An excerpt from the upcoming Annotated Dirk Manly Volume One: The Lucky Evolution, written by Dirk Manley and annotated by J. Michael Podgorski and R. M. Gerard

Gentleman bruiser Chuck Lucky stepped out onto his balcony and looked down at the city, decided that it could go a day without him running around like some damned fool, and went back to bed. As his head hit the pillow, the telephone rang, and he ignored it. He never answered his telephone if he could help it, and soon his pragmatism was rewarded with a silent telephone. Before Chuck Lucky could fall back to sleep, however, the phone rang again. He knew that it would keep doing so until he found out what the caller wanted. With a groan and a grimace, Chuck Lucky answered the phone.
“Chuck Lucky,” he said, trying to sound as annoyed as possible.
It must have worked, because when the caller answered, he sounded apologetic. “It’s Hornyak Frink, sir.”
“You think I don’t know the voice of my own manservant?” Chuck Lucky spat. “Get to the point, Frinky.”
“There’s a situation,” said Frink, but the voice was faint because Chuck Lucky let the mouthpiece drop to the ground.
Outside, the sky was changing colors, and none of them were normal. Chuck Lucky sighed heavily, got dressed, and was out the door and at the mayor’s office within the half-hour. Frink was still on the phone, trying to get Chuck Lucky to answer him.
“I don’t think he’s there,” quipped Chuck Lucky as he strode into the mayor’s office.
Three pairs of eyes turned to him, and the mayor was the first to speak. “Thank God you’re here! You seen outside? The sky looks like my wife’s cheek after she sasses me!”
“No, mayor, I walked here staring at my shoes.” Chuck Lucky slid a chair out from under a desk and sat down. “What’s the deal?”
The commissioner placed some papers on the desk in front of Chuck Lucky. “Well, Mister Lucky —”
One second, Chuck Lucky was sitting down. The next, he was slamming the commissioner into the wall. “It’s ‘Chuck Lucky’! I ain’t ready to be ‘mister’ yet!”
“Of course, Chuck Lucky,” the commissioner gulped. “There’s been a series of thefts and we think –”
Chuck Lucky dropped him. “That’s all I need to know. Come on, Frink. It’s my day off and I don’t want to waste it listening to this panty-waist tell me what he thinks.”
Frink followed Chuck Lucky out of the office and to the city’s east side. With each step, Chuck Lucky saw Frink getting more and more nervous, and he knew why. Most of the city’s criminals congregated on the east side, and Chuck Lucky was not well-loved among them. He kept this in mind as a group of them gathered around Chuck Lucky and Frink, with various implements of destruction about their persons.
“Well, well, who do we have here?” asked a man with a nose Chuck Lucky had broken some months previous.
One of the dumber members of the mob leaned over and whispered, “It’s Chuck Lucky and Hornyak Frink. I thought you knew that, Donnie.”
Donnie whispered back, “I did know that. I was just being smart.”
“It’d be smarter if you just said who they was,” the idiot replied.
“Shut up, Morson,” said Donnie, turning his attention back to Chuck Lucky and Frink. “What you doing in this part of town, Chuck Lucky?”
“I’m here to fix the sky, and if you tell me what I need to know, I might not break your nose again,” threatened Chuck Lucky.
“You sure about that? Seems to me you’re outnumbered,” Donnie sneered.
“We both know you can’t count, you maroon, so you can either spill the beans or your teeth,” Chuck Lucky smiled. Several members of the mob stepped back.
Donnie began to sweat. “I can’t tell you nothing, Chuck Lucky. You know I’m just a thug. I’ll never be nothing more if I keep spilling beans.”
Chuck Lucky’s fists began to ache, and not because he was punching people – an oversight which he set to remedy. For once, his manservant was faster.
“Now, we all know what’s going to happen,” said Frink. “Chuck Lucky and myself will fight you and while you may get several blows in, we will emerge triumphant and you will all be lying in a heap by battle’s end. We can avoid all of that if you’d just tell us what we wish to know.”
Donnie nodded. “No one will hire me, though, if they know I spill the beans without any rough-housing.”
