9 floors up, in my small office, sitting at my desk, my knee hurt. That always happened when it rained (courtesy of a Japanese bullet on Guadalcanal, back in my uniformed days), and it was raining then. I could see it flailing against the window in waves. Cold, wet, and dark. I hate the rain. And from the looks of things, my new client wasn’t too happy with it either.
Although, she didn’t have much else to be happy with in the first place.
To look at her, you wouldn’t imagine. Tall, blonde, stylish, with a figure that made itself known, even through the raincoat which she still wore. And a face that seemed made for smiles. Even her name should have been happy. Penny.
She stood at my window, nervously smoking a cigarette. “I need your help, Mr. Hofstader. My husband was murdered.”
“I need you to find his killer.”
“Look, I know the cops in this town, most of them on a first name basis. They may not seem like it sometimes, but they’re very good at catching the bad guys.”
She took another drag on her cigarette. “Oh, I have no doubt that the police are very efficient. In fact, they already have a solid case against a suspect. They expect to make an arrest any day now.”
“So, what do you need me for?”
She gave a light, mirthless laugh. “The suspect, Mr. Hofstader, is me.”
She came from the window to lean against the desk, showing me her perfect figure. I was trying to figure out whether it was intentional or not when she continued. “You see, my husband and I weren’t getting along. The police say that he was having an affair, and that’s true, and that I knew about it, and that’s also true. Add that to the life insurance, and it isn’t hard to connect the dots.” She leaned in closer, so that I could smell her perfume. “I had every reason to kill my husband, and all I can tell you is, I didn’t. Can you help me?”
The phone rang. I figured it was another creditor, but it wouldn’t look good to let it ring in front of my new client. That’s when I realized I was going to take this case.
“Excuse me, I have to take this.” I reached over and picked up the receiver. “Hofstader Investigations.”
“What are you doing?” came the annoyed voice through the phone.
Sheldon looked at Leonard. “I said, what are you doing? This is anime night, not film noir.” They were in the video store. Sheldon grabbed the DVD that Leonard held. “I’m sorry, does The Maltese Falcon have catgirls, giant robots, samurai, or supernatural beings of any kind?”
“No,” said Leonard, a little grumpy at being torn out of his fantasy.
Sheldon put the DVD back on the shelf. “Then it seems like a very poor choice for anime night.” He walked back to the anime aisle, where their friends, Howard Wolowitz and Rajesh Koothrappali, were looking at titles.
Leonard followed. “You know, we didn’t have to come here. There’s a perfectly good anime from Netflix at home right now.”
“That anime had several significant errors. Or perhaps you can explain how the child could be playing on a game console when he and his mother live in the jungle in a hut? And the scene with the disco ball? Made no sense whatsoever.”
Rajesh heard this. “Oh, my goodness. An anime that did not make sense? Alert the media.”
Sheldon looked at Raj. “I intend to.”
Leonard sighed, wishing he’d brought the “sarcasm” sign with him. “Look, we’re here now, with plenty of choices. I’m sure we can find one that we can agree on.”
“OK, how about this?” Raj showed them his choice, Cowboy Bebop.
A new image appeared in front of Leonard.
Penny was in tight yellow shorts and a revealing yellow top. She leaned over and blew Leonard a kiss.
Leonard shook his head to clear the image. “No, I don’t think we should start that right now.”
“I’d still kind of like a science fiction one,” said Howard.
“Well, how about this one?” said Sheldon, pulling out another DVD, the Dirty Pair.
Howard saw the cover, with Kei and Yuri in their trademark outfits, and had a vision of his own.
Penny, dressed in silvery shorts and a matching, revealing top, ran into frame. “Come on, Howard. We can save the universe, together.”
Another Penny, in the same outfit, but with fiery red hair, came up behind her. “Yes, Howard, we need you.”
“I’m not sure I’m in the mood for old school,” said Rajesh. “How about this one?” He held up Black Lagoon.
Penny leaped over Leonard, her trademark pistols at the ready. Even before she landed, she was already shooting at the soldiers swarming onto the boat. “Move it, Leo, or I swear to God I’m leaving you behind this time!”
Leonard looked over the side to see more men, clad in black, trying to clamber up the side. He barked a warning to Penny.
“Damnit!” she shouted as she swept the boat with her twin 9mms. Several well-placed shots eliminated the attackers, but more were coming, too many. “Son of a b! How much cannon fodder did these assholes hire? Leo, time to go!”
As she ran toward him, he couldn’t help but drink her image in. Tanned and toned legs nicely exposed by her cut-off jeans. Well-proportioned body in the tight-fitting shirt. Little ponytail that swayed back and forth as she ran.
She was perfect.
