Yup, you guessed it! By demand, our favorite anthropomorphic animal allies are back again for another grand adventure!
In this thrilling, untitled tale, Joey and Quacksalot do what they do best: take names, and eat scones.
This'll most likely be the last story for the year, so Merry Christmas and enjoy!
[construction or coffee]
The scent of fresh coffee assaulted Joey’s nostrils with a familiar sobriety.
Without even taking a sip, much less ordering a mug of his own, the kangaroo could feel energy bubbling inside him, as if the caffeine were capable of charging him via his olfactory alone.
Not that Joey was much of a coffee drinker. He was just here for the scones.
Quacksalot, on the other hand, had just drained his fourth cup.
“You’re going to give yourself a coronary,” Joey frankly warned his friend. “Or get bad indigestion, at the very least.”
Accustomed to his partner’s ribbing, Quacksalot was unconcerned.
“That so? Keep eating those scones and pastries and you’re going to wind up with diabetes.”
“Hey! Don’t judge me,” Joey said, aghast. “These are pumpkin scones, they literally only come out once a year.”
“Because no one wants them any other time of the year,” Quacksalot shot back.
“Is everything okay here?” A barista, attracted by the sound of their arguing, appeared.
Not missing a beat, Quacksalot passed his empty cup over.
“Y’know, you could say please,” Joey mentioned, passing a sympathetic eye to the barista who wished he could be anywhere but here.
Quacksalot rolled his eyes.
“Whaddya, my mother?”
“No, but your father was a goat.”
The duck rolled his eyes.
“Fine…may I have another coffee, please?”
“Of course,” the barista answered, quickly accepting the cup and retreating to the safety of his back of house counter.
Meanwhile, Quacksalot had withdrawn a fat cigar.
“For the record, coffee prevents dementia,” he informed his kangaroo compadre, twirling the cigar.
Joey rolled his eyes.
“Puh-lease, I think it’s too late for you, mate.”
Unperturbed, Quacksalot rolled his eyes, eventually landing on his cigar.
He wished they were sitting outside so he could enjoy his cigar...but Joey had insisted on sitting inside, claiming it was too hot out, which was a load of pigeon droppings, as Quacksalot had witnessed the kangaroo turning off the AC in their office many a time claiming it was too cold even when the temperature outside was in the 90s.
Quacksalot suspected Joey’s ulterior purpose for wanting to sit inside had to do with a ravishing redhead bird working behind the counter.
The redhead in question was not actually a bird.
…Not that that would likely deter Joey, Quacksalot suspected.
The barista returned, bearing a steaming mug.
Happily, the duck accepted the bitter black brew and blew it, pleased by the floating fog that fiendishly formed.
Lowering the mug, he noticed Joey dreamily staring across, blatantly ogling the redhead.
“Man, next time, we ought to hang out at the soda shop down the street,” Quacksalot slyly suggested. “Better music.”
As though Quacksalot had suggested to move up to the Arctic, Joey whipped his head around, aghast.
“Nah, better view here,” he mentioned, unable to keep his eyes from darting over to the redhead bird again.
Quacksalot rolled his eyes.
“Ask for her number, you moron.”
Joey appeared shocked, to the equivalent degree of if Quacksalot suggested the kangaroo kidnap her in a white van.
“Oh for the love of Oz, mate, that’s not how it works. Maybe over in your backwoods pond, Curly.”
Shrugging, the unflappable duck spread his wings in a ‘whatever’ gesture.
“Well, you wanna get to know her right? Gotta start somewhere.”
“For your information, I am,” Joey defensively snapped, glancing back at the redhead bird.
“No need to get so kangry, mate. So what’s your strategy? Wait until Leap Year?” the duck inquired, grinning at his own joke.
“It’s a slow burn, mate, don’t worry about it,” Joey assured his fowl friend.
The duck was in deep disbelief.
Eager to move on to a different topic, lest his prized redhead catch wind of Quacksalot’s meddling, Joey stared out through the coffee shop’s picture window.
Across the street was an antiques store cluttered with various urns and pots; deranged dolls escaped from horror movies; dusty violins that had played in exotic locales and were now resentfully resigned to being on display like the average knick-knack; an old wagon missing a wheel; an oil lantern with stained glass sides; a parrot statue, stained in bronze; along with a few million other odds and ends, some MacGuffins for future tales…possibly.
