[Being a literary adaptation of an upsetting alternate reality glimpsed at the Time Institute]
I stayed at Hek's about six hours, and except for the fact that I lost one of my calf-spats between the sofa-cushions, and was nearly inhaled by Hek's pet dark-beast (which had grown alarmed by its master's cries) a pleasant time was had by all.
At three-of-the-clock on March the ninth, looking flushed and enervated, I returned to my own bachelor pod, to clean up a bit, and drop into bed.
And it was while I was at the flat, towelling the torso after a much-needed sonic shower, that my man Blocks suddenly brought the name of Tusker Lafeaugh-Snapple into the conversation.
As I recall it, the dialogue ran something as follows:
SELF: Well, Blocks, here we are, what?
BLOCKS: Yes, sir.
SELF: I mean to say, home again.
BLOCKS: Precisely, sir.
SELF: Seems ages since I left on my date.
BLOCKS: An impression, no doubt, made stronger by the marked dearth of text-messaging, sir.
SELF: Now see here, Blocks! I refuse to be one of those men who is a slave to his valet!
BLOCKS: Just as you say, sir.
SELF: Good. Well, Blocks! What news on the intergalactic intraweb? Anybody been blogging or e-mailing or anything since my abs.?
BLOCKS: Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple, sir, has been a frequent blog-poster.
I stared. Indeed, it would not be too much to say that I gaped.
This Lafeaugh-Snapple, you see, is one of those freaks you come across from time to time during life's journey who can't string three words together without exhausting his vocabulary. When I asked him once if he couldn't find the time to earn his high school equivalence diploma, he said, no, because he had a holo-vision set in his living room, and he studied the habits of reality-programme lingerie models.
I couldn't imagine what could have driven the chap to such prodigious blogging. I would have been prepared to bet that as long as the supply of reality-programme lingerie models didn't give out, nothing could have shifted him from that soylent-puff-stained couch of his.
"Are you sure?"
"You got the name correctly? Lafeaugh-Snapple?"
"Well, it's the most extraordinary thing."
"But what on Lallor can have driven him to do so?"
"I am in a position to explain that, sir. No doubt you have observed of late an added note of courage in Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple's dispostion?"
"Indeed I have, Blocks. Deuced annoying, that. Nobody with Tusker's mouth should be in the habit of smiling so broadly."
"Yes, sir. If I may be so bold, however, I would venture that his friendly muttonchops have the happy effect of mitigating that deficit."
"Yes, thank you, Blocks. I am fully aware of your influence in that matter."
"No further reminders of your stylistic prowess will be needed, Blocks."
"Indeed not, sir."
"They are suitably impressed upon my gray matter, Blocks. If you have any further tales of muttonchops, handlebar moustaches, Donegals, soul patches, or Dundreary Weepers, trouble me with them no more!"
"Very good, sir."
"I should hope so, Blocks!"
"At the end of the day, a gentleman's gentleman must needs preserve the illusion that all decisions a la mode spring fully-formed from the brain of his employer!"
"I hasten to remind you, sir, that I am a valet and not a miracle-worker. But if we may return to the subject of Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple--?"
"Ah, yes. His courage, or something-or-other."
"Yes, sir. I confess that I exerted my influence in that matter as well."
"Now I follow. Now I understand. But wasn't it all due to Tusker's excessive boinking with this new girl of his? 'Cajun Kid', wasn't it?"
"Regretfully, that person was a lady of the evening whom Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple had mistakenly contracted for a fortnight. I believe their interactions ended with the young woman kicking him in the 'nads and taking his wallet."
"I say! A rummy patch of luck for old Tusker! A prostitute, eh? I had wondered why she was always looking at her watch."
"Keenly noted, sir."
"Her changebelt was likewise a source of confusion to me."
"Without question, sir."
"Well, don't dawdle, Blocks. You were saying something about Tusker's courage?"
"Yes, sir. Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple confided in me that he was paralysed by feelings of inferiority to everybody he knew. This included his fellow workers in the Eyeful Ethel Detective Agency, as well as several fast-food clerks and small children. And yet, with very little prompting on my part, he could summon whole lists of their defects. I merely advised him to type these lists into his Omnicom, so that he might consult them prior to a meeting with one of these persons. Thus armed with a feeling of superiority -- however ill-deserved -- he could conduct himself with the swagger of a Rimborian ganglord."
"Egad, Blocks! And why was the chap blogging so furiously this evening?"
"It seems that he has misplaced the Omnicom, sir. It is an event, you will doubtless apprehend, of no little concern to him. His initial blog post concerning the Omnicom revealed only the bare minimum of details. As the hours passed, however, his blogging became more candid. He even revealed the Omnicom's password. Said password being, in point of fact, 'password.'"
"Really, Blocks! This is too much!"
"Rather, sir. Furthermore, the anonymous party who recovered the Omnicom has posted its contents on numerous gossip sites. I should, at this juncture, assure you that although your penchant for sniffing my used undershirts is now common knowledge amongst the technorati, I personally have no objection to your doing so. "
A throbbing at the temples told me that our conversation was at its saturation point.
------------------------------[Author's note: I saw this scenario unravel on Earth-Wodehouse just last night, via a Time Institute monitor. I swear, that place is addictive! Also, I have an addictive personality. Things I've been addicted to: space-wine, doughnuts, Blockade Boy, pointiness. Nobody else wanted to go to the Institute with me, so I "flew solo" as they say on Thanagar. No big whoop. I thought maybe I could pick up a cute guy there. I didn't. No big whoop.
My review of the recording? Two thumbs way up! Cool parts: the clothes (of course!), everybody having an English accent, Blockade Boy as my own personal "monkey butler". Not-so-cool parts: me almost getting eaten by a dark-beast, the idea that Blockade Boy is smarter than me. Yeah, that sucked one. Still, I was in a good mood when I left the Institute... until Blockade Boy called me on my Omnicom, and pretty much hollered, "YOU NEED TO LOOK AT TUSKER'S BLOG! NOW!" And it turned out that all the Cajun Kid/Omnicom list/stolen password/gossip site crap happened in my reality, too! Only a few days later! What the hell, people?
Tusker didn't show up for work today. Which? Is just as well. I mean, now that everybody on Lallor knows about Gadfly Lad's bedwetting problem; and how Dentata Damsel has been moonlighting as an Omnicom-sex operator for people with very sensitive hearing; and that one time Nightmare Boy knocked over a convenience store and only stole a carton of "x-tra petite" space-condoms; and how Rainbow Girl once threatened to kill a Science Police officer's dog in order to get out of paying a parking ticket; and how Frigid Queen hired Sun Woman to burn down Phantom Lad's house; and the intimate details of Eyeful Ethel's insider stock trading; and how, okay already, I still sometimes rifle through Blockade Boy's garbage for any garments he might have thrown away, so I can sniff them. Oh, and all that stuff about Blockade Boy pretending to be his own twin, so the U.P. can't arrest him on fraud charges. So the whole office is in chaos right now. It's positively swarming with Science Police. They arrested Ethel and Frigid Queen and Nightmare Boy and Rainbow Girl, and they tried to arrest Blockade Boy. But after an exciting kerfuffle, Blockade Boy escaped -- but only after making certain everybody heard his vow to "disappear into the night" (it was like, ten in the morning) and "embark on a new career as a dark, mysterious 'fashion vigilante.'" Goddamn Blockade Boy. Oh, and he's taking Cootie with him, and making her wear a mask and a little cape.
It sucks, you guys. Or as English-Flava Me might say, "It's a sticky wicket!"]
(cover image stolen almost wholesale from this)