As soon as I was well enough (and I learned, much to my annoyance, that Prince Adam doesn’t heal as fast as He-Man), I asked Alabam-Ra to take me to Target to buy some new clothes.
“So what’s it like being Prince Adam?” she asked as we drove.
“Like He-Man, but kinda lame.”
“You look the same as you did before.”
“Actually, in this form I have a mole, but I can’t show it to you, and I’m also much weaker.”
“Hmmm,” she pondered, “I wonder how other things stack up...”
“Hands on the wheel, young lady.”
Seeing how it was going to be such a big shopping day, Alabam-Ra decided to stop by the bar that she works at on the way to pick up her paycheck.
It was a rundown building with a large sign that said “The Shimmy Shack” out front. The sign looked to have some bullet holes in it but I guess it might have just been moth-eaten.
“Come on in, He-Man,” Alabam-Ra insisted. “ I want to show you off to my friends.”
After a lot of begging and boredom I finally agreed.
It was only about midday, so the bar wasn’t really crowded, but it was very dark with week-old smoke and lack of light bulbs. The handful of regulars who were there were mostly looking at some ladies who were dancing unenthusiastically in discount shark cages. When Alabam-Ra noticed me looking towards the cages she blushed a bit.
“I do that. I’m a dancer. One day I’ll be in that Fame movie.”
A burly and dirty man ambled forward to greet us.
“Why Alabam-Ra, you ain’t never said no nothin’ ‘bout havin’ no sister! An’ such a pretty one, too.”
Alabam-Ra laughed, “Cletus, this ain’t my sister! He’s my friend He-Man--”
Cletus pulled his welcoming hand back in revulsion. A few of the regulars glanced in our direction.
“This is a man!? Looks like some kind of sissy dude!”
“Hold on, Cletus,” shouted a man rising from his table and disturbing a pile of half-eaten walnuts. “Maybe this here sissy dude is English Bob!”
Cletus gave me a hard look. “Is that right, mister? Are you English Bob?”
“No. I’m He-Man.”
“That’s right,” announced Alabam-Ra, “an’ he’s a Prince of Eternia.”
“Prince of Fruitopia, more like,” the redneck who had until recently believed I was English Bob mumbled through a mouthful of walnuts.
“Alabam-Ra, why not get your check?” I suggested, and she and Cletus disappeared into the backroom.
By now a small circle of inbred regulars had formed around me. Cletus’s friend, whose name turned out to be Walnut Joe, was the ringleader.
“Fruitopia, I says,” he laughed for the twelfth time.
“You a prince?” asked another. “So sing ‘When Doves Cry’.”
“Yeah, sing us a song, you’re the piano man.”
I heard a commotion from the back room so I pushed through the crowd which whistled and hooted at me as I walked. As I approached the door to the back room, I heard Cletus say, “C’mon, gimme some sugar, baby!”
I walked in. Alabam-Ra was in his lap. She scurried down and fixed her top when she saw me. She looked sad.
I sighed, and as Cletus stood up, I punched him square on the jaw.
He looked at me with some surprise but with no other damage so I punched him again. This time he ducked. It sucks to be Prince Adam.
As I sailed through the air and crashed down on a table, I regretted not having listened to the Sorceress when she had suggested that I do some Prince Adam exercises.
To help me to my feet, one of the rednecks ran over and planted a pointy-toe boot in my side. This was a big hit with the Hee-Haw crowd.
“We ain’t had this much fun since the mechanical bull gave out!” In a dusty corner I could see the shamed and violated bull ride try and hide itself in the shadows.
I made the mistake of standing up and Cletus was kind enough to punch me in the left eye. As I staggered backwards I tripped over Walnut Joe’s outstretched leg and toppled to the floor in a mixture of blood, glass, and spilled beer.
In a beautifully choreographed move, all the rednecks began doing a Mexican Hat Dance, substituting me for the hat. Whenever I tried to get up, someone would punch, kick or beat me down.
