The Prankster groaned as he stood before a mirror three days later. He was wearing a red, white, and blue nautical-styled maternity outfit. His beloved mustache had been shaved off. “This is crazy. A man of my status dressed like a pregnant woman!” he cried.
“The only clothes that would fit you were my old maternity outfits from before I lost the baby, and I had to let them out, at that,” said Marcia Courtney. “I can’t let the neighbors think I have a man in the house. People would talk. I’m letting them think you are an old sorority sister of mine. When we go out on Halloween night, no one will think anything of it. You aren’t exactly the kind of man who blends in with the crowd. I certainly couldn’t put you in a real Halloween costume. People would still wonder why I was going around with a man who clearly wasn’t my husband. For all his faults, Allen is not a short, dumpy man!”
The Prankster nodded slowly and said, “Well, all the great comics did drag. I suppose I’m carrying on a grand tradition. I just hope this doesn’t get back to that thug the Parasite!”
Oswald Loomis sank down on the nearest chair and sighed. He was helpless. For three days he had remained a virtual prisoner of this insane housewife. She was all too aware that for all of his prowess as a killer, he was now too weak to make an escape without her help. She also had one annoying advantage over him. She had his stolen money, and he could not find it.
He had screamed with dismay when one stealthy search of the house had failed to turn up anything of his own except for his empty loot bag.
“I’ve been robbed!” he had shrieked, even as a dizzy spell brought him to his knees.
Marcia had appeared with her arms crossed and a smug look on her face. “I will return your money, your suit, and your gear after you’ve used your particular genius to kill my husband!”
Thus, the Prankster had reluctantly agreed to her terms. He knew that he was smarter than her and stronger than her under normal circumstances, but these were not normal circumstances. He was injured. He had no money. Killing her would not really gain him anything. If he attracted too much attention to himself, he would either be captured by the police or Superman, or the gangsters he had betrayed might even find him.
Marcia stood beside him and tapped one high heel like an impatient teacher with a slow pupil. “Go over it again,” she demanded.
He adjusted his wig and said, “We will leave this charming prison at midnight. We will go to your husband’s office, and I will rig a brilliant-but-deadly trap which will end his life when he enters the room but will appear to be an accident. Then we will part company after you return my clothes and my money and my car keys.”
Marcia nodded and said, “Perfect. Allen will never know what hit him. I want him dead, but I certainly can’t be suspected. I’d look terrible in those hideous prison uniforms!”
The Prankster grinned almost boyishly. “If the lady wants a dull old death by accidental electrocution for her spouse, then who am I to argue?” he groaned.
“He is due back tomorrow,” said Marcia. “He always stops by the office on his way home from these little trips. The office is closer to the airport than our home is. He’ll die thanks to your brilliant work!”
The next evening found the odd pair slipping inside the dental office. Marcia had a key, of course.
The Prankster worked swiftly and finally wiped his brow as he stood up slowly and surveyed his work. “It is done,” he said. “When he comes in to work and gets near the tools and the sink, he’ll get a real shock! It is beneath me to stoop to such a mundane means of wiping him out! I wish I could have used a bit of the old pizzazz! I could’a created a death-trap that ended his life and left him laughing!”
Marcia pursed her lips and said, “Tell me how — just for the sake of conversation. How would the infamous Prankster kill a man and do it with his own special style of comedic genius? Hmmm?”
He rubbed his hands together with glee and said, “A dentist brings so many delightfully gruesome ideas to mind! I could rig a vibrational charge like the ones in my trick joy buzzers to his models of fake teeth. They would kill him when he touched them, and it would be a classic spin on the corny-but-hilarious chattering-teeth bit! ” He giggled wildly as he imagined the murderous scene. “Now that’s a real knee-slapper! Of course, it would also scream the Prankster did it!“
Marcia merely smiled but made no reply. As she led the weirdly dressed killer out of the office, she smiled knowingly.
The next day, as the Prankster slowly climbed out of bed in the guest room, he smiled happily as Marcia entered holding his suit.
“I was able to mend it and with a little lemon juice, I got the blood stains out,” she said with a winning smile.
He nodded eagerly and almost grabbed the suit out of her well-manicured hands. “What the well-dressed felon is wearing these days!” he said with a grin.
“I also have some wheat cakes waiting for you. You’ll need your strength for the road. I want you gone before the sun rises,” she explained.
