SiP 3/1-30

3-1

ICO003945_1It’s Francine’s turn to dream. She’s a mild-mannered secretary by day, buxom super heroine by night with bee-stung lips. Katchoo is a super-villainess with an eye patch, a cigar, and a fully-automatic pistol with a thirty-round clip. Katchoo pauses in her villainy long enough to kiss Francine’s hand. Then they are separated. Francine calls out, “Don’t leave me!”

When she wakes up, her cute little daughter with pigtails wants to crawl in bed with her. Francine looks years older. She’s living back at her mother’s house now. She goes out to meet her husband for lunch. He’s late, but Francine runs into Casey at the restaurant. Casey mentions Katchoo, but Francine says she hasn’t seen her for ten years. Casey mentions that she just saw Katchoo in the lobby. Francine excuses herself and runs out to meet her. Nothing.

Flashback: Francine remembers the time when she lived with Katchoo in a tiny garage apartment, eating mushroom pizzas and doing Elvis impersonations. Katchoo hates it when Francine does her “Fat man” voice (this is an important cue weeks later, when Detective Walsh brings Katchoo a mushroom pizza from “The Fat Man” to let her know Francine is safe).

The nosy neighbor lady watches Katchoo and Francine galavant around and worries that they are two wild girls who will bring boys over and do drugs. She can’t get her husband to get up and take a look even when she says one of the girls is half naked on her porch singing at the top of her lungs. After his wife goes to bed, he does get up and take a look-see. “Well, whadya know, maybe it will be a good year after all.”

3-2

volume03issue02In her tiny apartment Francine gets ready for a job interview. Katchoo says why bother, the rent’s free, she’s going to start painting again, and they can live off that until they can get the money in Switzerland. But Francine has her heart set on it.

Katchoo suggests she lies to them in the interview, since that’s what advertising agencies do anyway. Lie. Katchoo sends her on her way. “What a ditz,” she mutters. “But she’s so cute!”

The landlady flirts with Katchoo after Francine leaves.

Then David shows up and invites Katchoo to lunch. She’d rather paint David nude. He thought she forgot all about that. She has to talk him into doing it again. “We’re artists!” she says. “We leave these magic images in our wake like the footprints of God! What is a gallery but a collection of fires set by the stars who fell to Earth!” At the end, Katchoo tells him this is her way of getting closer to David. He can either accept it or reject it, no conditions. He says yes.

At the agency Francine witnesses a high-pressure brainstorming session as the employees hash out ideas for an account. Then the boss is ready to do the interview. Francine tries to remember all the things Katchoo told her to say, but she completely muffs her lines. Somehow Francine gets the job anyway because the boss is so stressed out she can’t even focus on reality and see that Francine has zero experience.

In the elevator after the interview Francine is on the left side of a bookcase a man is moving. On the right side a pair of men come in talking trash about the new girl who was just hired. They really grind Francine into the dust, because they have no clue she is there. The man moving the bookcase tries to be sympathetic to her, but she leaves in tears, wishing she could get even and make men crawl.

On the street on the way home Francine passes a gym. An athletic woman intimidates a man in the street who is staring at her and tells him to get out of her face. Francine decides to join that gym.

3-3

volume03issue03Francine comes home and sees the male nude painting Katchoo has started. Looks like David, she says. It is David, Katchoo replies. Francine wonders what he will say if he knew Katchoo was omitting his clothes. Katchoo replies that David posed nude for the painting. And this turns into a fight. Francine is jealous. Katchoo says she’d rather paint Francine nude. Francine says she’ll think about it, once again too timid to jump in with both feet, but at least she’s off the subject of David.

Francine goes to the gym and is assigned her own trainer, Monica, a girl with huge arms and no butt. Monica takes her measurements and weighs Francine. She’s 169 lbs, so she needs some work. When Monica puts her on the machines, Francine starts thinking of killing Monica, because she knows too much. Not even Katchoo knows her true measurements.

By the time Francine was finished, she was too tired to walk the three blocks to work, so she thought she’d flag down a bus. The next thing she knows, a bus splashes mud all over her nice work clothes.

Back at the apartment David sees the partly-finished nude and he says it’s obscene. This really pisses Katchoo off. He’s got a lot of nerve to walk into her house and say her art is obscene. Does he think it’s wrong for an artist to paint her boyfriend? She compares David to his sister Darcy Parker, always playing head games. She presses this button some more, and it hits a nerve, he blows up. “SHUT UP! I’M NOT LIKE THAT! I AM NOT MY SISTER!”

Katchoo asks what he’s doing there. He says he just wants to share her life. She swings her arms around the tiny apartment. “This is my life now, David. I do nothing. I keep my mouth shut and try to forget about where I’ve been, what I’ve done, who I did it with.” There’s a sudden silence, and she continues. “I paint.”

David says he knows the feeling that makes her want to hide for the rest of her life. She asks him how he got through it. He answers, “Jesus Christ.”

Francine’s friend at work steals some dry clean clothes from the condom commercial they are shooting down the hall. It’s the best she can do. Francine is grateful, but she dreads spending her first day at work dressed like that (later when Katchoo sees it she says she looks like a hooker in a school crossing, “I don’t know whether to jump you or wave you across”.) Francine steels herself and opens the door. “Oh my god,” the director says…”THAT’S IT! That’s the look we need! People, THIS is the new Command Purpose Condoms Girl!”

3-4

volume03issue04Francine is being pressured to pose for a commercial for condoms, but she doesn’t want to do it. Her new boss says they’ve spent three months trying to land this account, and she doesn’t care if Francine is asked to quack like a duck, she better do it.

At the apartment, David tells Katchoo if it wasn’t for Jesus Christ, he would be in a hole six feet under. Katchoo asks why he didn’t tell her he was a Christian before. Would it have made a difference? “Did it make a difference in your life, David?” Yes, he replies. “Thanks for sharing.”

Katchoo then launches into a series of questions about her past. David knows the answers to all of them, even the ones Katchoo is certain she never told David. “I always know you weren’t telling me everything, David, but now I realize you’re not telling me anything, and you won’t even share your God with me.” She congratulates him on finding a new way to abuse her that she never imagined existed.

“Katchoo, wait…!” he objects. But she won’t let him call her that. Only her friends call her that. She slams the door, and David must go home in the rain.

By the time Francine comes home from work, Katchoo is rip-roaring drunk. Francine is upset because Katchoo knows she’s not supposed to be drinking. When Francine goes to make coffee, she finds the nude painting of David smashed up in the pantry. She asks if Katchoo and David had a fight. Katchoo pulls Francine close for a kiss…

Cut to Chuck having sex with Rachel. He finds it “earth shattering”, but Rachel is bored out of her mind. She talks about how her company hired Francine Peters (his old girlfriend) to be the new spokesperson for Command Purpose Condoms. She titilates him with a description of what she was wearing, but Chuck is uncomfortable talking about Francine to her. Rachel assures him she doesn’t care what they do as long as it’s not boring. She tosses her long dark hair back and we see the Lily tattoo over her breast. Rachel is a Parker Girl.

Back at the apartment Francine has locked herself in a closet rather than have sex with Katchoo. She won’t open the door because she’s too embarrassed. Why? Katchoo asks. We didn’t do anything. “No, but I was going to! I wanted to!”

3-5

volume03issue05Francine spent the whole night in the closet (literally) rather than allow her attraction to Katchoo to flourish. When she finally comes out it is to get ready to go to work. Katchoo says she doesn’t have to be ashamed, there is nothing Francine could do with Katchoo that she hasn’t wished for. Francine says she wasn’t prepared for how it made her feel: like somebody else. Katchoo tells her, “I know I’m spending my life with the right person. Are you?” Francine starts to cry and goes to work.

Rachel grabs Francine and takes her to a presentation. Along the way Rachel talks about her boyfriend Chuck Janson. Wow, what a coincidence, Francine thinks. Yeah right. Rachel says she’s meeting Chuck for lunch after the presentation, why don’t Francine come along? She doesn’t want to do it, but Rachel is persistent.

Katchoo goes to David’s apartment. He’s already moved out. She tells the landlord she needs to find a family heirloom, so he lets her into the vacant apartment to look. The only thing Katchoo finds is a crude drawing David made of her and David, holding hands, naked, standing on top of Francine’s head. It makes Katchoo break out laughing for a second, then she starts to cry.

