I’m lazy, ask anyone I know. In fact, I’m so lazy that now as my blog post is due (and maybe I’ve whipped past the deadline. I also tend to run a little late.), I have no idea what I was going to write about.
I’m lousy at coming up with clever ideas like explaining the inner workings of 17thcentury pocket watches (were there even pocket watches then?) and somehow linking that to the original triad of Wild Cards books.
I have a sweatshirt with the cutesy saying, “I’m not procrastinating. I’m doing side quests.” It’s far too twee, but pretty accurate. I have a tidy spice drawer as testament to the sort of things I’ll do to avoid working. (Yes, it’s alphabetized. I mean, if you’re going to f*#@ off, you should do it well.)
This is all by way of saying, you’re getting something Wild Cardy I’ve already written.
Bubonicon (non sequitur. Sort of. Stick with me here.) asked me to do the story for their program book last year. (I think it was last year. It might have been the year before. I’m lousy at dates, too.) Now, Bubonicon is one of my favorite conventions. It’s small-ish. It has good programming and great guests. The people who run the con are aces. Not in a Wild Card way. (I wouldn’t do that to you, gentle reader. I mean, they might be. You never know.) And it’s very Wild Cards friendly. (It doesn’t hurt that there are several Wild Cards authors in the city or nearby.)
However, there were parameters to the story. It had to involve Perry Rodent the anthropomorphized, one-shoe wearing mascot for the con. And it had to be short. As you can tell, one of those things isn’t in my wheelhouse. But I said yes because it was sweet of them to ask.
So, I dithered and avoided, and finally the idea for the following story popped up. It’s born of my laziness, but also fondness for Wild Cards. You say po-tay-to and I say pastiche. Here it is.
My lazy blog post is done.
Deep Thinky Title
There wasn’t a thing wrong with Perry Rodent that a stiff whiskey and a night of intense rumpy-pumpy with his hot joker girlfriend couldn’t fix. He’d had plenty of joker chicks, but none of them had stuck like Terry. Sometimes literally. Not only was she a joker, but she could ooze blackberry jam from her paws.
Maybe it was her sleek pelt. Perhaps it was her beady red eyes. It didn’t matter to Perry. He was hot for teacher. You could have all the aces you wanted far as Perry was concerned, Terry was it. He couldn’t wait to give her a good gnawing.
But the whiskey called, and he replied with a hearty, “Hello there, beautiful.”
Squisher’s Basement was dank and briny. As a bar, he’d seen worse. However, nothing said, “delicious hooch” like the smell of haddock.
“Gimme a whiskey,” he said, sliding onto a barstool. The bartender nodded, then reached for some top-shelf bourbon.
“Whaddaya think you’re doing?” Perry asked. “I can’t afford that! I can barely keep Terry in cheese and nylons. I have no idea what she does with nylons, but she uses a ton of them. And I asked for whiskey, not bourbon.”
“Bourbon is a kind of whiskey,” the bartender replied.
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it’s not,” Perry insisted. His whiskers twitched angrily.
“Bourbon is a kind of whiskey,” the bartender said with the smugness of someone who has too much information and an annoying desire to share it. “You can only make bourbon in the United States. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskies are bourbon.”
“Just give me something brown in a glass,” Perry sighed. “And let me tell you, that really killed the narrative flow.”
The bartender returned the Maker’s Mark to the shelf and grabbed a bottle of Amaretto and poured a generous amount into a glass.
“What the hell is this?” Perry asked.
“Something brown in a glass,” the bartender replied. “You didn’t want bourbon.”
“I wanted whiskey!”
“You should have specified. Brown stuff in a glass covers a lot of territory.”
Perry picked up the Amaretto and drank it in one shot. “Yeargh,” he said, shuddering. “That’s effing awful.”
“That’s what you get for asking for something brown in a glass.”
“All I wanted to do was get a damn drink after having a bad day.”
A woman sporting the snout and tail of a fox said, “Hey honey, tell us about your bad day.” She gave him a toothy smile and he recoiled. She looked as if she would happily eat him. And not in a fun way.
