Ten Martian recruiting centers had been turned into infernos. There was little else in the news. Clarence watched the accounts hour after hour as the body count rose to 732.
The police boasted several leads and promised to bring the homophobic monsters to justice.
It was with great satisfaction that Clarence turned off the TV and took a walk down the street of his seedy neighborhood. As he listened to his guides praising him for his fine work he didn’t notice the three young black males crossing the street to intercept him.
Clarence swerved to walk around them but they blocked his path. “We want your money, Suckah”, said one.
Clarence was astonished, as he had never had trouble with blacks. He refused to give them anything.
One lashed out with a balled fist to his stomach. As he bent over another slammed a fist into the side of his head. When he hit the sidewalk all three began to kick and punch until Clarence could offer no resistance.
When they searched him they found only six dollars. “You dumb mothuh”, screamed one, “Only six dollahs? You took a beatin’ like that for six lousy bucks?”
Half conscious, Clarence replied groggily, “I thought you were after the two hundred dollars in my shoe”.
As he limped back to his room, Clarence talked over the mugging with his guides. It was obvious that the mugging was no coincidence. They had to be Martians.
That they were assuming the forms of Blacks caused Clarence to remember Josh, his black friend and almost father back at the hospital. Josh was the only one besides himself who knew of the Martian invasion.
He had spent many happy hours with Josh as the elderly black leafed through a Rorschach inkblot book he had carried away with him after his last session with his psychiatrist. Josh believed it to be his own family photo album. “Now here’s me an’ the missus at the beach last summer”. Clarence humored him as Josh would identify another inkblot as his youngest girl. Clarence knew that one was no little girl. It was plain to Clarence that it was actually a Martian eating an ice cream cone. But he never let on to Josh.
Since Clarence had attracted Martian muggers, his guides suggested he make it a habit. He would rid the black community of Martians. He would do it for Josh.
When he got back to his room, he fed the cat and went to bed. Next morning he was sore and broke. Luckily, he had bought several cans of Sheba for the cat and some canned food for himself. They would have to go without milk, though. Even so, his next SSI check was over two weeks away so he’d have to get some money. Well, Martian muggers would have all the money he needed.
But right now he had no weapons and no money to buy the makings. He did have about an ounce of super-strong ammonia distilled from store ammonia, which he had sucked up into a Vicks Nasal Inhaler. This was a devastating weapon. A shot in the face would instantly put anyone out of action for at least five minutes.
That would come in handy but he wanted something to hit with. He walked down the block to a garage and service station and went around back. After a few minutes of searching the ground he found a lug nut.
When he got back to his room, he rummaged through his equipment and found a foot-long piece of half-inch dowel and cut it in half. He next sawed a half-inch slit down the middle of one end. Then he forced the end of a length of heavy cord into the slit, wound it around several times, drew it under one of the strands and tightened it. He then tied the lug nut six inches from the dowel.
He had to rest and heal another day before he could go hunting, so he spent the time practicing. He had secured a pillow head-high on the open closet door. With the lug nut and the dowel in his shirt pocket, he would face the pillow, grasp the protruding dowel and flick the lug nut out at the pillow.
After a few hours of practice he could hit any point on the pillow within an inch. He could reach for the dowel and strike in less that a second. He was ready.
He rested up all of that day and the next. Then, after sundown, he went hunting. He hoped to meet the three Martians who had mugged him but that was hardly likely.
About ten blocks into the darker section of his neighborhood he was confronted by two blacks who were almost businesslike. The one on his right had a pistol and the other showed Clarence a knife. After the usual demand, Clarence said to the gunman, “Who should I give the money to? This other guy looks like a criminal. I wouldn’t trust him if I were you”.
As he said this, the gunman glanced at his partner, grinning at such stupidity. As he did as expected, Clarence snatched the dowel and, in one swift movement, swung the lug nut at the gunman’s temple. It half buried itself in his skull and he buckled.