At the presentation, things aren’t going so well, until Rachel asks Francine to hold the chart under her breasts. Rachel squeezes the back of Francine’s blouse, causing her boobs to stand out as she talks about growth, expansion, the coming year, busting through restraints, stripping the competition bare, etc. The meeting ends in a standing ovation, they’ve not only won the account, some of the guys want to give her the whole damn company. When Francine and Rachel leave, Francine is mad as hell. Rachel tells her she just showed her the secret to life, the universe, and everything, and what she does with that power is up to her.

At lunch Rachel interrogates Francine about her life and hears about Katchoo (she pretends not to know her). She talks about Brad while Brad is sitting right there and she is very frank about their sexuality, which makes Francine uncomfortable. The conversation drifts back to Katchoo, and Rachel gets more and more creepy until she finally asks, “Is she a dyke?” Francine gets totally upset and leaves. Rachel mutters to herself, “Fascinating, she really draws the line at Katchoo.”

Francine doesn’t wait for a cab, she runs all the way home, with Rachel’s words ringing in her ear, “Immigrant’s daughter…questionable character….what will people think…is she a dyke…?” Francine’s mind overrides this with one repeating thought: SHE’S MY BEST FRIEND. She throws open the door and takes Katchoo into her arms.

3-6

volume03issue06While Rachel is taking a shower, Chuck looks in her purse and finds a 9mm semi-auto. While he plays around with it, Rachel, dripping wet, comes from behind takes it from him, drops out the clip, and ejects one round that was in the chamber, the one that would have killed him if he kept playing with the gun. He says he was just looking for her keys. “Chuck,” she growls menacingly. “Next time. Ask.”

At the apartment, the newfound closeness between Francine and Katchoo is spoiled a bit when Francine says something that is misunderstood, and Katchoo’s temper boils over. She takes a mighty swing and knocks their whole dinner setup to the floor. “I dream of you, and you have nightmares of me,” she says, No, that’s not true, how could you even think that? C’mon, it’s me, Francine, I love you.

They go out to eat instead. Francine is in awe of Katchoo’s willpower, but she knows that it’s so strong because she has to use it so much. The conversation drifts to David. Katchoo says he creeped her out by knowing little things about her that she never told him, while remaining a complete mystery to her. Francine says maybe he was just more interested in Katchoo than himself. Half the women in America are looking for someone like David. Then Francine mentions that it was obvious that David was abused in his childhood, but of course Katchoo knew that already, didn’t she? Katchoo turns pale. She missed the signs. Now she begins to cry, because of what she did to David, killing their relationship. She has to find him.

Meanwhile, the head of one of the five crime families is having a sit-down with Darcy Parker. He says he covered for her on that embarrassing Senator Chalmers thing, but now she’s got this new deal with a Presidential candidate going, and he’s concerned about the way Darcy yanks her girls in and out of these setups. Someone is going to make the connection if she keeps it up. She’s pissed off that Sal is telling her how to run her business. Sal says she’s already under federal investigation. If she screws up this DC operation, there’s nowhere she can hide.

At Chuck’s house Rachel takes a call from Darcy. Rachel’s real name is Veronica. Darcy tells her she needs her back in Washington by morning.

Katchoo is going to Los Angeles to find David. What she doesn’t tell Francine is that David is probably in the heart of his sister Darcy Parker’s lair. Francine sees her off at the airport with tears.

Rachel/Veronica is packing her stuff, and Chuck wants to know why she’s leaving. She’s stone cold silent. He gets more and more adamant. Finally she flips him onto the ground and gets him in the trademark Parker Girl nose hook hold where she nearly peels his face off. She says, “Someday you will lay beside your snoring wife and try to remember every inch of me, and I’ll always hate you because you can.” She releases him, and says he has no idea how lucky he is. Then she leaves.

3-7

volume03issue07Now it’s Francine’s turn to wake up and destroy her alarm clock. At work she gets the news that “Rachel” is gone. Her coworkers say it’s funny, because she came in the same way. Their parent company PACKARD-YERR sent Rachel there four months ago with orders to make her fit in.

On the streets of LA “Ralphie” and “Norton” walk into a lesbian bar, oblivious to what it is. Ralphie starts hitting on Katchoo, who is drinking shots and building a pyramid of the shot glasses when she’s finished with each one. Katchoo passes out and falls on the floor under the bar. Ralphie picks Katchoo up, but no one will help him because she’s a “Parker Girl” which means “hands off”. Just then Tambi walks in, a giant of a woman. She takes Katchoo off Ralphie’s hands and slings her unconscious over her shoulder. A femme exclaims, “How romantic!” as Tambi walks out of the bar and loads Katchoo into a limo.

The next morning Katchoo (who doesn’t remember Tambi scooping her up) checks into a dive of a hotel in LA and calls Francine, who tells her that Rachel quit her job just the other day, and now she’s on television, with a new name “Beverly Pace” and she’s engaged to be married to the Republican candidate for President after the “untimely” death of his wife Barbara in an car accident last year.

Francine mentions that her parent company PACKARD-YERR pulled Rachel off the job. This makes Katchoo swear like a sailor. When Francine asks what’s going on, Katchoo tells her that it’s an anagram for something else. But she has to go, she’ll call Francine later tonight.

Francine grabs a piece of paper and works it out. Packard-Yerr. Card Yarder. Perrd Racka. Dark Pace. Darcy Parker.

3-8

volume03issue08Darcy Parker is the most wicked woman in America. Once, long ago, Katchoo was Darcy Parker’s lover and closest confidant. But nobody walks away from Darcy and lives happily ever after. At first Katchoo thought Darcy’s brother David was a DUC (Deep Underground Capability) asset. But Francine made her think maybe David was for real. And he might be an emotional cripple. If that is true, Katchoo can’t turn her back on him. Katchoo is there in Darcy’s mansion to find out, to either save David or kill him.

Katchoo was involved with the security modifications to Darcy’s place, and she deliberately left some blind spots which she is now utilizing. She overhears David asking Darcy to give her blessing on his relationship with Katchoo. Darcy can’t do that because she’s not finished with Katchoo yet. Darcy says he can’t love her because he doesn’t know her. “We’ve all made mistakes,” he replies. No, Katina didn’t make mistakes, Darcy countered. That’s what made her so brilliant. She’s a cold-blooded murdering lesbian who specializes in things he can’t even imagine. David offers to do what his sister wants and join her organization if only she lets Katchoo go free. Darcy refuses.

Katchoo can’t hear what David is saying. She needs to get closer. But she is cut off by Tambi wielding a big stick. Lights out.

Francine comes over to see if she can find Rachel. Chuck is high on painkillers and his nose is bandaged up, and Freddy Femurs is there. Chuck’s mouth starts flapping, and it comes out that they have pictures of Francine on a beach, together with the bikini she wore. Francine freaks out when she finds out Chuck gave them to Freddy. Francine demands them back from Freddy or she’s going to tell Casey every slimy secret he has. She runs through a litany of them, but Freddy is bored. When she gets to the hair plugs, Freddy relents and promises to bring the polaroids to her, And the bikini.

Katchoo wakes up, in Tambi’s words, “43 floors above the spot where you’re going to die.” Tambi brings up the stolen money. Katchoo insists it was planted on her by Samantha the night Emma and her were with Senator Chalmers. Sam was going to double cross Tambi just like she was doing Darcy. Sam used Katchoo as a blind to get the money out of the house, but she didn’t know Katchoo planned to run away with Emma that very night. And she couldn’t return the money because Darcy would kill her anyway.

Tambi still wants the money. Katchoo says she can have it if she has the guts to draw it out. Everybody and their mother is watching the account. “But you’re not very smart, you came back,” Tambi said. For David, Katchoo says. “Then he’s next. And after him, your girlfriend.” Katchoo freaks out and begs Tambi not to hurt Francine, she knows nothing. “Have you been telling me the truth?” Tambi asks, while she dangles Katchoo over the balcony. Yes, every word. “Good, I believe you.” Then she drops Katchoo.

3-9

volume03issue09“Welcome to hell, Katina,” Darcy Parker says. “Remarkable how it looks just like Los Angeles.”

Katchoo has only fallen a few feet to a balcony below. Old gang interrogation trick. “Without me your life is one big fall,” Darcy continues. “Today I caught you. But tomorrow?”