The floor began to seem a very comfortable place. In fact, I kinda felt like taking a nap on it. I closed my eyes and began to fall asleep, lulled by the rhythmic kickings I was receiving. My lack of response had gotten so boring to my attackers that only Cletus and Walnut Joe were left. The others had gone back to their drinks.
“Wake up, He-Man!” screamed a little voice in my head.
“No!” I told it. “Anyway, I’m Prince Adam. Leave me alone.”
“Get up, Alabam-Ra needs you. These guys are gonna kill you and then what do you think will happen?”
“I’ll get to star in ‘Touched By an Angel?’ Screw you, I need a hero this time! Send someone else!!!”
Things in the outside world were lessening up a bit. I was only being kicked by one set of feet now.
I heard from somewhere out in space Cletus saying, “C’mon, girl. I’m-a teach you some respect!” and I heard Alabam-Ra cursin’ and carryin’ on.
“Get up, He-Man” said the little voice again.
I opened one swollen eye. Walnut Joe had pulled up a chair and was now only kicking me once in a while, when he wasn’t pouring beer on me.
“You awake, Princess? I’d love to show you how we treat a Princess of Power down here in The Sticks!” He made a kissy face.
Alabam-Ra was being dragged back into the back room by Cletus. No one else was paying much attention to anything.
“Aw, hell...” I sighed, pulling myself up a bit with the help of a table. If I was going to save people as Prince Adam, I was going to have to do it a little differently.
“What can I do for ya, darlin’?” asked Joe.
“Don’t kill me. I got money! Here, you can have it...” Walnut Joe’s eyes lit up at my words. I stood up on my wobbly legs.
“Give it here.” He extended a shaking alcoholic hand towards me.
In that instant, I lunged forward, grabbed his hand and pulled back two of the fingers ‘til they broke. As Joe let out a howl of pain, I kicked him in the walnuts.
Heads turned. Joe bent double, clutching his pocketful of miracles with broked fingers. I grabbed him by his Skynrd shirt and rammed his face into the jukebox, which shattered and kicked into a rousing rendition of “The Night That Minnie Timperley Died.”
Cletus let go of Alabam-Ra and barreled straight at me like a bull. As he came, I swiped a longnecked beer bottle off a table and screaming, “I HAVE THE POWER!” smashed it across his face. He fell back, grabbing his nose and screaming.
By this point all the rest of F Troop had gotten up and were rushing me.
The first to arrive got the rest of my broken bottle driven into the bit of stomach that hung over his belt. I’m sure it was only a flesh wound, but it bled lots.
Someone landed a punch on me while I was stabbing the ectomorph, and I took it and returned it with interest in the form of a headbutt.
Quickly I discovered that my martial arts moves were all still there - they just felt a bit rusty and maybe better suited to a better body. But I really didn’t have time for preferences at that point. I tossed a chair into one guy’s legs as he ran at me and, as he sprawled out on the floor, I brought a mean axe kick down into the base of his spine.
I was punched and buffeted so much that I lost count, but I refused to fall down.
“I’m He-Man,” I roared, “the meanest sonofabitch in the universe!” And after a few broken arms and ribs the rednecks were starting to believe me.
I lifted a table above my head and used it to crushed two midget-like hicks ‘til all that was left of them was some belt buckles and bits of alfalfa.
“He-Man, look out!!!” cried Alabam-Ra.
I turned to see Cletus standing behind the bar with a laser carbine. His face was a mess of cuts and bruises.
“Get out!” he hissed. “Both of ya, get out, an’ if I ever see either of ya agin, I’ll kill ya.”
I looked around. The place was trashed and all the furniture and patrons lay broken on the floor. Luckily the dancers were unhurt thanks to the shark cages.
“Let’s go, Alabam-Ra.” I turned on my heel and walked out the door, pausing only to tell the survivors, “That’s how we handle things back in Fruitopia.”
We both got outside without being back-shot, and I asked Alabam-Ra if she had gotten her check, and she laughed and showed me a bag of money she had stolen along with it. I couldn’t really make her put it back, what with Cletus’s threat and the fact that she admitted to having set fire to the back room during the fight.
“That’ll be a lesson to me, sure!” she said as she started the ignition. “Never work for relatives!”