Chapter 58

Ah, Roger, Just the man I was looking for!

Oh, Hello Karl. Let me go get the shoe-shine kit.

No, no need for that.

Ah. Well, I still haven't gotten a chance to get more back wax...

No, uhm, no look I just wanted to talk to you mano a mano.

What?

Man to man.

Doesn't mano mean "hand" in Span...

So, I've been thinking a lot about how we fit in now-a-days. It seems like we're all having a rough time of it, doesn't it?

Well, Becky Sue seems to be making friends...

Yes, but what of the rest of us?

Rest of us?

The rest of the team, Lad.

Uhm... Myron's gone, Becky Sue is accounted for, that leaves... uh...

You and Me. Ok? Happy? We're the rest of the team.

Oh.

Why didn't you just say...

It seems like we're adrift, you and I compadre, strangers in a strange land.

Ah, I grok.

What?

Sorry.

As I was saying, it seems like we just aren't fitting in, oh, sure we may help out from time to time, but that's just busy work.

I'm not really sure I understand where you're going with this.

Roger? We're heroes right?

You always said I was "a feeble minded squirrel hugger".

Only as I would call a brother.

You said your brother used to lock you in the outhouse for hours.

And as a brother, I'm concerned about you.

Concerned? How so?

Roger? Have you had any luck contacting your people? Don't you miss them?

Ah, uhm, well, you see..

I can see that your loss is great. It must be so hard being away from your family for so very long.

Err, uh, well, no.

No?

Look, they're a proud, noble race older than the land, but let's face it, they don't have cable.

You would give up the warmth of family and community for television?

I'd give up sitting naked, eating bee and lichen soup in the driving rain for months on end for Sponge Bob in a minute, yes.

And to think you'll never be able to bring such wondrous inventions to them.

My parents found a bicycle once in the woods. We had to eat it. Have you ever tried to pass handlebars?

Roger?

The whole week, every time my sister broke wind we heard this bell noise...

Roger! What did I tell you about giving too much information?

Sorry.

Look, we both like JB right?

Sure, he's great. He doesn't yell at me or anything.

And what makes him happy?

Uhm... Hickory smoked beef flavored salt water taffy?

No, I'm talking really happy.

Oh, watching his copies of Fooly Cooly and Excel Saga.

No... no... Look, what's the one thing that JB just can't seem to get enough of?

Star Wars Porn?

NO, YOU FEEBLE... Deep breaths.... No, Roger, he loves spending time with Becky Sue, right?

She's more of a person than a thing, Karl.

WHATEVER! Look, Roger, what if we had the opportunity to bring JB back, wouldn't you do it?

Huh? Bring him back? You mean, back-back?

Yes.. back-back.

Of course I'd do it. That'd be great! We'd all be together at last!

Well, hopefully, that would be the case.

Hopefully?

There may be some risks.

What.. what sort of risks?

It may not work.

Ok, and then what might happen?

Uh, well, we could all disappear in an explosion that could very well level the city.

WHAT!?

Or we might all wind up back inside JB again.

Blow up the city..

Roger? You're getting bogged down by details. Think of it, a chance for JB and Becky Sue to find happiness.

Boom!

Maybe get married, raise a family, you'd be Uncle Roger.

Me – crater – bad.

And we wouldn't have to deal with either of them.

Really?

Yep. Think about it. No more waking up to those two doing unspeakable acts of multiplication. No more stupid giggling while we're watching TV. No more "Punkin Wubbin".


Roger?

What do we need to do?


As any good detective will tell you, that which makes a person unique is the sum of many different things. It's the way that they speak, and look are certainly the most obvious, but it often goes far beyond that. There are aspects of a persons walk, the way that they do things like open doors, or even the way that they walked up the stairs that provide the subtle hints to those that notice.

Granted the indecipherable curses emanating from the stairwell and being relayed by the implanted device in Chris' tuchas told him everything he needed to know about he individual ascending the stairs.

"Zrng?"

Zrng didn't pause when he got to the top of the stairs. He simply continued calling upon the wrath of ancient gods and monsters as he stomped his way into the kitchen. He dug through various cabinets dumping the contents of anything moderately edible he could find into a large metal bowl. Jarred fruit, beef jerky, croutons, what looked like a few various boxes of snack cakes, and the last few boxes of Buzzy Bits all mingled together like the sugar addling nightmare inducing dream concoction of a five year old.