Katchoo says tomorrow she’ll be as far away from Darcy as she can get. Darcy says if she runs, then she can make funeral arrangements for her girlfriend. Everything Darcy has worked for depends on one more job and she needs Katchoo to do it. Darcy reveals that Veronica, one of her DUCs, is Francine’s friend Rachel. That’s how easy it is to get to Francine, if Katchoo doesn’t do this last job.

Francine is freaking out because Katchoo hasn’t called her like she promised. She goes through Katchoo’s stuff and digs out her FBI files even though she promised Katchoo never to look at them. When she gets to the polaroids she is disgusted and drops the file to the floor and cries. Everything Detective Mike Walsh said about her was true after all.

Francine goes to Walsh’s office and reports that Katchoo is missing. Francine also mentions Emma, who died recently of AIDS. Walsh says he’s investigating that as a murder, chemical warfare from Darcy’s people. Francine says she’s got to find Katchoo, and when she finds her, she’s going to tell her she loves her and she wants to spend the rest of her life with her.

David takes a shower, gets dressed, all the while rehearsing how he can make an offer to join Darcy in exchange for letting Katchoo go. Surprise, when he goes downstairs for breakfast, there’s Katchoo at the table with Darcy. “Don’t just stand there, David,” Darcy tells him, “say hello to our little guest!”

3-10

volume03issue10Darcy briefs Katchoo on her job while David sits at breakfast with her. She glares at him and Darcy’s words fade into a dull background roar.

A newspaper reporter named Marshall is called into his editor’s office to answer for his latest story on the “Big Six”, which everyone else on the newspaper thinks is a mythical organization, like the Illuminati. The editor says he won’t publish a word of what Marshall digs up until he can prove the Big Six even exists.

After Marshall leaves, the editor calls Mike Walsh to talk about Beverly Pace. Mike says she’s connected to Darcy Parker. The editor tells him the Parker people murdered his wife, and they threaten to shut down the newspaper next time. He asks for Mike’s help to stop these people before they walk into the White House. Walsh asks, “What makes you think they aren’t already there?”

Now Walsh calls Francine, says he has a lead on Rachel and he’s going to fly out to Los Angeles to investigate. Francine asks if he’s going to look for Katchoo. He says yes, he’s got vacation time coming and he’s taken a personal interest in the case. Francine says she will meet him at the airport to go with him, and she won’t take no for an answer.

As Darcy wraps up her briefing, Katchoo asks what she really wants. “The White House.” Katchoo chuckles. That’s a popularity contest for white male gentiles. “Oh, I don’t want to live there, I just want to control it. Veronica can be the occupant.” Katchoo says even if she makes it and becomes First Lady, she’ll never stay there. Someone will find a loophole in her story and they’ll have Veronica before the Senate, and then behind bars, and finally they will come after Darcy. “Not necessarily. I’ve managed to get two terms out of my current girl, haven’t I?” Katchoo is impressed.

Darcy keeps talking while she aims a pistol at a man who is standing tied up in her room. She doesn’t skip a beat even as she pulls the trigger and kills him. Katchoo drops her wine bottle, but she shows no other sign of fear. Katchoo even manages to show some contempt when Darcy asks about her “trademark” tattoo, which Katchoo considers to be a scar. Darcy says “Let me tell you about the man you are going to fall in love with.” A man? Darcy launches into a litany of praises about him, and Katchoo keeps asking, “A man?”

David listens to everything while sitting on a staircase.

3-11

volume03issue11Katchoo flies to the “job” in New York, so jaded that a ten second free fall when her lear jet hits an air pocket doesn’t even make her blink. Katchoo has tried a hundred times to call Francine but there’s no answer.

She’s greeted at the airport by an Asian Parker girl named Sharon, who takes her to an apartment. First appointment is with Sonia, for a haircut. Sharon says Darcy told her Katchoo has been out of it a while but she used to be the best. Sharon tells Katchoo to trust her.

Salvadore Tuccanni, a huge mafia Don covered with thick body hair, calls Darcy but has trouble getting through. He’s pissed off at the disrespect. Darcy compounds this by putting him on hold just to mess with him. After another fit of rage Sal asks her why the Senate committee on crime is handing out subpoenas like Christmas presents. He reminds her that she said she would have that committee busted up last week.

Darcy urges patience, his way will only make them regroup, her way is permanent. Sal explodes and says he’s taking over Big Six.

“This isn’t 1963, Sal!” she tells him. “You can’t just blow away the men in charge of your public investigation.” Sal gives her until the end of the week, after that he’s not responsible for what happens to her.

In a rage Darcy hurls the phone. David has his bags packed and walks out of the mansion. “You’re not going anywhere!” she yells.

“Try and stop me,” says David.

She fires a gun and nearly hits him. “You’re not leaving me, little brother, not after everything I’ve done for you! I’ve built an empire, and it’s just for you and me. We don’t need anybody.” She draws close to him. “It will be just like when we were kids, remember? We never needed anybody else, we have each other.” She kisses her own brother. David throws her off from him, and this causes the gun to fire again, lodging a round in his arm. For some reason he doesn’t feel it or know it.

David tells Darcy the only thing she loves is watching things die at her feet, because it makes her feel immortal. Everyone around her is paid to be there. Everything she owns will belong to someone else when she dies. David says he has nothing but his faith. Then he walks. Darcy warns her not to go near Katina, or he’ll end up dead.

“I’d rather die with her than live with you.”

Tambi offers to stop him. Darcy says let him go. When he gets outside the estate walls, he looks at his hand, sees it covered in blood, and falls into a swoon.

Francine and Mike Walsh drive the perimeter of the estate just then. They see David. “What’s he got on his hand, a glove?” Francine asks. That’s no glove, Walsh replies. He runs to David, and tells Francine to bring the car.

David wakes up in the hospital with Francine. She tells him he’s been shot and his wrist is broken, but David doesn’t remember getting shot. After Francine assures David that Walsh is a friend, he tells him everything he knows about where Katchoo is and what she’s supposed to do.

Katchoo has been rude to Sonia, and Sharon tries to smooth things over with Sonia after she’s done performing her makeover of Katchoo. “WHAT is your problem?” Sharon screams at Katchoo after Sonia leaves.

Katchoo’s problem is…now she looks like Darcy Parker. She’s wearing a designer dress and makeup and her hair is completely different. Sharon says, “Well, yeah! Didn’t she tell you? That was the whole idea!”

3-12

volume03issue12Chuck is despondent at work, he’s always thinking about Rachel.  But lo and behold, the paper is delivered, and there’s Rachel on the front page, engaged to be married to the Republican front-runner for the White House.

Chuck isn’t totally clueless, he’s a lawyer after all. He remembers Rachel sliding the magazine back into her gun and saying, “You have no idea how lucky you are.” He puts two and two together and calls the FBI.

Katchoo drinks coffee and reads the same paper, making chit chat with Sharon about Darcy’s plans. The door rings, and Sharon gets it. A pizza guy is there, but Sharon says she didn’t order pizza. It’s really Mike Walsh. He says a certain code words which only Francine and Katchoo know…Fat Man. “The Fat Man ordered the pizza, you wouldn’t want to break the Fat Man’s heart would you?” Katchoo comes to the door and says she ordered it. Sharon has to go into the back room to find some cash.

Now Mike Walsh and Katchoo talk quickly and quietly. Katchoo can walk away right now if she wants to. “No, you need to hide Francine.”

“She’s safe.”

“There’s a party at the Lincoln Center tonight. It’s black tie, I’ll leave your name at the door.”

“And a guest,” he adds.

“Francine can’t be left alone.”

“I know.”

Katchoo is supposed to meet a Senator Bram tonight and seduce his wife so the press will be distracted from Henneman. Katchoo tells Walsh that Beverly Pace is a Parker Girl. Walsh is impressed. Darcy intends to shut down the Senate probe and wrap up the White House all in one move.

All Sharon has is a fifty. Mike Walsh takes it and gives it to the real pizza guy, with a thank you. Then Walsh gets in a cab with Francine and says they need to go shopping.

At the party Katchoo is putting the moves on Senator Bran’s wife. Katchoo has been made up to look just like her old girlfriend in college, and Marilyn is intrigued. Mike Walsh interrupts them and takes Katchoo aside. She didn’t recognize him without his thick moustache. “You clean up good, Walsh.”