Even as he swung, Clarence had the opened inhaler in his left hand and sprayed the knife man full in the face. The knife dropped and the blinded, agonized mugger whirled around screaming. Clarence picked up the pistol and shot him to end his misery.
He then searched both muggers and collected $184.63. As he walked away, he said to his guides, “Get back to Josh and tell him there are two less Martians masquerading as his people”.
Clarence decided to call it a night, as he was still stiff and sore from the beating. He went back to his room and bought more milk for the cat along the way.
In his room, he examined the pistol and found it had only four bullets. That would be a problem. There was no way he could buy bullets in New York, at least not for a pistol. He would have to find a source or make a shotgun, since he knew he could buy shotgun shells.
The next night he walked about twenty blocks before he saw what might be Martians. Two blacks were dragging a young woman into a doorway near a bus stop. They hadn’t seen Clarence. The young woman had screamed once but then further screams were muffled.
Clarence drew his gun and rushed to the doorway. The men were in the act of pulling her skirt off when Clarence appeared and shot one. The black holding her put his arm around her throat and pointed a pistol at her head.
Then he said to Clarence, “Throw down that gun and get out of here or I’ll kill you”.
Clarence couldn’t help laughing. “Why, you must be catatonic. Your gun is pointed at her so I’d have you shot before you could point it at me. Drop the gun right now or I’ll kill you!”
“If you shoot, you’ll hit her”, argued her captor, ducking his head behind the head of the young woman.
“If I shoot her, you can’t very well use her as a shield”, said Clarence. “So drop the gun; I’m busy”.
The black seemed to think a moment, then dropped the gun, let loose of the young woman and started to walk away. Clarence shot him in the face.
The young woman began to blubber and Clarence told her to shut up and get dressed, as he searched both of the bodies. When he’d taken their wallets and the pistol, he led the young woman back to the bus stop.
He asked her why she was in this neighborhood and she said she’d fallen asleep and gone past her stop. As he put her on the bus going back, she asked, “Who are you? What’s your name?”
Clarence answered, “I’m just a soldier in the army of the unseen, Miss. We don’t have names”.
When he got back to his room he opened the wallets and found he had earned $137.00. He decided that killing Martian muggers could turn into a good living.
He next came upon an I.D. card issued to New Yorkers who didn’t drive. This had belonged to the one with the gun. Unlike the first gun, which was an automatic, the gun he took from the rapist was a .38 Police Special with five bullets. Clarence liked the .38 better and one of his guides gave him an idea of how he could get more bullets.
He would go to the address on the I.D. and get the bullets the owner must have had more of. It was bold, but he might flush out yet another nest of Martians.
The next evening he took a bus and got off near the address. He found the tenement building and walked up the three flights of stairs. When he got to the apartment number he knocked.
The door was opened by a surly teenager who looked like a mugger himself but didn’t seem to be a Martian. The lad was about to slam the door in Clarence’s face but Clarence forced it open.
“Who are you, Honkey? You a cop?”, shouted the boy.
“No”, said Clarence, pointing his pistol at the boy’s face. “I came to get the bullets for this gun. I have enough to finish you and anyone in this place, so don’t get cute”.
The boy backed up and led Clarence into a room at the back of the apartment. It was a bedroom with stacks of unopened TV and VCR cartons along the walls. It all looked like loot to Clarence and he watched closely as the boy rummaged through dressers and found a box of .38 cartridges.
The boy was obviously obeying out of fright, but as he handed Clarence the box, he examined the gun. “That’s Johnny’s gun”, he said. “The only way you could have gotten that and to know to come here was to kill Johnny”. Then he yelled. “There’s a whitey here with Johnny’s gun. He’s killed Johnny”.
A scream echoed from the next room and a large female lumbered down the hall to the bedroom as Clarence made his way to the door. She blocked his way and the boy, emboldened by rage and grief at the loss of his brother, slid around his mother and blocked the door.
“You killed by boy?”, she roared. “You killed my boy!”