With bits of celery thrown in for dietary concerns.

Half of it was gone in a few frenzied seconds before Zrng swallowed and stared at the gawking Chris.

"You know," Zrng sprayed out between bits of mostly chewed cereal, "you swear you know exactly where you leave something and it still turns up missing."A few more shovelfuls of the mixture disappeared down Zrng's maw. "I spent the last two weeks trying to figure out where the heck I left that damn thing."

"Two weeks?" Chris asked.

"Had to do something while I walked back here."

"That explains why you're hungry."

"You think?" Zrng muttered back sarcastically as a few more ladels of processed sugars disappeared into him, "I mean, how can I lose a damn prod like that? It's a meter long bar of metal that sparks up a warp core like the Fourteenth of July."

"Fourth?" Chris tried to ask, as a wash of guilt started picking away at his subconcious.

"Yeah, whatever." Zrng dismissed the correction, "and yeah, sure, maybe I might have used it for more than refiring the plasma conduit, but still, it's a major pain in the P'jojo when those things go missing. You have any idea what the paper work is? It'll take forever for them to approve and send a new one, and meanwhile I've got to go fine it before someone..."

Zrng stopped eating for a minute and stared at Chris. Chris returned the favor by starting to sweat. He could feel Zrng's eyes reading his guilty conscious with his alien prowess, the master watcher from another world, the scout sent by an advanced civilization trained to spot even the slightest irregularity continued his fixed gaze, his eyes unreadable behind his wrap-around sunglasses.

He stood like a statue, Chris' mind raced through various battle scenarios. He might be able to make it to the tazer, provided he could survive Zrng wrapping his huge hands around Chris' head and squeezing until it pops like an over-ripe...

"BATHROOM!" Zrng screamed as he cleared the counter, twin bolts slammed into their target and delivered several hundred volts, ensuring that the bathroom door would never cause harm again.

Chris peeked one eye open, then the other once he realized that he wasn't able to see any more of his body than normal.

He pulled himself from under the coffee table and peeked toward the closed door. At least he turned the fan on.

Chris gathered whatever he needed for the day and headed down the back stairs while there was still breathable atmosphere.

He opened the back door and startled Becky Sue. She let out a small gasp of surprise. Chris launched himself halfway back up the stairs, lost his balance and slid back down in a far less graceful manner.

"S'matter cowboy? Someone slip a cactus in yer chaps?"

"No," Chris held up his hand stopping Becky Sue's unoffered assistance, "no need to worry about me, I'm fine."

"A-course you are. Y'all got your armor on. You could take getting kicked by a mule team. Now get out of the way, I've got t' go visit the little girl's room."

Chris said nothing but simply waited for Becky Sue to slowly walk down the stairs. "Right, so I suppose I should ask Annie if I can borrow his".

"If you do, you may want to ask if we can borrow it for a few days. Tell him we've got someone blocking the pipes, or at least will be."

Becky Sue grumbled something and grumbled toward Annie's back door. Chris called out to her, "You want to talk about what's bugging you later?"

Becky Sue turned on her heel and stared at Chris. "What makes y'all think there's something wrong?"

Poker instincts, Chris thought. "Sensitivity training.", he said.

Becky Sue didn't reply, well, not verbally at least. Her brow furrowed as she crossed her arms and stared at a suddenly suspicious crack in the pavement. "It's just... I don't know."

"Yes you do," Chris replied, "go freshen up. I'll wait out here."

"You will?" Becky Sue asked, not sure why she didn't believe him.

"Yeah. I want to compare notes with you about someone from your team..." Chris needed to find out what he could about The Detective, but didn't want to give away the fact that he was still alive. He tried to think of various hypothetical questions...

Becky Sue's eyes went wide. "You know about that?"

Or maybe it'll be easier than that.

Becky Sue frowned hard. "I can't believe how that no good coyote has been skulking around the way he has. What, does he think that nobody would even notice?"

Chris said nothing. Apparently Becky Sue was far more observant than he had given her credit for. "Well, he's certainly tried to be careful..."

