Murphy's Laws:A bit o FenFic
A bit o Fenfic
Do you know what the difference between a fairy tale and a Fenfic is?
A fairy tale starts with "Once upon a time"...
Fenfic, on the other hand invariably start with "No $h*t, There I was..."
Well, no $h*t, there I was, bellied up to the bar in the "Rock Bottom", staring at my drink and trying like HELL to keep from doing what I really wanted, which was to throw a total screaming, furniture launching destructive as all hell temper tantrum. Which would have only made things worse, seeing as how I'd just come from Chief Administrator Laffer's office. Usually Larry is an Okay type, for a surly Belter admin. This time... Well... Lets just say that once AGAIN I was persona non gratis in Ceres for a while. In fact, I was to catch the next ship going ANYWHERE. As ways to get run out of town on a rail, at least it beats torches and pitchforks, I guess. The Professor may think they contribute 'atmosphere'... Not me. Not anymore, that's for sure.
That is when the hand on my shoulder drug me out of the festering pit of my self loathing. Not off the bar stool, which at least meant I wouldn't be adding physical anguish to match my mental state. Or, at least not immediately, anyway. My eyes tracked up from the promised amber numbness of my drink, to the mirror you seem to find behind the bar in every drinking establishment out here... Well, every place except Callahan's, anyway. And kept tracking up...
"Hello, Rocco. Last I knew I was square with the Don until the end of the week..."
"You are. The Don, he's in town and requests your company for lunch."
"Wonderful. Peachy, bordering on Kean even." No good can come of this, of course, but whatever does at least wont be physically painful. Swallowing the last shot of Bushmills I can expect for who knows how long, I lever myself up off the stool before Rocco feels the need to 'help' me lest I disrespect Don Anthony by keeping him waiting. "Lead on, McDuff, and cursed be he who first calls: Hold, Enough!"
"Blah. What is it with you and those Ren-Fen, Murphy?"
Well, the first to cry hold enough turned out, surprise surprise, to be me; just as soon as I caught sight of where it was the Don had chosen to dine.
"Oh no. NO! Not there, Rocco, please, not there..."
"Yes, there, Murph. I thought you liked Tony's?"
"Its not that... Tony ping'd me. You WANT me to disrespect the Don by winding up in a fight?"
"You wanna disrespect the Don by NOT accepting his invitation?"
Hobson's choice then; nothing for it but to hide the fact that my stomach was retreating sunward at 0.99999~ c. If that wasn't bad enough, another realization crested over me, causing my heart to do a Limit Break. "Rocco, what did the Don order?"
"He hadn't when I left, Murph; but there is only one thing Tony's is really known for."
You haven't heard of Tony's? Well, I assume that's going to change as word gets out. Well, its like this. Tony is DizFen; so when he setup his place on Ceres he'd already had his heart set on the decor. You walk in, and its like stepping in to one of the Mousetro's Animated features. I don't really have to spell out which one, do I? I do? Well, the inside is painted with frescos to look like its OUTSIDE, in a pleasant little Americana town of around the 1800's , complete with a red and white striped awning to complete the illusion of a sidewalk caf‚. Tony also has a pair of dogs, a Wirehaired Terrier and a Cocker Spaniel; no one knows if they're real or not, and Tony isn't saying. Get it yet? Ah, good I see that you do. Yeah, I know they weren't Tony's dogs in the source, but if it doesn't bother him I guess it shouldn't bother us.
Don Anthony was seated at Tony's best table. Eating Spaghetti. He also still looked just like himself, which meant... Nothing, to be honest. For all the visible extreme Biomods out there, its a sure bet there are at least a half dozen that only their doctor knows for sure. On second look, the spaghetti also LOOKED perfectly normal. Whew. I guess Tony got himself a replacement pasta maker then. Not like he's going to forgive me any time soon, he LOVED the old one. Said it had character to it when he brought it to me for a clean and adjust. I suppose now you could say it has CHARACTER in all uppercase now. And its all my fault, of course. Like just about everyone in 'space I tend to keep a bit of 'wavium on hand, for the occasional time when someone comes in and needs something waved. Normally I just trade em for it, because it doesn't like me all that much, but sometimes someone wants something simple, like lubricating their pistol with a bit of black to space-proof it, and that not usually even I can screw up. I didn't think much about that at the time, because Tony didn't want the pasta maker waved, he just wanted it cleaned up and adjusted. It was late, I was tired, but Tony needed it back the next day. Well, lets put it like this. I fell asleep, and was woken up by emergency services overriding the door and the entire compartment filled with robin egg blue pasta. 'Waved blue pasta. The damn stuff even got into the air system. Which lead to Larry giving me the old heave ho. Again.
