TROMP!! .... TROMP!! .... TROMP!!

Bob -- Bob Burtonson, that is, the owner of Bob's Donut Shop, was frantically scrambling to fill boxes with every kind of donut in the store. That fast approaching tromping noise could mean only one thing -- Bulongsky was hungry.

Bob was right to be frantic, for Bulongsky, to be especially particular, wanted two dozen donuts. The kind with chocolate on top, and sprinkles. So he did what he did whenever that sort of urge came up -- he went and got what he wanted in the most direct manner possible. Which was easy for Bulongsky, given the radiation "accident" last year which had transformed the then-obedient soldier into a nine foot tall glowing mauve monstrosity with the strength to flip a tank without breaking a sweat and skin that shrugged off heavy-caliber bullets like so many gnats. Oh, he was still obedient for a while after that. Yes, Bulongsky had played along, winning wars for them, strolling through enemy lines and pulling apart whatever weapons were arrayed against him. But he tired of that sort of thing, and decided one day to just walk home-- there was really nothing anybody could do to stop him, and they knew it. So he walked -- well, some of it was walking, and some was great striding leaps which took him 300 yards with a step -- from a certain Central American country (which happened to be the latest place the military was using him) all the way to the small midwestern American city he called home.

And now Bulongsky wanted donuts. And when Bulongsky wanted donuts or french fries or a pizza, he would walk straight to the nearest purveyor of such goods -- straight, as in a straight line, straight through fences and walls, leaping straight over lanes of speeding cars. Straight through barricades and police blockades. Straight through the the glass or wood or stone at the front of the store and straight up to the counter. The local businesses wised up quick, knowing the cops could do nothing to stop Bulongsky and the Army wouldn't even try (whenever his name came up they just sort of looked at the sky and whistled until the subject had passed). When foodsellers heard the unmistakeable sound of his tromping in their direction, they sent someone out to meet him with whatever it was he might want.

"Bulongsky want.... donuts!!" he thundered. His mind had not been damaged in the incident, and he was perfectly capable of speaking in complete sentences with proper grammar. But he had rather slothfully come to enjoy being able to live down to low expectations.

Four, five, six boxes full, Bob crammed with all different kinds, and these he shoved into the arms of juniormost employee Jill Masred, with hasty instructions to carry them out front and give Bulongsky whichever box he wanted. Jill Masred was nonplussed. she found the whole Bulongsky-thing to be interesting, quite frankly, and when Jill Masred found someone--or something--interesting, she walked right up and talked to him-- er-- it. And talked, and talked, and talked. Jill Masred was a brunette waif; she had no superpower, had never been exposed to mutating rays or alien technology, but one could be forgiven for thinking that she had been, and that this was the source of her ability to talk continuously for such extended periods of time that people would begin to wonder when she was finding time to sneak oxygen to her lungs. So she walked right up to the approaching Bulongsky in her brown-and-orange Donut Shop uniform, arms filled with six boxes full of donuts, and blew away a whisp of jet-black hair which had fallen in front of her face.

"So," she began, looking up into his towering frame, "what is it exactly that makes you think you've got the right to just walk up to every restaurant in town and take what you want without even paying for it, while we all have to shuffle out here giving you free donuts, and everybody else giving you free food, out of the goodness of our hearts, or, well, maybe not goodness but at least out of fear that you're going to smash the place down, and for what? You, know, I work for a living and my customers, they come in and they buy donuts from me and they buy one or two or maybe a dozen donuts, and do you know what they do then, do you know? Well I'll tell you what they do, they tip me, that's what they do, and maybe it's not a big tip, because you know it's just donuts they're buying and maybe they're not the wealthiest people in the world and they can't afford to go deep into their pockets to tip for donuts, to tell you the truth I don't know why some people tip a little or a lot but the point is that it's the thought that counts, it's the thought -- for them -- but not for you, oh no, do you ever think about the cost we have to deal with of just living with you in town, you, you big purple thing you? Huh? No, why would you, why would you let anything have any effect on you if you can just shrug it off and lock yourself away from being a normal person." Jill dropped all six boxes of donuts on the ground at Bulongsky's enormous reddish-purple feet, turned, and walked back into the store, shouting over her shoulder, "whatever. Take what you want, like you always do."

Bulongsky stood there, gape-mouthed, staring after her for a minute. Then he slowly began peering into the boxes until he came upon the kind he wanted. His walk back home was much slower than usual, unusually lost in thought as he was.

