The Service Is a Drag
by Dr. Susan Calvin (StrangeRelations at aol.com)
Here's a lighthearted one....
On to Part 2!
Duane stared down at his nametag, and wondered why he put up
with Mack, Garth, and Jo's merciless taunting. Why, even his nametag
was spelled wrong. "Dwayne". It looks like Rusty spelled it, for
Mike's sake!!! he thought, scowling. Sure, he saved the world
four or five times a day, but he still got no respect. Like now, for
example -- they had all just sat down for a 'friendly' game of
poker, and already he had been the butt of three practical jokes.
"Figures, since I'm so trusting of my own co-workers," he muttered,
eyebrows knitting together. First, he had sat down on a whoopie
cushion, then his chair had tilted onto a rigged Halloween mat,
which screamed in electronic outrage. As soon as his Pit Crew's
uproarious laughter had finally tapered away,he had gotten down to
business by snatching the card deck and shuffling. And then...then
he had turned as red as Rusty's swollen metal cranium as he realized
that he was not only playing with a nudie deck, but the Pit Crew had
drawn glasses and curly black hair on each nudie cutie to make them
all look like Dr. Slate. Oooooooh, how they laughed. But they
weren't gonna laugh any more, no sir, not once they got their asses
whupped in less than five minutes----
"ROYAL FLUSH!!!!" shouted Garth, displaying his cards for all
to see while doing some kind of victory gyration. Mack grumbled
incoherently about how in the old days, poker wasn't so utterly
distracting. His eyes were affixed to "Dr. Erika Ace of Hearts" as
his hands pulled absently at his collar. Duane was disturbed. Not by
Mack, though -- they had all long ago come to terms with his
senility. Duane was profoundly disturbed by the fact that he was
already lagging behind in the game.
"You may have won this round, but don't gloat too much or
you'll miss out on the inevitable," Duane challenged. His mouth
quivered, then suddenly jerked askew into a smirk. Dammit, I've
really got to see a doctor about that, before it gets any worse,
he worriedly thought. The smirk was actually a nervous twitch that
had progressively developed into an uncontrollable spasm. It had
only become really noticable after his first introduction to Rusty.
"The inevitable?!? You be jokin', riiiight?" exclaimed Garth
in his best 'sassy talk show guest' voice. He leaned over the table
towards Duane with a sharklike grin. "The chances of you winnin'
this here poker game are next to NONE. It's like seein' Donovan win
the Nobel Peace Prize!!!"
"Is that SO?" inquired Duane, trying to frown ominously but
abandoning the impossible to mirror Garth's features. He took out
his wallet and dangled a crisp ten dollar bill in front of Garth's
face. "Wanna bet?"
Fifteen minutes later, the pile of money had grown to
encompass the entire table. There was barely enough room to fit
their elbows, not to mention several forgotten drinks and their
playing cards. Jo nervously chewed on her lip as Garth, beaming from
ear to ear, took a card from the center deck. The man seemed to
thrive on pressure!!! A bead of sweat slowly rolled down Duane's
nose and unceremoniously plopped onto his worthless hand. Only this
betrayed his true emotional state; years of training had perfected
his stoic pokerface. Yes, on the outside he was impenetrable as the
robotic shell he wore to work every day, but on the inside his
organs had turned to Jell-O. Not just any Jell-O, but icy Jell-O
filled with miniature wiggling octopi tickling his innards with
suckered tentacles. Replacing some of many weak cards for an even
more useless hand, he decided that there were no ifs, ands, or buts
He was going to lose.
The octopi began cartwheeling as he wiped his brow. Glancing
surreptitiously at Mack, he was startled to find that the older man
was staring straight at him with an amused expression on his face.
Duane's eyebrow quirked. "Have something to say, ya old
coot?" he demanded with his patented smirk.
Mack puffed up imperiously and unbuttoned the back pocket
opposite of the one he usually kept his wallet in. Several dusty
moths fluttered out and cobwebs spilled over the edge.
"As a matter of fact, I DO," he retorted in his gravelly
voice. "I raise everyone FIFTY BUCKAROOS!" With that, he slapped two
of the oldest twenty-five dollar bills Duane had ever seen down on
the pile of dead presidents. Even the washed out bills' renditions
of Nixon's typically crabby features looked ancient and more
disgruntled than usual.
Jo gave an exasperated pout and used her middle finger to
pull down her lower eyelid. "Nyeeeeaaah!" She stuck out her tongue
in Mack's general direction. "I fold! I don't even HAVE ten bucks
left thanks to Garth!!!"
Laughing heartily, Garth somehow avoided her kicks from
underneath the table and fetched a fifty from his wallet. It flitted
onto the pile of bills like a butterfly joining its fellow brethren
in covering some massive corpse. Duane hesitated to do the same.
Should he even bother? He was bound to lose...but what did it matter
anyways? Truly, the only thing that would be hurting would be his
ego. He had been able to boast that he had never, ever lost a single
poker game to his crewmembers, and now his lucky streak had finally
broken. Little by little, Duane began to relax. So what if he
lost? It was only a game. Sometimes, losing was okay. It was better
to give others a chance every once in a while. And it didn't
hurt him financially at all, since in reality Duane had as much
money at his disposal as he desired. He needed but ask, and the
government would provide. It was a simple compensation for basically
taking away any normal kind of existence Duane could have enjoyed
were he not saving everybody's asses all the time in the Big Guy.
