I ate a bucket of krill today. I don’t know exactly what krill is, but I know that it’s what whales eat. This is where I’m at in life. And the worst part, I couldn’t even pay for it. It was a bucket of charity krill. Actually the worst part was the taste. Actually the worst part was how grateful I was to get a disgusting bucket of slime. I was shoveling it into my mouth like . . . well like something.
If you had talked to me before I came to Madripoor, I would have told you that I was a real hero for overcoming my hardscrabble upbringing on the wrong side of the tracks and making something of myself. I would have told you about how I fought my way up from the gutter. But now I know better. There’s gutters and then there’s gutters you know? Read national geographic all you want, but you can’t know what life is really like for some people out there.
I’ve been eating Blue out of house and home. Which isn’t hard because he has neither house nor home. He flops in the backroom of some crazy store that sells herbal dick hardeners and powdered tiger penis and stuff like that. The man was a fucking special forces commando and he’s barely one rung up the ladder from me – and I’m essentially homeless. I guess this is why so many super people become super villains – how else are you going to make money? Being super strong and super tough seems only to be valuable on the supply side of crime. Superman never made any money saving the world from Solomon Grundy. At least Grundy had a sewer to live in.
I’m hungry all the time, but even more than that I want a GOD DAMN CIGARETTE. I want that sweet, sweet poison in my bloodstream. I want that feeling of floating, of being lifted aloft by a pair of tarry filthy wings to be carried away by the wind. Everything’s better when you smoke. Your fears and anxieties don’t seem so bad because you got your old pal with you – inside of you! That’s closer than any stupid non-smoke friends can ever get. Well, they can get inside you a couple inches, but that’s different. Now that I’m super powered it’s probably not even bad for me! The point is – with your pal nicotine on your side you can handle anything.
But there’s no use whining about how I want a bottle of tequila and a pack of 100s and a big fat juicy triple bacon burger with fries and an entire peach pie, you just gotta push forward. Crying don’t put cigarettes in your pocket. I mean Blue is a monster and he doesn’t complain about it. Much.
When I was on my disastrous (although it resulted in me becoming friends with Canadian Wally Gator so maybe it was actually great?) path of trying to cozy up to the pirates of Madripoor (I like the sound of that, maybe I should write a musical) I learned a little about the maritime shipping trade, and I know a little from working on the docks. But I still have no idea how it all works really. There’s 88 billion ships coming and going all the time, how the hell do you organize that? I don’t really want to know because it’s super boring. I got trapped talking to (being talked at really) some crusty old British guy who went on and on about what transshipping actually means and some treaty in 1912 about how the Strait of Malacca gets used. I think his attempt to bore me to death came closer to taking me out than anything else since I got here.
Blue said that he didn’t know anything about it and I couldn’t find Elvis (I should check in with his grandma since the Shadow Lords said they were going to kill him and all) so I returned to the crappy confines of Pinetree International Exports and its owner, chief operator, and proprietor of Alcazar. He wasn’t happy to see me even though I am a pure delight and my Spanish is flawless. You really find out who your friends are when you’re marked for death by an underworld murder crew. I told him I wanted to find out everything I could about the ship that brought me to Madripoor. He asked what was in it for him. I said not getting his arms torn off by Blue. I could also tear his arms off, but for some reason people are more intimidated by a giant blue lizardman than a soulful and sexy singer with a top 40 hit. People are strange like that.
He didn’t have much information for me other than the ship is called “Empire” and it’s owned by Ulysses Tanker Corporation of Liberia. For more than that we’d have to seek out THE HARBORMASTER. Seems like an importer/exporter should know more about a ship. Blue and I were on our way to see THE HARBORMASTER when I did a double take. On the other side of the street I saw a familiar face. Not familiar in the sense that I knew the guy, but familiar in the sense that I had seen him on TV. You don’t see too many westerners outside of touristville but that’s not the only thing that made him stand out – he was also head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. I poked Blue and pointed him out. My grandma always said that pointing is rude but sometimes it’s necessary.
“Is that Wildman Wayne Wiley?”
Blue squinted, I think his lizard eyeballs don’t see so good “The wrestler? Yeah, I think it is.”
“What the heck is he doing here?”
“Probably here for the tournament.”
I frowned “I thought that death sport you all are so proud of here was for super people.”
“I’m not from here so don’t lump me into the death sports crowd. Maybe he is a super person, didn’t he have to flee from the states because he beat a man to death in the ring?”
“Did that really happen? I assumed that was something they made up to make him seem tough, wrestling is fake you know.”
He made a lizard huffing noise that I have come to understand is a snicker “You don’t say.”
“Shut up. Maybe we should talk to him.”
“The murderer who came here to fight other men to the death for laughs? Why would we want to talk to someone like that?”
“It would be nice to hear someone speaking English for one. But more because maybe he has a private jet that can get us out of here.”
“Why would he let us on his private jet?”
“Maybe he’s a music fan. I had a top forty hit you know.”
He flicked his tongue out in a reptile equivalent of an eye-roll “No, you never mention it.”
“You’re just a jealous blue lizard. Okay, forget the wildman let’s just find his jet and I’ll flash my boobs at the pilot and he’ll fly us to Zanzibar.”
He gave me a side-eye “You have a pretty healthy opinion about your boobs.”
“Can you blame me? They’ve gotten me out of plenty of jams.”
“And into just as many more I bet. How about we just stick with the harbormaster plan? Stealing the jet of a killing machine doesn’t seem like a great idea to me.”
“You didn’t even like that plan to begin with!”
“I know, but you just keep coming up with worse ones.”
“Well I don’t hear any big amount of ideas coming from you! Aren’t you supposed to be a tactician or a strategist or something? Strategy us a way out of this! Don’t just complain about my plans. What did you learn to do in the Canadian military anyway!”
His mouth hung open on the sides, a lizard-grin “Make maple syrup mostly. I’m so glad I met you, I really value our friendship.”