Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Stubborn Town, Part Seven


Stubborn Town is a story of seven chapters, posted serially by me, your foreshadowing host, Cheeseburger Brown.

While this is the end of this tale it is not the end of Mr. Mississauga. Our stalwart, limping detective will return.

Today, a preview of the current case:



7/7

Sky Mississauga focuses on taking deep breaths as the shadowy, lupine predators bark and yip, challenging one another for the right to take a mouthful of his exposed intestines. The top dog already has a loop, and he gnaws it with relish with his offal hot breath wafting up Sky's nose.

"You should scream," says the beast, long jaw flapping wetly around the words.

"Everything is shifting," says Sky. He surveys scene calmly: the other dogs are dressed in parkas and mukluks now, and they're all racing together through a landscape of giant erotic chess pieces. "I'm crossing over," says Sky. "You'll be gone."

"I'll see you soon," promises the dog.

Mr. Mississauga blinks. It's very quiet. He's lying in a bed, gazing up at a sun-splashed poster of Courtney Love straddling her guitar, sawing it between her legs as she snarls. In the bottom right hand corner someone has tried to pick off a willful orange sticker that says NORTHMART $9.99 + TX.

As he shifts a clammy washcloth slides off his forehead.

His clothes and his coat hang over the back of a chair. He's naked under a thin sheet, cool with dried sweat. Leaning up against the closet door are his legs and arms, rooted in a chaotic pile of dirty laundry that includes torn denim and bright pink panties.

His mouth feels full of sand. "Aglakti?" he croaks.

He's surprised when she sits up from a pile of blankets at the foot of the bed, her face puffy and her gaze vague. She pins a quilt against her chest absently as she looks around, trying to focus. "Mom?" she mutters.

"No," says Mr. Mississauga.

She smiles vaguely, then knuckles her eyes. "Mr. Miss," she says. "You're alive." Then she swallows and adds, "Holy shit my mouth tastes like total ass."

"Yes," agrees Mr. Mississauga. "Mine too." He lets his head drop back on the pillow, contemplating Courtney Love's thigh. "Did I...what happened to me last night?"

"You passed out. You had some nightmares."

"I hope I didn't disturb..."

"No one's back from the old site yet," says Aglakti, glancing at her clock-radio. "Nobody heard you but me and the dog."

Mr. Mississauga shivers. "Thank you," he says.

"Did you just thank me, Mr. Miss?"

"Yes."

"I didn't think you thanked anybody for anything. You sure as hell don't say 'please.'"

"Please and thank you."

"You see?" she says, smiling again. "You keep that up you just may end up with some friends. It's not so hard. You start being polite and sociable you never know what may happen -- and you're off to a good start, having a slumber party after getting trashed."

"I think I may vomit," says Mr. Mississauga thoughtfully.

"Waste basket, right next to you," she says, pointing.

"The feeling is passing."

"Well, stay sharp. I don't want my pillow smelling like bile."

Mr. Mississauga belches quietly. "I'd like some water," he says, "please."

"Yeah," she agrees, ruffling her bramble of hair, "sure thing...me too. Hold on." She drops the quilt and pads out into the hall, leaving Mr. Mississauga to mediate on the image of her youthfully smooth brown bum. When she returns he turns his head modestly toward the wall.

"Oh shit, what're you so squeamish about?" he hears her say. "I thought you said you were gay."

"Um," says Mr. Mississauga.

"Are your ears turning pink?" she says, giggling. "This is rich -- the great detective, utterly imperturbable, veteran of unspeakable night terrors, brought to his knees by the sight of a naked girl!" She pauses to chuckle. "I mean, that's if you had knees."

"You delight in causing me discomfort," he mumbles into the wall.

"Damn straight," says Aglakti brightly. "I like it when you have feelings. Now don't work yourself into a knot -- I'm putting on a T-shirt."

"Thank you."

"Another 'thank you' -- you're a new man this morning. Next thing we know you'll announce you're going for the Olympic gold in sprinting. Turn around: here's your water."

She holds his head and helps him sip. When he swallows he says, "As a rule people don't mention my arms and legs, let alone make fun."

"It's a stupid rule," says Aglakti carelessly. "I don't believe in taboo subjects. So you're handicapped -- so what? I'm native. It's almost as bad."

"I'm not handicapped."

"Oh, shut up. Yes you are. I don't care if you don't use that word -- you've got no arms and no legs, you're fucking handicapped. The last thing you want in this world is to be forced to ask for help, so out of respect I won't make you ask...but out of respect for my help don't ask me to play games. Fair?"

Mr. Mississauga can't help but laugh. It's a real laugh, too -- from deep in his throat. It turns into a coughing fit at the end, so he accepts another sip of water. He says, "I like you, Aglakti."

