If asked, Anthony would say he’s a good man. A good father, a good husband, a good cop. Not a regular churchgoer, but not a C&E Christian, either. He prided himself on his ethics, both at home and at work. He was easy to like and hard to anger.
That being said, even he had his moments.
“Are you fucking kidding me with this shit right now?”
Anthony was standing next to his car in a neighborhood that would need millions in urban renewal money to be considered a “bad” neighborhood. Even gang bangers only came here after dark on a dare. These facts made it even harder to understand why a doughy white guy, wearing tighty-whities with two large carpenter clamps on his nipples, would be here.
The man seemed nonplussed by all the activity around him. In addition to Anthony, two other detectives in street clothes joined five uniformed officers, three police cruisers with bubbles on, at least 20 onlookers, and, oh yeah, the quickly-stiffening corpse of what appeared to be a homeless woman lying on the sidewalk.
“Anyone?” Anthony asked. “Can anyone explain this?”
One of the uniformed cops, a sergeant, stepped forward and was about to speak when Nipple Clamps (Anthony had decided Nipple Clamps was his name, regardless of what his mom and pop may have christened him) began talking.
“I can read the confusion on your face, my good man, and believe me, I empathize with your plight. My true identity is irrelevant so for now, you can call me Nipple Clamps.”
A senior detective with more than 20 years’ experience, Anthony, for the first time he could remember, was at a complete loss.
“What in the entire fuck are you talking about?” Anthony managed to spit out. “Who are you, why are you here, and why the shit is there a dead woman laying here?”
“I already told you, sir, I am Nipple Clamps, and I am here to solve this mystery.”
Anthony looked around to his brother officers, who looked back at him with the same bewildered expression he knew he himself wore.
“Perhaps I should elucidate further,” Nipple Clamps said. “I am, for lack of a better term, a super hero, a meta, if you will. I was once a normal human being, much like yourself, until I came across these.”
He motioned grandly to the two large red clamps, one attached to each nipple. They appeared to be the type of implements used in woodworking that would hold pieces of glued wood together tightly while drying. And more than just dangling from his nipple, the clamps were actually holding on to the entire man teat, but Anthony understood why the nearly-naked man in front of him went with Nipple Clamps; Teat Clamps would just sound stupid.
“A super hero?” Anthony said, sarcasm fighting with incredulity in his voice.
“Yes, good sir!” Nipple Clamps said brightly. Anthony felt like, in Clamps’ mind right now, he had a cleft chin as his wide smile sparkled with a gleam like Superman’s. “I was a babe in the woods, so to speak, lost without any path. But one day, in a mystical castle, I found the Nipple Clamps of All-Encompassing Truth, Strength, and Tightness!”
One of the uniformed officers leaned in to take a look. “Sticker says they’re from Home Depot.”
“But, citizen, would you not agree that Home Depot is a magical place?”
The men in attendance looked around at each other and began nodding their heads and muttering, conceding the point that Home Depot is, in fact, pretty awesome.
“So alright, Mr., er, Clamps, what powers do you have and why are you here with a dead women lying at your feet?” Anthony said, still obviously unconvinced of the power of the Nipple Clamps of All-Whatnot and Et Cetera.
“I have the power of focus, good constable,” Nipple Clamps said, still talking as though he was wearing a cape and talking to a group of awe-struck toddlers. “I have the power of knowing when danger is near, allowing me to arrive on the scene and mete out justice!”
“Got here a little late this time, wouldn’t you say?”
“Not at all!” Clamps declared. “I arrived in time to see her murdered…”
He looked at the assembled law men dramatically.
“…by one of YOU!”
Nipple Clamps looked around at each of the officers with a smug, knowing look of triumph on his face. He did this for nearly a minute until it became obvious he wasn’t getting the reaction he was looking for.
“So, the thin blue line is in effect, eh?” Clamps said, stroking his chin. “No matter. You are men of the law. When I tell you who did this dastardly deed, you will have no recourse but to do your duty and place your brother in arms under arrest.”
“You mind if I talk to my, uh, fellow ‘brothers in arms’?” Anthony asked.
“Not all all, sir!”
Anthony turned his back to the pale, nearly-naked man with the twin clamps attached to his pecs. They were each trying to maintain a modicum of professionalism in the face of overwhelming absurdity.
“Alright, the guy’s obviously struggling with some issues, but he seems to really believe this, so be careful. He could get violent when we try to bring him in. I mean, there’s no doubt he has a high pain tolerance; those clamps have got to be killing him.”
Anthony turned around as Nipple Clamps began shouting.
“It was you who are the murderer!” Clamps said, pointing to the same policeman who had pointed out the origin of his namesake home repair implements. “I got here as you finished choking her. You were trying to extort money from her. You see, gentleman, this woman is one of the most highly-paid beggars in the city and your badge-wearing friend gets a cut from her and many like her so long as he allows them to panhandle!”
Anthony turned to Officer Thompson, the man in question. Amazingly, Thompson was looking very nervous.
“Eddie, he’s full of shit, right?”
“I didn’t kill her, Anthony, I swear,” Thompson said.
“But the other stuff…”
“Hey, she’s just some homeless broad, right?” Thompson said, looking from cop to cop.
“Jesus,” Anthony mumbled. He turned back to Nipple Clamps.
“Are you willing to make a statement that you witnessed this officer attack and kill this woman,” Anthony asked.
“Nah,” Clamps said. “I’m just fuckin’ with you. I killed her.”