“Leo, didn’t I say it was time to go?” she said as she grabbed him and ran. “Jesus, you are such a pain in the ass!”
Penny, clad in the red and black body suit she always used in battle, leapt up and threw her giant boomerang at the approaching demons. The weapon cut a wide swath through the monsters, killing many and scattering the others. She recovered the boomerang and ran over to Howard, who was lying injured after the attack. “Howard! Howard, speak to me! Are you–?” Penny broke off as she felt the hand stroking her bottom. Howard was feeling better, no doubt about it. Incredible, she thought as she clenched her fist, then unclenched it. The slap could be heard halfway across the valley. Penny stormed off, leaving Howard with a large, red handprint across his cheek and a huge smile on his face.
“Here’s a good one. Love Hina.”
Penny reclined in the rock pool, covered only a towel. She saw Leonard coming up behind her, and smiled, beckoning him to join her. “Come on in, Leonard. The water is so warm.” He was a little nervous about his own lack of clothing (wearing only a towel), but he entered the water. Penny looked at him. He started to speak, but she put her finger over his lips. Then she put her lips over his lips.
“Original, Crash, or 2040?”
Howard fired his gun again and again. The 10 foot tall, out-of-control robot roared and came after him, which was the reaction he was hoping for. However, his bullets kept bouncing off the metal beast, which was not what he was hoping for. He stood rooted to the spot, his brain unable to tell his body to do anything but fire the gun. Just one more bullet, just one more.
The robot was almost on him when he heard the familiar sound. A second later, the human sized (and shapely) figure in the blue power suit leapt onto the creature and smashed her fist into its shoulder. It roared again, its arm now useless, and rolled to shake off this new enemy. She leapt off, landing right in front of Howard. She ran at the beast before it could recover, aiming her fist at the weak point below the neck. Howard reloaded quickly and fired, hoping to keep the robot distracted long enough for her attack. Her fist connected, and her arm drove right through to the power unit in the machine’s chest. The robot exploded, driving the police units to cover.
Howard looked up. The blue-suited figure emerged from the flames, barely scratched. She walked towards him and opened her helmet. It was Penny. “Are you all right?” she asked.
“Fine, thanks to you. Again,” he added with a flash of annoyance.
Penny grabbed him and kissed him. He put his arms around her as they pressed close. She broke the kiss. “Good.” The Knight Saber turned to leave.
Howard pulled her back and kissed her again. He broke the kiss, and looked straight into her eyes as he said, “Next time, without the suit.”
“Hey, guys. Whatcha doing?”
The crew turned to see Leonard’s favorite neighbor, just come back from a shift at the restaurant.
“Penny! I was just thinking about y-, er, we were just talking about you!” stammered Howard.
“Just get off work?” asked Leonard.
“Yeah, just stopped off to pick something to relax with. What are you guys doing here?”
“It’s anime night,” said Sheldon.
“Anime? You mean Japanese cartoons?”
Sheldon opened his mouth to give what would most likely be a long discourse on anime and how it and cartoons were completely different, but Leonard beat him to the punch. “Yes, Japanese cartoons, that’s right.”
“Oh. You know, I’ve never seen one of those before.”
“Uh, well, you’re welcome to join us, that is, if you feel up to it.”
“Well … , sure, that would be great. What are we watching?”
“Well, we’re still trying to figure that out.”
“Can’t decide, huh?”
“This store has the best anime selection in the neighborhood, so there’s a lot to choose from.”
Penny looked over some of the titles. “What about this one? Is it any good?”
She held it up so the guys could see what it was. Sheldon saw it, and looked at Leonard and Howard. “Oh, dear.”
Penny stood in the center of the dirt road leading to the medieval village, her long, blonde hair flowing in the wind. She was wearing a cape, a thin black bikini top that barely covered her breasts, and a bottom that would make a Playboy centerfold blush. She pointed a gloved finger at Leonard and Howard. “I must say, you certainly have courage. Challenging me, Penny the Serpent! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!” Her chest was amply endowed, and moved up and down with each hearty laugh. Howard and Leonard had their attack spells ready, but couldn’t take their eyes off the hypnotic movement, and just stood there, silly grins growing on their faces.
Penny saw Leonard and Howard’s trance-like state. She leaned over to Sheldon. “Are they OK?”
Sheldon sighed. “Oh, they’ll be fine in a few minutes.” He put the Slayers DVD away. “If you’re new to anime, maybe we should see something different. Princess Mononoke, perhaps?”
Penny was still worried about Leonard and Howard, but allowed Sheldon to lead her to the other aisle. “Are you sure they’re OK?”
“Don’t worry about them.” Sheldon looked at his entranced friends. “They’re in their happy place.”