(for Everyone to Die)
… in irreverent tribute to “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin
As blue shadows of evening gathered between the snow drifts, Sar Kevlar Bananister swaggered a circuitous route to the tavern, glancing often over his shoulder to make sure he was not followed. After several months the snows had abated for a fortnight and a few street folk had emerged, shuffling here and there, looking for someone to eat. The only meat animals left in Kings Doormat were rats and the supply was quickly dwindling.
The snow was piled high against the buildings on either side, up to and sometimes over the second story windows and leaving only a narrow, icy path in the middle of the street. Kevlar squeezed past a gaggle of giggling, hungry-looking sluts at one intersection, shouldered his way through a thicket of withering thieves at another, and in Arsewipe Square maneuvered around a melange of mercenaries making merry. Must have caught a rat. One of the men made as if to trouble him, but looked quickly away when Sar Kevlar placed his hand on his sword hilt.
The Leaky Dick was by reputation a a dark, moist hole filled with distasteful whores, and dispirited folk too small to mention, name or care about, and redolent with bodily fluids, wood smoke, stale ale and free mashed turnip hors d’oeuvres during happy hour. Sar Kevlar wore a plain short coat of ring mail over a jerkin of parboiled leather, his longsword sheathed in a plain black lacquered sword condom devoid of device or arms so as not to declare his identity. I wouldn’t be caught dead there … It was nevertheless where he was bound.
Arriving at the Tavern, he grabbed the dirty knot of hempen rope that served as the door handle and pulled it open. His ears were immediately sodomized by a sudden tumult of conversation. What in the name of the seven bloody hells? His heart faltered, as just inside about two dozen teenagers stood near the door with daggers encrusted with dried blood in their hands. His blood, he realized.
“Druthers take you Little bastards!” whispered Kevlar. “What in the name of The Strange One are you doing here?”
“We don’t know, Sar,” piped a pimple-faced boy of about fifteen years – almost a man grown. “We’ve just been wandering around for six years, trying to stay out of the cold.”
“Aye, boy, haven’t we all, haven’t we all. Now pipe down and don’t call me ‘Sar.’ I’m pretending to be in incognito.”
The young man rolled his eyes. “As you wish, sar.”
Kevlar headed toward the back of the tavern where there was a curtained-off room for private rendezvous.
“Uncle, you old broom-up-the-arse!” said a voice that turned out to be his nephew, Haimy. “Back from the dead, are you? Well met and welcome!”
“Yes, right,” said Kevlar, glancing ruefully at the many eyes that were now turned upon him. Haimy brought back unwelcome memories of Shurethayn, Kevlar’s niece, being paraded naked and shaved through the streets of Kings Doormat. A sight burned into my brain forever. “You, too, I see. Seems we’re popping out of the ground almost as fast as they put us in.”
“I confess I didn’t expect to see you,” said Haimy. “Most of the time its the flawed and haunted characters that get raised, not the wholesome, well-adjusted sort like you.”
“Yes, I myself expected to stay dead,” said Kevlar. “Would have preferred it, truth be told. I’m only a bit player, after all, and I have morals. I have no business in this filthy story. Your resurrection is no surprise, though, wot? An incestuous swordsman deprived his sword hand who continues to dream of flogging his sister with the flesh noodle. You are the deadbeat dad of kings. They don’t come much more twisted than you.“
“Not so twisted anymore,” said Haimy, sadly. “Since I was hanged my sister-noodling days are over. It’s all part of my continuing very unlikely yet compelling transformation.” He grabbed the arm of what Kevlar had thought was a man who was facing the bar and spun her around to reveal a tall, muscular woman with broken teeth and one ear. She wore a shirt of mail and a longsword with a beautifully jeweled hilt at her belt. “This is my girl, Braindedda. Isn’t she the best?”
“I’m very happy for you both, I’m sure,” said Kevlar, shaking Haimy’s stump. “Pleased to meet you, my lady. But if you’ll excuse me I’m late for -“
“-Your ‘secret meeting.’ Yes, of course, go ahead. Thank you, uncle. Perhaps we’ll get together later.”
Kevlar smiled, nodded and turned away. Don’t count on it.
“Sar Kevlar Bananister!” rang out as he made his way to the back room, destroying whatever illusion of secrecy may have still remained. Kevlar nodded to Grand Maestro Payless, also newly resurrected and looking worse than ever. He had always been ugly, and the fresh scar where his throat had been slit was no improvement. The degree to which his eyes had sunk back into his head didn’t help either.
In the corner behind Payless stood two figures that seemed to be men, except their eyes were luminous blue and their hands were black. Also they were clearly dead, and not recently so. Rotting skin hung from their faces and hands, and there was exposed bone here and there as well. One raised a glass as if toasting Kevlar and drank. Wine ran out of a hole in his belly that looked like it came from a lance or spear. Kevlar shook his head and continued on.
They had seemed disturbingly familiar. Why am I reminded of Edderd Stork? Poor Edderd had been the King’s Foot briefly before he was beheaded on the steps of the Great Septic Tank for telling the truth. He should have known better. It’s lie or die in the Game of Balls. Kevlar had learned that first hand, yet he maintained a grudging admiration for Edderd, whose balls had certainly been among the biggest. With all the dead people walking around, perhaps the wights were a couple of the many dead sons of Stork.