“So do you, Choovanski. So do you.”

He has someone waiting for her. It’s Francine. And Francine hardly recognizes her. “Katchoo, a dress?! OMIGOD, makeup??!!! You cut your hair!!”

Katchoo slams her hand over Francine’s mouth and pushes her into the men’s room while Mike Walsh stands guard outside and tells a gentleman it’s not a good time to go in there right now. When Katchoo comes out of the men’s room she says, “I’ll be at the bar.”

It’s not very clear what Katchoo did to Francine in there, but Francine staggers out looking like something the cat dragged in, and she even purrs like a cat, and sighs, and she’s very happy and flushed.

Everyone at the party downstairs sees a television report with Senator Henneman’s “fiancee” Beverly Pace being arrested by the FBI after a tip from Charles “Chuck” Janson. The partygoers start asking a lot of questions, and the reporter Marshall Weinstein is there trying to fill in the gaps. He brings up the secret organization called the “Big Six” and says he’s been trying to get enough evidence to print, but he needs a miracle. Katchoo says she knows what the Big Six is, and she wants very much to talk to Marshall. He asks who she is. “Call me Miracle.”

When the paper hits the streets the next morning Sal gets a call from one of the other members of the Big Six. “I see a woman in flames. She needs a fireman.” Sal says he’s got one on it. Been there all along.

The amazon Tambi gives the maid a copy of the newspaper for Darcy to read: PACE A PAWN OF BIG SIX PLOT CLAIMS “MIRACLE” INFORMANT! “Oh God no,” mutters Darcy in a tiny voice.

“You’d be surprised how many people say that in the end,” Tambi says, aiming a pistol right at Darcy. “I always tell them the same thing. God is not with us.” She pulls the trigger and blows Darcy’s brains all over her pillow. Then Tambi puts the gun in Darcy’s dead hand, and takes a polaroid for Sal. “Goodbye Mrs. Parker.”

Sharon packs her things and leaves before the Feds come and raid the apartment. Everything Marshall gathered, including the information from Katchoo, is spilling out on cable news. He swears never to reveal Miracle’s identity. And the news goes on to say Darcy Parker, 42, was found dead of apparent suicide.

At a cemetery David leaves a flower on Darcy’s casket. Only he and the priest were present for the funeral. But Katchoo arrives. She tells him, “You know why I don’t like men? Because I’ve never met one who was faithful…until now.” They embrace and kiss.

“It’s over,” David tells her. “You can go home now.”

“Not without you. There’s just one condition. You have to share.”

3-13

volume03issue13

In which we go back to the day when Francine met Katchoo…

In high school, everyone’s assignment was to write a poem. Young Freddy Femur recites a stupid one about gay people popping up everywhere. The teacher practically has to drag Katchoo’s poem out of her. She stands and addresses the class:

This mask I wear, you gave to me

One winter night beneath the trees;

Its black and blue enshrounds my life,

Surrounds my eyes and blinds my sight.

This mask I wear pretends I’m here

And hides me from the awful fear

That you might find the heart of me

And take that too, beneath the trees.

This mask I wear to hide the pain

It’s all I have to keep me sane,

I just fell down, I’m told to tell.

There are no words to stop this hell.

This mask I pray to God for why

He hates me so to watch me die

A little more with every night

This man comes in and rapes my life.

But little girls grow up, my friend

And learn the wicked ways of men.

And this mask I wear comes off the day

This mask I wear lays on your grave.
The class sits in stunned silence, until Freddy breaks the mood with a stupid joke and makes the class sink into chaos. Katchoo sits like a statue. Later, in the lunch room, Francine Peters walks by with her tray and tells Katchoo, “I thought your poem was incredible.”

In the school auditorium a leather-clad Katchoo smokes and watches Francine rehearse for a play. She watches Francine cower under the verbal abuse of the teacher. Just then a boy in a leather jacket comes close to Katchoo and tries to make a move on her. Katchoo lets him have it in the nose with her elbow and makes her escape. “You’re dead meat! You hear me? You’re DEAD! Dyke!”

At home Francine is pampered by her mother while she does her homework. Mom wants her to get even more involved in school. Francine begs her not to call her principal and pull any strings. But overall Francine has a good relationship with her mother and she’s happy.

After Francine’s mother leaves, Katchoo shows up outside Francine’s window. Francine opens it and lets Katchoo take a look. It’s very nice compared to her house, which is down by the power lines and not even cockroaches can live there. Katchoo says she watched Francine rehearse and calls Miss Beem a pig for yelling at her. Then she kisses Francine’s hand and quotes some romantic lines that come across as a little jokey for Francine, but Katchoo is quite sincere. And Katchoo slips off into the night, banging herself on the Peters’ sprinkler system on the way.

3-14

volume03issue14Francine gets knocked down with a volleyball spiked right into her face. Later in the girls’ locker room Katchoo sees the big red mark on her face. Francine glances at another girl to let Katchoo know who did it. Katchoo avenges Francine sure enough, but the gym coach sees it and makes Katchoo stand in one spot the rest of the day.

Later that night Katchoo passes by Francine’s house and looks in the living room window. Francine is sharing dinner with her brother from college and her parents. A little bit later Katchoo shows up outside Francine’s bedroom window again. The get to talking about family, about school, and Katchoo tells the story of how she got her nickname…when she was born her father said she was no bigger than a sneeze. Katina Choovanski was too big a name for so small a girl.

Katchoo says Francine can call her that now.

For the school play Francine’s toga is too small, and Miss Beem insists she wears another one. The only other one available is too big, but it will have to do. Francine overhears that Katchoo was suspended for putting a cherry bomb in Johnny White’s locker. She concentrates on her small part but of course everything goes wrong. Freddy slips, grabs her toga, and yanks it off as he falls down, exposing Francine to the entire auditorium (this is exactly where we entered Strangers in Paradise in Volume I issue 1).

Francine is so humiliated she hides in bed and cries. How can I ever show my face in school again? “Well you might as well, honey,” her mother says. “They’ve seen everything else!” Whoops, that didn’t come out right. Her mother says some more cheery things like that, and then she finally leaves.

Katchoo taps on the window but Francine is not in the mood for her right now either. “Not now! Go away!” But the taps keep on coming. Francine raises the blinds and takes a look. Katchoo has been beaten to a pulp. Francine pulls Katchoo into her room. She’s really hurt, with swelling, massive bruises and facial lacerations, and Francine wants to run for help. Katchoo just says, “Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave…” and they embrace for the first time in their lives.

3-15

 

 volume03issue15

Katchoo goes to a food mart, still looking beat up, where she is watched with suspicion by the owner. In a rage Katchoo kicks in a glass display case and starts throwing the stock all over the place. The owner flees in terror after hitting the panic button. The police find Katchoo on the floor inside the ruined store, feeling sorry for herself.

It’s Francine’s birthday. Everyone tries to give her a good time at the pary, but she’s thinking about Katchoo. Francine’s mom and dad have a fight and he ends up going to his office on a Sunday night (or at least that’s what he tells his wife).

Katchoo gets bailed out of jail by her mother. “What do I tell Ace?” she asks. Tell him to stop raping me, replies Katchoo. But her mother refuses to believe it. Katchoo repeats it again and again, he beat the hell out of her and then he raped her. Katchoo’s mother doesn’t want to hear anything negative about Ace. “Get in the car, Katina! We’ll talk about it when we get home!” I don’t have a home, Katchoo answers. She walks away, flipping the bird.

It’s Francine’s first day at school since the play. All the boys in school greet her with a cheer: “Toga! Toga! Toga!” The teacher says, if Miss Peters will kindly keep her clothes on for the duration of the class they can get started. Francine is so embarrased. But Freddy is interested. He tries to get something going between the two of them. In her locker Francine finds a note from Katchoo that says she’s leaving tonight but she wants to see Francine at the practice field before she goes at 6:15pm.

Katchoo tells Francine she wants to go to Columbus Ohio to live with her aunt. Francine says she wishes she could go to a desert island where nobody saw the stupid play. Katchoo says she thinks they are already there. The name of the island is Paradise. Francine gives her some cookies. She’s sad because she finally met her best friend, and then she moves away. Katchoo says she must go, but she promises to come back someday. And then she looks away, never looking back.

And we see Francine many years later looking at this scene through the eyes of memory.