Chuck Lucky let his hands rest. “Well, tell you what. You and all these fellas are in the same boat, right? What if you tell us what we need to know and then bruise each other up? I won’t tell anyone. Heck, I’ll even let Frink punch me or something so it looks like you fought back.”
“You’d do that for us, Chuck Lucky?” Donnie’s eyes gleamed hopefully.
“Sure thing,” said Chuck Lucky with a mirthless grin.
“We got hired by this big palooka, I think he was a Ruskie or something because he moved real stiff,” said Donnie. “Usually had to deliver the goods to this warehouse downtown. You know, that one with the cow painted on the side.”
“Yeah, I know it,” said Chuck Lucky. “Thanks. You’re a credit to your profession.”
“Don’t mention it,” Donnie frowned. “Please. I got a livelihood to think about.”
“I won’t. Come on, Frink,” said Chuck Lucky.
As the pair headed towards the warehouse, the sounds of a melee broke out behind them.
“Do you really want me to hit you?” asked Frink.
“Nah, they wouldn’t even get that in,” Chuck Lucky smirked.
The pair arrived at the warehouse not half an hour later, walking amidst the chaos of a world gone mad with all the nonchalance of a prostitute on Capital Hill. The building did, indeed, have a cow painted on the side. Many attempts at graffiti covered the cow, though none of it was really comprehensible other than random references to udders. Chuck Lucky ignored it and knocked on the door with disdain.
“Shouldn’t we exercise some measure of stealth?” Frink suggested in his cowardly British way.
Chuck Lucky repeated his words, mangled, back to Frink and knocked again. He groaned when no response was imminent, and with a mighty kick the door was open. Sure enough, a massive device was inside, looking like an upended steam-engine with a great milk bottle stuck on the top. What appeared to be colored smoke swirled within before being belched out into the sky, mixing with the clouds and causing the populace to panic. Chuck Lucky could only guess that whatever the machine was for, it was not yet complete, and the smoke was merely a by-product of whatever the process was. He deduced this by the men in lab-coats running about like a bunch of things that ran around a lot, perhaps horses or rabbits. In any case, the scientists took one look at Chuck Lucky and froze, like deer, save one. He stood at the controls of the machine and had stopped mid-gesture, his single unmonocled eye focused on Chuck Lucky.
“Attack!” he screamed, his Austrian accent lending the word some unnecessary gravitas.
Chuck Lucky looked at the scientists. “Listen, I’m a scientist, too, so I got no reason to take you guys out. You’re probably just doing this for a paycheck, and times are tough, so I’ll give you a chance to get outta here.” Chuck Lucky looked over his glasses. “What you aren’t is brawlers, so if you don’t take this chance you’ll have to take a punch.”
The scientists discussed the matter, being pencil-necked nancy-boys who fought problems with their brains, and decided that discretion was the better part of not getting punched or however that goes. They filed out, shooting furtive glances at Chuck Lucky and Frink. One stopped.
“Could you maybe sign my clipboard? Both of you? You’re like legends in the scientific community,” said the scientist.
“Got a pen?” asked Chuck Lucky. “If you do, take it and shove it down your throat. I’m not in the mood for autographs.”
Chuck Lucky strode forward towards the sole scientist left, who was probably a Communist of some sort, while Frink gave the disheartened autograph-hound their address to later obtain his autograph.
Chuck Lucky looked his foe straight in the eye. “You going to stop this, Heinz?” he asked, his voice cold as ice. Chuck Lucky had named the scientist “Heinz”, as it seemed a likely name.
The mad scientist cleared his throat and began to rant. “They called me mad, they –”
He never got a chance to finish because Chuck Lucky punched him square in the jaw. As Heinz went down, Chuck Lucky shook his fist and looked at the controls. Frink joined him.
“You got any idea of how to stop this cockamamie contraption?” asked Chuck Lucky, eyeing a likely button.
“What if the button we push simply causes the device to explode, or some such thing?” asked Frink.
Chuck Lucky nodded, as he did not want to explode. He pushed a button and when nothing happened, he turned to the machine. It was thrumming like a freight train and was three times as big. He had no idea what its purpose was, but knew that it was probably trouble with someone like Heinz at the helm.