At a counter with a vintage brass register Joey hoped was for novelty purposes, a man bustled about, the only sign of life in the place.
“Oi, look, there he is!” the kangaroo loudly informed Quacksalot, conspicuously pointing.
Raising a wing, Quacksalot shoves Joey’s hand down.
“Oh my goose, could you please NOT? You’re a professional; act like it.”
Across the street, perhaps having heard young Joseph’s braying, or noticing sudden motion, mayhap even sensing he had become the subject to something, the store clerk whips his head around, spying the kangaroo and duck staring dead at him.
The kangaroo waved, a grin plastered ear to ear.
Quacksalot thunked his head against the table.
This kid had no sense of subtly, did he?
Lifting his head, the duck nearly fainted on finding his partner’s chair empty.
Instantly, Quacksalot whipped his head around a hundred and eight degrees to the antique store, certain the juvenile marsupial had been unable to resist the urge to hop over and say oi.
The kangaroo wasn’t to be found there either.
Feeling like a bobblehead on cocaine, the duck deliriously swung his head back and forth. Swooping swans, you’d think a six foot kangaroo wouldn’t that hard to spot –
By the redhead bird.
Thank the Aussies…Quacksalot breathed a sigh of relief.
Joey was making some sort of hand motions and the redhead was smiling and nodding.
Obviously, she didn’t have much taste if she was laughing at something Joey said.
Or she was impractically polite.
The kangaroo turned back and pointed to Quacksalot…who uncertainly waved. The redhead and Joey laughed. Quacksalot scowled, certain he had become the butt of some preposterous joke of that damn kid.
Swear, if it wasn’t for his mother and the alley cat incident…
The duck fumed this way only a moment longer, his temper dispelled by the kangaroo rejoining him.
“What was that about?” Quacksalot demanded, spittle spraying.
Nonchalant, Joey leaned back in his chair, tipping back on just two legs, hands folded behind head.
“Aw, don’t worry about it, mate. Shelia’s settin’ right.”
“Shelia?” Quacksalot brightly repeated, eager to reengage in girl gossip. “So you got her name? That’s a start, eh?”
Tipping forward, Joey slid his arms off from around his head and scooped up Quacksalot’s stoagie, twirling I betwixt his dexterous fingers.
“Nah, her name’s Shannon, I think, but ya just call her Shazza.”
Not for the first time, the duck was more befuddled than pondering why the webbed god had bereft the humans of webbed feet. Joey seemed to have that effect.
Just then, the shelia named Sharon sauntered over and plopped a carton on their table.
“There you go, sweetie.”
“Ah, thanks a bunch, love.”
“Don’t eat them all in one go,” she advised, smiling at the kangaroo.
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” he assured her.
“You know, if you’re not doing anything later…”
“Nah really?” Joey said, tearing his eyes off the carton to double check the shelia had actually spoken the words aloud and not just in his head. “Well….much as I’d enjoy that, unfortunately, me n’ him have to see a mate about a story.”
The redhead’s face fell. Even Quacksalot felt like he’d been suckerpunched. But it was punishment enough watching these two….do whatever it was they were doing.
Astutely sensing her despair, Joey quickly added, “But I do have a box of Tim-Tams at home…it’d be nice to have someone to share them with.”
Quacksalot whipped his head around.
“Hang on, weren’t you promising me a box of – ”
“Shaddup,” Joey hissed.
“Ugh, you’re impossible,” Quacksalot muttered, shaking his head and glancing back at the picture window.
Across the street, the antique store dealer was bustling about, shutting lights off and making rounds at the old cashier. A few times, he could be seen moving a few trinkets to an area out of sight in the back – probably moving the more valuable things into a safe.
Joey and his shelia were still making moon eyes.
“Uh, I hate to break this up,” the duck claimed, not appearing very apologetic in the least, “However, my associate and I have a business matter we have to get back to.”
With a subtle but pointed jab, Quacksalot indicated the vacating antique dealer.
Reluctantly, the young macropod tossed his head back and pushed his chair back, his large feet pandering a sad plod.
“Fine…bloody bogan, absolutely killing my game…nice to meet ya, Shaz,” he inclined his head to the redhead bird who blushed.
“You’re breaking my heart,” Quacksalot grumbled, slapping a few crinkled bills on the table and tipping his hat at the young shelia.
Outside, the pair clambered into their red, rusty pickup truck.