It’s been ten years since Francine last saw Katchoo. She has slipped into a deep depression. She keeps telling her mother, “I wanna go home.” She’s crying all the time and this is upsetting her daughter. Finally her mother breaks out a phone number she’s saved for many years.

Katchoo is a rich artist who lives in a New Mexico adobe house with only a maid for company. She gets a phone call from Marie Peters who tells her something has happened to Francine. She’s so sad and tired all the time, and she drinks and cries herself to sleep every night. Francine says she wants to go home. Marie says, “I think she means you, Katina. I can’t watch my daughter die like this. Whatever happened between you two, let it go. Whatever I said about your relationship, I’m sorry. Please, come back.”

3-16

volume03issue16Now we find out what the hell does Strangers in Paradise have to do with Xena: Warrior Princess anyway…

Katchoo runs through a checklist of cookies, chips, cokes, chocolate, popcorn, and hoagies and Francine yells check after each item. Because every Thursday night they watch Xena. And when they watch Xena, they eat everything in the house. Katchoo is thinking of the two of them dressing as Xena and Gabrielle for Halloween, but Francine is a little tall and she would have to wear a blonde wig. Francine says she had it figured the other way. Katchoo says, “There’s only one Xena in this house and that’s…”

Francine accidentally slams the door in Katchoo’s face and knocks her silly. “Katchoo, are you okay?” I think so, yeah. “‘Cause nap time is OVER!” Francine reaches for the sword she carries sheathed on her back. She’s dressed like Xena. Katchoo is dressed like Gabrielle.

They get in a tussle with two ruffians clad in loincloths who are looming over them. Katchoo knocks one out with her staff. Francine goes “swoosh” with her sword, and the string holding up her ruffian’s loincloth is cut. “Hey genius…missing something?” Huh? “I guess when the other guys are raping and pillaging, you’re just pillaging.”

She turns him into a eunuch and turns to see how Katchoo’s doing with her guy. She’s going wackity wak wak with her staff like a crazed maniac. Eventually Francine gets her to realize she’s killing her date, and Katchoo stops. “My date. He’s not the enemy, he’s my DATE. I knew that.”

Another ruffian screams he’s found them in the tower. “Time to fly,” Francine yells, grabbing Katchoo by her Bilious Green Sports Bra. Katchoo wants to stand and fight. “Wrong! You can’t bluff an arrow, Chewie!”

Francine jumps out of the castle and pulls Katchoo with her. “Francie, there is a lake or something down here, right?” Yeah. “Is it coming up anytime soon?” Probably. “You have no idea what’s down here, do you?” Not a clue.

Francine the Princess Warrior and Katchoo her trusty sidekick splash into the moat. Katchoo comes to the surface and tries to say, “I’m not a sidekick” but after going under a few times she says, “I’m not a swimmer.” Francine drags her out of the water like a drowned rat.

David sits on a hill trying to write poetry, but he can’t rhyme squat. “So much for David, the greatest poet who never was! I don’t have any inspiration! Nothing ever happens around here.”

Katchoo wants to get a sword in the next village. Francine says she’s deadly enough with that stick of hers. David pokes his head out from behind a tree and greets them both. Katchoo says she’s got a stick and she’s not afraid to use it. “You’re a little feisty for a sidekick, don’t you think?” Katchoo demands to know what makes him think she’s the sidekick. “Well, it’s kind of obvious, I mean she has a sword and you get the stick!”

David looks at Katchoo and tells her she’s really beautiful when she gets angry. He says he hears birds singing. Katchoo can’t hear a thing. Francine sighs and says she hears the birds all the time. Then she covers her mouth. “I said that out loud didn’t I? I hate when I do that.”

The mighty Amazon Tambi stands over them and says, “Maybe I can help you with that problem…permanently!”

Francine draws her sword. “Stand back, I’ll handle this. I don’t know who you are lady, but you’re gonna have to move, you’re in my light.”

Tambi claps her hands together and catches Francine’s sword blow in an iron grip. The vibration of the sword makes Francine ring like a bell. “Whooooooow that smarts! Ouch ouch ouch!”

Tambi goes “Next.” Katchoo tries to hit her with her little stick. Tambi picks Katchoo up off her feet with the stick and says, “Well what do we have here, a little version of me!”

“Let go, you frickken Lurch!”

“Never! I got you now! You’re MINE!”

David taps her shoulder and says, “Excuse me.” Then he plants a big kiss on Tambi. “Ta da!” Tambi goes nooo! Noooo! and stumbles backwards until she falls off a cliff to her death.

Not bad, kid, Katchoo tells him. What made you think of that? “Anyone who loves fighting that much is afraid of something else!”

But Francine wants to know what happened in the tower when she got knocked in the head. “It was the strangest thing, I dreamed we lived in the future! And you were there, Francine, and you too kid, and we all lived together in a little red castle we called ‘Rent House’…”

3-18

volume03issue18

At a two-bit art school the instructor is impressed with Katchoo and he wants to put her stuff on exhibit. He needs the exposure and so does she. Katchoo says she would rather die. She only comes there for the models. The instructor says no one has to know she came up through his “system”, he can just be her private sponsor. She relents.

When Katchoo announces she will be featured at the exhibit, Francine wants to go shopping. She doesn’t want people to think they live in a rent house by the railroad tracks. Katchoo says, “We do live in a rent house by the railroad tracks.”

David suggests she put her male nude paintings on display. Katchoo says she’s looking for something softer and closer to her heart. Just then she lets her eyes rest on a half-naked Francine. “Oh no! I know that look! No way!” But Katchoo begs her. “You are my model, you are already in everything I do, everything I dream. So when do we stop hiding from each other? When do we get to live as if we belong here?”

That was years ago. Francine wakes up, still depressed. She looks out the window at the falling leaves, Then she stumbles downstairs. She hears people talking in the kitchen. She takes a look. Her daughter sees her. “MOMMY LOOK! I’M MAKING BISCUITS WITH AUNT KATCHOO!”

Francine staggers into a seat, overjoyed to see her. Francine’s mother takes the girl upstairs to get dressed so Francine and Katchoo can be alone for a bit.

Katchoo says, “You have a beautiful daughter, you have a beautiful home, a beautiful man, a beautiful life. So what’s wrong with this picture?” All Francine can do is cry. They embrace, and Katchoo promises not to leave her.

3-19

volume03issue19

Katchoo notes that Francine looks too old for her age, nothing can hide the lines of heartbreak on her face. Her eyes are dull and tired.

Katchoo says she lives about 45 minutes north of Santa Fe, in the mountains. Francine is surprised she’s been so close all this time. She thought Katchoo lived in Hawaii. She did, until about four years ago.

Francine says she thought she saw Katchoo a few days ago, in a hotel gazebo. It was Katchoo. Why didn’t Francine say hello? She wanted to, but she got held up, and then Katchoo was gone. Katchoo says it was probably when she was checking out. She was in town to make funeral arrangements for her mother, who recently died.

Francine asks how she got so lucky to see Katchoo in her kitchen after ten years. Katchoo says Francine’s mother called her. So not only one state away, but just a phone call away. And what about David? Katchoo reveals she was married to David, they both lived in a house in Maui. It was the happiest time of her life.

“What happened?”

Katchoo almost cries. She takes a deep breath. Control. Control. Francine wanted an answer.

Everything had been so perfect once, the three of them against the world. Then one day it was gone, and Katchoo knew the day it happened:

Flashback: Francine models for Katchoo’s paintings. When she finally sees the result, Francine doesn’t recognize herself because Katchoo’s paintings are beautiful. Katchoo says that’s because Francine herself is beautiful. What does Francine see when she looks in the mirror? “Not her.” Francine grows offended when Katchoo suggests Francine has a problem knowing who she is. She locks herself in a room. Katchoo says if she doesn’t open the door she will kick it down. Francine doesn’t open the door. Katchoo kicks the door into a million splinters.

3-20

volume03issue20The door to Francine’s room lays in shards. Katchoo says, “Talk to me or I’ll kick this whole frikkin’ house down!” Francine is astonished that Katchoo even could destroy the door like that. Katchoo asks why Francine is locking her out. Francine says its because she’s not Katchoo’s best friend, she’s her best project.

Katchoo says she hates it when Francine twists her words. Francine says, “Oh, I guess that must be another one of my PROBLEMS!” Katchoo tries to calm things down, and she says all she meant was Francine is filled with self-doubt, and this is why she can’t keep a boyfriend and all that.