Later, the Prankster burped as he wiped his mouth and removed a napkin from his shirt collar. “I love your cooking. I shall miss it when I’m on the run,” he said.
“Thank you,” said Marcia. “I do like to watch a man enjoy his food. Have one more muffin!”
As he polished off the muffin, the Prankster stood up, only to find the room whirling in front of his eyes. “I don’t feel good. I thought I’d regained my strength!” he cried.
Marcia smiled and said, “It’s the drugs I put in your breakfast. They are just taking effect now.”
He staggered forward and sputtered, “Drugs? You witch! I did what you asked! How can you betray me?”
“Allen will go straight to the office,” she said. “He’ll be dead in a matter of minutes. Once he is discovered, the police will come here and find me helpless and distraught. A super-villain broke in and threatened me. He was high on drugs from my husband’s office. He boasted that he had killed poor Allen! He came here for more drugs and a place to rest. He held me here with his novelty weapons, but I managed to get free when the drugs slowed him down!”
The Prankster said, “You had me rrrig the office like an acc-accident!”
Marcia shook her head. “I let you think that was the end of it. I went back while you slept and followed your exact concept for the chattering-teeth death-trap. As you said, his death will have Prankster was here spelled out in ugly neon letters — figuratively speaking!”
The Prankster fell to his knees, and the mocking woman began to become a blur to his drug-altered vision. “Why? He would have been dead. Nobody would have suspected you!”
Marcia held up her hands. She was wearing oven mitts. “My prints aren’t on the empty gun I slipped into the trick lining of your suit. The police will think you broke in and held me at gunpoint. I put your car back out across the lawn! How could a mere housewife protect herself from a super-villain who made his reputation battling Superman himself? It will seem like you were behind it all. Your motive was an addiction to pain killers caused by the wound you received from Boss Doyle. For that matter, killing is just a cosmic joke to you. Your own M.O. will sell my story! I could not risk that the police would find out the accident was rigged. This way, the death will be known as murder, and you will fit the role of killer perfectly. My word will certainly be believed before the word of a crazy super-villain! For that matter, you may just have overdosed!“
The Prankster sank to the carpet and finally passed out.
Marcia casually dropped his now-full loot bag by his body along with the empty gun she had taken out of his hidden pocket. She hummed as she made her way to the front of the house and calmly staged a break-in and an apparent struggle. She did hate to wreck the room, but she could always clean it up later.
A little later, as the sun bathed the neighborhood with its warming light and she loaded her Halloween decorations back in the closet, she heard a knock at the door.
She kicked off one high heel, mussed her hair, and lightly stepped over the drugged villain to open the door to greet two uniformed police officers. “Thank goodness you’ve come!” she cried as she assumed a near-breathless tone.
The cops entered, and she gestured to where the Prankster snored on the kitchen rug. “The Prankster!” said one cop. “This is incredible! He’s stoned — call for medical help.”
“He broke in this morning,” said Marcia. “I was scared to death! He — he said he’d killed my husband! You’ve got to help Allen, or is it too late? He came back on the late Gotham City flight last evening! This fiend said he had killed him! Tell me he was lying, please!” She sobbed as she clutched the policeman’s arm.
“The late flight from Gotham?” he said. “It didn’t arrive; delayed because of fog. I bet your husband is safe and sound in Gotham City. I’ll check right now.”
Marcia’s eyes widened in shock. “F-fog?” she stammered. “D-didn’t arrive? Then why are you here? Did you spot his car when he arrived this morning?”
The older officer said, “I think we’d better explain. We didn’t come here because of your husband. He may be fine. We didn’t come here exactly because of the Prankster, either. No one saw him arrive this morning.
“We’re here because an elderly lady died yesterday morning. She had a heart attack after receiving a prank call. Before she died, she said she had received a prank call. It was a stupid old gag, but it scared her and brought on her death a short time later. We worked with the phone company and traced the call to your home. Apparently, there have been a lot of calls placed on your phone over the last few days. Calls that, in fact, turned out to be prank calls based on the times placed and what the occupants of the homes they were placed to told us when we inquired. You say your husband is away? Either you made those calls and ultimately killed that poor woman, or the Prankster has been here a lot longer than you’re admitting!”
Marcia stared at him in shock even as the Prankster giggled wildly in his sleep. And it had been such a perfect day in the suburbs.