1. King Kong Versus Godzilla
While Benny was typing up the case of Grand Theft Orang-utan that they had inevitably stopped when it was their turn to do the 2-7 morning donut run, he, Raimundo Vecchio, stretched back in his chair, and put his feet up on Louis’ unoccupied desk. Bananas had not, strangely enough, been considered as a decent substitute for a dozen of the bakery’s finest frosted rings, despite Benny admonishing everyone in hearing range in that terribly earnest tone he had, that they were not only packed full of vitamins, but would also would be far more satisfying.
So there he was, sitting back, awaiting the arrival of a donut fit for a hero of his stature. It’s not every cop, who has to fight his way out of the lizard house. The only time he’d tried to do anything remotely Benny-like, and he’d jumped over the wall to the lizard pen. It just proved something he had already suspected: Benny was a statistical fluke. Every time he did anything half as dangerous as he usually did, anything that had only a million to one chance of not getting dead or horribly maimed, Benny was Mister One Million. Every other schmoe who’d ever tried whatever the last piece of stupidity was is now either pushing up the daisies or living on baby food. And if they ever found out about Benny, they’d be buying up every contract killer in the state.
But that wasn’t worrying him much. He’d already quietly asked Elaine for the file on known hit men. Though, why if they were known, they weren’t breaking rocks, he didn’t know.
No, what was worrying him, was how much Benny was going to the pictures. Yeah, maybe it seemed odd, but this was Benny. Nothing was ever normal with Benny. But this wasn’t even the regular brand of odd, this disturbed him.
Benny just kept going to the cinema alone. Ray had seen all the ticket stubs pinned to the board over in the Racine fleapit; Benny watched everything, foreign language stuff, art house flicks, even a Cary Grant marathon. That one had Ray worried. What kind of man would sit his way through a Cary Grant marathon, especially since it was certainly going to be filled with hormonal women.
Hormonal women, were, Ray mused, what Benton Fraser had nightmares about, as they chased him through dream land like flesh hunting zombies.
So what the heck was Benny doing alone at the pictures? Hadn’t the man heard about the phenomenon called video rental, or even the goddamn television? To tell the truth it wasn’t quite that either, he knew Benny didn’t even have a radio in that renta-hovel of his. It was that he went alone. Like he had no friends or anything.
And that hurt him, and worried him too.
2. Le Cage Aux Folles
“What I’m saying, Benny, is why the hell would you want to go see a movie all in some foreign language?”
“Ray, what do you speak at home?”
“That ain’t the same. We’re meant to be having fun here, Benny. Eating popcorn and drinking soda, and laughing, enjoying ourselves, Benny."
“I don’t eat popcorn. The salt content is disconcertingly high. However I do believe that this dilemma could be easily solved by flipping a coin over it.”
“Benny, do I look like the sorta guy, who walks around with a load of loose change in his pockets? It’d ruin the line of my freaking Armani, and unlike you, I live in the twentieth century and have a charge-card like everybody else on the planet except for you and your neighbour Sammy the Happy Eskimo.”
The Mountie fished about in his Sam Browne and produced a coin, “I have one right here. Remember Ray, proper preparation prevents…”
“Poor performance. Yeah, Benny, if your old man weren’t in the ground, I’d like to put him in it. How the heck did you get American change, playing round with your monopoly money all the time?”
“It’s a loonie, oh, my mistake it’s a twoonie.”
“A what, Benny?”
“A twoonie, Ray. The Canadian dollar coin is known as a loonie, and so for reasons that do not need exploring, when a two dollar version was introduced, it was informally named the twoonie.”
“Loonie, yeah, because you are all flipping crazy over there. Boring cinema and no popcorn.”
There were times when Benton Fraser really wondered about his ethereal parent’s ability to materialise at the most inconvenient of times. Take now, for instance.
“Son, you’re never going to find yourself a wife, if you keep going to the cinema on your own. It’s not sociable. A girl’s eyes can’t meet yours across a crowded room, when you’re all facing the same way in the dark. So women and cinemas, is very definitely a bring your own matter, because you’re not going to find one once you’re there. Unless she’s the girl with the torch and the ice-cream tray around her neck. You know your mother and I…”
Fraser leant back and sunk down into the water of the bath, letting it cover his head until all he could hear was the rhythmic rattling of the tenement’s ancient plumbing. He knew, of course, exactly how long he could hold his breath for, and that was, in his experience, much longer than his father’s patience would last.