Francine says what this is really about is Katchoo wants to be lovers, and Francine won’t do it. It’s wrong, she wasn’t brought up that way, and it would kill her mother.

Katchoo destroys more of the house. “What are you going to do, Francine, run off everybody who tries to get close to you?”

Francine says, “Don’t give me that pious act, you are so gay and I know it, I saw the pictures!”

She wasn’t supposed to look at the pictures. She promised Katchoo she wouldn’t look at the pictures. Francine says she had every right, because Katchoo ran off twice and never told here where she was going or why. Francine says, “I always knew you weren’t telling me everything, but now I realize you never told me anything!”

That shuts Katchoo the hell up, because she once told the same thing to David, word for word.

David comes home, with the news that he made an A in Art History. Francine goes to her bedroom and slams the door. Katchoo goes to her room and slams the door. David’s room is destroyed and there’s a chair thrown through the plate glass window.

Katchoo calls Francine from across the house with her cell phone. She wants to stop the stupid fight. Francine won’t talk to her and hangs up. This starts another round of destruction, so Francine covers her ears with her pillow and tries to sleep.

3-21

volume03issue21

At Katchoo’s exhibition David tries to get her to drink Pepsi, but she has already had three stiff drinks, not so much that she is nervous, but because she is in a big fight with Francine. Katchoo goes off in search of a bar.

The influential Caroline Hobbs of the New Hobbs Foundation Museum just misses Katchoo. David says it’s not a good time to meet Katchoo because she is a little tense right now. Caroline gives David her card, which knocks his socks off, because he’s an art student and he knows how important she is. Caroline asks David to tell Katchoo she is trying to meet her.

Freddy and Casey show up looking for Katchoo, but they see only David. “I didn’t come here to talk to the house boy,” Freddy says, “where’s the artiste? Where’s Choovanski?” David demonstrates infinite patience as he steers them to Katchoo.

At the bar Katchoo yells out for some whiskey. A British man says he likes a woman who likes whiskey. She says, “So do I.” Freddy shows up and Katchoo makes fun of his goatee, which is so original…not.

David tells Casey the girls haven’t talked to each other for two weeks. Casey starts to come on to David. She asks, “How does one very good looking guy manage to live with two women and keep them both happy?” But David is distracted by screaming. It sounds like Francine. He runs to find out why.

David, Freddy, and Casey find Francine in a separate gallery staring at three huge, sensual paintings of herself. Casey goes, “Francine is it really you?” Freddy goes, “It’s like a dream, a dream come true!” David goes, “Oh man, this is trouble!” Francine goes, “I’ll kill her!”

Katchoo shows up. Francine points right at her and says, “How could you do this to me?” Katchoo is happy that Francine is at least talking to her now. The paintings are just idealized images of what Katchoo knows best. And she knows Francine best. Francine doesn’t want to hear the art talk. She can’t stand that everyone will see her nude, just like at the school play.

“Just because you have the ability to do something doesn’t give you the right, Katina! I have the ability to post those pictures of you and Darcy on the Internet, do you think I should do it?” David asks, “Katchoo and my sister? What pictures?” Then Francine launches into David, and blames him for all this. Francine is throwing blame around like wild shotgun blasts.

By now a whole crowd has shown up to see what the commotion is about. Francine complains she’s not a person anymore, she’s just another work of art for everyone to stare at. Then she walks away, and tells Katchoo to just stay away from her and leave her alone. Katchoo tells the curator to take the paintings down, but he is reluctant to do so because they are the best ones in the whole exhibit.

Caroline Hobbs finally meets with Katchoo alone. She says she has the ways and means to bring the whole art world to Katchoo’s feet, to make art history, and all she has to do is say yes.

David takes Katchoo home. Francine has already packed, she’s going home to mother in Tennessee. David tries to stop her. “You don’t want to do this! It’s crazy!” But Francine remains adamant. He takes her bags out to the car. Francine pushes her way past Katchoo, who stands in the doorway.

At four in the morning David is still up, watching the static on TV and thinking about things. He gets up, finds the patio door open, and goes outside. Katchoo is sitting there in the dark and the pouring rain. “Do you think God hates me?” No. “Then why doesn’t he kill me?” David scoops her up and tells her he loves her, over and over, with each step as he takes her back into the house.

3-22

 

volume03issue22

Francine is back at her mother’s house. She sleeps right past lunch, dreaming that Bill Clinton is honoring Katchoo with an award. He’s got his arm on her shoulder. Hillary blurts, “Both hands where I can see them!” Bill says he and Hill have always been big supporters of the arts, right Hill? She blurts, “Don’t talk to me.” He’s about to unveil a painting that will hang in Time’s Square for everyone to look at.

Katchoo grabs the microphone and says first she wants to thank her model who has appeared in over 200 of her other nationally commissioned paintings. Katchoo says you already know everything about her. She has no secrets. Ladies and gentlemen, my model, your model, America’s favorite tabloid topic for three years now, FRANCINE PETERS!

She jerks awake, looks around, sees her luggage there unpacked, then goes back to sleep.

Katchoo is sick from the trauma of losing Francine and from sitting in the rain for hours. David helps her vomit, then helps her back into bed and runs to the pharmacy to get some medicine. Katchoo whispers, “Don’t ever call me baby again or I’ll kick your ass….honey’s okay.” David smiles.

Aunt Libby and Uncle Maury are visiting when Francine finally wakes up and comes out. All she wants is coffee, then she goes out on the porch. Mother comes out with the coffee and asks if Francine wants to talk about it. “No.” Okay, they have all the time in the world. The sun goes down.

Casey sits down to eat and read the paper. Finally she looks up and sees one of Katchoo’s giant paintings of Francine hanging in the living room. “FREDDIE!!!”

Caroline Hobbs calls. Katchoo agrees to let her gain exposure to her art, but she can’t have the Francine series. Ever.

While Katchoo is talking to Caroline, Casey shows up and tells David her husband has hung one of the Francine paintings in their living room. “How can I compete with her great big huge fleshy overweight body parts hanging over my head? It’s so gross!”

David says the paintings were not for sale, but Freddy convinced one of the volunteers they were and gave him $500 bucks (probably the same one Katchoo beat up). Casey asks David if he ever lived with someone who was obsessed with somebody else. He breaks the fourth wall and looks directly at the reader. Casey cries because Freddy doesn’t love her, and she wants David to hold her. She tackles him, and they end up horizontal on the couch.

Casey starts to make out with David, saying, “Come on, you’ve been sending me all the signals!” David goes what signals? He was just being nice.

Tap tap on the shoulder. There’s Katchoo with a big smile. “Hi there! How the hell are ya?”

3-23

volume03issue23

Francine goes fishing and thinks about the big ripples in her life made by Katchoo. She’s got the privacy and the the peace and quiet she thinks she wanted, but now she has to think about whether it’s what she wanted or not.

Katchoo suggests that Casey and David should get a room. Casey says she was just talking, and David fell, “…and your hand was stuck in his pants,” Katchoo finishes. “Yeah, I’ve heard it before. Off!”

Casey complains about being married to Freddy, and she says she’d give anything to be gay like Katchoo. Would Katchoo like to make her gay like she did Francine? Katchoo grabs her and asks who put all these crazy ideas in her head? Freddy. Aha. Katchoo says everything that man has told her from the beginning has been a lie, and the reason she and David don’t say anything is because they feel sorry for her. And if she ever repeats that crap about Francine Katchoo will pop her implants. And she tells Casey to quit throwing herself at people, she’s just spreading a bad marriage around like a virus.

Tambi is in a meeting with the American Yakuza lawyer. He says David has inherited a full position in the Big Six, but Tambi predicts he will pass. He says David ran one of the biggest gangs in Los Angeles before he was seventeen. Tambi says he’s a born again Christian now, hence a loser. Tambi says its her job David never gets a chance to be corrupted by power.

David gets a phone call that leaves him stunned. He was left Darcy’s entire estate, which equals $1.4 billion dollars. Casey begs him to take her. David needs a drink of water. He’s upset that she had all that money and never helped all these starving people and hurricane victims. Katchoo says no one can save the world, not even a billionaire. David says she didn’t even try. David says when he dies he won’t have any money left in the bank, only a lot of healthy children and rebuilt schools and health care funding for people who had none. Katchoo says she’s never kissed a rich socialist before. And she kisses him.