She smiles, sitting on the edge of his bed. "I like you too, Mr. Miss. Are you hungry?"

He considers it. "Yes," he says.

"So let's get some limbs on you and get our asses down to the Hot Foo before it gets crowded."

They're too late. Aglakti has her own key but she doesn't need it because Bonnie River is at already at her post, igniting the burners and setting the coffee makers to drip. She nods to them cheerfully. Lyle is reading yesterday's newspaper in his designated booth, Errol is practicing pool as he waits on French toast. The pilot smokes a cigarette while watching the Weather Network on the Hot Foo's old black and white set while the taxidermist stuffs himself from a bag of potato chips, too impatient for the hot menu. They each have a wave or a friendly grunt for Aglakti and Mr. Mississauga...


To read the complete novella get it for Kindle!

18 comments:

Compu73E said...

Terrific idea, terrific execution, terrific resolution. The dream sequence in this last part was particularly evocative. One of my favourite of your stories to date.

No doubt now that Mr. Miss has, if you'll pardon the laboured pun, legs. Always good to see Lallo again too.

mandrill said...

Bravo once again Mr. Brown.

CodeWright said...

Hmmm. Good ending.

And seems like some sort of reverse causality going on. Charlie woke at the old site because he was already doomed.

Mark said...

Loved the inclusion of Lallo.

Egads! The tragedy of Aglakti running out to wave goodbye to Mr. Miss as Charlie's body starts to cool. The part of her equation she couldn't quite figure out has been removed. That will be her sign that it's time to get out.

Jo Meder said...

German language suggestion service here again, with one minor detail:
"Was uber das Fleisch?" should be "Was ist mit dem Fleisch?", if you wanted to translate "What about the meat?"

Great story, liked it very much.

Jo.

Pneuma said...

Remind me to never be a second tier likeable character in one of the Cheese's stories.

;)

P.

Moksha Gren said...

I'm looking forward to two of my favorite characters meeting up (Lallo and Mr. Miss).

I have no idea what they could have done, but it struck me as heartless to fly away at such a moment. It may well have been the thing to do, but it shocked me when they just loaded up and left.

This is an odd story because you answer the mystery, but postpone the explaination of the mystery. It leaves a feeling of anticlimax. I know it will all be made clear in time, but right now I have a hard time judging what I think about the story since my final understanding of it will hinge on some future story. But it's a great set-up with some great characters that was written beautifully...I'll say that.

WV: Tiume - A name for you when you are, like Lallo, misplaced in time.

Sheik Yerbouti said...

What a range of emotions in this last chapter. From sober-yet-comfortable at Sky's newfound exposure, to an audible "ah YEAH" at Lallo, to such profound sadness...

So does this mean we get another "long" story on Friday?

More to the point, are you still enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous winter?

Orick of Toronto said...

Yeah, It's a bit anti-climatic. Good thing this isn't a stand-alone story. I wonder if Mr. Miss ever catches up with Lallo.

I guess I am off for a couple of weeks. Got to move into my new house and get some other work done. Have fun guys. Thanks for keeping up the good writing, CBB.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear all,

From the sub-arctic to the outer planets, our next story, Tim, Destroyer of Worlds, will commence serializing this Friday, 9 March 2007.

Thanks for reading!

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Simon said...

Delightful ending to this one, CBB. I'd call it more jarring if I didn't know that there will be more that comes after. Much as part of the mystery was answered, the unanswered bits really are quite tantalizing. Kudos on the dream sequence.

Was that an invocation of Robert Frost's two roads poem? I wasn't sure.

Even though this story centred on S. Miss., at the end I thought Aglakti was the best written character. I started to fall in love with her a little, and not (only) because of her young, brown bum.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Jo,

Thanks again for your German insights -- I'll correct that when I get a spare moment.

In that spirit, I wonder if I can quote Schiller from memory?

"Alle Menschen werden Bruder wo dein sanfter Flugel weilt."

Dear Moksha,

Indeed, Mr. Miss will be back before too long. I think a break from him, though, for a couple of weeks at least.

Dear Sheik,

Nope, on Friday we'll be rockin' the scifi casbah with a story set around Saturn: Tim, Destroyer of Worlds.

I will say this: despite the total change in scenery the plot is not wholly disconnected from events in Stubborn Town.

As for winter: yes. On Tuesday I spent seven hours stuck on secondary roads. That's right: seven hours. I got home from work at 1:45 AM. It was...awesome. This was all due to a 75 car pile-up on the highway I (and several hundred thousand others) normally use.

Dear Orick,

Good luck, and we hope to see you back here in the annals of commentary soon!

