On this occasion the three of us draped over lawn chairs on my back porch exerting no more effort than was neccessary to get beer from dripping wet bottles into our lawn-mowing tired bodies. By unremarkable coincidence we’d all finished the last bit of edging of our front yards at the same. An instinctual force drew the two of them over to my garage, past the beer fridge, through the side door, down the side yard, to near-encircle some plastic chairs into a ungainly U-shaped conclave. I believe Steffan spoke first.
“You’ve never convinced me that’s true,” he said
Steffan baited hooks with plump wriggling worms like this for Mark nearly each time we gathered. Mark lapped them up like a crappie short breakfast and dinner the night before. Being third to the cul-de-sac at first I determined Steffan was just a bit of a dick and Mark too desperate for a friend to care all that much. But, as that first summer spanned into this second, I changed my mind. I began to think Steffan thought he was teaching Mark about arguing and language and how to gracefully disengage from his shell.
Mark never wound up to worked up. He’d start exasperated and frothy to match the incredulity of whatever dumb-ass thing Steffan said then wind down to sensible and calm. No matter what, these conversations entertained me for that reason alone. Though, above all the other nuances I read into their exchanges, it was possible putting on a show was their singular purpose after all. This time Mark’s delayed response made me wonder if he had a doosey of a reply or if he’d even connected Steffan’s remark to the thread of the conversation we’d had last Saturday evening watching fireflies—and drinking.
“Fortunately it is true. No convincing to be done,” Mark said.
I laughed and sipped at the same time. Shiner erupted from the bottle up my nose and all over the ground. Of all the red-faced sputtering replies I prepared for, measured and cool produced the best reaction.
I’m digging through some of my Internet finds I’ve tagged as ‘inspirational’. Let’s see if I can do the creative thing. I’ve subjected all of us to to much blather this past week.
I’m going to riff off this illustration I found back in July or so I guess. I’ve reduced the picture from original size and provided links per my normal habit. Appending the actual illustration to this post rather than just a link is new for me since maybe the first 50 posts when I decided not to. I worried that doing so distracted me from my writing, I didn’t want to unduly influence a reader’s judgment of my writing, and I worried about infringing on copyrights.
Since my readers and I will work out the first two issues together I should make a note to Bobby Chui of Imaginism Studios, the artist (and any artist I may display or link to), that I’ve shrunk the image as much as I thought reasonable to cover (my interpretation of) fair use and provided credit links in as many places as seem reasonable. If I need to pull or shrink, just shoot me a note. I’ll get a man on it.
Oh, and Streetfighter as a game or reference or whatever means nothing to me. Long time readers will recall when I wrote something inspired by an artist’s pin-up of some other game character and I didn’t realize till later.
“You don’t know what you like; you know when you like it,” Tarô said as he pulled a stretchy-cuffed black leather hoodie from a hanger.
“That Confucius?” Boot asked.
“Don’t be petulant Boot. My Mom says that,” Tarô answered. The 140 kilo seventeen year old shuffled into a jacket the size some would spread across a bed and snapped it up.
“No. Just right.”
“Hood’ll fukup your chonmage.”
“I’m not gonna pull the hood on. And you’re in a shit mood today Boot. Why’d you come with me in first place.”
Boot shrugged his shoulders and said, “Fukif.” Saliva spattered from his left tusk then strung to the floor before he wiped it away with the back of his claw. He scuffed the drool that made it to the floor into the carpet with the sole of his docksiders. Tarô rolled his eyes. Boot shrugged his shoulders again.
“Shit happens,” Draper says to his two short friends.
“God shit Draper!” Boot jumped to the side and cracked his head on the clothing rack. “Quit fukin sneakin up on us. Bad enough I have to stare at your junk all day.” He rubbed the knot forming on his green-skinned skull.
Draper mirrored Boot’s movement across his own head more out of habit than empathy, but still a little of the later. His ‘fro-stripes always itched on real humid days–Houston’s air was a muggy wall out there today. “Two and a half meters and a hundred kilos means all I can do is sneak up.”
“We’ve been calling them ogres mostly at Wilcox’s insistence. Initially the radio chatter and phone calls refer to them as giants. And I think that’s how you’ve probably been hearing about them up till now. But…well, Wilcox…you’ll meet him later,” the left-hand staffer said to Dr. Susan Martin, M.E.
“These gentlemen are surprisingly fluent in English, but sometimes they sound like they have food in their mouth. They don’t. We haven’t been feeding them and they haven’t asked,” the staffer to her right added.
“Don’t let their apparent fluency fool you. These aren’t, in fact, gentlemen. They butchered several of our men and two of their own before we subdued them. I admit, they’ve been polite since the skirmish—that’s partly why we’re treating them more like guests than prisoners. Partly. But I’d rather not have any more people sympathetic to their cause than there already are,” said the left-hand staffer.
“Are they restrained?” Dr. Martin asked.
“They’re behind a stunner,” the right-hand staffer interjected like a puppy. Dr. Martin ignores him and looks quizzically to the left-hand staffer.
“A stun wall? A force field?”
“We have those?”
“We have those.” The left-hand staffer emphasizes the first word. “You won’t see it; you’ll hear it—a little. What you’ll see is the threshold. Don’t step over that and you’re fine.”
Charnwyn’s coat tails dangled well below the branch she squatted on. I loved that jacket. It was maroon and finely textured—especially the embroidered cuffs. She wore morning and night. She wore it each day. It hung well on her and in many ways defined her to those she’d just met but I wished I’d found it in that shop in Telash not her. I wished I wore it instead.
Next to her, Franwyn sat cross legged on the tentacle-like branch like imbalance held no definition. These heights never posed a problem for her the way they did me. Her sword lay in her lap…I think she may have even been asleep. With her peacefully slack face and doe-eyed expression knowing if she slept or merely drifted off during a conversation with lots of words or saw an especially colorful bird was hard to determine.
“…Conni? Conwyn?” I realized Charnni called my name about the time her voice went from a hushed whisper to a harsh one. Though our height gave us nearly all the safety we needed keeping quiet still made sense.
:Sorry,: I signed back.
“I think we’re fine up her. We can talk—a little. What are you sulking about this time?”
I added some sway to the line of the hunting bell to restart the pendulum of its movement. It swung a few more times. I started to answer but Charnni shifted her position on the vine-branch to look out of our little circle of light. I could see her unbanded breasts through the gaping sleeve of that jacket.
“I wish I could get away with that.”
“Again? Really? Conni, going unbanded, on a hunt, in the forest, alone with my sisters is about the only advantage these little things give me. Shut up already.”
“Hush ladies. Something climbs up,” Franny said.