They go to bed. Casey goes into their room and takes her clothes off, and tries to jump in bed with both of them. Just then Francine announces she’s home. They have to hide Casey quick! The only place to hide her is in the bathroom, with David.

Katchoo pretends to be asleep. Casey and David make a noise, and Katchoo pretends to wake up. “FRANCINE! What are you doing here?”

Francine tries to stammer out what she worked out by herself in Tennessee. She’s afraid of Katchoo’s paintings because they are proof Katchoo sees someone Francine doesn’t know yet. Katchoo says, “Francie, if only you could see through my eyes!”

3-24

volume03issue24

Casey puts her clothes back on while Katchoo and David make lunch. David casually mentions that he’s a billionaire now. Francine goes, A billionaire?! Katchoo spells it out for her “One. Billion. Dollars.” David offers Francine a sandwich. Casey shows up and tries to apologize. Katchoo says no reason to, they’ve all been guilty of trying to hard sometimes. Casey says she’s probably the only one who took off all her clothes doing it. Katchoo says, “I think you’ll probably fit right in with this group.” Casey smiles.

David says he won’t get the money until he goes to New York to sign some papers. Casey starts crying because they’re cool, they’re rich, they have each other, and she has to go home to Freddy. Then she remembers why she came over in the first place: Freddy has Katchoo’s paintings of Francine. Katchoo and Francine yell, in unison, “HE WHAT?!” Katchoo starts looking for her keys. David says, “I’ll drive.” Casey can tell Katchoo is really mad, and so is Francine.

Freddy comes home and yells for Casey to make his dinner. He gets a beer from the fridge, downs half of it, and belches a good one. Then he says to the painting, “To the one who got away…you can run, but you can’t hide!” Then he sits down to watch the painting of Francine as though it were a football game.

Katchoo invades his home. “Where are you, Maggot?!” He protects the painting with his body and insists it belongs to him, he paid for it and he has a receipt. “I wasn’t selling! Katchoo gives him one chance to stand aside. He won’t do it. So she starts wrapping her fist in tape. “Everything’s gotta be the hard way with you, doesn’t it?”

Freddy says that thing in Hawaii was a lucky shot. “Bring it on, tinkerbell.” Roundhouse left and Freddy goes flying into his china cabinet. Francine says she could have killed him. “Didn’t I? Well prop him up again.”

When he comes to, Casey slaps him and screams that she’s sick and tired of his obsession with Francine. Francine goes, “Where are my polaroids, you pervert? And where’s my bikini?” Meanwhile David and Katchoo sneak out with the paintings.

Freddy sees Casey driving backwards out of the driveway in his Porsche and runs after her. Everyone ends up at the police station to sort it out. The police let Katchoo, David, and Francine go, but Freddy and Casey have to answer for damages to the neighbor’s trees. Katchoo is grateful for the head start. She and David will fly to New York first thing in the morning.

Meanwhile, in New York, Tambi works out with weights. Her pistol lies on a shelf. She has a picture of Darcy, Katchoo, and Samantha on the wall. Darcy and Samantha are X’ed out, leaving only Katchoo.

3-26

volume03issue26

(SiP 3-25 was a “summer at the beach” episode that flashed back to the time right after Darcy was killed in 3-12. It was a break from the ongoing storyline so it will not be summarized here. We now rejoin 3-26 already in progress…)

Francine dreams its her wedding day and she goes out on a ledge high over the street to “think”. She slips and hangs upside-down in her wedding gown with her undies showing. Her mother and father insist she goes through with the nuptuals. Katchoo is in the window just below the ledge and offers to save her. Francine slips, her father loses her grip, and Katchoo can’t grab her. Francine wakes up on the floor after having fallen out of bed.

Katchoo tells her to get her butt in gear if she wants to go to New York. Francine says it doesn’t feel right, so go without her. Katchoo shrugs and goes, “Okay.”

So Francine follows her and goes, “That’s it? Aren’t you interested in WHY it doesn’t feel right?” Nope, Katchoo is tired of this swing going back and forth. She says, stay home, or go to New York, but for once in her life make a frikken decision and stand by it!

Francine asks, what about David? “I can count the people who love me on one hand, Francine, I’m not going to push them away with the other.” Francine says this guy is the brother of her worst enemy, the woman who tried to kill her. None of this should work for her. Katchoo replies, “I see someone who loves me and who will stand by me no matter what, who doesn’t try to change me. I’ve waited for you, but there is a limit!”

Francine forces Katchoo to declare her love for David. And she declares she loves Francine with all her heart, but Francine can’t tell Katchoo what she wants from her. But David does know what he wants, and he’s been waiting for her. So they leave.

Francine is in the empty house crying. Casey calls and says Freddy left her. Francine offers to come over to talk to her and try to make her feel better. She leaves the phone on the bedroom floor.

Something very wrong happens to the plane Katchoo and David are flying. There’s a horrible noise, the service cart goes flying, followed by a baby everyone else who isn’t strapped down. The captain says something is wrong with the hydralics in the tail rudder and they’ll try to land in Nashville.

At Casey’s house Francine says, “The more they love you the more they need. Love makes promises you have to keep.” Casey says she tried to keep her promises. Francine confesses that she didn’t.

Katchoo realizes they’re not going to make it and tries to call Francine, but she’s not home. David says one of the passengers has a broken back. And he says they can call Francine when they reach Nashville. Katchoo says they won’t make it to Nashville, a plane can’t fly without a tail rudder. The captain comes on to the intercom and tells everyone they need to land immediately, so assume crash positions.

David asks if Katchoo has been baptized. She said she was when she was a baby. David says that’s not good enough, she needs to make her confession in Jesus Christ. Katchoo confesses that she loves David, that she loves clouds in summer, she loves the snow falling in moonlight, she loves the ocean, but all she will miss is Francine.

WHAM!

Francine is at Casey’s house, and she wants some aspirin. Casey tells her it’s in the cabinet in the bathroom. When Francine goes to get it, she sees an apparition of Katchoo in the mirror. “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be…” Francine turns around, but no one is there. She starts screaming, “NOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOO!”

Casey comes in and says, “Omigod, you look like you’ve seen a ghost!” But Francine just goes on screaming.

3-27

volume03issue27Flight 495 is broken and burning in a corn field. Katchoo somehow survived. Emma appears to her as a ghost, but she doesn’t speak. She leads Katchoo to David, who lies partially inside the plane amid many corpses. Katchoo can’t budge David and appeals to Emma for help. Emmma can’t speak or lift a finger. The plane catches fire, which spurs Katchoo to call up inside herself reserves of superhuman strength. She manages to get David free and carries him over her shoulder. They get some distance away, but the plane explodes, hurling both of them to the ground. Two farmers try to help Katchoo. They tell her they think David is dead. “No, he’s sleeping. He’s just sleeping, see? He’s so tired, don’t wake him.”

Francine is crying, because she has a connection to Katchoo and she knows something happened to her flight. Casey calls the airline, and confirms the plane was to make an emergency landing. Then Casey turns on the television, and it’s covering the crash in all the gory detail.

Francine’s mother gets the news and she’s shocked. Tambi gets the news and she’s pissed. She gets a phone call from Veronica who explains what she’s done. “What I have done, Dear Tambi, is eliminate all our obstacles in one afternoon.” Tambi said she needed them alive, she was to meet Sal Tuccanni and make an offer on Darcy’s share of Big Six. Veronica says, “Tell Sal he can kiss my butt, Blondie, I have Darcy’s share now!” She hangs up.

The plane went down close to where Francine’s mother lives. She went to the hospital, and there she sees Katchoo on a gurney. She holds Katchoo and tells her to let it all out, she’s with family now.

Tambi helicopters out to see Sal. His own henchmen are too afraid to check the Amazon if she’s packing heat. Tambi tells Sal the kids were on the plane that went down yesterday. She says she got a phone call from Veronica Pace, and she claimed she arranged the plane crash. She wants to reorganize the Parker Girls and she thought David and Katchoo were in the way.