Compared to losing a fight, or losing body parts, losing one poker
game was nothing. Much assuaged after this inner reassurance, Duane
fearlessly probed his wallet. Abruptly, Mack grabbed his hand,
dislodging it from its intended destination.
"Oh, no you don't!" Mack groused, vigorously shaking his head
in the slightly deranged way he had of performing the simplest of
gestures. "Money don't mean JACK SQUAT to you. Whenever you need
money, you just wiggle yer fingers around in Unkle Sammy's pockets.
And he LIKES it!!! Yeah, he just looooooves ya foolin' around down
Jo was blushing madly at the perverted(yet patriotic) image
this produced in her mind's eye, and she was not alone. Garth
squirmed in his seat, a disgusted wrinkle in his nose.
Duane cleared his throat uncomfortably. "...Okaaaaaaaay...
then what do you suggest I bet with, my medals or something?!?"
He rolled his emerald orbs at the thought and slapped one of his
many pockets. Countless medals of honor, courage, and valor obliged
him with a happy jingle.
"Naaaah, you don't give a rat's patootie about those. Let's
make ya bet with something insubstantial," the older officer
grumped. "How 'bout this: If you lose, we can make ya do whatever we
please for twenny-four hours."
"Hey, yeah, great idea, Mack!" piped Jo, suddenly bubbling
with enthusiasm."WE'LL be the ones ordering Duane around!"
"Total role reversal," chimed in Garth. "Sounds like fun.
Whaddaya say, man?" He winked at Jo and smiled wickedly at Duane.
Duane rubbed the back of his neck and glared at Mack. Maybe
he wasn't so senile after all. To say no was to fold, and he had
never given up on a game before, no matter how dire the
circumstances were. He couldn't look like a coward! Yet, before, it
wouldn't have mattered if he lost. Now the stakes were much, much
higher. The octopi materialized in the pit of his stomach again,
whirling like dervishes. What could they really do? They'd probably
just order him to drop and give them twenty-thousand, or mop up the
mess hall. He could handle that. That was no problem. Yeah.
"Yeah. Uh...sure. I'm up for that," he said aloud. Duane
managed another emotionless facade, trying to internally convince
himself of his mechanics' harmlessness. His heart was pounding in
his ears, and he felt queasy. The last time he had been this nervous
was when he had rescued Dr. Slate the split second before she was
explosively ejected into space. What was wrong with him? There was
really nothing to worry about. They might even be bluffing...
"Everyone, show and tell!" shouted Garth gleefully. Mack
thrust his cards onto the moneypot.
"Ace of Slate and three of a kind." He proudly fanned them
out for all to oggle. Garth ignored them, barely able to contain his
"I've got a Full House!!! What about you, Duane?"
Duane swallowed, mouth suddenly dry and cottony. Would it
hurt to just call the whole thing off? There was still time...
His fingers twitched, ready to dump the cards back in the deck.
However, his honesty intervened. He had agreed to this. He had to go
through with it. Heaving a sigh, he tossed his hand onto the green
carpet of bills.
"I'm a loser, baybeeeeeee, so why don't 'cha kill meeeeeee!"
He belted out the popular swing tune in his impressive tenor,
getting up from the table to do a few Broadway-worthy dance moves.
Maybe if they were distracted enough....
"Yiiiiiiiiipeeeeeeeeeee!!! Gimme five, my friend!" whooped
Garth, clasping Mack's shoulder with a beefy hand while the other
was held poised in midair. Chuckling, Mack returned the high five.
Jo jumped out of her chair, blond hair flying about her head as
she hung off of Mack's elbow and bounced up and down. The victorious
trio then surrounded Duane. He quickly abandoned his musical act and
smiled at them nervously.
"So what can I do for you guys?" he managed in a friendly,
even voice, even though the octopi were spontaneously combusting and
he felt like screaming at the top of his lungs. The three officers
whispered amongst themselves for a moment, then nodded at each other
and turned back to Duane with pleased expressions plastering their
"Lt. Hunter," intoned Garth in a very forced formality (which
seemed on the verge of collapsing at any moment), "we order you to
dress in drag---"
"DRAG?!?" exclaimed Duane, guffawing."Drag!!!" He breathed an
inward sigh of relief. "That's no problem!!! Sure, I'll dress in
drag. It's not like I've never done it before. Geez, I hope this
isn't the best you can come up with!!! Drag...." His laughter
tapered off when he noticed the scheming looks hadn't left the
expressions on his friends' faces.
"You didn't even let me finish," complained Garth in a mock
whine. "We order you to dress in drag--" He could barely contain
himself as he paused again for effect. Jo's blue eyes sparkled with
antici-pation and Mack giggled like a little schoolgirl. "--And take
Dr. Slate out on a DATE!" Garth concluded with a flourish.
It's way too late!!! I'll have to finish this later!
To be continued....
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