So he was more than a little surprised to find his father still there, when he arose like a kraken from the depths of the tub. He was holding a rubber duck.
“Ben, a woman invited you out to the cinema, you’re not supposed to turn them down like that. Ben, that was a chance…”
And Benton saw his opportunity and grabbed at it with both hands, “Dad, that was Frannie. You can hardly see her gutting her own caribou, can you? Or living in a place where the closest thing to make-up is whales’ liver? Or cutting ice once the winter draws in?”
“You’re right, of course, son. I’ll leave you to your ablutions. Don’t have the water too hot, or you’ll go soft.”
4. Chariots Of Fire
“Fraser, now is so not the time for you to start telling me about your deep and abiding love of cinema. It may have escaped your notice, maybe all that serve, serge has been slowing rotting out what passes for you brain, but we are in a car on fire. For the second time in a week, for god’s sake!”
“I was merely endeavouring to distract your attention from the severe danger of our situation; the situation…”
“Situation, situsmashum, Fraser. You’ve driven one burning car through the streets of Chicago just before the rush hour, you’ve driven them all. At least this one is a cruddy pool car and not Vecchio’s emergency back-up Riv…”
“Ray, Ray doesn’t have an emergency back-up Buick Riveria.”
“If he did, I don’t think he’d tell you about it, Fraser, you are the death of classic automobiles in person. Like the Grim Reaper, but wears red and does cars. Wouldn’t tell me either, would expect me to be a professional and not wreck his baby. As it is another crummy Chrysler bites the dust, and the Gods of Motoring delight in their flame grilled offering, which is going to be us if we’re not careful. But at least you’ve stopped talking about freaking movies…”
“Fraser! Quit it before I kick you in the head, because I so don’t want to get my nice boots scuffed! Quit it with the movies, pronto.”
“No, Ray, carwash, over there”
“Fraser, you’ve got a dime? I need change for this thing.”
5. His Girl Friday
One minute everything in the precinct was entirely calm. Even Ray had stopped his incessant movement. Everything was zen, almost. All he needed now was a motorcycle to maintain.
And then Frannie broke it, the silence, and she had Benton cornered. “Benton, I’m not going to let you duck out of it this time. My bro, my other bro,” and she nudged the Mountie slightly, totally ignoring his terror, concentrating only on that studiously blank face, “told me that you like going to the movies. And I thought, how about it? You going to the cinema with me. Titanic’s on at the Rialto tonight, and it’s just awfully romantic. And it has iceburgers in it, so it’ll remind you of home.”
“Ah, Francesca,” Fraser began, and Ray hang back waiting to see whether his partner could handle it or needed backup, “It would be, I’m sure, a delightful film made all the more delightful by your company, but Inspector Thatcher has the director of the beef marketing board to dinner and has requested my presence.”
Frannie was beginning to pout, time for big bro’s mysterious doeppelgangerer, the incredible Ray Kowalski, king of undercover, to spring into action like a freshly oiled springing thing. “Look, Frannie, it ain’t Fraser’s fault, the Ice Queen is evil like that.”
Damn it didn’t stop the waterworks or the recrimination, “but Rennie usually does all the dinner party cooking, not Constable Ten Ways With A Dead Caboose”
“It’s Carribou, Francesca, even I would be hard pressed to find a way to make a railway van edible. And you’re quite right, Constable Turnbull is doing the catering for the event, the Inspector has requested that I carve the joint.”
“Look, Frannie, do you really trust Turnbull around big sharp carving knives?”
That won it, they were a duet, they sang the same tune, but each differently, and together it just worked. They wandered out of the department, leaving Frannie admiring Benton’s prowess with objects sharp and pointy in their wake.
As they got into the car park, Ray finally thought it safe, “There’s no beef dinner is there?”
“Not exactly, Ray”
“That was a big fat Royal Canadian Mounted Lie, wasn’t it?,” Ray asked.
“My father said that honesty was the best policy…” began Fraser.
“…he just forgot to add except when avoiding dates with my ersatz sister. Do you want to see a movie, then?”
“But Francesca is going, I don’t want to risk running into her.”
“I think this is the time we introduce you to the phenomenon of Blockbuster’s and delivery pizza.”