Dear Simon,

Man, I'm still getting used to you being the last commentor instead of the first! We've got to find some way around your corporate firewall. Can you get in through InBlogs?

I have a crush on Aglakti, too.

Also, if any other of you are experiencing corporate firewall problems (specifically, images being blocked) know that I am working on the problem. I'm trying to find a new webhost who can give me the service I want for a reasonable dime, and has the capacity to absorb a major wallop in the event that this blog or the main site get Slashdotted, Dugg or otherwise pounded.

...Which I'm hoping will happen sometime this year -- but hopefully after everything's settled at the new host.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Sith Snoopy said...

Wow!

So, I'm left still wondering why it was all happening. And what the deal was with the chess pieces.

I forgot Charlie was Aglakti's boyfriend. Oops. And poor Charlie is GONE.

For a moment there, I wondered about Mr. Miss and his revelation of being gay. I started to think maybe it was his cover story, to keep people away. Because I think he was starting to fall for Aglakti, himself. Of course, he could be bi. ;)

Whoa. Incredibly good story. Every time I see the next chapter in my inbox, I smile. :)

Anonymous said...

Color me a bit of shock, but I was not expecting Charlie to die.

Great story though, I too (as I've said before) enjoy the intertwining of characters it makes every story feel connected.

Are we going to see Mike again??

Santa

Sheik Yerbouti said...

He wasn't really her boyfriend; they just had a mutual, unexplored interest (as far as I can tell).

CBB, I'm glad to know you're weathering the storm, but SEVEN HOURS? Dang.

I'm chomping at the bit for more Cheeseburger SciFi (what a great title); I haven't heard a good Saturn story since The Puppet Masters (and most of that was on Earth).

Also, don't worry too much about changing hosts; we will survive (and where else will we get week-long ads about "Gay-Friendly Automobiles")?

cvinuxe: an indicator that someone's looking at your resume

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Sheik,

The hosting situation is this: I currently pay $30/mo for a five site reseller account with a combined total bandwidth quota of 75 GB/mo.

Since three of the sites hosted there get next to no traffic, I'll shortly be moving them to a free host provided by my brother, who works for a massively large data company.

That leaves two sites to find a home for (my personal site and the main CBB site, from which blog images are also usually served).

I have my eye on an American host who will house those two sites for $5/mo with a combined bandwidth quota of 1,200 GB/mo. This seems like a good to deal to me, provided they can meet my (modest) technical requirements.

Of course I'm not burning through 75 GB of bandwidth every month -- far from it: I usually use about 20 - 25 GB.

The issue is that when I was Slashdotted in 2005 I served 60 GB of traffic in about two days, and that's for a site not even directly linked in the ./ article, but merely related! I was obliged to take down 90% of my media content (movies, photos, etc.) in order to ride out the month without paying insanely high overage costs.

So, while I pray for a big hit from a major site like Slashdot or Digg I'm also well aware of the fact that if hit hard my host wouldn't last very long before it would start costing me a lot of money.

Recently I've experimented with outsourcing image hosting in order to cut my bandwidth usage down, but the math just doesn't pan out: I'd still get knocked into oblivion by a big surge of traffic. Also, the outsourced image hosts are blocked by many corporate firewalls.

So, when I can find the time (!), I intend to move my personal site and the CBB main site to the new host with the much roomier bandwidth quota, so I can weather any reasonable storm that (hopefully does) come my way.

Issues I'm trying to get to the bottom of:

a) Can I have SSH acccess?

b) What's the pricing plan for bandwidth overages, should that happen?

c) Are there any legal/copyright/fascist-surveillance implications of hosting my IP in the United States rather than in Canada?

So, that's the situation basically. Hopefully the transition, when it comes, will be smooth from your point of view. Goodness knows changing hosts is never smooth from my point of view -- it's a series of support tickets with teenage morons in order to sort out the hitches. Frustrating.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Jo Meder said...

Hey, that Schiller quote was as perfect as you can get it without an "ΓΌ" on your keyboard. Had to look it up though to be sure, even as it is the text to part of Beethovens 9th symphony, an that part is supposed to be the european anthem. So much for a classical education.

By the way: is it only me or is this captcha-thing simply not working with the most recent firefox editions?

Simon said...

CBB, I have never used Inblogs yet to attempt to thwart the Man and his wicked ways. I will start making inroads with Inblogs this week from work.

Hope that the anal-oral spraying goes away soon. I know how bad that is. (Kinda cute though: this evening my eldest blew chunks into the potty and I rid him promptly of his vestments, plopped him in the tub, intending to have a shower with him since he deigned to spray me and the rest of the bathroom. He piped up while I was cleaning up, "It's okay Daddy, you can puke too!")

I love kids.