"Ah, Murphy. Good to see you again," Don Anthony observed with absolutely no irony about him. As if my day hadn't been bad enough already; it looked to be about to get worse. Probably not lethal; it's a point of pride with the Don he hasn't had to resort to that. Doesn't mean he's all sweetness and light either though. "A little birdie told me that you're to be on the next ship out and as it just so happens, I'm heading in system."
Beware of Geeks bearing gifts was one of the last things my dad had said to me before I'd headed out beyond the troposphere. Granted, Don Anthony was neither Geek, nor Greek; but the general principal still applied. A lot of the Don's business ventures might be on the shady side of legal, but they're still BUSINESS ventures. As Don Anthony himself points out; "You make money, I make money, We're both happy!" But I wasn't making money, at least not at the moment. So there HAD to be a catch, but before I had to be gauche enough to have to ask that of the Don, I was saved by the smell... Of more of Tony's wonderful pasta. Tony was serving the only other customer in the place at that hour, someone who either had no reason to be afraid of the Don or too clueless to realize he'd be better off eating somewhere else. When Tony noticed me, well, I instantly thought of that old Heart classic "If Looks could Kill". Because if they could, I'd have been lying on the floor, begging him "Please, Please, Please, Don't hurt me no more!" Don Anthony noticed said look as well, and it was only his intercession that stopped things from getting ugly.
"He's my guest Tony, and I'll thank you not to be disrespecting me by causing a scene about it. It would force me to ask Rocco to... 'take care of it.'" Tony's mouth shut with a clop, but that smoldering look... Even if I can go back to Ceres eventually I'll have to avoid Tony. He clearly LOVED that old pasta maker in a way that was just short of unhealthy, and possibly immoral. Tony started to head back to the kitchen, clearly in a high Italian dudgeon when the Don stopped him again. "It seems to me that you should actually be saying Thank you to Mr. Murphy here. After all, he's the one responsible for the improved state of your equipment..."
CEST' QUE' HOECK??? I tried to take a drink of water to cover my confused thoughts, only to miss my mouth and get it all down my shirt. Funny, I'd never had a drinking problem before... And sure enough Tony was giving me a grudging apology about his earlier reaction to what had happened with the pasta maker; leaving me to wonder if the whole damn ASTEROID had suddenly dropped into an alternate dimension while I was down in the 'bottom. Don Antonio nodded in a gracious dismissal to Tony and took another couple Don sized bites of spaghetti before giving me one of his 'penetrating glares' and sighing.
"What am I going to do with you, Murphy?"
"Nothing, yet, I hope. I mean, I have my loan payment for this month."
"Sure. But what about next month? Or the month after that? Out of all my various investments and projects you... Have the luck of the devil himself. Always just scraping by. And then, something like this happens." Don Antonio pointed to his plate of pasta as way of explanation on the 'this'... Not like I needed any real explanation of the situation I was in. "That pasta maker you accidentally waved. Its gonna put Tony over the top once word spreads. The damn thing is amazing."
"But the pasta is..."
"One hundred percent wave free and safe to eat once you cook it. In fact, the wave boils off and collects in a clump at the top of the pot so you can feed it back to the machine. Murphy. You know how I worry about that stuff. You didn't really think I'd be eating it if it wasn't safe?"
"Umm, possibly. I mean, what if no one had told you about it yet?"
"Murphy, Murphy, Murphy. You come perilously close to impugning me and mine on so many levels with that one. And to think I'm here to bail you out."
The defendant finally clued up and shut his mouth so he'd stop digging himself in deeper. Don Anthony just smiled and nodded at me.
"As I was saying... Luck of the devil himself. When things are going well for you, something blows up. And when you're deep in it, you pull out something like Tony's new pasta maker. They cancel out, mostly, leaving you barely scraping by. So, I'm going to do something to help break that cycle. I'm here to offer you... a job. I have need of someone like you Murphy. Even with your luck there's any number of people who owe me where I can put you to work to bail em out. And it gets you off of Ceres."
"Don Antonio, that truly is an offer I cant refuse. And typical of your enlightenment on so much of life out here."
Don Antony just smiled. "From anyone else I'd swear they were trying to butter me up. So, here's your first assignment. There's a little shop in Kandor City that needs a bit of luck. And I owe those stuffed shirts in the Supers and VVS a bit of discomfort in payback. So, I'll be lending you to him, and just putting you in proximity with the others in Kandor... well, your luck should take care of the rest. And I'm sure no matter what happens I'll get at least a good laugh out of it. And that's worth something all on its own. The overall Boskonian situation is getting worse out in the belt Murphy. Nice to have something to laugh about to break up all that doom and gloom. I figure someone is bound to call an convention about it and ask for a unified action from the SMOF. And soon."
And that, my children, is how I wound up at least 'semi made' and wound up working for the Don. And as often is the case with the Don's business arrangements, its been to both of our benefits. But those are stories for another bull session.