“Remember, quietly,” Quacksalot honked to his partner, clambering into the passenger seat.
“Gee, you say that like I might not know what it means.”
“I’m sayin’ it like you might not have fixed that exhaust pipe and make a garishly auditory display.”
“A garishly auditory display?” Joey repeated, turning the key. “It is worth noting that it was your responsibility to get it fixed, Quacky.”
As predicted, the patchy exhaust belched a pitch of black smoke that rolled from the pipe that gave passerby concern of whether a demon may have been summoned.
Roughly grabbing the fedora off his head, the delirious duck madly waved it back and forth, hoping to disperse the demonic cloud.
“Hang on, it’s not my fault you left the keys in your vest when you got it dry cleaned.”
As predicted, ‘a garishly auditory display’ coughed and choked out of the old pickup, like a machine gun blowing up propane tanks.
Joey popped the clutch into gear and the truck began to clunk forward.
“Come off it, mate, one of us has to look presentable….then there’s you with your fedorka.”
Defensively clutching his rumpled hat wear, the duck quivered with affront.
“What’s wrong with my hat?” he demanded.
Hardly sparing it more than a glance, as though the very idea is terrifying, Joey preferred to concentrate on driving.
“All I’m saying, mate, is that Prohibition is over, you can get rid of the hat now.”
Quacksalot rolled his eyes.
“And I suppose you and your vest know best, fop.”
“Aw whatever,” the kangaroo scoffs, popping a cassette into the deck.
Surprisingly, the sound system wasn’t half bad. The music that wafted over the car’s accent is smooth and snappy.
Well. As ‘snappy and smooth’ as Angus Young’s sick riffs can ever get. A few beats in, Bon Scott joined in.
Naturally, none of this went unnoticed by the dealer of antiquities who regarded them with a peculiar, if brief, stare before turning back and walking down the street.
Now, despite what you may have been influenced to think regarding Joey and Quacksalot’s repartee, they are the epitome of efficiency and professionalism.
Here we can witness as they accordingly maintain a vigil watch of the antique dealer, from a respectful distance, in their rusty, red, tumultuous truck.
Antiques Man casts a few more stray glances over his shoulder as the truck trudges down the street at a creeping pace. He stops and turns back and the truck jerks to a halt as well.
Uneasily, Antiques Man turns back and subtly picks his pace up, digging in his pocket for keys. He whips around the corner into a parking lot and heads for a white Lexus.
The paint is fresh enough it reflects the sun like a tooth from a dentist’s dream dazzling in the dying daylight.
True to form, our boys park and Bon Scott continues to scream about the promised Highway to Hell.
Digging in the glove box, Quacksalot removes an old, beat up Zippo that appears to have come straight from the war-torn fields of Vietnam. On the front, the face of an angry anatidae (adorned by an anthology of abuse in form of nicks and scraps) chomps down on a cigar. Below this, in sharply curved letters, was the simple motto, Live Fowl or Duck Hard.
Flicking it, he holds the small dancing flame to his cigar, and a puff of smoke billows into the demonic cloud trailing their exhaust.
A few beats of AC/DC later and the white Lexus softly purrs to life – barely audible under the surrounding din.
The Antiques Man drives around to the far side of the parking lot, away from Joey and Quacksalot, seemingly preferring to enter the street from there. Must have been easier to make a left out onto that busier street.
Wasting no time, the red truck cuts through the parking lot, blatantly jumping the curb and jostling the riders within.
“Oof, there goes my ulcer,” Quacksalot complained, “….and my cigar.”
He swore and dug under the seat, snatching the crumpled stogie back from Beyond.
Frowning, he barely had time to whine about the decimated cigar before the truck bounced back over the curb on the opposite side of the parking lot.
“Uh….wasn’t there a driveway?” Quacksalot pondered, craning his head back.
“Oh keep your feathers on, Mary Sue,” Joey chided. “Can’t lose ‘im.” Then, after incurring the wrath of a driver that sought to indicate his disdain for being cut off by the kangaroo, “Hey, yeah, same to you, mate!”
The marsupial made a rude gesture.
Slicing through the medium grade traffic like Shaun White snowboarding down a steep slope, Antiques Man wasted no time in gaining ground, no doubt inspired by his red shadow.