“Well, time to get my hands dirty.” Chuck Lucky said finally. “Maybe I can salvage my day off yet!”
“I should say so,” muttered Frink. “It’s hardly noon.”
“That’s time I could have spent not doing this,” replied the sharp-eared Chuck Lucky, testing a ladder’s sturdiness. He began his ascent, which became much easier when he was half-way up. He looked down and saw a massive mountain of what appeared to be a man, though the whirring servos betrayed his true identity as an automaton. Chuck Lucky groaned and stood up, balancing carefully on the now-horizontal ladder. He gracefully bounded from rung-to-rung and onto the scaffolding surrounding the device. The machine was fairly self-explanatory to a mind like Chuck Lucky’s, and he found the proper valves and levers and the machine stopped its thrumming. He smiled.
”A job well done, and we can sell this thing for scrap, too,” Chuck Lucky beamed. “Now then, there was something I had to do. Oh, yeah.”
The automaton had seized Frink and Heinz, and was holding Frink far more brutishly than the evil scientist.
“Do not approach. Your companion will be harmed,” said the automaton, his monotone echoing through the warehouse. “Allow us to leave and you may retrieve your companion once we have exited the building. Comply or you will perish as well.”
Chuck Lucky looked at the ceiling and took off his shoe. As much as he liked fighting automatons since he didn’t have to pull his legendary punches, he had a day off to enjoy and a machine to sell for scrap. After surveying the ceiling, he pulled back his shoe and let the footwear fly. It vanished into the shadows of the roof, and the automaton continued to make idle threats and say what was going to supposedly happen. He was wrong, though, and a light fell from the ceiling, crushing the mechano-man and narrowly missing the two normal men.
“I say, that was lucky,” said Frink.
“That’s why they call me Chuck Lucky,” Chuck Lucky said from the scaffolding. He slid down the pole and went to the pile of pieces and parts. Automaton was indistinguishable from light, and a sacrifice was revealed: Chuck Lucky’s shoe had been torn to threads. He grimaced. “Well, there goes my whole day. Come on, Heinz. I’m taking you in.”
Heinz struggled and opened his mouth to speak, but was instantly silenced by one of Chuck Lucky’s right hooks. He rubbed his jaw and tried to speak, but Chuck Lucky could only guess that the pain was unimaginable, as he was sure he broke the Austrian’s jaw. Chuck Lucky laughed and another left hook knocked the man out.
“I’m not totally merciless,” said Chuck Lucky. “Now then, let’s turn this palooka in so I can go get a new pair of shoes.”
The walk back to the mayor’s office was unpleasant, having to deal with the stench of a foreigner not two feet from his face, but Chuck Lucky persevered and soon the Austrian was thrown haphazardly onto the floor of the mayor’s office.
“Well then, yer honor, I guess that just about wraps things up,” Chuck Lucky said as he wiped his hands on the mayor’s sash.
The mayor watched with nervous eyes, and was relieved when the deed was done. “Well then, good show. How about a key to the city?”
“Damn it, mayor, it’s my day off!” shouted Chuck Lucky. “I can’t go to some stupid ceremony!”
The mayor shrank back. “All right, all right.” He pointed to the scientist in custody. “What’s his name?”
“I didn’t care enough to find out,” said Chuck Lucky, walking to the door.
“It’s his day off,” whispered Frink.
“I gathered,” replied the mayor in kind. “What was his scheme?”
Chuck Lucky stopped and turned on his bare heel. “What size shoe you wear, mayor?”
The mayor was about to reiterate his question when he saw the look in Chuck Lucky’s eye. It was a look many a man had seen after crossing him, a look which said, You’ll get yours.
The mayor sat down and removed his shoes. “I hope they fit.”
Chuck Lucky kicked off his surviving loafer and put on the mayor’s shoes. “A perfect fit. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I guess you could say I saved the day…”
The mayor was about to speak when Frink held up a single finger and shook his head.
“…off!” said Chuck Lucky, laughing. “See you two later.”
“I guess his days off are off days,” said the mayor, slumping in his chair. “Please let me know next time he has one.”
“That’s one thing about Mister Chuck Lucky,” said Frink, following, “He takes holidays when he likes. Good day, sir.”