Three days later, Bulongsky was back at Bob's Donut Shop. This time, when Jill Masred came out with six boxes of donuts, he shook his head. "Bulongsky no want donuts. Bulongsky want ask you out. On date."

Jill pursed her lips and threw her hair just slightly back, and thought it over -- meaning that she analyzed, out loud, and in a continuous stream of commentary, all the reasons why she ought not go on a date with a big purple thing, one which exhibited frighteningly poor dietary choices and culinary taste, at that. And at the end of her litany of protestations and objections, she added (with an almost exasperated sigh), "but, yes, I will go out on a date with you. One date. Just to see if you're capable of taking a girl on a date like a normal human being and not hiding behind this shell of a purple thing."


They ended up going out on three dates, actually, each one more enjoyable than the last -- people gasped and whispered when they showed up to places together, for there was Bulongsky!! Actually coming in through the door and sitting at a table, ordering from a menu, and waiting patiently for food to arrive, laughing and chatting amiably with a woman positively dwarfed by his massive frame. And they planned more -- but their fourth date got off very much on the wrong foot. Which is to say, Bulongsky went to meet Jill at the fountain at that little mall downtown, the one with a sixteen-screen movie theater, but she wasn't there. Instead, Bulongsky was displeased to see his former commanding officer's former commanding officer, General Barkenson.

"Well, Bulongsky," Barkenson sneered, "looks like you've got yourself a girlfriend. Correction, you don't have her. We've got her. And we'll let you have her back when you finish a little job for us. In Central America."

Bulongsky rolled his eyes with more than a hint of derision, then stood to his considerable full height, threw his head back, and roared: "JILLLLLLLL!!!!" The sound of his yell blanketed the city; for a minute everything became quiet.

"Yes, yes, I'm sure you're upset...." the General began-- but Bulongsky wasn't listening to him. The military people, once Bulongsky's tank-crushing and rocket-deflecting abilities had become apparent, had simply wound him up and sent him against the enemy. They'd never even bothered to test his hearing, but it was as strong as any muscle in his body. And Bulongsky's city-quieting yell had not been out of anguish -- well, not entirely -- but had been a well-placed means of stopping all the chatter going on around him, because now Bulongsky could really listen, could sort out all the sounds of motors whirring and distant crickets chirping, and could focus on finding one voice. And he knew that that one voice would be running-- there it was!! Coming from the direction of the mall parking lot, a steady drone of words....

"....and really I don't know why you guys think it's a good idea to wear green camouflage when you're walking around in the city, anyway, seeing as how there's nothing green here that you could hide behind in it, I mean that's just another thing that just doesn't make any sense, when you could camouflage yourself better by dressing as one of those big orange road cones that are around everywhere, especially since orange is just never used as a camouflage color, and that's not all, because I just this moment noticed...."

With three leaping bounds, Bulongsky was standing in front of a mundane-looking recreational vehicle at the far end of the parking lot. General Barkenson was left mid-sentence, standing by the fountain. The soldiers inside the RV were appropriately startled when Bulongsky peeled the side off the vehicle, to reveal a few scrawny green berets with their little guns, standing around a brunette waif handcuffed to a steel chair. Bulongsky folded his arms and glared. The soldiers didn't argue with the glare. They unlocked the handcuffs and Jill -- already midway through a paragraph of complaining about how long it had taken Bulongsky to find her -- strolled free.

"Bulongsky take Jill home," he stated, rather matter-of-factly.

He was unprepared for her reply. She poked one of his massive abs and went on, "Now wait just a minute mister, why on Earth do you think I ought to go home with you, seeing as how I just got kidnapped on your account, and don't think I didn't know that that's what this is all about, but we've been on three dates already and maybe you've got guts enough to take on the army since that's like already your thing anyway, but you haven't even told me how you feel about our relationship? Well? How about it?"

"But.... But.... Bulongsky love!!"

She folded her arms. "Talk normal."

"But Bulo-- .... but I love you. Jill, you-- you are the sunrise that beams into my heart every time I see you. You know, I just want to be with you all the time.... Your voice is more beautiful than a chorus of angels. I-- I just love to hear you talk."

"Awwww, sweetie." Jill beamed. Tenderly, Bulongsky picked up his girl, cradled her in his arms, against his massive wall of a chest. Jill looked up into his stern, glowing eyes. "Take me home, baby," she smiled, "but first, let's go get some donuts. And you know, I've got to tell you I saw the craziest thing this morning when I was on my way to my pilates class -- normally the class is on Thursday but...."

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