Unerringly, Joey maneuvered the truck to be exactly two car-lengths behind their target. Two was an acceptable length. One car length was monumentally rude, crude, and overall sloppy, not to mention obnoxious. Three was worse; it conveyed you didn’t care much about the task at hand.
Faithfully following the faux rule of two, Joey and Quacksalot tailed the Antiques Man to a stopped light. The road had widened into a six lane field, three on their side, three for the oncoming traffic.
The Antiques Man was on the far right side, his right signal on to indicate a turn.
“Huh, where’s he going?” Joey pondered. “His house is north of here, isn’t it?”
Quacksalot seemed unconcerned.
“Girlfriend, boyfriend, shoddy drug deal, doesn’t matter; just keep on him.”
“No, I figured we might stop at that Maccas for a snack.”
Sarcasm dripped like nacho cheese.
The light turned green and things got interesting.
Instead of turning as he was indicating, Antiques Man suddenly accelerated and shot over to the left, cutting off the other five lanes of traffic.
The fellow drivers squealed to a halt, in shock at what they just saw, peaking over left and right at their fellow drivers to verify it hadn’t been imagined.
The kangaroo and duck glanced at each other.
“Well alright then, mate, if that’s how you wanna play it…”
Joey jabbed a massive foot on the gas, popped onto the sidewalk, then cranked the wheel over hard, tires screeching.
The other vehicle ventriloquists were just recovering when Joey and Quacksalot blasted in front of them, in hot pursuit of the lightning Lexus.
This time, the drivers were decent enough to blast their horns and wave their fingers, heads poking out the window to share ill bits and bobs of advice.
“….Shove my fist…”
“…drive that shitbox off a cliff…”
“…hope you get hit by a train…”
Accustomed to all manner of threats, our professional pair heed them not, instead focusing on finding their quarry.
The street was empty, not so much as a cloud of dust to suggest another driver had been here.
“See, I told you you were driving too slow,” Quacksalot scowled, puffing the remainder of his decimated cigar.
“Hey, you were the one who said to give him space,” Joey reminded.
They traveled down the road, scanning the side streets and alleys. They passed a field, an abandoned restaurant, a ravine, a gas station, a mini-mall plaza. No sign of the white Lexus.
“I knew I should have driven,” Quacksalot grumbled.
“Be my guest,” Joey offered.
From the high top grass of the field, Antiques Man cautiously peeks up through the high stalks. He heard the raunchy red truck blast through, but he had to be sure they were gone.
Gods, what if they were still there, just waiting on the other side of the high grass field?
His car was tucked under the shallow ravine, out of sight from the street, but he didn’t know if he’d be able to race back to it if the duck and kangaroo were waiting right for him.
A brief examination reveals the area was clear. No red truck. No animals. Anthropomorphic or otherwise.
He sighed with relief.
Maybe he had simply imagined the whole thing. After all, things had been getting pretty stressful. Fewer people were frequenting his store, some archaeologist was coming by to verify some items later next week…heck, even the coffee girl Sharon was getting stingy with the free coffees.
Michelle still wasn’t talking to him…
Yeah…he had just been under pressure. Dun na na na na dun. Pressure! Closing in on him.
He smiled and simultaneously cursed himself for getting the song stuck in his head.
Now he’d have to put on his Queen playlist.
Under the soothing, if sultry, support of Freddie Mercury and company, the Antiques Man made it home uneventfully.
Pulling up to his single story house, all was quiet. A light was on in a far room, that was just the timer. After all, it was dangerous to enter without lights on.
Most of the other houses in the neighborhood were lit up as well. Decorations for Christmas were already going up. One fellow had an inflatable Santa set up. Antiques Man squinted. Least….he thought it was supposed to be a Santa. The creature wore a Santa hat, but didn’t quite match the rosy roster of Santa’s jolly form.
Parking, Antiques Man climbed out, locked the door, scanning the neighborhood one last time. No truck. Red or blue or green or pink or purple or magenta or beige.
Inside, Antiques Man went straight for his study, making a beeline for his decanter of bourbon. It was just the cheap stuff, but it’d get him going.
Then again, maybe he didn’t need to go anywhere.
Picking the decanter up, the Antiques Man frowned. The bottle felt lighter than he remembered. Not to be a pessimistic Pamela, but he could have sworn it was a little over three-quarters full the other day; now it was barely at a quarter. Perhaps he had indulged in more than he thought when closing the Avery deal…
A noise from behind and he nearly dropped the whole bottle.