The lad then yelled, “Get the butcher knife, Mamma. Cut this honkey to bits”.
The woman turned and rushed into the kitchen as Clarence tried to force his way past the boy to get at the door. Before he could get out, the woman charged with the knife in front of her, meaning to impale Clarence with the force of her large body as she continued to bellow, “You killed my boy. You killed my boy”.
Clarence had no hope of disarming her. Almost on reflex he grabbed the boy and spun around with him and the woman buried the knife in her son’s chest.
What with all the screaming and yelling from both mother and son, Clarence was able to open the door and flee down the hall. As he left the building, he answered one of his guides, “Yes, they’re a noisy people. But what’s worse, they hold a grudge”.
He had dropped the box of bullets at the door and was in a foul mood. He blamed the botched mission on his guides. As he walked to the bus line he told them, “It’s all your fault. You came up with that stupid plan. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb”.
“Besides, they weren’t even Martians. Simple rapists and thieves our only haul in two nights. And I lost the bullets and there’s only five left in this gun”.
He continued to argue as he boarded the bus. Although he lowered his voice, his muttering caused the other passengers to stare, as he was the only white person on the bus. He stared back and as he did so he noticed three men a few seats behind him.
They were the ones who had mugged him. It was no coincidence. They were following him. They must have known what he’d just done. He’d have to get rid of them. He stared straight at them and they recognized him.
He kept staring until he neared his stop, then, continuing to stare over his shoulder, he went toward the front exit. One of the muggers nudged the other and the three got up and waited at the middle exit, as Clarence expected.
When they all got off the bus, Clarence hurried down the street. They thought he was trying to get away but he only wanted to get away from the well-lighted main street.
The muggers hurried also and when they caught up to him one said, “Hey, mothuh, you got another two hundred dollahs in your shoe?” The three laughed and then stopped laughing when Clarence spun around and pointed his pistol.
Their leader said, “No fair, mistah, we ain’t armed.”
Clarence calmly and quickly put a round into each chest and sent the last two into the heads of two still flopping. He quickly took their wallets and left the pistol in the hand of one.
Back at his room, he counted the money from the wallets. He had earned $362.00. Actually counting the $200.00 he had lost to them, only $162.00. But those were the breaks.
One thing he resolved was to drop his dependence on Smith & Wesson. He’d make his own guns from now on. He decided on an improvised shotgun. Cheap, no ballistics, simple parts and ammunition easy to get without signing, at least outside New York City. He’d been reading gun magazines and knew that #1 Buckshot shells held 16 30 caliber pellets, the most destructive load available to civilians.
The next day he went to a large hardware store and bought six feet of 1 inch steel plumbing pipe and had it cut into 6 inch lengths, each piece threaded at one end. The clerk, just out of curiosity, asked what he wanted it for. Clarence answered that the didn’t know as he was getting it for his landlord.
He then bought twelve 1 inch pipe caps and two 6 foot lengths of 3/4 inch pipe.
When he had lugged the hardware and the remaining odds and ends up to his room, he set about sawing the 3/4 inch pipes into 10 inch length.
After he had made twelve guns, he took the Metro to Brewster. He went into a sporting goods store and asked the clerk where the nearest shooting range was so he could practice with his shotgun. The clerk gave him a location and Clarence asked for several boxes of single ought Buckshot. He presented his state I.D. card but the clerk wasn’t interested.
That evening he felt the need to test the gun. There was a basement in the apartment building but he didn’t want to attract attention with the noise. What with backfires and shootings being common in the neighborhood, he decided to test the gun around the corner.
When he got to the darkest part of the street, Clarence put the pipe cap against his stomach and slammed the barrel back. The shell exploded and the recoil nearly knocked him down and certainly knocked the wind out of him.
That was no good. Had he been holding the 6 inch pipe in one hand, he wouldn’t have been able to keep his grip. Nor could he risk staggering around trying to regain his breath. He had to make something to absorb the recoil.
