I gotta be honest, here: I did not want to work with Gadfly Lad on this undercover "Mall Santa" deal. Why? 'Cause the dude's annoying, plain-and-simple. Besides his raging hard-on for rules and regulations, he's an eavesdropper, which bugs the shit out of me. I'll be telling Frigid Queen some anecdote from my kick-ass life (only slightly altered, to omit all references to space piracy) and then Gadfly Lad -- who is across the room --will holler corrections at me about the coordinates of some planetoid, or about how long it takes to travel from Braal to Throon, or some other piddling nonsense that has nothing to do with the point I'm even trying to make! I'd jack his shit up, but I don't want to lose my job. Also, he's like five-foot-one, tops. And how would that look?
So. The assignment. Gadfly Lad and I are practically living at the damn Mall of Lallor, working in overlapping 36-hour shifts. That means that both of us are there every day while it's open, and then we alternate evenings, patroling it while it's closed. It takes me about an hour-and-a-half to get into my Santa costume. (The majority of that time is consumed by beard grooming.) Then I help Gadfly Lad get into his costume. It's an interesting look for him, I have to admit. The costume itself might even be sexy, if it weren't being worn by a wiry li'l bugger with grotesquely-oversized hands and feet. Plus, he has a pretty big noggin.
That's a Lallorian's idea of a Christmas elf, for you: raven wings and lederhosen (in this case, a modified version of Gadfly Lad's flying harness) worn without a shirt; a beaky mask straight out of a Venetian carnival; leather gloves and boots. All in black. It seems like the good people of Lallor have confused Santa with Odin, and Santa's elves with Odin's ravens... and ravens with people who go to raves. Do you like the hair? That was my idea. I thought it would look better with the outfit if it was all spiked up. Gadfly Lad didn't want to do it. I tried to reason with him, and when that didn't work, I thought I had just better show him how he'd look. But when I tried to touch his hair, he freaked out on me. So then, of course, I had to put him in a headlock to keep him from fidgeting. And then he shrunk down and tried to fly away. I finally managed to trap him in an old mayonnaise jar, and I jabbed at the goopy, product-drowned mess on his head with a toothbrush, until his coif had achieved the effect I wanted. Once Gadfly Lad calmed down and saw himself in a mirror, he understood how right I was! So now, he'll just stand in front of me, all serious-like, while I do his hair for him. It reminds me of how Mom would tie my ties for me. Until I was three, and I learned how to do it myself. And then I discovered ascots... er, but I digress.
Gadfly Lad's official character name is "Munin", after the mythological raven, whose name means "memory." But I like to call him "Brainfart." Just to piss him off.
And oh, how the little fucker deserves it! Just yesterday, I was holding court as Santa, just "chilling" (as the young Tharrians like to say) in my sweet Santa throne, which is located about three stories up in the highest part of the mall, so I can see everybody. Have I mentioned, the throne is accessible only by a narrow flight of steps, sans a railing? (And before you ask, movie buffs, there's no slide, either. Know-it-alls.) Anyway, I noticed that the crowd looked a little more disorganized than usual. Then I spotted Gadfly Lad, stomping purposefully around, and looking very important. He was talking into his visi-phone, like bodyguards and bouncers usually do. So I wondered what was up, and I made whichever douche-nozzle who was sitting on my lap and crying into my beard at the time get the hell off me for a minute. I figured something big must've been going down. I called mall security on my own visi-phone, to see why Gadfly Lad was calling them. Turned out, he wasn't. A few more quick calls told me he wasn't calling the agency, or the local emergency dispatch. I got pissed.
"SILENCE!" I bellowed. "SANTA DEMANDS SILENCE!" I rapped my barbed candy hook weapon on the platform several times, for emphasis. The throng gasped, and dutifully parted for me as I descended the long staircase and headed for Gadfly Lad. As I approached him, I could hear Gadfly Lad's congested haute-contre voice: "Jena... Jena, baby... I do say 'I'm sorry.' I do! I've apologized to you a total of thirty-two times over the course of our relationship! Thirty-four-and-a-half, if you count the times you've interrupted me before I could finish... Well, that's because you're wrong... No! Jena... honey, listen...!"
He was so wrapped up in his call, he didn't even notice me... until I snatched the visi-phone out of his hand. I leaned in, and snarled in his ear, "Conference. Throne. NOW." Drawing back, I motioned broadly toward the throne, and with a jovial, booming voice, I roared, "COME, BRAINFART! SANTA CLAUS HAS NEED OF YOUR WISE COUNSEL!" Gadfly Lad shrunk himself down to bird-size and perched on my shoulder. I gently booted my last client off the platform and into the crowd below (they caught 'im; he's fine) so I could rip Gadfly Lad a new one in private.
And he apologized! Then I felt like a jackass, so I apologized for snapping at him, while still explaining about the need to keep one's job and one's love life private. (I learned that one the hard way!) I firmly-yet-politely told him that the little stunt he had just pulled could never happen again. He seemed to take me seriously. But a couple of hours later, I caught him doing it again. I finally decided to confiscate his visi-phone until the end of the day. He objected, rattling off some spiel about how the agency's contract with the mall specifically stated that I was his "associate" and not his "superior."
"STILL THY TONGUE, THRALL!" I thundered back at him. As a symbolic gesture, I deposited the visi-phone inside my codpiece. (It was a snug fit.) When I gave it back to him, he complained that it smelled funny. Maybe I should have rinsed it off, or dusted it with Gold Boy Medicated Powder, or something.
I don't know what Gadfly Lad's deal is. Maybe his problem is that he's just young, is all. He's nineteen, but emotionally, he's more like fourteen. I get the feeling he hasn't had much interaction with other people, outside of visi-phones and omnicoms. He might not be such a bad little dude. At any rate, I'm stuck with him for the foreseeable future. So I guess I'll find out.