“Michelle?” he asked, a hopeful note surfing his words. Though he knew in the same instant it wasn’t his estranged wife.
Behind Antiques Man’s desk, webbed feet were propped on the desk marking where Quacksalot sat, even with a newspaper covering the telltale glow of his lit cigar.
All too suddenly Antiques Man had a nasty suspicion where the missing half of his bourbon disappeared to.
“Hey! There you are. Worried you’d gotten lost, buddy.”
Carefully folding the newspaper, Quacksalot set it aside, pushing the chair back and rising.
“Now that you’re here, there’s some things we ought to discuss…”
Antiques Man wasn’t having any of it, pure terror pressing him back against the room’s other door, one that lead to the bathroom.
A toilet flushed and a moment later the door fell under Antiques Man and he launched across the room. The kangaroo emerged from the bathroom, hopping forward.
“What’do you people want?!” Antiques Man demanded, trying to sound brave, his voice betraying him with a thin squeak.
“Hey, it’s’alright, mate,” Joey assured, raising an open hand to reassure the Antiques Man they weren’t a threat.
Course, those claws that tipped the kangaroo’s fingers suggested otherwise.
“Who…who are you people?” Antiques Man asked, feeling himself succumb.
“That’s easy enough, I’m Joey, that’s Quacksalot,” the kangaroo answered, nodding at the duck dude.
“…and you’re Roman…Hell-fell-fingerling?” Quacksalot supplied, irked that Joey stole the introduction line. He always duckin’ did that. Just once it’d be nice if Quacksalot got a shot at it.
“No, I think it’s Hail-fel-finger,” Joey corrected, frowning as he unfolded and inspected a piece of paper he had withdrawn from his vest.
“Um…actually it’s just Haefelfinger,” Roman Haefelfinger aka Antiques Man nervously corrected.
Joey peered at the name written on his scrap of paper and compared it against Roman, as though comparing photographs.
Nervously, Roman inclines his head.
“See, I told you so!” Joey lambently remarked, crumbling the paper in a wad and tossing it over his shoulder. The paper ricocheted off a statue of some half-dressed stone guy and landed in a waste basket. The priceless statue teetered threateningly for a wobble or two, then steadied.
“Shaddup, he’s still a threadkiller!” Quacksalot reminds with a heinous honk, smacking the back of Joey’s head.
“Oi!” The foppin’ hopper fended off the dapper duck’s devious attack. “Try that again and I’ll beat your duckass back to the fifties!”
Roman sought to utilize the squabbling strangers’ specious distraction and sneak off.
Almost as soon as he took the most minute step back, Quacksalot grabbed his shoulder, without taking his eyes off Joey.
“Hey! Where’dya think you’re going? We’re not done here yet.”
“I’m calling the police!” Roman defiantly informed them, whipping out his cell phone, hands shaking.
Joey and Quacksalot glance at each other, then break out in laughter.
“We are the police,” Quacksalot informs, carelessly flashing a golden badge.
The badge depicted a shield with an open book in the middle.
Roman let the phone fall from his fingers. It crashes to the floor and a muted crack moans into the carpet. The fearful tremors had prevented him from typing anything out anyway.
“Threadkiller Police,” Joey helpfully adds. “We defend stories that are ignored, forgotten, and left to rot.”
Regaining some of his courage, Roman’s brow furrows.
Quacksalot raises a feathery finger.
“Speaking of made-up, you started a story back in the summer of ‘015.”
Joey nodded vehemently.
“Yeeah, what was it called?”
Never taking his eyes off Roman, Quacksalot stepped forward, his webbed feet sturdier than a mountain goat’s. His eyes burned with a vengeful ember that made his cigar pale in comparison.
“The Fluffy Adventures of Captain Pirate Queen and her Ladies,” the duck answered, his voice a gruff mallard growl.
It was here at this juncture of life that Roman had the oddest experience of emotion. His cheeks fluctuated with a pale fear of these weirdos and a hot burning embarrassment at hearing his story’s title being spoken from another.
Underneath it all, however, there was also the tiniest hint of a gleam in his eyes that just might be interpreted as pride.
Joey hopped off to a tall shelf, admiring the tiny artifacts inside the study. A clay pot here, some ornamental figurines, a large diamond…
Eyes glowing with the reflection of the massive mineral, Joey made an o and peeked back at his cohort and their subject. Still talking. He slowly began to stretch a paw…
“Well….yeah…wait, how d’you people know about that? I never – ”
“It’s our job to know,” Quacksalot sternly informed.