Sal is pissed off. He says, “I told you not to help that woman with her legal problems. That Parker witch almost took the entire company down with her, now her flunky’s screwin’ with me and causin a federal investigation?” He tells Tambi to find out more about the crash, see if any of the kids are still alive. They’re both named in the will, even if one of them is alive he can deal with them legally. And Veronica? He doesn’t want to hear any more about Veronica. In fact he wants to eliminate all twelve surviving Parker girls, except Katchoo, at least until after she signs.

Francine and her mother ask about David. A hospital intern says the survivors were taken to three different hospitals to keep the ER from overflowing. And, he hates to bring this up, but did they check the morgue? And if he’s not there, they can check the FAA’s warehouse where they are collecting body parts and unidentified bodies.

Francine goes in to check Katchoo, who asks what happened to her hair. A big lock of Francine’s hair has turned gray overnight. Katchoo doesn’t want to talk. Francine watches her in the hospital room until she falls asleep.

Tambi shows up. “How can you sleep when everyone around you dies?” Katchoo steals a worried glance at a sleeping Francine. “No, she’s still with us. But for how long?” Katchoo asks what she wants. “You. We’re calling you in. The party’s over, Cinderella.”

Katchoo refuses. “Darcy’s dead, I’m out of it!” Tambi says 144 people died yesterday because of you, are you at peace with that?” Katchoo is confused. What does Tambi mean? “Not everyone in the company is impressed with the miracles she performs.” Katchoo still refuses to go. Tambi warns her that if she doesn’t get away from Francine as soon as possible, she will be taken away permanently.”

Katchoo begs Tambi to kill her now before anyone else gets hurt. “I’m here on business, not pleasure. Get rid of the girl….you’ll be ready to move tomorrow. Good. We have to stop and see David on the way out of town.” Katchoo sits up in shock as Tambi leaves. David?

In the morning Francine suggests places to go to eat. Katchoo goes batshit crazy and deliberately strikes Francine in a rage, actually cracking one of her ribs. Katchoo yells at her to get out of her life. Katchoo is tired of her neurotic crap and she’s sick of looking at her big fat butt all the time. Francine tries to ask what is wrong, but the rib hurts too much. “Get out!” But I love you! “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY LIFE AND DON’T COME BACK!!!!”

Francine wails in tears and leaves. But Katchoo is suffering far more pain that Francine, and all of it is self-inflicted. This was the most difficult thing she ever did in her whole life. Katchoo pulls the pillow up to her face and cries for all she’s worth.

3-28

volume03issue28While Tambi signs papers assuming financial responsibility for David, Katchoo visits his bed. He is alive, but he’s on life support with a fractured skull. Katchoo tells him a secret, even though he’s in a coma. She says the day he came up to her in the museum wasn’t the first day they met, she knew who he was all along. She says she met him at the party, but she already knew everything about his past. And she fell in love with him right there. But there was nothing she could do about it then, and there’s nothing she can do about it now.

Tambi tells her it’s time to go. Katchoo tells David, in Japanese, “I love you, Yousaka Takahashi, I always have, I always will.” She kisses his hand. He grips her hand to let her know he was listening. Tambi insists they leave now.

Francine’s cracked rib is bandaged up by her future husband, Dr. Brad Silver. He says, “Tell your boyfriend no vigorous activity for a while.” She says she doesn’t have a boyfriend, she’s not what you would call a real find. He wants to disagree with her over dinner. Francine acts cool toward him, and disappoints her mother. After he leaves, Francine says, “He looks like like Freddy Femur. They all look like Freddy Femur with that stupid copy-cat fashion flunky gay warlock wannabe mini-beard and that matching prison camp castrate me haircut.”

Her mother tells her she’s found David. He’s alive, but they don’t expect him to live through the weekend.

3-29

volume03issue29

On a private plane Tambi tells Katchoo that Veronica and Samantha were plotting to seize the operation from Darcy before Katchoo even came in. Sal Tucciani and the others in the Big Six were never happy with Darcy’s lack of respect and discretion. After some probing, Tambi also finds out, to her amusement, that Katchoo loved Emma.

She goes on to say that Katchoo always had a gift for this line of work, and her influence helped to build the Parker Girls up to be more powerful than anyone thought possible. So Veronica and Samantha set Katchoo up to be blamed for stealing the bribe money from Senator Chalmers. But Emma beat everyone to the punch and took it herself. Katchoo says, “It’s pissing me off you knew all this and didn’t say something.”

Tambi says Katchoo flew to Zurich and opened an account in Samantha’s name, very astute and far-sighted, by the way. By the time everyone caught up with Katchoo and Emma in Hawaii the money was secure, she could say she didn’t know what Tambi was talking about, and Darcy wanted the prodigal daughter to come home. When Katchoo ran to ground in Houston Darcy sent David to find the money and give weekly phone calls.

But who was the starving artist who watches soaps and tries unsuccessfully to seduce her trailer park girlfriend? Could this be the same woman who once ran the world’s most powerful empire from the wings, who traveled the world in designer fashions and knew the global elite on a first name basis?

Tambi comes to the point. The Big Six built their empire on muscle and force, but the new untapped territory is cyberspace. Tambi wants to start a new branch of the company and she wants Katchoo to run it. This is what she was groomed for, and it is her destiny. All she needs is a decision from Katchoo before they land.

Meanwhile Francine stays up all night with David, reading the Bible to him.

3-30

 

volume03issue30Francine remembers a game of tag football she played in high school. Katchoo, wearing a baseball cap backwards, was the quarterback for her side. There’s enough time for two more plays, and they need to score to win. She tells Francine she really needs to get open, but Francine complains that Freddy keeps holding her. Katchoo tells Marge, “Line up left and fake a slant inside for a couple of steps, then cut back to the outside. I’ll roll left and make like I’m going to run, when Chuck comes back for me, I’ll lob it over him and hit you in the flat, then you run to glory.”

When the play starts, Freddy grabs Francine around the waist. She yells “Holding!” The play goes as Katchoo planned, Marge receives the ball and runs. Chuck takes a flying leap and puts two muddy hands on Marge’s butt. Katchoo says, “Ten yard penalty for sexual assault!” Freddy objects by saying there’s no sexual assault in football. The call stands, so he plans to teach Katchoo a lesson.

Last play of the game, Katchoo says if Freddy is covering Francine again, they’ll try to run it in, but if he’s covering Katchoo, she will pass the ball to Francine. She hasn’t caught a thing all day, so they won’t expect it. All she has to do is get open.

In the play, Chuck is covering her. Francine grabs Chuck around the neck and plants a big kiss on him. Freddy almost sacks Katchoo, but she throws the ball in his face to lay him out good. The ball comes right back to her. Francine pushes a lovestruck Chuck to the ground, then gets up and runs, “I’m open!” Katchoo lobs a pass at her. Francine catches the ball and runs for the touchdown. She’s so happy. The team lifts her up on their shoulders.

(This is the emotional heart of the whole Strangers in Paradise epic)

Francine remembers it was Katchoo who did it all, for her. She points at Katchoo and gives her a big smile as she is carried away by the rest of the team. Katchoo touches her heart and then points right back at Francine. Katchoo gets smaller and smaller as she stays on the field while Francine is carried away. In her mind’s eye, today, Francine still sees the tiny Katchoo on that football field, even as she looks out a hospital window and remembers.

Outside the hospital Francine talks to her mother, finally, about what happened. Katchoo told her she never wanted to see her again. Her mother never liked Katchoo, and says it might be for the best. Francine says Katchoo is more than her best friend. Her mother gets suspicious. What do you mean? “Katchoo is my soulmate! If it wasn’t for her, my life would be a horrible mistake!”

Her mother wants Francine to tell her flat out if they were lovers. Francine sighs and says no, to her mother’s great relief. Her mother says Katchoo never received the love and support she needed at home, and she looks to Francine for that. That’s okay, that’s what friendships are about sometimes. But Francine needs to back up and not get carried away with this thing, its making her miserable.

On a park bench nearby a giant man reads a newspaper.

Francine’s mother tells her to move in with her. Francine realizes she has no friends, no job, and no choice. They get up and walk away. The giant man follows them.

Francine tells her mother to go ahead on up to the hotel room. Then she confronts the big man. “Are you following me? Every time I turn around I see you there watching me!” Yes ma’am, he says. He’s following orders.

His name is Tip, and as for who sent him, “Let’s just say you have a very powerful friend.”

Francine asks Tip to deliver a message for her to her powerful friend. “Tell her I love her. And I’m open.”

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s