Also, the heat from the shell came up through the handle and burned his hand. Not enough to blister, but it did hurt. Moreover, it would leave powder flecks on his right hand. There was little chance of his being tested for firing a gun but he’d better solve those problems.
He had looked around the basement while he and his guides talked over the testing. He remembered some old sponge rubber mattresses in one corner. He went down and cut a square foot from one, along with an odd piece of 1/4 inch plywood and took them up to his room.
He cut an 8×8 inch square from the plywood and rounded its corners. He then cut the piece of mattress to the same size. He used GOOP to glue on the plywood and now had a 4 1/2 inch thick pad with the plywood rest to absorb the recoil.
Next he cut a 4 inch square by 1 inch thick piece of mattress and made a slit in its middle. This he slipped over the barrel to absorb any heat and powder specks coming up through the handle. He made three more as spares.
Clarence spent the next day feeding the cat, watching TV and practicing loading, drawing, stripping off the duct tape, dry-firing with a spent shell and disassembling the shotgun. He got so he could fire, disassemble and throw the pieces in all directions in under 10 seconds, just in case a patrol car should come into view.
That night he put the pad, plywood side out, inside his jacket over his stomach. It gave him a bit of a pot-belly but wasn’t too noticeable. He’d cut a pocket-sized slit in the jacket a few inches to the right of the zipper. Through this slit he pushed one of the guns and lodged it at the top of the pad.
He put one gun in each of his pants pockets and another into his right jacket pocket which he had lengthened to keep it out of sight. He also put a dozen shells into his left jacket pocket. Then the one-man-army went out into the dark street hunting for Martians.
He walked fifteen blocks, floating on air despite the weight. He was so happy that he had the perfect weapon to rid the planet of oodles of Martians. But, of course, he could go back to Brewster and get more shells.
As he was fantasizing, three blacks turned the corner and nearly bumped into him. They could have gone around but stopped and barred his way.
Clarence looked up and down the street and one of the blacks said, “No use man, there’s no cops anywhere around.”
“This is our hood, baby”, said a second.
Clarence was looking for cops, but was relieved not to see any and was glad of the black’s reassurance. The third black pulled a gun and held it sideways, taunting Clarence.
“Now, this here’s a forty-five caliber automatic. It’s for killin’ white fools who come into our hood and don’t turn over their money fast. And maybe even if they do turn it over. What do you think, Fool?”
“Well”, said Clarence, drawing his own through the slit in his jacket, “I don’t think it compares with a twelve gauge, single-ought with sixteen thirty caliber pellets.”
The black took a moment to examine the weapon as Clarence pulled off the strip of duct tape, pulled the barrel out an inch and slammed it back. It went off with a roar and a flash pointed at the man’s chin. It turned his face to hamburger and he vaulted back as if hit by a sledgehammer.
Before the other two could react, Clarence changed his grip on the barrel, jerked it out of the handle and smashed it into the temple of one. The third mugger took off and Clarence dropped the pieces and went for the gun in his right pocket. He rested the handle on his front again, took aim and slammed the barrel home. The last mugger was twenty yards away when at least six of the sixteen pellets ripped into the back of his head and body. He went down on his face and twitched as Clarence took the wallets from the two nearest and picked up the pieces of the first gun. Then he loped to the first mugger, took his wallet and went down an alley to relax and reload.
As he replaced the shells and put on two more strips of duct tape, which he had stuck to the plywood on his padding, he marveled at the gun’s performance. It was quick and devastating and the pad had absorbed the recoil. It was ever so much better than any gun he had taken. He hadn’t even bothered to pick up the .45. So much for trashy weapons.
With four guns back in place, Clarence continued deeper into the ghetto. Ordinarily this would not have been the best hunting ground for muggers, as they would be working better neighborhoods. But neither Clarence nor his guides were wise enough to know this. Even so, a young, pot-bellied white man was a good target for muggers on their way to work.
As Clarence walked along he noticed a young white man coming his way. The fellow had long hair, an earring, a beard and wore jeans torn at the knees; a real scuzzbag. Even so, Clarence thought it best to warn him.