Roman turned suspicious.
“Did Clarice tell you? Did she put you up to this?”
Setting an ornate snuff box down, Joey craned his head around at the Antique Man.
“Clar-who?” He shook his head and hopped over. “Look, mate, it’s like we said, we’re Threadkiller Police.”
Quacksalot nods vehemently.
“You’re a threadkiller. You killed the thread. You started the story, now you oughta finish it, less you want we take a ride.”
“A ride, what’re you – ”
Joey cut him off.
“Don’t listen to Mr. Untouchable over there. Bottom line, mate, is you need to finish the story. After all, you’ve got a nice store…it’d be a shame if something happened to it….like this.”
Before Roman could so much as twiddle a curl on his mustache, Joey raised a paw and delicately nudged a claw against a ceramic figurine of Kali. The multi-armed goddess tipped off the side of the shelf and tumbled to the ground, crashing into a thousand pieces, scattering to the four winds.
“What’ve you done?!! That statue was worth – ”
“- Less now, mate,” Joey interrupted.
“B-b-but – ” Roman was unable to articulate little more than sputters.
“Hey, junk can be replaced,” Quacksalot reassured the man. “But you can’t replace the story.”
“Yeah, what he said!” Joey nodded, casually knocking an ancient lantern off a sturdy pedestal.
“Whoops, soz, mate,” Joey apologized…not sounding very soz at all.
“Actually, I never really liked that one,” Roman confessed.
Joey frowned, then scanned the shelves for another prospective pressure point. His eyes landed on a boomerang. He raised a dubious eyebrow, then plucked it off the shelf, examining it.
A few carved images of men in ferns and a pond of ducks suggested some sort of hunting story.
“Genuine, 17th century, discovered in a cave near Kakadu,” Roman proudly informed.
“Oh yeah?” Joey said, purporting a note of falsified interest. Experimentally flexing the object in his wrist, he takes aim and launches it across the room. The boomerang wobbles drunkenly and skews off to the far right, smashing into a tall vase adorned with glass roses.
Multi-colored shards of glass showered to the floor.
“It’s a fake,” Joey assessed. “Flight path is incorrect. Plus, real boomies wouldn’t be carved like that. I reckon it’s mid-1980s at best. Hope you didn’t pay too much for it.”
“Not as much as that vase….” Roman grumbled, consigned to his fate.
“Don’t be giving us that poutface,” Quacksalot threatened. “You did this to yourself, buddy.”
Roman shook his head, perhaps wishing this were all a dream he could escape from.
“I don’t understand…you people…want me to…to write a story?”
Quacksalot shook his head.
“No, we want you to finish your story. Less you want to go downtown on threadkilling charges.”
“I’ve seen what they do to you back in them cells….nasty.”
Roman cocks an eyebrow, switching gaze from marsupial to waterfowl. Obviously these people were crazy.
“Why, what, the cells?” Joey asked, still distraught by the petrifying practices that took place there.
Roman shook his head.
“No, why – why do you people care whether I finish some stupid story or not?”
Joey went white.
“Oh no, now you’ve gone and pissed him off, mate.”
“Wha – ”
“Stupid story?” Quacksalot repeated, his tone dangerous.
“Now he’s going to go off on a tangent,” Joey warned, cradling his head in hand.
Petrified, Roman stood rooted to the floor. He wasn’t sure if he’d even be able to run away if he at all had an option. There was a fearsome gleam in the duck’s eye, as if someone other than Joseph had insulted his fedora. When he spoke, his voice was calm, even.
“Y’know, people count on stories. They may not mean much to you, but to the fans and readers, they mean the world. Without a Threadweaver, to keep the stories alive, to write for them, to feel for them, the characters die, as easily as if you’d slipped your own hands around book’s spine and cracked it over the knee.”
He spoke slowly, with the quiet edge of a heavy boulder, impassioned by his work and ready to drop a boulder on the first person to disagree with him.
Not that he could well convince Roman.
“Look…I don’t know how you found me. The story wasn’t even that good! Besides, Clarice and I…we’re not even…” Here, his voice trails off and grows distant. An unmistakable melancholy tone has seeped into his words.
