He googled the name Rodney Dangerfield. Maybe he’d heard it before. But he swore he’d come up with it. The name was taken by some geezer who made soup jokes using hats for bowls. He had bug-out eyes and looked like a creeper. He watched a clip of the geezer in bikini briefs jumping off the high-dive with some twinkling piano music in the background. The name was perfect. So he took it.
He internet browsed some more. He found out that stealing a car was a big crime. He found out they’d taken marshmallows from his favorite cereal and replaced them with new shapes like no one would notice. He found out an eye in a pyramid meant something called divine providence. Providence meant foreseen care, under control, in this case god’s control. He decided he didn’t want god’s eye tattooed on him after all, so Rodney scrapped it from his playbook.
Providence is also a place in Rhode Island. The shape of this place also was unappealing to get needled into his skin. He searched for the word red and came up with a pile of things. Apples, roses, poppies, lips, fingernails, heart-shaped sunglasses, yield signs. He googled yield signs which led to caution signs. He googled caution signs which led to radiation signs.
Rodney wanted to steal plutonium. He wanted to get to the past with the knowledge of the future. He wanted to jump in a backwards machine and take over the crumb-life he’s adapted to. He’s got a crumb-job and a crumb-house and he’s done with crumbs. Plus, what was all the split-training for if not for bank-robs and society-mixers? He can split in any pants’ legs in a flat line so his package taps the floor. He used to split naked on the sand until a starfish stuck to his inner thigh and he made a forever pet.
He named the starfish Len. He took him everywhere in a slightly watered resealable sandwich bag. He stole a pair of cargo shorts so Len could have some room to wiggle in a thigh pocket. They had high-octane adventures, but Len requested, no more splits. The jolt of movement was a world shatterer for a pocket starfish and he was over the tight squeeze from the fabric tension against Rodney’s leg. Rodney fed Len burger portions ripped into perfect bites. The starfish stole soda from a crushed can.
Backwards machines are mostly old cars, Google says. They’re always powered by radiation. Rodney thought a yellow space suit would be a sweet way to announce himself to the old world. They’d think alien, but he’d tell them, I’m just your grandson, turkeys. Maybe he could go back far enough to be the OG Dangerfield. He could steal the name and the soup joker would need another, or be the forever runner-up to Rodney’s big number one. Rodney orders a belt with his first adopted name on it. It shows up two days after he gets the radiation symbol tattooed on his left wrist.
Rodney found out going back in time is a forever pursuit, and that he’d better just rob a bank in real time with a bag of snakes like they used to do. He’ll let the snakes loose, then he’ll make his strange move, where he says he saw a snake sneak into a back room. He’ll show people his tattoo, then they’ll let him through to do his thing.
Rodney couldn’t purchase the quantity of snakes that he wanted to rob the bank, so he went to the tackle shop and swooped up their longest worms. When he let the mud sling at the bank a small thud smooshed against the floor tiles. The worms just sort of twisted in place, rotating their weird bodies and twisting their floppy necks.
Len was running out of water and Rodney was getting a neck sweat. He let out a high squeal and yelled that the snake pile on the floor was full of danger. People started to giggle. A twerp held a phone up and started filming.
When the cops came the phone kid pointed at Rodney and said he’s trying to steal. The cops raised their guns at Rodney, and said, “Dangerfield, hands up, head on the ground.” On his way down a cop jumped at him into a tackle. He watched the mud slush pile twist its tentacles while his cheek pressed into the floor.
What’s your name kid? Asked the fuzz.
He said, Crumb, Rob Crumb. And the cops said let’s go Dangerfield, and they carried the sucker out in cuffs.