A chorus of “Yeah, tell us” ran through the room. Perry turned around and leaned back against the bar.
“Today started out just fine,” he began. “I was running a few errands. My final stop was at the local cheese shop: Pardon Our Stink. It’s Just the Baby Cheeses.”
A groan ran around the room.
“Hey,” Perry snapped. “It’s not my pun. Anyhoo, I come out of POSIJtBC and there was a group of gawkers outside.”
“Fucking tourists,” a blurry joker said from a corner. Perry squinted, but the joker didn’t come into focus. It definitely wasn’t the booze causing the problem. At least he hoped it wasn’t.
“As I was saying,” Perry continued. “I’m coming out of the fromagerie and there’s a group of hicks. Sandals with socks. Ugly, loud shirts. Chinos, ffs.” More than one bar patron shuddered.
“There’s no need to get graphic,” the blurry joker said. “Some of us have chino triggers.”
“Hey, you come into a bar,” Perry said. “You gotta expect some rough language. As I was saying, a bunch of tourists were waiting for me to come out of the shop so they could take pictures.”
“Did you let them?” the fox-nosed woman asked. “Or did you tell them to shove their iPhones up their asses?”
“I was about to,” Perry replied. “When one of the kids started to shudder and shake.”
“Oh no!” the fox woman exclaimed. “Black Queen? That must have been awful.”
“Worse,” he replied. “She was turning into a joker.”
“I’m guessing the tourists weren’t any help,” the bartender said. He put a different kind of brown stuff in a glass in front of Perry.
“Worse,” Perry said. “They just kept taking pictures while she morphed into gelatinous goo.”
“Usually,” the blurry joker said. “When they turn to goo, they’re dead.”
“Not this gelatinous goo,” Perry said with a sigh. “She had a mouth and eyes. She blobbed out next to me, getting ick all over my shoes. I pulled one shoe out. But I couldn’t get the other one free. She slid off too fast, taking my shoe. I chased her for a while, but she slipped into the sewers and I lost her.”
“That sucks,” the bartender said. He put a glass of scotch next to the brown stuff in a glass. “This one’s on the house.”
“And now I gotta go home and tell Terry that one of the shoes she gave me — and they were my favorites — has been stolen by animated goop and is now in the sewers under Jokertown.”
“Won’t she understand?” the fox-faced woman asked. She still had a feral gleam in her eye. “I would understand, baby. Here today. Goo tomorrow.”
She might have been a fox, but Perry glared at her. “She’ll understand. But I’m probably not getting any blackberry jam tonight.”
“Is that what the kids today are calling it,” the bartender said. “Good to know.”
“So, what are you going to do?” the blurry joker asked.
Just then, a mass of green mucus-looking goo slid down the stairs, and Perry’s shoe was regurgitated in front of him. It was coated in ick. So much ick.
“Thought you might need this,” came a girlish squeak.
“Er, thanks. You can keep it,” Perry said.
“Ew, no,” the glob replied. “It smells like rat feet. Can I get a drink?”
“You got a driver’s license?” the bartender asked.
“Do I look like I have pockets?” the goo asked, sliding back up the stairs. “That’s the last time I’m returning anything that gets stuck in me.”
Perry gingerly picked up his shoe. Ropes of green slime dripped from it. “Well, that’s disgusting. Guess I’m limping home.”
“Why don’t you just take off your other shoe?” the blurry joker said.
Perry got to his feet, swaying slightly. He took some uneven steps toward the exit stairs. “You know, I should just give up wearing two shoes and wear only one. It’ll become my thing. Like a style.” He snapped his fingers. “That’s it.”
“You need to sleep it off,” the fox-faced woman said. “Would you like a lift?”
Perry shook his head. “Nope, I’ll just limp home and throw myself on Terry’s good grace. It’s the best this rat can do.”
And that, children, is how Perry Rodent came to be missing one shoe. Well, this time, anyway.