton gun violence. College art programs weren't too impressed by his fixation on a talking cartoon gun, but one professor decided to put it all on the line, getting him accepted into the prestigious "Yes, I CAN READ" University. All because he was impressed by the detail Rudy Randolph put into the gun holsters.
"We can mold this boy!" the professor proclaimed. "He'll be the next Garry Trudeau! Or at least some sort of Tony Millionaire knockoff!"
The professor was wrong. Professors are almost always wrong. Science didn't teach him anything. A mere two and a half years later, that same professor found himself buried in a hole at the bottom of the Earth. Never bet on Gun Man. You gonna get shot.
His mind stuck in cartoonland, Rudy Randolph slogged his way through a grueling six and a half years of education in the higher arts. Going against every wish in his body, Rudy Randolph transformed Gun Man into a metaphor. Gun Man became the representation of every force in the world that stole away our choices. Without choice, man became no more than a two-dimensional twig arrangement. The accolades poured in, and Gun Man was soon the icon of progressive, self-actualized thought in the world. Even Europe was getting in on that action - they usually ignored American rattlings, and rightly so. Gun Man had been twisted into the art of generational outrage - the new Che Guevara t-shirt, you could say.
As for Rudy Randolph, all he wanted was for Gun Man to shoot people. What purpose does a gun serve if not to end lives? (And also to punch holes in Coke cans, and make the holder look like Admiral Badass of the Mounted Cool Dude T-Rex Cavalry.) He launched a webcomic, the internet being the one canvas he had yet to paint, and introduced Gun Man to the world as a mild-mannered revolver with an unpredictable temper, fighting off the forces of disease, oppression, and poverty - which were led by a literal loose cannon - and saving the world with his bullets. Before the mystique of metaphor could drop away, several popular newsgroups denounced the comic as trash - like most webcomics - and insisted that it couldn't have been the work of avant-garde artist Rudy Randolph. There were trolls lurking on the internets.
Rudy Randolph struck back in a series of blog posts decrying those questioning the authenticity of his work. Gun Man was the genuine article. Gun Man was life - the ending part, at least. He even pointed a gun at David Letterman on national TV when trying to make his point during an interview. This got him sent to prison for twelve years, giving Rudy Randolph plenty of time to achieve commercial success with his comic, but at a price - his fans only read the comic and bought Gun Man merchandise to be ironic. Not a single person subscribed to Rudy Randolph's firm belief that guns and shooting were the highest zen known to man. And Rudy Randolph felt this without having owned or so much as held a gun even once in his life. His affinity for firearms came from something deeper than intuition or religious conviction. The fact of the matter was, Rudy Randolph was Gun Man. He simply hadn't been born properly equipped to fire projectiles from his body, and plastic surgeons laughed at the idea of crafting a human being into a massive gun. Damn the limitations of human flesh!
Comfortably wealthy and ill at ease with life, Rudy Randolph found himself seeking out internet newsgroups once again, this time achieving a modicum of peace in conversations held with fellow Sopranos enthusiasts. They laughed together at the idea that the mob didn't exist. They laughed together at the political power mafia groups must have held. They laughed together at the fact that none of them had gotten past second base with a woman. And they agreed that Fat Tony was the best character on The Simpsons.
Internet camaraderie can be a dangerous thing. Joey Burkhart showed up in their internet relay chat room one night and announced that he was autistic, as it could have been the only explanation for his failures with the opposite sex. (As opposed to his crippling body odor or sole pick-up line - "HOW 'BOUT FUCKIN' ME!?" - which he insisted would eventually not only work, but work spectacularly. He was wrong, of course, but you didn't need to be told that.)
"It's gotta be da Asperger's!" he typed. "Y'know, dem ass burgers. Dey always fuckin' things up." Yes, the individuals in this newsgroup even went out of their way to type as though they were no more than two-dimensional offensive Italian stereotypes, when they were all unmarried internet geeks nearing their forties with no real friends. And none of them were actually Italian, either. Such was the severity of their delusion.
"Yeah!" Jimmy Snackpack agreed. "I bets we all got dis shits. No wonda we get along so well! We should form our own mafia family! Then the world'd respect a buncha screws like us." Jimmy knew that 'screw' was an insulting term, but still liked the way it felt to pronounce the word far too much to treat it as such.
One by one, the other members of the newly formed "Aspie Mafia" decided that their poor social skills could only mean an accurate self-diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. Rudy Randolph went along with the rest of them on this, simply because he didn't want to be left out of the group. As he lay in bed at night, he questioned his decision, repeating to himself, "Hey, I'm a gun, not some kinda retard."
