Alright folks, here it is, just in time to spice up your weekend: the sequel to the surprisingly popular (judging by the people who have actually come up to me and told me they liked it) Instant Cowboy: Just Add Water. Actually, this is a prequel, not a sequel, and tells the story of Fat Daisy, a comic book shop owner, and the two boys who find a powerful secret.
Did I do an OK sales job? If I didn’t — and I probably didn’t — forgive me: I’m new at that. For now, just enjoy the story. (By the way, this is a pretty long story — 8250 words! — so I’ve made it available on a PDF. You can choose to download it double spaced (33 pages), or single spaced (15 pages). And, of course, you can continue reading on the site to understand a bit of how this story came about, as well as to read it online.)
As before, the way I created this story was by first asking for totally random ideas. These elements are all included in the story, regardless of how wildly divergent they are. I just hope they don’t sound too awkward or out of place. Here were the ideas/themes and their submitters:
- Joe Lencioni: Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica
- Carl Holscher: Cats, Croissants, Calligraphy
- Nils Geylen: Delirium Tremens, “Don’t you love my Lederhosen”, “Directory not found, please try again”
- Melissa Garrett: “He won’t even eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, “he likes his ham sliced thinly”, “she prefers the taste of beer”
- Rich Dunlop-Walters: “You fucking fiend”, Occam’s Razor, Time travel
- Hrafn Thorisson: The cigarette was broken, “How could he fit all that on one fork?!”
Special thanks goes out to all of these folks without whom this story would still have been possible, but it certainly wouldn’t be as good.
Alright now, without further stalling for time, here’s the story.
Edit: I’ve added a table of contents for easier reading online, as per reader request.
“So, the kid falls into the pit of laser vipers, and now he has their laser powers. Isn’t that awesome?!” Radley held the copy of ViperKid in front of Carlos, telling him the story of the unlikely superhero as the two eleven year old boys walked home from the Fat Daisy’s comic book shop. They had each gone with five dollars on hand, excited to pick up the new issues of Ultimate Warlock, Condorito 2000, and Occam’s Razor. Instead what they found was Fat Daisy, the store’s owner, just about giving away a box-full of old comics, fifty of them, for ten dollars. This was a once-in-a-lifetime deal. Collectibles, in fact, or so Radley swore.
Radley Cummings was a short, chunky, brown kid whose mother dressed him straight from the pages of the Sears catalog, only three sizes larger, as if she expected him to hurry up and grow into his clothes. Of course, with the way she fed him one would think she was more worried about his girth than his height, and about giving him a size that matched his attitude. He stared at the issue of ViperKid, included in the batch they had bought, with both pride and amazement. This was issue number two, where ViperKid first met SciGuy, the character who would first become ViperKid’s sidekick, and then his archnemesis. He explained this to Carlos like an over excited music teacher would teach pupils not just music, but artistry.
Carlos Andropov, the taller of the two boys, hunched to see what Radely pointed at. He was thin, tall for his age. Cuban and Russian by heritage, he was very light skinned, making the dark Radley look all the darker. Like today, Carlos more often than not wore his older brother’s hand-me-downs, usually jeans and hoodies. When he didn’t wear those, he wore their older sister’s hand-me-downs, at least those shirts and sweaters he could get away with wearing.
Until today, Carlos hadn’t heard of ViperKid, or most of the comics Radley had convinced him to combine their money to buy. But, wanting to eventually call himself a true graphic novel connoisseur, and feeling that Radley already was, Carlos let himself be persuaded by the more outwardly excitable of the pair and went along with deal. Only now, he was getting his first real taste of buyer’s remorse.
“That’s… cool. Yeah, I guess.” Carlos wasn’t sure what to say. He would have rather been reading this month’s edition of Ultimate Warlock, where Ulwar the Warlock was about to uncover the true identity of Pugratlion, the villain who killed all of Ulwar students with army of chimeras that attacked Salem School. Rumors were circulating on the Web that Pugratlion was actually Ulwar’s brightest pupil, Amethyst Crystala, who Ulwar had expelled from Salem School in issue #73, after she started to create transgenic homunculi in the school’s biology lab. Instead, he was about to find out how some ViperKid with laser viper vision would befriend SkyGuy, or whatever his name was.
Already, Carlos had grown bored. He started to walk ahead of Radley when suddenly the boy grabbed his arm and pulled him back. “Hey, check this out!” Radley said excitedly. “There’s a cuss word in here!”
“Nah ah!” Carlos’s eyes snapped back to the comic with sudden renewed interest.
“Yeah, check this out!” Radley pointed pudgy finger at a chat bubble with the words “SciGuy, you fucking fiend!” printed in large, bold lettering.
“I told you this was cool!”
“Yeah… Uh… cool…” Then, with unsure voice he added, “You know, I think maybe we shouldn’t be reading these…”
Radley stopped, looked at the other boy and raised one eyebrow questioningly. “Why?”
“Because it has cuss words in it, and my mom says cuss words are bad.” Actually, his mom had always told him that cuss words would get him into Hell. Would he go there because he read the word? No, worse, because he bought the comic which contained it?
“They’re not that bad. My dad uses them all the time.”
“Yeah, and my mom says your dad is a fat drunk.” Carlos’s eyes went wide and his head snapped towards his friend as his body suddenly tensed. “I’m sorry! I mean, that’s what my mom says, but –”
“It’s OK,” Radley said, shrugging. “My mom says the same thing every time I come back from his house.” Radley’s father lived almost eight hours away, which is why he only really got to visit every couple of weeks.
Carlos looked at the magazine in Radley’s hands then took off his backpack, which held half of what they had bought, put the back on the floor, and opened it. “Let’s take these back.”
“No way!” Radley grabbed the backpack, closed it, and slung it on his shoulder. He was now carrying the two back packs, one on each shoulder to even him out. “I’ll give you five bucks when we get to my house for your half.”
“You don’t have five dollars,” Carlos said.
“I’ll get five dollars tomorrow. Allowance.”
“But… what if they’re sold out by the time you get ‘em?”
Radley thought for a second. This was, after all, a very real possibility. It had happened before, last month, in fact, when they missed out on the last copy of Amey Zing. Then, it hit him. “Why don’t we go back to the store and ask Fat Daisy if she’ll save you a copy?”
It sounded like a fair enough idea. Heck, it was a great idea! After all, why wouldn’t she hold a copy for a couple of loyal customers? Had they not already spent months’ worth of allowance buying comics and game cards from her shop? Carlos agreed, and the boys headed back to Fat Daisy’s. He was still a little unsure, but for the most part confident that all this would turn out just fine, and that he wouldn’t be sent to Hell — or worse, be grounded — for keeping a comic with cuss words in it.