“Say, mister”, he said as the man neared. “This is the wrong neighborhood for whites. There are muggers around here.”
The scuzzbag stopped about a yard from Clarence. “That’s okay”, he said. “I mug niggers.”
“You what?”, asked Clarence, astonished.
“I mug niggers”, he repeated. “Of course, I ain’t prejudiced; I mug whites, too and spiks. As a matter of fact, I’m muggin’ you, so hand over your wallet.” The scuzzbag snapped open a switchblade and waved it under Clarence’s nose.
The white mugger didn’t look like a Martian, but then again, who did? Clarence pulled a gun from his jacket, stripped off the duct tape and blew the surprised scuzzbag’s face away.
It was nearly midnight and Clarence decided to ride back to his room. He walked four blocks to a thoroughfare and boarded a nearly empty bus. A block later two blacks got on and sat in the seats in front of Clarence.
As they rode they talked openly about going to Central Park where the pickings were easy. Clarence listened as his guides mapped out a new program for him. Instead of using him as bait, they would let him interrupt muggings. Clarence liked the idea.
He was tired but excited at the prospect of actively protecting people from Martians. He rode with the two muggers until they changed busses. He changed with them and they didn’t seem to notice.
The two got off at Central Park and Clarence got off a block further. He noticed which path they took and doubled back to follow them. The park was nearly deserted at this time of night but two tourists, so stupid as to be asking for it, were about to get it.
Clarence saw the two muggers waylay the tourists and draw guns. He left the path and sprinted toward them behind a line of bushes. As the man was handing over his wallet and the woman was emptying her purse, Clarence quickly stripped the duct tape from two guns.
He shot through the bushes, downing one of the muggers and quickly picked up the other gun. The blast of the shotgun shell rang through the area, the remaining mugger looked all over for its origin, not knowing where to shoot or where to go.
The woman tourist clung to her husband and, as they were out of the line of fire, Clarence fired again, nearly cutting the other mugger in half. As the tourists stood frozen in shock, Clarence commanded through the bushes, “Get out of the park right now. Go!”
The tourists came back to life and the husband dragged his wife toward the exit, leaving one of her shoes behind. Clarence came out of the bushes and lifted the wallets of the muggers.
Clarence quickly reloaded and left the park, never getting back on the path. Rather than wait around for a bus, he went down the subway stairs. He got on the first train and walked through the nearly empty cars until he came to the last one.
He sat down and looked out the window at the street signs illuminated on the sides of the tunnel. He was going the wrong way but he didn’t worry. Seeing him sitting alone, two more muggers cruising the cars approached him. Clarence slipped the gun from the slit in his jacket. As the lead mugger flashed his knife, Clarence’s gun flashed and the mugger’s insides made a mess of that end of the car. Clarence leaped up with the barrel and smashed it into the head of the other mugger.
He then lifted their wallets, fat from the night’s take. There were no witnesses, as the last car was empty. Despite the noise, the rattle of the subway train kept the few passenger in the other cars from hearing it. Clarence got off at the next stop.
From there, Clarence made his way to his room, fed the cat and watched TV through the night. The media was already picking up the stories of people being shot- gunned over a wide area. That the victims were muggers, there was no doubt, even without positive I.D.’s.
As yet, there was no media panic, since only eight muggers had been killed, this night. There was no mention of the two muggers and two rapists he’d taken care of two nights ago. Clarence counted his money and found he had more than a thousand dollars so he decided to stop taking wallets.
The next evening he went cruising again and got six more. Eight the next evening and only three the next. After a week, enough bodies of muggers were turning up in subways, parks and side streets to finally alarm the media.
The media, in turn, alarmed the muggers. Clarence had slimmer pickings from then on. Fewer muggers mugging made for a boring routine. Clarence would have to find different targets. He opened another can of Sheba for the cat and turned on his trusty little TV.
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Onward to Clarence’s next adventure…