Welcome to the start of my ongoing project, Carmen & Rose. This is intended to be a series of very short 200-word stories, which together form a larger story, a romantic comedy about two idiots who have no business being in a romantic comedy. The idea is to make something similar to Chris Baldwin’s classic webcomic Bruno, where the entire narrative is presented via largely self-contained one-panel strips. As a rough guide, I’m picking themes for each story from the 100 Themes Challenge, and as you might expect the plan is to make 100 stories about my violence babies. Hopefully you’ll come to like them in time.
A Questionable Greeting
Rose told the cops she never saw the punch coming, but that was a lie. She totally saw it. She saw how beautiful it was, a work of art that literally swept her off her feet. Into a trash can.
The idiot co-workers she was making small talk with, they didn’t catch any of it. That was the first irritating thing. Not the punch, not the striking woman who stared at her fist as if she had no idea how it got there. Not even when she looked at Rose in panic, said “Oh shit,” and ran away. No, they were all watching her lying there in the garbage with a bloody – probably broken – nose, the most useless place they could have looked. They missed all the best parts!
So she lied to the cops. She didn’t want them involved, they’d just lock her up or something. She didn’t want justice, she was mad. The maddest she’d been in ages, like the world was covered with a red haze. Which, she admitted, could have been because of her definitely broken nose.
Heading to the hospital, she concentrated on one thought: I’m gonna find that bitch and punch her face in.
She Didn’t Say It Was a Good Reason
It was Phoebe’s turn to make breakfast. Eggs and toast; fruit and good coffee. Carmen followed the smell. “Mornin’” she mumbled.
“Oh hey, Didn’t hear you get in last night. Out partying?”
“Nah, just thinkin’.” She grabbed some papaya. “Wandered around and lost track of time.”
“Woah, hold up.” Phoebe waved a hand. “You, thinking? That’s not the Carmen I know.”
Carmen ignored the jab. “I punched someone in the face yesterday afternoon.”
“Isn’t punching people your job?” she asked, puzzled. “You’re not planning on quitting?”
“No way! It wasn’t in the ring this time. Just some woman on the street.” She got a faraway look. “What a beautiful shot, though! Sent her flying! But something about it bugged me.”
“What the hell, Carmen!” Phoebe shouted. “Assaulting some random woman should bug you! Why would you do something so stupid?”
“That’s the thing, I dunno why I did it. There was just something about her smile.”
“Yeah! That’s it! I punched her because of her smile!” She seemed positively giddy. “It pissed me off, and I had to smack it off her face, y’know?”
Phoebe sighed, downing her coffee. “All I know is, my roommate is an idiot.”
Statement of Intent
When Lucy got to the bar, she took in the damage. Split lip, broken nose, a black eye and several bruises and cuts. “Holy shit Rose,” she said. “You look like hell.”
She raised her glass, a bit stiffly. “Yeah, I love you too. Guess you heard the news.”
“Just what you posted on Facebook. That’s so messed up, sucker-punching strangers. And you never even good at look at them?”
Rose looked off to one side. “Yeah, well. About that,” she said. “I kinda lied to the cops.”
“You lied..Rose, are you stupid? Why keep quiet about something like that?”
“Because that bitch pissed me off, that’s why!” Her eyes flashed. “I don’t want her to arrested. I want to track her down and give her double between the eyes.”
Lucy’s drink arrived so she downed half of it. “Ugh, I get it. You never let stuff like this go. Never mind how you’re going to find her for now, just tell me something first. Have you ever punched someone?’
She thought about it for a while. “I guess Suzy in eight grade doesn’t count?”
“I can see we’ve got work to do,” said Lucy, before ordering another round.
Down the Garden Path
“This is a waste of time,” Rose said, taking a bite of her ice cream nevertheless.
Lucy eyed her over her own rum-raisin. “What is?”
“We’re supposed to be looking for that bitch who popped me one, remember? So what the hell are we doing, wasting our time like this?”
“Oh, we’ll be getting to that,” Lucy replied with a smile. “Have patience, okay?”
Rose fumed. There was no arguing with her when she all evasive. You could only trust whatever plan she had would make sense. The infuriating part was, it usually did.
Lucy was simply amused. The front Rose kept up wore her down, leaving her with little motivation. Seeing her so passionate was a welcome change. If she didn’t run out of steam, that is.
She looked back at Rose. “So, did you enjoy your treat?”
“Yeah,” Rose said suspiciously. “I haven’t done that for a while.”
Lucy’s smile was downright predatory. “Good, because that’s going to be the last one you’ll have for quite a while. Now we get serious.”
Turning down a side street, she led Rose to a nondescript building. As Lucy pulled her inside, Rose caught a glimpse of the sign.
Facing the Facts
The thing about Kelly’s Gym, it wasn’t trendy. No murals, no contemporary pop, just steel and sweat. Only serious workouts here. Why Lucy brought her there was a mystery, and Rose was growing impatient. “What’s with this place? You think we’ll find a lead?”
Lucy gave her a look. “Rose, I love you but you’re an idiot. We’re not here for that.”
“What? Why are we wasting time then?”
“Let me finish,” she said, testily. “We will find her, but we need to do something first. Tell me, what do we know about this woman?”
She waved the comment away. “Yeah, yeah. Besides that. We know she’s really good at punching. So that means?”
Rose wasn’t that big an idiot. “She’s an experienced fighter.”
“Right! And you are?”
“Wrong! You’re worse than that. You’re out of shape and weak. But we can fix that!” She swept her arm at the gym. Lucy was right. This was just the place to start. Besides, it was her only option.
“You think I can do it?”
“Damn right you can!” Lucy’s enthusiasm was almost scary. “But you better be ready for hell. Are you in?”
“I am so in!”