A middle aged woman, fair of face with auburn hair collided with him. “Excuse me, Sar,” she said, and curtsied. “I beg your pardon.”
“Mensa Stork!” he said. “Why do you look so sad?”
“Because, sar, I’m thirty-nine years old and still a virgin,” she said. “Oh, great virtue and all that rot, but the only chance I’ve had at sex in my miserable life was with your dwarf nephew, who thank the gods was not up to the task. Since then I’ve just been stuck in limbo while-“ her voice dropped to a whisper “-the Forgetful One works ‘on other projects’.”
“Your unlikely continued maidenhood is a mystery to be sure, my lady Mensa, even as is your very life,” nodded Kevlar, sagely. “You had more likely been raped or beheaded or both a dozen times – not necessarily in that order – rather than continuing on as you have in your quintessentially blithe terror and stupidity. Indeed, you might be the least likely person I have ever known.”
“I do feel rather like a cartoon character, sar,” she replied, sighing. She whispered, “Perhaps when the Forgetful One remembers us, if he ever does remember us, he’ll either give me a bit more realistic life or a least an abrupt and violent end.”
“I wish you the best of outcomes, my lady.”
“Thank you, Sar Kevlar, my husband is waiting inside for you.”
“Thank you, My lady.”
Kevlar opened the curtain just wide enough to slip through. The darkness of the room relieved but dimly by the wavering light of a few earwax candles smoldering in sconces made of human bone. There were windows, but they were covered by the deep snow piled outside against the side of the building. The room felt close and airless.
“Welcome, oh mediocre one,” said Tyrsome Bananister, from the head of the long table. The table was polished where-wood, pale as milk, the candles reflected in its surface as in a still pond. Arrayed before him were steaming plates of the gods knew what kind of meat, with cheeses and oaten biscuit. “Please join us in our meal.”
To Tyrsome’s right sat another dwarf, a female one, dressed in scratched and battered armor that had been repainted with the Bananister Liar sigil. “Let me introduce the newest member of the family, Badpenny Bananister.”
“You can’t marry! You have a wife!”
“That’s true,” replied Tyrsome, and paused to scratch what was left of his nose, most of which had been lost to friendly fire during the defense of Kings Doormat against Stainless Barathonanonanon (Are we confused yet?) “But Badpenny is not my wife. She’s my adopted daughter. But enough about me. We have much to discuss, Uncle.”
“I can’t imagine what you mean,” replied Kevlar, looking away.
“That’s not surprising given your legendary lack of imagination,” said Tyrsome. “I am of course speaking of the Forgetful One.”
“Keep your voice down!” said Kevlar.
“Gods why?” said Tyrsome. “Every one of the characters in this accursed world will soon starve to death in this endless winter he’s left us in. All his toys will be gone. Not that he cares. He’s clearly tired of the Game of Balls.”
“I believe in the Seven,” whispered Kevlar.
“Why are you whispering, then? We all know by now that The Forgetful Asshole is the only god for the likes of us. It’s his twisted imagination that made me as I am, gave me my horrible back story and led me through my various painful and humiliating adventures. I’d be happy to shoot him through the eye with my trusty crossbow given half a chance. And it’s his so-called ‘creativity’ that caused you to be assassinated by a fat castrati and a kindergarten class.”
Suddenly the wind began to howl outside. The walls creaked. Blended with the howling of the wind were the howls of wolves, and as if from far away, a deeper, much more terrifying roar that could only come from dragons.
“Now you’ve done it,” said Kevlar. “You woke him up and now he’s going to kill us all.”
“Relax, uncle,” replied Tyrsome. “That’s not the way things work here. Only the folk too small to have names are killed wholesale. Characters like us are dragged around Festeros or across the Cesspool Sea to Bloody Fluxville and roasted to death over a slow fire while serenaded by odiously long descriptions of clothing and food. You’re right, he will kill us all in the end, but with long and painstaking hideousness and words beyond count. In fact, perhaps he’ll just use the words and we’ll all just expire of old age.”
During Tyrsome’s soliloquy the wind had gained strength. The walls of the tavern were visibly shaking. A window shattered and in popped the head of a dragon, black as night, smoke drifting from its nostrils. It opened its mouth and a gout of fire enveloped Badpenny. She screamed briefly in agony as she was cooked to perfection in an instant.
“My daughter smells delicious,” remarked Tyrsome, as Kevlar simultaneously vomited on the table and soiled himself.
Tyrsome turned to the Forgetful One as the dragon bit off one of Badpenny’s arms. “They compare you to Tolkien, but there is one important difference. Tolkien could finish a story.”
The dragon turned toward him, heatwaves rippling from its jaws. Tyrsome squinted against the heat.
“Oh yes, please do,” said Tyrsome. “Please, please, please end this.”
I love to make music.
I am making a lot of it (comparatively speaking) over the next few days, playing rock and blues covers at a private party with my friends in Unclaimed Freight on Saturday night, then on Monday night collaborating with Too Klez For Comfort to play some Klezmer music and a couple of my originals at Thunder Road, a rock and music bistro in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Monday, March 20
379 Somerville Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143
Doors open at 7:30. TKFC and I go on at 10:30 to close the show. Hope to see you there.
Always seeking the Creative.
- March 2017
- November 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010