His eyes glaze off, taking a trip to the past reliving memories made too painful to bear, his sadness overriding his fear of these feathery and furry fellows.
“Oh boo hoo, Mary Loo,” Quacksalot bellowed, blasting away the chick flick moment. “Pull those boot straps up, and get back to work!”
Joey nodded vehemently.
“Aye, that’s always helps me, working and keeping busy. Few months ago, had a bad break up with this shelia named Muriel, bit of a right cundle, even Quacksalot didn’t like her.”
“I don’t think I like any of your…girlfriends,” the duck frankly informed the young kangaroo, shaking his head.
“Of bloody course not…” Joey rolls his eyes, unperturbed.
Regaining a modicum of courage, Roman flicks his eyes left and right.
“So, uh, is that…uh, everything?”
Maybe this was just a bad dream, the sooner they left, the sooner he’d realize how ludicrous it had been.
Joey held up a finger.
“Actually, I have one more bone to pick with you…what’s with the shower curtains?”
Roman’s face crinkles with confusion.
“…What’s wrong with my shower curtains?”
Quacksalot, meanwhile, rolls eyes. Here we go again.
Would that be impolite to light a cigar?
No, not impolite, but a colossal waste. Cigars should be enjoyed. Not chain-smoked like common cigarettes. He did have some class after all.
Heedless of Quacksalot’s internal dilemmas, the juvenile marsupial hopped straight to the point.
“Nothing, mate, just you’re the third bloke we’ve visited this month and so far every one of yous has had the shower curtains drawn shut.”
“Henh?” Roman’s head tilts askew. “Why, what’s the matter, does the curtain style offend you…?”
Joey shakes his head.
“Nah, the design is fine, a little pretentious – I mean, a map, really? But anyway – what’s with it being closed? Whaddya, tryin’ to hide something like a body or whatever shampoo you’re using? Makes me feel like someone’s behind there, watching, waiting t’strike.”
The dealer of antiquities and supposed slayer of stories stood blankly. As blank as a bucket of bodacious bunnies belligerently bouncing to Bermuda.
Luckily, Quacksalot spares him.
“Actually, you know what I don’t get?” the duck starts, rounding on his kangaroo compadre.
Uh oh, Joey recognizes that testy tone.
Feathers and wings crooked on his hip, the Anatidae assumes a stern stance.
“The kind of people that shower, then towel off and leave the floor completely drenched. Hello, have you heard of a drop cloth? Do they have those down under?”
Joey rolls his eyes. This again. Folding his arms, he adopts a cavalier attitude.
“Maybe I don’t wanna put a drop cloth down. Why waste the extra towel when I can just use my drying towel to wipe the water up?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Quacksalot started in a tone that downright contrasted his words, meaning he knew explicitly well, “maybe it’d be safer than leaving the floor sopping wet and slipping and falling and breaking a wing.”
Getting fully snookered into the argument, Joey raised a countering finger.
“Actually, I prefer to think of it as a variant of Bull Slap, testing the fates, if you will; either I slip and fall to my death, or efficiently glide in front of the mirror and proceed with hair styling.”
It was always something with this damn duck. Last week he had claimed Joey was toasting his bread incorrectly…and insulted the kangaroo’s vegemite recipe.
Quacksalot blinked. The mental image planted by his kangaroo compadre was undeniably zany, even for his standards.
“Efficiently glide in front of the mirror?” Quacksalot icily repeated.
A terse silence stifled the air between our stalwart thread detectives.
Just kidding. You know our boys don’t let their tails get caught in the pencil sharpener. Heck, they may not even know the meaning of the word silence!
“Don’t knock til you try it; could be fun.”
“That’s what you said about that rafting trip in the Amazon; I still have bite marks from those piranha.”
“I told you not to wear that cologne,” Joey insisted, waggling a disciplinary finger.
Leaning forward, Roman slowly angles his head back and forth between the duck and kangaroo.
“….Are you two for real?” he meekly asked.
Cocking an eyebrow each, Joey and Quacksalot share a perplexed glance.
“Is he ‘for real’?” Quacksalot snidely postulates.
Joey raises his arms in a shrug.
“Why do people assume we’re not?”
Quacksalot shakes his head.
“Smoking the wrong cigars I imagine.”
By this point, Roman bore the expression of a person terrified – though he wasn’t sure what he should be more terrified of: his animal antagonists annihilating him or worse, never leaving.