"Sure, if'n he was trying to keep French postcards from a blind man. Anyone with half a workin' brain cell could see that he's up to something. But I'd be horsewhipped if I could figure out what he and the Squirrel have going."

The Squirrel? Faunaman? Wait, the Detective never said anything about working with Roger, in fact Myron pretty much dismissed Roger as being useless to the team. Unless that was a ruse to keep Chris from trying to figure out...

"Heck, he's been on that dad-burned cellphone thingy nearly non-stop talking t' who in Sam Hill knows."

Ok, now Chris was getting really confused. The Detective hated cellphones. He considered them a liability more than an asset and kept trying to convince Chris to leave the thing at home. But that would make sense if he was trying to prevent Chris from getting access to information about...

"Yeah and I know he thinks he's the all fired "Leader" of this here chicken ranch, but he wants out more than anybody. Heck I'm bettin' that he'd cut bait and run just like Myron did."

Ok, right, all the cards just went wild, time to fold."Ok, wait, who are you talking about?"

"Karl! Who the heck else you'd think I was talkin' about?" Becky Sue said angrily.

"But how did you know that the Detective..."

"'cuz the man has nightmares about being chased by bunny rabbits and doesn't have the good manners t' keep his thoughts to himself."

Cards? What cards? We're playing Bocci. Chris could feel the confusion build inside his head like a slow motion hand grenade. He decided to take it one step at a time. Right, so Becky Sue and the rest of the team apparently knows that Myron is alive, which is more than Myron can say about the rest of the team. They also still share a mental link, which The Great Detective has yet to figure out. And (not Roger, Myron or Becky Sue, so that leaves) Karl has been engaged in secret telephone conversations with person or persons unknown. With that straight, Chris asked the question foremost in his mind.

"Bunny rabbits."

Becky Sue glared, "Yeah them cute little buggers. Got me why. Maybe he had a run-in with the Easter Bunny during a bad hare day."

Ok, so no real clarification on that point, but it was properly filed away for later use none the less. On to the next matter, the memories of Carl looking for the dial or the hand-crank.

"I thought that Karl couldn't figure out how to use the phone?"

"Well, it sure does ring enough."

Ring? Hang on, the phone was actually JB's. Which meant that, like his, it was an unlisted number. In fact, the only folks that knew it were were, himself, the phone company, Detective Wallace and...

Chris felt a chill race up his spine.

"Worst thing is that they want me to join them tomorrow night at some weird location south of Bazzar."

That's the warehouse district. The chills got worse. What the heck was he planning?

"What does JB think?" Chris asked, still not showing his concern.

"You mean other than his constant yellin'?"

"Good Lad.", Chris looked confused, "but I thought you all shared lobes or whatever."

"Sunshine, you spend a coupl'a years with folks stompin' around in yer head and you get really good at figurin' out how t' keep the neighbors at bay."

OK, JB and Becky Sue were out of the loop. As Karl would point out, there's no insider trading. Chris thought for a while, debating what could be done. He didn't like the option that he kept returning to, but it was the only thing that would answer all the questions.

"So, what's the plan, brah?" JB asked. No matter how many times Chris heard him do that, it still threw Chris a little. "You love doing that, don't you?", he asked. Becky Sue smiled wryly. "Yup, and I know when you've got an idea. Spill."

"I don't like it." Chris said honestly. "It's dangerous as all hell."

"Even better reason to bounce it off of someone... ooh." JB/Becky Sue groaned. "Hey, Brah? Can we continue this in a few?"

"Ah, right. Yeah, go on. I need to pound out a few details anyway. I don't think it's cleared out up there." Becky Sue was heading back up toward the loft.

"Darlin'? Even if Annie still had some, I'm not sure I'd wanna use 'em." Chris made a silent 'Oh'. "Plus I got short straw, I get to drive." JB chirped in, less than happy about the prospect. She tied her kerchief over her mount and nose took a deep breath and disappeared up the stairs with JB's unmistakable lack of grace.

Although he must have gotten used to those boot heels.


What fiendish plot does Chris have in mind?

What's with all the fiendish plots?

And can we be certain that this is the end of the
poop jokes? PLEASE!

Tune in next time for more story flushed with adventure (hey!) in:

A Friendly Revolt
or
Bud Zapper

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