Optimus CrimeBy Scott Cumming

Punk Noir Magazine

“Says here, his robot is worth twelve grand mint. You know he’s never touched the damn thing.”

“What are you hollering about?”

“Kevin’s Optimus Prime toy from the 80s. He keeps all the toys his daddy bought him on a shelf. Never opened them.”

“His little shrine to dear old departed daddy.”

“I’m thinking we steal it, use it to pay off our debt and get rolling again.”

“I’ve heard dumber ideas.”

We were in debt after our heroin was confiscated. We weren’t in jail because the cops didn’t know who it belonged to. We hid it under old Dieterman’s toolshed. The exterminator found it while clearing out a wasp’s nest underneath it and Dieterman called the cops.

That’s how we ended up ten grand in the hole. Not many folks bought H no more. Those who did were in dire need of it and we could afford to mark it up significantly. Everyone was all over meth and pills these days. We had it in all forms for all comers even though the sheen has been removed from the allure.

We might look like hicks, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how use the internet. Capitalism has done a good job of narrowing down the options. That auction site had all kinds of Optimus Prime toys and it took a minute to pinpoint the right one and less than that to click “Buy It Now” on the perfect fake.

Turns out you can get fake anything from China and for only $30 we had ourselves one fine looking fake 80s Prime. It almost looked too good. A good few weeks shipping time gave us plenty to butter up Kevin.

***


“Hey, Kev!”

“S’up, Buddy?”

“Uh, guys, what are you doing here?”

“We’re here to see you, man. Make up for lost time.”

“What lost time?”

“C’mon, Kev. We’ve been feeling bad about how we used to treat you and we thought we’d show you how we’ve grown.”

“I dunno, guys. That’s water under the bridge and all. 

It’s weird you just showing up out of the blue.”

“We’ve a case of beer and a bottle of Jack here. Can’t let it go to waste, can we?”

“Alright. Come on in then.”

Kev was suspicious and didn’t drink or let his guard down. We sat watching TV and tried to break the ice.

There were plenty of rumours about Kev’s dad not actually being dead. He used to be the big heroin connect in these parts. There were those who said he’d moved up in the world rather than down.

Kev was aware and we imagine seeing the latest heroin slingers at his door had him rattled. That, and the fact we used to steal his lunch money and give him atomic wedgies back in junior high.

When we showed up a couple of nights later, he thawed a bit and we started heading round every night. He began stocking up on booze, which saved us some expenses.

We were into the fourth week of this when the fake Prime finally arrived. We thought it was lost in the mail at one point. We’d started taking Kev out to The Rusty Cannon every few nights too. He’d really settled into our relationship and was happy to have friends. We almost felt bad for the guy.

***

“You really think the Rams could win the Super Bowl?”

“Why not? We all saw what they did last year.”

“Woo, Kev, you should put money on that.”

“Oh, guys, I got a fish on the hook here. I’m gonna bounce. I’ll catch up with you later.”

“You tap that ass, Wayne! Make us proud!”

“Shut up, Art. Later, Kev.”

“Later, Wayne.”

Wayne wasn’t about to tap any ass. He was off to swap out the Primes. We’d left a couple of windows off the latch for easy access. Stopped it looking like there’d been a break in.

“I don’t think Wayne should be the only one to have some fun, Kev. How about we go see some titties?”

“Sounds good.”

Kevin was in heaven while we were on the cusp of solving our problems.

We’d found a guy in the next state who could evaluate the real Prime and give us an estimate on its worth. Another expense, but it would be worthwhile to stop us seeing our demise.

***

“Okay. Let’s see what you guys have for me.

Hm, a mint looking G1 Optimus Prime. Don’t see many of those.”

“Yeah, my dad bought it for me right before he died and I just never opened it. I feel bad looking to sell, but needs must. Y’know the economy…”

“I hear ye, son. Let me just give this a once over and see what we’re dealing with.”

The guy took out a pair of special glasses and looked at the details of the toy through the window in the box. He inspects the box with the same level of detail and attention. He checks something on his computer and is looking between the screen and the toy getting closer to each with every pass.

“Son, I’ve got some news for you. This item is a fake.”

“What!” We exclaim simultaneously.

“You see the roof of the robot’s cab here. Yours is slightly rounded whereas the original toy had straight edges and a boxier look. I’m really sorry.”

“Well, maybe it’s just a different type of Prime. Surely it’s worth something.”

“Maybe twenty bucks if you’re lucky.”

***

We’re in disbelief. We went over the night the toy was taken again and again hoping we didn’t just take our fake to get evaluated. There’s a rap at the door and we call for the visitor to come in thinking it’s Kevin.

In walks a veritable giant, close to seven foot tall. He has to stoop to fit in our trailer. He’s followed by a shorter, older guy.

“Hey, boys. Do you know who I might be?”

We look at each other in befuddlement.

“I’m Kevin’s dad. And yes, I know I’m supposed to be dead.

“I faked my death because I didn’t want to break the kid’s heart. He was always too trusting. And it would seem he hasn’t changed.

“I’ve got the real toy. I knew some peckerheads would go after it and Kevin wouldn’t see it coming. He’s always isolated himself. The lure of a couple of friends was going to be tough to resist.

“Add to that, I’m the guy you owe ten large to.

“So, this here is my friend, The Nutcracker. We’ve got a deal for you both, but you’re still going to have to take yer licks in order that this don’t happen again.”

***

Kev had a couple of friends for life. We were working to clear our debt by sitting playing video games with the putz. It was a helluva job to compete with our broken thumbs.