In a transparent gesture of faux politeness, Roman clears his throat.
“Er…excuse me, ah, sirs – look, I, uh, I think –”
“Don’t hurt yourself,” Quacksalot grumbled.
“ – that is, I understand, I promise, I’ll finish the story, alright? I’ll finish it.”
At this, a switch flicks in the duck and he tilts his head sharply.
“Are you sure? You’re going to write the rest of the story? Properly? No flubbering or speed-typing?”
Roman shook his head.
“I won’t, I promise.”
Joey seemed eagerly intrigued as well.
“And you’ll have proper character developments?” the kangaroo pipes in. “With individual and intricate romantic subplots?”
“Um, yeah, of course.”
“Fluff,” Joey specified, “not smut. Understand?”
Probably not comprehending, Roman nodded his head with such vigor, it may have snapped off like a dramatic dandelion decapitation.
“Another thing,” Quacksalot added, stepping forward. Between he and his partner, they had backed the antique dealer into a literal corner. A severely sharp and pointy sword from a sinister Samurai statue stabbed against Roman’s side. “Knock off the alliterations; they’re frightfully freaky and frankly forced, friend.”
Roman’s head bobbed up and down again.
“Sure, yeah, okay…”
“I dunno,” mused Joey, “I kinda like ‘em; they’re a bit blatant and boisterous but bold and bodacious with brilliant execution.”
Quacksalot rolls his eyes.
“Suit yourself, Aussie.”
Timidly, Roman raised a finger.
Almost having forgotten their perp, Quacksalot snaps his head back around.
“Eh? Whaddya want?” he honks.
“Can…Can I uh, go now? Back to….working on the story?” Roman sloppily saves.
The animal adventurers act abstruse, their facial expressions unreadable. They make eye contact with each other and seem to debate it. The kangaroo offers a faint shrug and the duck turns back to Roman.
“Yeah, all right, but just remember – we know where you live. And you’ve got a nice shop. Be a shame if something happened to it, capisce?”
The duck fixed Roman with an intense stare that went straight through the simple dealer of antiquities and into the creative core of his conscious. Never had Roman felt more exposed than if he were to tap dance in Toronto on a two-liter tower of Tylenol in a tutu.
More head bobbing.
“I do, I do.”
The duck seemed to brighten and turned away, straightening his fedora.
“C’mon,” he motioned to the kangaroo. “We’ve got more work to do.”
“Right behind ya, mate,” the kangaroo promised, then jerking as if he remembered something significant, “Oh, by the by, mate, brought ya some snacks if ya get hungry…”
Hopping back behind the desk, Joey withdrew a white box of donuts and happily hopped back around.
The kangaroo held the box out for Roman to take. Just as Roman reached a hand out to accept them, Joey let the box of donuts fall to the ground. Sprinkles and smears of chocolate and Bavarian cream filling stained the ancient and expensive carpet beneath them.
“Don’t make us come back,” Joey warned. Then, with nary a backwards glance, the juvenile marsupial sprung out the door after his partner, leaving the antiquities dealer feeling extremely confused.
What the hell just happened? Do I even still have that story…?
Course, the real question was could he afford not to have the story? His insurance company was already going to have a field day with this…then again, perhaps it’d be best not to mention a giant duck and kangaroo burglarized his home and terrorize him.
Withdrawing his smartphone, Roman flicks through a rotary of numbers.
Please don’t let her have changed her number…
Back in their rusty, red truck, the Threadkiller Policemen regarded Roman’s house with a final look.
“Y’think we were too hard on him?” Joey pondered, a nib of guilt gnawing.
Quacksalot sounded less inclined towards sympathy.
“Y’think he’ll finish the story?”
Joey raised an eyebrow.
“What, you think we shoulda sent Pesci over with the baseball bat?”
The kangaroo made an exasperated sigh.
“Look, you know he doesn’t do that kind of work anymore…”
Starting the engine, Quacksalot shrugs.
“Worth a try anyway.”
Shifting, the noisy truck rumbles down the road, leaving naught behind in its wake save a dissipating cloud of exhaust smoke, as though to suggest they had never been there in the first place and been nothing more than a daydream.
Are you a writer? Want to share the pieces what you've written?
1 post • Page 1 of 1
- LEP Commander
- Posts: 2173
- Joined: Thu 9th Feb 2012
- Location: Beyond time and space