For those offended by this point, let us remind you that there's no such thing as a politically correct gangster. Or in the least, that was one of the many ideas that Rudy Randolph and his group subscribed to. They were not only pitiable outcast victims of a cruel society that didn't understand their disorder, they were superior human beings because of their perceived suffering. None of them were simply insufferable, narcissistic pricks, oh no, not a one.
Following a few arranged meetings in real life, the members of the "Aspie Mafia" all began to wear gray trench coats and sunglasses everywhere they went - even at night. After going underground and anonymous, the "Aspie Mafia" began to take work from irate local geeks. This mostly amounted to being paid to rough up local Dungeons & Dragons games at several comic book stories, and paid well enough to keep these self-proclaimed goombahs well-fed and thoroughly sloshed. It also funded the purchase of Hoagina - Rudy Randolph's classic Webley Mk VI revolver, which he named in the feminine after a particularly good sandwich he'd recently eaten.
With Hoagina in hand, Rudy Randolph felt complete, invincible, like one a-spicy meatball. Nothing in the world could stop him. He could even take the lives of his own comrades if he so chose - they weren't nearly as good a shot, and preferred a good baseball bat to a sidearm in their line of work. Hit jobs began to roll in, and together with Hoagina, Rudy Randolph brought a hail of bullets down upon greater Milwaukee.
It was only this Christmas that doubts once again came to inhabit the mind of Rudy Randolph. That maybe he wasn't a gun. That instead, he might have just been better off actually sleeping with some of those women who'd thrown themselves at him back when he was still a respected artist and moderately attractive in his youth. Now he looked like something they'd cut off an obese Steve Schirripa impersonator. And after a particularly nasty hit, he wasn't sure his heart was in the work anymore.
"I don't know what to say," he said to the regular bartender as he drowned his sorrows in gin and bourbon. "You shoulda seen the look on those kids' faces when I plugged da guy."
"I hear ya," the bartender said, unsure as to whether he should ignore the man or call the cops on the unlikely hitman. From the outside, he looked like a deluded accountant, or maybe an out-of-work teamster.
"Who the fuck calls in a hit on a guy who dresses up like Santa? He seemed like a pretty stand-up guy, and da kids..." Rudy Randolph was finding it increasingly difficult to finish sentences. "Dey'll never b'lieve in Crimmass again." Rudy Randolph began to sob.
"Hey, look," said the bartender, feeling sympathetic on Christmas Eve. "How about I call you a cab, huh? You've had a little too much to drink, and I bet you'll feel better once you've slept this off."
"Yer not lishtening!" Rudy Randolph shouted. The bar was empty, so he could act out all he wanted. "I fuckin' KILLED a Shanta! I FUCKIN' KILLED HIM! IN FRONT OF CHILDREN!"
"Are you sure that wasn't just a movie you saw?" the bartender asked. "Maybe it'd be better if I took you to a rehab clinic."
"NO! I've had enough!" Rudy Randolph exclaimed, struggling to stay afloat as Gun Man threatened to consume him once more. "We keep killing people! We're a buncha no-good screwball murderers! The mob's nothin' to look up to! I jusht wanted to draw cartoons!"
"Whoa, slow down," the bartender said, raising his hands defensively as Rudy Randolph heaved Hoagina onto the bar. "How about I make you some coffee? We can go have a chat with the police after this. If you turn the others in, I bet they'd give you a good plea bargain."
"Who's gettin' a plea bargain, huh?" asked Tommy Hoffman, the de-facto leader of the "Aspie Mafia." He'd come in and taken a seat at the bar without anybody noticing during Rudy Randolph's tantrum.
"Oh god, make it shtop," Rudy Randolph cried, looking down at his half-finished glass. "I just don't want to hurt anymore. No more o' dis job."
"Chin up, buddy," said Tommy, giving Rudy Randolph a playful punch in the shoulder. "Worse things've happened. We'll getcha through this. Joey said you seemed kinda down lately. He's offering to take you in - give ya someplace to sleep and feel at home for a few days. How 'bout that?"
"I already squealed," Rudy Randolph said with a sniff. "I love youse guys, though. You're real pals, tryin' to help me like this." He was too drunk to really know what he was saying anymore.
"Of course, you also just made it clear that you can't be trusted to keep quiet about our little operation," Tommy said, tapping his fingers thoughtfully on the countertop. "Enjoy that drink there. You're finished."
"I retract that last statement about lovin' youse guys."
Wasn't that just another wonderful vaguely holiday-themed character exercise? It was indeed. And now that it's Christmas morning and all that, I suggest you go have a good one. Beats the alternative.